You can’t expect to build a successful business if you don’t know how to do digital marketing.
You need to be able to effectively promote your products online if you want your company to thrive in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.
Of course, that is easier said than done. There’s so much information out there that it can make your head spin. SEO, social media, influencer marketing… Where should you even begin??
In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to get started with digital marketing.
Ready to take your business to the next level?
#1 Clearly Define Your Dream Customers
One of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they are just starting out is choosing a target audience that is way too broad.
Their reasoning goes like this:
“More potential customers means more sales, right?”
This might sound counterintuitive, but the smaller your target audience is, the easier it will be for you to make sales. Why?
Because going after a narrow target audience enables you to:
- Create products that are super helpful to your dream customers.
- Create marketing campaigns that truly resonate with your dream customers.
- Create copy that speaks directly to your dream customers.
Moreover, it can help you compete against big established companies because while they provide a solution that works okay for everyone, you can provide one that works amazingly well for a specific group of people.
When Nathan Barry launched ConvertKit back in 2013, it seemed like the fledgling startup didn’t have much of a chance, given that the email marketing software space was dominated by established players such as MailChimp and Aweber.
However, not only did the company managed to carve out a niche for itself, it is now generating over $2.3 million in monthly recurring revenue. How did that happen?
Nathan Barry didn’t go after just anyone and everyone who could possibly need email marketing software.
He chose to focus on providing an email marketing solution to content creators such as bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, etc.
That enabled him to not only create a great app but also market that app in a way that resonated with his target audience and write copy that spoke directly to them.
That’s why he was able to build a wildly successful business in what seemed like a crowded space.
The same principle applies to all kinds of products:
- Physical products.
- Info products
- Software products
So start by clearly defining your dream customers. Who do you want to serve?
One caveat, though:
You need to make sure that your target audience is big enough to allow you to build a sustainable business in that niche.
Are there any companies that target the same people with similar products? That’s a good sign because it means that there’s likely money to be made in that niche.
Be wary of niches where there is no competition because that might indicate that they are not profitable enough for building a sustainable business.
#2 Figure Out Where Your Dream Customers Hang Out
Okay, now that you know who your dream customers are, you need to figure out where they hang out.
As our co-founder Russel Brunson explains in his book “Traffic Secrets” (get it for free here):
“When you have a perfect vision of who your dream customer is, it becomes easy to find where they are congregating. On the contrary, if you don’t have perfect clarity on who that person is, it’s really hard to find them.”
Here are some ideas on where to start your search:
- Facebook. It has 2.85 billion monthly active users which makes it the largest social network in the world. There are popular Facebook groups on pretty much any subject imaginable, so you should be able to find at least a few that are frequented by your dream customers.
- Reddit. It’s one of the most popular discussion platforms in the world and has 430 million monthly active users. You can find at least one subreddit for pretty much anything you can think of, from archery to pet rats to antique books. Whatever your niche is, there’s probably a subreddit on the subject.
- Free online forums. You also want to check if there are any standalone forums in your niche. Say, if you are selling a book about bootstrapping a SaaS business, then Indie Hackers is where your dream customers hang out.
- Paid online forums. There might also be paid online communities where your dream customers congregate. For example, if you sell portfolio website templates for freelance writers, then you may want to invest in a Freelance Writers Den membership.
- Industry events. Don’t shy away from interacting with your dream customers in person. What events do they attend? Show up there yourself.
Once you have figured out where your dream customers hang out, it’s time to…
#3 Do Extensive Customer Research
Too many people treat:
- Product development.
…as exercises in creativity.
They come up with stuff and then hope that it will work.
But you should be basing your decisions on customer research instead!
Don’t “guess” what your dream customers want, go where they hang out, both online and offline, and observe the conversations happening there.
Here’s what you want to know:
- What are the values of your dream customers?
- How do your dream customers see themselves?
- How do your dream customers want to be seen by others?
- What are your dream customers trying to achieve?
- What are your dream customers struggling with?
- What solutions to that problem have your dream customers tried?
- What was their experience with those solutions?
- What are your dream customers proud of?
- What are your dream customers ashamed of?
- What are your dream customers afraid of?
- What language do your dream customers use to express all that (words, phrases, metaphors, etc.)?
By the time you are done with your customer research, you should know your dream customers better than they know themselves.
