Enlarge Your Digital Footprint for More Effective Online Marketing
You may have heard of the phrase ‘ your Digital Footprint’ and you must know about online marketing if you have landed on this page. No? Fear not! I will walk you through these concepts in this post. I am feeling generous right now so I will go an extra mile and help you understand how to combine these two for your advantage.
Before we get started let’s see what we will be talking about in this article:
- What is Online Marketing and Digital Footprint?
- Baby steps to get you started
- Stepping up
- Taking your game to a whole new level
- Go an extra mile for an extra inch
Let’s start with the basics
The advent of social media has proved to be a game changer for businesses. Business owners never used to take internet seriously for marketing purposes. Well, in their defense there wasn’t any digital population to target back in the day
I am talking late 90’s and early 00’s. Situation has changed dramatically since 2008 when people first came to know of Facebook. Yes, nobody thought it was here to stay but guess what? There are around 1.71 billion Facebook users worldwide as of second quarter of 2016.
Anyone with keen business acumen could see the possibilities with access to such a huge number of potential customers. Mushrooming of Social media sites meant that businessmen could target a certain segment across the world using little resources. However, that being said, you need to have strong online marketing skills to effectively communicate your message to your targeted audience.
Online Marketing is not that different from conventional marketing. However, it needs a lot of research on marketer’s part. Some people mistake online marketing as social media marketing. The later is a crucial component of Online Marketing.
Social media marketing is limited to, as the name suggests, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+- to name a few. Online marketing includes taking your brand’s presence to places on internet, such as blogs, websites, emails, in addition to the social media.
Digital Footprint is defined as your online activity. Internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. I, for one, cannot get through the hour without checking for updates and notifications on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Honestly, I can not get through a meal without first posting it on Instagram and Snapchat.
There are a few, not even a handful, who think I am doing something out of the ordinary. In this era, everyone uses internet- be it to upload a million pictures a day on Facebook, give their opinion on topics which do not directly concern them on Twitter, read blogs and comment on them, email for professional use or watch funny cat videos on Youtube. You leave a mark on cyberspace each time you visit.
‘Everything lasts forever on the net’ is actually true. You can never fully delete anything once you hit SEND. I think I may be scaring you off at this point. What I meant was it is important that you are careful about what you post online.
To successfully brand yourself, you will need to enlarge your Digital Footprint. You will need to become visible- to increase search results and drive traffic to your website. If you are offering services, say website design or freelance, then you will need to think of it as ‘branding’ yourself as you would do for a product.
Example to work with
For this article we will work with one scenario with different real life examples wherever possible. Meet my friend Sam. She offers freelance services for content writing but wants to eventually create a strong online presence in order to be noticed by major leagues.
Take Your First Steps
If you are new to the whole online marketing business scene then there is no need to panic. You can start off with baby steps:
- The first thing you should do is to become active on social media sites.Post/ repost content related to your business/services on Facebook. Don’t let an opportunity pass to make your opinion heard on Twitter. Create an impressive profile on LinkedIn and connect with people in your industry. Take pictures and post the relevant ones on your Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.
- Blog as much as you can using the popular keywords.
- Create an engaging about me page or better yet create an about.me account.
- Comment on relevant blogs and make sure to leave useful information along with a link to your blog/website/about.me.
Slowly and gradually, you will build your brand identity. At this point your main focus should be getting visible on cyberspace.
Let’s talk about what Sam should do
Sam can start with putting snippets of her writings as Facebook posts. In parallel to that she can start working on her blog and initially share it on her Facebook timeline and Twitter.
Once she has people interested in her work she can create a Facebook page dedicated to her blog/website which will generate traffic. She should use picture posts to summarize her articles and post them on Instagram and Pinterest.
This is the age of content generation. We, as users of Internet, need to see something new every hour and the interesting thing is we do see something new. So you can imagine the amount of content that is being uploaded every second. Sure as a content generator it is well and good to be active on the social media sites but if you want your target audience to really remember you and relate to you then you will need to step up your game.
