We’ve put together a crash course for you that delves into four main areas to focus on to make your business stand out against the competition online. The exact mix and implementation of these marketing activities will depend on your business and ideal customer, but this checklist is a great place to start.

Digital Marketing Checklist to Make your Business Stand Out Online

If you’re a business-to-consumer (B2C) company revving up for the holiday shopping rush, you’re probably investing in your digital marketing. The problem is, many of your competitors are doing the same (even more so due to COVID), which means more people vying for attention with a smaller chance of standing out.

To stay top of mind, and to not get pushed out of the market by big-box stores, you’ll want to pay special attention to these four areas of your marketing plan:

1. Drive Conversions with Email Marketing

A 2017 Shopify report found that email converted more shoppers into customers when compared to search, direct mail, and social media marketing. Email marketing has been the preferred outreach method for Black Friday and Cyber Monday because you’re engaging an audience who already knows you and probably trusts you. For example, emails were responsible for 20% of all online visits during the last holiday shopping season. If you focus on high-quality content and a curated prospect list for your campaigns, you can expect an average return on investment of $42 per $1 spent

Tips to Optimize Email Marketing and Increase Open Rates

  • Personalize your email campaigns by using recipients’ names, mentioning their region, or showing them products similar to ones they’ve viewed before.
  • Deliver the most relevant content to your audience by segmenting it according to demographic, psychographic, and geographic information. 
  • Showcase unique seasonal offers and exclusive limited-time discounts to create urgency (e.g., “You don’t want to miss this deal!” or “For a limited time only”). 
  • Send holiday gift guides and catalogues to inspire gift ideas. Many people are looking for inspiration, and they don’t always know exactly what they are looking for.
  • Create and maintain hype with strategic “abandoned cart” reminders.

2. Use Content Marketing to Set Your Business Apart Online

For a B2C company, organic social marketing is a great way to build trust with your target audience and consistently engage with them. You can run contests on social media, use polls and surveys to see what’s popular, and stay on top of trends within your industry by following relevant publications and news sources.

Naturally, the better you know your audience, the better you can cater to them. And to engage your audience most effectively, you’ll want to segment them according to geographic, psychographic, and demographic characteristics, as mentioned above. You can make the content more relevant and engaging by tailoring the copy and sending time, subject line, and format to your target reader. As you can imagine, the content you strategically present to a wealthy Boston resident looking to build a racer-style motorcycle vs. a student in New York looking to purchase spare parts to repair their bike would look different.

Collaborating with influencers can also be an excellent way to drive additional traffic to your site over the holiday. User-generated content (e.g. product reviews that your customers share on social media), helps build trust with your target audience. You can offer sign-up deals, like 10% off a customer’s first purchase, to capture information like name and email address for future sales campaigns. And keep in mind that 41.6% of all email opens occur on a mobile device, so you’ll want to make sure your email looks just as good when opened on mobile.

3. Get In Front of Eyeballs with Paid Advertising

When it comes to social, search, Google Shopping, and display ads, it’s pay-to-play. Investing in paid ads can make your business stand out online in advance of the holiday shopping season – and it should be considered an investment.

Generally speaking, social ads improve your reach and drive conversions via social media, search ads ensure that you pop up at the top of the search results when the customer searches online, Google Shopping ads put your product at the top of Google shopping search, and display ads show your brand on 3rd party websites. 

When creating ads you have a high degree of flexibility on how you target them in addition to the basic demographic, geographic, and psychographic parameters. You can further target your ads to be shown to existing customers, lookalike audiences, or even site visitors who haven’t purchased (The use case depends on the marketing objectives).

Tips for Ad Targeting

Retargeting Existing Customers

  • To mazimize the lifetime value of a customer, consider targeting existing customers. This is especially beneficial if you have a primary product and accessory products (add ons).

Targeting Lookalike Audiences

  • If you want to reach more potential customers, consider targeting lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences share characteristics with your existing customers but aren’t an exact match and aren’t currently customers. The assumption is because they’re similar to your current customers (a look-alike), they’re likely to be interested.

Targeting Site Visitors

  • If you want to target people you know are interested, consider targeting those who visited your website and abandoned their shopping cart. If a user goes on your website and puts a bunch of items into a shopping cart but leaves (abandons it), that sends a signal that they’re interested and might be in the decision-making stage of their buyer’s journey. 

Managing Paid Ads

During the holiday season, people are on the hunt for sales. So it’s not surprising that ad views generally increase by 50%, click-through rates rise by 100%, direct traffic increases by 150%, the average order value grows by 30%, and conversion rates go up by 60%.

When managing ads, it’s crucial to identify the ROI, or return on investment. For every dollar spent, what do you get back? If you see a jump in views, click-through rate, direct traffic, and average order value it’s a strong indicator that your ads are performing well. The next step is to determine whether an opportunity exists to improve revenue by incrementally increasing the ad spend – and we do mean incrementally – while tracking changes to ad performance.

If it helps, you can think of it as investing. A 25% ROI on $1000 yields more money than a 50% ROI on $100; therefore, it’s worth spending more despite the lower ROI to make more money. In other words, if you see a disproportionate increase in your ads KPIs, it might mean you should increase ad spend to balance it out.

4. Invest in Search Engine Optimization 

SEO is essential but more of a long-term consideration. Suppose a business implements an on-site SEO optimization strategy today. It may not see a measurable impact for several weeks or months, since there is some lag time before the search engine algorithms begin ranking your site higher. However, investing in SEO can lead to a higher ranking in Search Engine Results Pages, improved ranking for relevant, non-branded search terms, and ultimately, helping your business stand out online. 

You can further improve your off-site SEO with backlinks, which is when other sites link back to yours. For example, you can get your website or product featured in a popular gift-buying guide or in a listicle from another publication. In these cases, the old-school approach of partner networking is the way to go! Make sure to bring value to your potential partner to improve your chances of getting featured.

Putting It All Together

A mix of all of the above will undoubtedly help you stand out this holiday season. But the optimal mix depends on your business and your ideal customer. Our team has experience driving high-impact digital marketing campaigns for clients, so if you need help planning for the holidays, contact us for a free consultation.

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