Getting Started With Digital Marketing – Actionable Tips From Leading Marketers
Getting Started With Digital Marketing (Introduction) –
It comes as no surprise that there are a lot of questions about getting started with digital marketing. Engaging in some form of digital marketing is critical to the survival of most modern-day businesses.
With access to more potential customers than ever through the internet and social media, businesses in the 21st century have the world at their fingertips–literally.
In this article, we will explore:
- Emerging trends in digital marketing and how to leverage them to get more business;
- Important things to know about getting started with digital marketing; and
- Three (3) ways businesses can increase website traffic
As part of this journey, we will provide proven and actionable tips from digital marketing experts and how to put them to use. You will learn effective methods for how to:
- Build a successful influencer marketing campaign
- Get started with social audio
- Optimize privacy for users and customers
- Increase authentic online reviews for your business
- Improve your content strategy (on a budget)
- Develop a winning video marketing campaign
- Improve mobile-first indexing on your site
- Test website content and performance
- Produce share-worthy content and build backlinks
Short on time? You can skip straight to our Getting Started With Digital Marketing FAQ to see the highlights.
Emerging Trends in Digital Marketing and How To Leverage Them To Get More Business
Digital Marketing Trend 1: Influencer Marketing
From the Experts: Amanda Russell | Award-Winning Brand Strategist
“Influencer marketing is scalable and requires no capital; in fact, some of the most influential partnerships don’t involve the exchange of one penny. If you can figure out what drives the influencer and offer them value, it becomes a mutually beneficial win-win in which both parties’ goals are commonly aligned and motivated to achieve. The key is spending the time to figure out truly what’s in it for them.”– Amanda Russell
While some could argue influencer marketing dates back to the days of gladiators endorsing products in Ancient Rome, the term “influencer” actually didn’t cement itself into the modern-day lexicon until the late 2010s. Fast forward to today, and influencer marketing is set to top $13.5B in 2021[I] and grow at a 30%+ CAGR between 2021 and 2029.[II]
Not only has influencer marketing bore out as a powerful and highly popular form of marketing, but it can also be decidedly cost-effective when it comes to ROI. Burst Media found that for every $1 their advertisers spent on Influencer Marketing Programs in 2014, they earned an average of $6.85.[III]
How to Build a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign
Looking to build a social influencer campaign to drive awareness and sales for your business? Follow these tried and true steps:
- Leverage software tools like Followerwonk, Buzzsumo, and Ninja Outreach, to simplify your search for exemplary brand ambassadors. Filter for their audience demographics, effectiveness of their content, and performance to narrow down your list. Don’t forget to research your own fans and followers, who may have several thousand followers themselves and be micro-influencers of their own.
- Ensure brand alignment between your influencer and what you are selling. Ultimately, you need to determine what your influencer will do to serve your company’s goals and how they will do it (with creative input and collaboration from them as well). Your brand goals need to be specific to be able to measure the efficacy of the campaign. Use the influencer marketing campaign goal plan template from NeilPatel.com to draft your initial campaign goals.
- Start with a diverse and robust network of influencers and distill down to a few most authentic that prioritize long-term partnerships with effective return. You don’t need to max out your budget doing this either. Research shows many brands tend to give away swag or free product samples in lieu of payment to smaller influencers, making the marketing spend much more manageable.[IV]
Once you have found your influencers and built your campaigns, make sure to cross-promote their content on your social channels and track the engagement, traffic, and leads/sales they help generate.
Digital Marketing Trend 2: Social Audio
From the Experts: Mari Smith | Queen of Facebook | Social Media Thought Leader
“Social audio is one of the biggest trends to happen in the marketing world in a decade . . . [it] is here to stay; it’s not a passing fad. Facebook is doubling down on its own efforts to capitalize on this trend with the launch of podcasts, live audio rooms, soundbites, and more.”– Mari Smith
Coming off the pandemic-driven “virtual event” craze, social audio offers the same person-to-person connection without the pressure that comes with visuals/video.
What Is Social Audio? Social audio is essentially real-time voice-only audio with social features. It can include live conversation rooms, voice messaging, audio creation and editing tools, podcasts, and more.[V] Podcasters have technically seen this success for decades, but different from other platforms, podcasts are a one-way medium; they don’t allow for live engagement.
