Business experts

Expert advice: Making sense of digital marketing

Written by Richard Jaggs.

Richard JaggsWe speak to many businesses, large and small, and find a large variety of approaches to digital marketing. If you are a little confused about the best approach you’re not alone, so I’m going to attempt to simplify things.

I’ve made a few generalisations, but if you’d like a straightforward way to think about digital marketing, then this could be for you.

First is simply not doing enough marketing. This is less common than it used to be, but as a rough guide, you should be spending between two and 10 percent of your revenue on marketing.

The second is not doing enough digital marketing, spending too much budget on traditional activities that don’t deliver a good return. I still speak with businesses who place £5k on some one-off magazine advertising but think a £10K investment in a good website is too much…

The third is the mix and quality of digital marketing, too much of this, not enough of that. Digital marketing is wonderfully measurable, so it’s possible to fine tune for best results. Getting the key performance indicators in place is vital, so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

What are your marketing priorities?

You can split your marketing into three areas: website, digital marketing, other activities – and for most businesses, that sequence should also be the order of priority.

Before you can start ‘marketing’ you need a great website. Think of your website as the hub of your marketing, where you are sending all your potential customers to learn about your business, be engaged and then inquire.

Most of your other marketing is designed to direct traffic to your site, even if it’s not digital, like a billboard or an advert, chances are that your potential clients will still reference your website.

So your website needs to be as good as you can make it, be completed first and have an appropriate budget.

Then comes the digital marketing. Why? Because most customers will find you via digital channels: search engines, social media, email marketing, Google Adwords… We sometimes call this the ‘drumbeat’ marketing and regular digital marketing should be the foundation of your ongoing marketing activity.

Once you have your website and regular digital marketing set up, you can think about other activities: sponsorship, workshops, print advertising etc. – generally, the more traditional activities that will raise awareness.

Some of these activities may have a higher priority for your business, but remember this is a generalised way of thinking about your marketing.

And digital marketing?

To create good digital marketing you need great content, so content creation is central to all digital marketing.

It’s helpful to think of your business as a publisher, which it is, your aim being to engage your audience/s as effectively as you can.

So it’s worth investing in your content, not just written content for website blogs and landing pages, but also video, photography, infographics, etc. You can then use your great content in all your other marketing.

You can break down the other elements of digital marketing into five areas. It’s not always broken down this way, but it’s a simple way:

  • email marketing
  • online advertising & online PR
  • social media
  • search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • pay per click – Google AdWords for example

I mentioned the importance of getting this mix right and establishing key performance indicators, so you need to create a strategy first.

I’d like to say doing this is simple, but it does take a bit of time and effort, as does coordinating and delivering your digital marketing. Which is why you may be tempted to avoid creating a strategy, but you do need one.

Once you have your strategy and have established your regular actions you need to implement them.

Again, not simple. You will need to have a range of skills either in your team, or at your disposal, plus the time… did I mention how time-consuming this can all get?

Now all businesses have real challenges in the delivery and optimisation of their digital marketing.

Large businesses tend to use big digital agencies to help them, or a variety of partners, or more commonly now, are creating their own in-house marketing agencies.

Micro businesses, with small budgets, can do some good digital marketing themselves, often with help from freelancers.

SMEs can often be caught in the middle, unable to deal with all the work and skills required, being too small for the bigger agencies and without the budget to create their own in-house marketing team.

The ideal fit for these businesses is a smaller digital marketing agency, with all the skills, but sensible budgets.

Richard Jaggs is managing director of Resolution Design in Devizes. His Making Sense of Digital Marketing Workshop will be held in the town on Thursday, March 7.