Top 10 Digital Marketing Tips to Outsmart Your Competitors
Updated: Dec 1, 2019
Note: I wrote this blog for Priority Marketing and have included it here as part of my SEO portfolio. Most original article links have been removed.
This blog could easily be titled, “Top 120 Digital Marketing Tips to Outsmart Your Competitors.” That’s because the number of digital marketing channels has skyrocketed over the last decade.
Traditional channels like radio, print and direct mail have fallen to the bottom of that list, while 79% of CMOs now rank social as their most important media channel, according to Smart Insights.
With so many options, businesses must be laser-focused on choosing the best marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from their competitors and deliver real ROI.
We’ve uncovered 10 of the most effective ways to do digital marketing. Read on for ideas on how to leverage each.
Know Thy Audience
Understand the Buyer’s Journey
When you clearly define the attributes of potential customers at each stage in the buying process (e.g., awareness, evaluation, decision-making), you can implement a more targeted digital marketing approach.
In the awareness phase, a potential buyer is likely seeking out information to solve pain points or answer questions. SEO strategies, PPC campaigns and content such as white papers are great ways to bring your product or service to their attention. Identify the keywords and problem phrases prospects might use to find you and then create digital content around those topics.
In the evaluation phase, the buyer seeks ways to compare your product to others’. Feature comparison guides, case studies and user reviews are great content resources at this stage.
In the decision phase, buyers are further assessing the pros and cons of your product, so you’ll want to provide content that makes them feel good about choosing you. Customer service comparisons, free trials and testimonials are all options at this point in their journey.
Cater to Current Customers
There are three ways to increase sales revenue: attract new customers, raise prices, or sell more to existing customers.
The third option is the most cost-effective. It’s five times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. A big part of your focus should be on building relationships with current customers to maintain their loyalty.
Carve Out Your Niche
If your segment of the market is flooded with competition, it’s more important than ever to tout what makes you unique. Make it a cornerstone of your brand messaging.
Storytelling is one way to build a niche around your products and help prospects get to know you. Post informal, behind-the-scenes videos, draw attention to core values on your website, or highlight charitable work you or your employees support.
Know Thy Competition
It’s not unethical, it’s just good business. Follow them on social media, review their website, sign up for Google Alerts, sign up for their newsletters or visit their locations. What trends do you observe? What can you learn from their strengths, and what can you leverage from their weaknesses?
Compare Your Performance
For a monthly subscription, Ahrefs will analyze key online data of your competitors, including most their popular web page content, social metrics, keyword positions and much more.
Facebook Insights provides a Pages to Watch feature that lets you see the number of posts, Likes and engagements of your competitors. Do a little more digging to see what types of their content get the most responses.
Google Trends is also a powerful tool to learn what search topics are trending. More importantly, you can compare how searches for your products or services are trending over time compared to others’.
Create Good Content
Dollar for dollar, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing, according to Demand Metric. In marketing terms, “content” is the creation and distribution of relevant, engaging or valuable content to attract, acquire and engage customers. It’s also known as “owned media” versus “paid media.”
Types of Content
Native videos that are played in-feed (e.g., Instagram, Facebook) as opposed to a link to an external video
Low-production video clips that support your brand
Websites and landing pages
E-books and ultimate guides
Testimonials and reviews
Content Marketing Tips
Focus on a problem/need of the prospect or answer a question
Be relevant to the target audience
Ensure it’s SEO-rich
Tell a story
Have at least one Call to Action (CTA)
Make good use of visuals (infographics, photos, videos)
Make content easily digestible (with the exception of longer blogs, e-books and guides)
Have internal and external links
Be searchable by Google, YouTube and other search engines
Make it interactive, if possible
Make Sure You Blog
The experts agree: Blogs are one of the, if not the, most valuable digital marketing tactic.
A blog is an ever-changing collection of posts, thought leadership reflections, keywords and/or expertise that good search engine optimization demands.
HubSpot regularly evaluates its 13,500+ clients’ data and discovered that businesses using blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those who don’t.
Simply put, blogging drives traffic.
One reason is that, if configured correctly, blogs are highly searchable. Tech Client notes that businesses have a 434% higher chance of being ranked highly on search engines if they feature a blog as a part of their websites.
And that ranking is important as research shows that 75% of users don’t scroll beyond the first page of search results.
They also tend to rank higher the longer they are, with 1,000 words or more (like this one) being the sweet spot.
If you choose a content marketing strategy, the key is consistently posting. There is strong correlation between frequency of posting and search ranking.
Tips for Creating Blog Content
Cover topics no one else covers.
Brainstorm a list of topics with your team.
Research under-utilized key words and write on those topics.
Share your own thoughts and ideas on a particular topic.
Challenge every employee to write one blog (or more) per month.
Hire a reputable marketing agency to develop a content strategy and/or write the blogs for you.
Optimize Your Website & SEO
Regardless of how beautiful your website is, if it’s not fully optimized to drive traffic your way, it’s not performing as it should.
Not just anyone can optimize your site, so you may want to contract with a web marketing organization to make sure it’s done right.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is an entire topic unto itself, but in a nutshell, make sure your website and web page copy are rich with relevant keywords and phrases, answer the breadth of questions your prospects might have, and include credible link building.
Page load speed: Ensure it’s been maximized. This is particularly important due to the increase in voice searches. You can test it here.
