There are basically three entry points. Three places where you first meet, where you stop being strangers and the journey begins. It’s the beginning of a relationship you hoped would come. You laid the groundwork in anticipation…
No, this post isn’t about courting a spouse; it’s about courting customers. It’s about laying the proper groundwork for a long-term business relationship.
There are three ways for someone who has never heard about your company to arrive at your website or landing page:
- Paid ads
- Social media
If, like Tom Cochrane sang, life is a highway, you have to build an infrastructure that invites people to ride with you. This is the groundwork for those three entry points. You have to create an infrastructure before you can construct an on-ramp to begin the journey. The same holds true in digital marketing.
The Pillars of a Digital Marketing Infrastructure
The pillars for a digital marketing infrastructure are your website and social media channels. All other online marketing efforts point to or from those pillars. If your website isn’t easy to find or navigate, visitors won’t show up or stick around. If your social media accounts aren’t engaging or properly managed, people may struggle to trust you.
Let’s look at each pillar individually before moving on to the bigger picture.
Pillar #1 — What Every Website Needs
Your website serves a variety of purposes: digital business card, informative brochure, brand identity, sales instrument, and customer service portal. It’s kind of a big deal. Those are the basics. You’ve probably already thought through those pieces. Here are some things your website should include in order to be the pillar you need it to be.
- Your website should tell a story that properly explains who you are, what you do, and how you will make the visitor’s life better. The hero of that story should be the visitor, not your company, product, or service. Nobody likes to be in a conversation with someone who talks about themself the whole time. Show visitors that you understand their pain points and that you’re familiar with their particular context before you boast about how great you are or expect them to believe you have all the answers.
- Your website should have clear navigation, built on a nav bar that is specific enough for visitors to understand what to expect when they click a tab.
- Your website should have a way for visitors to contact you if they have questions:
- Live chat
- Contact form
- Phone number
- All of the above
- Your website should be responsive. That means that it displays well regardless of what size screen a visitor is using, desktop down to smartphone. People do most of their surfing on phones, so if your website only looks good on a laptop, there’s good chance you’re missing some opportunities.
- Your website should be optimized for search. This starts with the domain name and trickles down to the meta description and headlines on each individual web page.
- Your website should display lead capture forms so interested parties can share their contact information with you. It may double as a contact form or the bargaining chip for a valuable downloadable offer on a landing page. The goal is to gather contact information on qualified leads to pass along to your sales team.
- Your website should have pixels (more commonly referred to as cookies). Pixels “stick” to someone who visits your website and identify them as the target audience so they see your paid ads other places around the internet or on social media platforms. It’s a way to remind those who visited your site that you exist, keeping you top of mind for longer than the amount of time they spent on your site.
Pillar #2 — Why Businesses Need Social Media Pages
One of the first rules of marketing is to be where your target audience is. With rare exceptions, your target market is on social media. It’s just a matter of discovering which platform. Rather than rehashing the whys of social media in business here, I would encourage you to read the post an Ardent team member wrote about it.
Now that the pillars of the highway are established, let’s look at the elements at the top of the digital marketing funnel… the on-ramps to a customer journey, if you will.
On-ramp #1 — SEO
You want your website to be optimized for search because that’s how people find you. Using a combination of keywords, latent semantic indexing, and location, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing try to return the most relevant results to searchers trying to find something specific online. In essence, search engines have to decide between hundreds of thousands of websites to determine which ones to include on the first page of results. For example, if you’re a plumber in Kalamazoo, you want your business to show up on the first page of results (ideally in the number one spot) when somebody types “plumber in Kalamazoo” into the search bar or asks Alexa to find a plumber in the area. You need to convince the search engines your website is relevant to the search.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is ever-changing because the search engine algorithms are constantly being updated. There’s not room here to go into detail about how to optimize your website, but we’ve written some other posts that will give you an introductory idea about what you may need to do. There’s one about what SEO is, one about how SEO works, and one specifically about enterprise SEO.
On-ramp #2 — Paid ads
Because industries get saturated and because search engines and social media platforms are businesses that want to make a profit, too, often the most effective way to be found online is with paid ads. In the past, companies paid for advertising space in magazines or newspapers. More recently, companies have redirected those funds to digital advertising. Strategically placed (where your target market is), properly worded (taking search into consideration), and well targeted ads (capture your audience’s attention) point potential customers to your website or a specific landing page… for a fee. The fees vary depending on a number of factors like how competitive a keyword is or how often you want the ad to be seen and where.
On-ramp #3 — Social media posts
Social media posts are often the first impressions people have of your business, and first impressions tend to last. How you behave (and respond to behavior) on social media communicates volumes about your company. Unlike the other two on-ramps, social media is a more long-term game. It’s an environment for nurturing relationships with your customer base. The longer a potential customer follows your brand on social media, the more they’ll come to trust you and the more likely they’ll be to keep you top of mind when they make a purchasing decision. Think of social media as the front porch to closing a sale. Keep it swept and lay out the welcome mat to move folks down the funnel in the most hospitable way possible.
With two pillars and three on-ramps, the foundation is set for your target audience to easily navigate their journey to becoming customers. Let the courtship begin. If you need some advice along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out.