Digital Marketing: A Plan for Finding New Customers in 2014

Having worked in the digital marketing / web development world for nearly 20 years, the biggest question I am asked by both clients, friends, and everyone else who owns or manages a business is some form of the following:

How do I get more business from the Web?

By “the Web,” the person is really referring to some amalgamation of a website, blog, Facebook strategy, or an effort to be found in Google searches.  The question is most always fueled by two factors:

  1. The person has read enough to know that many businesses are thriving online by doing some combination of the right things.
  2. The questioner is dissatisfied with his current efforts and wants to know how to get his fair share of the pie.

Depending upon the industry or line of business the person is in, I typically answer this question differently.  I may know that their website needs serious design help so I might speak to that issue.  Overwhelmingly, though, the issue is not the website design, it’s the strategy (or lack thereof) around the company’s website that is the issue.

After years of working with clients, studying the field, and observing what creates real impact for businesses online, I have observed that four things must be in place in order for a marketer to get a share of the digital marketing pie.  All four of these tactics must be embraced both independently and interdependently–they must be strong efforts individually while working together well.  The model for digital marketing success is as follows:

digital marketing model

A four step model for digital marketing success

If you have a website you feel good about and want to find new customers online, you must do four things well.  The model above shows how the 4 different pieces fit together, but let’s take a look at each one of them on an individual basis:

  1. Define Your Audience. You may think you really have done this, but most companies I speak with really haven’t thought this through.  Who, specifically, buys your product?  Have you developed profiles of who influences and/or makes the decision?  Have you thought through not only their demographic profiles, but what their hot buttons are as well?  What keeps them up at night?  How do they get their news?  How do they use Google and social media?  What do they value?  What different segments of the population do you serve and how do these segments differ?  If you have not thoroughly explored these questions, you are not alone.  But if you want to capture your slice of the online marketing pie, thoroughly studying your audience is the ideal place to start.
  2. Create Original Content Via Company Blog.  Once you have done the hard work of really understanding your audience members, the next step is to create and publish content that really serves their needs.  This approach (content marketing) is really key if you want to capture the attention of your audience and serve them well.  To give you a deeper idea of what this aspect of digital marketing looks like in practice, read our description of a practical content marketing example.  A company blog is the best vehicle to create and publish your own content, so make plans to get going on this tactic in 2014.  If you are still feeling reluctant about blogging, take a look at the blog marketing statistics we compiled.  They are tough to ignore!
  3. Optimize For Search Engines.  Once you have begun the process of blogging, it is helpful to be sure you are targeting the proper keywords and that your site is in shape to communicate well with Google and others.  This step can actually be addressed in concert with the development of your blog, but you really can’t pursue a search strategy without great, original content that is helpful to users.  Taking this step well will help to ensure that people looking for your content will find you at the proper time.
  4. Engage with Social Media.  Many companies shy away from this step, but it’s a crucial one.  Much of the marketing world has moved to social media as some (usually substantial) component of a typical marketing mix.  The winners in this area are being rewarded with closer customer connections and higher Google rankings.  Yes, social media marketing drives search engine marketing.

Following these steps must happen in concert.  Picking off one or two will ultimate leave some sort of void or gap in your results.  A strong content marketing strategy (step 2) without a true understanding of your audience (step 1) will leave you with the wrong visitors.  A solid search marketing approach (step 3) without a sound social media plan (step 4) will leave you with hardly any visitors at all.  The examples could go on and on.

These four steps are a necessity if you want your share of the digital marketing pie.  Following them in a methodical fashion will help you to drive more qualified traffic to your site and to your front door.  Without them, your chances of seeing real results will be significantly diminished.  If you want to start seeing true results in 2014 in terms of customer acquisition, start thinking about these four steps now.