Digital Marketing Post Pandemic, Part 1: A Crash Course on Digital Tactics

As you know, the pandemic has impacted nearly everyone’s lives in many ways, and yada… yada… yada…

 

Look, we know you’ve probably seen dozens of these articles, telling you how “COVID has changed everything,” and “nothing will ever be the same and so on, and so forth.

 

We’re not here to tell you what you already know. Interrupting the normal routine of interpersonal contact clearly did a number on everyone and everything, and no one needs to be reminded that we’re all living in the “new normal.” so we’re not going to do that.

 

We’re here to help you understand how to apply what you’ve learned in the past 18 months-namely, that if people don’t have to be present for business interactions, they will almost always choose not to be-via tactics that can expand your market reach. Because, and this is a face that does bear repeating, a lot of people don’t want to go back to business as usual.

 

In other words, It’s time to meet our audiences halfway, and give them the digital-first brand experiences they’ve been demanding.

The Tools in Your BatBelt

According to Boyd Petersen, certified marketing coach and owner of BP Media, “…online websites, SEO, and especially social media are red hot for marketing in today’s world.” Not everyone has seen the value of digital marketing, though, and many professionals are digging their heels and holding back the brands they manage.

 

The biggest reason resist jumping into digital marketing is that it’s a set of unfamiliar tools, and using them effectively depends on skill sets that initially seem completely foreign to traditional marketers and brand teams.

 

So, let’s demystify digital marketing a little, and give you an idea of what disciplines are used to get the job done online.

Digital Advertising

Digital ads will likely feel the most familiar to non-digital marketers because it’s simply advertising in a digital space, thought there are a few new elements.

 

Video ads, those that play at the beginning of Youtube videos and elsewhere, are essentially this generation’s TV ads. Similarly, podcasts and other audio-only ads function in a way not unlike radio advertisements. And banner ads are the “billboard ads” of the web.

 

New to the ad game are paid search ads. These look like organic search results, but a brand paid fo the result to be displayed with the search term was used in the query. It’s a little bit like paying for ad space in the yellow pages (if anyone still remembers doing that).

 

Additionally, there is the algorithm factor. Unlike traditional ads, all of these placements are determined by a computer, and thus budgets, search terms, and other factors have to be optimized to get the desired number of impressions.

 

Digital advertising data clearly indicates that ads still work, even in spite of ad blockers and ad blindness, but it should be noted that ads are by far the most expensive Batarang in the Belt.

SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is probably the form of digital marketing you’ve heard the most about. It’s certainly the one most of us interact with as consumers the most frequently.

 

“SEO is all about getting search engines to send traffic to your website, both local and other,” Peterson explains. “Websites are essential to giving the education and information that people want to make an informed decision.”

 

He’s not wrong. Getting noticed in a pre-internet world took a great deal of effort, but with search engines governing so much of our lives, it can be easy to get visibility…if you know which levers to pull. If you haven’t optimized your site, though, search engines won’t prioritize it, and you’ll be effectively invisible online.

Social Media

Social media marketing covers a wide range of platforms, tactics, and responsibilities, but in short, its all about building an online community, and you do it where your target audience is already congregating. The latter part is important, because they are congregating, and failing to reach them where they’re doing that is practically synonymous with ignoring them.

 

“With Covid, people were home and spending more time online,” says Peterson. “This increased their social media activity by more than 2x.” If you want to build an audience, it pays to know where that audience is spending much of their time.

 

To social network effectively to grow your brand reach, you have to be in the right place (i.e., are your prospects on LinkedIn, Facebook, or somewhere else?). Once you’re there, to get engagement, you also have to be engaging. If you roll up crying your wares like a cyberpunk used car salesman, you will be shunned by the very communities you’re trying to interact with.

 

In other words, you have to be where your prospects want to be, and join the conversations they’re already having. If you don’t talk about what they want to talk about, they won’t want to talk to you.

 

Success in social media marketing (like content marketing, more on that below) requires divesting your of some of the egocentrism that’s so pervasive in the majority of sales and traditional marketing tactics. It can be hard and feel counterintuitive, but the brands who do reap the rewards.

 

Here’s how Peterson puts it: “Whether you are looking for more business to a brick and mortar business or for your national and international company, social media is the way to get more prospects to your website than ever before.”

Marketing Automation

Digital marketing is a bit of a balancing act. It’s about being as targeted and personal as possible, but doing that by hand as scale is impossible.

 

This is where marketing automation comes in, allowing you to front load marketing effort, and then set them to run on their own as your reach grows.

 

Marketing automation is a term that encompasses all communication effort that are prepared beforehand, then actually delivered by an automated system based on predetermined triggers, such as conversion or filling out a signup form. We see this most in email marketing-such as regular newsletter, “thank you for your order” emails, and so forth.

 

But other communications can be automated, too. Post schedulers can be used to plan social and blog updates in advance. Texts can also be used in ways similar to email marketing (and, in fact, text marketing is not he rise). The ways automation can simplify and streamline marketing systems are nearly endless.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the digital age version of a celebrity endorsements. An “influencer” is any content creator or social media personality with a sizable following. With influencer marketing, you build relationships with influencers who are relevant to your target audience, and then the influencer promotes your offerings to their audience.

 

How this works will vary by brand, influencer, and campaign. Here are a few examples:

  • Establishing a formal sponsorship
  • Sending the influencer free products to try
  • Offering a cut, commission, or royalty on sponsored sales
  • Paying a flat rate for promotion for a set period of time
  • Like advertising it can become very expensive very quickly, but if you find the right influencer, it can result in viral growth.

    Content Marketing

    Content marketing is your digital version of “free samples.” It encompasses nearly every form distributed media produced by your team (as opposed to content created by influencers you have a partnership with). Here are some of the content formats that includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Done right, it can accomplish several things at once:

  • Boost your SEO to help you rank and bring in traffic
  • Give you something to post about on social
  • Equip your sales team with materials they can share with prospects to prepare them for calls
  • Builds an audience that trusts your content, and loves your brand
  • Removes objections and obstacles form leads’ minds before they even have a chance to ask the questions
  • Like social marketing, content needs to be as selfless as possible to be effective. When utilized effectively, though, it can be just as effective as ads (or even more so) for a dramatically lower cost.

    Jumpstarting Your Post-COVID Digital Marketing

    Now that we’ve given you a crash course on the most prominent available digital marketing strategies, you might be asking “Where do I start?”

     

    Knowing which tactics to employ, at least at first, takes a little strategy, but some are easier to start than others. SEO, content, and social media marketing have the lowest startup costs, and campaigns for any of the three can be begun with little to no training. They also take the longest to reach full effectiveness, so starting them early is a good idea.

     

    From there it depends, but we can help you prioritize a little bit. To read the advice, read our part 2