How to get started in digital marketing

Got a product and want to start promoting it using digital marketing? Look no further.

if you’ve just setup a business, whether it’s selling cookies (the tasty kind) or software, you’re probably going to want to invest some time and money into growing that business using the power of digital marketing.

But what do you actually need to get started in digital marketing? Before we dive into the detailed stuff, let’s quickly summarise the key elements of what you need when you’re looking to promote your business online.

What do you need?

A product
What are you selling? Is it a product, a service or something that falls completely outside the standard realms of accepted logic?

An audience
Who are your dream customers? Whatever it is you’re offering, know who it is you want to sell to.

An offer (kind of optional, kind of not)
Offering some kind of incentive to drive sales is a great way of growing your customer base. Although be careful if you’re working with tight margins.

A website
Kinda like your store front, especially if what you’re selling is digital. It should be clear, concise and engaging. It should let whoever’s looking at it know what you’re about and drive them to convert.

Some channels
This is where / how you will reach your audience. There’s a huge range of options to choose from – social media, email, display search etc.

Some creatives
Or ad banners as they’re also know. They come in many different sizes. Experimentation and optimization are the key here.

Some landing pages
If you’re doing any kind of digital marketing, you need somewhere for your potential customers to reach. Make it short, sweet and totally geared towards converting them into a customer.

A budget
Money, as they say, makes the world go round. And it’s pretty much the same in digital advertising. Have a budget for advertising online if you truly want to succeed.

Okey dokey, now you’ve got a vague understanding of the key elements needed to start putting together a digital marketing plan, let’s dig a little bit deeper and explore each of these elements a little further…

Know your product

This should be kind of obvious, but it can get overlooked. Before you plow through and start creating your ad campaign(s), take a step back and try to truly understand the nature of what it is you’re trying to sell.

This is key, because it will help you make more informed decisions later on in the process and, most importantly, avoid throwing money away on things that won’t help drive your revenue.

know your product

Your dream customer

OK, so, you’ve figured out what it is you’re trying to promote, now comes the question: who are you selling it to? Being able to effectively identify your audience means that you can build a more reliable plan, message, business, product. Everything, pretty much, can be improved by knowing your customer.

This may sound a bit counterintuitive but, when you first start out, try to reach a specific, potentially small group of customers with particular demographics, identify a problem they are having and solve that problem for them. Make yourself look incredibly special and unique for those people.

When you start out, you’ll probably have limited resources, so trying to fix the world ain’t going to happen (unless you’re Elon Musk or something). So, find the people you know you can help, and go after them. Once you’ve established a solid base, and found your feet, then you can begin to scale up and expand your audience.

An offer they can’t refuse

A great way of driving your conversions are offers. Whether they take the form of coupons, discounts, deals, multibuys, whatever – for the sake of argument, we’ll refer to them all as “offers”. When used properly, they’re incredibly powerful, but you should exercise caution; without proper thought and planning they can, potentially, become unprofitable.

Deciding whether or not to use offers goes back to your audience and your product. If you’re a high-end brand or have slim profit margins, offers may not be for you. On the other hand, if you have decent margins, deep discounting can really help you grow your business.

If you’ve not launched your business yet, you may want to consider pre-launch offers to help drive interest. There’s a great example of this over on Shopify: a shaving goods retailer was able to net 100,000 subscribers before they’d even launched their site.

Build an awesome website

Remember when you defined your product and who your customer is? Yeah, that’s going to come in handy here. If you’ve done a SWOT analysis even better. With your audience, your product and its strengths in mind, think about the problem you customer base is facing. Think about how your product solves that problem for them.

Then, condense that into a very short, easy to understand message that will form the basis for your communication on your website. Think like, 7 words or less. Then expand on that a little bit, to form the key benefits and arguments of your product.

You should also consider including pictures of you and your team along with a little bit of info about them, to help build trust. If you already have customers that you’ve been working with (during a beta phase, for example), include them to help reinforce that trust.

Building a website that converts and performs well is a huge topic, but like many other things in this industry, the key is to test, test, test. You can nearly always do better, so try!

build a good website

Choose your channels

Picking how you want to reach your audience largely depends on who they are – this is why it’s very important to establish who your dream customer is, because from that you can start to work out where they spend their time on the Internet and advertise there.

If you’re looking at social media, the obvious choice at the moment is, of course, Facebook. With nearly 2 billion users on the social media platform, the likelihood of you reaching your audience is pretty high. Keep in mind though that Facebook has many rules and requirements you need to abide by, like many other ad networks.

Then you have Search Engine Marketing. Google has the lion’s share of the reach in this department, so you’ll probably want to check out their AdWords product. If you’re going to run ads on search having landing pages for your campaigns is very important.

Finally, display – banner ads. They can take on many forms, and appear on many, many devices. You also have the option to run things like “pop” ads, which typically perform better than standard banner ads. If you’re looking for an ad network to run display or pop ads on desktop, mobile or in-app, give Adcash a try (of course we’re going to say that).

Creative creatives

There are lots of different sizes of creatives, or ad banners as they’re also known. Generally, most advertising networks offer the IAB standard sizes, as well as some of their own.

We’ve already covered what you need to create engaging creatives on this blog,  but to summarise; you should keep it simple, in terms of text (some creative sizes can be quite small, so you don’t have a lot of room to play with). You should also include a clear call-to-action. Your creatives are another area where you should be experimenting and testing.

Finally, when your potential customer clicks on your ad, you should make sure they land on a page that reflects the information and design of that ad. Which leads us nicely to our next topic: landing pages.

Give them a soft landing

You should already have a nice, pretty website by now. But proper landing pages, pages that potential new clients when they click on an ad, can really be the key to turning a visitor into a customer.

In fact, really, should always have a landing page (or several landing pages) setup before launching any marketing campaign.

Generally speaking, landing pages fall into two main groups:

landing page types

With the first kind, the most important piece of information you can get from your potential customer is their email address. And to do that you need a form of some kind. It can also be a good idea to offer them something in exchange for their email, like, say an eBook.

The other kind is about persuading your potential customer that what you’re offering is right for them, usually using pictures and video and a very clear, clickable call to action button.

landing page tips

Money makes the world go round

Last, but by absolutely no means least: money. Or more specifically, a budget. Set yourself a budget, allocate parts of the budget to all of the different channels you want to engage with and try and stick to it.

All through this article I’ve been going on about testing and experimentation. If you’re at the early stages of your businesses digital marketing lifecycle, testing your ads, on every channel – social media, banner ads, email, video, whatever – can mean the difference between you “just doing enough” and truly succeeding.

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