Digital marketing. Google AdWords. Target marketing. Social media. These buzzwords define today’s online marketplace.
On Wednesday, The Grand Island Independent sponsored two informational seminars designed to help area businesses stay competitive in the digital age.
Erin Martinez, Grand Island Independent digital director, said it is critical for businesses to stay on top of the changing digital landscape.
Online commerce is not always easy to make sense out of, she said. There are many marketing tactics to learn about.
“That is why we are holding the seminar,” Martinez said. “The world is becoming increasingly digital, so it’s important to be aware of all of the different avenues of digital advertising and to know how to keep your business relevant in the digital space.”
The seminars covered digital display advertising, targeted display, search engine marketing/Google AdWords, search engine optimization, email marketing, video marketing, social media marketing and more.
Mike Martoccia presented the sessions. He is the director of digital revenue with BH Media Group.
Representatives of 184 businesses and organizations were registered for the sessions. That shows the interest local businesses have in digital marketing, Martinez said.
Attending the seminar was local restaurateur Brent Lindner. He owns Wave Pizza in Grand Island and other dining and drinking establishments.
Lindner said he wants to learn about online tools to better promote and market his businesses.
He said he is not using these social media sites and online marketing tools enough.
“We are looking to grow,” Lindner said. “We are taking on more projects in Lincoln, Hastings and Grand Island. I need to be in front of the marketing. We have Google pages, Yelp and all of that, but we not using them efficiently enough. We are out searching to see if we should go with a marketing firm or whatever.”
Describing himself as an “old-school guy,” Lindner said it’s important to adapt to the digital environment. If not, he risks having his various enterprises “plowed over” by the competition.
“We are looking for something that will propel us and be on the same page when it comes to having consistency on all the social media platforms and different things like that,” he said. “We need to be more on top of that as we grow.”
Martoccia explained the need-to-knows and how-tos of executing a digital marketing plan.
He said newspapers are evolving from print to digital.
The Independent has been digitally evolving, as other newspapers across the country are.
But that new digital environment has created a “mind-boggling range of choices” when it comes to marketing a business online, said Independent Publisher Don Smith.
“They receive sales pitches every day for digital advertising and marketing services and in most cases there isn’t enough time in the day to focus on building the effective, affordable advertising program they need to compete in the digital marketplace,” Smith said.
He said The Independent has developed a “comprehensive suite of digital marketing solutions designed to deliver targeted, measurable results for businesses and organizations of all sizes.
“Using the technical resources of our parent company and partnerships with Google, Facebook, YouTube and other social media channels, we are now a one-stop source for digital advertising solutions,” he said. “We also provide high-quality video production, enabling advertisers to add video across all digital marketing channels.”
Smith said The Independent’s audience now reaches 262,000 “unique visitors” a month in addition to the print audience of more than 45,000 readers each day.
Unique visitors are the number of distinct individuals requesting pages from the website during a given period, regardless of how often they visit.
“Through targeting we can obtain advertising and recruitment leads far beyond our newspaper footprint,” he said.
During the seminar, businesspeople heard about marketing through the many digital products The Independent has to offer.
“It is about getting business owners of any size to understand that we as a media company have evolved into digital, social media, video and mobile,” Martoccia said. “All of these things are important to marketing your business efficiently.”
He said many businesses are using some form of social media or video but “are not doing a lot of it.”
“In a lot of cases, business owners don’t have the time to do this kind of stuff,” he said. “We ask them to let us show them how to do it as we are more than just a newspaper or a website. We are full-service, and can help digitally serve our customers.”
Martoccia said many small to medium businesses are spending half of their marketing budget on digital advertising. Within the next three years, that number could grow to 70 percent.
Many customers are now seeing ads on their mobile devices, he said, rather than on desktop or laptop computers.
Martoccia talked about various strategies businesses use for online commerce. One of those methods is geofencing, a location-based digital marketing tool. It lets marketers send messages to smartphone users in a defined geographic area.
He said geofencing gives businesses a “unique ability” to better target their audience, learn which online competitors their customers are visiting and keep an eye out for what their competitors are doing online.
Another tool Martoccia discussed is online videos. He said 80 percent more people watch online video than a year ago.
He said it is important for businesses to know the various tools available and how to use them.
“If they want to grow their customer base and their revenue, they need to be in these spaces and be in them at all times,” Martoccia said.
Stefani Brown owns NutriMost Wellness & Weight Loss at 1016 Diers Ave. She said she wanted to “learn more about the whole scope of digital marketing.”
“There are so many things out there,” Brown said. “To be honest, we are confused about all the different terminology. We need to be in the market and get our name out there.”
NutriMost Wellness & Weight Loss offers professional programs to lose weight, keep it off and live a healthy lifestyle.
Brown has been in business for two years. She said when she started she knew little about digital marketing.
“We knew enough, but we were not sure how to dabble in it,” she said.
Brown said it was overwhelming learning about all the different marketing strategies and tools available to market and promote her business online.
“It is confusing,” she said. “We want to get a lot of help to get it right. We want to grow our business. Everybody is on social media. They are shopping and doing everything online. That is where we need to be, also — especially in our business.”
Brown said many people are shopping for weight loss help.
“They want to find the healthiest option,” she said. “We know NutriMost is the healthiest option, but we need to get the word out there on how they can find us and get to us.”
Brown described the seminar as going back into the classroom.
“We’ve got our notebooks and we are prepared to learn,” she said.
And that was the purpose of the seminar, Martoccia said.
The Internet has created a fragmented market environment. No one company exerts enough influence to move an industry in a particular direction. But it has given small to medium-size companies the ability to compete with larger businesses.
Software programs continue to grow more sophisticated. Martoccia advised those at the seminar to seek out a company, such as The Independent, who will tailor the right marketing approach for them.
“It is always good to hear another voice in the room,” he said.
Martoccia had two main things he wanted the audience to leave with.
“I want them to walk away with tried and true practices to grow their customer base,” he said. “I also want them to take away some ideas that there are some things that can be done immediately for them that will help them increase their revenue base. If you don’t have either one of those two, you are not going to be around very long.”