A framework for digital marketing
To make things easier… but not at the expense of understanding core concepts, here’s the simple framework you can use to get started in digital marketing:
- Set your goal
- Choose your KPI
- Measure (before)
- Measure (after)
Step #1 Set your goal
Start with what you want your business to achieve, at a high level. It shouldn’t be ‘making more money’, which is an obvious goal. Your goal should be something more specific ‘like making more money by selling a new product to a specific niche’. The best goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and timebound).
Step #2 Choose your KPI
Once you have your goal clearly laid out, it’s time to consider key performance indicators to measure your progress. Don’t make the mistake of skipping this step. There’re all kinds of metrics you can use and it can be overwhelming and paralyzing. If you can, focus on just one metric that tells you whether you’re getting any closer to your goal. If your goal is to increase sales, your KPI should be the number of sales you receive which his definitely measurable. Your KPI could something be offline, like the number of visitors you receive each month. KPIs are different for everyone as we all have different goals. The key is to pick what’s most important to you and your goal.
Step #3 Measure (before)
Measure where you stand right now, using your KPI as a yardstick. How many sales you have had? What’s your current percentage of new customers vs returning? The purpose isn’t to inflate or deflate your current position. It’s to be honest. Write it down. Save it. You’ll need it to refer back to it later to see how far you’ve come.
Step #4 Leap
Now, it’s time to take a leap. You may wonder where’s the ‘plan’? When you’re getting started with digital marketing, there’re a lot of unknowns. Yes, you can definitely plan but there’ll be a certain amount of throwing noodles at the wall to see what sticks. You can’t let too much planning slow you down, you just have to jump in and see what works and what doesn’t. So, it’s not a total shot into he dark – you’re making a calculated first step.
Step #5 Measure (after)
Measure where you stand after taking a leap. Be as honest as you can, by looking at the KPI you laid it out. It’s tempting to look at other metrics and even doubt whether you picked the right KPI in the first place. Resist the doubt and temptation. You’ve set the KPI already and so only look at that. Looking at others is distraction at best and a lie at worst. Don’t start looking at others because the value is higher or it makes you feel better. The only purpose of having a KPI is to measure and learn so you can improve. It’s not there to make you feel good of yourself.
Step #6 Learn
Take time to sit down and look at your KPIs. You’ve probably learnt a lot. Compare your standing (before) to your standing (after). How did you do? Are you getting any closer to your goal? If you were to do it over again, how differently are you going to do it? What would you do the same again?
Domain names, email, and hosting
Purchase a domain name that matches the name of your business. You can do this through a domain registrar or by yourself. You’ll also need a reliable provider to host your website, depending on what sort of website you’re going to have. You can have your domain registrar and host at the same company or separately. It’s also important to have an email address under your domain, such as email@example.com. Email hosting is sometimes included in web hosting packages. If it doesn’t, Google and Microsoft are some options to consider.
Yes, you need a website
It’s not enough having word of mouth and social media (which is a castle on someone else’s land). You also need a website. You can make it by yourself or you can find a professional. The more you want it to do, the more you’re going to pay.
The three best (and easiest) platforms you can use to build your website are:
- WordPress – scalable, open-source and carries many possibilities.
- Squarespace – great for simple and pretty websites.
- Shopify – great for e-commerce websites.
The three options you can consider to make sales online are:
- Adding e-commerce functionality to your website
- Selling through third-party marketplace like Amazon
- Building your whole website with Shopify or similar provider
It’s critical to have a reliable and cost-effective payment gateway. And use integrations to hook up your online store to other digital systems such as accounting and logistics.
The three components of a modern website: mobile, fast and accessible
It’s not enough having a website, you need to optimize and scale it properly for the growing number of visitors. In general, the faster and the more responsive your website is, the better the search engines are going to favor it. Responsive design means your website can adapt its design to the device it’s being viewed on.
Page speed is essential in both Google’s eyes and your visitors. You can benchmark it using Google Page Speed Insights and fine tune the details. When it comes to accessibility, follow the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Without overcomplicating it, design your website with ease of use in mind. It’s not just the right thing to do. In many countries, it’s the law.
Lock it down: digital privacy, data security and the law
You might not have an IT department in your small business but it’s essential to keep your customers safe on the Internet. Phishing, data breaches and malware are the three biggest threats to online data privacy. Here’s are some countermeasures you can put in place:
- Use a password manager.
- Update your systems regularly.
- Don’t blindly trust anti-virus tools.
- Use a VPN.
- Practice ‘clean desk policy’ in the office.
- Use two-factor authentication.
Depending on the business and the country you’re in, you might be subject to the data laws, including the GDPR. To maintain compliance, you should regularly:
- Review your company’s data collection practices.
Content is king
The most successful content is the one that’s authentic and resonates with the audience right away. Write your content as humanly as possible, but keep in mind Google and other search engines are looking at your copy as well. Do not steal photos. Use your own, hire a photographer if necessary. You can also buy royalty-free photos or get permission to use others.
Keep your website fresh and updated with the minds of your customers, and stay on top of the search engines. There are many possibilities to produce content, but here’s are the most common:
- Video series and Vlogs
- Live video
- Guest appearances
There’s a clear formula for SEO and it takes time and effort. Patience is the name of the game because you can’t trick Google with some quick and dirty hacks. Search engines these days are pretty smart and take hundreds of factors into consideration when ranking websites. That said, here are three areas you can focus to increase your ranking:
- On-page SEO (for example, by using keywords)
- Off-page SEO (for example, by using backlinks)
- Local SEO (for example, by using tools such as Google My Business)
Developing a strong SEO presence takes years of consistent effort. Here’s are two things that can help accelerate this process:
- Partnerships with businesses (not competitors) that appeal to similar niche.
- Collaborations with influencers to create a word-of-mouth effect.
If you’re just starting out, it can be overwhelming to be on all social media channels. Discover where your target is and pick a few that are most relevant. Social media etiquette is important. Don’t cross-post between platforms or send automated responses. Consider creating a social media guidelines document for your business. Use editorial calendars and scheduling tools to make your social media strategy easier.
Like social media, Email is an easy, low-cost tool you can use to market your small business. Before composing email campaigns, ask what your most desired response (MDR) is, what business goal it’s supporting and what value the message brings to the reader. In addition, make sure you have the consent of them being on your email list. Use A/B testing to determine the best time and day for campaigns, as well as which subject line works best. Connect your email reports to your website analytics, so you can see the entire customer journey in one place.
Advertising is an essential element to make sure your business stands out. When planning online ads, ask yourself:
- How does my ad support my business goal?
- What is the key message I want my ad to convey?
- What is the action I want people to take?
- What value does my ad bring to the viewers?
- How will I measure the effectiveness of my ad?
Once you have it figured out, you need to consider advertising platforms you want your ad to be on. Your best options are Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram ads. Start by spending a little on each to see if you get any traction. If you’re seeing results, double down both money and effort.
Keeping track and measuring
You need a CRM system (although it can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet), to keep track of your customer database and buyer journey. Take functionality and price into consideration when looking at a paid CRM system . Don’t be afraid to go smaller like Insighty, HubSpot or Zoho if that’s all you need. Make sure you’re using Google Analytics to keep track of your website traffic. And make sure you’re using social media insights to relate to the four stages of buyer journey: awareness, engagement, conversion and customer. Again, be aware of vanity metrics.