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
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.
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 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.
“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.”
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.
How this works will vary by brand, influencer, and campaign. Here are a few examples:
Like advertising it can become very expensive very quickly, but if you find the right influencer, it can result in viral growth.
Done right, it can accomplish several things at once:
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
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