The Internet is a great place to do business, whether you’re a retailer selling a line of products or a service provider making your living online. There is, however, one age-old problem with a business that never seems to go away: people won’t buy what they don’t know about. This is where digital marketing comes in.
Digital marketing (aka online marketing or internet marketing) basically involves using various tools and services to let your business reach a wider base of potential customers. Good digital marketing will bring in a significant number of clients, keep them interested and then make more than happy to purchase more of your products.
A not-so-good digital marketing program, however, will be a complete waste of time and money. In the worst-case scenario, you could even end up doing more harm than good to your business if the marketing strategy is poorly thought out.
Strangely enough, most people fail in their digital marketing strategies not because they lack the knowledge or the technical capabilities to make good use of social media ads. SEO, good design, opt-in lists, landing pages, email marketing – all of this will not matter if the would-be marketer does not know how to succeed with the tools at his or her disposal.
Let me be clear: this post is not a technical manual on the finer points of digital marketing. No tutorials, no tests, no benchmarks. This introduction into the world of digital marketing aims to supplement your technical know-how and give you an idea of what to do with your skill and knowledge. It will allow you to channel your efforts and create far-reaching plans.
In short, I hope to teach you how to be successful in your first year in digital marketing, or what to expect when working with an outsourced digital marketer.
The Mindset of a Successful Digital Marketer
A successful marketer needs a vision to be able to succeed. No, I am not talking about some grand, messianic vision or something. I am talking about a vision that will define where all the Internet marketing efforts will go to. This vision will allow you to focus your efforts on something more productive and will allow you to truly succeed in digital marketing.
But before you can define your vision, you must first assume the mindset of a successful marketer. This mindset is in turn composed of different frames of thought. Here are some of the more important ones:
Honest and sincere
The very first thing I must tell you is that no truly successful digital marketer is a sham and a fraud.
The stereotype of the digital marketer that waits for you to catch his bait is an image that is, sadly, more commonly adopted than I would like. But let me tell you that being a successful Internet marketer means being successful in the long run – and you cannot be successful in the long run if you start your career as a fraudster.
The rewards from fraudulent sales or deceptive marketing strategies are immediate and attractive, but you cannot build a marketing empire with foundations laid on lies and deceptions.
A digital marketer with a name built upon reliable business and customer satisfaction will yield more rewards in the long run than an anonymous ghost who should change names every now and then lest he/she face criminal charges.
Willing to experiment
One of the marks of a successful digital marketer is the willingness to try things out.
Many would-be marketers spend years studying how to be effective in online marketing. This is all well and good, but all this will be for nothing if you are not willing to put your skills out on the open market where it will be tested under pressure.
The truth of the matter is that there is no absolute recipe for success as a digital marketer. You grit your teeth and dive into the whole mess. You learn faster, and you will be able to find out what works and what does not in your line of work. Even your mistakes cannot be considered as failures if you learn from them and use that knowledge to better yourself.
Reflects and learn from mistakes
Just because an experiment fails does not mean you should just up and forget it.
The whole point of experimenting is to find out what works and what does not. If something you implemented does not work, like a weak landing page or faulty search engine optimization, then you should go back and trace where the mistake stemmed from.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you reflect upon any problems you encounter in your digital marketing campaign. What went wrong, how did it go wrong, how can I fix it and how can I improve on it? These four questions are staples when it comes to reflecting on and learning from any mistakes.
Seeks excellence in all that needs to be done
Good enough is a far cry for very good, even though both are “good” in a sense.
Excellence is when you give your best to everything you do. This excellence is not optional if you want to be a successful digital marketer. You don’t cut corners, you should never do a sloppy job and you don’t say “this is good enough.” Excellence is basically about making sure that you do as good a job as you can.
This pursuit of excellence will always drive you to find better and better ways of doing things, greatly increasing productivity and efficiency. Best of all, your customers will immediately recognize this excellence and will be more willing to at least check out what you are offering.
Sets competitive standards to meet
There is another reason you need to seek excellence – the best and most threatening of your competitors also do the same.
