Ok, But What IS Digital Marketing?
These days, there is so much talk about the importance of having good digital marketing, it’s no wonder that people are getting lost along the way. All too often, I’m reading articles that are well put together, informative, and completely incomprehensible to anyone without extensive knowledge of online marketing. Marketing in itself can be a hard concept to grasp outside of, “It advertises your business.” As a result, this article is focused almost entirely on the basics of what digital marketing is, so you can make sure you have a great foundation before diving into more complex areas that make up Search Engine Marketing, or SEM.
What is Digital Marketing?
In the broadest sense, digital marketing is all the little components that help you gain visibility online to attract more potential customers. Digital marketing is a lot like billboards you see in the city, or ads you read in the local newspaper, except that is reaches many more people on a much larger scale. It used to be that people in chicken suits stood outside and waved a sign around to get more business, and to some degree, that may work. However, with so many customers looking up information on their computer, smartphone, and tablet, that isn’t enough. Thanks to our addiction to technology and the internet’s ability to capitalize on that, digital marketing is the new kid in town, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The most important components of digital marketing include:
- Creating an engaging, responsive website based on “Google’s Best Practices”
- Pay-Per-Click ads and AdWords
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media
- Digital Reputation
- Relevant, keyword rich, content
If you take the time to master these bullet points, success on the online marketing front will be much easier to maintain, sustain, and measure. If you choose against it, you are choosing to let your competitors get the upper hand.
Why do I need a great website?
Handle your website like it’s the first thing a customer sees when they walk into your business, because it is. Third party research shows that more than half of all consumers will already have committed to buying from a business before they have even left their home. That means that just by looking through your website, they have already decided whether or not they are going to be your customer! With stakes this high, no one can afford to keep an outdated, confusing, or otherwise inconvenient website as their entryway.
It’s not just about the first impression, though, it’s about every impression. Another reason you need to have a great website is because it is better customer service. Your customers should be able to find out about your business, the products or services you offer, and how they can get a hold of you easily. By keeping a website with small font, or one that is hard to navigate through, you are putting them in an easy position to go somewhere else.
What is PPC and Google AdWords?
Paid-per-click ads, PPC, and AdWords work together on a completely different level to help Google rankings, and as a result, increase the likelihood of your business being seen. Without getting too far into the technical jargon of it, PPC and AdWords is the foundation of your search engine ads. When searching for “best dentist in Colorado”, at the very top or bottom of the page, you may see “Ads”.
You can tell which businesses have invested in PPC because directly underneath the header, you can see the word “Ad”. As long as you are using Google’s best practices, AdWords can help you gain more online visibility. While it costs money, and is not necessarily sustainable, it is a great place to start! Over time, hopefully your business will transition from the top of paid ads to the top of organic positions.
What is SERP?
Acronyms are more common in the marketing world than in the medical field, or so it seems. SERP is a widely used, and very important acronym meaning “Search Engine Results Page”. Ok…well what does that mean? In the simplest terms, “SERP” is the page that pulls up when you search for anything on Google, or alike search engines. Because SERP is directly tied into organic search rank position, you want to make sure you understand how search engine results work. Organic rankings are the position in which you see businesses appear after searching for information, products, services, etc. Typically, the first page of businesses are the ones most relevant, popular, and current ones. As a result, consumers are more likely to click on the first few businesses first, and seldom ever go to the second or third page of results.
Remember, even though some ads are placed above organic search results, obtaining a high organic ranking is much more sustainable, and unlike Google AdWords, it doesn’t cost you any money (outside of marketing) to get you there! This is one of the reasons that investing in more than just PPC is so important, and so worth it.
How does social media in digital marketing affect my business?
Remember how bad it used to be for business when an upset customer would complain about their experience to their friends and family? Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) has essentially given a stage and a microphone to each and every one of them, so long as they have access to a computer, tablet, or phone. What if you don’t have any social media accounts? Well, while there are several businesses who choose not to engage in social media activity, that can actually hurt much more than it would if you had to suffer through a few bad reviews. There are two major reasons why not having any social media will hurt you:
- People actively seek out reviews to new businesses they are thinking of trying. Without having any platform to look over reviews, your customer immediately questions the legitimacy and relevance of your business.
- You won’t be able to combat the bad reviews. If you don’t have a platform for others to share their experiences, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to write a negative review; it means they are going to write a negative review elsewhere, oftentimes to a much bigger audience. By providing a place for customers to share their thoughts, you are not only helping to contain the negativity, but you are also provided an opportunity to reach out to that customer to help make things better.
Aside from the obvious reputation-related reasons for social media, it can also help you search engine rankings (remember SERP?). Google is all about ranking webpages based on trust, domain, and authority. Even though posting information on your social media accounts is no substitute for fresh content, it does help to improve your trust, domain, and authority. In general, being up-to-date and fresh as a business is always best-practice, and will help you better understand your future and current customers.
How Do I Get Started?
Now that you have a basic understanding of digital marketing and how it can affect your business, it’s time to start thinking about how it pertains to you and your company. You know what you need, now it is a matter of creating the steps to getting you there!