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With the advancement in technology and the evolving world of business, the small and the medium businesses are doing their best to catch up. Most of them are either changing their business models or embracing the digital marketing efforts to beef up their traditional marketing techniques so as to gain a growing and lucrative online presence. Since this is a process of gaining customers through online attraction, it clearly distinguishes between a thriving business and a struggling one. If you receive a huge traffic on your website, they would translate to anything until when it converts to sales. In the current era of digitalization where almost all business is moving unto, digital marketing techniques and tools help business owners to have numerous opportunities for competition and business growth (Kotler and Armstrong, 2010, p.79).
The many online platforms have made it possible for business owners to connect with their target audience while transforming the digital media into a profitable opportunity. This paper discusses the importance of investing in digital marketing campaigns as well as measuring its success. It also assesses some of the ways in which HMV company can optimize its website to ensure that customers can easily access it.
2.0 Importance of investing in digital marketing
2.1 It levels the Online Plating Field
It was in the past that business owners thought that the use of digital marketing is only for large corporations and multinationals with the required resources to carry out an online campaign. As such, digital marketing ensures that both the SMEs and the large companies can compete at the same levels without the dominance of the multinationals, as they attract their share of online traffic.
Marketing in an online platform has enabled small companies to have the required resources to perform business processes that were previously carried out by the large corporations only. Even without physical stores, these companies are able to engage effectively with customers all over the world.
2.2 Digital marketing is more cost-effective as opposed to Traditional marketing
SMEs in most cases are associated with little capital and resources at large. An online marketplace, therefore, provides them with a better channel that is cost-effective and designed to deliver results and improve company performance. Gartner survey indicates that about 40% of the respondents have received large amounts of savings through digital marketing whereby they promote their products and services through online platforms.
The survey also indicated that there is an expectation that about 28% of the small and medium business owners have plans to shift their marketing budgets from traditional marketing techniques and embrace the digital online marketing tools.
2.3 The digital market delivers conversion
Business owners conducting businesses online measures the success of a website by the rate at which the online traffic is converted to sales and subscribers or leads, in respect to the intended purpose of the website. With no conversion experienced, all the traffic received would not amount to anything and marketing efforts would be useless. This is why business owners now focus on optimizing conversion and making it a top priority in marketing (Ryan, 2016, pp.124-145).
There are several techniques and tools that a business can use to promote a digital marketing campaign, for example, Search Engine Optimization, email marketing and social media marketing.
2.4 Digital marketing is responsible for increased Revenues
With a high rate of conversion from the effective digital marketing techniques, online marketing leads to high profits for the business as reflected by the increased revenues. Google confirms that in the recent past there was an expected increase in revenues by 2.8 times as soon as they embrace digital marketing techniques. With such expected increase, both the small and medium businesses using digital marketing methods have a better chance of increasing their personnel and expanding the business operations, while opening doors for new opportunities both globally and locally.
2.5 Digital marketing ensures effective interactions with prospective customers
One of the major reasons why business owners are now encouraged to embrace digital marketing as opposed to traditional marketing tools is its ability to connect and ensure that there is a proper interaction with the targeted audiences and prospective customers all over the world. While interacting with the target audiences it is expected that the business engages them in any way to facilitate better customer-business relations. The manner in which the business interacts and engages with the customer will reflect its success and failure in the online marketplace (Roberts and Zahay, 2012, p.97).
Interaction with the customers provides them with the required engagement points which indicate what is expected of the business by the prospective customers. The key information from engagement enables the company to make the right moves in product and service provision as well as providing customers with a better experience. Whereas developing good relationships between the business and target audience, engagement also ensures that loyalty is gained from the business and that business can grow and expand its reach.
2.6 Digital marketing Considers the Mobile customer
In the current era, the internet is available on computers as well as mobile devices. With the rapid proliferation of tablets and smartphones, it is expected that mobile phones will be the next wave of communication and information dissemination. Mobile devices in the United States are estimated to be part of the lives of about 91% of the adults who have the devices within a reaching distance. As such, it would now be the perfect time to embrace digital marketing techniques and tools designed for the mobile audience, allowing for expansion and growth of businesses.
