In today’s fast-paced digital environment, it is important in order for your business to thrive, that you have a strong online presence. Digital marketing is a go-to strategy that will bring your company to new heights. No matter what your business model, even if you do all of your business offline, there are a lot of benefits to having a strong online presence. Even if you don’t offer any online services, all of your customers are online at some point during the day. According to a study conducted by MIT, people spend an average of 24 hours a week online. That means one out of seven days of the week is spent entirely online. Any good business owner will tell you that for your business to grow, you have to be where the people are. Getting to Know Your Target Customer Some of the best digital marketing campaigns are the ones that are planned out well. Targeting is important. To stand out online, first you need to realize that there are literally trillions of pages of content online. In order for your customers to find you, it is important to be very specific with the parameters of your campaign. You need to make sure you are targeting the right people at the right time. That is why getting to know your customer is a vital first step for a digital marketing campaign. Start by creating an ideal customer profile. Once you have the ideal person in mind, try to walk a mile in their shoes. Understand the customer’s buying process. For example, a report released by the Ecommerce Foundation found that 88% of consumers research a product or service online before going to buy. If you have a strong online presence, this means those people will be coming to you. Create a Grounded Framework for Your Marketing Campaign The key to a good digital marketing campaign is to build one with realistic and grounded parameters. It is very easy for an online marketing budget to balloon up and lose focus. The goal is a lean and mean marketing strategy. You only want to spend when and where you have to. So start by coming up with a realistic budget. What can your company afford? Once you know what you can afford, try to develop a location-based, and interest-based campaign. You don’t want your target to be too broad. For example, if you have a sporting goods store, you don’t want to develop a campaign or content marketing strategy that just talks about sports. There is too much competition. Instead, make a campaign about local sports events in the area. This grounded framework will produce a much better ROI. Consult a Professional Digital Marketing Firm Digital marketing is such a diverse and fast-growing field, that it is a good idea if you don’t ‘have much experience in it to bring in a professional. Running your business takes plenty of talent and expertise itself, so there is no shame in handing over your marketing strategy to an outside team that is knowledgeable and experienced in establishing an online presence. These X questions help me focus my search for qualified professionals when I need a helping hand with our digital marketing. Who are the team members? It’s easy to find a snazzy site with lots of graphics, stock photos and a killer template. But, don’t be fooled by the window dressing. What matters is the team behind the website – the people doing the hard-work on your behalf. They need to be experienced and capable of delivering results. What projects have they worked on? One of the best ways to assess a team’s track-record is with case studies. If all they have are a few testimonials, remember that those can be easily faked. The reason that I like looking for case studies is that they go far beyond a simple testimonial. A quality case study will show you where the project started, what steps the team took to improve it and add value, and finally, where the project ended up. You want to see real value in what they did – which should translate to improvements to your bottom-line when you hire them. Pay careful attention to how they communicate. The quality of their communication is a solid indicator as to how professional they are. Being able to understand each other is just step one. Are they asking a ton of time-wasting questions? In other words, are they efficient with your time. An experienced digital marketing firm will be able to quickly extract the information they need in order to give you valuable insights. A novice firm will need to send countless emails, be caught flat-footed during meetings and require unnecessary hand-holding. Are they open to a trial period? If you’re on the fence about hiring a digital marketing agency, it’s time to think about offering them a trial contract. The more specific the tasks, the better. Your goal is to assess their ability to deliver. Gain a commitment from them on a specific benchmark, as well as a timeframe in which they feel it can be achieved. Seeing their team in action will allow you to decide whether or not they are the best fit for your company. And remember, ensure that your contract has very specific protections surrounding your branding and intellectual property. If you decide to terminate your relationship, you don’t want them utilizing elements of your brand. In conclusion…. If you aren’t online, you’re nowhere. A google search is one of the first things potential customers do when engaging with an unfamiliar brand. You can do some of the basics on your own, but marketing is a full-time job. The entrepreneurs that try to juggle everything on their own end up stressed out and ineffective. So, you should carefully consider bringing in some professional help.