Digital marketing 101: A beginner’s guide

digital-marketing

Overview

Any business owner likely has heard the term “digital marketing” before, but how well do you understand it and the opportunities it offers for your business?  It can be overwhelming as it covers many forms and can involve many strategies since the digital channels include at the very least:

  • Social media
  • Search engines
  • Websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Email
  • Smartphones

We’ve developed this guide to help you and divided it into three main sections.

  1.  12 different methods of digital marketing
  2.  A to-do checklist to optimize your own digital marketing efforts
  3.  What DailyStory can do for your business’s digital marketing

At DailyStory, we’re focused on helping marketers incorporate process, consistency and measurement around your marketing campaigns. Doing so enables you to make decisions based on performance versus what you think might be working.

If you would like to learn more about DailyStory and how we’ve helped other marketers, please contact us at hello@dailystory.com or visit us at https://www.dailystory.com.

The first part dives into the 12 different methods of digital marketing, featuring:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  3. Social media marketing (SMM)
  4. Pay-per-click marketing (PPC)
  5. SMS text message marketing
  6. Content marketing
  7. Native advertising
  8. Affiliate marketing
  9. Sponsored content
  10. Online public relations
  11. Inbound marketing
  12. Marketing automation

What is digital marketing?

The simplest definition of digital marketing is advertising that’s delivered through digital channels. It can take many forms and involve many strategies since the digital channels include at the very least:

  • Social media
  • Search engines
  • Websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Email
  • Smartphones

Why digital marketing? As you can imagine, the size of the audience you can reach through digital marketing can far outnumber and boast better targeting than more traditional forms of advertising for the same cost (think billboards, newspapers, TV, radio and so on).

To be relative and competitive in your industry, you’ll need to embrace at least a few aspects of digital marketing.

The following is a simple breakdown of 12 different methods of digital marketing so that you can best identify where you should start with your own efforts.

Email marketing

Emails are still a huge part of most companies’ digital marketing efforts. Why? The ROI is strong.

In fact, you can check out these 48 statistics that show the value of email marketing.

Emails are typically used to promote content, discounts/sales, events and more. The types of emails you typically would send in an email marketing campaign include (but are not limited to):

  • Welcome emails
  • Follow-up emails to visitors who downloaded something off your website
  • Subscription newsletters
  • Weekly or monthly product/service promotion 
  • Tips or other educational emails to help recipients become paying customers over time

The anatomy of a successful marketing email

Let’s break down the key components of an effective email so that you can up your emailing game.

‘From’ field

This field identifies who your message is from. This is probably common sense, but remember that you never want to leave it blank (so that the sending address is what shows). You also have the opportunity to be more specific, depending on the purpose of the email. Occasionally using the name of your CEO when sending a message from him or her is an option, for example.

People will more likely open messages from people of organizations they trust. So, stay consistent and make it clear who is sending the email.

Subject line

The right subject line can entice your recipients to open your email at a higher rate, which is definitely the goal. Remember who your audience is, the point and goal of your message and what urgency you can build upfront. Clear, concise language with action words without being too long is ideal.

NOTE: See our 12 tips for writing a better subject line.

Preview text

This field is shown as part of an email preview. For instance, think of Gmail. When you get an email notification, you’ll see who the message is from, the subject line and your preview text.

When blank, the first part of your body copy could show as the preview text by default, which could definitely be less effective when your “View this email as a webpage” line, for example, is what the recipient sees.

Preview text should generally be between 35 and 90 characters. Some email providers may show up to 140 characters, but there also are email clients that don’t display any preview text. Nonetheless, it’s a best practice not only to fill out the preview text field, but use it as an opportunity to convince your recipient to open your email.

Altogether, the “From,” subject line and preview text combine to create a package for the recipient. You want all three to complement each other and tie together to convey a need to open your message.

The header

This is the top part of your email. Typically, it should feature recognizable elements like your logo and brand colors. Using your logo and colors consistently helps build trust with your audience.

The body

This is commonly considered “the meat” of the email message and for good reason. It also is your space to make the “conversion magic” happen, to engage your email recipient. It’s the primary space for your messaging.

How the body looks has infinite possibilities, but remember your goal.

A newsletter, for instance, is going to be designed differently than a product-release announcement. If a longer email, you want to visually break up the text enough to keep the reader going. If a shorter email, perhaps visuals can tell your story.

The call-to-action

This is largely part of your body (but could expand to your subject line and/or preview text, depending). What do you want the recipient to do?

The call-to-action (or CTA) is a needed component for any medium of marketing, not just emails. Just like with your subject line, you want to be clear, concise and direct.

Visuals (if they display)

There’s almost nothing worse than when designers realize that images might not automatically render correctly (or at all) for all recipients.

Whether it’s a preferred user setting to block image downloads in emails (a security measure) or some email clients (like Microsoft Outlook) rendering images and designs a little differently, it’s important to craft your email body in such a way that still makes sense even if the images are off.

Optional body elements

Know that you have the option of adding a navigation bar and/or an index to the body of your email.

A navigation bar includes links to the key parts of your website that are helpful for your recipients to have at their fingertips. An index lists the topics covered in the copy below. This is particularly helpful for longer newsletter-style emails.

Social media and other links

It’s a missed opportunity not to include the links to your social media accounts in your email. Use social media logos as links because of their recognition factor. Other links could include downloading your app from the Apple or Google Play stores, for example. 

These links are traditionally located toward the bottom of the message, below the bulk of the body.

The footer

This area typically includes the unsubscribe link (with an additional “change email preferences” link if applicable), as well as additional contact options (like a mailing address and/or phone number). Any disclaimer text can go here as well.

But the footer can do even more than that. You could have a footer image to convey one last element of your marketing message, for example.

NOTE: For inspiration, check out some of these examples from Really Good Emails.

How to improve your inbox placement rate

No one launches an email marketing campaign with the hope to land in a recipient’s spam folder. Inbox placement is imperative to a successful campaign. The simplest description of inbox placement is where your delivered email is delivered for recipients. Did your email appear in the inbox (which is preferred) or the spam folder (which is where unwanted messages end up)?

The term spam itself means unavoidable and repetitive. While some may assume that only Nigerian prince scams get filtered out, spam messages accounted for 53.95 percent of e-mail traffic in March 2020, according to Statista. Even though this rate has been decreasing since 2012, no one wants to end up as spam.

Tip #1: Your sender reputation matters

You might not realize it, but domains and IP addresses do earn reputations from mail services. There are a number of factors that weigh in on your reputation, including:

  • Low bounce rate (meaning you have an updated and quality contact list for your emails)
  • Your subject lines (anything spammy is no good)
  • Different content over time
  • Sender authentication (making sure that the email has been sent from the person claiming to have sent it, which can be done with such technologies as SPF, DKIM and DMARC)
  • Abide by the latest email marketing laws (taking into consideration the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. versus international requirements depending on where your audience is)
  • Providing a clear and responsive opt-out option (hiding this in any way is not only a violation but can also lead to recipients reporting your email as spam directly to their email provider)

Your sender score is based on a scale of 0 to 100. Having a low sender score (classified as being below 90) leads to rejection by email providers that will prevent your emails from reaching the inbox.

An IP address is the number listed in the domain name system that is used to send email messages on behalf of your domain name. Businesses can use dedicated or shared IP addresses. Building a reputation is just as necessary for the quality of your IP. 

It is possible to monitor your sending IP and domain reputation with an IP/domain blacklist monitoring service. There are a number of tools available, including MailTester, Talos and Sender Score.

