Starting your own venture could be thrilling! However, at the beginning you’re shouldered with answering several questions to yourself like what would be the easiest way to reach out your target audience, how to create a buzz in the market, how to capture it with your not-so-big pocket.
There’s only one answer to all your questions–Digital Marketing.
Digital marketing is a new form of marketing that uses latest devices like desktop, smartphones, and—a new tool called mobile apps to market a product and/or a service. Email-marketing, ads that appear on Facebook, pop-up messages on apps are all forms of digital marketing.
This is the powerful and competent medium to reach your potential customers at minimal rate. This is the reason why Digital Marketing has become a lifeblood to any company in today’s technologically driven era. Startup should consider this medium and should focus on it because of its maximum reach at minimum cost. Apparently, it creates brand identity with less or zilch amount of money.
Digital Marketing helps in pushing the brand awareness and helps your startup in capturing and maintain a position in market. This would significantly result into driving new users, lead conversion and finally filling the sales pipeline, in no time.
Like any other Marketing mediums, success of digital marketing lies on the base of 4 P’s:
If only it’s done correctly by keeping in mind the STP criteria i.e. Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning, trust me it can do wonders for you.
Keeping the budget constraints in mind, startups need a few techniques/tools that they can use with minimal cost. Let’s look at some of these tools and what can be done to approach these.
I. Why Digital Marketing is important for everyone of us?
Let us understand this with an example. Before sliced bread was invented in the 1910s a guy named Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread, and he focused, like most inventors did, on the patent and making part.
The idea about inventing a sliced bread failed completely because in the first 15 years of the invention of sliced bread no one bought it as no one knew about it.
The reason of its failure was that, until then a brand named ‘Wonder’ came into the scenario and not only that but it came with smarter marketing tactics on how to spread the concept of a sliced bread
Therefore, in present era, no other form of marketing has larger space the way digital marketing has. Here you can track every engagement with your targeted user and you will have a better control over your reach then any other medium.
Startup Mentors and Investors say, that no challenge is bigger than accumulating funds, for Startups. Many entrepreneurs believe that a process of Marketing drains out a big amount of investment and, therefore, you should concentrate on marketing your product if only you have a Big-Heavy pocket! The latter process only works when you have a good amount of money. Now, I would not say they are completely wrong! But yes, their perception on the process of marketing is definitely misleading.
Here, is when the online presence of your company plays a key role! And this is immensely crucial especially for all the startups!
Just think, what would you do or who would you prefer to fund if you’re an investor? Obviously to the one who is informative about its product, and especially when you find its information online. Remember here Word of mouth also plays a decisive role.
Many of my investor friends call me several times, inquiring about XYZ company to know whether these brands have any online weightage or not, or like have I ever heard about that company, Do I know about their movements in Startup Ecosystem? You can have a strong base only if you have a strong online presence. So, be very sure about this fact while you seek for Investments.
Second major problem for startups who have marketing budget is the allocation of funds in right way. Biggest reason for the failure of any marketing campaign is incorrect allocation of funds on wrong marketing verticals. For e.g. you cannot advertise your product or services on Dainik Jagran when you have a customer base which probably reads Economic Times.
If you do, your Return On Investment (ROI) will drop and you would not get the desired Return On Advertising Spending (ROAS). Consequently, you will stop investing in Marketing and will remain in the same old notion- Marketing doesn’t work!
It’s very important to first analyze your ‘Buyer’s Segment’ and understand your ‘Buyer’s Persona’ in depth then only you will be able to take the right decision.
Now you know why digital presence is important, So let’s move on to the main part on knowing how to do it yourself.
II. How can you do it on your own?
1. Content Marketing: Remember unique content would always help Digital Marketing channels to survive. If you have unique content addressing to the need of the readers it will definitely pull the right prospect towards your product or service. So, start producing some great content but remember it should not be plagiarised or off-the-track.
Here are few tools which can help you in generating some great content…and since Startup’s main problem is MONEY constraints, I will be showing only free tools which can help you to make your job yet easier.
A. Content Curation: It helps you to gather information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. For this you can use.
- 1. The Tweeted Times (http://tweetedtimes.com/): The Tweeted Times aggregates news in your Twitter stream every hour and ranks each piece by popularity among your friends. You can use this to search for relevant and trending topics.
- 2. Feedly (http://feedly.com/i/welcome): Feedly is an app that delivers fast, mobile-optimized content using RSS feeds, and allows you to browse and share content.
- 3. You can also use your favorite news sites, feeds, blogs and other channels to search more about topics.
