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Which Digital Marketing Platforms Should You Start Working on First?

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If you’ve been doing digital marketing for any length of time, you’ll know that there’s a lot involved. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the stuff to do.

Don’t try to do it all at once—or at least not right away. Build up to full marketing capacity. That starts with setting your priorities and focusing on one thing until you’re proficient at it. That means picking one marketing platform to optimize at a time. 

But which one should come first? Where do you begin with marketing? That depends on your company, your boss, your industry, and your preferences. However, we have a recommended order of which platforms to start with.

1. Brand Messaging

OK, technically branding and messaging aren’t digital marketing platforms. But getting these two nailed down are prerequisites before launching any campaigns in earnest. That’s because you’ll want to have a strong and consistent message and look across every online channel.

Don’t overlook this and jump into online marketing without a plan. It will take more work to rebuild your brand presence and any initial efforts will be mostly wasted. Take the time to get this right upfront.

2. Keyword Research

What do you want to be known for? What are your target customers looking for? These are the key search words and phrases that you’ll want to focus on. But you won’t automatically know all of the keywords, so it’s time to do some research.

Your website copywriting and content strategy should take this research into account. Your website will establish a baseline for SEO and the content you add will help grow your organic search results even more. Learn how people are discovering your site and the low-hanging fruit to grab next.

3. Website

The first true digital platform your business should invest in is a website. This seems obvious, which is good, but it’s worthwhile to remember why. 

Your website should be the hub of all digital marketing. Every other platform should point back to the website. It’s the one platform you have full control over. It’s a direct reflection of your brand. It’s your best salesman.

View your website as a business investment. It’s the foundation of your marketing. Trying to build a cheap website or doing it on too short of a timeline undermines this foundation and makes everything else less effective.

4. Blogging & Content Marketing

With keyword research completed, content marketing is how you execute on improving your website’s search rankings. To this point, you’ve built the outlines of your marketing funnel—now it’s time to seed it with content that will attract potential customers.

Blogging is perhaps the most tried and tested type of digital content that draws your audience. However, podcast and video content are also both popular and growing content formats. They also take more time to produce and do well.

Pick one content format at a time. Create a sustainable strategy that you and your team can realistically manage. Build a content calendar. Try it out for 3-6 months to start building a baseline. Monitor to see how it’s impacting traffic back to your website.

5. Lead Magnets

Now that you’re producing great content, take it up a notch with free lead magnets. These are longer-form pieces of content that people exchange contact information to access. These lead magnets can include:

  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Checklists
  • Guides
  • Video training series
  • Webinars

The goal of any lead magnet is to provide relevant value to your customers and build up a list that you can further communicate with. These will take more time to produce than your blog posts or podcast episodes. Create a calendar of releasing these quarterly or bi-annually.

6. Email Marketing

When it comes to reaching people outside of your website, email marketing is likely the most underrated digital marketing platform. Some people overlook email because it’s been around for so long. But it still boasts a strong connection directly to your audience.

Before you start sending out any emails, create a strategy for automated email series. Think about the different stages of your customer journey (joining the email list, downloading a resource, making a purchase, etc.). Use a series of emails to nurture people along that path and through your marketing funnel.

Once you’ve actively launched your email marketing, use it as a primary source of communicating with your audience. Let them know about company updates, share the latest content you’ve created, and share some outstanding resources that they’ll benefit from.

7. Reputation Management

As you continue to build your online presence, you’ll want to pay attention to how people are responding. To this point, we’ve exclusively discussed platforms that you control. But those aren’t the only places people find you online.

Online reviews and digital directories are important sources of backlinks and brand awareness. You’ll want to audit every place you’re mentioned or listed online and gauge how it portrays you. Are people leaving reviews—positive, negative, or both?

Claim as many of those listings as possible. Ensure that the information shared is accurate. Then monitor them for customer reviews and respond to everyone. There are certainly ways to encourage more positive reviews, but simply monitoring your online reputation is the beginning.

8. Social Media

You might be surprised to see social media listed so far down this list. No, it’s not a mistake. Social media platforms are certainly powerful digital tools. They can no doubt help you build your business online. However, you shouldn’t rely on them to do so.

Social platforms control your presence and audience. They continually tweak their algorithms and adjust how many people see your content. That’s not a problem if you have several other reliable forms of communication and web traffic. But it’s hard (and foolish) to build a digital marketing strategy exclusively on social media attention.

Social media should be viewed as booster rockets that help elevate your content. Your social accounts can bring you additional exposure, but only once you’ve established a solid foundation. Especially because they’re increasingly becoming pay-to-play—meaning digital ads.

9. Digital Ads

Like social media, digital advertising should be used to boost something that’s already working well. Ads work best with content and messaging that’s already working organically. Starting with an outstanding website and relevant content will make your online advertising more effective.

Advertising works well because it responds immediately when you start paying. However, it turns off completely when you take away that ad budget. This is a short-term boost to an existing long-term marketing strategy.

Where will you start with your digital marketing?

This is an idealized (and perhaps naive) list of which digital marketing platforms to tackle first. It’s a more focused approach to doing one thing at a time. Unfortunately, not all marketers have the luxury of building that slowly or deliberately.

Your marketing approach will likely be slightly more scattered and simultaneous. You’ll probably have to juggle all of these at the same time. Do yourself the favor of focusing where you can, sticking to a big-picture strategy, and staying slow and consistent.

Still need help getting your digital marketing started? Reach out to GreenMellen today and we can support any of these platforms for your business.

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Robert Carnes

Marketing Manager

Robert Carnes is a freelance writer, published author, and professional marketer. His book, The Original Storyteller, is a 30-day guide to becoming a better storyteller. Robert lives in Atlanta and you can follow him on social media @jamrobcar.

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