Tip #2: Be aware of spam filters

Email services use inbound and outbound email filters to prevent spam. These spam filters have some metrics and algorithms that assign a numerical score after the filtering process that reflects the probability of the email being spam. There are three types of email filters:

  • Gateway (typically used by large business and includes Barracuda and Mimecast as examples)
  • Hosted (typically used in businesses that have developed their own method to detect spam based on sender reputation and content and includes Cloudmark as an example)
  • Desktop (configured by the user and includes Outlook with SmartScreen as an example)

Tip #3: Focus on true opt-ins not fast database growth

Any seasoned email marketer knows that there are a number of ways to grow your contact lists fast, such as:

  • Co-registration
  • Renting or buying email lists

But these methods risk sending to truly bad email addresses, which are the people who really don’t want to hear from you. When someone really doesn’t want to hear from you, he or she will be the first to report your email. If this happens too many times, you could get “bulk foldered” (which means that email providers downgrade your email to the bulk or spam folders of an email account).

Slower, quality growth does require patience and effort, but it will work far better in the long run. Consider:

  • Starting with true email opt-ins (whether on a web form or other direct collection method)
  • Keeping an eye on new subscriber engagement with a welcome campaign

Tip #4: Use double opt-in to confirm

A double opt-in email is when the user subscribes to your marketing content and is then required to confirm their email.

Here is how it works:

  • Someone signs up for your newsletter
  • Immediately after subscribing, they receive an email with a confirmation link.
  • They must click the confirmation link to confirm the validity of their email address.

Double opt-in helps ensure that the email address entered in your sign-up form was done by the person signing up.

Unlike a single opt-in system, in which subscribers enter their email address and are immediately “opted in”, a double opt-in system ensures that fake email addresses or contacts who aren’t really that interested in your emails aren’t subscribed.

DailyStory supports double opt-in emails using the Double Opt-in automation.

Tip #5: Remove your opt-outs promptly

The method of opting out needs to be clear and responsive. There’s no reason to delay on removing any contacts that have opted out of your emails for any period of time.

Remove them as soon as they opt out. Otherwise, these users are likely to report you as spam the next email they receive from you.

Tip #6: Target your content to segmented audience groups

More, more, more isn’t always better. You can send fewer, more targeted email messaging to specific groups within your database of contacts.

But the power is in how you segment your audience. It could be by age, gender, where they live, when they last interacted with your business. The possibilities are endless, depending on the quality and depth of your data. 

DailyStory itself features dynamic segmentation capabilities as well when you do decide what groups you want to message specifically.

Speaking directly to different groups is a better, more personalized experience for the recipient of your email.

Remember, every email you send that gets low opens and engagement is a signal to email providers that your content is potentially not good enough to be delivered to inboxes, affecting your inbox placement.

Tip #7: Consistency is critical

Email deployment consistency isn’t just a good rule of thumb for user experience. (Who wants to receive no emails for a month and then three in one day?) It also signals to email services that you’re a quality sender.

Erratic sending schedules are a red flag for both users to forget who you are and report you and providers to be suspicious of you. Spikes in emails sent are especially annoying to users and suspicious to providers.

Tip #8: ‘Good content’ is not subjective

If you are monitoring the engagement rates of every email sent, you’re going to get a sense of the type of subject lines that led to opens and the type of content that led to clicks. 

So, while “good content” can sound elusive and vague, it really isn’t. Keep experimenting, keep segmenting and targeting and keep evaluating your metrics to see what’s working and what’s not.

Tip #9: Avoid spam trigger words

Spam trigger words and grammar are especially dangerous in your subject line and can immediately shoot your email into spam folders. In general, avoid using all caps, making spelling mistakes, using one-word subject lines and including exclamation points in your subject line.

Check out this list of 100 spam trigger words, compiled by SimplyCast.

Tip #10: Limit shortened links

Spammers use shortened links often, so try to limit your use of them for better inbox placement. Otherwise, email service providers could flag your email entirely as spam. This includes Bitly and TinyURL.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a culmination of all the efforts you can make to boost the ranking of your website in search engine results pages (typically Google). Doing so helps increase the amount of organic (or free) website traffic you generate.

There are two types of SEO methods. One is on-page SEO, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Keyword research and usage
  • Meta descriptions
  • Internal linking
  • Headings

On-page SEO involves everything you can do on your website itself. 

Then, there’s off-page SEO, which includes (but is not limited to):

  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority
  • Social media promotion
  • Local listings

In other words, off-page SEO is everything that happens outside of your website that can improve (or not) your search engine rankings.

What’s the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?

On-page SEO

This involves some of the more basic SEO tactics:

  • Keywords: Not as important as they used to be, keyword optimization is still typically the first tactic thought of when considering SEO strategy. Make sure you do your research and consider the terms and phrases that potential customers could be searching for in search engines.
  • Meta descriptions: These short descriptions are the summaries that appear as part of your search result to give more context to users (and a shot at compelling them to click). You’ll want to keep each one to no more than 160 characters ideally but still include relevant keywords. NOTE: Check out these eight tips to write effective meta descriptions.
  • URL structure: Easy-to-understand URLs have two benefits. They help search engines crawl (and then index) your website, while they also lead to more clicks overall. This means that the end of a URL includes words that describe the content (hopefully with a keyword) instead of a string of numbers, for example.
  • Internal linking: Linking to other web pages within your website makes your website that much easier for search engines to crawl. It also keeps your website visitors engaged for longer.
  • Quality content: Remember the goal of search engines—to provide the most relevant search results for every query made. Relevant equates to quality content from you. Your content should answer questions and/or solve problems. You also want your content fresh and skimmable for visitors.
  • Structured content: Speaking of skimmable, this translates into structured content. Make sure you have headings and subheadings with the appropriate tags (H1, H2, etc.) for easy search engine crawling.
  • Title tags: These are the titles of your web pages that you can see on search engine results pages as the clickable result title. Ensure that these are concise, unique and descriptive (with a keyword included).
  • Headings: Similar to title tags but are headlining the content on your webpage.
  • Alt text: This is the word or phrase that describes an image file in order for it to be indexed for search engines. It also helps users (who can’t see the image) know what it is about in general.
  • Page security: Enabling Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security technology places you in the “preferred” category of websites by Google. Using SSL means that a third party can’t come between your web server and the user’s web server. This secures the information being exchanged between the two.
  • Page speed and performance: Pages that are slow to load or don’t render correctly will lower your website’s search engine ranking. This is because frustrated users will almost immediately abandon your site, increasing your bounce rate. That is a huge signal to search engines that your website is not a valuable search engine result for users. About 47 percent of users expect a website to load within 2 seconds. Be aware of your mobile optimization and any overuse of CSS or Javascript that can slow your load time down.

In other words, anything you can do on your website to help its search engine rankings is considered on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO

Perhaps not as well thought of, off-page SEO refers to the search engine ranking factors that happen off of your website. This includes:

  • Backlinks: The more websites linking to your content, the better you can be ranked by search engines since this signals your trustworthiness and authority.
  • Domain authority: Admittedly, domain authority is a mix of on-page and off-page SEO. It’s measured on a scale of 1 to 100. A higher score reflects the strength of your website in the eyes of search engines. How long you’ve had your domain name, the number of backlinks and the number of 404 error web pages all factor into your domain authority.
  • Local listings: Adding your business to local directories can help you appear higher in more search results as well. Just make sure that all your information is consistent across sites, such as Google My Business, Yelp and more.
  • Social media promotion: Social media posts do not directly impact your search engine ranking. However, search engines will notice and boost content that generates engagement (clicks and shares).

Are you making these 13 common SEO mistakes?

#1: Using incorrect keywords

Keywords are commonly thought of when first learning SEO best practices. The correct keywords will help your website appear on SERPs.

