I was recently asked by a prospect to put together an overview of different digital marketing options and their pros and cons.
It was written for an accounting practice but applies equally well to any small business.
This made me decide not to keep this information for just one prospect but share it with everybody.
This is list is not complete and there are some areas and strategies I didn’t cover.
I wanted to keep it as brief as possible and focus on things most applicable to small business clients.
Let me know if I missed anything or you would like anything covered in more detail.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies to reach and convert leads into customers.
The key objective is to promote brands and increase sales through various digital marketing techniques.
Digital marketing activities include search engine marketing, social media marketing, retargeting, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.
The biggest advantage of digital marketing over traditional marketing is the ability to measure results using analytical tools to accurately judge return on investment.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs).
SEM incorporates search engine optimization as well as pay per click (PPC) advertising such as Google AdWords.
The advantage of SEM is its ability to get traffic with high commercial intent.
For example, if somebody is searching for “tax return Traralgon” there is a very high probability that they are looking for an accountant.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO includes activities designed to place your website as high as possible in the organic search engine rankings for desired keywords.
Organic results are displayed in the main search engine results area:
The main SEO activities are:
On-Page Optimisation – making sure the website is structured according to Google’s best practice.
Off-Page Optimisation – social promotion, press releases and link building to boost website authority.
Pros: The top three organic results in Google search receive 66% of search traffic. Positioning your business in the top three organic search results can bring a constant supply of qualified leads that are actively looking for your services.
Cons: Slow results. It normally takes 3-6 month to see results. No guarantees. Susceptible to changes in Google’s search algorithm which can have a negative effect on rankings.
Pay per Click (PPC) Advertising (Google AdWords)
Somewhat similar to SEO, PPC advertising allows advertisers to pay for their ads to be displayed when somebody is looking for a particular key phrase.
These results are marked as ads and displayed in designated areas on the top, right or bottom of the search results page:
Pros: Quick results. Traffic can be guaranteed providing the ability to pay. Traffic can be generated immediately after the PPC campaign is set up.
Cons: Only 30% of people who use search engines click on Ads.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Social media marketing programs usually focus on efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it across their social networks.
This builds awareness of the business that attracts new clients. It also strengthens the relationship with existing clients.
Pros: Creates awareness of the business and promotes customer engagement.
Cons: Requires constant management and moderation due to social media pages being open to interaction with the public such as comments, complaints etc.
Social Media Advertising
It is possible to advertise on social networks either by promoting posts or by setting up dedicated ads.
Social media advertising is different from search engine advertising because it is targeted to a specific demographic.
While search engine marketing is centred on specific keywords users look for, for example “accountants Traralgon”, social media advertising allows you to display ads to a specific demographic for example “25 – 50 year olds that live in Traralgon and employed as managers”.
Pros: Ability to target a specific demographic.
Cons: Social media sites tend to be used mainly for entertainment and may not be the best vehicle for selling certain types of businesses or services.
Retargeting / Remarketing
Retargeting converts window-shoppers into clients. Generally only 2% of website visitors convert on the first visit.
Retargeting brings back the other 98%. Retargeting works by keeping track of people who visit your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites, such as news websites, online.
Retargeting ads can be displayed via Google Display Network (the #1 global display ad network, reaching over 90% of internet users worldwide) or social media sites like Facebook.
Pros: Increases conversions. Converts window-shoppers into clients. Allows you to boost your business profile by displaying ads on high end properties in Google Display Networks such as Herald Sun, news.com.au etc.
Cons: Can be perceived as annoying by users because it feels like the ads are following them.
Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.
This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
For example, an accounting practice can make a guide about capital gains tax, publish it in their website either completely free or in exchange for opting into the company’s email list.
Pros: Content marketing can be very effective at establishing the company as the leader and authority in their industry.
Cons: It can take a long time to work. The content has to be genuinely good and provide real value to the prospective clients.
Email marketing goes hand in hand with content marketing and generally refers to promoting a product or service to the company’s email list, although it is also possible to purchase the email lists from a list broker.
For email marketing to be truly effective it can’t be all about sell, sell, sell.
It has to provide genuine value and build the prospect up to a sale.
Effective email marketing normally consists of a series of emails that combine useful actionable content with a sales offer.
For example, an accounting practice may decide to run a series of emails about Self-managed Super Funds.
They would start by sending out 3-4 highly educational emails about SMSFs, then an email with an offer of free SMSF consultation.
Then some more educational emails and finish with another offer for consultation.
Pros: Email marketing is very effective for sales. It positions your business as an expert in the field and builds strong relationship with clients and prospects.
Cons: Requires a lot of upfront work to develop content. The content has to provide genuine value to the client, otherwise they delete and unsubscribe.
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
CRO refers to improving the website experience in order to convert more visitors into clients.
Usually this works by optimising website copy, positioning of certain elements such as contact information, contact form, images etc.
Even choosing a different colour for the “Submit” button on a form can have a big impact on how many people will click it.
CRO normally works by creating different versions of the web pages and testing them to see which one performs better (this is known as A/B testing).
Once the winner is found, another version with further changes is created and A/B tested.
This process of continual testing and refinement ensures that pages convert better over time and bring more leads to the business.
Pros: Allows business to do more with the traffic they already have.
Cons: Can be a very slow process for lower traffic websites as a certain volume of visitors (normally 100+) is required before results are statistically significant.
For further reading you may want to check out my post on SEO vs SEM.