Making Sense of the Digital Marketing Buzz: Where to Start Amid the Options?

Updated on April 26, 2018

These days, it seems that everywhere you look, there is a new product or practice cropping up that promises to be the next big innovation. Likewise, there are marketers around every bend offering to help your organization leverage automation to entice more customers and attract the brand community you’re looking to build. Yet, if you’re not careful, you could quickly find yourself sinking money, time and resources into these types of partnerships without seeing the type of proven and revenue-generating return that you were promised.

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Thus, it’s important to vet every opportunity that’s presented, then discern the pros and cons of each one before beginning a new digital marketing campaign. While there might be an incredible new technique around the corner that will act as a paradigm shift and completely change the game, there are some strategies that have proven themselves to be reliable time and again. Meanwhile, there are others that are quickly becoming outdated and obsolete, and utilizing them can make a company seem out of touch with both modernity and its customer base. Let’s take a look.

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1. Outbound Marketing

It might be hard to believe, but many companies are still relying on outbound marketing techniques to get the word out about a new product or service they’re offering. In a nutshell, this is a type of marketing that begins with the company itself starting the conversation. If you’ve ever been inundated by associates spraying perfume on you near a kiosk in the mall, asking you to come try their new samples, you’ve been on the receiving end of this type of campaign. The same holds true if you’ve walked back to your car to find a flyer attached to your windshield.

While outbound marketing is direct and certainly in-your-face, that’s the very reason why its foundation is crumbling. Why? Because most customers don’t desire unwanted contact. Moreover, you could be spending thousands of dollars to print sleek and snazzy postcards or flyers, then pay for postage to send them out to people who will just toss them in the trash without reading them. Research reveals that a telemarketer who makes 100 phone calls is only likely to talk to one single person who might be a qualified prospect. Along the same lines, out of 1,000 flyer recipients, only 10 will actually follow up on the invite. While these tactics might work in some environments, they’re quickly becoming obsolete, due primarily to the fact that they carry a high price tag and don’t do much to boost your bottom line.

Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.

— Philip Kotler
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2. Referrals

Yes, word-of-mouth marketing is still relevant and very much alive today. In fact, studies show that a staggering 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers more than blatant advertising appeals. Yet, relying on this form of marketing alone can set you up for failure, especially if it’s your main source of branding. While it’s a beneficial alternative to outbound marketing and usually the next step that marketers pursue when that avenue goes south, the reality is that even your most enthusiastic brand advocate won’t be able to generate an incredible amount of new income on his or her own. Keep in mind that while someone is on fire for your company now, that doesn’t mean that he or she won’t move locations, change career industries, or find a peer competitor that’s more alluring. Thus, putting all of your eggs in the baskets of one or two illustrious referrers isn’t wise or recommended.

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3. Social Media Advertising

In the past few years, social media has blown up as an incredible platform for companies to share their message, build their brand community, and interact with their target audience. This type of interaction often takes the form of inbound marketing, wherein an interested customer will seek out, and often initiate a conversation with, a brand they admire. This is the opposite of outbound marketing in that the customer came to you and you didn’t have to go to the customer.

Indeed, social media can be a powerful tool when used correctly but the key to leveraging this platform is to stay on it, and stay consistent. Letting a ton of time lag between a customer inquiry on Facebook and your online reply sends the message that you’re not checking in on your client base. Research shows that 48% of consumers want to buy from brands that are responsive to their social media followers. So, be sure to monitor your profiles diligently and act accordingly as soon as you have a new notification. Along the same lines, only open up a profile on platforms that make sense for your industry and have followers that comprise your target audience. Minimizing your accounts can help you keep up with them better and makes it more likely that you’ll post regular updates. When you do so, don’t be afraid to inject a little personality into your posts as well. The same study revealed that 36% of customers want to purchase from a brand they find humorous online.

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4. Other Inbound Marketing Strategies

While social media can be a powerful vessel for inbound marketing, it’s not the only one. The key to thriving online is to create a web-based presence that makes it easy for prospects to find you, then makes it impossible for them to leave your content. You want your website to be optimized for mobile with a responsive design. You want your pages to be easy to navigate. You want your blog to be regularly updated with interesting, relevant and helpful content. You want your online business listing to be chocked-full of reviews and feedback. In essence, you want to be the go-to voice of authority for your niche, and you want your online space to be where you showcase that expertise.

In addition, you want to make it as easy as possible for web users to find you. That means utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to boost your visibility in online search results, such as those generated by Google. There are myriad SEO techniques, from keyword strategies to linking systems, that you can deploy to improve your odds of increasing leads and showing up as high as possible on that coveted front page of the search results.

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5. A CRM System That Nurtures Leads

One often-overlooked aspect of digital marketing is a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that can capture leads and follow them along the path to purchase. These modern systems come in various shapes, sizes and functionalities though all have a common goal: to make it as easy as possible for you to understand your client base. These CRM systems can tell you everything you need to know about a lead or current client with the touch of one button. From order history to online shopping preferences, the data is all there and capturing it can help you generate suggestions for future purchases, and can also make it easier for customer support personnel to get to the bottom of any issues.

Ultimately, as time progresses, so too does the technology at our fingertips. Marketers today are moving forward at such a breakneck pace it can be difficult to discern which tactics are still going strong, which are outdated, and which are vital to business success. While some companies might get along just fine relying strictly on outbound marketing or word-of-mouth referrals, the reality is that digital marketing is here to stay. Moving forward, successful companies will be those that recognize that transformation and make investments to support those initiatives moving forward.

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