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5 Digital Marketing Habits Geared for Success in 2019

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digital marketing

The digital marketing landscape is in constant flux. New social platforms are born daily, while others fizzle out, and search engine algorithms are updated hundreds of times a year. What worked last year may not work this year. The reasons you need a digital marketing strategy remain similar each year, but to be successful in 2019, you should practice the 5 digital marketing habits below.

1. Know Thyself and Thy Industry

Before you can begin to promote yourself with digital marketing, you need to understand who you are as a brand. That means taking the time to determine what you stand for and to whom you speak to. You speak differently to your parents at a family meal than you do to friends when you’re at a bar. They’re different audiences. If you understand your audience, you’ll better understand the voice with which you should speak.

It’s not enough to know thyself; you must also know your industry. If you sell socks, you should be following the world’s greatest sock makers on social media, reading blog feeds from sock experts, and attending sock conferences. You need to know everything about socks! Take time every day to read about your industry, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

Set up the Feedly app on your phone and read articles whenever there’s a few minutes to spare. Being up-to-date in your industry will help you become better at what you do and may spark ideas for content to include in your digital marketing strategy.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin

2. Diversify

Because the digital space is constantly changing, you need to make sure your strategies are spread out across multiple disciplines. That means focusing not just on search engine optimization (SEO) (an update to Google’s algorithm can potentially sink your entire SEO campaign) or social media (a platform may fall out of favor or advertising may become more difficult, as it recently did on Facebook).

Instead, build out a strategy that includes all the key elements of digital marketing, which are:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Paid Advertising (pay-per-click ads, banner ads, remarketing, etc.)
  • Content Marketing

It’s not enough to set up each of these things; they need to work together as part of a cohesive strategy. The true power of digital marketing only works when these four elements are in tandem. Your social media team needs to know when new content goes up. Your SEO team needs to optimize landing pages for paid advertising campaigns. If you can diversify while maintaining communication, you’ll succeed.

Certain elements of search engine optimization, social media, paid advertising, and content are timeless, but diversifying also means shifting digital marketing strategies as new ones develop. Not only do you need to know thy own industry, you need to know what’s current in digital marketing. Following sites such as Moz and Search Engine Land can help you stay up to date.

3. Be Consistent

Most of us have gotten excited about writing a blog post, thrown it together, posted it, and forgotten about the blog entirely for three months. It’s easy to do something once, but it’s difficult to do the same thing day in and day out. Digital marketing is about the here and now.

It’s always changing. What was true yesterday isn’t always true today. If you want your business to remain relevant, you need to be consistently adding new content and updating what you post. You should aim for the following:

  • Ongoing search engine optimization
  • Daily social media monitoring
  • Blog posts at least once a month (preferably 2-4 times a month. More if you’re a media site)
  • Weekly or bi-weekly paid advertising adjustments

4. Focus on Quality

If you’re running a digital marketing campaign, you should be familiar with Google’s quality guidelines. The core principles of the guidelines are (paraphrased):

    • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
    • Don’t deceive your users. Be open and honest.
    • Avoid tricks and questionable practices. Ask yourself, “Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” If the answer is no, don’t do it.
    • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging and make your website stand out from your competitors’ sites.

In the digital marketing space, the cream always rises to the top. There’s no sense in spending an hour each on ten sub-par articles when you can spend ten hours on one amazing article. The amazing article is going to outrank a sub-par article 100% of the time.

Statistically, longer, better-written articles receive more links. It’s easy to simply retweet others in your industry, but a quality digital marketing will take time to craft a retweet that evokes the company’s brand. If it’s easy, then everyone else is doing it.

“If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” – Bill Gates

5. Go Where Your Competitors Can’t or Won’t Follow

As Google mentions in their quality guidelines: Make your website (read: digital strategy) stands out from others in the field. There’s only one way to do this, and it involves going where competitors can’t or won’t go. It costs money and time to run a great digital marketing campaign, two things a lot of your competitors won’t be willing to expend.

They’ll create blog posts, sure, but they won’t be willing to spend 10 hours crafting an amazing piece that includes unique videos, infographics, and pictures. They’ll get links from directories, but they won’t be willing to spend the time to develop the relationships needed for high quality links. Go above and beyond, and your digital success will follow.

6. Pick the Right Gear

Centuries ago, we could go hunting almost barehanded. Now, we can not. The same with hunting for the right leads: nothing is possible without the right gear in the digital marketing realm. From basic in-built Gmail CRMs to complex ad tech platforms — most brands equip themselves with some tech stack. Otherwise, they risk ending up underdogs. 

