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A practical guide to Digital Marketing

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Now that you’re aware of the reason for our existence, here’s a practical guide we put together so you can efficiently kickstart your initiatives in digital marketing. It covers only the most recent of techniques that you can actually get done by yourself without the help of a digital agency. Those that were present (such as text messages in the early 2000s’) but have faded away in recent times will, without a doubt, be left out of this article. Also, some of the suggestions here hinge on the assumption that you already have a proper web and social presence, specifically an optimised landing page for your campaign’s purpose.

Getting on Social Media platforms

This may seem pretty obvious, but yes it is absolutely crucial. If you are a B2C business, platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will be bread and butter to bringing awareness to your brand. While you can take advantage of Google+ local that integrates perfectly with maps, Facebook will bring your brand incredible reach due to the sheer number of users they have. Instagram on the other hand, is a photo sharing platform with increasing popularity that caters to a younger audience (namely those from 16 to 30 years of age).

As you will realise, B2C platforms allow for a very visual approach to reaching out. This is less applicable to B2B businesses as they rely on trust, reliability and ROI for decision making. Hence, we’ll opt for a professional network like LinkedIn to connect with potential partners and prospective clients. Be sure to create not only an individual profile on LinkedIn, but also a company page that will allow you to regularly post updates and gradually gain a following for your organisation.

Regardless of the type of business, you can certainly consider setting aside a budget for paid advertising on the various platforms. Being pretty straightforward to setup, you can create ads on these platforms quite quickly without professional help and instantly bring awareness to your brand or business.

Friends on social media

Utilising Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to reach an exact audience

Have you ever noticed the little “Ad” symbol beside the first few listings upon a search made on Google? Well, that is Adwords, a form of search engine marketing at work. In short, it will display your website in search results for any search of a particular set of keywords or key-phrases. As a pay per click model is utilised for this method of advertising, you will need to constantly optimise your bids for keywords and ensure relevance for your landing page. This method of digital marketing ain’t rocket science, and can be done without the help of a professional. It will be wise though, to do some research before starting your ads to stretch every marketing dollar.

Aside from exploring Google Adwords, be sure to also explore Yahoo’s and Bing’s versions of search engine marketing. They may not yield as big an audience, but could be more cost effective and definitely used in conjunction with Adwords.

PPC in search engine marketing

Optimising your website for Search Engines

Similar to the previous, search engine optimisation (SEO) hinges on the display of results based on a particular search term. The key difference though, is that it revolves around improving the organic (or natural) ranking of search results rather than the deliberate placement of text ads. Hence, there involves no payment whatsoever to any search engines. Also, this is more of a mid to long term solution as compared to search engine marketing and results will only be seen over weeks and months.

Although some firms decide to engage a digital marketing agency with SEO expertise, you can certainly seek to improve your own rankings by regularly posting content updates, starting a blog for your business, or checking out a simple guide to optimise your website’s code.

Optimising for search engines

Getting your banner or video ads out there for all to see

When was the last time you saw a video ad on Youtube, and could only skip after 15 long seconds? Make no doubt, banner and video ads are another huge form of digital advertising. You probably encounter them all the time on websites and apps across desktop computers, tablets or smartphones.

Video ads aside, their banner counterparts can take many forms - expandable, push down, synchronised, some even couple interactivity with video. We shall not dwell deeper into these forms of ads as they are more complex and probably require the intervention of a digital marketing agency.

What you can consider doing yourself though, are those standard banner ads good for displaying your logo, a visual and a tagline. Standard sizes of these static ads include the leaderboard (728px by 90px), medium rectangle (300px by 250px) and skyscraper (120px by 600px). While you can easily come up with the copywriting for these ads, the design aspect could be a little troublesome. You could decide to engage a freelance designer for a minimal fee, or even experiment with Photoshop yourself. After all, there are tons of tutorials out there for your reference.

Finally, how do you get other websites to insert these banner ads for you? Of course, you can always get in touch with a website’s webmaster for possible placement of ads. Alternatively, you can use a service like Google’s Display Network to rapidly get your banner ads out there.

Whatever you decide to go with, be sure to place your banner ads only in niche-related websites. Otherwise, they won’t be effective. Unless you have an infinite marketing budget, you’d probably be better off placing your money in a fixed deposit than spending it on something like a flower ad in a technology forum.

Banner and video ads

Reaching out to existing customers through Email Marketing

Probably the oldest trick in the book, email marketing is a technique that has been around even before the dot-com boom. Simply said, it involves sending mass emails to a list of existing and/or prospective customers. These emails are different from the normal, they often incorporate attractive visuals, the marketing message and a call to action (CTA) that leads to a landing page of some sort.

Before, specialised programs were required to execute email campaigns. Even then, you had to design and develop the email template yourself. Unless you were a professional, such a process was both expensive and time consuming. These days, tools such as Mailchimp that work on a subscription basis make it very easy for you to design your email template, execute the campaign and track results in realtime.

Email lists are either compiled over time, such as through a subscription form on a website, or purchased from market research firms. You can find out more about that here.

Should you decide to engage in this form of marketing, it is important to that you get on email whitelists as email spam filters are stricter than ever these days. For each email template that you create, be sure to run through a checklist for the various things spam filters look for when deciding whether to blacklist an email.

Sending out electronic direct mailers

In summary

The possibilities of digital marketing are boundless. Best of all, with sufficient interest and dedication, you can certainly do it yourself. Of course, should you have a sizeable marketing budget and prefer to do everything right from the start, you can always tap on the expertise of a competent digital agency of some sort. We will cover more in that area in our next few posts.

All that we have mentioned here are just introductions to the various ways in which marketers engage in their activities. Moving forward, it is up to you to research deeper into the various platforms, thoroughly understand them and constantly implement new trends into your repertoire. As long as you have a proper product or service and digital marketing is done right, there is every chance of success for your business.

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Guest Tuesday, 26 September 2017