— Last updated on January 29, 2022 —
The purpose of digital marketing is to use digital technologies and processes to promote your business, brand, and website, but most of all, it’s about connecting with customers in a meaningful way that inspires them to take action.
You will find out that most of the digital marketing hype is basically worthless in the long run.
My focus when I work with clients on their online growth strategies is purely on sustainable, long-term growth. If you don’t focus on that, you’ll be constantly seeking a new way to grow.
The goal of this guide is to help you understand and demystify what it takes to have success in digital marketing.
This guide is not only for beginners; it can apply to any online business owner who wants to get more traffic, leads, or sales.
If you are looking for some quick wins, then this isn’t the place for you. This is a slow-burn strategy where you need to put in the time and effort to build up your presence organically over a period of time.
There are no magic tricks here, just proven methods that will give you results.
Ads Are Like a Faucet
I’ll explain what I mean by ads are like a faucet, but let me explain the underlying problem, which is business awareness.
First, you need to generate awareness about your business, right? Most people automatically think of ads as a way to do so.
You don’t need ads to grow your business.
We should heavily rely on ads only in two cases:
- To validate an idea, product, or service as fast as possible.
- To amplify what is working organically.
Let me address these two points, and then I’ll explain the reasoning behind this.
When you start a business, you often have an idea of what you want to sell. You may even have a product or service ready to go. But there is one thing missing from your plan: validation.
How would you know if your idea has potential?
How would you know if your product or service is good enough to actually make money?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably haven’t done much research into the market before starting your business. So you’re relying on gut instinct and hope.
But guess what? It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a business because you love doing something or because you hate your job.
Your initial motivation does not determine whether your business will succeed or fail.
So how do you validate your ideas?
One of the easiest ways to validate your ideas is by talking to others about them, and the fastest way to achieve that is to invest in ads.
The faster you can get positive or negative feedback, the better.
You can hear some digital marketing guru tell you what product or service you should offer, but until you’ve validated it yourself, you won’t really know if it’s worth pursuing.
When you have a product or service that people are willing to buy without any hesitation and are willing to promote, that means you’ve got something going for you.
Then you can amplify that through ads.
You should see this as adding fuel to an existing fire, not creating a whole new flame.
Ads will not be effective at converting visitors into buyers if you don’t already have a proven track record of people wanting to buy what you have to offer.
So, amplification works only if you have a strong organic foundation first.
Why not pay for ads and why is it like a faucet?
When you spend money on ads, it is like turning on a tap. The moment you stop spending money, the water stops flowing.
In other words, when you stop paying for ads, they stop generating revenue for you.
If you don’t have a foundation for business growth sorted out, it’s like pouring money down a drain.
Hopefully, my analogy makes sense.
But truly, the real digital marketing strategy does not rely on paid advertising as the only source of generating business awareness.
Building a solid foundation of organic traffic and sales is the secret to long-term success, and it takes time to build.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use paid ads. They can be very useful in certain situations, but only in certain scenarios.
Allocating your time, effort, and money to something that might, from my perspective, work is not good practice.
It is important to remember that you need to allocate resources to the right place.
Take Problem Personally
When you focus on a problem, you tend to think less about yourself and more about the problem itself. This is exactly what we all need to do when we are trying to solve a problem.
We must take ourselves out of the equation and look at things objectively. This helps us identify problems and solutions that may not even occur to us.
I am saying this because, at the end of the day, all that business is really about is solving a problem for a particular group of people.
When you recognize a really painful problem and obsess over it, you will be able to think about the solution much more clearly than anyone else.
Digital marketing can help you a lot with this because it allows you to get feedback from customers and prospects.
This feedback can be used to make changes to your products and services.
One additional thing that happens when you take a problem personally is that your drive to work harder and smarter will increase dramatically.
This is true because when you are obsessed with a problem, you become driven to find a solution.
This is great news for you because you are now focused on finding a solution instead of just complaining about the competition, prices, customers, or whatever else.
When you have the best solution and you constantly keep improving it, that’s where the real joy and excitement come from.
The cost of marketing will be drastically reduced because of digital marketing efforts that will be effortless.
You’ll also see a dramatic improvement in customer engagement and retention rates. People want someone who deeply cares about solving specific problems, and if that’s you or your business, then you’re already ahead of most businesses.
Transparency is Attractive
Showing to the world what you are working on, how your business is growing, what you are struggling with, and how you are overcoming these challenges is attractive.
