As of 2016, Americans spend an average of four hours per day on the internet. However, increasingly, this time is spent on a few select apps. For small companies, including coworking spaces, this data trend means that you have to get your brand in front of customers on the platforms they use most frequently. Not only does it make using a digital platform imperative, but it also means you have to be targeted and intentional about the marketing tactics you do employ.

In this installment of the Global Workspace Association’s webinar series, Joe Valentine discussed how to employ digital marketing strategies to lead to more sales. Valentine is a Digital Strategist with SoMe Connect. He is also a coworking space user as he works remotely from Kansas City, Missouri. He explained the basics of digital marketing as well as several issues to consider when developing or adjusting a marketing plan. GWA members have access to the full webinar recording. You can join the GWA here.

What is digital marketing?

Marketing online, Valentine explained, is less about understanding what it is you want to tell people and more about understanding what they want to be told. In other words, digital marketing seeks to understand human behavior (especially of your target customer group) and communicate in a way that fits that specific context.

Now more than ever, people are more than willing to let themselves be influenced by social media, especially if you tell them what they want to hear. Not only that, but they will also use social media to influence others regarding your brand—to your benefit or detriment. It’s not enough to simply get customers in the door anymore. Rather, you have to give people a reason to say positive (rather than negative) things about their experience with you on their social media feeds.

There are four basic levels of digital marketing. The first is awareness, or letting your target customers know you exist and that you know they do, too. Effective platforms for this level includes ads on streaming audio services like Pandora or Spotify, programmatic displays (banners, etc.), or managed displays (which aim at your website).

The next level is to try to get potential customers to consider your brand. You can accomplish this level through search engine optimization, which targets people who are already looking for the types of things your brand offers. You can also use social media advertising, targeting users based on demographics, behavior, or interests.

Pay-per-click and email marketing can be helpful when trying to get users to make a specific decision when they click the ad and navigate to your website, although you have to be careful to give them what you promised in your ad, and make their required action easily accessible and clear once they get to your website. Otherwise, your analytics for time spent on site might be great (while your potential customers are clicking around trying to figure out what to do), but your actual conversion rate won’t be.

The last level is remarketing—the ability to place your ad in front of users who navigated to your site at some point, but who left without making a purchase. While this is a powerful marketing strategy to create a strong impression of your brand, Valentine explained, you also have to be careful not to be so present that your brand gets annoying.

How do I know if my digital marketing strategies are working?

Valentine stressed the need to be able to draw a direct correlation between your digital marketing tactics and your business outcome. If you can’t, rethink your strategy. This means you not only need to know what your specific goal is (and not “whatever the customer wants,” since you can’t quantitatively measure that), but you also need to be able to measure it.

You can use Google Analytics to evaluate the success of your marketing tactics, Valentine said, although it can be difficult to know what metrics matter. The first metric you could evaluate based on is website leads. If you’re doing a pay-per-click marketing campaign (since free social media advertising rarely reaches the users you need it to reach thanks to updated Facebook algorithms), then you need to figure out what percentage of leads you need to generate in order to make up for the amount you’re spending for each of those clicks (or any other digital media marketing spending).

However, measuring traffic to your website is only half the equation. You also need to look at the bounce rate—how many people click on your ad and then leave immediately. While a bounce doesn’t always mean your website failed, it can mean there is a disconnect between what you asked them to do in the ad and what your website asked them to do when they got there.

Another metric to measure is the number of pages the users visit when they do come, as well as the average visit duration. High numbers on either or both of these can indicate engaged users who want to spend time on your site. However, especially if coupled with low conversion rates, they can also indicate a lack of navigability or ease of action steps for your users. Be sure to track opt-ins and conversion rates in order to determine whether your number of pages visited or average visit duration numbers are high because your visitors like you, or simply because they can’t find what they were looking for.

Valentine explained that if your digital marketing drives a lot of traffic, but not a lot of conversions, you have one of three problems

  1. You’re not reaching the right people
  2. You’re reaching the right people, but not clearly communicating what your brand does or what’s expected of people once they click.
  3. Your website isn’t guiding people toward the actions you want them to take

Choosing a Digital Marketer

You get what you pay for with digital marketing services, Valentine explained. If you don’t already have an employee, a freelancer, or an agency managing your digital marketing, but you’re looking to do so, here is the main idea to keep in mind:

If a potential digital marketing partner offers you a prescriptive solution without taking time to ask thoughtful questions about your business model; demonstrating an understanding of how your website contributes to business outcomes; or asking to see your website analytics data, you can expect results that do not align with your goals.

Learn more

To hear more detailed explanations of digital marketing strategies as well as Valentine’s answers to questions specific to coworking spaces, join the Global Workspace Association to get full access to this webinar recording as well as all past recordings, future webinar invitations, and other features.

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