The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing.jpg

If you’re reading this sentence, you either need to design a digital marketing strategy from scratch, or improve upon an existing one. Either way, you’re looking to increase your traffic, subscriptions, and obviously, your sales.

These are all things that may seem impossible at times, especially because there are countless of guides out there telling you bits and pieces of information, leaving you to hunt down the rest of your burning questions elsewhere.

But this is an all-encompassing, one-stop guide complete with everything you should know, and use, to create an effective digital marketing strategy that focuses on your target audience’s wants and needs.

Read on for the answers, solutions, and knowledge you need to finally make your business thrive like it deserves to.

 

Defining Digital Marketing

Let’s cut right to the point here: online marketing is anything you do online to let people know about your services or product (business). It's anything that draws people’s attention, takes them to your website, and convinces them to complete an action, whether it’s joining an email list, buying a product, or downloading an app or book.

That includes all of your blogging, your paid ads, social media accounts, website, etc. Every single tweet related to your business is a form of online marketing.

But unlike traditional marketing, in the digital space, everything can be tracked with metrics. You can see how many people clicked into your website, how many backed out, how many people clicked on your call to action (CTA) button, purchased a product, etc.

And because everyone can try their hand at it with the use of a computer, tablet, or smartphone, it’s also significantly cheaper than traditional marketing.

The trick is to understand your audience, design a strategy, and test your theories. When an experiment fails, you pivot, or change things, and try again.

 

Digital Marketing Is Effective for Five Major Reasons:

  1. As established, it’s cheaper than traditional marketing and advertising.

  2. It’s easier to find your target market and communicate directly to them.

  3. It doesn’t require a physical location to run a business.

  4. It’s often scaled faster, with far less issues than traditional marketing.

  5. It’s proven to generate more revenue than more traditional methods.

However, it should be pointed out that although the pros outweigh the cons, there is one major drawback to digital marketing: there is a steep learning curve. Knowing what you’re doing is absolutely essential.

The good news is that you have this one-stop guide to help answer all of your questions, and lead you down the right path to success.

 

All You Need Is The Right Digital Channel Strategy...

This is especially true is you’re directionless, don’t quite know your online audience or market share, and don’t have a powerful online value proposition. Otherwise, you’ll be left at the starting line, while your competition gains traction far ahead of you.

 

Examining the Core Strategies of Digital Marketing

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Remember the definition of digital marketing? It’s anything that draws people’s attention, and gets them to convert into paying customers, subscribers, or downloaders of your content. But to dive in deeper, let’s divide all of those actions into parts.

There are several core strategies that make up digital marketing. Aspects, or categories, that stand alone, but when put together, lead to a proper digital marketing strategy. We’ll touch base on strategy design right after this.

 

Email Marketing

Established marketers live and die by “the list,” because that’s where the money is. A good email list can generate sales, and essentially make or break your business.

It outperforms every other online marketing channel, it sells to people directly, and it allows you to hypertarget the individuals that you know have already shown an interest in what you have to offer (they willingly signed up after all).

This is why email marketing ranks the highest in ROI than anything else out there, from TV to affiliate.

Just remember:

  • Personalize: write better, personalized emails (use customer names or refer to their history or interests) and watch your open rates increase by 26%.

  • Segment: split your email list into groups and target each with specific content (giving them the content they need right when they need it) and watch your campaigns increase by 760% in revenue.

 

Too Lazy to Build Your Own Email Marketing List?

You’re not alone. After long days at work, a neverending to do list, and countless errands, you need your down time.

But there’s a small problem: you kind of need to build that email marketing list anyway. It draws in leads, connects you directly to your target audience, elevates ROI, and gives you more visibility online, to name a few benefits.

The good news it that building one can be as intensive, or lazy-friendly as you want it to be. You just need to know what to focus on.

Let’s take a look at the five absolute-must steps to take if you’re too lazy to be a total control freak over your email marketing list.

 

#1 Use the Right Apps

Believe it or not, the right app can make the difference between a few sign ups, and several. For instance, the SumoMe apps are well-known in the marketing world as some of the best for building email marketing lists.

One in particular is the List Builder app, which is a popup that can be triggered when a visitor is about to leave the site, or after a certain about of time being on it (15 seconds).

Another is the Scroll Box app, which shows up at the bottom of the page when the visitor scrolls a certain percentage down. This is nice, because it pops up only if people are interested enough to keep scrolling in the first place (target audience).

 

#2 Use Content Cliffhangers

If you ever have those days where the last thing you want to do is write another in-depth post, this one is for you.

Cue in the content cliffhanger: where you create a list article (e.g. 20 ways to improve your XXX) but only write out 10 of them in the article.

What about the other half? Enter your email address to get those, because those are the in-depth, comprehensive tips everyone wants to know.

You’ll eventually have to write those out too, but hey, it gives you more time to lounge for the afternoon.

 

#3 Use Viral Loops

Say you take the time and effort to convert someone into a loyal customer. It probably took you a few weeks or even months...

So… why not use it for more than just one customer?

Next time you get a customer, offer an upsell on the page after a person has joined your email list. Just ask them to refer other people who sign up.

Maybe those who signed up to receive your free product in exchange for their email also have the option of receiving X amount of free bonuses if they just Tweet out an email about their free goodies.

 

#4 Make Your Home Page Opt-In Friendly

This won’t apply to everyone, but if your business model allows it, why not do it?

The strategy here is that your home page probably gets the most visits out of all your pages, and chances are there are a few returning visitors. If they keep coming back, it’s nice to greet them with something for free, you know?

In exchange for their email!

 

#5 Use the Author Byline

It’s so simple that most people fail to capitalize on this opportunity even though it’s staring them right in the face.

Add an opt-in to the author byline below the headline of an article. For instance “by Daniel Doan - Get more articles like this one sent straight to your inbox right here.”

It’s small, it’s unassuming, it’s convenient, and it’s lazy-friendly.

 

Content Marketing

digital marketing

Think of content marketing as the information you put out there to attract and retain customers. It requires consistently creating and curating content in order to change a consumer’s behavior.

In this case, putting out valuable content in the hopes that they will 1) see that you’re knowledgeable, 2) recognize you as an industry specialist, 3) trust you and your business, and 4) want to purchase something from you eventually, when the time is right.

And although you may already be thinking about blogs, Twitter, YouTube videos, and the like, it’s important to remember that content marketing is all about storytelling. It’s about connecting with your audience to relate to them, educate them, and offer something of value for free (hook).

 

For this reason, copywriting needs its own special section in this guide…

Copywriting is the center of content marketing. Although the subject does include anything and everything that draws attention, and is created specifically by you and your team, copywriting gets the bulk of the credit.

Here’s why: although a video or a social media post could teach your audience something, explain an answer, or otherwise share some valuable information with potential buyers, copywriting allows you to do it in-depth.

Successful copywriting will…

  • Grab the reader’s attention in a matter of seconds (high impact intro)

  • Help to build a brand’s overall style (approachable, laid back, uptight, etc)

  • Establish relevance (why should they care?)

  • Revolve around a product (uses, benefits, drawbacks)

  • Break it down (provide value)

  • Share the tops and tricks, as well as the statistics, that make a difference in a user’s experience

  • Tie a neat bow (reinstate the point from the beginning)

It’s no wonder that when done consistently, and expertly, it can help businesses establish a loyal following. It can build a brand, all entirely focused on trust.

 

But It's Not Just About Copy...

When you think of content marketing, chances are you think of blogging, but there are many other forms of content. There’s podcasts, infographics, e-books, whitepapers, etc.

