Many local business owners still feel overwhelmed, and even a bit fearful, when they decide to take their marketing online. That’s understandable because the Internet is a dizzying landscape that is constantly shifting and evolving. It’s hard for professional digital media buyers to always feel like they have a firm grasp on the latest tools and tactics, so we get why local brick and mortar establishments would just as soon ignore digital campaigns altogether.
But that is simply no longer an option. Even if most of your clientele is local, you need an online presence using specific digital channels in order to be found by prospects and be taken seriously as a local merchant. The good, ne – GREAT news is, once you get past your initial apprehension, you’ll soon see that digital advertising offers an unparalleled precision, efficiency, targeting capabilities and real-time metrics that can help you take your business to the next level.
Even if you’ve never created a digital media plan before, these five steps will ensure you develop one that will reach your target market and give you the best ROI.
STEP 1 - Plan Your Digital Plan
It’s a little bit like working out before you go to the gym, but a good digital media plan requires sufficient planning, especially if you are new to online ad campaigns. Before you even begin developing your creatives, you’ll want to first ask yourself some important questions:
- What are your campaign objectives?
- What message are you trying to send and how does it align with your brand?
- What is your call to action? (What do you want your audience to do when they see your ads?)
- What digital channels are you most interested in trying?
- Who is responsible for implementing and monitoring the campaign?
Only when you have answered these initial questions should you move on to the next step.
STEP 2 - Identify Your Target Audience
One of the greatest benefits of digital media is it allows you to hyper-target your campaigns. In order to take full advantage of this you’ve got to really drill down and identify who your target audience is, and be as specific as possible. This will help you start to focus your campaign. But beyond geography, you must understand who your demographic is.
Are you targeting single parents? College kids? Empty nesters? Other small business owners? What are their biggest pain points? What do they need? What keeps them up at night? What are their spending habits? How do they shop? The more you know about your audience, the simpler it will be to create highly-relevant ads that will instantly make an impact with them.
Understand that targeting prospects is a process and one that you will get better at with time. For now, do your best to create a buyer persona and then move on to Step 3.
STEP 3 – Mine That Data
Here’s one thing you most likely don’t know about digital advertising: you can never do too much research – truly. During this step you may feel like you are back in college studying for exams (though let’s try and skip the freshman 15 this time around). Okay, you’re running a small business and living your life so you only have so much time in the day to research the different channels and tactics you will employ for your first campaign. All we can say is, use as much time as you can on this step because the more research you do now and the more data you mine, the better able you’ll be to launch a campaign that is watertight.
A great bit of research you can do is to check out the online campaigns your local competitors are running. What channels are they using? Check out what other business owners might be talking about on LinkedIn. Does anyone make a recommendation for a particular planning tool or ad network? If so, research some more and see if these might add value to your campaign.
Now that you know who your target audience is you want to research and find out where they hang out online. If you’re targeting empty nesters, you may do better placing banner ads on the websites of local newspapers. Then again, if your target audience is college kids, you may do better using social media channels like Instagram.
STEP 4 – Track Your Campaign
If you haven’t already fallen in love with digital media here’s where you will. Digital offers a unique ability to track and monitor campaigns in real-time which is something traditional media cannot do. You’ll be able to get your hands on the kinds of insights that will help you determine if your campaign is a success or not, and if not, where it may have gotten off track.
Some of the metrics you’ll want to look at are:
CPA – The Cost per Acquisition tells you how much each lead or sale cost you.
CPC – Cost per Click is a metric that measures what you pay for each click from a banner ad. Many advertisers like CPC campaigns because they only pay for performance.
Total Visits – You most likely will send all your traffic to your main website, so you’ll want to be able to track how many total visits you get each month and monitor where that traffic is coming from. If you see that you are getting far more traffic from your organic search content than your banner ads, it would make sense to focus your time and budget on generating even more content that will show up in search returns.
Conversions – If your audience converts it means they did something you wanted them to do. Maybe they signed up for your newsletter, purchased something from your website, or downloaded a coupon to bring into your store. Google Analytics will allow you to track just about everything your website visitors do. Make sure to sign up for an account if you haven’t already.
STEP 5 - Adjust and Test
Now that you have data from the metrics you’re using to track your campaign’s success, use it to make the necessary adjustments. You’ll want to optimize your ad copy and landing pages, which ad networks and channels you use, and, in the case of email marketing, which days and time of day you’re sending your message.
You should always be testing to see if these adjustments create an increase in conversions or not. Yes, this process takes an investment of your time, but it can significantly boost your ROI by focusing your budget on what’s actually working for you.
Like anything you do for the first time, digital media planning can seem like a daunting endeavor, but really, it’s simply a process. And like any process, there are certain fundamental steps you must take to get that process to work for you. Digital media can work for you and give your local business a huge edge over your competition, especially if they haven’t figured out the whole online marketing thing. If you simply follow these five steps, are patient, and understand that you’ll naturally experience setbacks at first, you’ll eventually have a powerful tool at your disposal that can help you reach your overall business objectives.
- The Digital Media Buyer’s Report Card – Does Yours Make the Grade?
- 5 Local Digital Advertising Myths that May Hurt Your Bottom Line
- 7 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Digital As Campaigns
Image credit: Pixabay