Quick Guide to Digital Marketing
Grow your profits, not your marketing costs.
What is digital marketing?
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that the fundamental goal of a business is to make profits. And the fundamental goal of any marketing activity is to help the business make more profits.
Digital Marketing is no different. Its goal is to help your business make more profits — by increasing your brand value, converting your potential customers into hot leads and above all — by increasing your sales.
Marketing is the road connecting the seller’s products / services to the buyer’s wallet (Old jungle saying). Digital marketing is the part of marketing that happens in cyberspace. Run a contest in a shopping mall and it’s called marketing. Run the contest on Instagram and it’s called digital marketing. Just kidding, it’s not that simple ;-)
- Pick up a newspaper or magazine. Find the WORST designed advertisements. Look up the digital presence (websites, Facebook pages etc.) of the organizations behind these advertisements. What are they doing WRONG?
- Pick up a newspaper or magazine. Find the BEST designed advertisements. Look up the digital presence (websites, Facebook pages etc.) of the organizations behind these advertisements. What are they doing RIGHT?
The 3 stages of digital marketing
- Identify and understand your BEST potential customers. Life is too short to waste on the wrong customers. The first step is to identify the BEST potential customers — the ones who make you look forward to Monday mornings.
- Build content that your BEST potential customers will LOVE and SHARE. This content can be in various formats — videos, infographics, ebooks, eNewsletters, quizzes presentations, research reports, webinars etc.
- Get your content to your BEST potential customers, convert them into HOT leads and then PAYING customers. This is where your dissemination platforms come into play — Instagram, Facebook, mailing lists, websites, blogs, affiliates, advertised media, etc.
8 year old Evan started making videos to demonstrate and review the latest toys and video games for kids. With almost 6 million subscribers, Evan is a YouTube star and earns millions a year. Check him out on youtube.com/user/EvanTubeHD
Stage 1: Identify and understand your BEST potential customers.
You are selling motorcycles. Which category of customers would you prefer dealing with — obnoxious tobacco chewing factory workers looking for the cheapest bike with the highest fuel efficiency or young professionals looking for a great riding experience and a style statement?
All of us may not always have the luxury of choosing who we want to sell to. But if you can, then identify and understand your BEST potential customers.
These are customers you would LOVE to meet. These are the people who make you look forward to Monday mornings. If I was selling luxury yachts, I would prefer dealing with super-rich entrepreneurs instead of cruel dictators. What about you?
Who are your BEST potential customers?
- People who you would LOVE to deal with.
- People whose lives would be ENRICHED by your product.
- People who would actually USE your product. Not just buy it and forget it.
- People who could become PASSIONATE fans and RECOMMEND your product to their friends and colleagues.
Case Study: DD’s Health Club
DD’s Health Club is a gym with a difference. It’s located in a city full of swanky air-conditioned gyms crammed with fancy expensive machines and inexperienced trainers.
DD’s has a large well lit room whose walls are lined with mirrors and no fancy equipment — just a lot of dumbbells and a high bar. It’s run by its extremely passionate owner — an extremely fit 60-year-old retired doctor.
The fees at DD’s is 7 times more than the fees charged by its fancier competitors. Yes, SEVEN times !! And DD’s NEVER runs discount schemes or promotions. It NEVER advertises. New clients ALWAYS come through referrals from existing clients. And they have been in business for 30+ years!
Their secret — choosing their BEST customers. You can’t walk in and signup. You first meet with the owners and have a chat about your health goals. Then they call you in for a free session. Then they decide if they want you as a customer !!
Their customers — 35 years or older, with pre-existing health issues (arthritis, spondylitis, flat feet, dystonia, back pain, knee pain etc).
DD’s knows what its customers want — overall fitness and the strength to minimize discomfort from existing health issues. They do have a few youngsters as clients — but they are all introduced by their parents or grandparents who have been members for decades !!
All of DD’s clients are fanatic fans. Trust me, I am one of them. And so is my wife, my sister, my brother in law, my daughters and many of my friends. And did I tell you that many of DD’s clients stay in foreign countries and exercise through skype !!
Identify your BEST customers. Remember that your customers are always people. Even when you are selling to a company, the decisions are taken by people (at least until Skynet / Artificial Intelligence takes over our planet).
Once you have Identified your BEST potential customers, draw up their financial and psychological profiles. Understand what triggers their buying decisions.
When your site is still not public, putting a really cool under construction page can be used to collect email addresses of potential customers. When your site goes live, you can email all these potential users.
Stage 2: Build content that your BEST potential customers will LOVE and SHARE.
The content you build should be strong enough to:
- convert your BEST potential customers into HOT leads.
- position you or your company as an EXPERT in the field.
- contribute to the development of knowledge in your area of expertise.
While creating content, remember:
- Focus on the user’s needs and pain-points and how your product / service can help them.
- Users are not interested in your product’s features, they are interested in solutions to their problems.
- Keep the content neutral and useful. Don’t oversell.
- Include real-world case studies. Add comments from your customers, industry experts, and in-house experts but do NOT oversell.
Credibility is very tough to build and very easy to lose. And it’s the most important asset in a digital world where anyone can pretend to be an expert.
Figure out how you can prove your credibility. If your product / service has some obvious shortcomings, admit them upfront. Your honesty will do wonders for your credibility.
Your content should be on the latest HOT issues in your industry.
- Check out what experts and even your competitors are talking about.
- Set up Google alerts for relevant keywords.
- Search tweets with relevant hashtags.
- Conduct online surveys to find out customer pain points.