However, choosing the right keywords that are relevant to the audience you want to find your website can be tricky. This means that it’s entirely possible that you’re using incorrect keywords, ones that mean something else or are too generic. This can happen because many will skip doing critical keyword research.

Review the product(s) and/or service(s) you offer and consider what your customers would search for to find them. They could be far more specific than you realize.

Some helpful tools for this research include Google Trends and SEMrush.

#2: Duplicating content

Duplicate content can be a very common SEO mistake. It happens when the same content appears on more than one webpage within the same or even different domains. Search engines do try to determine which version to index, but it can go wrong. 

One solution is the use of canonical links, which help show search engines which version is prioritized.

#3: Speaking to too general of an audience

Have you been producing content for a while but haven’t seen much traction on it from search engine referral traffic? The internet is a big place, and it’s easy to speak too broadly in hopes of appealing to everyone (but not appealing to anyone).

Consider who you’re speaking to in your content. Think about your ideal customer:

  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Education level
  • Financial scenario
  • Needs and wants
  • Biggest problems (that you can solve)

When you can better engage with the specific target audience you’re looking for, your relevance factor goes up for that audience (as opposed to swimming in an ocean of general appeal).

#4: Ignoring your Google MyBusiness listing

Google continues to prioritize “near me” type searches, which makes Google MyBusiness listings one of the best opportunities for small businesses to be discovered.

Google MyBusiness allows you to include your location, any additional information (like open hours) and answer any posted questions. Not claiming or appropriately managing your Google MyBusiness listing is a missed opportunity.

#5: Slow loading time

You might not realize it, but search engines do pay attention to how long it takes for your website to load. This is difficult because it means balancing the consumer appeal of graphics, photos, videos and so on with the need for a quick-loading experience. Loading speed is especially important for mobile users.

If a web page takes too long to load, you can experience a high bounce rate. The more users who quickly leave your page, the more search engines think that your page is not relevant.

To speed up your loading time, you can limit the number of plug-ins and audit your site for any poorly written codes. 

#6: Lacking in mobile optimization

Mobile is everything these days. If your website is not optimized for mobile use, you’re missing out on an increased SEO ranking automatically.

NOTE: Not sure where to start? Check out our 16 tips for mobile optimization.

#7: Using ‘black hat’ SEO tricks

“Black hat” in the SEO world refers to using methods that violate search engine guidelines but theoretically can yield faster results.

Some “black hat” tactics are:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Link exchanges
  • Hidden text
  • Purchased links

While tempting, these practices can get your website penalized or even banned by Google and other search engines.

#8: Ignoring link building

Link building refers to the active increase of backlinks, which are links on other websites that link back to your website. The more backlinks you have, the more valuable your website looks to search engines.

#9: Not optimizing your on-site SEO

On-site SEO involves optimizing your page titles and meta descriptions on your website. These appear as the headline and summary for your website as you appear on a SERP.

Letting these go will not only downplay your ranking but likely turn users off from clicking on your result if they do see it.

#10: Quality links missing

Just like how you want to be linked to from other websites, you also want to link in your own content to other websites. It’s about quality over quantity. The key here is that you’re linking to relevant websites with a strong reputation and better ranking.

#11: Not addressing site errors

Don’t assume that everything is always working perfectly on your website.

Search engines will downgrade the rankings of any sites with broken or misleading links (i.e. 404 errors). You can use such tools as Sitechecker or WooRank to keep an eye on your website and make sure everything is in working order.

#12: Not measuring your performance

SEO doesn’t just happen, and it definitely doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Keeping an eye on referral traffic to your website (which pages are getting visited the most by organic search traffic) helps you understand:

  • Are your SEO efforts working?
  • What specifically is working?

Watching your metrics is a best practice in all types of marketing, not just SEO.

#13: Thinking social media doesn’t impact SEO

Social media and SEO might be different, but they can definitely benefit one another. First, consistent social media accounts frequently rank in search results. Second, engagement with your content through social media is just an additional signal to search engines that your content is valuable.

Keep in mind that all search engines monitor overall social media engagement on your accounts.

How to get ahead with voice search

When it comes to forward-thinking methods, however, you’ll want to consider voice search in your SEO strategy as well. Voice search began with smartphone use but has grown to include both smart speakers and voice assistants. It involves what is commonly understood as asking questions of Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and more.

Tip #1: Understand the difference between traditional and voice search

It is important to understand the difference between traditional search and voice search. 

For example, an internet user might want to search for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. In a traditional search, this person likely would type in “chocolate chip cookie recipe,” while in a voice search, the user might say, “Hey Alexa, how do I bake chocolate chip cookies?”

We simply don’t speak the same way that we type, particularly with search queries. Another example is typing in “weather New York” when you would most likely say, “What is the weather like in New York?”

The difference results in a difference of keywords and a more conversational search input.

Essentially, we’re talking about two different users: those who type a search query and those who ask questions in a voice search.

The user who types might be more okay with doing research, while the user who speaks his or her search likely wants quick, instant answers.

Tip #2: Think of conversational keywords

This boils down to considering the natural phrases that would be used in voice searches.

Long-tail keywords are longer than the typical search query. They’re typically what are on the ends of questions being asked in voice search.

They’re conversational in nature. By targeting and using these, you’ll rank potentially higher for in any given voice search.

Tip #3: Answer questions with your content

When optimizing for voice search, consider brevity, context and relevance.

Think about how you can answer your potential customers’ most common questions and solve their pain points. It’s about user intent.

Then, it comes down to structure:

  • Use headlines that ask a common question
  • After your headline, offer the answer or definition for the question
  • The rest of your content can then provide additional detail and context on the topic

This overall structure will appeal to search engines’ algorithms, while the concise information at the top of the webpage is optimized for voice search.

For example, visuals can have a lot of power on your website for visitors, but don’t hide any of your key information in a visual. It makes it more difficult for search engines to understand the relevance of your content.

Tip #4: Use schema markup

This structured data HTML add-on helps search engines understand the context of your content, which will not only help you rank higher in traditional searches but in specific voice search queries as well.

Schemas are a set of “types,” each associated with a set of properties. The types are arranged in a hierarchy.

NOTE: Learn more about schemas.

Tip #5: Create or update your FAQs page

Voice search is typically conducted by asking a question. The “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how” of your business, products and/or services become that much more important.

Use these adverbs to include your most common questions on your FAQs page. Then, answer those questions in a conversational tone.

Tip #6: Remember that mobile equals local

More than ever before, mobile devices enable on-the-go local (and hyper-local) voice search queries. 

Here are some key considerations: 

  • Make sure any directions to your location(s) are available to both your website visitors and search engines. 
  • Include phrases people use to describe the neighborhood around your location(s).
  • Refer to any key landmarks near your location(s).

NOTE: Check out these 11 tips to optimize your local SEO specifically.

In addition, it’s important that you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure your website is as mobile-friendly as possible.

Tip #7: Update your Google My Business listing (and all other listings)

Just like when you’re optimizing your local SEO, it’s critical to make sure that your company’s information is up-to-date across all listings, such as Yelp, Google My Business and so on.

Even differences like “Ave.” and “Avenue” can confuse search engines.

However, considering that voice search typically is seeking concise answers to questions (particularly local questions), that consistency and updated information is more important than ever.

Social media marketing (SMM)

SMM involves promoting your brand and content on social media platforms to increase brand awareness, website traffic and lead generation.

You might think of some of the bigger platforms when you think about social media, but there are many out there, including:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • TikTok

Which social media platform is right for your company?

At a time when there are so many social media platforms and businesses know that they need to be relevant online, which platform is best?