Social audio offers businesses a radically unique way to establish their brand voice and authority, engage and interact with customers, provide industry insights, and much more. For those that want to provide more than text (such as the personalization of hearing a human voice) but don’t want to go the video route, social audio might be the answer.
4 Steps to Get Started With Social Audio
- Find your platform. Identify which social audio platforms are a good fit for your marketing goals. In his recent Web-Strategist.com article, Jeremiah Owyang lists 26+ social audio platforms or companies, including Clubhouse, Spaces on Twitter, Sonar, Fireside, Chalk, Spaces on Twitter Discord, and Locker Room. Facebook also introduced a host of social audio experiences in April 2021 coming to their platform.
- Identify your “spokesperson.” Decide who at your company will represent your business and be able to present and communicate ideas, engage in dialog, and listen with empathy to potential customers, users, etc. The goal is to tap into a steeped experience to share knowledge, provide useful information, and ask questions that enrich every social audio conversation.
- Sponsor a room or chat. Brands can also work on connecting with their audience by sponsoring rooms or chats organized by industry leaders. This collaboration can give marketing executives the opportunity to share their brand stories, connect with customers, and have a speaker in the room highlight a product.[VI]
- Invite your audience (or potential customers) to join. Leverage multiple channels to invite people to engage in your social audio campaign or event – website, social media, word of mouth, email marketing, etc. This 21st-century approach to content marketing flourished during pandemic-related lockdowns and looks to be persisting for the long term.
Digital Marketing Trend 3: Attention to Privacy
From the Experts: Amy Jo Martin | CEO & Founder of Digital Royalty | NY Times Bestselling Author
“Social communication privacy continues to be a growing concern for society.”– Amy Jo Martin
Popular documentaries like “The Social Dilemma” and Apple’s big move in 2021 to clamp down on Facebook’s ability to track users across apps and third-party websites say it all – users want their privacy. Data from Evercore ISI revealed that 70% of iOS devices were using the most recent iOS version in June 2021, with an update that allows users to restrict Facebook tracking. Of those, fewer than 33% of users had opted to allow tracking. [VII]
While some argue this trend towards restricting data harvesting negatively impacts small businesses by making it more difficult to target potential customers, companies can embrace a privacy-first approach to digital marketing that attracts a growing audience of customers looking for more authenticity and security in their online experiences.
5 Ways Businesses Can Prioritize Privacy for Users & Customers
- Require a double opt-in when signing folks up for your email marketing list.
- Prompt users to allow (or not allow) cookies when visiting your website.
- Communicate openly and honestly with users about what data you collect and how it is used.
- Use trusted platforms like Okta, SailPoint, and OneLogin to safeguard data for users and customers registering accounts and logging in.
3 Important Things to Know About Getting Started with Digital Marketing
When it comes to getting started with digital marketing, the vast offering of marketing channels, tools, and platforms can be overwhelming to any business, much less a small venture looking to grow authentically and sustainably. Digital marketing is the key to survival in today’s tech-driven world.
So, what are the experts saying that businesses large and small should know about getting started with digital marketing?
1. Word-of-Mouth Still Matters
From the Experts: Jay Baer | New York Times Best-Selling Author of 6 books | Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker
“In almost every case, reviews and word-of-mouth are more important to success than you think. In fact, 70% of consumers say reviews are more important now than ever before. It is critical that you not only run your business in a way that people WANT to review you positively, but that you respond to all the reviews you receive.”– Jay Baer
No matter how much advertising you do, one review can tip the scale when it comes to a potential visitor becoming a lifelong customer or saying sayonara to your business altogether. Research shows 57 percent of searches for local businesses are done on a mobile device, and those searching are typically looking to visit within the next 48 hours.[VIII]
When people search for businesses or products, reviews are often one of the top viewed search results. Make yours count with these expert tips:
5 Ways to Increase Authentic Reviews for Your Business
- Claim Your Listings. For physical businesses, make sure you claim listings for your business on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. In addition, it’s important to create a Google Business and Facebook Business Page. You can do this in 10 minutes. For software companies or websites without a physical presence, review sites like G2, Capterra, SoftwareAdvice, and Clutch offer a way to showcase your technology and collect ratings on your products and services.