- Participate in conferences and discussions to identify hot issues.
Make sure your content is always crisp, authentic and grammatically correct. Whether the content is yours or curated, make sure it adds value. The style of writing should depend upon what you are writing, whom you are writing for and the format you will publish it in.
Formats of awesome content
- Blog articles
- Drip emails
- Expert endorsements
- Free courses
- Press releases
- Research reports
- Showcasing clients
eBooks are not just pdf versions of printed books. They are specially created documents, optimized for viewing on computers, tablets and mobile phones. eBooks typically contain lesser text per page and more images. If done well, eBooks are the BEST methods of building credibility and establishing yourself as an expert.
The dollar shave club promo is my all-time favorite marketing video:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be priceless (New jungle saying). Videos should be entertaining, informative, interesting and have an emotional connect with your target audience. The most successful videos showcase how the product / service solves user problem.
You can use music, sound effects and voiceovers to add the wow factor to your marketing videos. You can also use text to speech (TTS) solutions but even the best of TTS sounds fake. For voiceovers, it makes sense to hire a real person. You can do that at fiverr.com for 5 dollars upwards.
No one likes errors — especially the 404 page not found error pages. But if your error pages are awesome and funny, they can turn your user’s frowns into smiles.
Stage 3: Get your content to your BEST potential customers, convert them into LEADS, then HOT leads and then PAYING customers.
Types of customers / leads
- Best potential customers who don’t know you. These are the people who your content must be targeted towards. Your content will be spread through DISSEMINATION PLATFORMS like Facebook pages & groups, mailing lists, websites, blogs, affiliates, advertised media, etc etc.
- Best potential customers who want to engage with you — LEADS. They’ve shown interest by subscribing to your mailing list, following you on social media, downloading ‘mail gated’ or ‘fan-gated’ content, filling out a survey, taking a quiz etc.
- LEADS who have shown interest by asking for product brochures, sales calls, product demos etc. Let’s call them HOT LEADS. Be quick and friendly in resolving their queries, answering their phone calls and emails. Have video chats with them. Organize webinars and workshops if your product is complex. Focus on solving their problems and not on selling your solutions. DO NOT OVERSELL !!
- PAYING customers.
- HAPPY paying customers who recommend you to their friends and even become repeat customers. This is the gold mine.
- UNHAPPY customers — you don’t want these !!
- Email lists & newsletters— Despite the popularity of social media, emails remain the most powerful weapon in a digital marketer’s arsenal. Successful email / newsletter campaigns require two primary steps: set up an opt-in mailing list and then send high-quality relevant emails & newsletters to your database.
- Online ad media
- Social media — Grow your social media community using referral promotions and group offers. You can also use contests — sweepstakes, photo contests, photo caption contests, essay contests, video contests, vote contests and more.
A landing page is a single webpage that appears when a user clicks on a search engine optimized search result or an online advertisement. A good landing page converts site visitors into sales or leads. Landing pages must contain a prominent call to action and if relevant, a form to capture user info.
Case Study: Gullerian Dog Trainers
You’ve been running a dog training business for a few years. You have a bunch of happy customers and a steady revenue. But now you want to use digital marketing to really ramp up your sales. What do you do?
- You create a really funny infographic titled “10 things you can never teach a dog to do” and share it with your customers on Facebook / Instagram. The infographic’s call to action is a landing page which offer’s a 2-hour free dog training session.
- One of your customers finds the infographic hilarious and shares it with his Facebook friends.
- Some of these people reach your landing page and register for the free training session.
- Well, there are your HOT LEADS. Do your magic and convert them into HAPPY PAYING customers.
Depending on which way you look at it, the first social network in the world was either Geocities (which in 1994 allowed users to create their own websites) or SixDegrees.com (which in 1997 let users create profiles and list friends).
Explore the social media footprints (facebook, twitter, Instagram etc.) of your favorite celebrities.
- What are they doing RIGHT?
- What are they doing WRONG?
There are niche social networks like Athlinks (for runners & swimmers), GamerDNA (for computer & video game lovers) and many many many more.
Tools, marketplaces & service providers you should check out
Graphics are not just images, they include 3D renders, backgrounds & textures, illustrations, photos, print elements (brochures, business cards, flyers, food menus, magazines, newsletters, packaging, signage, stationery), product mockups, web elements (404 pages, badges, stickers, banners & ads, buttons, eNewsletters, forms, navigation bars, sliders, fonts, tables, user interfaces), presentation templates, icons, logos, and game assets. Check out:
2. Web development
E-commerce sites are usually built using Cart66, CS-Cart, Drupal Commerce, Jigoshop, Magento, OpenCart, osCommerce, PrestaShop, Shopify, Ubercart, VirtueMart, WooCommerce, WP eCommerce or Zen Cart. For themes and templates, check out:
3. Web hosting
Websites can be hosted using shared servers (cheap but not very scalable), cloud servers (costlier but very scalable) and dedicated servers (costly and complex). For awesome and cheap web-hosting, check out
4. Content creation
- Create Videos & Presentations with powtoon
- Make your own whiteboard videos with videoscribe
- For royalty free music and audio tracks, see: audiojungle
- For video effects and stock footage, see: videohive
- The B2B content marketing workbook by Velocity
- Content Marketing Strategy Checklist by Velocity
- 30 Great Ways to Drive Your Online Lead Generation by Discerning Digital
- Wishpond eBook — The complete guide to landing pages
- THE DEFINITIVE Digital Marketing Checklist by White Hat Media
- The PACE Digital Marketing Workbook By Martin Wong