The answer isn’t one size fits all. Most importantly, don’t assume that you have to spread out across all platforms. Without a planned strategy and the needed resources, you can do more harm than good by spreading yourself too thin across social media.

Here is a breakdown of each major social media platform, with a few posting tips for each:

YouTube equals billions of hours of videos

Every day, users watch a billion hours of video on YouTube, according to Hootsuite, and it is the 2nd most-visited website in existence, according to Alexa.

In 2018, 73 percent of Americans now use YouTube, according to Hootsuite.

If you’re targeting a younger audience, the top three platforms for teens are now YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, according to Hootsuite. In fact, Statista says that 96 percent of 18- to 24-year-old American internet users use YouTube.

For companies, YouTube might have a low barrier of entry, but video can be intimidating to jump into.

If you need a little inspiration, check out Lego, which has almost twice as many views as any other brand on YouTube. They put out consistent original content on multiple channels.

But remember that you’re an expert in your field. What are the micro moments that you’re always educating your customers on? Each of those can be a separate YouTube video.

Does your business create a product? Product review videos are huge. In fact, people have watched 50,000 years of product review videos.

For the best chance of being discovered on YouTube, optimize everything for search. Otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), think about keywords and phrases that users will search that your video should appear as a result. Then, use them in your caption and title.

Facebook shouldn’t be ignored

Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms, currently only ranking behind Google and YouTube as the most visited website worldwide.

There are over 2.38 billion monthly active users globally as of March 31, 2019, according to the social network, which saw an 8 percent increase year over year.

To put it another way, 63 percent of all Americans used Facebook in 2018, according to Hootsuite.

For mobile specifically, Facebook Messenger is the most downloaded app, followed by the main Facebook app, according to Hootsuite.

Not only are your customers (and potential customers) on Facebook, your competition is likely there as well. For most businesses, Facebook is a good platform to start with.

As far as posting, the highest traffic on Facebook happens between 1 to 3 p.m., according to Bit.ly.

But a Facebook post at 7 p.m. will result in more clicks on average than posting at 8 p.m., according to Forbes. Engagement also is 18 percent higher on Thursdays and Fridays (as people start thinking about the upcoming weekend), according to Bit.ly.

So, while you have the ability to reach more people during peak times, increased engagement happens in the evenings (think post-dinner).

Instagram great for visuals, retail

Instagram is a visual-first sharing social media platform. The audience has grown from 90 million monthly active users in January 2013 to 1 billion monthly active users as of June 2018, according to Hubspot.

It’s a solid No. 3 most-used social media platform in the United States, but it’s important to remember that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which can lead to cross-posting and advertising opportunities.

But more than anything, Instagram is known for its younger audience. About 71 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) used Instagram in 2018, compared with 37 percent who did so in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.

Retail brands do particularly well on Instagram. Eight of the top 15 most followed brands on Instagram are retail businesses, according to Statista.

With posting, photos showing faces on Instagram get 38 percent more likes than those not showing faces. SproutSocial also reports that images with a single dominant color generate 17 percent more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.

In addition, more negative space and blue (versus red) perform better.

There’s also not a lot of evidence to suggest any particular caption length drives increased engagement. So, shorter isn’t better or worse than longer captions. Focus on the quality instead.

Twitter smaller and more urban

About 326 million people use Twitter every month, according to the platform. This is 9 million fewer than it had in mid-2018, and 4 million fewer than late 2017. The decline is largely being attributed to the purge of spambot accounts.

Nonetheless, Twitter is a smaller social platform, with 24 percent of American internet users on it, according to Statista. The audience also skews more urban than rural.

The typical half life of a tweet is about 24 minutes. This means that a tweet gets half of its interactions in the first 24 minutes, with the rest slowly coming in over time at a slower rate. Brands tweeted an average of 122 times a month last year, according to Statista.

While Hootsuite says that the best time to tweet is 3 p.m. on weekdays, keep an eye on your analytics. Everyone’s audience can act and engage a little differently. Tweets with GIFs also perform 55 percent better, according to Twitter. Video and images enhance engagement as well, so think about mixing your tweets up and going beyond the text-only tweet.

Any other social media platforms?

Depending on your business niche, TikTok (a Gen Z video platform), Snapchat (a dynamic messaging platform) and Pinterest (an aspirational idea platform) could have a place in your strategy. However, do your research first, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my targeted audience on this platform?
  • Which brands are successful on this platform?
  • Do I have the time and resources to invest in a niche platform?

Every social media platform is different, with its own nuances and audiences. As a brand, focus on one first, find your rhythm there and then branch out to the next.

7 opportunities for social media automation

Social media automation is a must for any small business. It both saves time and helps you stay consistent across social media platforms. 

Automation itself refers to any activity that you don’t have to do in real time (and perhaps don’t have to do yourself at all). Despite the myth, automated social media posts do not get penalized.

Of course, there are a number of online tools that can make general social media automation easy, including Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social and HubSpot

The following are seven opportunities for social media automation that you might not have thought of.

Opportunity #1: Sync your blog

If you’re using WordPress to publish your blog, there are a number of plugins available that will enable you to automatically share your content on social media whenever you publish a new article.

That option is also available on other platforms, depending on what you’re using.

Opportunity #2: Level up with advanced tools

There are a number of social media automation tools as mentioned above, but you can make your automation even more advanced with such tools as IFTTT and Zapier

These applications enable apps and websites to talk to each other. Of course, their capabilities go far beyond just social media. For example, you could sync your Gmail, Dropbox and Slack in such a way that if you receive an email with an attachment, that attachment would be automatically uploaded into your Dropbox and then a notification sent to alert you in Slack.

Both IFTTT and Zapier are either free or free to try with premium upgrade options, so it’s wise to create an account and explore your options.

Opportunity #3: Recycle, reuse your evergreen content

If you’ve been publishing on a blog for any significant amount of time, you likely have some content that can be repurposed and reused for social media.

Whether that piece of content makes sense seasonally, is a topic that works year-round or only needs a minor update to be fresh again, it saves you tons of time for social media publishing. This is because you won’t have to always spend the time to create new content.

Of course, when it comes to evergreen automation, there are tools that can help. Revive Old Posts is a WordPress plugin that will go through your archives, and MeetEdgar can publish a post and then automatically recycle your top posts several more times on a schedule.

Opportunity #4: Share curated content

Like evergreen content, curated content also saves time and resources while striving to keep your audience engaged. 

Curated content is the sharing of other people’s or brands’ content for the benefit of your audience. Check out these five reasons why you should consider curated content in your digital marketing strategy.

Many tools are available to help you automatically curate others’ content efficiently and successfully, including Feedly, dlvr.it, Scoop.it and Curata

NOTE: See more curated content tools.

Opportunity #5: Schedule your social media posts

This is a go-to when it comes to social media automation. Scheduling your posts in advance can help maintain consistency while also saving time.

Ideally, you’ll want to aim for the best times and days to post, which vary across social media platforms. There are a number of already-mentioned tools that can be used.

Of course, you’ll want to pay attention to how your posts perform at different times of the day. Nationwide trends on best times and days won’t necessarily apply to every individual brand. Different brands can have unique options, so make sure you pay attention to what works.

Opportunity #6: Chatbots can up your customer service game

These days, it’s common to think of the Facebook Messenger chatbots that appear when you visit some Facebook pages. However, chatbots also are commonly used on various websites.

The benefit to either location is the immediacy of customer service at a visitor’s fingertips. All that, and you don’t have to be available 24/7 to be successful and responsive.