Once you find the topic, create a unique piece of content and if content writing is not your cup of tea, then you can use, the following:
B. Spinning Tools : These tools help to spin the content. It can be referred as Article Spinning, Text Rewriting, or Content Creation Tool.
- 1 Spinbot (https://spinbot.com/)
- 2 Free Article Spinner (http://free-article-spinner.com/)
- 3 Small SEO Tools (http://smallseotools.com/article-rewriter)
C. Grammar & Spelling: These tool will help to check the grammar and spelling of the content.
- 1. Ginger (http://www.gingersoftware.com/grammarcheck)
- 2. Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/)
- 3. Spell Check Plus (http://spellcheckplus.com/)
Also check if this piece of content is already there on web or not by using:
D. Duplicate Content Checker: This lets you check the duplicacy and plagiarism of the content.
- 1. Dupli Checker (http://www.duplichecker.com/)
- 2. Small SEO Tools (http://smallseotools.com/plagiarism-checker/)
If it shows that you have a duplicate content then you need to make it unique.
After following these steps you are ready with content now and you need to publish it and hence start attracting readers, for that use different digital marketing channels.
2. Social Media Marketing: This is a smart way of marketing. You just have to start interacting with your readers, to acquire prospects and leads on a regular basis. Nurture them to convert them into your customers and after that start taking care of their queries or grievances.
Let them feel that they are not left alone after the sales.
You need to give your existing customers some respect because these are the people who will become your ‘PROMOTERS’ and they will help you to spread the word of mouth campaign, they will help you to make your campaign go Viral.
In this phase, you all know your Target segment very well. Select a social media channel based on your requirement and hence, reach out the world. But please remember that Social Media is the double edge Sword, One wrong step and you are gone! So use it wisely.
Now let’s check different tools which will help you to complete your job efficiently and easily.
A. Find out what’s trending and What to Tweet, use
B. Schedule your posts on different channels
It is very important to post your tweets at right time and at right place. For scheduling you can use.
Once you have setup your social media accounts and have started interacting with your prospects or customer start
C. Analyzing your reach and engagement, so you can tune it up as per your requirement.
For different social media platforms, we have different tools and they are:
- Twitter Analytics: This is in-built feature of twitter to track the analytics of Twitter, it gives you data of the tweets, engagement, ReTweets, impressions & information about your audience.
- Followerwonk (https://moz.com/followerwonk/): One of the favorite Twitter tools, Followerwonk shows you detailed breakdowns of your followers and activity.
- Quintly (https://www.quintly.com/): Free plans on Quintly let you access analytics for up to three Facebook pages, offering stats on the main engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares) plus stats on follower growth.
- ViralWoot (https://viralwoot.com/): This Pinterest tool helps with much beyond analytics. You can schedule pins, promote pins, and gain new followers all through ViralWoot.
- Tailwind (https://www.tailwindapp.com/): Another Pinterest-only tool, Tailwind helps with optimization and scheduling of pins, and it gives you some keen insights into both your Pinterest profile and the Pinterest popularity of your website.
- Iconsquare (http://iconosquare.com/): This is a complete Instagram management tool which includes a user-friendly Instagram analytics section that shows:
-big-picture views of posts,
Now let’s see some other useful Tools for all Social Media Platforms:
- Buffer (https://buffer.com/): With Buffer’s free plan, you get all the major engagement stats, for every update you post on- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
- Cyfe (http://www.cyfe.com/): The robust features at Cyfe let you create a custom dashboard filled with stats from dozens of marketing tools.
So, after Social media let’s understand SEO
3. SEO: Start Optimizing your website and it’s landing pages.
I am sure you are aware of SEO or may have heard this term before, but still let me brim your knowledge on it and how it actually helps. Search Engine Optimization is a process in which you assign a particular keyword or phrase to your website and its pages.
Now, there are various strategies in it, which would vary from time to time since Google keeps on changing its algorithm in every 3-4 months.
Let us take Mobisoft as an example.
On Mobisoft Infotech, there is a page for iPhone app developers. We have applied the strategy in such a way that now when you type iPhone app development companies on Google.co.in, our website will appear on the top.
This means, our chances of getting business is at the higher side as we are on the initial first 5 search results.
It took us some time to reach this level, but our consistency got us here.
You might wonder why fight for this ranking, right?
When people look for something on Google they don’t even bother to visit the second page if they don’t find what they’re looking for. They would rather change the search term instead of taking pain of clicking number 2 3 4…and so on to look for their answer on the other pages.
So, the fight is to be ‘Visible.’
There is an interesting phrase that goes around in SEO world is
“The best place to hide a dead body is Google’s second page.”
Now let’s see the tools which will help you in SEO.
