As a business owner in 2019, you’ve 9 times out of 10 heard about the concept of digital marketing. That is, unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2012 in fear of the doomsday conspiracy. Digital marketing is the promotion of your brand, product, or service in a channel that’s presented electronically. This could be displayed in an app, website (esp. social media), or even commercial.

While traditional marketing still proves effective to some, many are taking advantage of the increasing popularity of digital media. People are now using the internet as their main source of entertainment, shopping, news, and social interaction. For example, as popular news stations and magazines are creating apps and social media pages to spread their message to viewers, the number of newspaper readers are decreasing. This could mean low conversion rates for those full-page Washington Post ads you’ve just spent countless hours and dollars mocking up.

Why Your Business Needs It

Your offline marketing campaign may include business cards, flyers, newspaper ads, direct mail, events, etc. To be successful, your business would need to hire a professional graphic designer or salary an in-house one, hire a printing company, and spend hours having the prints distributed. And even then, you still may not be tapping into the potential client base of the digital world. A well-defined digital marketing plan could set your business apart, help to establish your marketing goals, organize your efforts, and provide useful data about your customers, sales, and progress.

Digital marketing has three benefits over traditional marketing: it has the potential to reach more customers, it’s less expensive, and it saves time.

Whether you decide on online marketing, offline marketing, or a combination of both relies heavily on your target audience. The people utilizing the internet and other electronic media channels are the younger generation (millennials, if you will) and if that’s not your ideal client, it may be best to stick with the old-fashion tactics.

Channels of Digital Marketing

There isn’t one set way to successfully create and implement a digital marketing plan that works for your business. Digital marketing isn’t a one size fits all sort of thing so it’s impossible to lay out a plan that will work for every business. It’s best to try a combination of the channels, collect data, and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Marketing Land, a leading marketing blog, has found that SEO (search engine optimization) is the dominant channel that produces the highest conversions. It states that 54% of visitors find new websites through organic search from effective SEO. In the study, email follows behind SEO with 51% and social media is in third with 32%. The very last item on the list is paid search ads with 18%.

SEO. Properly optimizing your website for popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing can present a considerable increase in visibility to your brand. When people need to find anything, their go to answer buddy is always a search engine, with Google being the most popular. Hundreds, even thousands of potential clients use search terms like “interior design firm New York” or “online blogging services” daily. This is precise, targeted traffic from visitors who you know are looking for what you offer. Most people who use Google find what they’re looking for within the first few pages so if your business isn’t listed within those, your competition who is will snatch up the potential sale.

Content Marketing. Great content is the fuel to any digital marketing campaign. Starting and maintaining a blog with clever content that isn’t “promotional” sounding in nature that is both engaging and educational is a great way to establish your brand in your field. It’s also important for your website, social media channels, and newsletters to have stellar content.

Email. Another great way to be found is by creating email campaigns. With email marketing, you can track clicks, opens, and bounce rates to easily see what’s working and what’s not. Then, you can edit your content and designs to better suit your target audience which leads to more conversions and sales. You will be able to gain a loyal email subscriber list who you can continuously put your brand in front of for referrals and repeat business.

Cold email can work as well, as long as it’s genuine, personal, and non-salesy. Try collecting a list of potential clients and send them a short email explaining who you are, what you do or sell, and how you or your product can help.

Social Media. New social media websites and apps are popping up all the time and gaining hundreds of thousands of users. In fact, by June 2018, Instagram had 1 billion active monthly users. Your business can take advantage of these free marketing tools by creating a profile and updating them frequently with useful information and attractive designs. Many websites like Twitter and Facebook also have the option to dedicate a monthly budget into getting your posts seen by more of your target audience. If you’re a business with visuals (graphic design company, interior design firm, etc.), display some of your best work on an Instagram page for the world to see. You never know who might come across your page, admire your work, and give you a call. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and more.

Paid Ads. The last on the top list of digital marketing is paid ads. Many website users are reluctant to click on paid ads due to spam, viruses, and misleading content. While paid ads don’t have the same effect as other channels, it can gain your business new clients when placed on the right website that your customers are highly likely to visit.

Easily Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

As mentioned earlier, there is no one set plan of digital marketing. What works for your competitor may not work as well for you, and vice versa. Creating a digital plan doesn’t have to be a long, tedious process for your business.

The strategy should always begin with specific goals. Instead of “increase website traffic”, it should detail a goal such as “gain 20% more website visitors by the first quarter of 2020”. After you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to create steps to help you achieve those goals. These steps should be broken up into small, clear tasks for employees in your company to implement. For example, if one of your goals is to establish a social media presence, the goal can be broken down into 4 tasks:

1. Create profiles with all of your business and contact information

2. Create graphics (profile pics, headers, backgrounds) to complement the information and make the pages stand out

3. Add the page links to your website, business cards, and email signatures to let your clients know that you’re now social

4. Post twice a week to these websites with engaging, useful content and images that attracts your target audience

Having a strong digital presence through digital marketing can help you by creating awareness and engagement for your brand, converting potential leads into customers and customers into returning customers, and kick-starting word-of-mouth and social sharing.