By Atul Mathur
Running a successful business nowadays is an uphill task. Being an entrepreneur is not so easy as you need to look at all by yourself. Be it operations, sales, marketing, product development or finances – you have to be Jack of all trades. But with a good digital marketing strategy, at least you can reduce the burden of getting good sales and get the cash flow running. So here’s a step by step process to create a winning marketing strategy if you’re new to the online world –
Identify your goals – Most brands can’t gauge what they want to achieve with Digital marketing, and that’s when most of them fail at the first step. It’s imperative that you sit down and make notes of the objectives that you want to achieve by investing time and efforts in promoting your brand online. Following are some of the common goals for most of the brands –
- Brand awareness – For those who don’t want to directly go and sell their products, brand awareness is one of the key objectives to work on. Is your brand known to your target audience? Will they be confident enough to buy from your website? If the answer to these questions is no, then first you need to work on reaching out to your potential customers and create a brand recall.
- Sales – Well, this objective is on everyone’s mind as soon as they jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon. It’s, by far, the most important KPI that brands focus on and they should. However, it’s important to focus on growth and scalability along with sales.
- ROAS (Return on ad spends) – A business can sustain only when it’s profitable, in most cases, unless you’re an Amazon or a Flipkart, which can sustain huge losses with investor funds. 99% of the businesses are bootstrapped, hence, it’s important to keep a track of your marketing expenses as a brand can get into huge losses if the marketing expenses are not kept in check.
- Store visits or footfalls – Not every brand is an e-commerce model, and even the offline stores can have a sound digital marketing strategy. Hence, for offline stores, store visits or number of footfalls should be the most important goal. Facebook and Google give you the ability to target the right audience to bring them to your store based on their location. Visitors to a mall can be targeted based on their geo-location to a coffee shop such as Starbucks.
- Lead generation – For IT services, Hospitality, Healthcare and many other service based industries, generating leads become a very important part of their business development strategy. Today, most of the social media platforms give you the ability to optimize your ads for Lead generation and focus on generating quality potential customer base.
- Find your target audience – You know your customer the best! The idea is to identify who’s going to buy your product or service. Are they Men or Women, or both? What’s their age group? Where are they located, Tier 1, 2 or 3 cities? What interests them the most? Are they affluent buyers or average shoppers? Are they iPhone users or normal android ones? Answers to these questions would help you refine your customer and that would give you the best way forward.
Define your competition – Who are your top five direct and indirect competitors? What’s their marketing strategy? Which platforms are they actively investing into? Most of the time, answers to these questions would help you devise your marketing strategy. In my experience I’ve seen that most of the brands overlook some of the very vital strategies that their competitors are using because they are focused on doing something else. Be it an off-page strategy in SEO or influencer marketing on Instagram, you might miss out on basics that your competition might be thriving on digitally.
Decide your marketing budget – Based on your appetite to generate sales for your brand, you need to decide on your marketing budget. For example, as an ecommerce store, if you can only ship 10 orders a day, then accordingly decide how much you wish to spend on advertising. As the old saying goes, never keep all your eggs in one basket, therefore, spread your budget across multiple channels to identify which ones work for you. After three months, take a stock of which platforms give you the best ROI, and you can shift your budgets accordingly.
Choose the right marketing platforms – This is the easiest of all, if you’re able to follow all the aforementioned steps i.e. setting up your goals, finding the right customer persona, and identifying your competition. Basis these steps, you can devise your digital marketing strategy –
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) – SEO is a technique through which you can rank your website on top of Google or other search engines for your money keywords aka search terms. SEO is one of the most affordable and effective digital marketing activities for every brand, big or small. It’s completely organic and you don’t have to spend a penny on Google or Social platforms to generate traffic or sales to your website. Just identify the right set of keywords for your website, generate fresh content around those keywords, optimize your on-page SEO elements and get rolling on your off-page link building plan and you are set to go. Having said that, it’s better to hire an expert to execute your SEO strategy if you’re not tech-savvy as it requires some technical knowledge to get going. The only downside is that it would take you at least three to four months to start building traffic to your website and then organic sales. However, this is one platform that gives you free and incremental sales for a lifetime if done the right way.
- Social media marketing (SMM) – As a brand owner, who’s just started off, with limited funds, time is the key, and therefore most of the entrepreneurs I’ve met are impatient to start making revenue for their business. Nobody in this world is patient enough to wait for three-four months to generate business. They are bootstrapped and hungry for their first SALE. For those who are impatient with the amount of time SEO takes to kick-off and get you your first sales, social media marketing can give you the perfect start. You can set up your marketing campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, adjust your daily spends, get the best creatives and there you go, you can get your first customer in just a few hours! Of late, there have been quite a few new social media platforms such as Snapchat, Tik Tok and others, however, the 90% of the lion’s share is still held by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, so if you are short on funds then I would suggest you start with Facebook and Instagram first. Lastly, keep your Facebook and Instagram feed healthy by actively posting stories, reels, posts etc. organically to keep your active followers interested in your brand.
- Search engine marketing (SEM) – Unlike SEO, if you wish to start ranking on top of search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, without waiting too much, you can opt for SEM and start bidding for your money keywords and generate sales and leads for your business. Of course, you need to have a separate advertising budget for it and choose your keywords wisely to get maximum value for money and the best ROI.
- Email or SMS marketing – If you have a list of customers you wish to target digitally, the best way is to take an email service like MailChimp or Omnisend (with an option to SMS) and shoot regular emails to them to ensure they remember you and bring you business at extremely low cost. Unlike paid mediums such as Facebook or Google, email marketing can give you repeat business from your loyal customers at a very low cost per conversion. Just ensure that your emails are relevant, to the point and have a great subject line to have higher open rates. Better the open rates, higher the click rates, more the business each email will generate for you.
Digital Marketing is vast and has many different ways to generate business for any brand but it’s important to choose the right strategy, according to your budget, to ensure you’re not going overboard with your marketing spends.
(The author is founder, LocaGlobe. Views expressed are personal.)