But one of the most effective forms of content marketing is video. This makes sense because as the media and technology take over and bombard people with information, it becomes harder for people to pay attention. There’s too much going on.

For those of you creating visual items, like games, video is key. It grabs people’s attention much more than words do.

Just make sure you invest in quality editors and equipment.

 

But keep content life cycles in mind…

Due to the buyer’s journey (more on this later), any content that you publish will have a life cycle, or amount of time in which its relevant and eye-catching. To keep customers moving toward a purchase, your content goes through a funnel system.

Think of it in three tiers:

  1. The top of the funnel draws awareness. Examples include blogs, social media updates, infographics and ebooks.

  2. The middle helps customers weigh options. Examples are quizzes, surveys, webinars, events, and other educational material.

  3. And the third makes it easy to purchase something (your goods and services). Examples are demos, free trials, comparison sheets and mini classes.

Most companies master up to three content types for each part of the funnel, and add more as time goes on. Some never even do. It’s all a matter of what you want to do with your business, and how you want to brand build.

But a few months, blog posts, photographs and social media updates go stale. The trick is to keep updating new content, and keep editing existing content to make it relevant. For instance, you can’t revive a tweet, but you can tweet again. But a blog post, on the other hand, can be added to for both relevance and further information (value).

 

Speaking of Funnels And Cycles...

Knowing what to do when is critical in how people react. 

Say someone followed your blog, and they’ve been liking your posts for months now. Chances are they’re ready for something more, something to push them toward making a sale. But pushing that onto new readers who haven’t even hit that follow button might come off as too intense for them.

More so, if your content is high quality, or of interest to them (targeted based on buyer personas), then you’re not going to see much engagement. People want to be catered to.

As long as you’re targeted, high quality, regularly posting content, and offering an array of items both free and paid, you’re pretty much in the clear. According to HubSpot, a leader in marketing, posting 16 or more pieces per month helps increase traffic.

Some forms of content to consider using are as follows:

  • Blog articles

  • Industry news

  • White papers

  • E-books

  • Videos

  • Case studies

  • Visuals (infographics)

  • Comics or cartoons

  • Polls

  • Podcasts

  • Viral campaigns 

 

The Eight Major Content Rules to Swear By

Now that we've talked about copywriting, video, lifecycles and the like, your head might be swimming. Suffice it to say that if you follow these eight rules, applicable to all content, then you're on solid footing:

  1. Is your headline catching people’s attention? If you’re not sure, go ahead and leave it up for a few days and check your stats. If people are clicking out of it as soon as possible, then it didn’t capture their attention in the first paragraph. But if they’re not clicking into it at all, then you have a boring headline.

  2. Have you put your key message right up front? You want your key message, benefit, offering, and the thing they really want and will get if they continue reading, to all be right up front for the taking. Don’t fluff around.

  3. Could you make your content shorter? If the message will remain unchanged despite its absence, it’s not needed.

  4. Could you make it simpler? You don’t need to sound like a textbook, you need to sound human. Stop writing a play and find your conversational tone already.

  5. Visually speaking, can you make it easier to read? Keep paragraphs short, add one-liners, space things out, use bullet points sparingly, but only with super relevant information that would otherwise become too lengthy and off-putting to read, and use images that catch the eye.

  6. Have you shown your credibility? If you’ve worked with someone people would recognize, mention it. If you haven’t done anything noteworthy yet, remember people love a big vision, so describe how you’re aiming for the stars.

  7. Are you offering something scarce? The more “limited” it is, the more people want it. It’s just a part of human nature, we want what few others do. That’s why limited edition art prints and video game collectibles sell for so high.

  8. Have you failed to adhere to the “visuals > words” rule? Pictures say a thousand words. So whenever an image can convey something, use them. Use them instead of words whenever you possibly can. It’s less to read, it gives you more room to add in some really valuable advice or other information, and it eliminates those daunting walls of text that no one likes to read.

 

Social Media Marketing

digital marketing

This involves treating social media websites as a marketing platform. It allows businesses to connect with their audience, plug relevant products, and work on their branding.

More than that, since most people are highly active on social media, there’s a higher guarantee of actually getting engagement, whether it be in the form of likes, shares, comments, or clicks on ads, hence why so many companies use of mixture of organic and paid promotion strategies.

Think of the content as videos, images, copy, pins, stories, hashtags, and more. As long as the content adheres to your overall brand style, and relates to your target audience in some way, building a following should be relatively simple.

 

Context Is God

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, writer of three New York Times bestsellers and owner of the massive Vayner Media, “content is king, but context is god.”

Which simply put means that high quality content that follows all the marketing rules is great, but it amounts to nothing if it doesn’t consider the social media platform it’s published on.

No one reads long-form content on Facebook, and no one cares for lengthy lecture talk videos on Instagram.

Each platform is better suited for different things. The more you respect that, and target your audience on each platform, the better off you’ll be.

Here are some basics to be mindful of:

  • Instagram: images, graphics and videos with expanded commentary in caption form.

  • Snapchat: using influencers to market something for you with their style and following can be a huge resource, one used by many companies already.

  • Twitter: links to blog or other forms of useful/informational content, with a short, witty comment to entice people to click.

    • Speaking of Twitter, one of two things always happens: either people don’t use the URL space at all, thinking no one cares enough to click into your profile anyway, or they simply use it to link directly to their landing page. And there’s nothing wrong with linking to a landing page, after all if it’s properly designed and has a strong call to action, then you’re doing well. You’re leading them directly to your own space, and that’s the goal. But that’s not all you can use this handy space for. You can make it much more targeted, highlighting all your latest content. You can use it to link to your newsletter, or a best-performing article so when people view your profile, they know where they can get more of your great content.

 

Bonus Tip: Be Loud & Proud

Asian and Latin American markets put American farmers markets to shame. Sure, they also use booths, all placed in the same general area, but these markets are super different.

To stay competitive and celebrate the experience (or draw in more customers), sellers will yell out their sales, talk about their produce freshness and quality, and even hire younger teenagers to do magic tricks, or play some live music nearby.

As an entrepreneur, you need to do the equivalent and find ways to let people know that you’re there and that you’re worth more than a glance in a general direction.

Opt for being on every platform you realistically can be, such as YouTube, Discord, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Try posting regularly, even daily, and using the right hashtags. And always put out excellent content.

 

Extra Bonus Tip: Upcycle Content

Content should be reused, but you need to get it right. Don’t post a picture on Instagram and then write a blog post about it a month later, make sure they’re in sync.

Furthermore, whenever you upload a new YouTube video, announce an AMA on your blog, or get featured in a positive review you want to share, feel free to post on social media about it.

The whole point of social media is to connect with others through shared interests. If they follow you, they’re already interested in not only games, but you as a developer.

Rather than have them research what you’re up to, it’s nice to be able to pull up one feed and have it all right there, ready to direct them.

 

PPC Advertising

PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is what’s known as paying X every time someone clicks on your ad, and making Y as a return. The dream is to make a sizeable return on your investment, and have the ads basically pay for themselves, but that doesn’t always happen. At the end of the day, it’s a gamble, and largely depends on…

  • Who you’re targeting.

  • Where you’re targeting them.

  • What you’re advertising.

  • Which filtering settings you selected.

 

Let’s look at Facebook for a second.

Facebook ads allow you to target very specific people, the kind most likely to purchase something from you. This is because the filtering options in place are amazingly specific:

  • Location

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Education level

  • Connections

  • Recent Behaviors on Websites

  • Interests

You can even set a budget (how much you’ll pay per click). Then Facebook will show that “status update” to those people and only those people, both on desktop and mobile.

