So, you want to grow your online business, but you have no idea where to start. You've heard people talk about digital marketing, but you're somewhat confused about which tactics you should use. Well, no need to panic, below are 10 ideas and strategies you need to know about.
When I began my online business venture way back in 2004, the phrase "digital marketing" wasn't quite as often spoken of like it is today.
I mean, for starters, Facebook and Gmail were only in their infancy.
WordPress didn't have a website until around 2005, and there was no YouTube! Imagine that, not YouTube!
Google and SEO were in the spotlight, for sure, but PPC was kind of picking up traction.
And as for social media?
Well, it was in its very primitive stage, and we were very limited on what we could actually do with it.
As marketers, we did things a little differently back in the day. And primarily because the internet marketing landscape was completely different, or should I say "in its early stages".
Today, we're inundated with so many ways to grow our businesses online, and offline.
We're forever learning about the latest tools, apps, services, and various technologies.
Every day we discover some new marketing tactics, methods, or ideas.
Everywhere you look online these days, some marketing guru is preaching about the latest marketing trend.
Honestly, it can get mind-boggling at the best of times.
And here's the thing: You just can't ignore the evolution and hope you can continue to grow your business using the same old marketing techniques.
And I'm betting that when a new thing does come along, you feel compelled to need to learn about it. Why, because you don't want to be left behind, right?
As Jacky Lovato accurately wrote in this post:
If you don't keep up, you'll get left behind.
The digital marketing super-highway
To a great extent, every business owner that has a website sees themselves as some kind of internet marketing guru.
Including myself, that is. I'm not a marketing expert by any means. Nor do I have a degree in digital marketing, but I do have a boatload of experience in the field, especially in the online world.
With so much advice going around, it can be freaking overwhelming at the best of times, I can tell you.
I remember starting out in this very niche many years ago and thinking to myself -
I'm never going to get to grips with any of this stuff.
And you know what?
Even though I feel that I know a great deal about how to market my online businesses today. I'm still learning every single day.
Every day's a school day in the digital marketing world. So don't feel as if you've got to learn everything in one go. It's neither practical or even possible.
So, one of the questions I get asked a lot as a "web designer" driven by inbound marketing, is this one -
Do I actually need to learn digital marketing, or can I just build a website and wait for people to find it in Google, like most people often do?
And yes, I know what you're thinking -
But Fabrizio, everyone knows how to use the internet to market their business, it's 2020, for heaven's sake.
Well, let me start with this.
I have worked with dozens of small business owners in the last few years. And most of them didn't have the slightest idea of how to use the internet to market their business.
Even something as simple as creating a Facebook business page, or setting email marketing. These were far too complicated for a lot of the folks that I've worked with.
And here's the thing. There's nothing wrong with not knowing. Not every business owner knows how to use the internet to grow their business. It doesn't come as default like - "Oh you have a business therefore you should know how to market it online."
Sure, it might be easy for you and me. As online business owners, we spend most of our time online. We're savvy enough to know a thing or two about how digital marketing works.
But, to assume that every other business owner knows about running a website. Or how to use social media, and how to launch email campaigns. Or how to do PPC, and all the rest of it, for me that's shallow thinking.
I actually thought the same thing once too. That everyone knew how to do this digital marketing stuff. I was wrong.
Here's the reality:
There are thousands of small business owners who have no idea where to start when it comes to online marketing.
Heck, most of them don't even have a website, to begin with.
So, think about those brick and mortar based businesses that have been long and well established 'offline'. They simply hit a brick wall when it comes to the online world. No pun intended.
So, to finally answer the question - Do you need to know digital marketing?
Heck yes, is the short answer.
Interest in digital marketing has continued to grow over the last five years.
It's now critical for any business getting online to get to grips with good internet marketing practices.
The digital marketing playing field has changed
Internet marketing methods are somewhat different from conventional offline marketing tactics.
For starters, most of the offline or traditional marketing techniques are based on "advertising" and, or "cold hard selling".
The internet, although it shares similar values and principles as traditional marketing, is a very different landscape altogether. And navigating it can be challenging at best, but not impossible.
Advertising is just one "tiny" piece of the online marketing puzzle. The rest of the puzzle is made up of other forms of online marketing tactics.
So, finally, in this post, I will share with you 10 of the best digital marketing ideas and strategies you need to know about.