Additionally, the mobile customers are known to be a major aspect of digital marketing and thus should be captured by business owners who want to participate in a digital marketing campaign that is successful. It is rated one of the most profitable media as most of today’s customers spend their time on mobile phones and related devices. The fact that a mobile device can effectively access the internet including the social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube makes it the most popular and important tool for digital marketing campaigns. The digital marketing campaign will thus reach this high reward market, something that is not possible with the traditional marketing techniques.
2.7 Building Trust
In today’s generations, the digital media forms almost an entire part of their living. For a business aiming at this generation, it is important to consider digital marketing techniques unless targeting a generation born before the onset of personal computers. It becomes difficult for the customers to trust or believe in the existence of a brand that doesn’t have a website of any social media presence. Building trust, therefore, requires digital marketing tools and campaigns (Armstrong et al, 2015, p.56).
In addition to building trust and welcoming new customers to your business, digital marketing does more through starting conversations and joining online discussions with the prospective customers and target audience. If your business becomes a subject of recommendation by people to their fellow friends, it is likely to experience growth and widen its customer base. For such references to happen, it is important for the company to show a promising online presence and appearance on multiple internet platforms.
2.8 High Precision
With the internet and specifically the social media platforms, a business can reach out to large groups of people that have the same interest in terms of products and services. Without digital marketing, it is difficult and sometimes not possible to market directly to your core demographics. For a business that has an online market presence and has a certain type of customers in mind, it has to just follow and engage them in the various groups on Facebook and other social media platforms. Such engagements allow people to gather and discuss matters relating to their similar interests. For example, if you have a business dealing in coffee products, digital marketing requires you to visit the social media sites and look for coffee lovers’ groups and deploy a marketing campaign there.
The traditional brick-and-mortar enterprises still exist but it is clear that the future expects all businesses to have embraced a digitalized marketing campaign and scope both the small and large businesses can prosper at the same magnitude. Today, digital marketing is more than a tool for business, it is a necessity if a business is looking to reach its full marketing potential. The definite profitability using digital marketing makes it a tool that clearly distinguishes between failing and succeeding in business.
2.9 Brand Reputation
The success of using a digital marketing tool is seen from its ability to attract the targeted traffic. These type of prospective customers for the brand are already likely to know more about the company’s products and services and may develop an interest to purchase them. Producing what you have promised the audiences makes it easy for the brand to be trusted as well as developing a better relationship with the prospective customers, helping them do the transactions to pay customers of the brand.
Such acts are essential for brand reputation and image as most individuals always have to tell others about their experience with the brand. With such references and awareness, a brand can easily go viral as expected further opening new opportunities in the new markets to attain growth and expansion.
2.9 Return on Investment
With digital marketing, one can experience a better Return on Investments (ROI) as seen from an increase the earnings as well as sales of the brand. Such an ROI is higher than what is expected using the traditional media and techniques of marketing. With traditional marketing channels, the associated costs are too high for the small and medium businesses and results from it are less likely to be measured easily.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, will make it easy for the brand to measures and monitor its results as soon as the prospective customers make a purchase, subscribe to the brand’s channel or newsletter and provide their contact information. The key success features of any digital marketing are the ability to receive a steady flow of the targeted traffic that can lead to sales after conversion. The faster the brand generates this kind of traffic, the easier it is it to achieve the company’s goals of realizing a better ROI (Tiago and Veríssimo, 2014, pp.703-708).
2.9.1 Earning People’s Trust
Digital marketing focuses more on online presence especially on social media platforms where it ensures that there is a direct and personalized interaction between the brand and its prospective customers in the online marketplace. A survey conducted by Nielsen Global Online Consumer, involving 25,000 consumers indicated that about 90 percent of the respondents claimed that their trust for a given brand or service provider largely depends on if the information was given by people they know or not.
Digital marketing thus monitors social media signals from the actual customers who have at least once interacted with its brand or purchased the product marketed by the company. if the signals are accurate in representing the customer reactions to the brand, it increases trust from the target audiences as well as increasing the number of prospective customers for the brand.
