The first play (after the kickoff) of Super Bowl XLVIII was a misdirected snap that flew over Peyton Manning’s head into the end zone, resulting in a safety and the quickest score in Super Bowl history. That was not a good thing for Peyton Manning or the Denver Broncos, as the Seattle Seahawks scored two points and then received the ball for an opportunity to score more. While it was not an overwhelming or insurmountable obstacle, it set the tone for the rest of the game.
The same applies to your business. When you decide to start a marketing campaign, no matter what the medium, you need to do research and plan in order to launch a successful campaign that brings in new customers. Let’s take a look at each aspect of a digital marketing campaign and go over what it takes to get off to a good start.
Your Business Website
I always begin with your company website, because your website should be the core of your online identity. Starting well includes planning for the future, so as you formulate a plan for creating and launching your business website, you also need to consider the updates and maintenance that will be required once the site is live. Your website will be your first point of customer contact for many people. Just having a website is not enough, so it should be up-to-date, relevant and contain the information your potential customers are looking for. Creating a new website can be complicated and unless you have a lot of extra time to dedicate to it, you probably want to partner with a trusted service provider who can help you purchase a domain name, set up a hosting account, create a design, and develop your website. Your website management company should be able to help you plan and build your website in a timely manner, but you need to make sure that there is a plan in place for what happens after the launch. Whether it’s content, blogging or managing events, you need to regularly add relevant updates to your website.
While you can probably set up and create the appropriate social media accounts for your business, you will also need a social media plan, as a blank Facebook or Pinterest page doesn’t attract or help your customers. Once again, how you start is critical. When you launch your social media page, it should have pertinent information about your business, as well as real pictures of your business location, products, services and/or employees. A well designed page will help assure your customers that you actually have a presence on the social media property and didn’t just set up a page because it was something you thought you were expected to do. You will find that many customers will reach out to you on social media as an outlet for customer service, but it is also an opportunity to connect with your customers and those interested in your brand in a more personal way. Before you launch, you need to have a social media plan in place. It doesn’t have to be excessively complicated and can probably be managed in about 5 minutes per day, but it needs to be something that you commit to and can realistically execute.
Once you have your digital brand established on your business website and your social media properties, you need to plan your advertising methods. When you look into advertising online, you’ll hear all types of acronyms thrown around trying to tell you about PPC, SEM, SEO, CPM, CTR and a multitude of others. The truth is, you can start with free advertising, but every form of advertising is going to cost you time or money or both. Free directories and other forms of free advertising don’t charge you because they are adding you to their prospect list so they can sell you their paid advertising. Many times, their paid offerings can be relatively inexpensive, but effective and worth a try. The best plan is to investigate what is available, try it out and decide what works best for you and your business.
Analytics & Reporting
How will you know what works best if you don’t have analytics and reporting? There are many options available for analytics and reporting for your website and social media. You may want to read our 101 Tips to Improve Your Business with Analytics. Additionally, your website management company can help you choose and set up analytics on your online properties, as well as help you create and analyze reports. Once you are getting regular reports, you should evaluate them and make changes based on the findings.
Find a Partner
The reason you created a business probably wasn’t to create websites, manage social media properties, set up advertising campaigns and analyze the results (unless you’re a marketing company). You should do enough research to make sure you know what you want and then find partners that will help you with each aspect of your online branding and marketing. While many businesses may not have budget to hire an advertising agency, there are many options out there with a lower cost that will still deliver results. A good digital marketing company will help you create all aspects of your online marketing or help you identify other partners with specific expertise. They should also help you create a plan for your ongoing marketing efforts, while generating more leads and customers than you could generate on your own. Your marketing partner should be able to help you get off to a good start, as well as setting the tone for the rest of your marketing efforts.