Of course, there are hundreds of other tactics out there you could explore. But, you need not worry your head about any of those yet. Especially if you're new to all this.
For now, let's focus our attention on the tactics that matter for increasing brand awareness and growing your business online.
Let's finally, dive in!
#1: Get a responsive website
If you're reading this and you already know the importance and significance of having a website for your business, then move on.
If you have a business without a website, and you don't think it's a big deal, then please read on.
Your business might be coping perfectly fine without a website. But, if "coping" is all you want for your business then that's fine. If you're looking for growth, however, you've got to have a website.
Check out this statistic -
According to GoDaddy's 2015 small business survey, they found that 60% of small businesses do not have a website.
Here in the UK alone, it's estimated that 2 million businesses still don't have a website. (Source)
That's quite alarming, I think so anyway.
Those numbers might be less now as we approach 2020. But, many small businesses don't bother with a website because they feel it's either too expensive to build one. Or too time-consuming to manage one.
Or, they just don't understand how much of an impact a website can have on their business and customers.
A mobile-responsive website can have a massive impact on your business. Especially when you factor in that 60% of internet access is occurring on mobile devices.
SmallBizTrends made an interesting point in one of their articles here. It said -
With a website, your business stops being invisible.
There's no better way to put it, especially in the digital age we're in right now. Because, without a website, your business is virtually invisible to those trying to find your products and services online.
#2: Start blogging
Oh no, not the "you've got to start a blog" advice again...
I hear you but please hear me out.
Blogging has been around for some time now. Almost every internet-based business manages a blog of some type.
Back in 1999, a list was compiled by Jesse James Garrett where there were only 23 blogs in existence on the internet (Source).
According to this infographic, as of 2013, the number of blogs in existence exceeds 170 million.
That very article also states that there are somewhere in the region of 170,000 new blogs added to the internet every day.
Those are astonishing numbers, right? Can you imagine what it must be like now?
So, why should you even care about using blogging in your business when there's already so many around. And, how can you use blogging to help your business grow anyway?
Let's take a closer look -
- Blogging can help you share timely and relevant information with your leads and customers. Think of it as a direct way to communicate with them.
- Businesses who use blogs receive 67% more leads than businesses who don't market with blogs. (Source)
- Blogging can help improve search engine rankings, thus driving more targeted buyer traffic to your business website, products, and services.
- Blogging is a great way to add that all-important "human element" to your brand. It can help you build more connections, reinforce relationships and help you earn the trust and loyalty of your customers. That's important if you want people to buy from you again and again.
- Blogging is a cost-effective marketing strategy, simple to set up and every business should be using it.
#3: Search engine optimization (SEO)
Having a great looking website is all well and good. You can also have amazing content on your website. And, you might also have great products or offer the best services in your industry. But if no one can find it, then it's all a waste of time.
Here's one website marketing strategy you can't ignore:
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short.
OK, I'm sure that you've heard the term 'SEO' being thrown around the internet marketing world.
I have spoken to many small business owners, as well as marketers, and bloggers and I often ask them -
"What do they do to drive traffic to their website?"
Most of them immediately respond with either -
"I'm doing advertising" or "I'm running PPC campaigns".
That's great, but both of these tactics are far from being the most cost-effective.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with doing either of those things, advertising or PPC. But then I ask -
"What about SEO?"
The response I usually get is this -
"Pfft, SEO is too technical, man. It's way too time-consuming and doesn't produce immediate results".
I get it, your business can't wait around for Google to give you free traffic so that you can convert into paying customers.
Here' the thing:
I know some businesses spend a lot of money on PPC ads. Some companies even spend their entire annual marketing budget on it.
Well, because PPC marketing brings in traffic faster than SEO. Faster traffic means more leads and more customers. But it comes at a cost. It can be a heavy cost if they don't plan and budget properly.
Again, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with paying for ads, but, there is a much better and more cost-effective way.
Yes, you guessed it. It's called SEO.
You can do SEO yourself, you don't need to hire an SEO expert. And whilst doing SEO is free, it has some disadvantages over PPC.
- SEO doesn't always provide immediate results. You have to wait to see the result of your efforts.
- There's no guarantee that optimizing for search engines will pay off.
I've created a lot of web copy as well as written blog posts that struggled to rank for many months.
But that said, doing SEO can provide your business website with free traffic, and lots of it too.
If you don't believe me, try searching for "digital marketing ideas" in Google and see where this blog post ends up in the search results list.
It should be somewhere on page one.
And again, for the record, I'm not saying that PPC is bad in any way. I know a lot of great marketers out there that are doing great with paid ads. But they also know how to do it very well. And have a larger budget to throw in.
What I am saying is - If you're starting out, you may not want to blast your entire marketing or advertising budget on PPC.
When you implement simple SEO practices into your website marketing strategy, sure it takes some time to see any worthwhile results. Again, especially if you're starting out with your website. But the results will be worth the wait.
And the best thing is?
You don't have to drain your marketing budget.
Search engine traffic is free, and on top of that, it can last for a very long time if you keep your content fresh and relevant.
If you run a WordPress website, consider installing an SEO plugin. I recommend something like Yoast SEO, which is free. Or, something like SEOPressor Connect for more site-wide and on-page precision optimization options. This is a subscription plugin by the way.
#4: Guest blogging
Guest blogging is nothing new, I know. And only a few years ago it was considered to be a very effective way to build backlinks and drive traffic.
These days, if you try using guest blogging for link building, and in an unethical way, you could get a nice big slap from Google.
Guest blogging, yet, is still very powerful for:
- Brand promotion and increasing credibility.
- Tapping into a blog's traffic source and driving readers back to your own website (Kind of works).
- Building relationships with readers from other blogs and communities.
I want to stress that brand promotion and credibility goes a long way in helping you to establish your website with guest blogging.
I've made plenty of new connections and friends by guest blogging on a handful of relevant blogs in the past. So I know it works.
As for getting backlinks and driving referral traffic?
Well, it kind of works. Or at least it used to.
From my own experiences, there would be some blogs that would drive good traffic and some that didn't.
Check out the graphic below. It was taken from an insightful, data-driven case study article over on BloggerJet by Tim Soulo.
Tim gathered data from some 239 guest posts from around 400 bloggers. He goes on to prove to a degree that guest blogging is not often the best strategy to use for driving referral traffic.
You can check out the post here. It contains some other valuable information, tips, and ideas for effective guest blogging.
5: List building and email marketing
Here's another thing that I find quite interesting.
Throughout 2019, I have been fortunate enough to have connected and worked with some of the most amazing clients I've ever had to work with. I guess I should feel lucky.
Anyhow, I discovered that many of those clients did not have an email list for their business. They didn't grow one.
That's crazy because an email list is one of the most valuable and responsive assets you can have in your business.
I don't want to sound like a broken record and tell you - hey, man, you've got to build your email list, over and over again. You know this already if you haven't already started.
Instead, I want you to digest some of these interesting email marketing stats below in the Slide Share.
OK, so if you're thinking to yourself right now: Well, I can build a fanbase on Facebook or find lots of followers on Twitter instead, right?
Yes, you can. But there's a problem with doing this -
Building an email list for your business is unlike building a following or network on social media.
Yes, you can have 50k followers on Twitter. Or, you can have 20k fans on Facebook. And 70k on Instagram. But here's the thing, you'll never, ever own those fans and followers. Ever.
By building your email list, building your own network of loyal fans, you will always own your list no matter what.
Even if you can only muster a few subscribers each day, it all goes towards building your marketing list.
I'm sharing with you a screen capture below. It shows my email list growth per-month. You can see when I started it was pretty drismal. But then it started to grow.
Not impressive by any standard, but as you can see it's been growing, right?
So, please, don't put all your focus on social media only, because you heard Gary Vaynerchuk say that's what you've got to do!
Oh wait, he's Gary Vaynerchuk! Forget everything here and go listen to his advice instead.
Seriously, though, focus on also growing your email list. It's cost-effective and it can be very profitable for your business, later on, so get on the case.
Check out this post I wrote over on my main blog at Magnet4Blogging. I show you how I exploded my email growth by 400%
#6: Social media marketing
OK, so I told you not to place all your focus on social media. Now I'm going to tell you not to ignore social media.
It's impossible to ignore social media because it's here to stay for a very long time.
And, as more people flock to sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest. You need to start thinking of ways to get your business noticed, and in front of your target audience, on these platforms.
