I’m often asked what are the best things you can do to be effective online.
Ultimately it comes down to having the right strategy, which is why strategy is first in my list but there is more to it than just strategy. After all you need to deliver that strategy and you need the tools in your toolkit to enable you do that. So, here’s the top ten things you should consider if you want to be effective online:
The number one tip! Have a strategy in place so you know what you need to achieve, when to do it and how you’re going to do it. Having a strategy in place will give your digital marketing the structure you need and will prevent you from only posting to social media when you remember or stop you forgetting that you need to write this week’s blog. Your strategy wants to be based on you and your business, what you want to achieve and how to measure your success – it will be unique to your business, based on your target audience, what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it.
Make sure your website works
Having a website for your business is one thing, but you need to make sure it works. This means it needs to be easily navigable, appealing, succinct and to the point and you need to make sure it delivers what your visitors are looking for. It also needs to be found, so you need to use content and structure that appeals to visitors but also enables search engines to know what your site is about and how to rank it in search results, so you’ll need to invest in some technical search engine optimisation (SEO).
Optimise your social media channels
Be brand consistent across all your channels, using the same logos and imagery you use on any other marketing materials or your website. Complete all the profile and bio information the social media channels allow you to fill in. You want people to recognise you online but also to easily find the essential information about your business.
Focus on content
Content has to be central to your digital marketing strategy. Content is the driving force behind how you will attract visitors to your website and how potential customers will interact with you via your social media channels. And that’s not content about how good you are or what your products and services happen to be – it’s about engaging content that shows you know your industry and that you know your customers; it’s content that is helpful and lets you stand out from the competition. It’s also about experimenting with different types of content: photos, icons, charts, infographics, video, audio, etc.
Make sure you’re online where your target market are online
Don’t decide to use social media channels for the sake of using social media channels. Don’t use a Facebook page simply because it’s easy to set one up. Use the social media channels where your customers and target audience hang out. This may mean stepping out of your comfort zone if you’re not familiar some channels, but if its where your customers will interact with you, you need to be there, otherwise there’s a good chance your competitors will get to them first.
Build connections with others online
Use your online channels to interact with others, particularly those people who could influence others into using your service (not necessarily directly). Think of your online channels as you might networking in the real world. You want to build trust, you want ambassadors for your business, and you can nurture those connections using your online channels – some may link back to your content or share your posts; others might just recommend you to someone.
Be clear on what you want to achieve – anything from increase your followers on Twitter to seeing a marked increase in sales. You’ll need to set baselines before you start, but you need something to aim for. If you don’t set some targets for your online activity, how will you know your strategy is working?
Be persistent and consistent
Whilst you may be awesome with an awesome business you’re probably not going to be internet-famous straight away, strategy or no strategy. You need to be consistent in your approach, so if you blog every Wednesday, always post a blog every Wednesday; if you send out your email newsletter every Monday, guess what, always send it out every Monday. And don’t give up – you will reap the rewards of your persistence eventually. Also, be yourself – don’t try and measure yourself against what your competitors are doing or try a content tactic that doesn’t come natural to you.
Measure, adjust, repeat
You need to measure your success online and work out what you’re doing online is working, or not. That will be everything from knowing that when you post on Facebook with a video your posts perform better that when you use a still image to analysing the hits to your website using something like Google Analytics – are you attracting the right visitors, are people sharing your content, are they interacting with you. And as already mentioned – don’t give up: experiment with different content formats and try different approaches online, measure the results, tweak to try something different and try again.
Don’t be afraid to hire a professional
Let’s face it, we can’t all be experts at everything. Plus you need to be focusing on your own products and services. Call in an expert – there’s a good chance they can deliver everything you need for your strategy, more cost effectively and efficiently than you’ll be able to manage if you do it yourself. Think of it this way: can your business afford for you to build a website (even if you’re capable of building one) or to spend days writing blog posts and building your social media following? Would that time be better spent on developing your business, building your products, delivering for your clients? If you need to file your VAT accounts you’ll probably be outsourcing to a VAT specialist: do the same for your digital marketing, outsource to an expert.