The same goes for sidebar ads. For a while there marketers were targeting everyone, and it began giving online marketing a bad name. It was only until the specific audience filter system was implemented that it allowed marketers to stop casting such a wide net.

Because a wide net isn’t going to help. It simply annoys people who have no use or interest in what you have to offer. But a niche net? That is way more likely to generate results.

In fact, Facebook ads are so hyper-targeted and customizable, that it’s recommended people start with them, before trying their hand at Google AdWords.

 

Speaking of Google Adwords…

Just like SEO and link building is the best long-term way of scaling a business, AdWords is the best short-term solution. You can get it up-and-running in an hour or less, and if you know what you’re doing, you can start generating sales almost immediately.

This is because instead of building up content for a long time in order to make it to number one in search results, you simply pay your way there.

Of course, there’s a limit to what you can do. Google loves big brands, so if you’re a little shop, you still won’t outrank the bigger, more popular competitors…

But you’ll come close.

This is because AdWords will reveal the high-converting keywords in your industry, which means you can take them back to your content and SEO strategy to continue using them even after your ad campaign is over.

But there are four major things to keep in mind with this tool:

  1. You shouldn’t spend a lot of money to start off with. To get started, you don’t need more than $25-50.

  2. Focus on quality ads, because the highest bid doesn’t always win. Things to consider are relevancy, click-through rate, and account history. Even things like your landing page needs to be top-notch, because if the bounce rate is high, Google will lower your quality score.

  3. Be patient and give things time to convert.

  4. Keep it simple, because AdWords is complicated to navigate.

 

Relationship Marketing

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Relationship marketing covers two basic approaches: working with fellow entrepreneurs, or working with people with massive social media followings.

For instance, when you see an article on Lifehacker, a blogger joined forces with the platform to guest write a post. Readers may take an interest, and click on the bloggers profile, and find themselves on the blogger’s website. Maybe he has his own useful blog on relevant subjects.

That is a guest post, done after the blogger reached out to Lifehacker. Chances are they spent months establishing a relationship, ironing out details, etc. Maybe the blogger kept linking to Lifehacker within his own posts, and kept letting Lifehacker staff know, until finally they allowed him to guest post for their site.

But that is the short of it, there’s plenty that goes into it, such as quality emails back and forth, and letting the publication in question, in this case Lifehacker, tweak their quotes or links prior to publication. Ideally, you also want to let them know the date and time you’ll publish, and send them a link directly to it once it’s live. Just brace yourself, more often than not, publications still ask for further edits to be made even after publication.

And this isn’t the only form of relationship marketing. Remember, we also mentioned working with people with massive social media followings.

 

Affiliates

Using a few affiliates, perhaps on Instagram for example, you can promote your products and reach a larger target audience by tapping into the followers of each affiliate used.

Affiliates get a bonus for each confirmed lead they refer, and you get more exposure than you would have alone.

The trick here is to set up a landing page that allows you to see where the leads are coming from, that way you can pay the right affiliate. You’ll want to offer a lead magnet, of course, to get the interested parties to opt-in.

Example:

So imagine that you’re talking to a friend about this awesome hole-in-the wall game shop you found. It sells all kinds of games, from indie to AAA. Before this, your friend had no idea about the place, but is now logically curious and willing to check it out.

When your friend goes, he loves it so much, he ends up buying several games and mentions that you told him about the place.

Well, when you go back to that store, chances are the owner will make a comment about your friend, be thankful that you mentioned the shop, and offer a discount on your next purchase.

This is affiliate marketing. It’s the act of paying someone who loves your product, service, or business, to spread the word and refer other interested parties to shop around.

 

Influencers

With influencers, things are a little different. The idea is to get people with large followings to promote your product with advertisements. For instance, maybe you organize a farmer’s market every Saturday morning. If there’s a local with a large following on social media, you could ask if he/she could attend the market, take a few pictures, and help draw attention to it.

This is what’s called a paid partnership, or paid advertisement. Once posted on their social media channels, these ads can generate a lot of engagement, from likes and comments, to clicks onto your profiles on different social channels.

Boom, more traffic for you, which means an increase in potential leads, and eventually, sales.

But that's not the only way to make things work with an influencer. By interviewing an influencer, and making sure it’s a really good interview, you begin to develop credibility to your website by having them on it. And of course, they will share it with their audiences too, so that’s even more exposure.

Because we all know what those influencer audiences look like. They can be pretty huge. That’s untapped potential for you, and a valuable bit of self-promotion for them that doesn’t come off pretentious. You both win.

Just keep these few tips in mind:

  1. Be transparent about every paid piece of content.

  2. Check every paid post to ensure “#sponsored” is clearly visible.

  3. Ensure that every influencer worked with is being paid according to whatever terms were negotiated.

  4. Don’t use “#ad” because that’s pretty spammy. Use relevant hashtags, and when in doubt, remember that #XPartner, where the X is your brand name, is more than enough.

  5. Rather than just creating ads, aim for useful content that isn’t boring. No generic “I love this brand.” Try to aim for a video on how a product actually works, for example.

 

Bonus Tip: Focus on Relationships, Not Leads

Rather than focus on growing a list of leads, and letting it collect dust, focus on growing these leads into potential relationships. Many business use Chatbots, which pop up only when people are on high-value pages, like your personal game store page.

Another form of nurturing a lead into a relationship is to simply be more readily available in forums and social channels. Regularly post images and video related to the game, as well as an inside scoop on what goes on behind the scenes. The more people hear about the game, the more fresh content there is, the more their interest is peaked.

 

Extra Bonus Tip: Pay Attention to The Little Guys

There is this stigma against lesser-known press outlets that really hurts developers. Everyone knows about the big outlets like IGN, Metacritic and Polygon. The logic is that because everyone knows about these outlets, that’s where the players will wind up.

So, if you want to be a successful developer, you need to get press coverage from them, right? Well, sure, eventually, but you can’t expect to start out being covered by the big wigs right from the get-go.

Instead, appreciate the value of the smaller press outlets. They need you as much as you need them. Think of it as a mutual partnership. The more they cover games like yours, the more they can afford to expand and eventually grow. And for you, well it’s guaranteed press coverage! It’s content you can share on other outlets.

And who knows, once that small-fry games journalism website grows into a fullfleged publication, you can probably contact them again and ask to cover your latest project.

 

Community Building

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It may be a very grassroots approach, but there are brands out there, with no marketing budget, who grow their business through community building.

Of course, community building can be a part of a much larger marketing strategy as well, assuming you have a little more budget to work with.

But it’s important to know who your brand caters to, how to best reach those people, and how to make your community membership valuable. With so many other communities out there, why should anyone be a part of yours? What do you bring to the table?

Some of this value will be in the form of emotional safety and a sense of belonging. People want to feel welcome in a group, accepted. For this, you need to clearly define and enforce moderation, limit membership to people who have achieved a certain status (e.g. taking one of your courses), and give out free gear to people who have gone above and beyond.

Above all, however, you need to engage with your community. If there is a group of people ready to talk, but there’s no leadership, there are no announcements or topics to go on, then they will eventually move on.

 

Don't Forget to Post In Facebook Groups

This is a common and popular way to find people who are interested in the niche that you’re targeting. It’s easy to search Facebook for all of the groups related to your field.

Just make sure to pick groups that have the most people and activity. That helps to maximize your traffic potential.