Claim and verify your online properties: Pages like Google My business, Bing places for business and hundreds of other business directories help your customers find you. Verification badges — those blue check marks — demonstrate that your site is legit. Yext or Moz Local can help you manage all of them.
Mobile-friendly: More than 50% of users access information from their mobile devices and that figure grows each year. If you’re site isn’t mobile-compatible, redesign it now!
Intuitive user interface: Your site should be easy to navigate, have a simple user journey, include great content that is progressively disclosed, be organized, and have been tested by actual users. It should also, of course, be aesthetically appealing.
Calls to action: Have you made it easy for the user to take the next step (i.e., shop now, download the paper, contact us for a consultation)? Don’t make the user guess what to do next, tell them.
Leverage Social Media
Demand Metric reports that B2B companies use an average of five social media sites to distribute content. That might not be the right mix for you, but here are tips for making the most of the channels you do use.
Focus: You can only manage so much. Research the user demographics of the most popular channels and pick three to start.
Be consistent: Create an editorial calendar and post frequently and consistently. You can share the same content across channels.
Keep it social, not sales-y: Keep posts “social” by providing valuable content to your target audience. Don’t use your properties to bombard followers with promotions and sales content. Focus on content that you’ve curated from others, created yourself and humanizes your brand.
Consider influencer marketing: With this relatively new method, you pay or persuade influential people in your market segment to get the word out about you. Note: influential does not necessarily mean a celebrity.
Use YouTube as a search engine: In 2017, Forbes reported there were three billion searches per month on YouTube. What how-to or valuable content might you provide to leverage those searches?
Focus Your Advertising
Every digital platform will generate different results, so spend wisely. Determining what each channel has the potential to deliver is the basis for creating and adjusting your strategic marketing and advertising budget over time. What works for one company may not work for another.
Search advertising is less effective when a business is brand new than once it’s established because your service or product has never been seen in the market place. In that case you’ll have to create demand from scratch, and that may mean relying more heavily on social media, blogs and other inbound strategies.
If your business is more mature, then in addition to PPC campaigns, you should strongly consider using Facebook ads. According to eMarketer, 80% of small- and medium-sized businesses have not used ads for Facebook.
When you combine Facebook’s nearly 2 billion users with the fact that 52% of them say their buying is influenced by what’s on the platform, you can see the tremendous potential it holds. And the best news is you can start small, with just a few dollars a day, targeted to the interests of your audience.
Industry & niche directories
Another important niche is online directories. In some cases listing your business and product information on these will be free. In others you might pay an annual fee or even post sponsored ads. In either event, directories can drive substantial traffic to your site because they put you in front of your target audience and increase your visibility.
The major search engines offer retargeting features, and according to Criteo, website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are more likely to convert, by 70%.
Facebook also provides a retarget pixel that can be placed on your website or blog.
Geofencing is an innovative approach that uses GPS or RDIF technologies to trigger mobile ads to a customer’s device when they enter or leave the physical area around your business. It’s particularly effective in B2C as it helps guide customers to your business, increasing both foot traffic and sales.
Become a Pay Per Click (PPC) Guru
Google is by far and away the most popular search engine, with an estimated 71% share of the market. Google Ads represent 38.6% of the total US digital ad spend. What many businesses don’t know, however, is how to maximize that ad spend by understanding some of the tools and tricks of the trade.
This is another area where we recommend that you not go it alone. Instead, either get your staff Google Ads-certified or work with a knowledgeable outsourced team to create and manage your campaigns.
One immediate way to begin is to optimize your product descriptions and images. Answer questions up front so you don’t risk losing the user as they search for more information. Pairing product details and pricing with a quality picture will capture more attention than straight text ads.
Finally, keep your eye on the Google Quality Score for your Google Ads. Doing so can reduce your cost-per-click rate and improve your position. Ad relevance, click-through-rates and landing page experience combine to drive this score.
Gather User-Generated Content & Reviews
Eight-two percent of consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision, and 60% look at reviews on a weekly basis, according to The Drum.
Reviews, hashtag campaigns and testimonials are perceived as more authentic than business-created content.
Be sure to claim your listings on review sites, such as Yelp, Facebook and Google.
The more ratings you have the better, so add feedback links on your website, in emails or at check-out counters. Keep an eye on reviews and respond quickly to anything negative. Strive to maintain a rating of four stars and above.
If you want to kick it up a notch, work with a vendor like BirdEye to manage all of your customer reviews.
Don’t Forget About Email
A robust email list is one of your most important assets. Not only do customers who purchase products spend 138% more (Hatchbuck), but email subscribers are three times more likely to share content on social media (QuickSprout).
If you’ve invested in a good email and marketing automation system, you can create highly personalized campaigns for your target audiences, nurturing them at every step of the buying process. Once they are paying customers, you can continue email campaigns to upsell them and provide superior customer service.
Develop effective list-building strategies (e.g., valuable offers, subscription pop-ups, gated content, trade show contests).
Invest in a robust, automated CRM
Segment your lists by persona and buyer stage
Understand email best practices (e.g., subject lines, anti-spam rules)
Have a specific message and goal for each email
Include a Call to Action
Personalize and test emails
Digital Marketing Tips: Putting It All Together
In the end, you can only do so much. Less is more, so stay focused and consistent on only those efforts that are producing results.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these digital marketing tips, or how we can help you remain competitive, please contact us about incorporating digital marketing services into your integrated marketing plan.