The word ‘marketing’ might make you think of sleazy sales tactics or glamorous 50s ad execs straight from Mad Men, but in reality, modern marketing is neither. Marketing is vital for any business that wants to make a name for itself and these days, focusing on all things digital is key.
In today’s blog post, we’ll go over three essential digital marketing practices you should be taking advantage of: SEO, content creation and reputation marketing. We’ll also touch on inbound marketing, a strategy that puts your potential customers first and draws – rather than pushes – them towards your business.
What is marketing and why you need it
In a nutshell, marketing is a practice that helps you better understand your target customers and what they want and need. Modern marketers achieve this through research into your existing clients, your business and its competitors in order to identify industry trends. Then, they start applying these findings to different marketing activities like the ones we’ll go into in this article. They also continuously optimise marketing campaigns to reflect changes in the industry, search engine algorithms and digital advertising platforms.
Digital marketing is, simply put, all the digital aspects of marketing combined. These days, it makes up most of any given company’s marketing. Instead of billboards, we now have PPC ads and instead of leaflets, we have marketing emails. Digital marketing can be more personalised and reach a wider audience, making it a better investment than traditional marketing in most cases.
You need marketing for your business because otherwise, no one will know you exist. And even if you don’t have a marketing department and haven’t hired a digital marketing agency to help you get your business on the map, chances are you’re already doing some digital marketing for your business yourself. Every time you update your business’ Facebook page, send out a client email or add new content to your website, you’re marketing your business.
The trick is to get more tactical with these activities so that even more people find their way to your business. This is where your marketing strategy comes in.
Why your marketing strategy should be inbound
To be successful in your marketing, you need a plan. We recommend making yours inbound. Inbound marketing is a concept created by Hubspot, a marketing software company, and it focuses on creating marketing campaigns that serve your audience before they serve you. Inbound marketing relies on drawing customers to your business more organically rather than trying to push them to it with salesy, often outdated tactics that are about you, not them.
What this means in practice is that the campaigns you create offer value to those exposed to them, even if they don’t end up being clients of yours. This could be creating a blog full of helpful articles, posting social media updates that entertain and educate them or sending well-timed emails that anticipate their needs by offering the information they need to move closer to purchasing from you.
We’re big believers in inbound marketing because it puts your customers first, anticipating their issues and adding value to their interactions with your business. This will help you create a brand people love. It’s also cost-effective and SEO-friendly – what’s not to love?
Utilising SEO for greater online visibility
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it’s one of the key parts of any modern digital marketing strategy. SEO is all about making your website more visible on search engines so that more people find your business when they’re searching for products or services like yours online.
Search engines like Google find the most relevant results for their users by crawling websites to find information they think will be relevant to the searcher. The goal of SEO is to add signs online to your business as a legitimate, high-quality source for information and consists of three different aspects you need to address in your SEO strategy.
Technical SEO is the first one and it makes sure search engines are able to effectively “read” your website so that your site can show up in search results. Most of this is in the form of settings on your website you have to configure properly. The good news is that once you’ve done this, you’ll likely not have to think about technical SEO again.
Onsite SEO is all about optimising the content on your website. This starts with finding relevant keywords for your business. These are terms you think your ideal customer would search to find your website – for example, “cheap hairdresser Glasgow”. You’ll need to find keywords with people searching for them each month but ones that aren’t so competitive you’ll struggle to ever reach the first page of search results.
This is why you should go for longer, more focused keywords, known as long-tail keywords. These could be something like “Aveda hairdresser Glasgow student discount”. Then, you use these keywords strategically across your website in things like product descriptions, blog posts and meta tags. This way, search engines come to see your site as being knowledgeable about these subjects.
The third and final form of search engine optimisation is offsite SEO. This consists of getting other reputable websites to add links to your site so that search engines start to see you as a source for authoritative content. This happens organically and over time if you create quality content for your website on a regular basis and promote it online. However, you can also take on more active link building activities, like writing guest blogs.
Why create quality content for your website
In order for you to rank for your target keywords and offer valuable, inbound content for your would-be clients, you need great content on your website. Informative product descriptions and high-quality blog posts help with your SEO and build trust in your website visitors, making them more likely to convert.
Great content helps with every step in your sales funnel. It helps bring new leads into your business through keywords, gets their attention with useful content that answers their questions and warms them up with more informative content until they’re ready to purchase from you. Once they’ve become a paying customer, you can continue to delight them with things like blog posts and marketing emails that make them more likely to become a repeat customer and an avid promoter of your business.
You might be tempted to just stuff your website with keywords to appeal to search engines, but this isn’t a good idea. First of all, it’ll put off the human visitors to your website. Second of all, these days, search engines are smart enough that they see through tactics like these and penalise sites for things like overusing keywords. Search engines want to provide their users with the best possible search results, so they want to make sure the websites on the first page of their search results are written with humans, not search engines in mind.
The importance of reputation marketing
Managing your online reputation should also be an important part of your marketing strategy. We’ve talked about the importance of online reviews on this blog in the past: they’re vital for getting your business in front of more people on search engines and review websites and offer the information your would-be clients need in order to convert.
Reputation marketing means actively monitoring and responding to customer reviews, taking proactive steps to get more online reviews from your customers and using positive reviews in your other marketing efforts throughout your website, emails, social media and downloadable guides. In short, reputation marketing takes things a set further from simple reputation management: it uses reviews strategically to get more business.