Also, it helps to add a little conversational tidbit to sort of introduce the article. Nothing stuffy, nothing tediously long, just a few super short paragraphs about how the topic idea came to fruition, and why people should care to read.

One thing to point out, however, is that many groups have rules about when you can post links to your site. Some only allow it on Tuesdays and Thursdays, others only want to see it on the weekends, and so on. Some groups are also picky about how active you can be in plugging yourself in general, so beware. Read regulations first, usually found on the sidebar or pinned posts.

Also, if you join a few groups, it can get a little messy keeping up with regulations, so make a quick spreadsheet for them. It doesn’t even need to be fancy. Just list off each group, the regulations, days you can post on each, and line up a backlog of articles for each. That way you know exactly what you’re doing and why. Think of it as a bird’s eye view for content sharing.

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Writing top-notch content is already difficult enough. Consider the fact that hundreds of posts get published every minute, and you have mission impossible on your hands.

That’s where SEO comes in. By optimizing posts, you secure them a spot of visibility that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

This is the process of optimizing your online content for the sole purpose of ranking high on internet searches.

You select a keyword, or a couple, and then use it in blog posts, headings, and image descriptions repeatedly, essentially telling search engines that you provide content related to these words.

And of course, the higher you rank, the better the odds of landing on the top-end of the first page of results. That’s the objective.

Because the higher you rank, the higher the chances are of people selecting to view your content over others. This increases your traffic, which also makes it more likely that you’ll get engagement in the form of blog followers, social media followers, and eventually more sales.

Ideally, you want to use certain keywords, so that when someone searches them, Google lists you at the top. But it takes time. Get ready to crank out content regularly, establish yourself as an expert voice within your industry, and show off your knowledge.

Here are a few strategies to consider:

  1. Labeled images

  2. Using quality infographics

  3. Link prospecting: relevant inbound and outbound links (references)

  4. Relevant content (including free content)

  5. Unique and relevant page titles

  6. Complete sentences

  7. Good grammar and spelling

Just remember, SEO takes time, because you’re convincing search engines to trust your content and consider you an authority in your niche.

So keep using those catchy, but not overly long title tags, the keyword-infused meta descriptions, and ensuring your website loads quickly. Connect with other industry pros and build some backlinks by getting mentioned, or offering to guest post on their blogs. Fix any crawl errors, and use keywords that you know for a fact are useful. This may involve some research, but tools like AdWords Keyword Planner are popular for a reason.

 

Conduct Monthly Checkups

How are you doing this month, are those new keywords working out?

If you don’t know how you’re doing month to month, then you need to change that right away. Knowing if your new marketing strategies are working out for you is crucial, because otherwise, you’re just wasting time using them.

Keep track of:

  • Keywords

  • Engagement (likes, comments, shares)

  • Search engine results and ranking

  • Website speed and optimization (30% of people leave a slow, or poorly-optimized website, so make a good first impression and make sure it runs like a well-oiled machine)

 

Bonus Tip: Rich Answers Lead to Higher SEO Rankings

Rather than have people search for answers to a question about you on Google, only to be redirected to another person’s website, why not have an FAQ page, and an About page ready to go, filled with relevant information?

It may sound too simple, maybe even strange that someone would take such an interest, but you’d be surprised. And instead of giving someone else the traffic, it’s always nice to be able to show people what you have to offer. If they make it to your website for an answer, they may linger on everything else.

 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

If SEO is all about earning traffic through unpaid or free listings, then SEM is about buying traffic through paid search listings.

Some SEM activities include:

  • Paid search ads

  • PPC

  • Cost-Per Click (CPC)

  • Google AdWords

Basically anything that involves money and advertising in some way can be considered SEM.

And it is considered the most important source of internet traffic due to the filtering system you can use. Think of how AdWords allows you to filter your target audience before launching an ad campaign.

So, if you’re new to all of this, don’t start with SEM. But if you’re not new to this…

Then pay attention to your campaign’s conversion goals. You can see who made a purchase from your ads, and how much money you’ve spent vs. earned.

If you do things right, you could yield great results with SEM, and completely outweigh the advertising costs.

To do this, it’s highly suggested you take a free course on Google Adwords, since it can be a valuable tool in generating some crazy numbers.

 

Chatbot Marketing

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Chatbots may seem useless at first glance, popping up as a nuisance while you’re trying to browse a webpage, but it’s not as it seems. Turns out, chatbot marketing is being used by even the greats in every industry, from food, to fashion, art, design, and even beauty.

For instance, Sephora carries over 300 beauty brands, as well as products under its own label. Their revenues for the first nine months of 2017 were about 4 billion.

And their chatbot offers makeup tutorials, skincare tips, video tips, and product reviews and ratings. That way, online shoppers get a retail experience without having to deal with pushy sales women, or knowledgeable staff.

In other words, customers find it useful, but the chatbot itself does an added service: it links to your brand content, taking customers to your blog, your guides, ebooks, YouTube channel, etc.

 

Why Not Implement A Facebook Chatbot?

The Facebook Chatbot is kind of like ManyChat, and is used to build a Facebook Messenger list. People who sign up don’t just sit there in some contact list though. No, you can send your top content to subscribers.

For a general idea, take a look at the Sumo Chatbot. You’ll need to be signed into Facebook for it to work!

 

Conversion Rate Optimization

Often abbreviated as CRO, Conversion Rate Optimization is when you focus on improving your conversion rate with the use of any advertising, marketing, or sales practice. The only objective here is to get your conversion rate up, resulting in more sales, or in certain cases, more opt-ins, leads, etc.

Some tips to keep in mind are:

  1. Speed (fast load speeds both on desktop and mobile)

  2. Selecting just one CTA at a time.

  3. Streamlining everything, so there is no clutter.

  4. Be absolutely clear about how you’re meeting people’s needs.

  5. Be absolutely clear about who you’re marketing to.

  6. Aim to grab people’s attention in 8 seconds or less.

  7. Understand that the desire to X makes people purchase a product, not the product itself (e.g. the desire to fit in will result in trendy clothing sales, not the clothes themselves for being “quality” or “appealing”).

  8. Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a great motivator (e.g. only 2 slots left for the course of a lifetime!)

  9. Trustworthiness goes a long way.

 

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is when you implement a strategy that encourages people to share the marketing message to others in their social circle. This is great for potential growth, exposure and influence.

In other words, viral marketing is the equivalent of the old school “word-of-mouth.” And much like in real life, off the internet, viral marketing only works when you’re offering something so good, that people can’t help but share.

While that mom and pop pizza place with long happy hour times and half off their best pizza every Monday may have the upper hand on you, there are still things you can do online to feature the best you have to offer.

Consider…

  1. Giving away products or services.

  2. Providing effortless transfer to others.

  3. Exploiting common motivations (e.g. people want to fit in, be thin, have shiny hair, etc.)

  4. Using what you have (your established communication networks, for one).

 

The Five-Step Digital Marketing Plan

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Now that we’ve covered overview information and core strategies, it’s time to implement your newly gained knowledge in the form of a five-step digital marketing plan.

In as little as five steps, you can have a marketing plan that results in achieved goals, high numbers, and success.

But you’ll need to put forth the effort.

You simply cannot rush through these five steps and expect the money to flow right in. You’ll need to experiment a little first, tweak as necessary, and really be honest with yourself when something isn’t working.

Much like being a beginner at anything in life, your process will look different than someone who’s been in business for over thirty or fifty years.

So, find your own pace, take your time, and don’t start running a marathon until you know you’re ready.