- Ask customers to review you before they leave. Whether you prompt them online after an e-commerce purchase or request it before they physically walk out the door, ask customers to leave a quick review while their experience is fresh in their mind.
- Recruit customers to leave reviews online. Provide multiple ways for customers to leave you a review, including in-person or online. Send email and SMS requests with links to the sites where reviews live and/or hand out physical cards with a QR code customers can snap to visit your online listing and leave a review.
- Highlight five-star reviews. Use your reviews as a marketing tool to amplify the message of how much your customers love you–shout them out on social media or highlight them in a welcome email. Customers who had a good experience may feel socially inclined to join the growing group of five-star reviewers.
- Respond to *all* reviews. As much as possible, respond to reviews both good and bad. This simple act shows customers your business values every piece of feedback. Create a review response action plan that ensures all responses convey your desired brand tone, properly address specific issues, and drive customers to resolve matters privately with your company if needed.
2. Content Is Queen (or King)
From the Experts: Mari Smith | Queen of Facebook | Social Media Thought Leader
“Focus on being visually compelling with a good mix of images and short videos. Invite your audience to engage as best you can. Allocate even a nominal budget to elevate the reach of your content to the right audience, primarily when you’re first starting.”– Mari Smith
The consumption of online content has more than doubled globally since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, jumping from an average of just under three and a half hours a day to almost seven hours a day per person.[IX] In addition to connected television devices, people are consuming content through their mobile devices and computers more than ever.
In a vast sea of online content that is being generated and pushed out every day from all angles, it can feel challenging to create engaging, shareable content that adds value for your brand and drives clicks, leads, and sales. Keep these expert tips in mind:
4 Ways to Improve Your Content Strategy (on a Budget)
1. Start with a Plan. If you don’t have a clear sense of what you want to get out of your marketing efforts, they most likely will not pay off. Creating content is hard and takes time. Don’t let that go to waste. Instead, start with a strong marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a roadmap that helps you set goals, understand your target audience and optimize the impact of your marketing campaigns.
When it comes to your content, at a minimum, start by identifying the main objectives (to drive leads, website traffic, build loyalty, etc.), then research possible topics, campaigns, and seasonable time pegs that will ensure your content is relevant and accessible to customers throughout the year. Research keywords you want to target and analyze what types of content subjects and formats have been most successful with your audience (or a competitor’s audience) in the past. Finalize your plan for 6-12 months with topic ideas and headlines.
2. Develop an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars allow businesses to plan for larger amounts of content that can be shared across a website, blog, social channels, and email marketing over an extended period of time.
The intent of an editorial calendar is to organize and manage your content in one central place by documenting when, how and where you intend to publish your future content (e.g., articles, blog posts, social media). For instance, Trello, Asana, and KanbanFlow are examples of top calendars that can be used for this purpose. For a more extensive list, here are examples of some of the most popular editorial calendars to help you determine what might work best for you.
If you already defined your content strategy and marketing plan then you’re ahead of the game and can focus more on specific content ideas, monitoring your results, and optimizing your strategy. You can also find more ideas for creating effective Editorial Calendars from Forbes.
3. Incorporate more rich media. High-quality digital content experiences most often incorporate images, videos, and/or interactive design and animation. Luckily, a host of tools exist today that improve rich media creation without the costly price tag.
Free stock imagery sites like Pixabay, Unsplash, Reshot, Picjumbo, and Picspree offer extensive selections of high-quality images for free with little to no license or attribution restrictions. Free online design tools like Canva, Gimp, DesignWizard, and LunaPic equip businesses with easy-to-use graphic design features to create imagery for use across social media, email marketing, websites, blogs, and more.
4. Make content more shareable. Just say no to truncated titles and frustrating thumbnail photos. You can control the text and imagery that displays when you post a link to your website or blog on social media.
Make sure your content is shareable by posting the correct-sized image for each social platform and Open Graph tags (meta titles, descriptions, images) for each webpage or blog post. Don’t forget to preview what the posts will look like before they go live on social channels using inspection tools like Facebook Debugger, Twitter Card Validator, and LinkedIn Post Inspector.
