Digital Marketing
Tips and best practices
women in plastics
by Brenda Hogan

he COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives, including our home and professional life. Companies continue to reevaluate how we work and from where, and both the economy and our work environments may never be the same. More people are working remotely and more technology solutions are available to help facilitate virtual, rather than in-person, interaction. Consequently, the digital ecosystem and social media universe are experiencing a major boom, so the time to invest in more efficient digital marketing practices couldn’t be better.

Regardless of industry, the last decade ushered in a digital renaissance; seven in 10 U.S. adults use Facebook, a LinkedIn profile is considered essential for nearly any business and your website requires frequent attention and technical tweaks to stand out. For companies slacking on their digital game, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the need to transfer time and resources to online marketing tactics.

The importance of a strong social media presence
Effective digital marketing is nearly impossible without creating a social media presence across a variety of platforms; you want to reach your audience anywhere they may be looking, and your brand needs to maintain a solid identity.

The first step is to ensure that all content, logos and imagery are consistent across all platforms — confusion turns customers away. Stick to your own brand guidelines. If you don’t have brand guidelines, develop them and share with anyone who might need them, such as marketing teams, web developers, etc. Include information about what colors to use, when and how to use your logo, your preferred hashtags and so on. Secondly, remember that social media pages are meant to be communicative vehicles for you and your customers; users can typically directly message your page.

Think about using social media as a customer service tool and/or a way to reach out to prospective clients. Just be sure you have the resources to monitor your posts for quick responses.

Lastly, take the time to understand the do’s and don’ts of using hashtags. When used correctly, hashtags can help increase engagement and attract new followers.

Platform considerations for organic (non-paid) content
Facebook currently accounts for more than 70 percent of the global social media market share. One of the most versatile platforms, it’s a great place to talk to your customers on a human level, feature your community involvement, post links to your important website pages, upload enticing graphics and get customers to understand why your business can help them. You can even boost your posts (at a relatively minimal expense) to further expose your content to audiences beyond those who follow or like your page, so you can attract more likes and followers.

Instagram is a visual platform and is narrow in focus; its goal is to try to inspire people with eye-catching imagery and quick-copy points, as opposed to the longer form content used elsewhere. If your business has a lot of quality images to share, this is a great place to show them off.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is all-business, hyper-professional and meant for more sophisticated content. Many people mistake LinkedIn for being solely a “Facebook for your career,” but LinkedIn is much more than that. It’s designed to allow your company to make connections with other companies and potential partners. LinkedIn Groups are one of the best kept secrets to exposing your business to markets and networks you may not otherwise have access to. It offers all the power and resources of a networking expo, but without the need to leave your desk.

Owned by Google, YouTube is the most popular platform for video content in the world. In this digital age we live in, video is king: From short how-to clips, product installations, customer testimonials or company overview, videos can provide an educational, engaging vehicle for delivering content. You don’t necessarily need a professionally created video — smart phones work well, too. Your videos can be easily categorized on your YouTube page (channel) for easy access and make excellent content for your social posts. Include video links in your email signatures for added exposure.

Other social media platforms to consider using are Twitter for quick communication and Pinterest for creative imagery.

integrated digital marketing by Palram Americas
Keeping pace in this ever-evolving digital world, Palram Americas understands the value of an integrated digital marketing strategy to build brand awareness and loyalty, nurture engagement and, ultimately, drive sales results.
Make the most of paid digital campaigns
Sometimes it can take a real investment to get your name in front of your ideal audience. Traditionally, advertisers and marketers focused on buying exposure in trade magazines. While those strategies are still more important in the digital age than some may believe, especially given the enduring success of online magazines, shifting some dollars to paid social media advertising campaigns is a must in the 2020s.

Many people may not realize that Instagram is owned by Facebook, and both have been engineered over time to work well side-by-side. For example, when you run a paid ad campaign on Facebook, you can link your Instagram account to that campaign and manage it through the Facebook Business Manager tool, making it easy to apportion your budget and use the same ads in your campaigns. Most paid advertisers use a CPC (cost-per-click) strategy, which means you’re charged by how many clicks your ad receives. You can choose from a variety of criteria to define your target audience, including:

  • Geographic location, down to the very mile if desired
  • Age and gender
  • Job title and level of education
  • Income range
  • Hobbies and Interests

LinkedIn advertising campaigns look similar to Facebook campaigns. Many of the criteria used to define your audience are the same, but keep in mind that while Facebook is a more casual platform, where it may be easier to convert users or obtain their contact information, LinkedIn professionals may be more reserved, so it’s best to do some research first before testing a campaign. Be ready to adjust if necessary.