 

Step One: Understand Your Customer

Most entrepreneurs skip this step, because they think they know who their customer base is. However, you’d be surprised to find out that 72% of marketers have no clue of who they’re really targeting. They think it’s one group of people, but it turns out that it’s another.

Here’s how you find your audience:

  1. Start with what you do know. Think demographics (age, gender, location, etc.) and be as specific as possible. Sometimes, it’s the “irrelevant” information that can prove helpful. For instance, maybe women in their mid to late twenties aren’t likely to purchase items from you, because they don’t make enough money to “splurge” on a $3k handbag, but women in their forties can.

  2. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you have an active business, look at who’s buying. Which types of people are spending the most? Any common traits or interests? If you’re still stumped, look at your competition’s customers.

  3. Use online tools to evaluate your target. Once you’ve developed a better understanding of your customers, it’s time to try things out and see if they work. Start by selecting a product or service you know they need, highlight the benefits of your selected item or service, and then offer it in a way that is both accessible and affordable enough for your target audience.

Try to evaluate your audience about twice a year, and make any updates as necessary. Things change over time, both from a business goal standpoint, and a social one.

 

Step Two: Know Where Your Audience Is & What They Want

The minute that you find yourself using the word “should,” you need to stop and evaluate what it is you’re doing. People shouldn’t do anything.

Too many times, entrepreneurs say things like “This should work,” or “My audience should want to learn more about this, they should care.”

But that doesn’t focus on giving your target audience what it is they actually want. It just gives them whatever it is you think they should want.

So, for this step, remove yourself and your wants and needs from the equation, and think about your customers.

What do they want?

To find out, you’ll first have to find people who will pay. People who come in to browse are a dime a dozen, and more often than not, won’t convert. It’s window shopping 101.

So, here are your steps:

  1. Look at your target audience profiles from step one and search for those people on social media channels. Which 1-2 channels have the most potential? For example, if you’re targeting artsy people who love to read and write, or draw, then Tumblr may be your best bet. If you’re targeting people who are very interested in beauty, travel, food, or other hypervisual hobby, then Instagram is your goldmine.

  2. From there, look at your numbers: how many of the people on those platforms are actually buying products and services from you? You may be surprised to find that the people on your most popular channel aren’t converting as much as you thought. It could be approach, or the types of products being offered. More experimentation is needed to find an answer.

  3. Isolate the source that is providing you with the most sales, and check what they’re buying. What are you selling out of? What are you selling little of, if any?

To further understand your audience and their wants, consider the buyer’s journey.

This is the process that every potential customer goes through before converting. It’s an essential, a code that all business owners have to remember in order to properly plan a digital marketing strategy.

Awareness

The prospect becomes aware that there is a problem that you, or another potential company, has a solution for.

Example: A man wants to lose weight and regain back his youth.

Evaluation

After realizing there’s an issue, these potential customers begin weighing options, researching goods/services, etc. They want to know what their options are, but they are unwilling to commit to a purchase at this point in time.

Example: The man begins researching home gym equipment, gym membership options, nutritional plans, shakes and smoothies, “magic” pills, healthy cookbooks, weight loss plans, activity trackers, etc.

Conversion

Now that the options have been weighed, they make their final decision in the form of a purchase. This is when you’ll convert your lead into a purchase, and hopefully, a frequent, recurring buyer.

Example: The man decides to purchase a nutrition plan that teaches him how to craft balanced meals at home, and an activity tracker, which reminds him to walk 250 steps each hour, and rewards him with badges each time he’s hit a step milestone.

 

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Step Three: Set One Goal

It could be you want to increase sales, but maybe you also want to grow your email list, or get featured on a popular publication. We all have goals, especially in business, but ultimately, the best course of action is to focus on one at a time.

You’ll eventually get to the rest, no worries.

Once you find the one goal you want to meet, you will be able to plan out the steps it takes to get there. You’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned and check that goal off your list. For most goals, you’ll want to give yourself 12 months, a full year, to complete.

 

The Customer Value Journey

To better understand what your goal should be, however, you may want to take into account the customer value journey.

This is the strategic foundation for all of your marketing, the master template on which everything is based around. It’s the act of taking prospects and converting them into loyal, repeat customers.

And the reason you should take it into account when crafting a goal is because once you have a goal in mind, you can fill in the information for each one of these eight steps, and have your map for the entire year.

To add to that, it directly connects to the buyer’s journey, allowing you to not only react in the appropriate way based on where they are in the funnel, but also allowing you to convert one-time buyers into recurring business.

Here goes.

#1 Awareness

Make them aware that you exist through advertisements, Google searches, and social media posts.

#2 Engagement

Send out email newsletters with valuable, relevant information. Create a Facebook community for like-minded people (target audience) who would benefit from the information you have to offer (blog posts and guides).

#3 Subscribe

Have potential customers sign up for your webinar or course. Maybe they fill out a form on your blog and get a free product to try. The idea is that the prospect gives you contact information, and you send information about how to access the offer.

#4 Convert

Create an entry-point offer that either requires a commitment of time, or money. If it is money, make it affordable, perhaps no more than $25-30. For instance, a man takes advantage of a $25 teeth whitening service.

#5 Excite

Ensure that the customer gets value out of whatever it is you offered. Maybe a young couple purchases a Nespresso coffee maker, and uses free coffee servings to have amazing coffee just minutes after opening and setting up.

# 6 Ascend

Offer add-on options that are sure to make the shopping experience that much better. A man purchases a $3k camera, and purchases a $500 bundle that includes another lens, a leather wrist strap, a filter kit, a case, and a 3pc cleaning kit.

# 7 Advocate

Create marketing that intentionally generates more advocates. For instance, a woman enters a contest to win a session with a top-tier hairstylist by submitting a video review of your hair products, and why she loves them.

# 8 Promote

Promotes aren’t just advocating about why they like your products. They are actively trying to spread the word. Many times, they are a result of payment, but they can also organically occur if they’ve repeatedly had satisfactory experiences with your brand.

 

Step Four: Present Vs. Future

It sounds logical: to understand where you want to be in the future, you first need to analyze where you are currently, in the present.

In order to get a better grasp of your goal for the year, it’s important to gather all of your current data.

  • How many subscribers do you have right now?

  • How many sales, on average, are you getting per month?

  • What is the average amount buyers are spending?

  • What are your advertising costs looking like?

This sets the stage. This is a starting point. From now until the end of the year, you’ll stick your nose to the grindstone, and then reevaluate. If your goal is met, you should see a clear difference for the better.

 

Step Five: Start At the End

By this point, you have a goal, you know who your audience is, and you know where you are at currently. Your data is in, you’ve checked it, and you’re ready to start.

So start at the end. You know the end result, much like a writer knows the end to a story.

If your goal is to get 2,000 subscribers in the next year, but you’re currently only getting 20 per week, that’s 80 in a month, or 960 in a year. You need more. In fact, you’ll need about 42 subscribers per week to meet, and in this case, slightly surpass, your goal.

That means you have some options: you need to up your subscriber rate by either getting more people to opt in from your website, or getting more traffic to your website in the first place.

 

Bonus Tips: Improving Your Marketing Strategy the Lazy Way

Sometimes, less is more. We've all heard the saying. The same applies to your marketing strategy. Instead of rehauling everything, putting forth all of your effort and then some on just keeping up, you can also use smarter tactics.

In other words, "work smarter, not harder," another popular saying.

Does this mean you should disregard everything you've learned, and all of your hard work? Absolutely not! It just means you should focus on the minimal tweaking where applicable, so you have more time for the big stuff later.

So what are 3 quick ways to improve a marketing strategy?