You must always understand what your competitors are up to. You must know what they offer, how they do things, how they market themselves and even how successful they are. If excellence will push you further up in your marketing efforts, then your competition will define the bare minimum you need to work with.
This is especially useful when you are new to digital marketing. Your competitors will most likely have been around for quite a long time already and will have spent a significant amount of time and money to get where they are now. All you need to do is analyze how they do things and you will be able to benefit the most from your competitor’s existing practices.
Understands the needs of the customer
This is cliché, I know, but it is something so many new digital marketers overlook that it is worth pointing out once again.
All people have needs. If somebody comes along selling something that will satisfy my needs (or allow me to grow my business), then I will be more than happy to part with my hard-earned money. This simple fact underscores the importance of spending time, money and effort reaching out and understanding the needs of your target customer base.
Many first-time digital marketers also have this frame of thought where they believe that exploiting their customers and wringing money from them as quickly as possible is the only way to survive. This thinking cannot be more flawed. Any kind of business, digital marketing included, will only survive if trust is built between customer and client.
Reaches out and ‘touches’ customers
This is another cliché, yes, but it is nonetheless important: your customers must feel that you genuinely care about their satisfaction.
I have come across so many marketing tactics that look and feel stale and too focused on selling a product. The marketers here have made a fatal mistake: they got too absorbed with exploiting the needs of the customer rather than connecting to these needs. You must always show that the products and services you offer are solutions to a problem, not just tools you use to squeeze money out from customers.
It is also worth note that you should not try too hard to “sell” your product to a potential client. I have come across numerous sales pages with a ton of testimonies, videos, promos, guarantees and smiling faces all promising one thing or another. The marketers behind these pages were trying so hard to convince me to buy their products that I simply got turned off and left the page before even finding out what they wanted to sell to me.
Transparent about everything
People will be more willing to buy a product if they know exactly what they are getting.
Many marketers love to use fancy prose, grand promises, and technical jargon to impress potential customers. This isn’t such a bad thing in most cases, but all this grandstanding will be for nothing if the potential client does not understand what the heck they are looking at. Be as transparent as you can about what you sell and you will find customers much more willing to do business with you.
This is especially important for product pricing and fees. You would be surprised at how many sales pages exist on the Internet that do not list the actual costs of purchasing a product or service. Lots of promises and lots of testimonies, yes, but the lack of information on something as basic as pricing is enough to turn most people away from the site. In our case, we have a starting package, a high-end package for online business management, and customized packages based on each unique client’s needs. This gives our clients an idea of if what we’re able to do at several price points.
Builds a network of partners
Digital marketing is not a one-man (or one-woman) job. You will need the help of a lot of people to make yourself truly successful in this field of work.
Once you get down to the more complicated aspects of digital marketing, you will inevitably find yourself working with a whole host of people: content creators, writers, project managers, virtual assistants, reviewers, accountants, customer care etc. Everyone you meet is a potential partner, so always take the opportunity to create and expand your network whenever you can.
Even fellow digital marketers can prove to be useful partners. You could swap customers by selling products and services that complement the business of the other market. For example, marketer A sells fiction e-books via Amazon while marketer B sells leather covers for the Amazon Kindle. Both marketers could work together to promote each other’s products; effectively sharing their customer base with each other.
Emotionally balanced about the business
Nobody is a heartless machine, but breaking down into an emotional wreck all the time can’t be good for business.
A successful digital marketer needs to be completely objective when it comes to making business decisions. Your personal life must not seep into your work, especially when your marketing efforts start to get distorted in the process. Beliefs, opinions, biases and even political affiliations must be kept separate from work, otherwise, they could blind you from seeing things as they really are.
This also goes for the success and failure of your digital marketing ventures. Online marketing is a fast-moving world, which means things die off as quickly as they are born. Look long and hard at your marketing programs and be impartial about which ones are worth spending energy on and which ones need to be dropped.
Uses money productively and efficiently
One of the more common problems with business owners is that they do not know how to use their money wisely.