You can make videos and upload them on YouTube and Vimeo. You will need to step out of your comfort zone and just do it! These two sites are very powerful tools. Many people around the world use them for a number of purposes such as creative and educational.
Here is a real life example: a couple of years ago no one even knew who Lilly Singh a.ka. IISuperwomanII was,now she has millions of subscribers on YouTube. She made a few relatable videos, uploaded them on YouTube and shared them on social media sites. She is brilliant at what she does and that is how she has retained and increased her followers. The key, however, is to produce quality work.
There are various other techniques that you can incorporate in your online marketing strategies such as:
- People like colors and charts. They like information that can be absorbed in one glance. The best tools for that are Piktochart and Venngage
- Create Opt-In Email lists. Many businesses have started using this. They help you remain relevant. If your targeted user receives an email once a month or every quarter which updates them on what you have been up to, chances are they will remember you better. Yes, the emails may get annoying so it is up to you to gauge which frequency suits your purpose. Try to make these emails short and colorful. Try to direct as much traffic to your blog/website as you can.
- Make Vines. Human attention span has decreased lower than a Goldfish- a creature who is considered to be distracted quite easily. The vines help you make short videos, lasting merely 8 seconds (equivalent to our attention span), to get your message across. These can be then shared on your Facebook page.
- Plan out your content. For example the business owner of Yeah local, Justin Herring, puts great emphasis on content planning. He recommends several content planning and analyses tools to make your content rank higher by means of adding value for your users, not repeating what has already been said and curating it in an attractive way. You should thoroughly plan out your content, specifically focus on the keywords, the length of the content and how you would present it. Yes, we talked about keywords before, but they are the backbone of what we are doing here.
- Use Google Analytics to gather data to your advantage. The data consists of variables such as which site is generating the most traffic. This can be very useful. You can target these sites more vigorously.
Employing the above methodologies in your marketing routine will definitely put you on the map.
Let’s check on how Sam is doing. She is creating new content regularly and taking baby steps. What our friend Sam can now do is make a relevant video, upload it on YouTube, embed the video or the link on her website and share the link of her website on different social media platforms.
She can also add a feature on her website where she asks her target audience to sign up for eNewsletter. This can be used to send notification to the email list when she uploads a new post. If Sam follows these instructions, she is on her way to big things.
Taking it to a whole new level
One of the best ways to expand your horizons is to Guest blog. I, personally, think it is a very good concept. It is a win-win situation. You write an article for another blog, it in turn creates traffic for your website. You will, similarly, be driving traffic for that blog. Initially, write for anything and anyone. Yes, I know there are blogs which let just anyone write for them but this will be advantageous for you provided you write brilliantly and leave a mark.
You should keep track of sites that you eventually want to be published on. Send emails, tweets to the curators or editors. Just keep in mind you want to be too persistent. Once you have established yourself as a guest blogger, start applying to big names. There are a number of opportunities available, you just need to keep an eye open for them.
You can also Webcast. It is quite popular these days, especially after the new ‘Live’ feature Facebook introduced recently. It is very important to interact with your target audience. Do Q&A sessions, show that you really know what you are doing.
Now this is the moment to shine. By this point you will get interviewed and get mentioned on relevant industry websites. This will drive major traffic to your website, important people will notice you and will get a chance to be published on a site of your choice.
Our friend, Sam, can start appearing as a guest blogger on various sites. She should show consistency in her quality of work. Along with all that she can subtly start tweeting to the editors of the big sites. People will start noticing her. They will be curious about her and start exploring her website. Maybe someone from a big site will like her work and contact her.
After that, who knows? She may get continuously published on the sites of her liking. She will get interviewed and get more noticed.
Go an extra mile for an extra inch
Internet is constantly evolving. Techniques which may seem relevant now may not apply two years from now. It never hurts to stay in touch with what is happening in the industry, more specifically how things are happening online.
Meeting people on social platforms, online and offline, may prove to be helpful. Join different groups, attend seminars or just have a chat with someone over coffee. You may feel skeptical now but I know you will thank me later!