Digital marketing is a term that everyone has heard- but not everyone knows exactly what it is.
We live in the digital age, so it has something to do with computers- right?
Digital marketing is simply the process of using the internet to grow a business. It encompasses all of the ways businesses utilize different technological platforms to get customers, and is the prime example of how businesses have had to change the way they market in the digital age.
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Times Have Changed
Years ago, if you wanted to start a business, your plan looked something like this:
- Choose a location, taking into consideration the route people would take to get to your business (roadway, driveway, etc.)
- Establish the storefront with signage to point people to your location (possibly even get a billboard)
- Start advertising in a number of ways: buy phone book adds, adds w/ coupons in the local newspaper, tv or radio commercials, direct mailings, etc.
Today, many businesses are built online without an actual brick and mortar storefront, and are able to thrive – thanks to the computers we are all carrying around in our pockets.
But that is NOT to say local businesses can’t utilize digital marketing to their advantage. In fact, it can add a whole ‘nother branch or revenue stream to an existing business.
Let’s take a look at how the traditional process of advertising and getting people in the door of your business translates to digital marketing.
Your location/storefront translates to your website. Your website should be used as a lead generation tool, not just thrown up because someone said that you need to have a website presence. If you are not utilizing it in this way, you are really missing out on additional business.
The road/driveway/path that people use to get to your location can be translated to a sales funnel. This term is important- it is literally the path that you lead people down once they arrive at your website.
You wouldn’t want someone to arrive at your store and not know what to do next. Instead, you want a clearly marked entrance, a clear sidewalk, and a showroom that isn’t hidden down a long dark hallway. In the same way, you don’t want someone to arrive at your website and be confused about where to go. They need clear instructions or signals about what action you want them to take.
The signs or billboards that you put up to lead people to your storefront translates to social media. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest depends on where your audience is, but they all accomplish basically the same thing – to signal to a potential customer on the digital highway to stop by and see what you have to offer.
Each of the traditional modes of advertising has a digital equivalent that is as good as (or in some cases better than) the traditional.
You no longer go to the yellow pages to look up a business phone number – you Google it.
You may still clip coupons out of your local newspaper, but those are also generally available online through a Facebook ad or digital download.
TV commercials still exist, but people also watch Facebook Lives, and get information about topics that they are interested in from webinars.
Some businesses still print and distribute mailings, but many are adapting email marketing to communicate with potential customers.
Radio advertising is still a thing, but podcasts are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among the millennial generation.
True or false: The internet has a lot of opportunities to be distracted.
Today, your digital location (i.e. your website) needs a sales funnel. When you send someone to your website, there may be 20+ directions for them to go. They could fall down a rabbit hole on your site, which makes them think of something else that they need to check out on another site- and they’re gone.
If you have a sales funnel, you are directing their path. You are funneling them towards the next decision that you want them to make. So, a sales funnel (in terms of digital marketing) is a set path. It’s a series of web pages and emails that take them on a journey, directing them from point A to point Z without getting distracted.
For local businesses, you want to generate leads. The first step of the sales funnel process is to create a simple lead magnet funnel to grow an email marketing list of qualified customers. In the lead magnet funnel, you are simply offering the potential customer something of great value for free in exchange for their email address.
It could be a discount, a report, a coupon, free consultation, etc. But it has to provide true, irresistible value. A 10% off coupon is not going to do it.
Once you have captured their email address, you are now able to communicate and market to them and take them along a journey to your offers.
Once you have a sales funnel in place, you need a way to fill your funnel. You need traffic from various social media platforms that direct your potential customers to the entry point of your funnel. Not every social media platform is right for every business though, so you need to figure out where your customers spend their time, and focus your efforts on the 2-3 that will give you the best ROI.
It’s also a smart idea for local businesses to take a look at their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy to see how they rank on Google.
Advertising on Social Media
Paid traffic is available through all of the social media platforms, but again- you need to know where your customers spend their time. It’s highly likely that Facebook will be the best bet for paid advertising, but depending on your industry, there may be other options.
So now you know. If it seems daunting- you don’t have to make all the changes at once. Start with one thing, and build on it. Get your social media profiles optimized on 2 platforms, then move on to building an email list. It’s time for local businesses to harness the power of the internet to get more leads and sales.