Digital Marketing, also referred to as online marketing or internet marketing, has been around since the 1990s and has received considerable attention with the growth of the internet over the last decade or so. And yet, many people who use it or have some sort of an awareness of it do not fully understand what it actually means. Many believe that folks at digital marketing agency are just posting Facebook and Google ads, while some think it includes both organic online promotions and ads.
However, digital marketing is much more than that.
Simply put, it entails intelligently marketing products and services on the internet organically and inorganically (i.e. through ads). It includes organic promotion and ads on the web, social media channels and apps, content marketing and remarketing, influencer marketing, online reputation management, emails, landing pages, voice searches and more.
Each aspect is vast enough to take quite a few years to fully master. This, however, is the case with every subject and like with other professions, competence in digital marketing can be gained after a few years of learning and practical experience. Once a person acquires that knowledge, she or he can easily pick up the craft as a chosen profession and become quite good at it over time.
What it Used to Be
When it started out, digital marketing was easy. It primarily comprised of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and ads. Sometimes, the only thing one needed to do was put up a large number of links on the home page or the footer of the website, and rank at the top of search results.
The early days were rough and many irrelevant websites used to appear at the top of searches simply because they had taken the trouble of putting up a lot of links on the home page or footer. But things changed over time as search engine algorithms got smarter and started identifying bad links and spammy websites for what they were. Slowly but steadily, relevant businesses started coming up the search results.
The same thing happened with ads. Bad ads stopped getting clicks and conversions and advertisers were forced to create better ads with a more relevant and well-written copy.
The Situation Now
Search engines algorithms are now quite intelligent. The online competition for customers has also increased by several notches. The sites that come up at the top now are those that follow the guidelines for online promotion. The focus has shifted from spam and bad copy to ethics, strategy, great content and hard work.
More businesses than before are now trying to take advantage of online platforms to grab the attention of their prospective customers. But there is a huge gap between demand and supply of digital marketing experts.
Most digital marketers are still following the old rules of the game and not getting the desired results. As a result, the scope and opportunities in digital marketing have increased significantly and will only rise in the future.
This is one of the best times to start your own digital marketing company. Here are the steps to follow if you want to start a digital marketing agency in India:
Step 1: Decide Your Strategy
If you are serious about establishing yourself in the digital marketing industry, then you need to think about your niche and placement and how you want to go about it right from the get-go. Whether you want to focus on one aspect of digital marketing or look at a 4-5, want to focus on one industry or target 2-3, want to focus on your own locality or go national, each decision will have its own repercussions.
The idea is to play to your strengths. Do not begin by taking on too much. The rules of the start-up game apply here. Start small, start strong.
Step 2: Kickstart Your Online Presence
Start by getting a domain name. It would be ideal to go for a domain name that matches your brand name word for word. However, it may not be possible and you may have to settle for a domain name that might be a close match.
For B2C websites, a .com domain is ideal whereas, for B2B businesses such as yours, a .in website will work just fine. A small note, if you want to target international clients, then a non-country specific domain extension (.com, .co, .biz, .net, .io, etc.) is preferable.
Step 3: Get Social, Literally!
Pick out a few relevant social media platforms to connect with your potential customers in the future. Sharing relevant content and building a connection with your followers on social media will help you create a strong online presence. It also makes potential clients put their trust in your brand. You can build lasting and valuable relationships by connecting with your clients on social media.
An important note here: there is no need to be present on all social media networks. Pick only the most relevant ones based on your niche and industry, and regularly update them.
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Step 4: Focus on Building Your Brand
One of the most important things these days is building a brand so that you stand out from the competition. Some things you can do is get a logo, a few visiting cards to hand out, good content on the site, a presentation or two to email and so on.
Getting a logo helps you in creating a brand identity and helps in making your brand memorable. BUT, do not waste a lot of time and money on perfecting the design or changing it frequently. Instead, find something that appeals to you and take it forward from there. Once your digital marketing agency takes off, you can allocate a budget for an improved design of the logo – if you think that is needed.
