If you run a business which has built a base of clients from your existing network and through referrals but are now looking to push on this is for you. Digital marketing is a great next step for you to systematically and predictably grow your business.
The world of digital marketing can seem overwhelming, complicated and saturated. However, if my experience of working with business owners like yourself is anything to go by - you’re an adaptable lot, with can-do attitudes and a willingness to try new things.
You’ve also likely come to the realisation it’s challenging to predictably grow a business off the back of referral clients/projects and therefore find it hard to accurately forecast your growth, cashflow, recruitment needs etc. By utilising digital marketing we can start to put these forecasts and goals in place for you to consistently and predictably plan and manage your growth.
So we’ve established there is a need for digital marketing to grow your business and you’re willing to try it - now how do you go about getting started? Well over the course of this article I’m going to lay out what we at Trellis believe are the fundamentals of successful digital marketing for a growing business.
One of the first things we like to work on with new clients is establishing a clear and defined target audience for your business. You’d be surprised how often we work with clients when this hasn’t been discussed or properly outlined. Businesses who come to us often have a wide mix of their own clients from across multiple industries, sectors, locations in a range of sizes with a variety of goals.
To be honest that’s how we started too, our first 20 or so clients were across a real mix of industries of varying sizes. We all know it’s not easy to start a new business so as is often the case, within reason companies take on work as it’s presented to them which can often lead to a fairly eclectic mix. This is not always a great way to build a business but it can certainly help to get you going.
So this step is now about defining exactly the type of client you want to be working with, and importantly who you feel your business can add the most value to. We go through a process with you of creating what we call buyer personas, these are an example of the types of decision makers you’re looking to engage with and ultimately work with.
I’m happy to share an example of one of our buyer personas with you. We’re looking to work with owner-managed businesses in London, with a turnover of between £0.5-2.5m, a team of 5-20 staff operating across the property sector. If that’s you, by the way, get in touch!
Clients often find this a truly valuable exercise, those involved become really engaged in the process and it often leads them to some real clarity in who their business is serving and where they want to go. We can then get into reviewing and packaging your services/products to meet the needs of your target audience.
Of course to have got to this stage you will have a fairly well defined offer for your clients, although again it’s not uncommon for clients to have a real mixed bag of project briefs all billed at different rates with a variety of add-ons and extras.
What we want to now do with you is to review your previous activity and pull out the consistent elements, remove the unnecessary and package your offer up in a way that works for your target audience.
It may be through what you do, you need to be flexible and have a diversity of offering with multiple options or additions, and if that suits your target audience that is fine. We still however need to find a way to package up and present this in a way which appeals to your buyer personas.
For instance we’ve created two distinct packages for our inbound marketing services, as we’ve found to truly deliver a good service we have to provide all of the elements included. The key differentiation is that between the two packages, we either provide the content or the client does. We’ve created this option based on our research and going through this process as we know that is what our target audience wants.
Once we have this information along with your buyer personas it provides the foundation of going on to create a digital strategy for your business.
This isn’t about using your valuable time to teach the basics, as a successful business owner you’ll already be well versed in strategy and planning but we have found business owners do often have different definitions of the above so it can be worth confirming.
For us strategy is about a high-level guide of what your business is, why it exists, what you want to achieve and outlining how you/we/us intend to go about achieving those goals. Of course, we’re focusing on digital marketing for you but this strategy will overlap with your top-level business strategy and again business owners tell us it’s a valuable process to review this again and ensure the overall business strategy is aligned to not only their marketing but sales and service strategies too.
Therefore we believe an effective strategy should include the following;
- Outline your brand values
- Mission statement
- Competitor analysis
- Your USPs
- Your offer
- Position in the market
- Your target audience
- Buyer personas
- Set out your goals
- Roles and responsibilities
It’s also worth noting as with your digital marketing plan this should be a dynamic document which is regularly reviewed and updated as your business and the market you operate in continues to grow and develop.
Now off the back of a clear strategy we then move on to creating a digital marketing plan for you, this is where we get into the details and actions to make your strategy happen.
A digital marketing plan should therefore include the following;
- Marketing channels (content, social media, Google ads, etc.)
- Campaign plan
- Target audience
- Stage of buying journey
- Team responsibilities
- Channel performance
Even though we’ve touched on this as part of your digital strategy and planning, KPIs and reporting deserve their own section as we passionately believe they are crucial to any success you’ll have with digital marketing.
As an agency ourselves we’ve built our reputation off the our strength in gathering and analysing data. It still baffles me to this day how many agencies exist whereby they spend significant budgets from their clients and can’t/don’t accurately report on the numbers for them to know exactly what they’re getting back from their investment (I’m not agency bashing - there are loads of good ones too!).
Before we launch any campaigns for clients we ensure as a team we’ve clearly defined the KPIs and goals and have put the correct tracking and structures in place to be able to accurately gather and report this data for you. Without doing that you’ll never know what’s working, how to improve your campaigns or where to assign your budget.
This is another area our clients tend to get some great value from, because not only do we provide data on active campaigns we’re running for them we’ll also look into historical data or identify trends they didn’t know existed for their business they can use to their advantage.
This overlaps slightly with the above but it’s all good and well have all the data in the world but if we don’t do anything with it for you it’s not much use. So a key part of digital marketing and what we do as an agency is to review this data and provide actionable insights and suggestions off the back of it.
For example with an ecommerce client we identified users where dropping off their checkout page as they say the discount code box and left the site to find a discount code - as the client wasn’t actively running any discount codes we simply removed this option and they saw an immediate increase in their conversion rate.
For a B2B client we identified that their buying journey was too short and people weren’t ready to submit their details to be contacted after a small number of visits to the site. We created a downloadable ebook providing value to their prospects in exchange for their details, which led to a huge increase in subscribers and ultimately leads and new clients.
As always in business it’s often simple but effective changes that deliver results, which without accurate data we or you would not have been able to identify and act upon.
"Trellis are detail oriented, forward thinking and most of all take an overall approach. John has been great at sharing useful information with us, which has been extremely helpful."
Wesley - Founder, Vênoor Living
We hope you found that useful as a high-level introduction to the fundamentals of digital marketing for growing businesses. If you’re ready to explore further into the benefits of digital marketing for your business then download our free digital marketing strategy template.