3.0 Steps to use Search Engine marketing (SEM).
SEM for businesses is all about reaching the customer at the time they are looking for your product on Google and other internet search engines. To outshine competitors like Amazon, HMV should take full advantage of the SEM. The following are some of the key steps to using SEM to its full potential.
3.1 Step1-Define an Effective Strategy
In most to cases, it is observed that business get into SEM with no logical strategy on what to do and not to do. HMV should consider avoiding such mistakes again and get on the right track by first defining its prospective customers, identifying their needs and how the company’s products will be up to their satisfaction. Next, HMV should review its position in the marketplace as a company. identifying its top competitors such as Amazon.com and the company’s competitive advantage. Finally, HMV should consider identifying certain objectives and standards such as website traffic increases, ROI metrics and sales lead volumes, to enable the company measure the success of its new search engine campaign. This approach will be instrumental for HMV in setting a path for the company’s success (Wertime and Fenwick, 2011, p.88).
3.2 Step2- Best Choice of Keyword Phrases
This is considered the most critical step for a company like HMV struggling to gain a better competitive advantage. It involves a strategic move towards selecting the essential keyword phrases for the company. if this step is not done with utmost caution, there is a likelihood that the company would not succeed or meet its objectives of search engine marketing. It is important to consider a choice of phrases that are not only pertinent to the HMV but also phrases that are mostly searched by the customers and thus easy to interact with during the buyer’s journey. To do this, the company should brainstorm what could be in the heads of most customers while searching for HMV’s products. The company’s salespeople are responsible for the suggestions on what customers think is important during their search. In some cases, the company can go ahead and ask a few of its best customers then use it to generate a list of greatly searched terms that will direct the targeted traffic to HMV’s website.
3.3 Step3- Optimization of Company Site for Organic Search
After identifying the phrases and thus the essential keywords all through the customer’s journey, HMV should now put them to work. To do so, the company should ensure that it has optimized its website content to take advantage of the chosen keywords. Starting at the company’s website copy-the information that prospective customers can easily access. HMV should make sure that its Website copy is skillfully written to effectively market its brand while using the keywords in the most fashionable manner possible. Next, HMV should focus on the Website structure- the code that search engine sees when one visits the website. The company should ensure that the website is “crawlable” to make sure that all its content is indexed by the top search engines. Also, it is important to make relevant use of the keyword phrases in file names, heading tags, page title tags and meta tags (Panda, 2013, p.56).
3.4 Step4- Attract Quality Links to Your Website
Building links involve ensuring that the company gains links to its website from other websites mostly visited by the target audience. When a company has many inbound links, it exposes itself to the larger target audience as its site becomes popular in the various search engines such as Bing and Google. The links also have an intense influence on the ranking of the company search. To begin link building, it is important for the company to first make sure that its website content is link-worthy. Good content is attractive enough for links, so HMV should fill its website with good content such as a collection of practices articles and blogs in relation to the industry developments and trends. Next, HMV should get its website listed in one of the topmost portals and online directories. To do so, the company should first look into some of the existing online destinations, within the industry, then focus on such guides as Business.com. one can also gain links from customers, vendors, trade associations and business partners. Finally, the company should influence online public relations and issue articles and press statements online. Such steps will see the company improve dramatically in terms of its ranking on google and popularity compared to its competitors.
3.4 Step5-Manage an ROI-Driven Paid Search Campaign
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) in search results allows for a convincing ROI-driven marketing prospect. the difference between traditional marketing and the use of PPC is that with the traditional method, one was to pay for “exposure” whereas for PPC you do not pay for search results, you only make payment when someone clicks the company ad and visit its website (Weber, 2009, p.74). As such, PPC calls for “Pay for performance” approach of marketing. Management of an ROI-driven paid search campaign HMV should first bid for the most relevant keywords. Biding, in this case, does not mean picking the phrases that are popular alone, it involves considering a keyword that is of concern to the prospective customer. Second, HMV should tie its bidding plan to business results such as cost-per-sale and not only cost-per-click. Mostly, a lower ad position is designed to achieve better results and thus positive ROI.