3. Video Connects People
From the Experts: Neil Patel | Top 100 entrepreneur under 30 by Obama & Top 10 marketer by Forbes
“Everything is moving towards video in marketing. A lot of companies are ignoring video because video content doesn’t rank as well on Google, but people connect more through video content than they do through audio or text-based content… especially if you go live.”– Neil Patel
Without fail, every digital marketing expert worth their weight will recommend video as part of your overall marketing strategy. Video can be daunting, though, especially when you don’t necessarily have the equipment, expertise, or budget to develop a standout commercial advertisement for your business.
Fear not! If anything, TikTok has taught the world that its meteoric rise to dominance had everything to do with the power of video–even the shortest, simplest ones.
How to Build a Winning Video Marketing Campaign
Looking to build a video marketing campaign for your business or brand? Don’t miss these essential steps:
Identify your primary goals. Where does your digital marketing campaign sit in the traditional marketing funnel? Are you spreading awareness to attract new customers, explaining how your product or service works, or driving current customers to make a decision, a.k.a., convert? Knowing the goals for your campaign informs not only the content of your video but how its layout, length, production value, and more.
Find your target audience. For video campaigns, you want to distill in fine detail who your target viewers are based on three main factors–the buyer persona for the type of person who will buy your product/service, the marketing goals for your video (awareness, consideration, or decision), and where your audience hangs out.[X]
Develop your story. Use storyboarding software like Storyboarder, Plot, and StudioBinder to develop a rich, engaging story that will keep viewers hanging on until the very end. Incorporate rich media, text, music, transitions, and more to bring your story to life with easy-to-use visualization tools and production workflow solutions.
Build your creative requirements, timeline, and budget. Once you have a semblance of who you want to reach and the story you want to tell, nail the logistics for execution. How long will your video be? Research shows videos up to 2 minutes in length get the best engagement.[XI] How long will you take to create it? What is your budget for this type of marketing spend?
Find the right software and equipment. If you are creating a video yourself, look for software tools that empower your efforts and don’t hinder them. Free online tools like Invideo, Animoto and OpenShot offer access to terrific video editing capabilities, with easy-to-use interfaces. Software like Loom and Camtasia (by Techsmith) can equip you with advanced features to record and edit videos for marketing.
Post and share. Give your video life by sharing it far and wide. Post to your Youtube or Vimeo channels; embed on your website and blog; share on your social media channels; ask your followers and influencers to like and share it too.
3 Ways Businesses Can Increase Website Traffic
Maximizing website traffic seems like a no-brainer–the more people who see your site, the more people who may become customers or regular visitors, right? Absolutely. Website traffic plays a critical role in getting started with digital marketing in that it can influence how well your website ranks on Google, how valuable your business might be for sponsorships or ad placements, and how attractive you may be to influencers and potential buyers.
So, what are the experts saying that businesses large and small should know about increasing website traffic?
1) Prioritize Mobile-First Indexing
From the Experts: Barry Schwartz | CEO of RustyBrick | Founder of Search Engine Roundtable | Editor At Search Engine Land
“In SEO, yes, Google is moving over its last set of websites into mobile-first indexing. In May, Google [launched] its page experience update, where core web vitals will matter more. Also, Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithm with new core updates and other updates, which can directly impact how you rank in search.”– Barry Schwartz
85% of Americans own a smartphone in 2021, up from 35% just ten years ago.[XII] It’s no surprise then that Google updated its algorithms in 2021 to predominantly use mobile versions of content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.
The need for designing an online presence that serves a mobile user has never been higher. From responsive websites that adapt to different screen sizes in coherent and attractive ways; to engaging mobile content across social media; to consistent alt text from your mobile site to your desktop site.
3 Key Actions to Improve Mobile-First Indexing on Your Site
- Ensure that Googlebot can scrape content and resources on your mobile site
- Use the same meta tags from your desktop to your mobile pages (especially noindex and nofollow tags).
- If you have different URLs for your desktop and mobile sites, make sure Google is able to crawl both of them (remove any disallow directives).
- Make sure Google can see your lazy-loaded content; (Googlebot may not access content that requires a user interaction to load).
- Carry over content and meta tags from your desktop and mobile websites
- Make sure your mobile site has the same primary content as your desktop site (or more), even if it is designed differently. Content influences what Google scrapes and how well it ranks your site.
