Digital Marketing fundamentals

If you're a start-up or small business owner and don't know where to begin with your digital marketing efforts, you're not alone. 

You probably have a website, a Facebook Business page, and are "using Google," but you don't really know how effective it's been because you’re focusing on your business and trying to keep existing customers happy.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that daunting. This guide will help you attract, convert, and delight your customers—all without huge budgets or having to manage contractors.   

Let's begin.

The big picture 

Marketing, in general, is a long-term end game. It's not about hitting people over the head with messages to get people to buy (although that can happen). It's about three things:

  1. Attracting the right audience (not every person is the right fit for your offering)

  2. Converting them to customers

  3. Delighting those customers and turning them into loyal promoters

1. How to attract the right visitors 

Defining your audience 

To attract the right visitors, you need to know who you are targeting. Not everyone is your ideal customer. You need to build out a persona: a semi-fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customers. It helps you understand your prospects better and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs. 

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base through surveys, interviews, etc. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.

Developing educational content

Your prospects may not have heard of your product or service. Before you go into selling them, you need to educate them. At this stage in the customer journey ("awareness"), the prospect may have a problem, but they haven't actively started looking for a solution. Your product or service might be the right solution to their problem, but you have to identify it.

Here are some examples of educational content. 

Blogging, social media posts, and downloadable guides are examples of content types you can create. They have a compounding effect: The subject matter alone can attract the right prospect, and it also is being crawled by search engines, further enhancing the value of developing content. 

Choosing appropriate media channels 

Now that you've created content, you need to promote it. Search engines do help, but nowadays it's often not enough to hope search engines alone will attract the right audiences to your site. Some publishers to consider: 

  • Facebook: Facebook is not just for personal use. It is an efficient way to target demographics, interests, job functions and more. Even better, once a visitor has come to your site, they can be retargeted (or remarketed) on Facebook with different messages to promote engagement.

  • Google: Like Facebook, Google has the ability to identify user intent with search engine queries. Google has display advertising (banner ads), search, and video with YouTube.

  • Instagram: If you offer a product which is visually interesting or can tell compelling stories through photography, Instagram might be a good choice. As part of Facebook, Instagram has the same targeting capabilities.

  • LinkedIn: A little narrower than the other platforms, LinkedIn is very focused on the professional side of social media. If you offer a product or service which you sell to businesses, LinkedIn is a good solution.

  • Twitter: The original social media, Twitter is great to get people engaged, but if you don't already have a large following, you'll have to consider a paid campaign.

2. How to convert visitors to customers  

Once visitors have started coming to your site to read your great content, you need to help them make the decision that your product or service is the one for them. This is the "consideration" phase in a traditional marketing funnel or customer journey. 

Using your persona, what type of content would help a prospect make a decision to purchase? A few ideas are:

  • Showing pricing

  • Comparing products

  • Comparing competitive products

  • Using calculators for savings

  • FAQs

Use analytics on your site to see what content is working and what content you might want to ditch. 

3. How to continually delight your customers 

Once you have converted a prospect to a customer, you need to delight them. Here, email is your friend (as long as you have permission to mail to your customers). 

You should never take your customers for granted. Once you have won their sale, you need to continue to help them. 

  • Provide tips

  • Give them special offers

  • Offer complementary products or services by third parties

Since you know who they are, you can use email to target specific messages and offers and keep your customers happy. 

What’s next?

There's a lot to cover in one blog post on an overview of digital marketing. Hopefully this is the first step to make the approach a little less scary.

Lisa Flosznik