How traditional businesses can transition to digital marketing strategies

There’s no doubt about it: Coming up with an effective marketing strategy in the digital age can be a huge challenge. Businesses may have once assumed that incorporating technology into their advertising efforts would be nothing more than a passing fad, but it’s become clear that digital marketing tactics are now a must. Consumers rely on the internet for virtually everything. This means that, in order to get the traffic (and therefore, the revenue) they need to thrive, businesses need to make an impact on the web.

Unfortunately, this can pose an issue for many traditional businesses. Embracing digital marketing can be a major adjustment, to say the least. It’s a brand new world for marketers, and that takes some getting used to. Those tried-and-true marketing methods of years past are no longer effective. Instead of print ads and cold calling, acronyms (SEO, SEM, PPC) and nicknames (apps, social, blogs) reign supreme. And while millennials take to these digital marketing tactics like fish to water, established companies may have a tougher time making the transition. Want to really see how the marketing landscape has evolved? Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the ways traditional business practices have shifted in the rise of the digital marketplace.

It’s all about inbound marketing

In the past, outbound marketing was all the rage. Traditional forms of outbound marketing include trade shows and expos, seminars, ad placement, telemarketing and cold calling. There are certain forms of outbound marketing that are still used today, like email blasts, which can make an impact—but they can also feel obstrusive to some customers. That’s often the case with outbound marketing in general. Because the market is so saturated, consumers are being bombarded with more outbound marketing attempts than ever before. In fact, HubSpot found that the average person is inundated with more than 2,000 outbound marketing interruptions each and every day. Because of that, no one has patience for a sales pitch. Consumers are more likely to ignore your attempts or even find ways to forcibly filter these interruptions out, like spam folders, ad blockers, caller ID, and paid subscriptions that offer no commercial interruptions.

In addition, customers want convenience. Conducting a quick internet search about a problem or a product is a much better use of time and money than attending a trade show or seminar. That’s why it’s so important that businesses in the digital age have a great web presence. Your website should be an excellent source for information, but you need to ensure that consumers can find it in the first place. That’s what inbound marketing is for. Web page optimization, blogging and content marketing, apps, and social media campaigns are all examples of inbound marketing tactics that, when done well, can attract visitors. With outbound marketing, your strategy relies on pushing out a message and seeing what sticks; with inbound marketing, you can actually target your audience and appeal to those who are already searching for information by pulling them in.

By creating content that consumers are actually looking for, you’ll position yourself as a leader with integrity. Instead of overwhelming a potential customer with an obvious advertising ploy, you’re providing information that they actually need. While this difference in approach can be tough to wrap your mind around, it may help to get in the mindset of today’s average customer: They don’t want to be swayed by slick advertising; they want to know how your brand can make their lives easier. Because brand loyalty is harder to come by these days, you need to do everything you can to ensure you are relevant, helpful and trustworthy. Believe it or not, inbound marketing efforts can actually allow you to be perceived in this way.

Lead generation, SEO and blogging go hand-in-hand-in-hand

Lead generation has never been simple, but it’s become more diversified over the years. That can make it harder for marketers to find what actually works for a given business. In the digital age, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the single greatest techniques organizations have to make an impact on both their brand visibility and their lead generation. In fact, Bristol Strategy reports that 57 percent of B2B marketers say SEO has the greatest impact on lead generation. However, only 33 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses actually optimize their sites effectively. It’s definitely worth your while to invest in SEO, but you need to be doing it correctly.

Essentially, SEO has no value without quality content to support it. In other words, you can use all the right keywords on your site’s landing pages and still not see an improvement in traffic or leads. If you don’t have useful, relevant information for visitors to see, a thin site filled with keywords will look pretty spammy. You won’t be providing your potential leads with any incentive to stay on your site and learn more. That will make them click the back button on their browser right away, which can actually hurt your website’s rankings (i.e., your site won’t show up in search results, which leaves customers with no way to even find you).

This is why focusing your marketing efforts on content will pay off. In the past, you might have assumed your business doesn’t need a blog. “What could I possibly have to write about,” business owners wonder, and who would ever want to read it?” The truth is that you probably have a lot of interesting information to provide, and there are countless consumers who will want to know about it. Even more important, Google will want to read it (sort of). Google’s bots regularly crawl the internet looking for relevant information and new pages or posts. When these bots determine you have something interesting to say and you’re updating often, they’ll be more likely to give your site a boost. That boost can translate into more desirable rankings, increased traffic, and better quality leads overall. Businesses that blog generate a whopping 88 percent more leads per month than businesses that don’t blog!

Written by Dave Orecchio for CW Magazine.