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In a survey conducted at the end of 2019, some 72% of digital commerce leaders believed that consumers would continue to shift visibly to online shopping. As more and more consumers aged that were born after the advent of the internet and Web 2.0, experts predicted more than half of all customers would do as little physical shopping as possible. Within 10 years, they said, only about 12% of shopping would be done in a physical retail location.

Then in March of 2020, the global pandemic struck our shores and guess what..? No, there’s no M. Night Shyamalan twist here. The answer is exactly what you think it is – all that rapidly accelerated. Most stores and other retail outlets shuttered or severely cut back hours and the majority of Americans sheltered at home. Amazon’s value shot through the roof – even when their supply chains got cut short. And then they accelerated their latest delivery system – sidestepping traditional shipping companies and offering jobs to thousands of people.

As I’ve said before – having an Internet presence is no longer optional – it’s necessary. The balance of power had already started to shift – now it’s inevitable.

A social media presence is also needed, but those can no longer be relied upon to be your sole point of online contact. The platforms make the algorithms and the rules, and they can and DO change them at a moment’s notice. Whether you primarily service Business to Consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B) customers, the time will come very soon where you cannot function, let alone survive, without a website and a digital marketing strategy.

There is Only Zuul

Earlier this week, Ad Week published an article that talked about Amazon’s 37% leap in year-to-year sales in the third quarter – still growing after most retail shops reopened. A large part of that is attributed to Amazon Prime sales and convenience. And why not? If I have the option of Amazon sending me my over the counter heartburn medication or herbal supplements for the same price – or often considerably cheaper – on a regular schedule, for free why wouldn’t I save a trip to the store in a last minute panic ‘cause I’ve just run out?

The same article cited a statistic that people looking to buy in 2019, were nearly three times as likely to start their searches on Amazon than Google. Amazon recently released new tools for their advanced third party sellers to track the touchpoints of the funnel leading to an Amazon sale.

And I’m guessing within the next 10 years, Amazon will shift even further – still selling everything, but bifurcated into a virtual online mall. You’ll be able to shop at Amazon retail, like a colossal WalMart in the cloud, AND at your favorite side retailers. And companies like Simon and Westfield will be struggling to survive.

Your Own Personal Vinz Clortho

So how do you, as a single company or entrepreneur, stand out amongst the new giants of commerce? A properly executed digital marketing strategy gives you a whole ring of keys to open those proverbial gates.

Maybe it’s easier to notice with the rise of virtual assistants and voice search, among other things? But it’s amazing to me that people are still just now noticing, recognizing or admitting what we’ve been teaching small business owners for nearly 20 years now. I guess that gave our clients an unfair? advantage. One that you can now get for free – the only cost is time. I’ll explain more at the end of the article.

Regardless, I’m seeing more and more people talk about using keywords the right way. Not the game-the-system attempts of yesteryear, where keywords were splattered across a seemingly blank page, or blogs and social posts littered with apparently random keywords or #hashtags.

No, as we’ve been telling people for decades, and people like Neil Patel chime in on every few years – long tail keywords are, well, key. And I know it may seem counterintuitive on its face. Yes, using specific, targeted long tail keywords and phrases generates less search traffic. But that traffic is at least twice as likely to convert – often within just one or two visits.

Specificity is the key. As I mentioned earlier (or you can check out this article for an in-depth examination), voice search has changed, or rather honed the way we search. More than a third of all Google searches contain four words or more – and are often phrased in the form of a question.

How We Do Things Downtown

The easiest and simplest way to bring ready-to-buy clients and consumers to your website is to create content that answers the questions they are asking. Sure, in 1999, someone might have searched Google for “dog obedience schools.” But they were – and still are – more likely to search for “how to stop my dog from barking all night.” Or “how to housetrain my poodle.” Or “What can I do to stop my dog from romancing my boyfriend’s leg?”

People don’t look on Google for information anymore. Which is probably a good thing because we’re in overload right now. But they do ask Google for solutions to their problems. And if you’ve got a dog obedience school, the best way to help your customers find you is to answer those questions.

You do that in a blog post – you may even tell them how to do it without you. And guess what, that means some people who come to your site aren’t going to buy your product or service. But they were never going to. And the ones who are ready to buy, will. And some of the first group may come back after they find themselves overwhelmed by the DIY solution. After all, they already found you and you offered them a solution that didn’t require paying you – that added value is priceless. This is why we say content is king.

Now, not everyone has a dog obedience school, with obvious problems and pain points to address. But every company has a niche audience they serve…a narrow grouping of ideal customers, who they serve perfectly. You aim for those bullseye customers, and you’ll attract additional potential buyers on the outskirts. Either way, you’re literally in business.

Crossing the Streams

I’m not going to go into every aspect of developing a digital marketing strategy in one article. But here’s something to keep in mind – we follow the same timeless principles that we teach. A quick site search and you’ll find all the pieces – everything to develop a marketing strategy on your own.

But we didn’t stop there. As our way of giving back to the small business community that helped us Grow our Dream, we’re giving back during these troubling times. You don’t have to wait to go back to the office – or even quit your nine to five – remote or not – position. You just need to sacrifice one lunch hour a week.

Every Wednesday at 1pm Eastern, we host what we call #StrategyStream. Our chief educator David G. Johnson, walks you through the strategic marketing process that he taught the Ziglar Corporation and Michael Pink’s clients among many others. We’ve legitimately charged thousands of dollars for this training in the past – even without our help implementing it. Now you can get it for free. And if you need implementation help, well, we can talk about that too.

Don’t let your entrepreneurial dreams die because of time, money or the global pandemic. Grow the Dream with us.