Digital marketing (DM) is a way of promoting a brand, service or product through electronic media to anyone, anywhere in the world. Technology has changed the way people consume. Online is the fastest growing segment of marketing and it’s outpacing print publications. Staying connected in real time to the news, entertainment, socially and in business is the norm. The Internet is the first stop for most people when buying anything from homes to shoes. Global shopping is a 24/7/365 activity and reaching consumers electronically is the fastest and most efficient method for advertisers. I’ve listed some of the most frequently asked questions people have about digital marketing. I hope the answers provide a good picture of the industry and help you decide if this is a path is for you.
IS ONLINE MARKETING RIGHT FOR ME?
Everyone is different. The answer depends on several things, including your personal interests, your goals and your skills. Think and begin with the following:
- Are you ready to make a long-term commitment? This is a business, not a hobby. If you want to be profitable, decide how many hours a week you will invest to grow your business and stick to it.
- You will need to persevere. Persistence is one of the most important traits you need to succeed. This type of marketing requires a lot of trial and error. There is no magic formula that works across the board for everyone. If it were easy, everyone would be a digital marketer.
Initially most of your time will be spent trying different advertising campaigns and venues before you strike gold. Repeated tries (not failures) are the way to determine what works. This is a business that requires patience.
- Are you flexible? Consumer trends change quickly and what worked last year may not work today. You need to stay on top of demand and not mind changing your strategies frequently. Rigidity is not an option in this business.
WHERE DO I BEGIN?
- Identify what service or product you wish to provide
- Define why you want to do this. Hopefully service to the public, not just profit, is part of your equation. Keep in mind that search engines and social media are designed to provide value to the public. They were not designed for the benefit of the marketer. As such, their algorithms change continuously to suit the needs of the consumer.
Good examples are the fields of personal development and self-improvement. These have grown exponentially in the last decade to address increasing demand.
- Identify your target audience or “Avatar” and determine where they “hang out” on social media and search engines. This is where you’ll be reaching out to them.
- Create a business plan. This will be the foundation from which you build on. It’s your road map, guidance system and it will help you reach your destination.
- Know your numbers. Your plan should include how much start up capital you’re willing to invest plus a marketing budget for at least six months.
If you follow a proven digital marketing system, you should begin seeing some return during this period.
WHAT SKILLS ARE REQUIRED?
I recommend that you work all aspects of your business initially in order to determine your strengths and apply them accordingly. You can eventually outsource services where you need help.
Understanding your business from the bottom up makes you a better service provider and, as your business grows, you’ll be able to address more confidently issues that may arise.
- Organizational skills
The most successful entrepreneurs are well organized. They plan how their days will be spent. The more efficient you are, the more productive and the more free time you will have when your business systems are up and running.
One of the biggest challenges all start-up businesses have is prioritizing tasks. Remember that not everything needs to be done immediately or at the same time. Knowing what requires your attention first and what can be held off until later reduces stress and increases performance.
Set a fixed time during the day for routine activities like analyzing your advertising campaigns, answering emails or writing blogs. I find the early morning hours, when my mind is still nimble, the best time for blogging or creating videos.
You may want to use a calendar to schedule tasks, but if you’re more of a free flowing spirit, so long as you know which things needs to be handled first, then you’ll be fine.
Digital marketing requires constantly analyzing data to see if an advertising campaign is working or if it needs to be changed. Top advertising venues include Bing, Google, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube and Facebook. These sources provide statistical data showing where traffic is coming from, what landing pages are working, how many people are clicking on ads, how many are converting to buyers, the cost per click, the trends, just to name a few pieces of helpful information. You can customize reports to highlight the data that is most relevant to your needs.
Studying data should be a daily activity. Unlike traditional marketing, thirty days is plenty of time to determine if a campaign is successful.
If you have a financial portfolio, you understand why analytics are so important. It is the return on your investment in digital marketing. Statistical reports show what is profitable and you’ll want to scale those areas quickly.
Whether your preference is website design, blogging, creating videos, taping podcasts or sharing photos on social media this part of the business, for the majority of people, is the most fun.
One of the fastest growing advertising venues today is Instagram and because it’s free, it’s a great medium for marketers with little or no budgets. It’s a great way to capture a buying audience cost-free.
If writing is your specialty, then blogging is a great way to show off your talent. I would recommend workshops that will show you how to optimize blogs so they come up on search engines.