Let’s say you have earned a thousand dollars in sales from your most successful marketing campaign. Bills and taxes are paid, and you still have $500 left over. What will you do with this money? Will you purchase educational materials, obtain marketing tools and hire people to handle the time-consuming tasks, or will you blow it all on a fancy tablet?
Remember that the money you earn is not something you have to spend right away. It is a resource that you can use to make your marketing campaigns even more successful in the future. You could even use that money to save up for retirement or as a mortgage down payment. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you always ‘invest’ your money in something that will be truly beneficial to you.
Willing to innovate and create
There are a lot of marketing programs out there that can introduce you to the basics but do not ever forget to be creative.
There is often no need to reinvent the wheel, and there are plenty of instances where you can learn from the experiences of the successful (and not-so-successful) businesses out there. But you do have to remember that people are constantly learning and evolving as well. What might have worked two, three years ago will be done to death by now – especially considering the breakneck pace of evolution over the Internet.
It is for this reason that a successful marketer is always willing to try out new things. These new things may not always be successful or turn a profit right away, but they will always impart valuable knowledge to the marketer and business owners at the end of the day. This is especially important when you consider the next frame of thought that is present in the mindset of successful digital marketers.
‘Hungry’ for more and more knowledge
The last but most certainly not the least of important mindsets of a successful digital marketer is the ever-increasing desire to learn more about his or her business.
You must never, ever stop thinking that you know enough to keep you on top of your business. The world of business is ever-evolving, with new players (and competitors) coming in with their innovative and creative methods. The last thing you want to do is to fall behind the competitive curve simply because you are not on top of the latest news and information regarding your business.
It is for this reason that you must always be hungry to learn whatever you can about your business. Talk to your customers. Know what makes them happy and what frustrates them. Find out how you can do to operate more effectively on a day-to-day basis. Learn how to make more with less. These are but a handful of areas that you can focus on.
Be hungry for knowledge, and you will be able to stay on top of the game always.
The Obstacles That Successful Digital Marketers Need to Overcome
No marketing campaign is an overnight success. Even the most successful digital marketers have faced their fair share of troubles. What separates them from failed marketers, however, is that they realized their errors and did what they needed to do to succeed.
A successful digital marketer needs to identify possible obstacles that will get in the way before dealing with them. Here are some of the more common ones that most people face when starting out:
Fear of failure
Fear is the single biggest obstacle that many budding marketers need to overcome.
This fear can be caused by a variety of reasons, from fearing a waste of time and money to fearing what other people are saying about you. Fear can even snake its way into your mind even when you have established yourself as a pretty successful marketer, especially when something unexpected happens.
Just remember one thing: everybody fails at one point or another. You just pick up the pieces, learn from your mistakes and soldier on as best you can. The only time you truly fail as a digital marketer is when you throw your hands in the air and give it all up.
Another pretty common obstacle that digital marketers need to face is being bombarded with too much information.
The large number of books, courses, and “gurus” out there can provide a lot of information, from books on marketing psychology to webinars on the finer points of search engine optimization. All this information is useful, yes, but you do have to take things one step at a time. Trying to learn them all at once will only overload you with information that you have no idea how to use and bog you down in studying instead of marketing.
It is for this reason that you should start out with articles like this one: free from technical jargon and simple to understand. Once you understand and master the basics, you will slowly begin to look for more advanced concepts to work with. Remember to start out slow, apply what you learn and then find out what you need to learn. This will make it so that you won’t be overloaded with the information available to you.
Overemphasis on sales
Another very common problem with first-time digital marketers is pushing too hard to sell a product.
It’s not a bad thing to try and convince someone to shell out money for whatever you have. It is, however, a bad thing if the only thing you push people too hard. How would you feel if you entered a website and all it had were these loud, obnoxious “BUY NOW” signs all over it?
It is precisely this reason that you must first connect with potential customers before trying to make a sale. How do you connect with potential customers? Find out their wants and needs. Let them know that you know what they want and need. Show them how you can meet their wants and needs with your product. Once you do this, THEN you convince them to buy your products.
Inability to build a lead list
Digital marketing relies heavily on finding people to sell your product to, and this is most commonly done by building a lead list of your own.