3.6 Step6-Take Advantage of Search Engine’s Services for Quick Ranking
In addition to the above-mentioned steps, it is important for a small company like HMV to take advantage of some of the services offered by search engines such as Google. Google offers a number of services that enable small businesses to boost their company exposure in search results. Through the creation of a Google My Business page, a small business can display its location, contact information, opening hours and connect with customers as well as responding to their reviews on the brand.
3.7 Other Rules and Regulations Regarding Search Engine Marketing
Content is key to SEO, PPC, SMO
Every company tries to reduce its costs of content. Since a website is in typical 20 languages as in the case of HMV, the company will incur significant costs in case it makes a minor change. The regulations tress that content is everything in digital marketing. Business will fail if they allow customers working in other languages to receive imperfect content.
Keywords cannot be Translated
Keywords as regarded as not “words” and thus not a subject of translation. Translators therefore should not be associated with the content. One-on-one relationship or connection between keywords in different languages does not exist.
4.0 How to attract and retain customers using Email marketing and Social media marketing
For a growing business like HMV, it is important to stay connected with the customers. With the increasing uncertainties associated with the traditional techniques of marketing, social media marketing is one of the main platforms to attract the prospective customers of your brand. Email marketing has also proven to be one of the cost-effective solutions to reach customers using their inbox where they visit most of the time (Pan, 2011, pp.365-377).
As such, HMV can effectively use both social media marketing and email marketing to engage its customers and retain them. Some of the steps to do so include;
4.1 Ask for permission.
Before the company adds a name to its contact list, it is important to first ask the customer for permission to do so. asking for permission means that the company is able to create a list of people with interest in its products and services. Such a list is considered a group of loyal and interested customers who will not mark the company’s emails as spasm but always open it. HMV should, therefore, make sure that its customers know what they are signing up for before joining the list.
4.2 Be where your customers are
Any company that has to succeed using digital marketing knows the importance of being the customers are and not being everywhere. Social media and email marketing ensure that a company like HMV has its online presence where the customers are most active. In such platforms, the company can interact and understand the needs of these customers. Such information is crucial for the company as it will tailor its marketing efforts to meet the needs of its prospective customers (Chaffey et al, 2009, p.105).
If the company is unsure of the platform mainly used, an online survey can be conducted to ensure that the decision as to which platform to use, should have the inputs of the customers themselves.
4.3 Provide value
Social media and email marketing provide value to the customers. Once a customer has joined a company’s email list or connect via social media platforms, it is the responsibility of the company to create value for them.
The most important ideas concerning the brand will mainly come from the company’s audience. HMV will be able to know what customers are interested in, what questions they frequently ask and what keeps them active to comment, like or share a company’s post.
Having your customers in mind will help the company have many people paying attention to its brand as well as deepening the relationships with its customers. In the end, HMV will achieve customer loyalty and trust.
4.4 Listen to what they have to say
With social media and email marketing, HMV will be set to achieve its objectives of engaging its customers. Clearly retaining and engaging your customers is not just about promoting the brand and pushing content, but also involves paying attention to what the customers have to say.
HMV should consider not just responding to comments but also taking note of the kind of questions that these customers are asking. Thereafter the company can use these insights to inform their future content decisions and to improve the products and experience using customer feedback.
4.5 Track your progress
The company can use the digital marketing metrics such as likes, shares, comments and social media impressions, clicks and unsubscribe in the company email reports to track its progress. Such metrics are crucial in showing how the company’s content is performing, thus help in designing company’s marketing decisions. It is also important to note that with the metrics showing your progress and the company understanding its audiences more, a company like HMV can make stronger and better digital marketing strategies in the future (Mangold and Faulds, 2009, pp.357-365).
5.0 How HMV can utilize website optimization techniques to improve website performance
Caching and content delivery networks
One of the smartest things that HMV can do is to influence a connect delivery network (CDN). Most of the files on the company website are static and do not change.
