Some people, including myself, when they first started using social media and content to try and reach customers online, did so without any sort of plan.
And we know what happened as a result of not having a plan: aside from offending or worse, boring our few existing fans. Nothing. Absolutely nada. The thousands and thousands of web visitors we thought we would get, mountainous likes and shares of our content, the loads of email leads, lead-conversions … none of it came to pass.
What did happen was that we wasted our valuable time—all that time spent building pages, and day after day posting whatever we thought would work.
If we had sat down and defined our goals on what we wanted to achieve with social media and creating content, and found out more about our target audience, our efforts would have resulted in something worthwhile: brand awareness and loyalty, engagement, lead generation, and, ultimately, lead-conversions into paying customers.
There are three simple steps to creating the beginning of an effective strategy:
1. Setting achievable goals or objectives.
2. Defining the right target audience; not just anyone, but people who actually want to engage with the content you create and share.
3. Creating and publishing campaigns that connect with your audience, engage them, and eventually convert them into leads, and paying customers.
In this article and accompanying Slideshare, I show you how to set goals and objectives that are achievable through social media and content marketing. I also go over how to define your target audience—the right audience who will connect with your content. Lastly, in the Slideshare below, I give you ideas on what type of content draws fans, creates loyalty, and converts them into leads, and customers.
Setting Achievable Goals/Objectives
The first step you must take in setting up an effective digital marketing strategy is to set achievable goals or objectives.
Of course, the overarching goal for any business is to generate leads, convert them into to customers, and increase your revenue. But before you get to the obvious goals you need to have what I call pre-objectives.
For instance, my main goal for my business is to get clients who need social media management or article writing services. And perhaps I am getting a certain amount of traffic to my website per month, and I want to increase that number: this becomes my pre- or immediate objective, to increase traffic to my site. My mid-range objective is to convert that new traffic into hot leads—and my long-term goal is to convert those leads into paying customers.
To achieve your pre-objectives you must create awareness with social media and content, and begin engaging with potential customers. This can be done with carefully planned social media posts; publishing a blog series; and sharing useful content from other websites and industry leaders.
This builds the number one factor in your digital marketing strategy: trust. Keep in mind, what you publish and post will be related to your industry, and to your audience’s interests, which is why you must define your target audience prior to taking any steps. We’ll get to defining your target audience in the next section.
The second step is to set your pre-objectives into action with conversion campaigns, such as contests, ebooks or other downloadable giveaways, webinars, and blog subscriptions.
The people who sign up can then be further nurtured into warm leads, with repeated sign-ups for your webinars, free e-books, and questions submitted via email or via social media.
Next, you further nurture your prospects to convert warm leads to hot ones—prospective customers start taking action with requests for consultations, pricing, or directly for a proposal.
And finally you’ve got your conversion, you’re paying customer.
Keep in mind: digital marketing using content and social media is a long-term investment. However it comes with long-term payoffs. Those people who didn’t go down the funnel the first few months or even a year, may do so at a later time. As long as you keep producing quality, relevant content, and sharing it appropriately.
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Set Your Goals
When creating your strategy, ask yourself what are the best immediate goals that will help you reach you mid- and long- range goals.
- Do you have a search engine optimized Website already in place, and want to drive more traffic to it?
- Do you have a blog and want more subscriptions, so you can later target you subscribers with conversion campaigns?
- Perhaps you want to create gated content, such as as a free ebook or white paper, that people can get by signing up with email?
- Or maybe a landing page on your website, or on a social media page will encourage visitors to call your business for more information on a deal you’re offering?
Setting your immediate goals and objectives is the beginning of creating an effective social media and content, or digital marketing strategy.
How you’re going to get people to come to your Website or Blog, and fill out a contact form, or call the number listed, is what takes place in Step 3 of an effective social media strategy: creating campaigns that convert. This is what I cover in detail in my upcoming book: “Create a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Create a Unique Strategy That Will Get More Traffic and More Leads.”
But for now, we’re going into Step 2 of creating your social media and content marketing strategy: defining your target audience.
How to Define Your Target Audience
I say “audience” rather than “market” because reaching potential customers is a whole different deal using social media and content rather traditional advertising. You are engaging with potential customers through their interests and hobbies, the entertainment they seek, and news and information they read, not immediately with what they need as far as your product or services. In traditional marketing, you’re seeking to connect with a target market based on their immediate need(s). Social media and content marketing is not so immediate.
For example: I am a real estate professional in Calabasas, California where I help people sell and buy homes. My ideal target market in traditional advertising would be someone who is ready now to buy or sell a home.
For my social media and content marketing strategy, I’ve got to not only think of the immediate prospect, but also the future customer. The target audience for whom I will create interesting, useful and engaging content that interests them not for the purpose of buying or selling a home, but because it contains useful information they can use now. They may sign up for my real estate/lifestyle blog or email list to get more great information.
This prospect may not be an immediate client, but with careful nurturing, providing engaging and useful content, and sharing in the online space where they socialize, down the road when they are ready to buy or sell, they’ve already become familiarized with my name, my brand, and trust me because of the valuable content I’ve already shared with them.
Who is Your Target Audience?
Here are few questions to ask yourself when defining your target audience. It’s part of a larger range of questions that I pose in my book, but it will get you started thinking about who you’re trying to reach, which will help you develop content that will engage them.
- What age and gender is your ideal customer/audience?
- What is their profession?
- What stage are they in their family life cycle (newly married, young children, empty nest)?
- Where does your ideal customer live or have their business?
- What leisure/hobby activities interest your ideal customer?
- What are their values, beliefs, attitudes?
There’s a great deal more you can ask, and different ways of going about defining your target audience, but these questions will help you get started.
If am to use the example of being a real estate agent, based on some of the questions above, the profile of my partial target audience would cover:
- Do-it-yourself homeowners
- Millennials (the next generation to buy homes)
- Apartment-dwelling millennials
- People who read home topic-related magazines
With my social media and content marketing strategy, I’m going find out what type of content will engage this target audience. For people who read home-topic related magazines, perhaps they’re thinking about buying a home soon, and are looking for decorating ideas. Or a homeowner who is not ready to sell their home now, but wants to spruce it up, might be interested in some DIY home impArovement project ideas.
This is the type of content as a real estate professional you should be creating to engage these potential clients. Of course, you’re also going to create industry-related content, such as market rate reports, blog posts on home values, and what’s happening in your local real estate market. It’s going to be a mix of content to engage the homebuyer/seller now, and in the future.
There is much more that goes into creating an overall traffic-driving, lead-generating, customer-converting social media and content marketing strategy. Doing keyword research, creating social media and content campaigns that convert, measuring and tracking your goals to gauge your successes, and failures, are all a part of a lead-generating, and ultimately customer-conversion digital marketing strategy. The ideas and questions above will help you get started.
Here are a few more posts and a free e-Course that will help you create, and implement a social media and content marketing strategy:
Free eCourse: How to do keyword research
To get in-depth, step-by-step information on how to create, set up and implement a successful digital marketing strategy, sign up for my book “Create a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to a Unique Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy That Will Get More Traffic & More Leads.”