An image with a cartoon woman who is clearly frazzled about digital marketing.

Better Digital Marketing in 10 Easy Steps – Step 2: Where to Begin?

 

Better Digital Marketing may be a phrase you are beginning to hate. Why, because it is overused and most readers are not really sure what it is or how to begin the process. It seems that, due to the internet, we marketers, web designers, and Google to some extent, are expecting business owners and leaders to magically know how to do things. To be honest, before writing this post I thought the same… (There’s no excuse for poor Digital Marketing, it’s on the internet!) The more and more I research this topic the more and more content I find, and the more and more content I have to sift through. I can easily see how you, the business owner, can get overwhelmed. As a marketer, I know what to look for and it can be overwhelming even for me. So, trust me; I feel your pain! This is why Image In A Box set out to offer you this ten step series to improve your digital marketing.

Let’s begin Step 2 – Where to begin!

There are so many ways to perform digital marketing and there are just as many programs and software packages that can help you. In order to keep this post from taking too much of your time, we’ll only discuss the major options.

1. First you’ll need a website.

This is probably the most important piece of digital marketing. Without this the rest of the steps in this post wouldn’t really be beneficial. There are tons, and I mean tons of options for building a website. I’ll breakdown some of the options and offer pros and cons for each.

Build it yourself options, or as we like to call them, Builder Options.

Pros: Cheap, sometimes even free, you mostly decide the look and feel, and you can update them anytime with very little to no website building experience.

Cons: The free and less expensive options do not allow you to use your URL. For example, a website you set up on Weebly would have a URL like: your-company-name.weebly.com. Your time is required to learn and build the website. Depending on how you value your time, free can quickly become expensive. The designs are prebuilt, so you will not have total control over what the website looks like. They also usually have limited features.

Some examples of these are: www.wix.com and www.weebly.com

You can learn programming languages and build the website yourself.

While this option will offer you the most flexibility, it also requires the most time. There are a number of places to learn programming languages for free, and there are plenty of places to pay to learn it.

Pros: Depending on how you value your time and your technical skill level, this can be the cheapest option. You also have total control over how the website looks and how it functions. Lastly, you can update your site anytime, anywhere with whatever content you want.

Cons: Huge time investment, you will have little support to fix issues beyond your scope of knowledge, you must find and download software to your server and then support and update that software yourself, your website’s look and features are limited to the knowledge you have time to learn.

Some places to learn programming for free are: www.codecademy.com and www.khanacademy.org

The last option is to hire someone to build your website for you.

This is usually the most costly option when it comes to upfront cost. However, if we consider the time spent in both of the previous options on learning and building, this option is not the most costly in the long run. Letting someone else do the work may also yield a better product and here is why. Each of us has our own specialties and interests. Take me for example; I am a marketing person and at Image In A Box I do not perform any coding on the websites we design. This is not because I couldn’t learn how, but because my interest, and expertise, is marketing and that’s my focus. Asking me to do something I am not good at is possible, but it won’t have the quality my marketing work would. This also applies to most people, we all have a few areas where we perform our best work and for the rest of the areas, it’s best to let an expert in that area fill the gap.

Pros: A more polished end product. Your website is designed to look and function just like you want it to, the website can usually be built quicker than it would take you to learn and build a lower quality product. And the best part is, you can focus on running your business while your website is designed, tested, and released for you!

Cons: Possible poorly programmed end product, if you just search for the cheapest developer or website company. If you don’t do your homework on the developer you can end up with a poorly coded product which may cause you to lose business. Also, a poorly programmed site does not leave room to easily add functionality to the site. (IIAB gets many clients from other developers who did not listen to the client or just performed below average work. Due to the poor programmed site, it ends up costing client a lot more to add functionality to the site in the long run).

The biggest piece of advice Image in a Box can give is find an impartial expert and have them review the web development firms for you. If you can’t do this, then at least be sure to call the developer’s previous clients (through looking at their portfolio/past work) and ask them some open-ended questions about their experience.

Are you looking for a web development firm? Image In A Box would love to help you out!

2. Now that you have a website, you will need to find and use the correct tools to measure your website’s performance and place online ads.

We’ll start with Google’s tools simply because Google accounts for over 90% of global search traffic. We will do an entire post on Google products and the basics of using them later in this series. For now, we’ll mainly focus on what each tool is known for.

Google Webmaster Tools – This is a powerful tool that allows you to ensure your website is healthy and Google friendly. A recent addition is Google’s Mobile Friendly Section. Having a mobile friendly website is about to become a major factor in mobile searches using Google, so it is crucial that you ensure your website is Google and mobile friendly!

Google Analytics – This tool allows you to see how many visitors your website has in real time and in the past, how they got to your website, and how they interact with your website (i.e., what pages they visited, how long they were on your site, how they ended up on your site, and even what page they exited your website).

Google Adwords – This is the tool that allows you to advertise on Google searches. You set a budget, design your ad, and select the keywords of the searches you want your ads to show-up in. In the example below, I searched for Gatlinburg Cabins. Based on the keyword I typed in, Google found ads that were most relevant to the keyword and displayed them on top of the search results and in the sidebar area. These advertisers used Google Adwords to have Google place the ads.

An image showing an example of Google Adword's ads in a search result.

 That’s all about Google for now. Next, let’s discuss social media advertising.

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising is a more targeted type of online advertising. With search engine advertising such as Google Adwords, the user has to make an effort to find your business or a business like it. If you are to looking to increase brand awareness and approach users before they attempt to approach you, then social media advertising is the way to go. Social media advertising is more targeted because the social networks collect much more information about people than search engines do. You can target the ads based on gender, age, interests, and even based on who people connect with.

Facebook Ads – Facebook, the most popular social media site, offers sponsored post ads that show up in the user’s newsfeed as well as, sidebar ads. The ads are targeted based on the methods we discussed above. Below is an example of a sponsored post.

An image showing an example of a Facebook sponsored post.

Twitter Ads – Twitter has not been in the ads business as long as Facebook, but it gathers much of the same data. With Twitter ads, you can sponsor tweets (Twitter’s version of posts) and promote your account.

A example of a Twitter ad.

Pinterest Ads – Pinterest is a social network all about “sharing pins” as they call it. Pins are essentially pictures with text below them and the text usually links to a website. Many people get DIY ideas from Pinterest and many companies use the sponsored pin feature to ensure potential customers see their product when trying do that DIY project. While some companies are using the promoted pin feature now, promoted pins are not prevalent and there is a waiting list to sign up to use Pinterest’s ad system.

An example of a sponsored pin on Pinterest.

Instagram Ads – This is the newest player in the social media ad world. As of writing this post, Instagram ads are not widely available, meaning not everyone can participate in the program. Instagram is a photo sharing service owned by Facebook, and I expect the number of ads on Instagram to grow in the future. As of now, there is not much information about Instagram ads or many examples.

An example of an ad on Instagram.

LinkedIn AdsLinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. They focus more on professional connections and getting you hired, rather than your day to day life. LinkedIn follows the other social media websites by placing sponsored ads in users feed and on the sidebar. You can either sponsor your business’s page or an update you posted. Below is an example of a sponsored update on LinkedIn.

An example of a sponsored update on Linkedin.

I hope the information in this post has helped set you on the right path to better digital marketing. I know the post was long, but getting started is the hard part. Moving forward the posts will be shorter and much more focused. This is only step 2 in Image In A Box’s Better Digital Marketing in 10 Easy Steps series. Join us for Step 3: All About Google Products in mid May!

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We welcome your questions, comments, or concerns in the comments section below. :)

-Zach