Whether you are just launching a business or you are a seasoned entrepreneur, you’re probably aware that marketing your business can often be a complicated activity. With the widespread adoption of PCs, mobile devices and wearable technology, today’s consumers are more connected than ever before, and businesses absolutely need to be where consumers are searching and making purchasing decisions. At the same time, managing the myriad of channels consumers use can be a daunting task for many businesses.
One area in particular that businesses often struggle with is digital marketing. Although business owners are aware that digital is an effective channel to reach their customers, many aren’t sure how to get started. The key to digital marketing success is to focus on establishing a digital presence, driving leads and expanding an audience. Here are five core rules to get you started:
Even though people are constantly connected to their smart phones and tablets, there are a surprising number of businesses that have not optimized their websites for mobile devices. Mobile responsive sites load faster and provide a better user experience. What’s more – they also help with search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, Google announced earlier this year that websites that aren’t optimized for mobile use may receive a lower search ranking than their mobile-optimized counterparts. The best way to optimize your site is to ensure it has the right design so that it fits the screen size and allows all images to load.
In addition to helping with SEO, rich content such as photos and videos help capture consumer attention and drive actions on your website. As a rule of thumb, the content should be arranged in a way that provides a good user experience, and it should be consistent across all media. It’s always a good idea to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes to determine what should be featured on your website and social profiles and which information is superfluous. Here are some tips to help you get started: host your blog in a subfolder on the primary website domain, not a link to a separate site, to keep your audience from navigating away from your website. Furthermore, keep any headlines or calls to action above the fold so that potential customers can see them without scrolling. Lastly, update your content at least quarterly, so that it is not outdated or irrelevant.
Once you’ve established your online profile, you should focus on getting in front of customers when they’re looking for the product or service you provide. Search engine marketing (SEM) enables you to pay to have your business featured at the top of search results. Bidding on keywords is the foundation of SEM. As you begin an SEM campaign, go smaller and more targeted by using your business name. The best converting keywords usually tend to be brand or business name keywords, like “Auntie Marie’s Bakery” or “Fancy Nancy’s Pet Shop.” Generic keywords, like “attorney” or “lawyer,” will usually have tons of competition and are priced higher. Instead, use category and geography keywords together, like “attorney Agoura Hills” or “lawyer Agoura Hills.” These “long-tail” keywords can help drive quality traffic to your site. You can also geo-target your search campaigns to only be seen by customers you can serve.
Not every searcher is a spelling bee champion! “Plumber” could easily be misspelled as “plummer” by a potential customer. And who knows how many different ways “veterinarian” and “chiropractor” can be misspelled? Another tip for your SEM campaign is to bid on misspellings and typos. By putting those mistakes to work, you can add some lower cost, lower competition keywords to your ad campaign that may increase traffic to your site.
Spruce up your SEM text ad by adding ad extensions, such as sitelinks, phone numbers and addresses. Site links allow you to add deep links under your text ad that drive users to specified pages within your website. Some sitelink examples are promo pages, product pages and “About Us” pages. With call and location extensions, you can add your business phone number and address alongside your text ad. Local small businesses that rely heavily on in-store foot traffic may find this particularly useful. Call tracking provides another tangible measure of value to the advertiser by tracking not just traffic clicks but actual calls.
As consumers increasingly rely on different devices and media to find businesses that meet their needs, it is harder than ever to be where customers are looking and make it easy for them to find information about your business. Ultimately, success is defined by the ability to create a user experience that keeps your business relevant and engages customers in any environment. By providing quality content delivered through an experience that is optimized for the device, businesses can boost their credibility and drive ROI.
About the Author: Jeff Federman is SVP/GM, Digital Region, for YP.