Suit Up: 4 Must-Have Tools in Your Digital Marketing Arsenal / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Arm yourself with these 4 tools to help bring new customer or clients in the door in 2016.

Ever tried using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail? You might be surprised how often I see people using similar techniques when trying to market their business today.

There are literally hundreds of ways to market yourself online. With so many tools in your marketing arsenal, it can be difficult to decide which one to use.

If you do not fully understand each tool, and what they are best at, you will end up wasting time on the wrong thing.

We have all been frustrated after a miserable failure. How many of those were doomed from the start?

I have tried almost every thing possible to market websites, so you do not have to worry.

Here are four essential marketing tools I believe you need to use and understand for 2016.

Related Article: Successful Business Leaders Tell All: Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

1. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may be outshined in 2015 by social media and mobile apps, but it’s still a quick and effective tool to get free traffic and revenue.

SEO by this point has become a science, there is very little mystery left here. You do not need to be an expert to get started. Here is what I suggest.

Use Google's keyword planner to find the right phrases to target, focus on building your authority with a little help from Open Site Explorer, and write lots of great content.

SEO is no longer a magic bullet, but the return on your investment is extremely good. A few tweaks to a poorly designed website can double or even triple your traffic within six to eight weeks. What are twice as many sales worth to you?

2. Social Media

If SEO is not a magic bullet, then I am not sure what to call most of what people are doing in social media. Creating a Facebook fan page does not mean you have a social media marketing plan.

Having 10,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t give you Klout worth bragging about.

Social media is something you need to think about and plan way before you start spending money.

The first step to using social media properly is to understand the channels that work for you. Write down all the potential social networks that you could be using, and then ask yourself which ones are right for you.

One of the biggest myths in social media is that you need to be everywhere. There are too many choices today for that to even be possible. You only need to be everywhere your customers are searching for you.

Once you have determined the right social media channels, you need to determine what your strategy is.

Being on social media is a big first step. Now it's time to to form a solid strategy for what you will post, and when you will post it. Using social scheduling apps like Hootsuite is a free and easy way to get started.

Related Article: My Cheat Sheet: An SEO Manager's Go-To Digital Marketing Tools

3. Automation

Much like social media, automation is something that a lot of people are doing, yet few are doing well.

The companies that are winning in this space are pushing the very envelop of what CRMs and email marketing is capable of, all while integrating it seamlessly into a customers daily life.

Companies like Hubspot have been doing very well in this space for years, so check them out if you have not already.

No matter what business you have, I can tell you at least two things are true: your customers have email addresses, and they read emails that are valuable to them.

So, why not take a moment and setup a drip email campaign using a service like Mailchimp or Marketo (depending on your budget).

A drip email campaign is a series of helpful automated emails that you send out to a potential or current customer.

You can send them anything from tips on how to better use your product or how to be a better manager. The point is that once you set it up, the campaign runs by itself.

You can provide value without ever lifting a finger.

Using automation in your marketing also has an incredible upside. First, it saves you time, which is the most valuable commodity you have. Second, it improves the customer experience, which ultimately improves your customer service online.

So, if you are ready to ease in to the world of marketing automation, do not be afraid. It's easier than you think to get started.

Related Article: Now Trending: Top 4 Resources for Digital Marketing Growth in 2016

4. Video

Once people found out that people like to watch videos more than read text, it was game over.

According to the latest video statistics from Comscore, the time spent per viewer on YouTube is 311 minutes, crossing the five-hour mark for the first time ever.

So, try to create a YouTube account and launch a few short videos with helpful tips for your customers.

Many business owners shoot welcome videos to put on the home page of their website or blog. Instead of welcoming a new visitor with text, a video provides a more engaging experience.

Ultimately, pictures are more engaging than text, and videos are even stickier than pictures. And the more time users spend on a website, the more money that website generally makes.

Like any tool that you don’t use, your digital marketing skills can become rusty over time.

Not many people become successful by taking other people’s word for things.

Bill Gates began programming computers at age 13, Mark Zuckerberg hacked up the first Facebook, and Google’s famous PageRank formula was created by none other than current CEO’s, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

So roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and make it a goal to sharpen your marketing tools in 2016.

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