#4 Create a Buyer Persona
We, humans, have evolved to live in small tribes.
That’s why we aren’t that great when it comes to conceptualizing large groups of people.
So if you want to create a product, a marketing campaign, and sales copy that truly resonates with your dream customers, you can’t think about them as a “target audience” because that makes it hard to see them as real people.
What you should do instead is create what is called a buyer persona: a fictional character that represents the average person in your target audience.
Selling a product that helps female students get fit and stay fit?
You could use a buyer persona similar to this one:
Of course, you can develop your buyer persona more by using the information you have gathered when doing customer research, but even a basic persona like this is better than nothing. Why?
Because now when you are working on your product, marketing campaign, or landing page copy, you can do it with Anne in mind.
As long as your buyer persona is an accurate representation of your average dream customer, it will make it much easier for you to create something that truly resonates with your target audience.
#5 Build a Value Ladder Sales Funnel
You know what is another common mistake that online entrepreneurs make?
They try to sell their product the moment they get the potential customer’s attention!
But that potential customer doesn’t know them, doesn’t trust them, and has never gotten any value from them.
So why would they part with their hard-earned cash just because some rando says “Yo, here’s my product, now buy it”?
Our co-founder, Russel Brunson, has come up with a better way to sell online. It’s called the Value Ladder sales funnel.
Here’s how it looks like:
There are four stages:
- Bait. You offer the potential customer a lead magnet in exchange for their email address.
- Frontend. You offer the potential customer your least expensive and least valuable product.
- Middle. You offer the customer a more expensive and more valuable.
- Backend. You offer the customer your most expensive and most valuable product.
We believe that this is the best way to sell online. That’s the approach we used to build a $100M+ company. Why does it work so well?
Because it allows you to:
- Start the relationship with the potential customer by providing free value.
- Gradually build trust by providing progressively more value at each stage of the sales funnel.
Here’s how Russel explains it:
And you don’t need to have the entire product line ready to create a Value Ladder sales funnel.
You can simply set up the first two stages:
…then build out the rest of the funnel over time as you develop more products.
We actually have a free program called the 5 Day Challenge where Russel walks you through creating your first sales funnel step-by-step. More info at the end of this article!
But whether you join our free 5 Day Challenge or build your first sales funnel all by yourself, what matters is that you put one in place.
Your sales funnel is the foundation of your business.
#6 Run Paid Traffic to the Lead Magnet Landing Page
Okay, so now that you have your sales funnel, where can you get traffic?
We recommend that you start with paid advertising, specifically Facebook Ads since that’s the most straightforward way to put your lead magnet in front of your dream customers.
Online entrepreneurs who are just starting out are often resistant to this idea because they don’t want to spend money on advertising. But guess what?
- There’s no such thing as “free” traffic. You are either paying for it with your time or with your money.
- You want to make sure that there’s a demand for your product before you invest resources in long-term traffic generation strategies such as SEO, social media marketing, YouTube, etc.
- You should be more afraid of losing time than money because you can never get it back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
So start running paid traffic to your lead magnet landing page. You can begin with a small budget (e.g. $10-$20/day).
Use that paid traffic to optimize your sales funnel:
- No one is clicking through to your lead magnet landing page? Your ads are the problem.
- No one is interested in your lead magnet? Then either your lead magnet isn’t valuable enough or you aren’t doing a good enough job “selling” it on its landing page.
- No one is interested in your paid product? Then either your lead magnet isn’t valuable enough, or your product isn’t valuable enough, or you aren’t doing a good enough job at selling it.
Here’s how Russel explains it:
Once you have:
- Optimized your sales funnel.
- Figured out how to run paid ads profitably.
…you should start increasing your daily ad budget.
Just keep an eye on the numbers to make sure that the campaign remains profitable!
#7 Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Paid advertising might be the best way to get your online business off the ground, but you don’t want to rely on it forever.
That’s why you should create a content marketing strategy that will allow you to build a following of your own that you can then use to drive traffic to your lead magnet landing page.
This can mean:
- Building a following on Instagram. Typically this requires goods looks, an interesting lifestyle, and an eye for photography. This approach works best for health and fitness products, make money online products, and travel products (in other words, aspirational stuff).