People love transparency.
It shows them that you care enough to share what you know with others. And sharing knowledge is one of the most powerful ways to grow a brand.
Traditional marketing methods can not compete with the power of transparency and authenticity. You can not hide behind a paywall anymore.
If you want to succeed online, you have to show up and be transparent.
You don’t have to be a TikTok star, but a simple, documented process of how you’re going to achieve your goals is enough.
Content marketing is an effective way to achieve transparency in your business. The content you create should answer questions like “why should I buy from you?” , “what do you stand for?” and “how is your product/service different?”.
In addition, you should provide value by providing information that is helpful to your audience.
The key here is to always ask yourself why someone would choose you over another company. What makes you unique?
In order to answer those questions, you need to understand your customer.
People like people, not logos
One thing I want to expand is content creation and the common problem I see businesses make is hiding behind a brand. Not showing their true colors and being afraid to put themselves out there.
Being vanilla or always in the middle is not the way to go.
People like to connect with people, and every individual has something special to offer. We should never forget that we are all human beings first and brands second.
If you want to build a successful business, you need to stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a person who wants to solve problems.
Focus on Less Then Do More
One of the biggest secrets of digital marketing is knowing your customers to the point where they feel like family. Empathizing with your audience and understanding their needs is essential.
Focusing only on one person, understanding real problems, and having a clear picture of what they are going through on a day-to-day basis is the secret sauce of success.
It’s easy to get lost in numbers and statistics, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on them.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to know everything about everyone to win.
What you need to do is find out who your target market is, what they struggle with, what they enjoy doing, and then use this information to help them achieve their goals.
This is also known as the “Narrow Focus Technique.”
This technique helps you narrow down the amount of time and energy you spend on each prospect.
By focusing on fewer prospects at once, you will save time while still getting more done.
The best part is that you won’t waste any time trying to sell it to people who aren’t interested.
Focus on one channel
Where does your ideal or potential customer spend time? Would they read a blog post, watch a video, listen to a podcast, or something else?
You must know what that one channel is so you can do more of it.
For example, if you run a blog, you might want to write posts that are relevant to your niche. If you are selling products, you might want to create videos explaining features and benefits.
User experience is not something that relates to your website. It is an entire perception of how your potential customer feels when interacting with you before they even come to your website.
Ditch complicated marketing campaigns until you dominate one single channel.
There are many ways to promote your product online. However, most companies fail because they try too hard to be everywhere at once.
They end up spreading themselves thin and losing focus.
Instead, focus on one platform and master it. Once you have mastered it, move onto the next.
When you master one channel, you’ll be able to understand how to better utilize other channels for maximum results.
Mastering one channel means you’re ready to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.
Mastering one channel means you’ve got your act together. You’re focused and ready to make things happen.
Shiny Objects in Digital Marketing
Very often, I see marketers talk about conversion rate optimization, SEO optimization, marketing automation, etc.
When your marketing plan has a solid foundation, these things can make a significant improvement.
But there is a problem.
Often times, these “shiny objects” are for most businesses because they are not at the stage where they even need to focus on optimization because they don’t have anything solid to optimize.
These things distract us from our main objective, which is to build relationships with our audience.
Let’s say we want to automate our marketing process. We could hire someone to set up an automated marketing campaign. We could pay $10k to setup all of our digital marketing needs.
What happens next? Crickets…
We just spent 10k on a shiny object but didn’t get anywhere.
So why did we do that? Because we were distracted by the shiny object.
We should have been looking at the bigger picture. We should have been asking ourselves, “What does this mean for my business and my customers?”
Ask yourself if you have ever been attracted or repelled to working with some business that posts generic updates or bombards you with automated emails that are clearly not optimized for human-to-human interaction.
Conversion success rates depend on the entire customer journey, not just some special tweak here and there.
It is a digital marketing myth that you need a perfectly optimized website with all sorts of fancy tools to succeed.
Recognize what should be your focus and then go after it. Shiny objects will only distract you from actually growing your business.
All in all, the best way to grow your business is to start with who you are as a person, what problem you care about solving, and then use that to guide you towards building the right kind of relationship with your audience.
Digital marketing secrets are overburden with hype that could temporarily help you achieve short-term goals. But long term success comes from focusing on the fundamentals.
No secret hack or trick will change customer behavior, so that’s why I created the article the way I did. It truly comes down to becoming a signal to your customers and not just noise, like the majority of online businesses.