Digital Marketing Simplified for Your Small Business

One of my pet peeves with digital marketing agencies is that they overcomplicate their elevator pitch. Most of what they do is Basic Business 101, the technology version. Using verbose service descriptions and complex marketing terms doesn’t win new clients, especially in the small business world. Simplicity and fair pricing is what works in this space. My goal today is to simplify digital marketing for you.

First, I want to give a shoutout to Grant Lingel, the creative genius behind Neil Patel Digital and one of my favorite professors at PowerMBA. His breakdown of digital marketing is one of the most refreshing approaches I’ve heard in this space. Much of what you’re about to read comes from his teachings. The rest is what I’ve learned through practical experience in SEO, SaaS sales, and content marketing.

What’s the Difference Between Digital Marketing and SEO?

Search engine optimization is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. If you’re looking for an SEO expert, contact my friend Jason Hewett. He’s a real SEO consultant, not some guy who took a ninety day digital marketing course. Don’t get me wrong. I applaud anyone who tries to better themselves through education. Just don’t proclaim yourself an expert if you’re not.

SEO is a complex process that involves coding, content creation, image tagging, directory listings, backlinks, and a host of other tasks. Most business owners don’t understand all the work involved. That leaves an opening for unscrupulous digital marketers to classify their services as SEO, even when it’s not. Consider this a cautionary tale.

Content is the Most Important Element in Digital Marketing

The one indisputable fact about both SEO and digital marketing is that content is king. I can say that with authority because I’ve been a freelance financial writer on Upwork for twenty years. The demand for my services over that time has grown exponentially and the clients with the largest appetites have been the most successful.

Today, content comes in many forms. I’m partial to written articles, for obvious reasons, but photos, videos, memes, and digital artwork all attract the eye and have their place in a digital marketing campaign. Without content, those campaigns would never get off the ground. When hiring an agency, ask about their content strategy.

Marketing is Useless Without an Effective Sales Process

Inbound and outbound marketing are broader topics that I’ll get into next week some time. Sales processes are something I’m somewhat of an authority on. I’ve been hired to stand up several of them, usually after ownership discovered their marketing campaigns weren’t working. If your digital marketer doesn’t at least inquire about your sales process, they don’t know what they’re doing. Find another agency.

Think of this as throwing a ball into an empty field. If no one is there to catch it, you’ve just wasted your effort. Walk to the ball, pick it up, and throw it again if you want to. That’s the very definition of insanity. Find a friend to catch it if you really want to play ball. In business, that friend is your sales rep. The rules of the game are your sales process.

Metaphors aside, effective digital marketing is the employment of quality content in a manner designed to capture the attention of a target audience. Sales is the process of capturing, nurturing, and closing deals with interested members of that audience. It’s not complicated, but it does need to be coordinated. Call me if you need help.

The Ethical and Legal Quandaries of Data Privacy and Retargeting

Retargeting as a digital marketing technique is highly effective. It’s utilized to keep brands top of mind to website visitors after they’ve left your site. This is done by “following” those visitors across social media and search platforms. Combined with an effective inbound marketing and sales process, retargeting significantly increases conversion rates. That’s the positive aspect of this approach.

The downside of using retargeting is that your business may be violating the privacy of your website visitors. Depending on where you’re located, you may be required to disclose this openly on your home page or in a privacy policy. From a psychological and ethical perspective, the presence of a retargeting campaign might drive away visitors rather than interest them in your product or service.

Measuring Success with the Right Digital Marketing Metrics

The success of a digital marketing campaign can only be measured if you use the right metrics. Most agencies will show reports that display the performance of their program. Make sure that the following metrics are included in those reports:

  • Total number of conversions: This is a bottom line number. At the end of the day, how many conversions did the marketing campaign generate? Define what a conversion means to you (sale, contact, demo, etc) and count them.
  • Reach and Engagement Levels: If the agency uses pay-per-click advertising (PPC), they can reach massive numbers of prospective visitors. That’s not a real number. How many of those users who clicked on the ad actually engaged.
  • Conversion Rate by Channel: This is a more granular metric. Rather than looking at conversions on a macro level, examine the numbers by channel. This will help you, or the digital marketer if they’re doing their job, adjust in future iterations to increase overall conversion rates.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This is a way of measuring the cost effectiveness of your marketing campaign. At the end of the day, how much did it cost you to acquire each new paying customer? Determine whether that cost is higher or lower than what you’ve incurred through organic search or paid advertising.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Return on investment is the opposite side of the coin from customer acquisition cost. This metric measures how much you actually profited from the investment you made into digital marketing.

Is Digital Marketing a Worthwhile Expense for Your Business?

The United States Small Business Administration recommends that you allocate no more than 7-8% of your total expense budget to marketing. WebFX, which is a leading digital marketing company, claims that digital marketing costs in 2022 range anywhere from $2,500 to $12,000 per month. They break it down on the prices page of their website. Do the math. Can your small business support that weight?

In an article I wrote earlier this week about “Writing to Learn,” I cited an example where one CEO (John Prendergast) taught himself to code before he hired any coders. You might want to do the same thing with digital marketing. Begin by writing some decent content and posting it on Linked In. Develop a sales process that works. Buy a few PPC ads to measure the results. Then go out and hire an agency. If you need coaching, reach out to my office. We’re happy to help.

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