For example, Sephora has a Facebook chatbot that can route customers directly to an agent on top of answering basic questions. Adobe’s Photoshop chatbot enables customers to troubleshoot questions in detail and offers relevant solutions on its full website.

NOTE: Check out this guide for building chatbots.

Opportunity #7: Automate your analytics reports

Another opportunity for automation is performance reporting. Many social media management tools can be set up to send you and/or anyone on your team reports on how your accounts are performing.

These can be set up to run on a weekly, monthly or other frequency.

Conclusion

Remember, you’ll want to make sure that all your automation is human and personal. That means conversational, laid-back language and even emojis if appropriate for your brand. There also is value in filling in your automation with real-time posts and content. Nothing replaces human responses and conversations on any comment threads.

No matter what automation you use (or how you use it), social media is a conversation where people should want to connect with your brand and engage. Automation should never be a “set it and forget it.”

Pay-per-click marketing (PPC)

This is a method of digital marketing where you can drive traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. 

One of the more common types of PPC you’ve likely heard of is Google Ads, where you can pay for the top spots on Google’s search engine results pages. The price is per the click you get on your link or links. (This is also known as search engine marketing or SEM.)

PPC is also an option on social media platforms, including (but not limited to):

  • Facebook ads
  • Twitter ads
  • LinkedIn sponsored messages

SMS text message marketing

While SMS text message marketing started to fall out of style years ago when social media and search engines began showing their power, text messages are back.

They’re simple (160 characters or less) and flaunt a 98 percent open rate.

While 75 percent of consumers are okay with being texted by a brand, the key is that they’ve opted in first. In fact, SMS text compliance and avoiding carrier violations are a big part of any successful texting campaign. 

8 tips on writing a text message that won’t get ignored

SMS, or text messages, still are the most used messaging platform.

According to Business.com, 97% of people text at least once a day, and since SMS messages are not screened by a spam filter, a business incorporating SMS into its marketing strategy can feel more confident about a message reaching its target audience. In fact, about 98% of people will open and read a text message, compared with about 20% who will open an email, Business.com reports.

This makes SMS text messaging an underrated option to include in any marketing strategy but definitely not one to ignore.

Below are eight tips on how to write a text message that won’t get ignored by your audience.

Tip #1: The shorter the text message the better

First of all, the limit on any single SMS text message is 160 characters. Combine that with users’ naturally short attention spans, and it’s clear that the shorter your message, the better.

This is especially true if you’re including any sort of link in the text message.

Get to the point quickly, but don’t forget to identify who you are in your text message since the sending phone number won’t necessarily mean anything to your target audience.

It is possible to send more than 160 characters across multiple text messages depending on the service your using, but it’s not recommended as a best practice.

DailyStory offers the ability to send mass text messages to a business’s database.

Tip #2: Relevancy is key

Whether it’s a discount code or something else your customer base may be interested in, make sure the text message is worth their while, or else you risk losing them to opt-outs.

Frequency is a factor here as well.

Consider that an ordinary American adult sends 32 texts on average each day. As soon as someone sees your messaging as noise, there is the immediate risk of losing them.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you start receiving frequent text messages that don’t matter to you, you’ll be compelled to opt-out. 

Before sending any text message, ask yourself if the message is something your audience will care about.

Tip #3: CAPS aren’t all bad in a text message

SMS text messages are simple by nature. No bolding. No italics. Nothing fancy.

To catch a skimmer’s attention, you can draw attention to keywords by making them all caps—words like “FREE,” “SALE,” etc.

However, resist the temptation to go overboard. One or two words maximum is fine. Anything more, and it will appear that you’re yelling at your audience.

Tip #4: Consider personalization in your text message

Personalization can make a world of difference across multiple mediums, such as emails and text messages. 

Think about when you receive a marketing text message. Does it catch your attention when your name is in the message? 

It does for everyone else, too.

Different services, like DailyStory, can offer this capability, but be aware of the possibility of a long name kicking your text message over 160 characters. Leave as much extra space as possible.

Tip #5: Include a strong call-to-action

What do you want the recipient of your text message to do? A simple, strong call-to-action is imperative for any effective messaging. SMS text messages are no different.

Examples include: “last chance,” “act now,” “sign up now,” “limited time offer” and “don’t miss out,” among others.

Urgency combined with action words can better compel your audience to convert and take the next step. 

Tip #6: Avoid ‘text speak’ and special characters

Just because you might use “l8r” instead of “later” in a text message to a friend doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for a brand’s text message.

Your brand should have a voice, but we doubt it’s that of a child. Maintain your professionalism and keep the wording simple.

In addition, watch out for special characters. Many carriers only support unicode, so the fancier you get, the more you risk a character not only not working but appearing as something random or as a space.

Tip #7: Factor in the timing of your text message

While there is an industry-wide recommendation to send text messages at the beginning or end of a day to optimize the potential for engagement, there are more factors at play.

First, you never want to wake up your target audience. That means text messaging too early or too late can cause anger and frustration.

Also, depending on how many people you are text messaging at one time (and the capacity of your system), there could be a “pacing” effect. This means that, for example, if you’re text messaging 10,000 people, but your service can only process 1,000 sent text messages per hour, it could be 10 hours later when your last text reaches the last 1,000 people of that group.

Be aware of this possibility when you’re determining what service to use. It’s entirely possible to boost processing speed in advance for larger sends, especially when using DailyStory.

Tip #8: Include the option to opt-out

With various anti-spam laws in place, the best practice for SMS text messaging is to include opt-out language, such as “Reply STOP to opt-out.”

Of course, this requires the ability of recipients to reply to your text message. It also can eat up valuable character space, but even that is better than risking hefty fines.

And while it is a best practice to identify your company in your text message, it’s also required by law. 

On the flip side of opt-outs, it’s critical to know that your audience has first opted into receiving text messages from your business as well.

SMS text messaging is a valuable piece of any marketing strategy, so remember that less is more and always put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.

Content marketing

This method of digital marketing involves the creation and promotion of content to generate brand awareness, increased website traffic, lead generation and ultimately sales conversions. 

Types of content include (but are not limited to):

  • Blog posts
  • Whitepapers and e-books (educational long-form content)
  • Infographics
  • Videos

Don’t have the budget or resources to create your own content? Consider sharing curated content. 

Curated content: 4 tips on finding what to share on social media

Curated content is like the “get out of jail free” card that helps you grow and engage your social media audience. Unlike the constant hamster wheel of creating organic content, curated content saves you time while also positioning you as an expert and serving your audience what they want.

It’s a win-win.

Curated content is “content gathered from trusted sources relevant to your industry,” according to Hootsuite.

But how is (good, relevant) curated content found? Here are four tips to help you find the best curated content for your social media publishing.

Tip #1: Determine your ratio

Before anything else, it’s important to decide exactly how much curated content you want to mix in with your organic, unique content. How much is created by you, and how much is created by someone else?

A good mix to start with, according to Hootsuite, is 40 percent organic and 60 percent curated content. 

Of course, always keep an eye on the performance of your posts and adjust as necessary. But this mix is a good place to start.

Tip #2: Consider the topics you want to cover

This depends on your brand. Do you want to be hyper-focused on the topics you’ll share with your audience, or should you be broader?

A custom closet company, for example, could focus on closet organization as a topic. Or, it can expand into the broader topic of interior design.

Take a moment to brainstorm the topics that are relevant to both your brand and your audience. What helps make you appear to be an expert in your industry?

Tip #3: Identify your sources of curated content

It’s time to make a list! The key to finding great curated content is to have your go-to trusted sources.

This can be as simple as taking your list of topics and begin Googling.

But you should feel confident that your selected sources are both trustworthy and in sync with your brand.