A. Keyword Research
- Google Keyword Planner (https://adwords.google.co.in/KeywordPlanner)
- Keyword Tool (http://keywordtool.io/)
- SEMrush (https://www.semrush.com/)
- SEOProfiler (https://www.seoprofiler.com/)
B. Topic Finding and Generation
- Portent Content Idea Generator (https://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker)
- Hubspot Topic Generator (http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator)
- Content Ideator (http://www.contentforest.com/ideator)
- Buzzsumo (http://buzzsumo.com/)
- Google Trends (https://www.google.co.in/trends/)
C. Content Creation (same as Content Marketing)
D. Backlink and Anchor Text Analysis
- Rank Signal (http://www.ranksignals.com/)
- Small SEO Tools (http://smallseotools.com/backlink-checker/)
- SEO Profiler (https://www.seoprofiler.com/)
- SEMrush (https://www.semrush.com/)
E. Generating Links to your Website: (this is a manual work)
After analyzing backlinks, we do following activities:
1. Article Posting
2. Blog Posting
3. Guest Post
4. Theme Based Submission
5. Competitor Based Submission
6. Infographics Promotion
7. Video Promotion
8. Business Listing
9. Classified Ads
10. Directory Submission
11. Search Broken Links
12. Use Editorial Links
13. Forum Participation
SEO requires ‘Patience’ and ‘Consistency’
But remember ranking up on Google listings will take some time so don’t be impatient if your ranking doesn’t change in few weeks, just keep on trying. This may take couple of months, so be consistent.
4. Email Marketing & Newsletter:
What’s the first thing you do when you reach office? Probably, check your emails? Our day doesn’t start without checking emails.
Many think that e-mail marketing is dead. Honestly, it’s not! There are many research works that shows that e-mail marketing is still thriving and is doing far better than other mediums. Take E-commerce industry, for example. In luxury items, the cost of acquisition per customer is anything between $1000-$1500. It depends on company how they reuse acquisition.
Generally, once the customer is in, we put a tag to a customer, and the life of that tag can be from 6 months to 5 years, again based on the response we get from customer. Say, a customer has bought solitaire diamond ring for a wedding anniversary gift to his wife, and he has filled up a form giving his details like anniversary details, birthdays, email address, etc. The company will tag that customer and will send him an email next year few weeks before the anniversary with some amazing discounts or offers they are offering on necklaces or bracelets or earrings stating that “Hey last year you bought a diamond ring for your partner, why don’t you gift her something closely related with that, this will form a set of jewelry for her”. And if customer bought again from you then this acquisition cost would be minimal.
Now let’s see the tools which will help you for Email Marketing & Newsletter.
Email Blast Softwares
1. Benchmark Email (http://www.benchmarkemail.com/): Benchmark Email’s Free for Life plan allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month, which is far more than what some of the other free plans offer.
2. MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com/): MailChimp’s Forever Free plan is great if you have less than 2,000 contacts. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month completely free, and you will never have to worry about your plan expiring.
3. VerticalResponse (http://www.verticalresponse.com/): Vertical Response’s Free plan enables you to send up to 4,000 emails per month and store up to 1,000 contacts. This isn’t as many as MailChimp and Benchmark Email offers, but if you don’t send high volumes of emails, this plan could still be a good fit for you.
5. Pay-per-click (PPC): This vertical is my all-time favorite, because we can start getting outcomes with it in couple of hours, yeah! it’s fast, really fast. This is a digital marketing term that means Pay-per-click. In this form of digital marketing, you would bid for the keywords or phrases on Google AdWords.
Once you’ve placed the bid, and you won the AdRank, your ad will appear on either at the top or at the bottom of search result. Now, the catch is that you will have to pay if someone clicks your ad. Then, a certain amount will be deducted from account you have with Google. This will continue until you reach your daily budget or time stamp.
Free Tools For this channel
6. Remarketing: It is a clever way to connect with visitors to your website who may not have made an immediate purchase or enquiry. It allows you to position targeted ads in front of a defined audience that had previously visited your website – as they browse elsewhere around the internet.
This is very common in ecommerce industry, You might have noticed while doing online shopping from Amazon or Flipkart, that if you checked some items & have not purchased it in that session, after some time you see those same items on different websites as an ad from that ecommerce sites. These ads are nothing but Remarketing Ads.
Few Remarketing Platforms are:
- Google AdWords Remarketing
- Perfect Audience
Now let’s see few other important tools for marketing:
Word-of-Mouth: Word-of-mouth marketing is when a consumer’s interest for a company’s product or service is reflected in their daily dialogs. 92% of consumers consider recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it.