HMV can increase the performance of its website by caching these files on servers closer to the users. This strategy discharges the traffic from the company servers and makes the site load faster (Chen et al, 2011, pp.4644-4649)
5.1 Reduce HTTP requests
Since the company is operating at a competitive level, it is advisable to avoid the use of HTTP requests. Browsers use HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to fetch data from the servers. HTTP is a request between a host and clients and has been found make a webpage load slower than normal. To reduce these requests, it is recommended that HMV uses less code, avoid using 3rd party frameworks, reduce 3rd party plugins or use CSS Sprites.
5.3 Fix 404 errors
Any missing file leads to a 404 HTTP error. It is found that these errors are so problematic to the company’s servers. It is however not recommended to install plugins or modules that will check for the 404s, instead, HMV can occasionally run its website through an external service such as the “Online Broken Link Checker” which makes sure that the company is not wasting any of the server’s resources doing so.
6.0 Measuring the success of HMV’s digital strategy
The goal of every digital marketing campaign is to achieve a positive ROI. However, the results of every digital marketing campaign do not always lead to sales or dollars. Some campaigns are designed to create awareness of the company’s new and existing products while others are carried out just to attract new customers to the company’s blog. The results, in the long run, shows that all of them lead to increased profits despite having no monetary value in the short run (Nosrati et al, 2013, pp.56-63).
Therefore, a company like HMV should know when it is successful in its digital marketing strategies. Some of the measures of success that the company will consider include the following.
Conversions as a result of the customer’s specific actions once they interact with the product. They are associated with sales and revenues as opposed to website behaviour it is essential for any company to ensure that digital marketing is able to converts since the company’s ultimate aim is to make profits.
The following are some of the key conversions that HMV will use to measure the success of its digital marketing strategy.
Online sales- it is one of the simplest conversions to measure the success of an online marketing campaign. The use of Google Analytics makes it easy to track a company’s online sales. HMV should first install a small snippet of code on its website to enable the company to identify the specific campaigns driving most of the online sales.
Leads from Web forms- most websites have designed forms where prospective customers use to request services and get more information regarding the company products. When using Google Analytics, it is possible to track which campaign is responsible for the most use of the Web forms. The success of a digital marketing strategy for a company like HMV can also be measured by the number of Web form submissions generated
Leads from live chats- a company like HMV must have a platform where customers and visitors can engage with the company. once the company has installed a chat on the website, it is easy to track which campaigns are driving the chats more. To do so HMV has to install a tracking program on the chat platform or integrate Google Analytics into it. Both cases result in a measurement that determines which campaigns are driving more leads to the business through a live chat (Kritzinger and Weideman, 2013, pp.273-286).
6.2 Website behaviour
Website visits- HMV should find out which of the digital marketing campaigns key in creating awareness on the company’s website. Despite this metric being considered shallow as opposed to Web form conversions, it is important to measure the visits. It is essentially useful when you view the trends of traffic for some time.
Page views per visit- website visits may be important but do not essentially indicate if the visitors are engaged by your products. Some people visit the website and fail to visits any of the pages. Google Analytics, on the other hand, is important in showing how your visitors interact with your pages through your site while providing the figures concerning views per visit.
7.0 Tasks to be incorporated into an effective digital marketing strategy for HMV
7.1 Choose the right social media channels
It is clear that not all the existing social media channels are useful for the company and its target audience. Considering the type of customers, you are dealing with is important for the company to know what their average day look like and if there are any chances of them hearing about the brand during the day.
7.2 Map the customer journey
It is important for HMV to map out the customer sales funnel and understand the journey of its typical customers. Mapping out will indicate the progress from the stage of awareness to the stage of actual purchase and on retention. The company can then design messaging that that is relevant to a given stage in their decision making. For example, in the initial stage, it is important to provide general information about HMV and latter provide information regarding service delivery, price, testimonials and aftersales support as expected by the customer (Miller, 2012, p.155).
7.3 Set goals, assign targets, track activity and measure performance
For HMV to ensure a positive ROI it has to regularly review and analyze investments made on its website and social media platforms. KPI’s and clear performance metrics should be highlighted and the customer activity tracked and measures against the set targets of the company’s digital marketing. Additionally, when developing a website, the company should have clear objectives and performance targets as well as analytics put in place to measure performance.
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