Foundations of a Strong Digital Marketing Footprint
Building your digital marketing footprint can seem like a daunting task, and there are a lot of considerations in the process. New casinos, hotels and Tribal enterprises – along with older companies that rely mainly on traditional marketing channels and direct mail – may have a lot of work ahead of them. But even businesses with a strong online presence may be able to strengthen their digital marketing campaigns with the right tweaks.
What follows will be an introduction to the foundational elements of an effective online marketing strategy, and a detailing of some small changes you can make to optimize their efficacy.
Foundational Element #1: Build a Modern Website
This is always the first step. Hopefully you already have one, but if not, better late than never. Maybe you already have a website, but it doesn’t accomplish everything necessary to give you the greatest chance for success. Here’s how to get started:
- Explain your company. Don’t forget to put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows nothing about what you’re doing. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating potential guests and gamblers. Include a strong mission statement and the story of your business to let people know who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Have someone outside the company read it to see if it makes sense to a layman.
- Don’t neglect mobile formatting. A traditional website is going to be perfectly suited to a traditional computer, but a headache to access from a smartphone or a tablet. When building a website, make sure to build a version formatted to mobile devices, or you’ll be missing out on that web traffic. According to SimilarWeb, a trusted web traffic metrics tool, mobile traffic has accounted for 57%, 63%, and 58% of all web traffic in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively.
- Include a contact webform as opposed to listing a contact email. Contact webforms can not only prevent you from receiving spam emails, it’s also a wonderful tool for allowing emails to be automatically forwarded to the departments that need to see them. Not to mention it allows potential customers to opt-in to your mailing list, one of the most powerful tools in your digital toolbox.
- Start a blog. Blog posts provide a reason for people to keep coming back to your website and can make it easier to keep your business’ social media accounts posting regularly. Which brings us to the next foundational element of digital marketing …
Foundational Element #2: Social Media Profiles
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and Yelp are incredible tools for any hospitality and entertainment-based business. Social media sites are high traffic and easy to make look good. Not to mention they have wonderful engagement metric tools that can tell you which posts are the most effective. Make sure that whoever oversees these accounts has a strong understanding of the company brand, solid graphic design skills, photography and videography skills are also highly desired, and a way with words. Once you have your pages built, start producing content – consistently. Set a monthly budget for social media advertising and watch your reach and engagement grow. Building a solid social media community takes a lot of work, creativity, and “sticktoitiveness.” For a more detailed look at this, see my earlier blog post about it at https://betravingknows.com/weekly-reports/marketing-loyalty/2019/04/six-steps-to-diy-social-media-marketing-for-casinos/.
Foundational Element #3: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEO and SEM are tools every business should be utilizing. Depending on the budget and needs of your operation, one may be better than the other, or utilizing both might be the right choice. SEO is a process of refinement of a company’s online presence and word choice that over time will make your company more easily searchable. SEM is a service provided by search engines that allows you to pay for higher placement in searches. If you’re new to digital marketing, you may want to start with SEM as a way of testing which search terms work for the goods or services you provide. If your company has a more established online presence, it might be time to invest in SEO for the long term. However, like I said earlier, using both together might be the best thing for you and your business.
Foundational Element #4: Online Business Listings
Whether you like it or not, your business is likely listed on hundreds if not thousands of websites online. Audit your online presence for all of your business and all your branded company assets to discover online business listings you never knew you had. This vital step in improving your digital footprint starts by claiming your online business listings and making sure that all of the information on those website business listings accurately represent your casinos, hotels, golf courses, restaurants, c-stores, and any other business associated with your brand. Once you have claimed your business, make sure you have someone to keep them up to date with correct hours of operation, menus, amenities, and other pertinent information. This will help build your online business presence and drive more visitors to your website, and ultimately your property.
These four elements may seem like more work than they’re worth if you’re not familiar with digital marketing. But the greatest boon digital marketing can provide to a company is the level of feedback that traditional marketing can’t hope to match. You can see which dollars you’ve spent have garnered which levels of engagement from possible customers, which can help eliminate one of the most frustrating mysteries for any business — knowing which ads are working, and which are falling on deaf ears. The key here is to allocate your budget wisely by understanding your target demographics and how they tend to browse the web and engage in social media. Also, note that these are just the basics. Technology is advancing rapidly, so there are some really interesting and effective advanced methods in digital marketing and advertising once you’ve mastered these foundational elements. Digital marketing is an essential for any business, so use this foundation and get to building!