You’re familiar with the terms. You salivate when you hear people talk about “cost per acquisition (CPA)” and “digital branding.” You know that online marketing is the key to small business success.
But do you know how? Can you use the power of content, digital ads, boosted social media posts and email opt-ins to drive customer growth?
Don’t fret. Not many people can. However, if an online marketing strategy is implemented correctly, the result is a growing business poised for long-term success. But you already knew that, didn’t you? You’re here to learn.
It goes without saying that the point of an online marketing strategy is to grow a customer base and build a sustainable business. It’s all encompassing. With that in mind, let’s look at three marketing strategies and combine them into one, all-inclusive, digital approach.
1. Content Marketing
If you’ve ever been on the Internet (which, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you have), you’re familiar with content marketing. In fact, you’ve most likely been a willing consumer of other people's content marketing strategies.
Think back to a time when you clicked on a Facebook post or a Google search term, only to be whisked away to an “off-platform website” with an article and an offer. The content of the article was (hopefully) something interesting, so you stick around and read the entire piece.
At some point on your journey of content consumption, the article will give way to an ad, email opt-in, free trial, or something similar. If it’s an ad, the owner of the content is most likely paid per ad view / click, or maybe earns affiliate revenue if you purchase an item through the ad.
If it’s an opt-in or free trial, the offering is known as a “content upgrade.” It entices you to sign up in return for a free piece of extra content, which will enter you into an email list that’ll send you additional offers. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Start a blog on your website or Medium.com and begin writing articles that pertain to the product or service you’re selling. Make it valuable. Let me repeat, make it valuable. Create a resource for your customers that establishes your business as a thought leader in the space.
From there, create additional content that would benefit your customers. Use an app or plugin like SumoMe to set up email opt-ins on your website, and then connect the opt-ins to your email list provider, like a MailChimp. Then, set up an email that automatically emails your content upgrade to anyone who opts-in on your website.
The copy of the opt-in, of course, would promote the piece of additional content.
2. Email Marketing
Email marketing is arguably the most important part of a digital strategy because it drives sales. While a content marketing strategy is first, an email marketing strategy is an essential piece of the puzzle.
It takes a while for customers to whip out their wallets. You have to build trust. People need to get into the “buying mentality.” And the only way you do this is by talking with your consumer and providing them with sustained value. Over time, they’ll come around to the idea of giving you their credit card information.
The way you do this is through sales email automation. Starting with your content upgrade, send emails your growing list (thanks content!) with opt-ins for a paid service. This gives the consumer the ability to make a purchase when ready.
Sometimes all it is is a matter of timing. Other times it’s much more than that. But if you create multiple consumer touch points and keep your company in the mind of the consumer, your email list will eventually yield sales.
Think of it as a drip campaign. A long-term conversation. Start by offering a monthly newsletter. Make it a valuable resource for the people you’re trying to target. From there, kick off an autoresponder series that gets your customer into the buying mentality, and make sure they can purchase your product with ease.
Don't make the buy button hard to find.
3. Digital Advertising
I’m kind of taking the Quentin Tarantino route here, but I promise it’ll all make sense. Digital advertising, while third on this list, is actually the front-end of your digital marketing strategy.
Think of digital advertising as the source of your traffic. Whether you invest in Google AdWords, Facebook / Instagram ads or LinkedIn ads, you’re trying to find quality consumers. You’re attempting to amplify your company voice so people who are unfamiliar with you can become familiar.
The importance here is the targeting more than it is the platform. However, I’ve found that Facebook advertising is the most intuitive, and we’ll use it as an example.
Now, here’s where we get all “Pulp Fiction-y.” The point of the ad (or boosted Facebook post) is to drive key consumers back to your website where they’ll land on the piece of content you wrote in the first step. From there, your automated sales funnel takes over with content upgrade offers, opt-ins, and sales emails.
But it’s all for naught if you don’t send the right people to the right piece of content. If you sell bee equipment online, it wouldn’t do you well to target people who live in New York city. Not too many places to raise bees around there. Further, it would be folly to target people who don’t like animals.
With Facebook, however, you can target both geographically as well as by interests. So, you could feasibly find a person who likes beekeeping and also lives in Montana. Seems like a prime candidate for your valuable information and quality products.
4. Creating the Funnel
Well, here we are. The end of our content marketing journey. I know you’re an astute person and the overall strategy is already apparent. But, for my sanity, let me tie it in a nice bow:
You start with the content. Write valuable articles with high-impact information for your desired audience.
From there, set up an email opt-in form - such as SumoMe - on your website and offer additional content that would interest your audience. Connect the form to an email list provider like MailChimp so users can sign up and receive your offer.
Create an autoresponder email series, starting with the content upgrade, so that when someone opts-in to your list in return for the additional content, it’ll start an email marketing campaign that entices the consumer to make a purchase.
In addition to the email series, create a monthly newsletter that you distribute to your list to keep the content updated and valuable.
Once the email marketing campaign is written and in place, invest in Facebook ads to drive potential customers to your web content, where they can opt-in to your email list, kicking off the autoresponders.
If the content is valuable enough, you’ll also receive organic search traffic, which skips the advertising and saves you money.
Easier said than done, but if you follow this strategy and make it your own, business growth is sure to follow.