The shift to digital started much before the coronavirus disruption. The pandemic has accelerated the shift. Our consumption of all things digital has zoomed. Once the pandemic is behind us, some of our digital consumption may go back to pre-pandemic levels. For instance, movie streaming will reduce from the peak it hit during lockdown. Some other behaviours will sustain over the longer term. For instance, using video calls for meetings. Or consuming news digitally. Or ecommerce. Or increased use of social media. With an increased online audience, digital marketing will continue to grow in importance.
Currently, rates for marketing on digital channels have gone down. This downturn has been driven by three factors. One – everybody was getting used to working from home. And learning how to collaborate online has a learning curve. Two – there is economic uncertainty. Companies are conserving cash. Business survival took precedence over any marketing initiative. Three- some large advertisers stopped Facebook ads due to the #boycottFacebook campaign.
Think of the lull in digital marketing as a temporary phenomenon. It’s only a matter of time before it takes off again. Now is great time to begin or refresh your digital marketing. This article is about the 3 things you need to know to do that.
#1: Digital marketing is not Digital + Marketing
Digital marketing is often looked at as a magic box. A magic box which skyrockets leads and supercharges lead conversion. Consultants and digital marketers are often to blame for this. In the eagerness to make a sale, they might paint digital marketing as the answer to all the problems. Also, the phrase ‘digital marketing’ is misleading. ‘Digital advertising’ might be a more intuitive way to describe it.
Digital marketing is a channel. Just like a magazine, a newspaper, or a television. Digital is a channel to advertise your product or service. It does not replace the core marketing effort. Hence, you need to have some form of marketing strategy and plan in place before you do digital marketing. That includes understanding who your target audience is. Understanding which product attributes will appeal to the customer. Understanding which digital channels your target audience spends time on.
#2: Pick your channels well
There is a plethora of digital marketing channels. From your website to social media to in-app advertising. There is plenty of choice. So which platforms and formats should you umany depends on many factors. For instance, if you are a B2B company, LinkedIn scores over Facebook and Instagram. At least for lead generation. If you sell garments directly to customers, your Instagram account is key. The important point to consider is that one size doesn’t fit all. A digital channel which works for one company for a certain product might not work for you. Also, its dangerous to extrapolate your preferences to those of your audience. For instance, you might think that posting content on LinkedIn is a waste of time. Yet, if your audience consumes content on LinkedIn, it’s a place you need to invest time, effort and money on.
Below is a quick non-exhaustive look at some of the digital channels to consider.
Website: Your website is your first port of call. It should reflect your business as credible and professional. It should anticipate and answer your customer’s key questions. How long have you been in business? What’s your product range? Which renowned customer has bought from you? What do they have to say about your product?
Social media: The first choice for B2B is LinkedIn. For starters, around 20% of its total userbase of 700 million are from India. 80% of B2B leads from social media are from LinkedIn. What should you do on LinkedIn?
. Create a company page and an individual profile. You can check out my profile at https://www.shorturl.at/stOP3
. Post regularly on your company and your page. Posts could be company / product updates, articles (yours and others) relevant to your target audience. Post what your audience is interested in, not necessarily directly related to what you sell
. Take part in discussions relevant to your industry
LinkedIn is well integrated with Twitter. It’s zero effort to post on both platforms simultaneously.
For B2C companies, Instagram and Facebook are an important part of the mix. TikTok was becoming an important marketing platform. Keep your eyes open for TikTok alternatives whenever they gain acceptance. The short video format is hugely popular with youngsters.
Don’t get discouraged if your posts don’t get the attention you want immediately. It’s a long game and every drop counts. Also, don’t look at social media solely as a lead generation machine. It also builds your brand through reach and visibility. A collateral benefit is easier recruitments. LinkedIn is the go-to place for job hunters. Your LinkedIn company page is as important as your website in presenting a professional face to job seekers.
Also look at other platforms like Quora and YouTube (how-to videos, company video). Remember to create a personality. Don’t be boring. Have fun and engage with your audience.
Email marketing: Email marketing works. Despite all the spam! A newsletter or article is a great way to stay in the mindspace of current and potential customers. Again, focus on content which your audience wants. If every email is an ad for your product or service, your mails are likely to go unread or marked as spam. Only focus on value to your audience.
Don’t start-stop. Build engagement through regular emails. There are several right-priced email marketing tools. Pick one and have a go! My email newsletter runs on a service called Mailchimp. It has an intuitive UI and is free till 2000 subscribers.
Other channels: Three others worth mentioning- Google, Amazon and in-app advertising. Google ads is increasingly cluttered and expensive. Yet, it’s worth doing a trial and analysing cost-benefit. Amazon has transformed B2C sales. As a result, the list of big brands spending big money on Amazon advertising is exploding. Amazon Business is yet to see the same success. Yet, the number and complexity of items sold is fast increasing. So, try listing a couple of your standardized products there, advertise a little and see how it goes.
#3: Don’t obsess over metrics
Metrics are good. You need to understand whether the digital marketing investment is bearing fruit. Yet don’t get sucked into mapping every single rupee to new customers or new leads. Often, digital marketing efforts take time to bear fruit. You also need to differentiate between marketing for brand awareness and for lead generation.
What if you are in an industry where buyers know and respect your product and your company? Does digital marketing still matter? It sure does. There is an ever-increasing amounts or information available online. There’s a good chance that your customer is aware of alternatives to your product. Going digital allows you to stay at the top of your customer’ mind.
So, go ahead and explore digital marketing. It’s an essential piece of the marketing puzzle. Just be ready to stay invested for some time before the results start showing.