Shopify Ecosystem Strategy

Digital Marketing 101: Basic Digital Strategies All Brands Should Know

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Your business is set up. Your product is ready to sell. Now you need to get people to buy the product you worked so hard to bring to market – and that requires a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

Developing a marketing strategy is no joke. It requires deep analysis and an understanding of best practices across multiple channels. It’s so complicated that it often makes more sense to outsource the process than attempt to do it in-house. We’re here to help you understand key concepts and basics in our Digital Marketing 101 primer to get you on the right track.

We’ll give you an overview of the major digital marketing channels and what you can accomplish with each of them before introducing you to two key concepts: the marketing funnel, which will help you understand how marketing works to encourage purchases, and the eCommerce pyramid, which explains the hierarchy of foundational elements for a successful marketing strategy. But, before anything else,  you need to understand your target audience.

Target Audience

Ask yourself: Who is my customer? Your efforts in any marketing channel are only effective if they’re geared toward the right audience. Understanding your core customer demographic(s) will help you target your marketing efforts, more precisely, increasing return on investment (ROI) and lifetime value (LTV).

If your company is pre-launch, you’ll have to start with a competitive analysis to determine your direct, aspirational, and adjacent competitors. Detreturn on investmentes. Find out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and what you can learn from them. Post-launch, companies can rely on data to determine their best customers. Hiring a team of professional digital marketers who can craft platforms to suit your business needs is best. One of the best-rated web development agencies is DevelopedBrands which specifically deals with customizable Irish websites.

Either way, build out customer personas based on major demographics (gender, age, location, education level, etc.) and behaviors (hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc.). These personas help you remember who you’re talking to so you can make messaging more persprimaryacross channels. Speaking of channels:

Major Digital Marketing Channels

1. Social Media Advertising

Major social networks (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.) offer paid placements for advertisers to get their brand in front of users with interruptive ads. Depending on the platform and interface, these ads come in many forms and can be targeted to specific users at a broad or granular level based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.

Social media advertising is critical for growing the brand awareness by introducing previously unaware potential customers to new brands and products. Still, it can encourage familiar users to purchase through retargeting or remarketing campaigns. Retargeting ads are served to users based on parameters like which pages a user visited on a brand’s website, how long it’s been since they visited the website, whether they added products to their cart but didn’t buy, how they interacted with a brand’s social media accounts, and much more.

2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Complementing social media ads are search ads, also known as search engine marketing (SEM). While social media ads are typically interruptive, search ads appear alongside relevant searches, allowing brands to capitalize on user intent. Advertisers can bid on related search terms to get their ad in front of users who are demonstrating an interest in something relevant to what they’re selling. SEM can also be divided into new acquisition and retargeting.

3. Lifecycle Marketing

Lifecycle marketing (including email and SMS marketing) offers brands a way to communicate directly with users who’ve expressed interest in their products or services by giving an email address or phone number in exchange for updates. This channel can be a key revenue driver for eCommerce and B2B companies as long as they follow best practices.

Make sure you segment your list based on demographics, interests, or behaviors to provide relevant, personalized content to your various customer groups. Create automated sequences triggered based on time spent on sites or user actions.‍

4. Organic Social Media

Social media is every brand’s opportunity to build a community of loyal, engaged followers. By developing an online persona and interacting with users, brands can grow awareness and build trust.

Brands should consider which platforms are best for interacting with their audience. For instance, eCommerce companies might favor Instagram for its photo-centric interface, while B2B companies might be more active on LinkedIn, where content is more professionally focused.

5. Influencer Marketing

Brands can partner with internet tastemakers to reach communities of social media users. Acting as brand advocates, these influencers introduce brands to new audiences, increase awareness, and establish credibility through third-party validation.

When it comes to influencer marketing, authenticity is critical — and realism begins with picking the right influencers for your brand. Partnering with the wrong influencers will not only generate poor results but can tarnish your brand reputation.

6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is how brands can make their website more discoverable on search engines. By appropriately structuring URLs and targeting relevant keywords with landing pages and organic content, brands set the stage for search engines to find their website relevant to search queries related to their products or services.

7. Content Marketing

Every brand has the opportunity to publish content as a way to drive engagement and establish trust among consumers. By educating users on products and services, brands can stay top of mind and reshape purchase cycles.

Quality content can also be repurposed across other channels, like email, social media, and influencer-related platforms.

Digital Marketing Best Practices

With a clear target persona or set of personas in mind, a sound digital marketing strategy identifies the proper channels to focus on and fits them into a practical framework. That starts with an objective.

Setting SMART Goals

Success cannot be achieved or measured without reference to a goal. The overarching objective is to grow the business, but that will require a sequence of smaller accomplishments to get there (and sustain growth). The go-to mantra is to set SMART goals like the ones below:

  • Be specific. For example, will your social media feeds be focused on driving more minor sales?
  • Be measurable. In the above case, will the KPI be likes, follower numbers, engagement (comments), or clicks and purchases?
  • Be achievable. If the goal is to increase sales, is the fulfillment system in place to support a surge in orders without compromising customer experience? If the goal is to build the community, are the community management resources available to engage with members and add value?
  • Be realistic. What are the benchmarks for success for similar companies in your sector or area? There needs to be a logic behind and reference for your target results.
  • Be time-bound. Put milestones for measurement in place, at which point you can adjust or suspend a campaign, and establish a clear end point to evaluate performance and use the insight to plan future campaigns. Without a clear finish line, it is easy to be pulled into a “sunk cost” trap of trying to make a floundering cendpointome back to life.