 

#1 Find A Sneezer

No, not the nose type of sneezer. But something like it.

You know when you’re sick and you sneeze to essentially spread the contagion? Well, you want to be the virus. The issue is even the strongest of viruses needs a host for a reason: to spread.

In other words, you can only hit “send” so many times. It only has so much of a spread coming from one source, you. But if you find someone to spread your message simultaneously, like an influencer, then you have someone with a large enough audience that you’re trying to reach.

It’s a great way to get your message out there, but also, it can be business potential: if you piggyback on that influencer’s audience, you can become a “sneezer” yourself, and develop a platform for repeat business.

 

#2 Value First, Selling Second

You know how before you purchase a home, you can attend an open house? Even if you miss it, say there’s a listing for the house online, you can still call the real estate agent to give you a walk-through of the property.

Well, this is what’s known as adding value first, and selling second. Real estate agents know how to showcase a home by staging it. They often rent furniture to show you what the home could look like if you lived there. They also tell you what each area could be, if you’re looking to remodel, or have special requests (maybe you want to use that second bedroom as a library).

You’re not buying the home then and there, but you’re certainly looking at the value of the property. How it could improve your life, how it compares to what you already have.

This is proper salesmanship. Take a page out of the real estate agent handbook and focus on value first. Try teaching, distributing knowledge, and sharing content that proves you care.

 

#3 Experience > Utility

Utility is your expertise, product knowledge, great service, and competitive pricing. It highlights the fact that your product is one-of-a-kind and does something that no one else does.

But the issue is that even if you have that all figured out, it doesn’t matter compared to experience.

Rather, try to strengthen what people remember and come back for again and again.

For instance, there’s a bistro I go to every week, because their food is amazing. Their food makes me happy, and it’s unlike what I can get anywhere else. I go there not because they have product knowledge, or even good service. I go for the food itself.

People share experiences with others. It’s the act of asking “Hey, do you want to go get a sandwich with me? I know a place.”

 

Digital Marketing Tools List

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Now that you have the steps to follow, and the knowledge to ensure that things run smoothly, it’s time to quickly brush up on tools.

The following list is organized by category, and pricing (low to high).

 

Hosting

  • Bluehost, $3.95+ per month

  • WPEngine, $29+ per month

 

Blogging

  • Pexels, free

  • Shutterstock, $49-$249 per month

 

SEO

  • Google Trends, free

  • Keywords Everywhere, free

  • SERPStat, $19+ per month

  • SpyFu, $33+ per month

  • BuzzSumo, $99+ per month

 

YouTube

  • Mactrem Travel Tripod, $40

  • Rode SmartLav+, $79

  • Shure VP83, $199

 

Webinars

  • Logitech HD Pro C920 Webcam, $50

  • Audio Technica ATR2100 Microphone, $65

  • Zoom Software, $40+ per month

 

Email Marketing

  • Optin Monster, $9+ per month

  • Active Campaign, $23+ per month

  • Drip, $41+ per month

 

Social Media

  • Hootsuite, free

  • Buffer, free

  • PostPlanner, $3+ per month

  • Social Bee, $29+ per month

 

Size Up The Competition

Now that you know which tactics to implement, and the tools with which to handle it all, it's time to focus your attention on your competition. If you're in business, chances are you have at least one other company that you sort of... stalk online.

And that's okay.

In fact, that's how you learn. Knowing who your competition is, and what they're up to can shed light on what you are and aren't doing.

Here are the steps to follow:

 

Identify the Competition

Say you’re a game developer. Your competition is anyone else developing games. If you’re an artisan baker, your competition is other artisan bakers, and maybe even big-name bakers in your area.

You get the idea.

But regardless of what your industry is, or what it is you’re selling, chances are there are many competitors that you simply haven’t heard of. It’s normal, really, since you’re probably too busy running your business to keep an eye out at all times.

 

Step One - Google Search

Luckily, typing in one of your keywords into a Google search is an easy way to resolve the issue. Many results will pop up, with the most sought after toward the top of the page, so it’s smart to use a modifier to narrow things down.

Think of modifiers as ways to make things more specific. Often consisting of 1-3 words, they make it possible to narrow things down in a matter of seconds. For instance, instead of typing in “freelance copywriters,” you could write “freelance B2B copywriters in California.”

Use several different modifiers, and each time you show up in the results, take a note of who else pops up right above or below you on the page. This is your competition.

 

Step Two - Keeping Track

Once you know who your competition is, it’s time to keep tabs on everyone. And to do that, you need to stay organized.

Create a spreadsheet with a column for the names of the competitors, another for links to their websites, and yet another for a top-ranking post that is relevant to your industry. This is extra important if content marketing is an important acquisition channel for you: you want to rank top for these relevant posts.

Don’t be afraid to include important information you find either, such as the keywords they’re ranking for. The more competitors, and details on those competitors that you have in the spreadsheet, the easier the next few steps are.

 

How Is Your Competition Link Building?

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As you probably already know by now, having great online content isn’t enough anymore. With so much online content being published every single minute of everyday, it’s logical that there’s plenty of quality content out there that you’re ultimately competing with.

This is where link building comes in. The more that people link to your content, the more that they can vouch for you. And the more that happens, the more credibility you get.

Not to mention, it’s more opportunities for people to find your content through someone else. It’s more eyeballs on the page, and a higher chance of increasing your conversion rate.

No wonder your competition is busying itself with link building, something which can be done in many ways. Everything from guest posting, to having your own column, or simple outreach can lead to link building.

So just which approach are your top competitors taking?

Unfortunately, to answer that, you’ll need to invest in a competitor research tool, like Ahrefs. There’s trials you can take advantage of, but ultimately, these are decently pricey monthly plans. If you can swing it, it provides plenty of value, with access to competitor backlinks, keywords, and high-ranking content. In other words, it does all the work for you, so you don’t need to spend as much time looking for specific posts, keywords, etc.

Analyzing competitors’ link profiles is a great way to see how their growth has grown over the last few months. It will show you spikes in activity, declines, everything, and then tell you where the links came from.

 

Applying Knowledge

Of course, knowing is half the battle. The other half involves you knowing what to do with that knowledge.

For instance, once you find out what your competition is up to, say you find that there’s 1-2 of them posting similar content to yours. The only way to get ahead is to make sure your content is better.

So, keep these few things in mind:

  • Ensure that all your content is in-depth, informational, actionable and valuable.

  • Time your posts accordingly based on posting trends by competitors. If you know most of your competition posts on Friday, try posting on Wednesday, or even Monday, so you’re not directly competing for views from the same audience on the same day.

  • Set aside time each week to review any link building opportunities you may have missed. If you use Ahrefs, click on “Alerts,” select “New Alert,” type in a top competitor’s domain. Set the scope to “New Backlinks” and the interval to “Weekly.” Once you’re done, Ahrefs will alert you each time someone links to a competitor instead of your content.

 

Competitor Keywords Analysis

Surprise, surprise. Everyone whoever said bloggers wouldn’t amount to anything are now the ones loudly advocating it as the next wonder of the world.

And rightfully so. Most marketers say blog content is their top inbound marketing priority.

But unlike the more casual bloggers who create content based on whatever they want to create, and then try ranking for it, the more successful content creators are the ones looking up top keywords in their niche, and then creating content around them.

And you can do that too, simply by analyzing the keywords your competition is using. All you need to do is analyze your competition’s top pages and identify the potential keyword opportunities.

Here’s how to do that:

 

Step One - Setting Up

Open up Ahrefs, type in the competitor’s URL, and click “Pages > Top Pages.”