Easier said than done, right? So how do you do it?
The aim of social media is not to be on every single platform you can find. But to be present on the platforms that you know will give you the most engagement, conversions, etc.
In other words, be where your audience is engaging with you and your content the most.
For instance, if people are reacting to your shared content and interaction on Facebook, that's where you need to be spending most of your time. If it's Twitter or LinkedIn, you know what you have to do.
Be where your audience wants to engage with you.
If something isn't working, for example, you've been trying to make Instagram work for your business for months and months. Either change it up or don't bother with it if your audience isn't there.
A lot of businesses just plod along on every social platform they can find, month after month, wasting time, money and valuable resources.
This is a useless, costly, and time-consuming tactic. So don't fall into this trap, especially when your target audience could be somewhere else entirely.
My social media strategy
My social marketing strategy is simple. I focus on two main platforms, YouTube and Instagram. Everything else comes second. You have to find what works best for your business and put all your chips in.
If you want to learn how to make the most of social media for marketing your business, I urge you to check out this amazing book on Amazon.
#7: Content marketing
Content marketing is a powerful strategy used by millions of marketers.
So, what is content marketing exactly?
In a nutshell, content marketing is the process of creating content that is useful, relevant, and compelling. The content has to be good enough to attract and convert prospects into customers.
The content can be in written contextual form, audio or video.
Here are a list medium you can use for your content creation -
- Videos for YouTube and Social Media.
- Audiobooks and podcasts.
- eBooks and white papers.
- Webinars and Livestream video.
- Presentations and other visual content.
- Blog posts.
- Social media content.
- Print publication.
If you're interested in learning what a content marketer is actually responsible for, I recommend you check out this post over on CopyBlogger.
The most important thing to remember with content marketing is that you're not trying to sell anything.
Yep, that's right. No sales pitches whatsoever.
But rather, you're trying to provide value and resources. By doing so you educate and inspire your customers to take action. Hopefully, that action will lead them down your marketing funnels.
#8: Outreach and influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a tactic, again, that hasn't been around for very long, but boy is it taking off.
Its growth in popularity has been phenomenal in the digital marketing world. And when done right, influencer marketing can be very effective for any type of business.
So what is this influence marketing exactly?
According to this source: Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.
Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire/hire/pay influencers to get the word out for you.
Still unsure what all this means?
It means to use industry leaders and established experts to catapult your message about your business, products, and services to a wider audience.
Here are some useful tools to help you with your influencer marketing and outreach campaigns -
- BuzzSumo Influencers
- Ninja Outreach (Influential blogger outreach, recommended)
- Mention (Identify the most important people talking about your business)
#9: Adding your business to Google Maps
So, if you have a local business you'd like to increase visibility for online, the most basic thing you can do is to add your business to Google Maps. This can be achieved through Google My Business (Previously known as Google Places).
With your business visible in Google Maps, your customers can find you, and even leave valuable feedback about your business. This will help you to boost trust, credibility and attract even more customers.
#10: Use Pay Per Click
I couldn't leave PPC out because it's a great strategy for businesses when the time is right.
Again, if you're starting out with your business, don't be tempted to blow your entire marketing or advertising budget on PPC. Especially if you don't know what you're doing.
OK, so PPC is one of the quickest but not the most cost-effective ways to get traffic to your website.
If you're smart about it, you can create a very relevant and compelling offer. As long as your ad content is good, you can use targeted PPC ads to get people flocking to your offer.
I would not recommend you start using PPC with the mindset that you're going to convert cold prospects into buyers immediately. It doesn't quite work that way with PPC.
I would recommend, however, that you use PPC to build your customer base. You can do this by offering a valuable incentive that is in line with your business offerings.
For instance, you can use PPC to grow your email list. You can then think of ways in which to convert your email list prospects into buyers later on.
Check out this book on Amazon if you need an introduction to Pay Per Click. It's a fantastic read.
It's a wrap!
So, there you have it. 10 best digital marketing ideas and strategies to grow your business in 2020 and beyond.
I want you to remember that internet marketing doesn't have to be costly, nor does it have to be a complex minefield.
All the strategies I've outlined above can be cost-effective. Make sure you plan ahead before executing any tactic and you'll successfully grow your business online.
I want to wish you the very best of luck.