/ social media

What are the best practice elements for digital marketing?

This article provides five easy best practice elements that will help you create a strong digital marketing presence.

via GIPHY

Why do I need digital marketing?

With the recent adverse publicity about social media, companies may be thinking about cutting back on their digital marketing budgets. But, the reality is that people are increasingly spending time online rather than watching television or reading print media. According to Ofcom the average adult internet user will spend over 20 hours online per week.

Along with this, as more customers are researching and buying products or services online, there can be cost advantages to digital marketing over traditional methods. It can also enhance customer interaction. This means that companies should not underestimate the importance of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing?

Put simply, digital marketing is any form of marketing that exists online. It includes a company’s branding (logos, fonts, etc), website, blog posts, social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), online brochures, apps and much more. It also covers a range of tactics such as ensuring the website gains a high rank on Google, Yahoo or Bing (nerds call this Search Engine Optimisation) and using email to promote products and events. In addition, it includes marketing on a variety of devices from mobile phones to computers. At its best, digital marketing can be: a cost effective way to compete with competitors; good for targeting and reaching customers; and a pathway for a company to grow and expand.

What is best practice?

Although there are lots of guidance on digital marketing, it is possible to see some common themes on what constitutes as best practice. Here are five best practice elements for creating a strong digital marketing presence.

1) Develop a plan and goals

To be successful, digital marketing needs to be much more than just posting a few Tweets or writing a Facebook advertisement. It requires a clear and focused plan to be in place; a lack of a coherent plan is similar to setting off on a journey without knowing where you are going. Central to any plan for digital marketing are the goals being set such as creating demand or a market for a product or service, raising awareness of your brand, changing attitudes or influencing intentions and facilitating purchases.

2) Research the target audience and competition

Customers should be central to any digital marketing strategy. Knowing who the potential audience is and how to best market to them is critical. This includes not only their age and gender, but also factors such as their life-styles, attitudes and values, and the social media sites they spend time on.

It is also important to know who your competitors are and what their approach is to digital marketing.Drawing on best practice exmaples from a range of industries, such as those highlighted below can also assist in establishing a company to make their products, services and marketing standout.

3) Integrate all marketing channels

Research shows that integrated marketing campaigns give much better results than single initiatives. For example, sharing content across media platforms can increase website traffic and improve interaction with key audiences. For such an approach to be successful, audiences need to be given the same message or call for action regardless of whether a company’s website, social media presence or an offline platform is being used. While digital efforts need to match each platform’s style, a brand’s unique yet consistent message should be maintained.

4) Be creative

By being creative it is possible to catch and maintain the attention of the intended audience and raise their recognition of the brand. Incorporating unique and creative elements into a company’s digital marketing across a variety of devices is crucial to its success. This can include visuals such as the logo, font, layout, colour scheme and images, as well as written content. It is also important to ensure that the digital media is easy to connect with and refreshed frequently so that it remains relevant and users are not repeatedly seeing the same visuals and written content.

5) Measure and Evaluate

Digital marketing is the most measurable form of marketing. Most social media and email marketing channels provide analytical tools that can report on the reach and engagement of campaigns. It is critical to use them, so that you know whether the company’s digital marketing goals are being achieved and a sound investment is being made.

Best practice examples

Each year a number of digital marketing campaigns are highlighted as being particularly successful and from which marketers can learn lessons. For example, Marketing Week selected Heineken’s ‘Worlds Apart’ as one of 2017’s best campaigns. Using Facebook as the primary platform and the hashtag #OpenYourWorld, it sought to break down barriers and find common ground between people with opposing views. It achieved 3 million views in only eight days after its launch, with over 50,000 shares in its first month. In the first half of 2017 Heineken’s beer sales increased by nearly 4%.

Along with this, Adweek highlighted other highly rated digital marketing campaigns of 2017, including Nike’s #Breaking2, Burger King ‘Goggle home of the Whopper’ and Heinz, ‘Pass the Heinz’.

The future of digital marketing best practice

Building on best practice, commentators are discussing some of the latest developments in digital marketing. This includes focusing on micro-moments, that is any moment that drives a customer to use their mobile from wanting to learn something, go somewhere or buy something. Other expected trends include the use of voice assistance technology such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, and a greater emphasis on personalisation and direct communication with customers.
Another trend that will remain relevant is local search engine optimisation, allowing for businesses to target customers within their area. It has been found that 75% of customers who search for a local business will make a visit within a day's time- therefore, ranking amongst Google's local 3-pack will help immensely with your customer acquisition strategy.

Now it's over to you. It is up to you to push the frontiers of digital marketing forward.