 

Step Two - Honing In

Identify the post that is accounting for the largest percentage of their traffic, and look at the permalink for it. The titles will always have keywords, that’s just SEO 101.

 

Step Three - Gaining Insight

Use Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer to search for those keywords. You should get the keywords’ volume and traffic potential.

 

Step Four - Determination

Once you’re done sizing up the keywords, it’s time to decide whether or not you’re going to use them. Ahrefs tells you how many backlinks are needed to rank high for the keywords. The less backlinks required, the higher the chance of high traffic.

Say you decide to go for it and try to outrank your competition, you’ll need high quality content. Something actionable, in-depth, informative and valuable. But more than that, you’d be wise to combine two topics into a single post. To do that, select keywords you want to use but that are notoriously hard to rank for. Then, add a modifier to narrow that down to a select target audience. That modifier alone is enough to make the ranking more attainable.

 

Step Five - Staying Organized

Now that you have your intel, remember to add it to your spreadsheet. Make a note of any important metrics, like traffic potential.

 

Check Out Their Onboarding Emails

Oddly enough, being an entrepreneur means often having to go undercover, which is just another perk in the ever ongoing list of perks that come with being your own boss.

In this case, we’re talking about going undercover as a potential customer.

A company’s onboarding email strategy can tell you a lot. What their goals are, their approach to selling, what their mission statement is, how they present themselves, etc. And as a competitor, you can see that firsthand, see if you have any similarities, and pay extra close attention to the differences.

Maybe they’re doing something that you’re not, and it’s resulting in 2x the conversion rate.

To get the scoop, you’ll need to follow these surprisingly simple steps:

 

Step One - Setting Up

Create a new email account specifically for collecting emails. Do not use your work email for obvious reasons. You’re undercover.

 

Step Two - Organization

Create labels your Gmail and have them skip your inbox. This way, you can get emails delivered by competitor, each into their respective labels. This makes them easy to find, while keeping your inbox tidy.

 

Step Three - Note Taking

Sign up for competitor lead magnets and newsletter, and then take notes on their onboarding flow. Keep track of how frequently they email, the types of emails that they send, how they craft their subject lines, and their CTAs.

Finally, ask yourself what you’re doing the same, and which major differences there are. Are these differences amounting to drastically different results? What can you do differently?

 

Analyzing Their Remarketing Strategy

By now, you probably already know that most traffic doesn’t actually convert. That’s just the way it goes. In fact, most visitors who add things to cart abandon them.

That’s why remarketing comes in handy. It’s a way to remind customers of what they’re missing, which is especially smart if you’re selling something that could potentially solve a target audiences’ problem.

By taking the time to analyze your competition’s remarketing campaigns, you can see the approach, the time it takes, and the pay off, if there’s even any.

Just a fair warning, however: this approach takes a while, because you have to go through their remarketing campaign, which varies by company.

 

Step One - Visit A Competitor’s Site

The process starts off simply enough by visiting your competition. Although you don’t have to, it may be wise to use this chance to sift through the site’s pages, content, and overall brand look. Snoop, if you will.

Then close out of it and log into Facebook. Turn off AdBlock, and pay attention to your news feed and sidebar. It may take a few minutes, but you should see a remarketing ad from your competitor.

 

Step Two - Practice Patience

Because remarketing strategies are usually long, to give people a second chance at buying the product or service, let this go on for a few days. Screenshot the ad, because chances are you’ll see many versions over the next few days. What are the differences between each? Which are the most captivating and why?

Don’t forget to actually click on the link they’re directing you to though. You want to see if they’re pushing you to download a lead magnet, start a free trial, or go back to your abandoned cart. Think about what their approach is and why that would be useful for their business plan.

Also, sometimes that URL will tell you who they’re targeting and why, which is super important. That lays everything out clearly, and tells you whether or not this company is a direct competitor, or only partially.

Whatever you find, this will provide the insight you need to improve upon your own remarketing strategy, while simultaneously allowing you to better understand who you’re up against.

 

Growing In A Competitive Market

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Sizing up your competition and learning from them is a wise move. But a wiser move is to make yourself more competitive individually, as a business, without honing in on how you're doing compared to one other business you secretly love and hate simultaneously.

In other words, say you don't have the time or the need to look at what other people are doing... you can still grow in a competitive market by investing in bettering your business. Here's how:

 

Invest in Customer Service

Maybe you’ve heard this, but being nice goes a long way. And this rings true in all areas of life, from friendships, to love, and yes, business.

Say for instance, you’re in a small start-up, an indie games studio. You’re working alongside maybe ten other people, all cracking away on a game. Sharing responsibilities and tasks is tedious when you’re limited on manpower, but you have to make do.

So, you rotate the chore of checking your forums, posting a video on YouTube, and answering player questions. Maybe you get on Discord and actually interact, you know, reading their feedback and suggestions regarding your game.

Obviously, in the beginning stages, it’s acceptable that you and the few other people you work with, take care of customer service. You’ll eventually grow, and can hire someone to tackle all of this, but until then, you’re fine!

That is, only if you know how to be nice.

Because honestly, not all the feedback will be positive. There will always be suggestions that make you want to roll your eyes. And sometimes, someone will ask something so annoying, you’ll want to take a quick step back from the computer for a while.

This is acceptable too. You’re allowed to feel however you want. It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t react quickly in a negative manner. Instead, make sure you know how to make small adjustments from time to time.

For instance, maybe you’ve been selling your game on your website, and a player comes back saying they want a refund. Well, maybe your rules don’t allow for a refund, but you give it to them anyway.

It may seem small, but that little gesture can have amazing results. Maybe that person eventually buys another one of your games, because you were so nice before. Or maybe you heard their feedback, and gave them a refund because they had a terrible experience, so now they love your studio. New fan.

This is how you build a reputation, get people to love you, and then spread the word about you. This is how a business gains traction within a community.

Here is how to improve your customer service, whether you’re just starting out or well-established:

  • Create a communication guidelines to shape your customer service approach.

  • Regularly check customer complaints to stay current on the issues that they’re facing, and whether or not it’s all being resolved in a timely fashion.

  • Check your reviews. Repeated points should be noted and fixed as soon as possible. Also, keep in mind a typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers.

  • Set up a plan for communicating through emergencies. Keep customers in the loop as much as possible. Creating standards in advance will keep them from falling through the cracks.

 

Don't Forget You're Special

Seriously, don’t forget it. It may sound so elementary in theory, but this simple reminder is what keeps you sane when you start seeing what your competitors are capable of.

Because you will compare yourself. And you should, that’s how you learn what to improve on.

That’s how you become the stiff competition that’s intimidating you now.

In order to remind yourself that you’re special though, you need to take one step: finding out what makes you special.

In the world of business, you’re only special if you have something interesting to offer. Something new, entertaining, or useful.

So, again, it’s not enough to say you’re special. What makes you special? Is your game groundbreaking? Are you like the other studios, or do you bring a new attitude to the party?

A great way to figure out your own brand of special is to size up your competitors. Browse at least 3-5 different studios. Check out their reviews, play their games, and read their blogs. Browse their websites, and if you’re feeling bold, join their community forums or Discord channel to see how they interact with their player base.

Upon doing so, you’ll see what they do differently from you. You might find that something they do is lacking compared to how you do it. Maybe they are terrible at keeping up their blog and YouTube channels. Maybe they fail to engage their community.

But you? You’re on top of that! You’re known as the friendly game studio that cares to connect with players and keep everyone up to date. Most press coverage you get that announces new content from you, all links back to your original announcements on social media.