- Building a popular blog. In order to build a popular blog, you need to understand SEO and either be able to produce high-quality content yourself or hire someone to do it for you. This approach works for a broader range of products because you can create written content even around “boring” ones.
- Building a popular YouTube channel. This platform has over 2.2 billion users, which means that you can probably find your dream customers on it. Are you charismatic, great with people, and a natural on camera? Then you should consider starting a YouTube channel. This approach works best in niches where concepts are best explained through the video medium, such as fitness, cooking, knitting, etc.
Whichever approach you choose, the main idea remains the same:
- You build a following by creating content that provides solutions to the problems that your dream customers are struggling with.
- You then drive traffic to your lead magnet landing page by promoting your lead magnet to your followers.
Just keep in mind that this takes time. Expect to invest at least 12-24 months in building your following before your efforts start paying off. You have to play the long game if you want to win at content marketing.
Matthew Hussey, a world-renowned dating coach, has over 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube.
On his channel homepage, he promotes one of his lead magnets, a free guide called “9 Texts”
When you click on that link, you are taken to the “9 Texts” landing page where you can download the guide:
It’s also worth noting that Matthew has a paid product that is the obvious next step if you have found the free guide valuable.
It’s called “How To Talk To Men” and offers 59 scripts that can be used to navigate various common dating scenarios.
#8 Be Responsive to Dream Customer Feedback
As your business grows, you will start getting feedback from your dream customers.
This will happen in two ways:
- As reactions to your content (e.g. likes, comments, emails, etc.).
- As reactions to your product (e.g. support tickets, emails, reviews, etc.).
You should pay attention to this feedback and use it to improve both your content and your product.
You can also accelerate this process by proactively soliciting feedback from your dream customers.
- When someone purchases your product, give them some time to try it, then send them a simple survey.
It can be as basic as three emojis: a smiley face, a frowny face, and a neutral face. All the customer has to do to provide feedback is click on one of them.
- When someone responds to your survey, reach out to them personally and ask them to tell you why they chose to give your product that rating.
If you see that this person is open to discussing your product in more detail, you can even ask them if they’d be willing to hop on a 15-minute Skype call with you.
- Make sure to express your gratitude by giving a gift to each customer who has provided feedback.
It can be as simple as a free product, a free month, a free upgrade, etc. Or you can just send them a $25 Amazon card. What matters is the gesture.
You also want to create a system for storing all that feedback in one place.
It can be as simple as a spreadsheet, a folder in your Gmail account, a Google Doc with copy-pasted emails, etc. You can always upgrade to something more sophisticated later.
Make sure that you only listen to dream customer feedback. That’s who you are serving. They are the only people you should be paying attention to.
Otherwise, you might end up trying to please people who are not your target audience, which might make your content and your products worse, not better in the eyes of your dream customers.
#9 Gather Data, Analyze It, Adjust Your Approach Accordingly
You should be collecting as much data as you can when it comes to:
- Conversion rates.
The more data you have, the easier it is to identify patterns within it, then adjust your approach accordingly.
When you are just starting out, you need to make an educated guess as to who your dream customers are.
But once the sales start coming in, you don’t need to guess anymore, you can simply look at who’s buying your product.
Then you can adjust your product, your marketing, and your copy in a way that makes it more appealing to those people.
#10 Keep At It!
One of the main reasons why online businesses fail is that entrepreneurs give up too soon.
Our minds are inundated with “overnight success” stories because that’s what we see in the media.
Everyone wants to hear about the college kid who sold his business for 7 figures, no one wants to hear about the middle-aged couple that spent a decade building theirs. But the latter story is much more common.
You need to understand your dream customers, create a great product, and figure out a way to market it. And once you put all those pieces together, you then need to scale the business in a sustainable way. All that takes time.
So discard the “get-rich-quick” mindset and adopt the “build a sustainable business” mindset.
Be patient, stay consistent, keep at it. Play the long game!
Want Russell To Teach You How To Build Your First Sales Funnel?
Let’s keep it real:
Building a sales funnel from scratch can seem like a daunting task.
That’s why we have created our 5 Day Challenge where Russel walks you through it step-by-step.
You will learn how to:
- Generate unlimited leads.
- Create your first lead magnet.
- Build your first sales funnel.
- Create a simple 6-email follow-up sequence.
- And launch your funnel!
…in just five days.
So don’t hesitate.