Your Guide to Doing Digital Delightfully - Digital Marketing Guest Blog
A guest blog from Digital Marketing Expect Dave Thackeray
I'm in deep with digital marketing. I love it. I think if you use it properly - diligently - it will help your business prepare for new rungs of success. But I also know the dangers of going all-in with digital before your business is ready.
I've seen it countless times.
- Let's get a website (but forget a contact us page)
- Let's do social media (but forget that customers get irate when you're not on tap 24 hours a day)
- Let's start selling online (but fail to keep a handle on stock levels).
There are so many pitfalls, and not just profitable possibilities, of taking your shop window to the web.
On a flipside, there aren't many modern organisations who haven't already taken to the world wide web. It's called peer pressure, and the most severe symptoms include insolvency.
Haste is not a word associated with successfully navigating the digital waters. As someone new to swimming you're not going to swim a raging river without very strong arms and a floatation device.
Let what follows be your armbands.
How to get (re)started
Before you do anything digitally, or go at it for a second time, it's incredibly important to get your business in shape.
That means (in no particular order – but all must be cared for):
- Documenting answers to questions commonly asked by customers so they're available to staff manning all your digital outposts.
- Taking stock of all the systems you use to make sure your operations are both robust and efficient. The less systems to manage, the more integrated your business. Eventbrite isn't exceptional because it lets you sell tickets to events - it's amazing because it lets you pull out all the data you put in so bookers' details can be squirted into your CRM system the moment they buy, to help you serve them to the best of your ability.
- Having the cojones to outsource work when you don't have capacity. And tooling up in-house with all the staff you need to run a tight - but highly-knowledgeable - team of success stories. There's an abundant supply of freelancers, agencies and virtual assistants ready to help out in planned situations or last-minute rushes; don't let misplaced pride get in the way of you building an amazing brand and versatile, scalable business.
- Being anal about process. There is no place for chance in business and locking down on every aspect of your operations to minimise margin for error. Everyone will tell you about the time they found a bouquet of flowers on the passenger seat when they bought a new car, or in my more modest tale, when I found the mini bar stocked with my favourite soft drink after casually mentioning the beverage while checking in at reception.
Unlocking the digital door
Once you've got your house in order, start small and be only where your customers of today and tomorrow might be.
Don't obsess with Pinterest when noone except a couple of American women at a loose end have used it. Facebook and Twitter are the only playgrounds as far as social media goes today. Dip into Periscope (periscope.tv), Twitter's play with live video, if you want to get particularly creative - but only once you've mastered the basics.
Create content only when it's truly informative or entertaining and represents the unique personality of your brand. The book Youtility by Jay Baer is a must read if you want to get into content marketing/inbound marketing.
Find ways your website can evolve without significantly impacting on your resources. That means dabbling with data feeds from your systems discussed earlier, so that things are constantly changing and dynamic.
Google is big on structured data right now (check out the Data Highlighter tool in Search Appearance within Google Webmaster Tools), and will complement your search engine rankings with information in the right-hand side on desktops that gives people an at-a-glance guide to stuff your business is up to.
Talking about Google, from 21 April 2015 Google will actively start penalising websites which do not look good on smartphones (As per this webmaster blog). It's much easier starting out with a responsive website that making over an existing web property and the way you start building one isn’t radically different or more complicated to doing it the old-fashioned way.
Lastly, remember how important it is to gain valuable inbound links from reputable sites – and start digging to find the partners, suppliers and interested parties who can give you a boost. Network with influencers - be of value - and they in turn will repay you providing your website is packed with information that could be of use to their disciples.
There’s no time here to delve into the arcane practices of SEO and web development. Amazon and Google can help with that.
Being proficient and profitable takes time. You've already stoked the fire; make sure to put another log on when you log on.
Need help getting digital? Tweet me @davethackeray.