When you find a source, look through the entire website to see if the totality of the content produced is in line with your company’s goals and purpose. Also, examine the About section of the website to confirm the mission behind that publisher. 

Remember that while content can be shared to your social media directly from a website, you can also share from another brand’s account on any social media platform. 

So, while you want to compile a list of trusted websites, be sure to perform similar searches on the social media platforms you plan on sharing curated content. Your main list from Google might differ from who you find specifically on Twitter or Facebook, for example.

Tip #4: Consider yourself in a constant state of discovery

Now that you have your list of topics and sources, it’s time to commit to monitoring your channels so that you can find and share the specific pieces of curated content for your audience. 

While curated content is a time-saver, you cannot slack on discovering what would work best. However, you can set a scheduled amount of time daily or weekly to stay on top of it.

Curated content is an excellent way to diversify your social media offerings, and it will naturally evolve over time. Keep an eye on how what you’re sharing is performing and pivot accordingly.

Native advertising

These paid advertisements are intended to match the look, feel and function of the surrounding media format where they appear. 

For instance, a tire shop could have a native ad on a publication’s website about the top tips to know when it’s time to replace your tires. The article itself is useful information for the reader, but it is sponsored content for that tire shop. 

The goal of native advertising is to build a relationship with the hosting website’s visitors as a trusted expert in your industry. Of course, links back to the advertiser’s website would be included somewhere in the article as well (even if only where the byline is).

Of course, native ads aren’t exclusively on publication websites. You can spot them on social media as well.

Native ads are required to identify themselves as such, but because of their chameleon-style design, many readers likely don’t notice the difference.

Affiliate marketing

This is a type of performance-based advertising, where you can receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website or elsewhere.

Most commonly, you can post affiliate links on your social media accounts. You also can explore hosting video ads through the YouTube Partner Program.

Sponsored content

This digital marketing method involves paying another company or individual to create and promote content that features your brand, service or product in some way.

Influencer marketing is perhaps the most popular form of sponsored content currently. An influencer is typically a social media or blog personality who has cultivated a large and engaged following.

Through influencer marketing, a company pays an identified influencer relevant to the company’s brand to create and post content for that company.

Influencer marketing: 7 tips to know before starting your first campaign

Once considered the “new kid on the block” of digital advertising, influencer marketing has risen in both popularity and effectiveness (when done right).

Brands are expected to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, according to Business Insider.

In the simplest sense, an influencer is anyone with a digital following (or audience) on a social media platform (but not necessarily) whom you’d like to attract.

The purpose of influencer marketing involves increasing brand awareness, targeting new and niche audiences and increasing impressions and reach.

How many followers does an influencer have to have to be considered an influencer? Well, that depends.

There are various definitions of influencer “levels,” but here is a good rule of thumb:

  • Nano-influencers: 1,000 to 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000 to 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50,000 to 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega-influencers: 1 million-plus followers

As odd as it sounds, bigger isn’t always better. For example, an influencer with 8,000 male followers doesn’t make sense for a national sporting brand to partner with. However, a local gym could be very interested in that audience depending on the brand of the influencer.

Either way, buyer beware. As you can already see, not all influencers and partnerships are created equal, and there’s a lot more to a successful campaign than an influencer agreeing to post about your brand or product.

Here are seven tips to know before starting your first influencer marketing campaign.

Tip #1: Set your goals

Goal-setting is critical for any marketing campaign, not just influencer marketing. 

It determines whether all elements are aligned for a specific strategy with a desired outcome that can be measured. You have to ask yourself:

  • What’s the point?
  • How will it be measured?

Perhaps you’re looking for an ROI (return on investment) based on conversions. Or, perhaps you’re looking for an increase in website traffic. 

Keep in mind that developing an understanding of the type of audience you want to target is helpful at this point as well. If you’re an outdoor brand looking to promote a new product, what sort of demographic do you want to know about it?

Typically, awareness is the goal of most influencer campaigns, but don’t be afraid to take that one step further and tie that to revenue in some way. Awareness is great, but you are spending money on this campaign after all, so the ROI matters.

Whatever the metric, be sure to communicate it to everyone involved in the influencer campaign, especially the influencer him or herself.

Tip #2: Find your influencer

Once you know your goal or goals, you can start searching for influencer candidates. 

We’re calling them candidates because ideally, you should compile a list of influencers who appear to be a promising match for your brand and promotion and are worth taking a deeper look at.

If you are plugged in to your industry on social media and online, you can begin with a social media audit. Is there anyone with a significant following mentioning your brand? Perhaps your products and services? Are any relevant hashtags being used?

There also are several free or almost-free tools you can use, such as Upfluence, Buzzsumo and Crowdfire.

NOTE: Check out these 18 influencer-discovery tools.

Tip #3: Do your ‘influencer homework’

Once you have your list of candidates, it’s time to do your homework. This can be considered one of the most critical steps before launching an influencer marketing campaign.

Skipping (or not fully doing) your research about a potential influencer risks problems down the line. For example, does an influencer truly reflect your brand? Have they posted controversial images or statements in the past that conflict with your brand? How do they handle other sponsored posts that they’ve done before? How do they engage with their following?

Keep these in mind when researching:

  • Relevancy. Think how an extreme sports athlete would work for Red Bull but not Cover Girl. However, relevancy doesn’t just tie to who the person is. It also involves the type of content a person posts. If that same extreme sports athlete only posts about his or her cat, that might not be the best fit either.
  • Influence and reach. This can be tougher to gauge without speaking to the influencer directly, but the idea is that you want to confirm that when an influencer posts about something, it can spur action by at least a portion of his or her followers. Take note of any past sponsorship posts an influencer has done, and feel free to ask how those campaigns performed. Any seasoned influencer will have that data available for at least his or her contribution.
  • Engagement rates. It’s very easy to get “razzle dazzled” by an influencer’s following size. The more followers, the more impressive. However, followings aren’t everything. In fact, many brands would opt for a smaller, more engaged following than a larger following that doesn’t engage very much with the influencer. This can help flush out who’s bought a following and who earned it organically. Learn about six different ways to calculate engagement rates. Also, keep in mind that ideally, an influencer’s following engages just as much about the products being shared as with the idea of the “celebrity” itself.

Once you do decide on an influencer, strive to build a relationship with him or her first. You can like and comment on the influencer’s posts, engaging before dropping a partnership request in their messages.

Tip #4: Determine your budget

When it comes to influencer marketing, there is no set cost or pricing rate. Every influencer is different, and every business has a different budget.

And spoiler alert: Many businesses do not have a huge budget for influencers (although that is shifting every year).

If you have a tight budget, consider what else you can offer. Is it a prototype of the product you’re promoting? Perhaps a day of the services you want to draw attention to?

Remember that your goal is key here, and more likely than not, an influencer would expect some sort of sampling anyway so that they can authentically post about the brand.

Typically, though, expect that the more sophisticated the influencer and the larger the following, the higher the cost. (That’s why nano-influencers can be better options for small businesses to partner with.)

Tip #5: Review the regulations

This surprises more than it should, but there are regulations surrounding influencer marketing and sponsored posts.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regularly updates its guidelines for online endorsements. While the FTC holds the influencer responsible for knowing and adhering to the rules, don’t assume that every influencer does or will.

It is in your best interest to understand the regulations as well and communicate with your influencer about them.

In the simplest sense, it really comes down to disclosure. Every sponsored post must be identified as such.

The FTC has its own 101 Guide for Social Media Influencers that you can dig into.

Tip #6: Think multi-channel

When possible, developing a content strategy with the right influencer can easily cross multiple social media platforms.