Many marketers think that they can get away with ‘buying’ leads from third parties. This is a HUGE mistake. NEVER buy leads.
You must learn how to build a lead list from the ground up. You will become much more familiar with your potential customers, and you will understand them better as a result. Such a well-tailored list will allow you to focus all your efforts on appealing to an audience that is more than willing to consider the products and services you are offering.
Inability to utilize a list
Just because you built a lead list does not mean that your problems are solved.
A lead list is a simple list of people who are willing to consider what you are offering. This does not mean that they are willing to part with their money just yet, and it is very easy to mess things up if you are not able to appeal to your potential customers strongly enough.
This is where the marketing tactics you will inevitably learn come in. An attractive newsletter, a comprehensive sales letter, an amazing landing page, an assuring guarantee and a convincing product will all come together to turn a lead into a paying customer – exactly what you have been looking for from the very start.
Inability to follow up on a sale
Just because a customer has paid once does not mean the customer will not pay again.
This is one of the more frequently forgotten aspects of digital marketing. A customer’s satisfaction will dictate his or her attitude towards any future products you may have to offer. You effectively lose out on further sales if you just leave your customers as-is.
It is for this reason that you should follow up with your customers. Checking up on their satisfaction will make them feel as if you care about their wellbeing, and doing so will give you an opportunity to present to them offers that could further enhance their satisfaction. This will make an existing customer into a repeat customer, which is good for both your business and reputation as an Internet marketer.
Failure to create a system
You do not need to reinvent the wheel each time you build a cart.
Being creative and innovative is good, but there are just some things that you do not need to do all over again. Too many digital marketers strike out here, there, and everywhere without actually getting anything done in the long run. This lack of organization can make even simple processes much, much harder than they should be.
A system is a perfect tool to deal with this problem. Many marketing gurus out there will often sell you a system of how they do things. Some are good, some are bad and some are outright shams. The important thing to remember here is that you need to note what works and what doesn’t. Document how you did things and slowly come up with a plan or system. Keep working on refining this system and you will have a pattern that will allow you to deal with the basics of marketing without spending too much time and effort in the process.
Lack of depth in marketing
You won’t be able to sell something if you try to sell it to everybody.
Remember that the Internet is made up of a vast array of people, each with their own specific wants and needs. You could spend a lot of time, effort and money building up an extensive list of potential customers and then marketing to these potential customers, but all that could end up for nothing if none of them don’t care for whatever it is you are offering.
Therefore, you should narrow down your target audience and add depth to your marketing efforts. Make sure that you know who you want to sell to and then appeal to the wants and needs of your target audience. This will allow you to make sure that the products and services you market will find their way to people who will be more likely to shell out money for them at the end of the day.
Lack of breadth of marketing
There is also another problem when you keep all your eggs in one basket.
It is good to start out slow and steady when you are new to Internet marketing, but it is all too easy to pigeon-hole yourself into one service or product. Focusing too deeply unto one business leaves you vulnerable to any wide-scale problems that affect your product or service. You could find yourself in very deep trouble if revolutionary technologies suddenly replace the product you have been selling for years and years or your supply chain is interrupted due to a bankrupted company.
It is for this reason that you should tinker with a few other industries in the world of marketing and get yourself established elsewhere. This will allow you to survive even if your primary product or service finds itself in any unforeseen problems.
Lack of purpose
Some people say that marketing is all about the numbers. I beg to differ.
Digital marketing can very quickly and very suddenly become a boring enterprise. Things just start to become mind-numbingly repetitive once you establish yourself as a marketer and become familiar with all the various ins and outs of the business. This is one reason why some successful digital marketers decide to drop out of the game and pursue other interests.
Truly successful online marketers that stay for the long run all have one thing in common: they have something that pushes them to excel in marketing.
Whether it’s love, obligation, financial gain or even something as grand as establishing a financial empire, you must have a reason to excel. This will give you the encouragement you need to keep forging ahead despite all the difficulties and setbacks you will inevitably encounter.
Ready for more? Go read Part 2 of Introduction to the World of Digital Marketing!
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