Carry your business cards with you and hand them over to potential clients at trade shows, airport lounges, business centres, conferences, etc. The more you hand out, the more visible you become. You can get a few flyers made as well if you are attending a trade show and simply hand them out.
It might also be interesting for your customers to know where you come from and who you are as a brand. You can choose to share the story of how your company came into being on your ‘About Us’ page. Also, if you have employees, then introduce your team on the page. You can choose to highlight important milestones for your company or employees on your website.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Though you can be a solopreneur initially, you will need to get a business identity if you want to scale up. Depending on how you want to move ahead, you may consider registering your business as a Proprietorship, a One Person Company, a Private Limited Company, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). You might want to hire an accountant who will ensure that your financials are in order and taxes are being filed on time.
Step 6: Build Your Core Team
If you want to carry out different digital marketing activities, then building a core team is a must. Each member should have some expertise in a particular aspect of digital marketing. For instance, you can hire an SEO expert, a Google Ads expert, a Facebook expert, a social media manager, and so on. Solopreneurs can hire freelancers who have expertise in different digital marketing activities.
Here is a list of people you will need to successfully execute your digital marketing projects:
(a) Content Editor or Senior Writer:
Content is king and quality content is what brings organic search engine traffic to a website. If you are able to churn out high-quality content with relevant keywords, it is possible to attract visitors to the website through search engines.
Other digital marketing tactics can help convert these visitors into leads and then buying customers. If your client has a team of writers, you can give them topics and keywords so that they can create cornerstone content for the website to attract search engine traffic.
(b) Media Specialists and Graphic Designers:
Written content can help you get visitors to the website but most people do not like to read page after page of textual content on a website. This is why you need to add visual elements to keep the visitor from getting overwhelmed and leaving the website.
You can choose to supplement text with infographics, videos and images to keep the visitor engaged. The best part is that you can repurpose this visual content and use it for social media marketing campaigns.
(c) Ad Experts:
While organic traffic is ideal for your client’s websites, it may not be enough to generate income or convert into leads. Therefore, targeted traffic through paid ads on search engines, websites and social media is something you need to try.
Ad experts know how to grab the attention of potential customers and turn them from site visitors into paying clients. You can choose to have one or more experts for different advertising platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc. They can design advertising campaigns based on the needs of your clients.
(d) Sales Executives:
You need clients to run your digital marketing business successfully. Unless you want to actively be involved in pitching to the clients, you need to hire sales experts who will be in charge of getting clients and negotiating for your rates and terms of the contract. They will also take care of negotiating for monthly deliverables in terms of traffic, content, etc. based on the duration of the project.
(e) Social Media Manager:
If you are going to offer social media services then you should consider hiring a social media manager who will manage the client’s social media profiles. She or he will be responsible for posting content on social media, replying to comments and questions from followers and running social media ad campaigns. Your social media manager can also help you run influencer marketing campaigns by finding the right influencers in your client’s niche.
Step 7: Stay Updated. Stay Relevant.
One of the most important things for digital marketing companies is the need to stay updated with the latest trends and methodologies acceptable in the field. You need to upgrade your skill set and stay relevant so that you are able to provide the best services to your clients. If you have employees, make sure that they attend seminars, training and conferences to pick up new skills and meet like-minded people. The important thing is to understand the industry dynamics and also stay updated with the latest happenings in the industry and the digital marketing universe.
We have said this above and we will repeat it here. When you start your digital marketing agency, it is a smart idea to start small and focus on a specific niche. Once you build the expertise in the industry then you can start to expand slowly and move into other industries.
You will also have to create different game plans for companies of different sizes. This is because the risks and rewards differ for big corporations and for small or mid-level companies. You need to have a custom strategy for each client to get them the results they want.
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This article has been written by Punnag Bhuyan from IHuS Research. IHuS Research is a fast-growing digital marketing agency based out of Delhi NCR. An entrepreneur at heart, Punnag helps early-stage startups scale using the power of digital marketing.