It’s not uncommon for a YouTube star to also have a strong Instagram following. Seize those opportunities and consider what you can do on which platform during an influencer partnership. 

The more touch points you can create with a new audience, the better.

Tip #7: Contracts are great things

Once you discuss and decide on everything with the influencer, put it in writing. Better yet, make it an enforceable contract.

While the homework you’ve done on your influencer should serve as comfort that he or she will perform as expected, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Examine the steps for what you should include in a social influencer contract, or check out a simple template. Know that there are numerous contract templates available online, but you should always have a lawyer review any final contract you ultimately create.

Influencer marketing can be an effective way to drive brand awareness and sales. It enables brands to reach targeted audiences they otherwise wouldn’t reach (or at least not in the same way). However, the value and success of influencer marketing campaigns depend on your planning and research. Be willing to experiment, but keep your eye on the ROI the entire time.

Online public relations

Online PR is not always thought of by many small businesses, but it can play a big role in driving business. It involves securing earned online coverage from online publications, blogs and other digital channels outside of your own website or social media.

Specifically, online PR includes (but is not limited to):

  • Reaching out to reporters through social media and developing a relationship that can result in media opportunities for your company
  • Engaging with online reviews of your company (whether they’re good or bad)
  • Submitting press releases via digital channels, such as PR Newswire

Inbound marketing

Sort of a culmination of many of the other digital marketing methods already mentioned, inbound marketing is about attracting, engaging and delighting customers at each stage of the consumer’s journey to becoming a paying customer.

It’s about a customer experience that works with them, not against them. 

It’s about pulling them into your brand almost naturally by way of great content, social media marketing and more. Then, you solve their problem or need. And you then follow up (by survey, for example), making sure their experience with you was up to their expectations.

Marketing automation

Automation can be quite powerful and technically dips into several of the other digital marketing methods. 

There are any number of repetitive tasks that can be automated to save time and be more effective overall, including (but not limited to):

  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • Onboarding email workflows
  • Campaign tracking and reporting

9 reasons why email automation matters to your marketing

Any smart business should have already discovered the power of email automation. But it’s not too late to dive in and level up your email marketing as well. 

Despite possibly being considered an “old” medium, the number of global email users is still growing. According to Statista, there were 3.7 billion email users worldwide, while 4.1 billion users are projected by 2021.

In addition, 89 percent of marketers identify email as their leading marketing tool for bringing in leads.

Email automation refers to any email automatically sent from you in response to a user’s actions that were made or not made. In other words, emails are sent when triggered by what happens with a user.

Automated emails bridge the gap between transactional emails (like receipts or password resets) and traditional marketing emails (like promotions and newsletters). They enable you to automatically follow up with users individually with the bonus of customized content.

If that’s not enough to consider including email automation in your digital marketing, here are nine reasons why you should.

Reason #1: Save time

Just as the description implies, email automation is based on the idea of setting up a trigger-based email workflow only once, and then letting your email service do the rest.

It’s not practical to manually create and send a welcome email for every new customer or subscriber you get, so email automation allows you to both look like you’re on top of things while not having to be in real time.

Who doesn’t want to be more effective while saving time?

Reason #2: Become more relevant

Because an automated email is triggered by an action taken by the recipient, that email becomes super relevant to him or her. 

This means that recipients are more likely to open and even click within the email.

Businesses that use email automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50 percent, according to eMarketer.

Reason #3: Increase engagement

The purpose of email automation is to hit recipients at the right time with the right message. We mentioned earlier that an automated email can be triggered by what someone does or does not do. 

Whether it’s a lapsed customer for a determined period of time whom you want to entice back or a follow-up email with tips on getting the most out of your app after being downloaded, you’re meeting your users where they are, which naturally drives engagement.

Reason #4: Build up your brand

Email automation is an obvious extension of your brand. 

Because of the increased engagement, you have the opportunity to build trust with recipients and elevate their perception of your brand.

Reason #5: Boost customer retention, loyalty

A challenge for all businesses is to live, breathe and think through the user experience of our customers.

Consider your own experience with automated emails. Perhaps there was a “Thank You” and/or “Welcome” email after you signed up for a newsletter or a “We Miss You” email when you haven’t visited a particular business in a few months. 

Did any of those make you feel special or cared about?

It’s that experience that helps not only retain customers but creates a brand loyalty as well. The sky is the limit on what you can do with email automation, but think through every step of your customer’s journey with you as a starting point for identifying all the opportunities to automate.

Reason #6: Improve your responsiveness

About 69 percent of consumers in the U.S. feel customer service is “very important,” according to Microsoft.

And this is no surprise to businesses who strive to be more responsive to the needs, questions, concerns and actions of customers.

Email automation is a clear helping hand when it comes to being more responsive. Depending on the workflow you create, you can easily address questions before the customer feels the need to reach out to ask. For example, a Welcome 101 email thanking the new online customer for creating an account with you but also guiding him or her on how to use your website.

Reason #7: Scale up your email campaigns

Another advantage to email automation is the ability to scale up your email marketing campaigns with only the initial up-front effort.

This relates to the time-saving factor. When workflows and campaigns can be automated on a number of different fronts, your time is freed up to build on top of that. 

Reason #8: Help your bottom line

With any marketing channel, a business has to evaluate its ROI (return on investment). 

The good news is that email automation can help boost revenue. This could be a prompt to update billing information or an invitation to return as a customer. There are, of course, a number of direct examples that go beyond the likely action that could be taken.

Reason #9: A measurable tactic

Related to ROI, the effectiveness of your email automation can be measured just like any other email marketing campaign.

Factors to consider:

  • Your cost in acquiring a single customer
  • The average lifetime value of a customer
  • How much it costs to set up (and maintain) your email automation. Maintenance could involve an automated platform subscription and/or any time spent updating automated content over time.

Then, you can review monthly (depending on the goal of each automated email campaign), how much profit you’re making.

Email automation is powerful, but also easier to do than you might think.

Digital Marketing 101: A to-do checklist to optimize your efforts

Digital marketing for your small business can incorporate so many different methods, mediums and strategies.

But you don’t have to feel overwhelmed. 

First, check out our beginner’s guide to better understand key concepts tied to digital marketing.

Then, let’s focus on digital marketing tasks that you can focus on to keep your efforts simple and not overwhelming. The following are eight steps you should consider for the digital marketing of your small business.

Step #1: Create or optimize your website

You’d be hard-pressed to find a business without a website these days, but the important factor here (other than simply having one) is that it’s optimized to convert visitors into leads that you can follow up with.

One way to do this is to have an offer enticing enough for website visitors to share their contact information with you. This means that they are willing to give you their email address, for example, in exchange for a special discount or premium content (not available elsewhere).

Look over these 12 strategies you can try (intended to not annoy every website visitor you get).

When it comes to your overall website design, remember to keep it simple and have the visitors’ needs in mind. Don’t overstuff it with unnecessary information, and prioritize mobile optimization with these 16 tips.

Step #2: Set up an automated email marketing workflow

This is imperative for a couple of reasons:

You want to deliver on your lead acquisition promise (whether it’s an email with a discount code, an educational e-book and so on).

You want to continue to follow up with these leads so that you can eventually convert them into paying customers. This matters because about 96 percent of people visiting your website aren’t ready to purchase immediately.

Setting up email automated workflows can satisfy both needs. For inspiration, see these 17 types of automated emails that you can start using today.

Step #3: Set up at least one business social media account and publish consistently

This is one of those tasks that sounds easier than it might actually be, and that’s because it takes an investment of time and resources to be consistent and engaging on social media.