Here are some tips for picking the right tech:

  • Analyze your channels. Focus on these that bring you more leads; they are most likely to require more automation.
  • Avoid settling for the popular solution just because it’s hyped. Try to check out 3-5 alternatives; this might save you some dollars. 
  • Pay attention to integrations available: it’s pretty cool if your tools from different providers can be synchronized.
  • Seek solutions with advanced analytics features. It’s the only way possible to check your performance and the tool’s actual ROI. 
  • Pick relatively simple tools rather than complex ones. Stats say that users of complex tools use only up to 30% of their functionality. 

Which tool to pick first? The State of Marketing Automation report says that social media marketing is the most suitable process to be automated. The most popular one, though, is email marketing. We can’t also overlook programmatic advertising, which is the semi-automated media buying process with many platforms having auto-optimization tools. 

Interestingly enough, even content marketing can be automated with machine learning tools that analyze your content engagement and predict when, where, and how your content will perform in the best way. So if your primary channel seems to be not subject to automation, dig in! You might be pretty surprised.

Geoff Hoesch is the CEO of Dragonfly Digital Marketing, a Baltimore-based digital marketing agency. He’s provided digital marketing help to hundreds of companies and individuals over the past 12 years, always promoting the practice of quality over quantity. You can find his company on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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Startups

How to Avoid Startup Clichés and Buzzwords When Pitching Investors

Using jargon can make you sound like you’re trying to fill space instead of providing meaningful data

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How to pitch investors better

Entrepreneurs frequently seek startup funding through a variety of channels. Yet, none seem as challenging as successfully pitching to experienced investors. After all, investors are pressed for time and eager for opportunities. These characteristics make it challenging to motivate them, especially if you’re bombarding them with a pitch full of jargon. (more…)

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From Idea to Empire: 5 Power Moves for Your Startup to Thrive in Today’s Market

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial

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How to thrive in the startup market in 2024

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial.

A few months into the startup, I was quick to gauge why it is necessary to go beyond the nuances of operational efficiency and the art of sustaining a business amid growing competition.

Collaboration is key.

The HR and the recruiting teams work with departments to foster a culture of collaboration, but what’s indispensable to business performance is the sync between the marketing and sales teams. What we’d consider as entrepreneurs is the need to ensure seamless collaboration to predict and achieve business goals together. In turn, this will help secure long-term recurring revenue for the business.

Besides, entrepreneurs need to focus on revenue as they gear up to take their startup from $0 to $1 million. The journey is filled with critical decisions, from identifying your target customer base to choosing the right funding strategy.

So, what next?

Read on… because here are five practical, results-driven strategies that you as a founder can implement to make a mark in their industry.

#1. Embrace the Lean Methodology

What is lean methodology?

It is all about pivoting resources to create more value for customers with fewer resources. 

This principle encourages you to be more agile and allow rapid iteration based on customer feedback rather than spending years perfecting a product before it hits the market.

Want to implement it?

Here’s what you can do.

Build “Measure-Learn” Loop: What I did was develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple version of the product. You can do the same since it allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. After launching MVP, measure how customers use it and learn from their behaviors and feedback.

Here’s what I can recommend here:

  • Identify the core features that solve your customers’ primary needs and focus solely on those to develop your MVP.
  • Know the feedback channels where early users can communicate their experiences, suggestions, and complaints.
  • Analyze user behavior and feedback to make informed product development and iteration decisions.

#2. Focus on Customer Development

Let’s talk about taking our startup to the next level. 

It’s not just about getting customers – it’s about really getting to know them. We need to dive into their world, understand their struggles, and see how our product or service can make a difference in their lives. 

It’s like we’re detectives, piecing together the puzzle of our business hypothesis by actually chatting with our customers

What would you ideally do here?

Understand Customer Segments: I’d say, start dividing your target market into segments and develop a deep understanding of each segment’s demographics, behaviors, needs, and pain points. The idea is to get into their shoes and really feel what they feel.

Ensure your Product Clicks: When starting up, think of what you offer and consider whether it clicks with what our customers need. My thought was “Does my product solve their problems? Does it make their day better?” Put yourself through a tough grilling session to show customers the value proposition and ensure that the product’s promise matches what our customers are looking for.

