“Once you start down the Dark Path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
Remember when Yoda says that to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi? OK, OK, maybe a Star Wars reference to the Dark Side isn’t the best representation of the marketing industry, but we hope you have a sense of humor.
The point is, whether you like it or not, marketing is essential to the success of any business. Just as Yoda warns Luke in the not to underestimate the power of the Emperor, don’t overlook the necessity or effect of marketing—once you get started with it, you must keep going. How else will you acquire new customers, retain the loyalty of existing ones, and grow your revenue?
Like bread and butter, marketing is the yin to yang… i.e. your business. Having said that, marketing encompasses a lot, so to keep it simple, we’re focusing on just one of the rapidly growing areas within marketing: digital marketing. Maybe you’re already on it… in that case, this article isn’t relevant to you. But if you’re a newbie just venturing into online marketing, keep reading.
Over the last decade, you’ve probably seen all your competitors jumping on the internet bandwagon. It sure looks like online sales and digital marketing are the way to go right now, especially if you want to reach your customers quickly, directly, and (ideally) at a relatively low customer acquisition cost—if done right.
But with a limited marketing budget and a variety of options out there, where do you begin? Like the market, digital marketing is, no doubt, an ever-changing medium. To be effective in the online world, businesses need to constantly keep up with the latest marketing trends and educate themselves. Whether it’s by staying informed about the new developments in social media, such as features and algorithms. Or even teaching yourself the latest digital marketing strategies and advanced statistics.
A lot of successful businesses, regardless of whether they’re just starting out or growing quickly, use digital marketing to boost their sales. You’ve seen the number of businesses on Shark Tank that have grown exponentially just by putting some money behind social media ads, right?
According to the latest Clutch survey, 83% of businesses think their digital marketing efforts help them achieve their goals, and with 2.14 billion people planning to shop online by 2021, being able to effectively market your business on a digital platform will become more important than ever.
If you’re a beginner to online advertising and digital marketing, we know it’s a lot to take in. Here are five free digital marketing platforms that will help you maximize and leverage your businesses’ growth. BTW, while some of the mediums in this list may be obvious, add to your checklist to get started.
Say this word three times in your head, then three times again out loud: data, data, data! Google Analytics is a must-have for anyone who is growing their business; it’s a critical tool with endless benefits that lets you get to know your potential clients. Google Analytics also allows you to track and understand your customer’s behavior, what they are looking for, demographic location, age, and gender just to name a few.
Why is it useful? Google Analytics allows you to use its technology to break down and study your online business so you can cater to the community you wish to grow.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t have an email address? Let’s face it, email isn’t going anywhere, and that is why it’s very important for business owners to incorporate email marketing to personally connect with their customers.
Mailchimp is a (free, at least to begin with) software that gives you the ability to build and manage mailing lists, newsletters, automated campaigns and more. It puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you complete control over your e-mail marketing efforts from start to finish. Additionally, Mailchimp offers all the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools small businesses’ need, allowing you to establish, organize, and manage your audience’s data in one place—making it easy to target the right customers. For every $1 a business spends on email marketing, the average expected ROI is $42! With the number of active email users forecasted to reach 4.3 billion by 2023, email marketing is just going to become more relevant.
Why should you use it? MailChimp provides a great way to get your message directly into your potential customer’s inbox or even better, build loyalty through reward programs to retain your existing customers.
Shocking, huh? While these are two very popular social media platforms, it’s good to keep in mind the uncertainty that comes with advertising there. First off, the benefits of social media platforms are highly variable, and it depends largely on your message, nature of business, and audience. Although Facebook is currently the alpha among social media platforms, the countless targeting and segmentation features mean that what works better for another business may not work for you.
Watch out, though. With Facebook constantly changing its algorithms, it’s hard to predict which ads will be effective in the future.
Instagram, however, is great for influencer marketing and (if you’re lucky) free brand exposure. In fact, research indicates that Instagram may be a better choice for promoting your business, at least in terms of engagement. According to a recent study, brands see a median engagement rate of 0.09% per post on Facebook, whereas Instagram has a median engagement rate of 1.60% per post.
What’s the downside? Instagram is not a click-friendly social media platform as users can’t include a clickable link in their post. Although there are ways around this, it’s not the easiest way to direct traffic to your website… unless you’re advertising.
We know what you’re thinking, but hear us out. TikTok is not just for children and teens. If you use TikTok correctly, you can introduce your business or product to a huge audience. TikTok’s the sixth largest social media platform in the world and at a certain point, was the #1 most downloaded app of 2020. The app is available in over 150 countries! TikTok is a natural fit for brands looking to reach a broad audience instantly and is especially a great fit if your target audience is between the ages of 16 and 24. TikTok can help brands create awareness and affinity for their products, particularly by partnering with influencers, as well as engage in social commerce. The likes of the NBA & NFL, Chipotle, Gymshark, MAC Cosmetics, BMW, and Crocs have hopped on board the TikTok train.
Is there a potential risk? Recently there are some concerns surrounding the app’s security, so make sure this isn’t something that will affect your business negatively before you dive in.
SimilarWeb’s insights tool can help businesses review their performance against competitors. Simply by entering a competitor’s specific website URL, SimilarWeb will display its powerful and insightful website metrics, including geography, audience interests, social & search traffic, competitor sites and more. It’s a fast and quick look into where your business currently stands in the online world and helps you identify areas of improvement.
What’s the drawback? Some features are only accessible if you pay to upgrade your account, such as user data based on demographics.
Digital marketing gives you the ability to reach a global marketplace instantly, unlike traditional advertising. It’s also lighter on the pocket, and results are measurable. If you’re a small business or a startup that is looking for some marketing support, we’re here to help.
At Evolve Business Advisory, our digital marketing experts pride themselves on consciously keeping up with the latest digital marketing tools and trends to ensure your business grows. Look at our business cultivation services and let us know if you’d like to team up. We’d love to help your business scale to new heights.