If you’re starting from scratch, here are our tips on deciding which social media platform is right for your business

Of course, as far as time is concerned, consider social media automation opportunities and the use of curated content (which could be a good fit as far as a social media strategy, depending on your industry and target audience).

Just remember that people on average spend at least two hours per day on social media, so it’s worth your while to be present and engaging on at least one platform.

Step #4: List your business in online directories

Two of the largest lists you definitely want to have an owned and active presence on is Google My Business and Yelp.

However, there are others you’ll want to check into as well, including (but not limited to):

  • Apple Maps
  • Google Maps
  • Yellow Pages

Including your business on these directories (and others) is an affordable way to make yourself that much more discoverable. It’s worth the effort and is one form of off-page SEO.

Step #5: Optimize your website for SEO

Search engine optimization is important to generate more organic website traffic (traffic you don’t have to pay for). Done right, it can result in a high ROI for your business.

A high ranking on Google search engine results is largely trusted by most internet users.

There are two types of SEO, on-page and off-page, that you should be aware of.

Find out if you’re making any of these 13 common SEO mistakes.

Step #6: Consider PPC advertising

First things first, pay-per-click advertising on such platforms as Google and Facebook is not the end-all-be-all of digital marketing and definitely is a later step on this checklist for a reason.

It won’t be as effective as it could be if every other aspect of your digital marketing isn’t optimized. 

However, it is a tactic worth exploring as everything else is in place.

When starting, make sure that you have a specific goal for your PPC campaign. Identify and target a specific audience and tailor your message to that audience. Then, measure your results to gauge whether your campaign is working or needs to be tweaked.

Step #7: Create sales funnels

Sales funnels essentially pull together several pieces of your digital marketing to guide consumers from being a lead to becoming a paying customer.

For example, you can have a pop-up ad on your website offering an e-book download in exchange for a visitor’s email address. That submission takes them to a landing page with other content they might be interested in, while an email with the e-book download is being sent to his or her inbox. Then, an automated email series checks in that lead every so often, possibly offering new and different (but related) content that builds a relationship with that contact that could result in a purchase decision being made in your favor if your series of emails ends up being compelling enough. 

Find out more about sales funnels with our guide.

Step #8: Measure and analyze your results

Digital marketing is only as effective as your analysis. If something is working, you’ll want to understand it so that you can replicate that performance in the future. If something isn’t working, you’ll want to understand that, so you can pivot and adjust what needs to change.

Why measure? Why analyze?

Because whether you’re spending your advertising money on a specific campaign or not, you’re at least spending your time and possibly other resources on your digital marketing efforts.

Make sure that you’re spending that time and those resources wisely.

Digital Marketing 101: How DailyStory can help your business

Gone are the days of small business successes regardless of customer service and overall experience. 

More than ever, businesses must understand consumers’ needs and digitize as many aspects of the purchasing experience as possible. We are living in a customer-first, digital-preferred marketplace.

Particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to pivot just to survive, whether that applies to the type of products or services you offer, overall safety precaution adjustments or both.

It’s critical to connect with the consumer and show that you are not only the expert to trust but also care about him or her as a customer.

Doing so can mean your company’s survival. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100,000 businesses have permanently closed.

So, how do you maximize your digital marketing to better share your brand and engage with customers (and potential customers)?

Expand your tactics and then automate those tactics with DailyStory, of course. 

Track and measure visitor experiences

DailyStory helps you understand what your website visitors are doing, where they came from and how often they’ve returned. You can see the full customer journey and tag visitors for remarketing through your third-party ad networks.

Have you ever been to a website and seen an ad from another website you recently visited? That’s remarketing and it’s a great way to re-enforce your marketing message.

DailyStory can help you target potential customers without them ever visiting your website, building an audience through other people’s content.

When it comes to anonymous visitors on your website, Google Analytics tells part of the story, but wouldn’t you like to know more?

With DailyStory’s anonymous visitor identification feature, Lead Periscope, you can identify your website visitors by business and organization.

Of course, the power of effective digital marketing, in general, resides in the ability to easily and quickly understand what’s working and what’s not.

DailyStory’s reporting dashboards are both intuitive and straightforward. In addition to common performance data (such as email opens, email clicks, text replies, so on), we offer heat maps and additional insights to help inform you.

Capture and convert new customers

When your website visitors are ready to act on your offers or need more information about your products or services, DailyStory makes it easy to capture their information and convert them into leads.

If you already have a list of contacts, you can import them easily to DailyStory for better management and potential conversions along your sales funnel.

You also can promote your welcome and exit offers on your website using DailyStory, whether it’s a newsletter sign-up, a discount offer or something else, that can capture your visitor’s information and add them into your system. Lead-capture forms also are available for use on pre-built landing pages, custom landing pages, squeeze pages and more. These forms automatically upload lead information into DailyStory.

One of the most important aspects of converting leads into customers is personal follow-up. DailyStory allows you to create lead visit alerts that automatically sends email alerts to team members when a prospective customer visits specific pages within your website. This is in addition to general email notifications you can have automatically triggered for your team members.

Automate and nurture your customers

In DailyStory, you can organize all your account activity into easy-to-manage campaigns that can coordinate all customer touchpoints.

And the messaging goes beyond just emails. Text messages and app push notifications also are available to use. To make your messaging even more powerful, personalization is a feature where you can use contact information to make your message more unique and targeted (such as first names). 

Add to that the audience segments (or groupings) you can create to better target your campaigns as well. Personalization and segmentation work together to increase the success of any given campaign.

Beyond that, who doesn’t appreciate an “easy button” amidst their digital marketing efforts?

DailyStory features a few, including drag-and-drop capabilities in both our email designer and Autopilot, which manages and designs endless combinations of automation capabilities.

The email designer’s drag-and-drop features make it especially easy to convey both your branding and message in record time to your target audiences. However, there also is the ability to edit the HTML and CSS of your email to take your design even further if you prefer.

Power of automation

Our Autopilot tool has the power of taking your digital marketing to the next level. Only your imagination can limit what you can automate. 

For example, you could create a pop-up ad for your website through DailyStory. Then, when it captures a lead, Autopilot can be set up to immediately send an email. Perhaps the recipient hasn’t opened that email within so many days. Then, a resending of that email with a different subject line can deploy. Maybe that second email still wasn’t opened, and a follow-up text message is automatically sent. Of course, an email notification to one of your team members to follow up personally could also be sent. 

Another example could include a series of emails being sent out to a targeted group of your contacts, nurturing them to purchase a new service or product you’re offering. 

Either way, the Autopilot tool helps prevent customer leads from falling through the cracks. This enables you to more automatically “be everywhere” along each customer’s journey with your business.

And you can score your customers based on the activities and actions they take. This includes pages viewed, email opens or pages visited. Again, this is all to better inform your overall strategy and increase those conversions.

Integrate and extend your efforts

Automatic integration into your other applications is critical. Use DailyStory’s native integrations with WordPress, Salesforce, Slack, Telligent Community, MINDBODY and more for that seamless data sync. 

You also can connect to thousands of other applications using Zapier. Or, you can build your own integrations with our REST APIs and WebHooks.

In other words, DailyStory can work with your existing systems to increase the effectiveness and power of your digital marketing.

Within this pandemic climate, it’s more important than ever to streamline your resources and engage with your customers more.

In Conclusion

Clearly, there are many ways you can go when first diving into digital marketing for your business. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of what might be working (or know what is working in the first place). 

Remember to think about your goals first. Your goals will guide you in which digital marketing methods you might want to start experimenting with. 

Also, you don’t have to do any of this alone. DailyStory is a platform that can level up your email marketing, automation, reporting, segmenting and more. Schedule your free demo of DailyStory today.

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