I’d recommend the following actions here:

  • Talk to them – through surveys, interviews, or even casual chats. The goal? To gather real, raw insights about what they need and expect.
  • Use the collected data to create detailed profiles for each type of customer. This way, everyone on our team really understood we were serving. I think this should help your startup as well.
  • Try out different versions of our product with a few customer groups. It’s all about feedback here – understanding if you’re hitting the mark or if we need to pivot.

#3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture

The digital world is highly data driven since it fuels key decisions in a startup. 

I believe it’s essential for us to build a data-driven culture. This means, you’ll move from making decisions based on hunches or assumptions. Instead, the focus should be on data analytics and insights to guide our strategies and improve our outcomes.

What can you do?

Use Data Analytics Tools: You should be using these tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, market trends, and our business operations. Here, consider the adoption of pipeline forecasting that leverages AI to find patterns in marketing data. 

In turn, you’ll get areas for improvement since it can analyze historical data and predict the outcome for you to plan your.

Action Items:

  • Pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives and ensure they are measurable and actionable.
  • Next, you can consider training your team to understand and use data analytics tools. This might involve workshops or bringing in experts to build a data-savvy workforce.
  • Once everything is in place, regularly review data reports and dashboards. This gives us a clear picture of a startup’s health and helps adjust your strategies and predict future trends.

#4. Strengthen Your Financial Acumen

A good grip on financial skills is important to steer your business towards growth and making sure it stays on track. For this, you’ll have to understand the money side of things, which helps you manage your cash flow. Think of figuring out smart investment moves and sizing up any risks that come your way.

Here’s a tip on how you can get savvy with your finances.

Maintain Rigorous Financial Discipline: I’m really focused on cultivating a strong company culture, one that truly resonates with our mission. So, I’d suggest fostering open communication and encouraging a sense of ownership and collaboration among everyone in the team.

Action Items:

  • Get to know your financial statements inside out – I’m talking about the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These are like the vital signs for your business’s financial health
  • Use financial forecasting that helps predict your future money moves. With this, you will have a heads-up on upcoming revenues, expenses, and how much cash you’ll need. Also, research on the available financial forecasting tools that can make predictions spot-on.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Regularly touch base with financial advisors or mentors. With them by your side, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your financial strategies to ensure you’re on the right path to hit your business goals.

5. Prioritize Team Building and Leadership Development

It is crucial to focus on building a solid team and developing strong leaders. This means putting our resources into the people who are going to propel our company forward. 

What you’ll aim for here?

Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and every team member has the chance to emerge as a leader.

What I would do:

Cultivate a Strong Company Culture: This culture should mirror our mission and foster open communication. It’s important that it encourages everyone to feel a sense of ownership and work together.

Invest in Leadership and Team Development: As founders, we’ll have to make way for opportunities for teams to enhance their skills, face new challenges, and grow in their careers.

Some concrete steps that you should consider taking:

  • Begin with clearly communicating your startup’s vision, mission, and values so that every team member is on the same page.
  • Conduct regular team-building activities and workshops to boost skills and strengthen a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • How about starting a mentorship program within our organization? The more experienced team members could guide and support the growth of newer or less experienced folks.
  • Alas… encourage feedback at all levels. We should keep striving to create an environment where open, honest communication is the norm and everyone feels safe to speak up.

I know it’s one thing to get your head around these ideas and quite another to actually make them a part of your everyday business life. But that’s where the real magic happens, right? It’s all in the doing. 

As a startup founder, this means more than just being a big dreamer. How about rolling up your sleeves to be the planner who pays attention to the smallest details. Ultimately, these tips and more tactics around it will help carve a leader in you who listens and cares and the learner who’s always ready to adapt

So, as you’re either starting out or moving forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, keep these practical tips right there.

May these be your guiding lights, helping you steer through the wild and exciting world of building a startup that’s not just a dream, but a thriving reality.

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12 Things I Learned in 12 Months of Working on My Startup

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A few weeks ago I launched my startup. It took exactly 12 months from the initial idea until the moment I saw my app in the App Store. And these were some of the most challenging, fun and exciting 12 months of my whole life. (more…)

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8 Actionable Ways to Get Your Startup’s First 100 Customers

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What’s the one thing that every business wants? Is it money, fame, or endless resources? The answer is quite simple—customers. Having customers is the sure-shot way of ensuring that your business stays afloat in the long run. No matter how good your product or services are, without people buying what you sell, you won’t reach anywhere. However, establishing a customer base is one of the most challenging things a business has to do, especially if you are just starting. (more…)

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