Lessons Learned During 2020 as a New Digital Marketing Agency
Jamie here! Feeling a little wordy today, so why not utilize that and make some content for Digital Swan?
It's a few days until Christmas, and then we'll be careening into the new year. I'll spare you the what-a-crazy-year mumbo jumbo that everyone talks about, because... duh. But this time of year, like I'm sure it does for everyone, just has you reflecting on the past 12 months and thinking about the future.
Digital Swan started out at the beginning of 2020 as a blog type of thing I thought I'd start, posting about my experience in digital marketing. It fell off pretty quickly, though, but came back in a new form in June of this year as a full-service digital marketing agency co-founded with my business partner Jeremy. It happened crazy fast - we were talking and next thing you know, Digital Swan was off the ground running!
We have learned SO. MANY. THINGS. this year. Me as a new business owner, and even Jeremy-- who is a seasoned entrepreneur-- will tell you he has learned a few lessons. Below I'm laying out just some of those things that 2020 taught me as a marketer and a business owner.
Set expectations - with everyone
This doesn't just refer to clients, although that is a very important part of managing your customers. As a business partner I've learned it is very important to have an open line of communication, set clear expectations, and always be up front and honest about what's going on! It may seem like a no brainer, but I was surprised at just how many bumps in the road that came up would have been easily solved or prevented altogether just by communicating. Communicating with clients, with coworkers, with contractors.
Not just communication though. I've realized that communication has to be proactive, set BEFORE any work begins. When you set expectations, you create accountability for everyone. When something goes wrong, there's no fumbling around trying to find out who caused what problem. It's easy to find the breakdown in your process and fix it going forward when you set expectations and have open communication with everyone involved.
Documentation and process building. It's what makes an agency run! Seriously - that's one of the most important things to have as a business owner, but before Digital Swan, I honestly didn't realize *just* how integral to success it really is.
This is where "standard operating procedures" come into play. What is a standard operating procedure, or SOP? It's really just a written document or checklist that details how to complete a task. Sounds simple, right? Well, these things can be tough to create (at least, to create a usable one), but once they're done, it's mostly smooth sailing after that. SOPs are key to consistent deliverability and scaling as a business. It's one of my goals in 2021 to go SOP-crazy and have a documented process foundation for everything that can be built upon as we change and grow as a company.
Automate all the things
Automation is kind of my thing. I love it. Like SOPs, setting up an automation can be time consuming and requires a lot of attention to detail and problem solving, but once it's done you will save so much time (and sanity). Daily, weekly and monthly tasks that once required hours of your time now take no time at all to be completed. My favorite automation software is, of course, Zapier. Here at Digital Swan we use Zapier along with Airtable and our project management software (more on that later) to streamline a LOT of tasks - and we're just getting started. I learn something new every day when it comes to marketing and process automation, and I can't wait to learn even more in the coming year to save us so much time.
This has been - please excuse the cliche - a crazy year. But for me personally, there has been a lot of good along with the bad. It was definitely a time of growth, reflection and most important: learning. And I seriously can't wait to keep that going and see what Digital Swan can grow into.
How Could Marketing Automation Change Your Business?
As the owner of a small or medium-sized business, you continuously have to maximize your efficiency. There are never enough hours in the day or dollars in the bank account for everything you wish you could do.
You might not realize that with the marketing automation tools, you could multiply your impact and dramatically improve your bottom line. Online marketing automation isn’t just for big companies - it’s perfect for smaller ones too.
Consistent, On-Brand Social Media
With social marketing automation, you can ensure that your social media accounts are consistently posting new, high-quality content without having to spend hours on the computer. By using the right tools and services, you can save yourself time and money and focus more on your core business needs.
Scheduling posts in advance, sharing relevant information, and promoting recent blog posts are all important parts of your social media marketing - and all can be automated.
Give Leads the Immediate Answer They Need
You might not realize it, but when a lead reaches out to you, they often expect a response right away. The longer you wait to answer, the more time they have to explore other options. To avoid this, take advantage of email marketing automation that allows you to send immediate, personalized replies.
You don’t have time to answer every email that comes in or reply to every social media comment. Instead, work with a team that understands inbound marketing automation and can make it work effectively for your business.
