4 Indispensable Steps to Digital Marketing Success

December 2, 2016
Peter McEllhenney

Effective digital marketing is essential to your business. It’s also hard to do right. For web marketing to be successful, you have to …

1. Drive relevant visitors to your website

2. Engage them with design & content

3. Convert them to sales or leads, and

4. Measure results to see what works

You can’t achieve your business goals if you don’t get visitors to your website, they don’t stay, or they don’t become customers. And you can’t run your business effectively unless you know which web marketing techniques give you the best return on your investment.

In this first of a series of five posts, I will provide a brief overview of the 4 indispensable steps to web marketing success. In later posts, I examine each step in detail.

1. Drive relevant visitors to your website

Driving relevant visitors to your website generally requires you to use a combination of (a) search engine optimization, often with an emphasis on local search, (b) social media, and (c) paid advertising strategies.

Search engine optimization and paid internet advertising help you rank well on search terms relevant to your business. These techniques are focused on the results pages of Google, Bing, and other search engines with the goal of bringing people to your website.

By contrast, social media is about engaging potential customers in conversations relevant to your company, in the hope that these conversations create connections that eventually become business relationships. Both website traffic and awareness are important goals of social media. The conversations take place on our blog, on your Facebook page, by Twitter, and through other mediums.

Don’t forget traditional advertising techniques and old-fashioned word-of-mouth, both of which are still effective for driving visitors to your website.

2. Engage visitors with design & content

Once visitors find your site, the next step is to make sure they stay. Both design and content have important roles to play in this task.

Good web design is essential to telling visitors – in a few seconds – what you do and why they should care. It expresses an emotion you want people to connect to your business. And it helps visitors stay engaged with your website by making key choices easy to see.

Good content is also essential to keeping visitors, and good content is all about answering questions.

Sometimes those questions are directly related to the decision to become a customer. For example, a visitor to a restaurant website wants to see the menus. A law firm website should describe each partner’s education and experience. A person visiting an e-commerce site wants to find compelling details on the products available for purchase.

Other times, the questions are simply relevant to what you do. An e-commerce site that sells kitchenware probably wants to offer cooking tips and recipes. A law firm that drafts wills could include basic estate planning advice on their website.

Answering these types of questions will keep visitors on your pages, increase awareness of your business, and create a positive feeling toward your company, all of which can lead to a new business relationship.

Remember that how your site is organized, how the content is written, and how quickly the pages load all affect how Google and Bing rank your site in their results. So choices you make before your site goes live can significantly affect the number of visitors you get.

3. Convert web visitors into customers

Having lots of visitors who interact with lots of pages on your website is great – unless none of them become customers. Then it’s not so great.

That’s why it is important your web design make it easy to do what you want visitors to do.

For example, if you want people to call you, then your phone number should be easy to find throughout your site. If you want them to complete a web estimate form, the “Request a Quote Now” link needs to jump out. For e-commerce sites, the “buy now” or “add to shopping cart” button should be prominent on each product page.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you want them to do. If you want them to schedule a visit, then use the words “Call 123-456-7890 to make an appointment.”

Also, don’t forget that while the internet may have revolutionized marketing, people are motivated to buy goods and services by the same things they always have been. Sales, deals, and discounts encourage people to buy. A no-obligation estimate helps you get more prospects. Making your first consultation free increases the number of calls you receive. A free report download will help you collect contact information from potential clients.

4. Measure results to see what works

Unless you are truly an online-only business, you’ll need to analyze data from several different sources to understand which parts of your marketing strategy are working best.

The most important source is the answer to the question, “How did you hear about us?”

When the answer is “on the internet” you obviously know your web marketing has earned you a new customer. Don’t overlook how the internet supports other marketing channels, however.

If you advertise in print, on the radio, or on television, watch your website visit statistics to see if they rise during the campaign. If they do, that will help tell you people are responding to your message. The same is true for direct mail, but make sure you take full advantage of tracking codes as well.

Word-of-mouth and referrals are the most important source of new customers for many businesses. Your website supports this process by providing information new customers want to know about you.

Look in your analytics to see how many people have found your site by searching on your name and to see how long they stay to get a sense of the impact.

There are many web analytic packages available. I generally recommend Google Analytics to small businesses because it is robust, easy to install, and free.

Don’t forget to set goal tracking in your analytic program if people can request information, download a report, or make a purchase on your website. This will allow you to better see how your marketing ties to a measurable result. Google AdWords allows you to do something similar with its “conversion tracking” feature.