- Use meaningful, clear headings on your mobile site and mirror the meta tags and descriptive titles across both.
- Verify visual content on your mobile site follows best practices
- Utilize high-quality images with proper resolution and sizing
- Use supported file formats for images that Google can scrape (i.e., jpg, png, svg, etc.)
- Ensure content quality for images across your mobile site, including descriptive alt text captions, text, and filenames.
- Streamline the URLs for your images, so they do not change every time an image loads (makes it harder for Google to process and index resources)
Google shares more best practices for mobile indexing here.
2) Test and Test Again
“Test, test, test. Just because you read a case study or two that a specific tactic or strategy worked for one or two companies, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. While it is incredibly important to continue to read and learn about new and innovative tactics, you must test them to ensure they work for you and your business.”– Barry Schwartz,
The best way to learn what works in digital marketing for your business is to learn by experience all the things that do not work. Testing is vital–from the user experience on your site to its accessibility and its performance.
Go-To Tools for Testing Website Content and Performance
Website Speed – the speed at which your pages, content, and images load can significantly affect your users’ experience on your site (and, therefore, your Google ranking). Try these free tools for measuring key speed indicators (loading, rendering, HTTP requests, etc.) on your website:
Website Usability – the user interface of your site, from its intuitive navigability to its intelligent content structure and readability, defines the experience for your visitors. Try these free tools for testing the user experience of your website (and a/b testing different landing pages and calls to action):
- Google Search Console
- Yoast (plugin for WordPress)
- Website Grader (from Hubspot)
Website Accessibility – measuring how easy it is for users and customers to find and visit your website largely comes down to smart keywords, strong meta data, inbound links from authoritative domains, and cross-browser and operating system compatibility. Try these free tools for tracking the accessibility of your website:
3) Make Your Business Share-Worthy
From the Experts: Rand Fishkin | Founder of Moz & SparkToro
“. . . if web traffic is your primary goal, I highly recommend having a great answer to the question: “Who will amplify what we do/create/launch and why?” If you can answer that with specifics, like “these magazines, journals, industry publications, people on Twitter, Instagram, etc., will share our work because…” you’re in a really good place, marketing-wise. If you don’t yet have answers to that, uncover them. Make your products, your online content, and your business share-worthy for a group that will care about what you do and spread the message.”– Rand Fishkin
Share-worthy content feels like you’re sharing an experience–when someone reads or views it, they can’t help but want to pass it on, whether it’s an article, an image, a social post, you name it. Not only is share-worthy content relevant, but it speaks to people’s interests, it’s often “snackable” (quick, digestible), and most importantly, it’s easy to share.
4 Expert Tips for Creating Shareable Content and Building Backlinks
- Set up Google Alerts. One way to track whether your content is already being shared is with Google Alerts (set up for your keywords or phrases of choice, i.e., your business name). Google Alerts also allow you to track industry content to see who is publishing articles about content to which you may contribute.
- Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO connects journalists with credible sources and experts for stories they are writing. Receive regular emails for story pitches or quote requests and send your ideas and feedback for a potential feature.
- Leverage press release networks. Press release distribution networks like PRNewswire, EReleases, and EINPresswire simplify the process of disseminating your company news, updates, and content. Publications, journals, and media outlets review press releases on distribution networks every day, looking for businesses and industry change-makers to spotlight.
- Pursue professional guest posting/interview opportunities. Online communities and platforms that highlight executives and entrepreneurs offer a unique avenue for companies to share and promote content. Forbes Council and Natfluence are a couple of examples of content platforms that help you gain exposure, establish authority, and build backlinks to your website.
TAKEAWAY – What to Remember About Actionable Tips for Getting Started With Digital Marketing
As long as the internet exists, digital marketing will bridge the gap between the physical world and the online world for businesses. Attracting visitors, engaging customers, and garnering sales will largely come down to pulling a handful of digital marketing levers–from smart SEO to creative video marketing, powerful influencer campaigns, intentional content propagation, and collecting strong reviews.
Here is a convenient summary of key takeaways to remember when it comes to getting started with the digital marketing opportunities discussed in this article:
“Getting Started With Digital Marketing” FAQ Guide
Did you enjoy our article on “Getting Started with Digital Marketing“? If so, check out these interviews with our featured marketing experts to learn more: