Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Digital technologies, such as social media platforms, mobile, cloud, big data, AI optimizes market interactions between businesses and customers, therefore unleashing economic value where information exchange is seamless and in turn, the markets are more fluid and influence competition. These technologies fundamentally change how we interact, create, deliver and capture value for customers. Most value is realized when digital technologies converged to transform the entire value chain for the business, this is referred to as digitalization. Digital transformation presents opportunities for businesses to have greater efficiency and effectiveness thus creating new value in products/services and new markets. Customers gets new innovative products and services, greater convenience, more choice, new experiences and to some degree, lower prices. This also introduce risks and challenges such as faster innovation cycles due to customer demand, new competitors for companies due technological opportunities, security vulnerabilities, privacy and data protection issues for customers. To keep up with the fast pace of change requires continuous adaptation for companies and customers.
The covid-19 pandemic impact further accelerated digital transformation with companies taking advantage of online digital channels, for example, enabling customers to place orders online at the comfort of their homes and employees to work remotely. This creates a need for small, medium and large enterprises to leverage digital marketing strategies and digital channels to grow their online presence. Businesses that depend on bricks and mortar and face to face interactions are forced to adapt and reinvent their businesses online to survive. The working environment as we know it is evolving drastically, fueled by the adoption of collaboration platforms such as Teams, Slack, Zoom, Google meet to name a few. This trend is fostering new ways of working and consumerization of IT to enhance employee productivity. Organizations needs to reimagine their business strategy for the new normal to stay relevant. Due to covid-19 concerns, conferences, events and training is conducted online. Virtual events, parties and races are emerging. Customers are more likely to transact online than before. No one has any idea if things will get back to normal soon, perhaps this will lead to long-term change. It is clear that going forward companies needs to be more resilient to such changes and should develop strategies to adapt quickly. Here are some tips that can help businesses to improve their online presence.
1. Position your digital marketing strategy for the new normal
There's no one size fits all approach, every business needs to create their own strategy. According to Brad Batesole, the purpose should be to create a shared value experience, selling the experience to your customers. Businesses need to be present at the right moment to capture their target audience. Therefore building a cohesive online marketing strategy requires a business, customer and marketing strategies to be carefully stitched together. This should include a business plan, market perception, target market and digital channels. The diagram below depicts three types of online media marketing.
Having a defined strategy for each online media will strengthen your online marketing position, thus creating a competitive advantage for your company. Business strategy development is foundational to digital marketing. To consider the following strategy tips:
Its always helpful to conduct current state assessment to understand the external and internal environment. Define a clear shared vision, goal, mission statement, identify business drivers, objectives, core beliefs, brand (principles and values) and value proposition. While defining the business strategy, ask yourself these questions:
What digital technologies will help to transform your business from analog to digital?
Is your business designed to take advantage of online channels, i.e. do you have the right structure?
Will your online efforts fit into your business processes?
Who will review, maintain and adapt your business strategy?
To define the value proposition, the following questions can help to understand the unique selling point:
Why do you stand out?
What makes you unique?
Why would someone choose you over your competitor?
The customer strategy should enable you to understand the audience, reach the correct audience and understand where to find the audience. Consider the following questions when strategizing:
What is the goal for the customer segment?
What is shared value for this segment?
What is the target audience?
How would they become interested in your brand?
How are you going to measure success?
The marketing strategy is the final piece of the puzzle, so build it last. The business plan should help define tactics to deliver these strategies. The marketing strategy should determine the customer segment, target market and company's unique selling point. Consider the following questions:
What will the business sell and to whom?
Is there a market demand for your products or services?
How will your products or services be priced?
How long does it take to acquire a new customer?
How much does it cost to support a customer?
How easy is it to retain a customer?
Online marketing requires continuous improvement, adaptation and is an iterative process. The tools that supports digital marketing includes a website, SEO (Google), social media (Facebook etc.), search marketing (AdWords), email (Mailchimp etc.), video (YouTube) and content marketing (Blogs etc.).
2. Build a captivating website
Make sure you have a website for your business. The website should be simple, well thought of and highly functional. For businesses that already have a website, its important to modernize and keep the site up to date. The website is a valuable part of your digital marketing strategy. Website tools to consider.
wix.com - provides customizable website templates and a drag-and-drop HTML5 web site builder that includes apps, graphics, image galleries, fonts, vectors, animations and other options. Users also may opt to create their web sites from scratch.
wordpress.com - is web publishing software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. It just may be the easiest and most flexible blogging and website content management system (CMS) for beginners.
themeforest.net - at ThemeForest you can buy and sell HTML templates as well as themes for popular CMS products like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
squarespace.com - is a way to build websites. For an annual or monthly subscription, they provide access to a set of tools you can use to design your own site—no coding or web development experience required.
I use wix.com for my website, its easy to customize, sleek and convenient. Another option to consider is to hire a local developer, whatever suits your needs and align with your budget should be fine. I'm bias towards cloud platforms providing software as a service (SaaS), I believe they are cost effective and scalable. Also you can leverage the latest innovation depending on the solution you selected.
3. Define a clear social media strategy
Build a social media plan, consider that each social media platforms is unique and has it's own best practice. Some tips to help you get started.
Identify business goals
Identify core audience
Identify desired action and outcome
Identify success metrics or KPIs
Measure and improve, its a feedback loop.
Social media marketing is about adapting to the networks, identifying new opportunities and staying ahead of the curve. Its important to plan how your time will be spent on these social media platforms and how to extract value for your business. According to Statista (2021), "in 2020 the amount spent on social media reached 40 billion U.S. dollars, and included paid advertising on social networks as well as games and applications. By 2022, advertisers are expected to spend over 56 billion dollars on promoting their products on social networks. Facebook commands the lion’s share of these expenditures (more than 80 percent), followed by LinkedIn and Pinterest with four and two percent respectively". The following should help to get started.
Start engaging your target audience on social media and build a relationship.
To increase traffic to your website, leverage paid and earned media.
SEO optimization can help your business to be found on the internet.
There's a lot of marketing tools that can benefit your business. Take time to do careful research. The online world is exciting and there's great opportunities for businesses to connect and transact with customers. Having an up to date digital marketing strategy is necessary for businesses to survive during these unprecedented times and to stay relevant in the future.