Tools you can use for Word-of-Mouth Marketing:
- Person-To-Person Talking
- Social Media
- Instant Messaging
Other important Tools
Content Management Softwares: Here we list some free CMS which will help you to manage your content effectively on world wide web.
- WordPress (https://wordpress.com/)
- Joomla (https://www.joomla.org/)
- Drupal (https://www.drupal.org/)
Few Inventory Management Softwares:
- Inflow (https://www.inflowinventory.com/)
- Small Business Inventory Control
Free Customer Relationship Management Softwares:
III. Now let’s see few case studies of brands which used digital marketing to achieve success.
Owned by two of the country’s leading regional media groups, fish4jobs is the largest classified jobs website in the UK.
- To improve the share of organic search-driven traffic.
- To increase revenue by offering their advertisers a greater audience.
- To implement a comprehensive strategy capable of increasing brand awareness.
- To focus on improving the structure and content of the site, as well as building its credibility.
Process they followed:
Initially conducting a full keyword analysis, exploring more than 3000 search terms, and investigating the related volumes of traffic and recorded rankings.
2.The Strategy they worked upon
To improve the site’s functionality, they worked on:
- SEO copy and
- enhanced the delivery of new pages.
Consequently, this allowed search engines to easily access, index and gather data from all fish4jobs’ pages.
Remember Link building is crucial
They decided the most effective way of boosting fish4jobs’ rankings was implementing:
- accelerated online PR programme,
- identifying credible, relevant sites that could potentially link to fish4jobs.
Then they built relationships with the editors and journalists working on these sites, acting as intermediaries between these contacts and their client.
- This campaign delivered excellent results for fish4jobs’ target keywords.
- The fish4jobs site ranked in first position out of 81.7 million results in Google’s rankings for the keyword ‘jobs’, directly bringing about a year-on-year increase in traffic of 371%
- fish4jobs also ranked in the top spot for the keyword ‘recruitment’ on Google, delivering a year-on-year increase in search traffic of 311%
This is the power of only one digital marketing channel i.e SEO
So, after SEO let’s take a look into the different channel success story. i.e, Social Media
Dell leveraged Twitter perfectly to generate sales.
- In 2008, Dell had generated $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts via Twitter.
- People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available in the company’s Home Outlet Store.
- They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.
What did Dell do to make it happen, while others are still playing the wait-and-watch game?
- While its competitors watched how the new entrant to the social media scenario would perform Dell set up its strategy and used Twitter as a channel of distribution to sell their products.
- It adapted the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach for their overall Twitter marketing strategy.
- Dell Outlet leveraged its online brand identity and trust factor to create and build a large community on Twitter more than 1.4 million followers.
- They strategically leveraged their offers and promotions in form of Tweets or messages on Twitter to their following.
- They use URL tracking to gauge what followers find most appealing.
- They sold quite a lot of laptops through Twitter in 2009!
- Dell had made $6.5m in revenues through links on the micro-messaging site-Twitter;
- @DellOutlet twitter handle is close to 1.5 MM followers, and the company announced in June, 2009, that it earned $3 MM in revenue from the micro-blogging service.
- The company uses social networks to scale necessary support of the Dell business units, and has more than 100 using Twitter.
- In addition, for a manufacturer of desktop and notebook computers the presence on social networks can be seen as marketing investment to display the company’s digital competence.
So, after Social media let’s look into the different channel success story. i.e, Word of Mouth:
To obtain more than 50 million users through Word-of-Mouth.
Process they followed:
- Tinder knocked out traditional dating services with an app that’s easy to use, minimizing creepy spam and the fear of rejection.
- Offered a simple sign up procedure to use the app, simply swipe right if you like that person, and swipe left if you don’t. This resulted in eliminating existing frustration that people were facing on traditional dating app–Hence the word-of-mouth story begins.
- Tinder chose to focus on college students, which suited their demographic and lived in highly social environments. If they enjoyed the product, Tinder was certain they would tell everyone about it.
- Once they have isolated their target demographic, they narrow it down to focus on those who have the ability, and live in an environment where they can easily share about this product.
- To boost their domination of the college population, Tinder hires “college campus reps” to help promote the app to their peers, they do so by organizing college parties, made it compulsory for guests to download the app before entering, while others require guests to find a date on Tinder, and bring them to the party.
- This resulted in maximum exposure and downloads.
- With an app that changed the entire dynamics of meeting people, dating and hooking up, Tinder has been extremely popular amongst young adults, especially millennials.
- And They obtain more than 50 Mn users in the timespan of 2 years.