Nurture Prospects and Customers
Very few of the people who hear about your company for the first time are ready to buy. Instead, they need to get to know you - the equivalent of dating before marriage. This is true whether you sell to businesses or individuals.
Nurture takes a lot of time. Leads need to see informative articles, find out about specials and deals you offer, and learn more about why you’re the best choice. Sales automation tools make all of this much more manageable.
Once someone has purchased, don’t ignore them! Instead, put them in a different nurture sequence to encourage repeat sales and brand advocacy. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference this one step will make in your bottom line!
Work With Our Automation Experts
Setting up automation and finding the right tools may feel like another full-time job, and you’ve already got a business to run! Here at Digital Swan, we understand completely, and are here to help. We know precisely which marketing automation vendors will give you the best experience and most efficient workflow.
PPC Ads: Skyrocket Your Business Revenue with a Paid Ads Strategy
Pay-per-click- or PPC ads require a great deal of experience to execute and manage properly. So often, businesses attempt to maintain their paid ads campaigns on their own, only to throw in the towel when they don't see a return on money or time investment.
Setting Up a PPC Ad Campaign That Works for Your Business
Just in case you're new here, a PPC ad is an advertisement that requires a small (or large, depending on the keyword or phrase) payment each time your ad receives a click. It's a fantastic way to get your product in front of potential buyers without relying only on organic traffic.
PPC campaign companies specialize in PPC management, dedicating their time and resources to running a campaign tailored to your specific business niche. PPC campaign cost will vary from company to company.
Still, it's essential to choose a digital marketing agency that will offer an experienced Google PPC expert team that will ensure business growth through processes that work. While many paid search agencies make big promises, we can assure you that our tactics will lead to success utilizing advertising PPC ads.
Pay-Per-Click Planning & Growth Map
Every aspect of a business requires quality control. PPC ads are not an exception to this rule. It's vital to the success of your journey to establish a PPC network that is going to propel your business forward.
Since you are essentially buying website visitors, you'll want to be sure that those visitors are of high-quality, and present potential for conversion. Extensive research will put your Google and Facebook ads in front of the right audience, and provide you with the evidence in numbers.
Keyword Research & Customer Targeting
Keywords are the backbone of your PPC plan. Without establishing the correct keywords for your niche and utilizing them correctly, you'll find yourself with every little organic traffic and paid traffic that amounts to nothing.
Choosing the correct keywords at the start of a PPC campaign will ensure efficiency down the line. When you target the right keywords for your website niche, the project will come together seamlessly.
Here's the kicker: Deciding which keywords to use is difficult, time-consuming, and all-out stressful if you don't know what you're doing. A Google advertising company experienced in PPC and using Facebook Ads manager has access to the tools needed to nail down the right keywords straightaway, including geographic targeting.
The type of knowledge is essential to any PPC project planning. Starting with keywords that miss the target demographic means starting all over, and plenty of wasted time.
PPC Ad Creation & Landing Pages
The copy that comes along with PPC Ad Creation and landing pages is a massive part of selling your product or website. An experienced copywriter who knows how to write copy that sells will increase your conversion rate.
Since landing pages tend to do better performance-wise than advertisements, it's crucial to have PPC, keyword-optimized landing pages in place. When a customer clicks your PPC ad, it will lead to a stand-alone landing page specifically meant to sell your services.
This type of customer targeting, combined with actionable reporting, is what makes or breaks the success of a business online. You should always know exactly where your business ranks, both with search engines and the potential customers who use them.
The beautiful thing about taking a business online is the limitless possibilities of consumer reach. You're one PPC ad away from world domination.
Digital Marketing in a Small Town: 3 Things to Keep in Mind
Digital marketing in a small town offers its own set of challenges. Social media and marketing plans are not one-size-fits-all, and your strategy should be tailored to the type of business you operate and where you are located.
Build your Marketing Presence
The first step you need to take to start digital marketing in a small town is to create your online presence. While this may seem obvious, a study by the University of Minnesota found that of the 14,000 rural businesses surveyed, more than half did not have a webpage that could be found on google.
Try to secure your business name on as many platforms as you can, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Snapchat. You may not end up using all of them but having a consistent username and image across sites helps to build brand recognition.
Focus On What Makes you Different
A big challenge for businesses in a small town is that your market and target audience is generally well-defined and not likely to change. As a result, you have to capture a large percentage of the market than you might need if you were operating in a big city.