Have you ever searched for something on Google, only to see the first few results say “Ad” next to them? This is the Google Ads universe. Companies compete for and bid on certain search terms and queries to try to appear as high as possible on a page for the lowest cost. Thus, this type of advertising is very different from paid campaigns with Facebook or LinkedIn, because instead of just selecting a target audience, Google Ads are all about bidding on relevant search terms.

Figuring out how to manage paid campaigns can be difficult compared to other aspects of social media marketing. Understanding the differences between performance metrics and how to adjust budgets during campaign are all major concerns for first-time advertisers. Luckily, the different social platforms offer online training tutorials to help you navigate.

Develop an email strategy
Building your contact list is only the first step to growing your business through email marketing. You need a logical plan to earn the trust of your audience, and you need to create the right content and delivery strategy to ever see tangible results.

There are many proven practices to follow when creating content for email automations. Remember to target your content to your audience. Messaging to existing customers may be quite different from new prospects. Keep email copy brief yet enticing. Give extra thought to the subject line — that’s your hook. It’s a best practice to only have one CTA (call to action) in your email and a dedicated landing page (rather than a standard web page).

There’s a multitude of industry benchmarks to compare your performance metrics against, such as open rate, click through rate, bounce rate and conversion rate. Your bulk email platform should be able to show you your results so you can compare to these benchmarks. In some cases, such as Constant Contact, it will let you know the best time to send a message based on past performance.

When trying to improve your metrics, consider testing two different subject lines to help determine the language that best resonates with your audience (called “A/B testing”). Another simple way to improve email engagement is personalization, using the contact name directly in the email content or subject field. Studies have shown that emails with personalized subject lines are up to 26 percent more likely to be opened than those that lack them. More engagement is always the goal.

To help manage your contact lists and campaigns, several marketing automation tools are available, such as HubSpot, MailChimp, Constant Contact and ActiveCampaign, among others.

Get to know your audience
2020 taught us that the market will always change, thus your content must continuously evolve. Whether it’s testing and recycling different combinations of images and copy for a Facebook ad campaign or testing different email subject lines against each other to find which had a better open rate, remember that the customer is always right in this case.

Most marketing teams won’t simply develop content they believe is strong, publish it and then leave it as-is forever. It’s recommended to incorporate a formal testing process — this gives you an opportunity to learn from your customers/prospects and could lead to profit-driven results. One major digital vehicle that is often overlooked when testing is your website. Fortunately, there is an easy way to get your feet wet. Google Optimize allows you to simultaneously test up to five website pages for free. You can link Optimize to your Google Analytics account for more complex tests that use your Goal and Event conversions.

For example, you may want to test two different call-to-action buttons on your homepage. One button might say “Buy Now” and one might say “Learn More.” When testing different versions with your audience, you can choose multiple metrics to ultimately decide the “winner.” Maybe you want to test which variation has a lower bounce rate (that is, the percentage of people who come to your page and leave right away without any further interaction with your website), which variation yields more eventual sales or which variation leads to more conversions. This is how marketers escape their biases to publish meaningful content changes that have been proven, rather than theorized, to positively impact business.

Trends, testing, training and tools
Digital marketing is constantly evolving. It’s important to be aware of industry trends, where your customers (and potential customers) go for their information and how best to get your message out there so you are in front of them (early and often). Test the digital marketing waters with the free options, then consider your paid options once you have a sense for what your customers and prospects will most likely respond to. Use online training and analytic tools along the way to measure your success.
Brenda Hogan is the marketing director at Palram Americas, Inc. For more information, contact Palram Americas, Inc. at 9735 Commerce Circle, Kutztown, PA 19530-8579 USA, phone (610) 285-9918 or (800) 999-9459, brenda.hogan@palram.com or www.palram.com/us.