Repurposing a video in written form through a blog is a great way to get your message across and reducing your tasks at hand. When blogging, original content is always best. It’s okay to use and give credit when using someone else’s material but everyone has a unique voice and novel material makes the most impact.
WHERE IS THE INDUSTRY GOING?
Online marketing is one of the fastest growing segments of product and service promotion. It’s an industry that is looking for highly skilled experts. Search engine gurus are in huge demand.
As search engine algorithms change and how consumers engage on the Internet evolves, there is a growing demand for adept search optimization analysts. This industry is just starting and if you’re thinking about digital marketing get ahead of the wave.
With ever increasing compliance and protocol issues in cyber space, there is greater need daily for digital experts.
WHICH IS THE RIGHT DIGITAL VENUE TO USE?
That depends on you but, more importantly, on where your “Avatar” is hanging out. The growing number of electronic venues means you have to understand the power and value of each one, select the ones that are best suited for your service or product and focus on one or two to grow your client base.
HOW DO I MANAGE CUSTOMERS?
Unlike traditional mom and pop businesses, successful digital businesses can have tens of thousands of customers. Look at Tony Robbin’s empire, built up by affiliate digital marketers.
Not all leads you gain online turn into purchasing customers but both require managing. You need to keep your “list”engaged and always offer them value.
This can be done through follow-up or one time emails, known as broadcasts using automated systems like Aweber or Constant Contact. Your messages should provide valuable information to help people decide if your product or service is right for them.
HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S WORKING?
The biggest difference between online and traditional marketing is the instant feedback you receive digitally.
Analytics makes it possible to measure and test results. It’s a way to show how you can improve your client’s experience and increase the return on your investment. Ultimately, however, if you’re on track, buyers will be purchasing from you and they will return.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
When you first begin, the two things that are taken from you are time and money. Once your systems are operative, however, you will have plenty of both.
The amount of time to get your business up and running depends on how much time you invest daily. For everyone it’s different. I wanted to start building leads as quickly as possible. I spent the first couple of months learning digital language, about sales funnels and researching the best ways to reach my Avatar. Once I felt comfortable with these, I started advertising but not before creating a website.
Consumers will look at your website for valuable information. Make sure it’s user-friendly, informative and uncluttered. Less is more. Think of Twitter and Instagram. Both are growing in popularity because they have less content and soft on the eyes.
Earning your market’s trust and building your business takes time. This is why staying in touch is key. There is so much noise on the internet that unless you remind people constantly that you’re in business, they’re likely to forget you and move on to someone else.
WHAT FINANCIAL INVESTMENT IS REQUIRED?
That is up to you, the amount you have to invest and how quickly you want to grow your business. Much depends on which advertising route you will take. Not surprisingly, at this time, the most expensive venues are Facebook and YouTube.
It’s possible to grow a business with a small or no advertising budget but it will take longer time. Also, the smaller your finances, the more man-hours you will need to invest.
Some of my counterparts started with a $10 daily advertising budget. As their returns grew, they reinvested in more advertising. My mentors now spend over $20K a month. They can afford to do these three years into their business and they’re making seven figures. How much you make is up to you.
HOW WILL I BENEFIT?
- Time freedom
There’s no better proof of success than spending time the way you wish. While in the start-up phase of you’ll be investing many hours, this pays off quickly as your list and buyers grow.
The greatest benefit of owning a digital business is the freedom of time. The masters in my digital community are frequently globetrotting. They work from anywhere so long as they have a laptop and an Internet connection.
Having the freedom to do the things you love most is invaluable. What would you do with your digital freedom?
- You’re your own boss
Imagine never having to report to anyone again. Think about how it will feel when no one tells you what to do or when to do it.
No one can ever again dictate your activities or when you can take time off. This is invaluable. You will never again be tied to an office or someone else’s schedule.
- Create and grow your brand
The best part of owning your own business is that you put your signature on everything that you do. It is an extension of who you are.
You can create your brand from the start. Offering products and services that are extensions of what you value most is the best way to do this. Brand yourself and grow businesses under your name’s umbrella. Your name is synonymous with what you represent. Make it priceless.
If you still have questions, take a look at the links we’ve provided on this page. Maybe one day you’ll find yourself writing a blog on the most frequently asked questions about digital marketing.
ROXANA BOWGEN, Digital Marketing Strategist
A Supportive Community of Digital Marketers
“My mission is to help expansion-minded entrepreneurs create and build their dream lifestyles and careers with a digital marketing laptop business.”