Something as small as this can make a huge impact and make you stand out. So here’s a list to see if you can find your brand of special quickly:

  • Sum up your key differentiating factor into one sentence. If you can’t do that, it means you need to start doing something differently than your competition.

  • Study the competition, and play their games. How are your games different?

  • Bake your defining difference into everything from your UX to marketing, customer service, games and beyond.

  • Finally, check your reviews again. They should be steering in the positive direction after you implement these changes.

 

Focus on Retention

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, retention needs to be the #1 priority, above all else. It is what ensures that your customers stay loyal to you, and not your competition. It’s what guarantees another day as a successful business.

And all that competition, well they’re focused on top-of-funnel customer acquisition. They’re the ones reading the blogs about how to get customers. There’s a ton of information available that makes this the easy part.

But keeping these customers? Think about what would happen if you could retain even just 20% more of your customers. Suddenly your lifetime value (LTV) and the efficiency of your customer acquisition costs (CAC) go up.

In order to keep your customers into a nice and tight group around you, you’ll need to:

  • Measure your current churn and retention rates, so you know your starting point, and if you’re improving or not.

  • Get insight on why people are leaving your product and going towards the competition. Use an exit survey or make some assumptions after their trial ends. For a game, just ask in your community forums. You’ll get loads of feedback, I promise.

  • Look for cost-effective opportunities to improve retention. This can be as simple as adding features or game updates. Incorporate some in-game events. Just remember, you can’t make everybody happy, so don’t make that your objective.

  • Test re-engagement strategies for lapsed customers. It’s easier to resell to someone who had purchased from you before. Being communicative can help re-recruit those who didn’t immediately get the value of your product or service.

 

Make Your Customers Happy

Sounds logical, right? Then when was the last time you took the chance to figure out what they would enjoy?

It’s no secret: most developers create what they want to, as long as there’s a market for it. Games that truly have the potential to sell well, without actually… being a bore to put together.

Because that’s the point, to create a game and have fun while doing it. That’s why you’re a developer.

But if you put your wants over theirs, well, that can jeopardize your business. Especially if the competition is buttering up your players.

You’ll need to butter them up first, smile brightly, and make sure they know that you care. For instance, maybe send players something small and inexpensive with their purchase, just as a sign that you are thankful for their purchase. Maybe a sticker pack related to the game, or some other small “swag.”

Another example is to invest more time creating the content they want to see. Maybe they love following you on social media, because you post witty YouTube videos that show them what to expect from your latest projects. So post more! Post regularly, and give them what they want.

Here are some in-depth tips:

  • Poll your customers about their biggest pain points. What do they hate and why? Use your forums and social channels to get this information.

  • Identify a way for your product to alleviate one or more of these pain points. You want to make a clear improvement based on their feedback.

  • Brainstorm different ways you could add to your onboarding and activation (getting your new customers set up, which is as simple as making their first purchase and receiving their first game) workflows to get new customers to this point.

  • Test different options and monitor the feedback from new clients.

 

Bringing It All Together

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You may be looking through all of this information wondering where to start. Well, the good news is that:

  1. This guide is organized in a chronological way, so your notes should be organized and chock-full of the insight you've been missing all along, and...

  2. The notes you've likely taken, or the highlighting you've done, isn't the end result.

In fact, it's preferable that you develop a 12-month plan for your business, where each month has its own goal to aspire to. That means you can focus on social media marketing one month, content marketing the next, competition researching after that, and so on.

Just remember, at the end of the year, there should be one solid goal completed. All the 12 goals throughout the year should have been aspects of that one major annual goal.

Use each method, tool and tactic to elevate campaigns, which should all be geared toward boosting your goal-reaching potential.

Tweak methods as you go, always analyzing on a routine basis to better understand if you’re on the right track. One week your follower count may have fallen, adjust accordingly.

And divide up your major objective (major business goal) into smaller, attainable goals, one for every month.

 

Here's a Helpful Tip: Connect Marketing & Business Goals

Don’t view marketing as a means of promoting everything you do. View it as promoting every step taken toward specific business goals.

Maybe you want to increase sales by 30% this year. Maybe you have other clearly defined goals. Use the knowledge gained through evaluating and auditing to better guess which media, platforms and content will best help you achieve those goals.

Once you know what you have to use, establish campaigns for each project. So, launch a campaign for the latest game, another for a new upcoming game, another for new merchandising, and yet another to promote your public appearance at a gaming event. Combined, all of these individual campaigns should help you reach one main goal: 30% sales increase.

 

And Finally, Measuring Everything With KPIs

It's one thing to understand digital marketing and implement its tactics. But it's a whole other beast to understand if it's all working.

In other words, rather than just provide you with information on how to improve your digital marketing tactics, we're also going to dive into measuring those tactics to ensure success.

This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) can help: by clearly and concisely measuring the variables that showcase whether you’re on the right track, or whether you’ve derailed.

 

#1 Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate

This tells you how many users are adding products to their shopping cart but not checking out. The lower this number is, the better, because it proves that you have what it takes to close a deal, and beat out the competition.

If your cart abandonment is high, you may need to simplify your checkout process. It may be too user unfriendly, causing customer frustration. Otherwise, it’s time to take a closer look at your competition.

 

#2 New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors

Returning visitors are critical in that they prove that you have what it takes to bring people back around. Something you offer is good enough, whether it’s your customer service, your items, sales, or all of the above.

But new visitors means you’re also doing a good job at marketing, enough to bring in some new traffic, which is always ideal. Especially if boosting traffic is one of your annual business goals.

This also tells you if your digital marketing campaigns are working. For instance, if you’re running a retargeted ad, you’d want to see a higher number of returning visitors.

 

#3 Mobile Site Traffic

Because we take our phones everywhere we go, and they’ve become so useful, it’s best to look at them like a mini computer. And with today’s modern lifestyles, always running around from one place to the next, it’s no wonder that most internet searches take place on mobile. That includes tablets too.

So keeping track of your mobile site traffic tells you if your site is mobile optimized, contains everything customers need to have a good shopping experience, etc.

 

#4 Hit Rate

This number is calculated by taking the total number of sales of a single product and dividing it by the number of customers who have contacted your customer service team about that product.

This tells you if a specific product has been known to cause many customer questions, complaints, concerns, etc. If a product has a high hit rate, it may be time to create a 2.0 version that’s improved upon.

Ideally, you want products to be user friendly, easily understood and used, with a low hit rate associated to them. Otherwise, expect lower sales and poor reviews.

 

#5 First Time Yield (FTY) & First Time Through (FTT)

This tells you how wasteful your production processes are. To calculate FTY, divide the number of successfully manufactured units by the total number of units that started the process.

If you wind up creating several products, much more than the total number of materials at the beginning, you’re doing just fine. But if you’re creating less than you started with, there should be some new practices implemented to cut down on waste. This will also boost your ROI.

 

Conclusion

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Well, it’s been a long road, a little bumpy at times, but that’s the most comprehensive approach to digital marketing in a nutshell.

Now you can take a minute to let it all sink in, highlight any main points you think you’ll need to dedicate extra time to, and when you’re ready, polish any details on your business’s new digital marketing strategy.

Just as some final words, remember to take your time, pace things out, take things day by day. Now that you have a plan for the year, it’s easy to divide it all up by months, or even weeks. As long as you can get the to-do list for those shorter chunks of time done consistently, you’ll stay on target for the annual goals.

Will you use any of these tactics in your business?

If so, leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts on your digital marketing approaches!