A great way to combat this is to focus on what sets your business apart. Do you offer a unique experience that can only be found at your store, or are you a historic destination? You may not be able to compete with giant box-stores on price, but your customer experience is worth it.
Also, consider your competitors in town and what your competitive advantage is. The most important aspect of digital marketing is showing the world why they should choose to do business with you over anyone else.
Connect with your Community
Once you have set up your marketing platforms and identified what makes you unique, you must connect with your community. Listen to your customers, respond to feedback, and engage with them within the community.
Word of mouth is a huge source of new business, so in a small town, you must treat everyone as a potential customer. Participate in local events and offer an experience at your location that they can't get anywhere else – that is what keeps customers coming back. Find your local Chamber of Commerce and be sure to attend any events.
Digital marketing in a small town is not a simple task and requires thoughtful planning and execution. At Digital Swan, we offer online marketing services that can provide the digital marketing solution your business needs to thrive in a small town. Contact us today to get started!
What is a Sales Funnel?
Understanding the Sales Funnel
Simply put, a sales funnel is the process that helps a business move a potential customer closer to making a purchase or becoming a client. It is a step-by-step process and involves a series of actions such as automated emails, targeted videos and articles, and landing pages that will help the consumer move through the funnel.
The journey through the sales funnel typically begins with awareness – someone comes across your website or a product you are offering. The next stage is familiarization, where the potential consumer may engage with your website or social media page to learn more about your business. At this point, they will begin the consideration of whether they want or need your product and may ask questions. If the potential customer decides they do want to buy something from you, they move to the purchase area of the funnel. At this point, it is up to you to continue engaging them with your brand to build loyalty and generate additional business.
Although the sales funnel would traditionally end at the point of sale, today's consumers view this as the beginning of the relationship. If you can foster these relationships from the beginning, you will be able to take your business to the next level by getting referrals and upselling existing customers.
While the goal is to generate leads from a pool of potential consumers and get them to commit to a purchase at the end of the decision-making process, it is important to prevent it from stopping there.
Benefits of Using a Sales Funnel
Building an effective sales funnel is essential to growing your brand and creating a foundation of loyal customers. According to a survey by Entrepreneur, about 90% of leads sent to a sales department never take any action.
It can be easy to lose track of leads, but a sales funnel can help you remedy that. If you do not have an established process to follow up on leads and manage them, you may lose the momentum you had to push the consumer through the sales funnel. As a result, your growth may be inconsistent, and your pipeline will start to dry up.
Since the sales funnel is based on human behavior and the decision-making process, it offers a better way to understand the customer experience and allow you to make necessary improvements to ensure your pipeline is always full.
4 Fast Tips for Coming Up With Original Social Media Content
Constantly coming up with creative, original social media content that users want to read or watch until the end, and even share with their friends, can be challenging at times.
The good news is that there’s no shortage of websites and platforms where you can find the inspiration you need to craft original social media content that is interesting, that will add value to your community, and that will make you stand out from your competitors.
Read on and discover four essential tips for coming up with social media content ideas!
Understand What Your Audience’s FAQs Are
A post that answers a question you get all the time is a post that will help your prospect and current clients, and one that they will want to read until the end. Take a look at your comments and messages (and even the comments on your competitors’ pages), gather all your FAQs into a document, and create posts around those topics.
Keep Up With Trendy Topics
There are always trends on the World Wide Web that businesses can use to come up with new content.
Whether it is something industry-related or not (remember that time when everyone posted their version of the mannequin challenge?), keep an eye on any trendy topics and use any that make sense.
Check What Your Competitors Are Doing
Stealing ideas from competitors is never okay, but using them as inspiration is not only fine but actually a smart idea, as you can assess exactly what works with your target audience and what doesn’t.
Use a tool like Social Blade or Sprout Social to understand how your competitors are doing on social media, and utilize all relevant insights when drafting your own strategy.
Publish User-Generated Content
Who said all your content needs to be generated by yourself and no else? User-generated content is the best solution when you’re having a hard time coming up with high-quality content and using it couldn’t be simpler.
All you need to do is check for images, video, or even text that your followers have posted about your brand, ask them for permission to use it and… well, post it!