Despite all signs pointing to increased digital usage among consumers for everything from product research to purchasing, nearly 50 percent of businesses still don’t have a digital marketing strategy, according to Smart Insights. That number has decreased from nearly 75 percent over recent years, making now an imperative time for businesses to get on board to stay competitive.

No matter what size your business is, increasing your brand reach online is possible with the right tactics. The National Retail Federation estimates ecommerce growth in the United States will reach up to 12 percent in 2017, and Nielsen market research company reports most shoppers check and compare prices online before purchasing. Make sure your brand is top of mind for consumers online by integrating these five digital tactics into your marketing strategy.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Even if the market for your product or service is vast, and you think efforts toward ranking for search will be difficult, it is worth it because these tactics can help even niche brands get discovered. You can use keyword research to drive your copy, which affects your search results, and monitor online behavior to optimize your efforts.

SEO best practices: With tools like Google Keyword Planner, research what your target customers search for online and what keywords they use. Integrate a combination of relevant high-volume, competitive keywords and long-tail keywords throughout your website, especially in metadata, page URLs, on-page content, and image tags.

Make sure your website loads quickly and is optimized for mobile, since Google uses mobile friendliness as a search engine ranking signal. Add internal links where appropriate, and work on outreach to get other high-ranking websites to link to your site, too.

2. Content Marketing

A significant piece of the SEO puzzle is content marketing. Search engine bots crawl websites to pick up content related to queries. The more the content is read, shared, and linked to other sites, the more relevant it is to search engines, which results in higher qualified leads for your business.

Inbound marketing software HubSpot found companies that publish 16 or more blogs per month get 4.5 times more leads than companies that publish four or less blogs. High frequency combined with valuable content brings more relevant visitors to your site.

Content marketing best practices: Create a blog for your website, and aim to publish as much high-quality content as possible. Use questions commonly asked by customers to create blog ideas. Make sure all blog posts are optimized for search engines, by using keywords in titles, body copy, and image tags.

Expand blog reach by sending content to influencers, other businesses whose customers may be interested in the content, and to current customers through email newsletters. Use mediums such as video and podcasts to increase the audience for your blog. Market with content in additional forms like e-books, slideshows, and white papers.

3. Email Marketing

Email has become a can’t-live-without-it tool for many Americans, with Adobe reporting that the average person uses email more than 30 hours per week, with 90 percent of people checking personal email at work and work email from home.

Nearly 90 percent of marketers say email is their primary source for lead generation, according to Mailigen. Email is constantly open for people, and if they’ve signed up for your business newsletter, they expect and might even look forward to your marketing messages.

Email marketing best practices: To avoid someone ignoring your email or, even worse, clicking “Unsubscribe,” make sure you’re only sending emails when you’re providing value to the receiver. Your brand should test content and frequency to reach your sweet spot and get optimal open and click-through rates. Segment your lists based on interest, and make sure your message is relevant to your audience.

Include a strong call-to-action in the email to keep readers engaged, whether you present a special offer, ask them to download an e-book, or invite them to reply to the email. Make sure any messages you receive are swiftly responded to by someone on your team.

4. Social Media

More than 70 percent of Americans use social media, reports Pew Research Center, logging on not only to stay in touch with others, but to get news. The number of users has steadily increased since 2006, and grew 9 percent since 2014.

Besides significant players like Facebook and Twitter, other channels that help brands get noticed include social bookmarking sites like Reddit. Dark social channels like WhatsApp and SMS are also powerful search referrers for today’s consumers.

Social media best practices: Treat social media pages as you would an extension of your website, and make sure descriptions and URLs are optimized for search. Share relevant content with users on social media, and drive engagement by asking questions that lead to discussions. Use social media to connect with journalists that cover your industry, and offer to act as a source when needed for related stories.

Make sure to constantly monitor your social media channels and act as a source of customer support. Convince & Convert reports 42 percent of web users who contact a brand on social media expect a response within an hour, and 32 percent expect a response within a half-hour.

5. Paid Advertising

For businesses in early stages of launching, or are introducing a new product or service and want to build awareness quickly, using paid media on appropriate channels can provide a business with hyper-targeted marketing. The great thing about advertising online is that organic reach can quickly follow, whether a social media post is shared by someone who sees the ad, or the page is sent to a friend after someone clicks on it in a search engine.

On Facebook alone, there are more than 2 million advertisers. Chances are good your competitors are advertising online, too. From pay-per-click advertising on Google to land atop search results, to social media advertising to users based on brands they’ve interacted with, there are endless options and minimal budget requirements that allow your business to test and optimize methods.

Paid advertising best practices: The best way to lower your digital marketing costs is to continually test your strategy. Some ideas on what to test include: channel versus channel, different images for the same ad, cost per conversion versus cost per click, calls-to-action, and landing page design.

Any method you use can be tied into a website-connected analytics platform, like Google Analytics, which is important because that allows your brand to see how people are behaving on your site once the advertisement drives them there. Maybe one ad you run through Google AdWords produces more immediate conversions, compared to a LinkedIn Ad that drives more repeat visits and larger purchases once those visitors convert.

Digital Marketing: Work Smartly to Save Money

Digital marketing provides your business with the unique opportunity to directly connect with customers online. This allows your business to learn more about your target consumer and shape your marketing efforts in real time, without having to wait until an expensive traditional advertising campaign ends and leaves you to guess how effective it is.

To make your digital marketing spend provide the best return on investment, make sure to:

  • Learn about and know your audience inside and out
  • Provide that audience with incredibly relevant offers or content
  • Use digital channels to wow customers with amazing support and service
  • Look for areas where competitors are missing out, and work to improve those experiences for consumers

By weaving these strategies into your SEO, email, content, paid advertising, and social media campaigns, you can align your brand’s marketing focus and increase satisfaction for your customers.

Let North American Bancard help you offer ecommerce purchases to that influx of new customers able to find you online. Let us be your business ally.

Contact NAB today and see how easy it is to get the merchant services you deserve.

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