It's not a secret that effective marketing can help your company reach new customers and stand apart from competitors. While many principles of successful sales and marketing have not changed for centuries, Digital Marketing has revolutionized many aspects of how sellers reach and compete for prospective buyers. Not only does digital marketing provide new ways to generate awareness and leads, it also offers unprecedented ability to track effectiveness along the way, allowing marketers to continually improve return on investment (ROI).

Consider the extent to which the web has become an integral part of doing business today. I can't remember the last time I saw a business card without a web address and an email address on it. Customers simply expect it, and businesses realize the immense marketing and sales potentials of this new channel. This is amazing, if we recall that the World Wide Web is barely 20 years old this year.

The New Digital World

The world has changed drastically in these last 20 years, and with it the process of selling and buying. Whether you sell to other businesses or consumers, the web is a unique marketing channel that allows you to proactively attract potential buyers, educate them about your products or services, generate qualified leads and even close sales, all without your direct involvement. However, today there are over 30 trillion web pages on the internet. Simply having a website is no longer enough - you need a digital marketing strategy to market it.

According to Forrester Research, in 2016, US companies are planning to spent over $76 billion on internet marketing, and it is likely that your company is one of many to plan to re-design a website, upload product literature to your site, launch a new email campaign or advertise on professional or social networks. But how do you develop a strategy that aloocates your marketing budget to the activities that will have the most significant impact on your business? The choices abound: Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search advertising, Direct Marketing, Thought Leadership,  E-Commerce, PR, Social Media. In fact, digital marketing offers such a multitude of possibilities that many businesses have trouble prioritizing, and often succeed at none. There are millions of websites out there, full of compeling messages, images and videos, all competing for the attention of your customer. How do you know if your digital marketing efforts are helping you reach the target buyers? How do you know they are making any impact at all?

Measures of Success

When measuring the success of your digital marketing program, it's tempting to fixate on a single readily available metric such as the number of visitors to your website. While visitors to your site are important, it's the quality of visitors and not the quantity that matters. The goal of you digital marketing program is to bring qualified prospects to your website. The goal of your website, then, is to help them towards the buying decision. This may be as direct as placing the product in the shopping cart or downloading a product spec sheet or requesting a quote.  In marketing terms, when the visitor takes the desired action, it is called a conversion: you are "converting" site visits into leads or sales. The higher your conversion rate, the more successful your marketing program.

So, how do you start down the path of increasing conversions? First you need to do is answer one question: "what do you consider a successful visit to your website?" Once you know this, the other pieces will fall into place as you develop your internet sales and marketing strategy. All of your digital campaigns and everything on your website should work to create this "successful visit" experience. From page layout and usability to the types and location of the images, the keywords in your text, and the meta tags in your HTML code -- everything has an impact on your conversion rate.

Going Forward

Building a website should not be an end onto itself - it should be the first step of an on-going, coordinated, and — most importantly — profitable marketing program with specific goals and measurable results. The right digital marketing program will take your revenue to the next level.