Ok, till now we have covered:
I. Importance of Digital Marketing
II. How to Do it Yourself? and have seen
III. Few case studies of the brands which achieved success in past.
But what’s the Future of Digital Marketing & how to achieve success in future?
Future of Digital Marketing is Machine Learning:
Machine learning is not similar to marketing automation, let me clarify this in the beginning.
Marketing automation carries out repetitive task to avoid human errors, whereas machine learning tracks the user’s behavior, which can later be used to personalize content for those specific user’s.
Big companies like Microsoft and Google are able to make more money than usual because of machine learning.
User Generated Content: Let’s rewind a little.
How many of you still clear spam e-mails every morning when you open your inbox? Very few, right! This is the best example of machine learning that explains what all it can do.
Now, what actually happens? Machine learning technique segregate relevant and irrelevant emails and throw spams aside thus making your inbox clean and neat.
Similarly, machine learning will work for content. It would throw away bad and awful content and would put forth well written content.
This will allow users to get what they want. Remember what I told you on the very first step of Do it yourself that “Unique content would always help Digital Marketing channels to survive.”
Engaging with Customer: Machine learning has the ability to completely change the way your ads will be placed. We experience it now only.
You must have seen that the ads flash on website change every time you visit it. These websites have algorithm that changes these ads on every visit.
Now, machine learning plays a very important role in this. What machine learning does is it goes through the user’s browsing history, the kind of content user has viewed in past and has opted to view, and then show ads that are relevant to this information.
With this, you’re sure that your ad will reach your prospect and not everyone. Such segregation will be helpful when you’re planning to reach your potential clients and would narrow down your activities to your prospects.
Finding Products Faster: We know Google has always been in the forefront amongst all the search engine companies.
Recently, Google went through an internal change, wherein the Head of Google Search, Amit Singhal went on a vacation and John Giannandrea, who is an expert in artificial intelligence, stepped into his shoes.
This substitution is going to change the whole game and will make search more interesting and faster.
Understanding Customer’s Behavior: What if I tell you, machine learning is also an expert in sentiment analysis? Often, non-marketing folks ignore public opinion, whereas it matters a lot when it comes to decision making.
When you launch a product, people who used your product will openly talk about it. Based on their opinion, other people will respond by trying product and/or service.
So, for a human to read through every post or tweets or comments is pretty difficult, so take help of machine learning.
It will give you what people are talking about, thus you will get what you can change and how you can make your product better and can win their hearts.
Let me share my point of view on how I see future and where digital marketing will go. The situation that I will be sharing will happen soon, and experts are working towards it.
Imagine, you wake up one morning. The moment you got up, your phone indicated coffee-maker to prepare a coffee for you. Your coffee’s ready. Now, your coffee-maker will intimate your smartphone that coffee powder is over.
Smartphone will tell you and you would glance through coffee products and order online. You are taking a sip of coffee and reading a newspaper when your favorite music is playing in background. The moment you would place your coffee mug in the sink, it will indicate your phone that you’ve finished drinking your coffee and your phone will inform shower to be ready with hot water.
After bath, the moment you will open wardrobe; it will inform smartphone that you’re getting ready. Your smartphone will intimate your car to be at the door in few minutes. You’re late and you rush in a hurry. Since your wardrobe is connected to your smartphone, it has detected that you’ve a meeting today and you’ve forgot your coat!
As you leave from home, wardrobe will inform smartphone about the coat and it will show you options of the shops nearby. You select a coat, pick that up on your way, and you’re there in the office on time.
This was a small incident that’s tempting to imagine and I am sure the way we are moving into the future; it will soon be a reality.
What’s there for business people like us and where to picture digital marketing in this entire scenario.
The moment your smartphone tells you that there is no coffee powder and you look for it online, your smartphone will show results based on your favorite brands. This is machine learning. As far as digital marketing is concerned, the strategy you will follow will show your ads, and machine learning will pick up the ones by observing user’s behavior.
So, you would be either attracting new customers or would be building up your loyalty base. Similar process will follow when you were shopping for the coat online while on your way to office, the search will be shown based on your location, thus location based strategies will come into picture.
Likewise, search will show the brand you prefer and the offers you have on other brands.
These will be the places wherein you can enjoy mixture of verticals of digital marketing and machine learning.
Shoeb Ahmad, with an experience of 15+ years in Digital World, heads Digital Marketing at Mobisoft Infotech. He has a rich experience in SEM, SEO, Social Media & other verticals of Digital Media. He also has been a consultant for a variety of industries, enterprises & startups. He loves reading & traveling. He often writes on various forums since he believes ‘Knowledge increases by sharing.’ Follow him @shoeb_ahmad