With these goals in place, you can develop more sophisticated target personas to define market segments.

Segmenting Your Audience

You are broadcasting everything you have to everyone becomes expensive. Your budget is much better spent if you can allocate resources to where they will deliver the most ROI. That means segmentation.

Traditionally, campaigns have targeted demographic segments, such as gender, age, and income. That’s why many brands relentlessly pursue the millennial digital native or the ethical Gen Z shopper. However, behavioral segmentation is arguably a better indicator of potential lifetime value (LTV). For example, knowing that a customer is a 21-year-old man tells you they might be a prospect for your razor blade. On the other hand, knowing that they clicked your Facebook ad and watched your video tells you that they are ready to buy right now. It’s easy to see which is your marketing budget’s priority.

Psychographic segmentation introduces emotional and contextual factors that simple demographic targeting might miss. That’s especially important for brands that champion a lifestyle or ethos, whether it’s diversity, sustainability, vegan, or organic. Less subjective is geographic segmentation, a crucial consideration for small businesses, which allows you to focus your budget where it can have the most impact (locally).

The more you know about your target persona, the more granular you can allocate them to defined segments. This allows you to match your digital marketing campaign with the most effective channel. Bear in mind, however, that this might evolve as the prospect moves through the marketing funnel.

The Marketing Funnel

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The marketing funnel is a fundamental concept that maps out the customer journey from awareness to purchase. At each stage, the number of customers advancing on this journey will diminish, but the ones who do advance will become more and more informed, engaged, and intent on buying what you’re selling.

You’ll need a comprehensive marketing plan to guide customers through this funnel effectively. The major channels mentioned above address different stages of the horn in different ways (some address multiple). Still, your efforts across all channels should work together to communicate brand value with consistent messaging.

No two marketing funnels are identical. Yours will depend on your industry, product, and target audience. Even when you settle on a horn that works, your strategy should be fluid for two reasons: The marketing landscape is constantly shifting, and with data comes new insights.

Awareness

At the top of the funnel — its widest point — you have the awareness stage. This is the stage at which potential customers are just learning about your offerings and typically have little intent to purchase. The best tools for growing awareness are digital ads, influencer marketing, content marketing, and social media.

Consideration

Next is the consideration stage, in which customers are familiar with your brand or products and want to learn more before they open their wallets. You’ll want to utilize retargeting strategies across search and social ads to bring users back to your website and use a nurturing process like email marketing to deliver informative content that educates and encourages purchases.

Purchase

The ultimate goal of your marketing strategy is to earn purchases. By the time your campaigns have influenced a potential customer to buy, you need to be sure your website is ready to facilitate their purchase action quickly and fluidly. Ensure your website has an ideal conversion flow to move users from product pages to checkout with as little friction as possible.

Retention

Sadly, there’s no time to celebrate once you’ve earned a purchase. Retaining existing customers is just as essential as generating new ones (and a lot less costly). Purchasers have already demonstrated the ultimate interest in a product or service by opening their wallets — your marketing machine should be built to keep them coming back for more. Brands can leverage similar methods they used in the consideration stage for retention and loyalty programs to increase customer lifetime value.

The Ecommerce Pyramid

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Whereas the marketing funnel shows how potential customers move through their journey toward the purchase, the eCommerce pyramid illustrates how different elements of your product, branding, and marketing strategies build upon each other.

Product/Brand/Website

Once you’ve developed an air-tight product strategy, you must solidify your messaging, brand story, and value props. These elements should be communicated with a website optimized for conversion, leveraging content to drive purchases.

Conversion/Retention

It may seem counterintuitive to develop your conversion and retention strategies before the acquisition, but think about it this way: Building and launching acquisition campaigns before you have a system to convert and retain the customers you acquire is like pouring water into a sieve.

Draw up retargeting strategies and automated email sequences based on user behavior in advance so you don’t have to scramble to nurture and retain customers once they’re flooding in through acquisition campaigns.

Acquisition

When you’re ready to grow your business, it’s time to launch digital ads. But (and we can’t stress this enough) turning on acquisition is like throwing gas on a fire, so make sure you’re ready to handle the heat with your conversion and retention tactics.

Social Proof

The tip of our pyramid narrows down to how you position your brand to benefit from social proof. Encourage and take advantage of user reviews, positive press, and your social community’s activity to help solidify your brand presence and generate the third-party validation that will ultimately allow your brand to sell itself.

Digital Marketing, Made Easy

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve undoubtedly realized that digital marketing isn’t something you can commit only a tiny percentage of your workday towards. If you are ready to level up your company’s digital marketing efforts to continue growing, it’s time to talk to the experts. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with Hawke Media’s team of digital marketing strategists. 

Special thanks to our friends at HawkeMedia for their insights on this topic.
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