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Digital marketing is more important than ever, and we’re going to talk about 50 ways you can make sure you and your company are leveraging the internet to make the most out of your home & garden business. The great thing is that much of the internet’s activity revolves around lifestyle — especially where social media is concerned. And it just so happens that internet is at the cornerstone of marketing online.
In case you’re relatively new to the game, we’re going to start broad and get progressively more narrow. In other words, we’re going to start by discussing the channels that should form the foundation of your online marketing strategy, and then we’ll talk about how they’re best utilized.
The coolest guy in the room right now, social media is best utilized in a cohesive way. If you’re going to strike out to construct a social media marketing campaign, you want it to all interlock nicely.
It’s the cornerstone of an online marketing presence. Practically the entire world (just under 100 million users as of July 2012) is on Facebook, so it’s the best way reach the most people.
Arguably the next-most-popular social media platform, Twitter gives your customers instant access to you, and vice versa. It also helps you to join and even influence the online discussion.
So much of what’s rising in popularity online is visual-oriented. Pinterest is literally the fastest-growing social media network currently online, and it’s primarily lifestyle-oriented.
Everybody loves video, and if your company isn’t leveraging the incredible affordability of producing and uploading a clever video, then you might want to think about it.
Offer insight and ideas that pertain not only to your products, but to your niche in general. This builds brand equity and authority like nobody’s business. It’s also great for SEO.
6. Search Engine Optimization
SEO, as it’s often called, is the practice of driving traffic to your website by augmenting the factors that will lead to a higher search result when the desired keywords are typed in.
The Google AdWords tool is free, and can help you discover the best foundation for your SEO campaign. (photo via Kimberly Gauthier)
Photo sharing is taking the Internet by storm in a huge way right now. Instagram lets users upload, filter, and share photos that can then be liked and commented upon.
8. Be Comprehensive
Your online marketing campaign should be branded, focused, and recognizable above all else. Make sure your content is consistent (but never the same) across all channels, and maintain a voice or tone that’s uniquely yours.
9. Be Responsive and Helpful
If someone reaches out to you via social media, you’ve got to get back to them. Right away. It’s an invitation to market to a customer; don’t ever pass it up.
10. Be Transparent and Straightforward
Things go wrong all the time. Be honest and forthcoming with your social media, because it goes a long way towards creating a bond of trust between you and your clientele.
11. Keep Your Channels Unique
Don’t just publish the same content across each channel. Tailor your efforts based on the channel’s strengths.
12. Editorialize with Intent
Especially when it comes to your blog, you want to be putting thought into the content you create and/or curate. Develop and maintain an editorial voice.
If your content isn’t entertaining, nobody’s going to bother with it. Fun stuff gets shared the most, especially when it comes to videos and images.
14. Tailor to Trends
Keep your eye on the larger social discussion, and make sure you’re engaging the most popular subjects of the moment. There are many tools online that can help you out with this.
15. Keep Your Research Up-to-Date
You’ll get the most out of your SEO campaign if you do your keyword research a few times a year to make sure you’re getting the most traffic possible.
16. Hit the Streets
Online marketing is great, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of boots on the ground. Thankfully, social media and the internet can help you get them there.
17. Go Mobile
Give your website a great-looking mobile version so people can keep up with your news and ideas while they ride the train to work.
This infographic demonstrates the level to which consumers are engaging with brands via their phones. (image via Microsoft Tag)
18. Content Is King
Never forget this. If you’re not consistently turning out engaging and informative content, then you’re not doing the Internet right.
19. Advertise…But Not Too Much
There’s no need to cover your site in obnoxious advertisements, or to have all your content revolve around your specific brand. Leave room for you and your customers to express themselves.
20. Be an Authority Figure
This goes hand-in-hand with editorializing with intent. Know what you’re going to write, and research it well. Having authority on a given subject goes a long way.
21. People Love Polls, Questions
Questions are the best way to drive engagement on both Facebook and Twitter. The polls are good as well, giving people a chance to see how their opinion stacks up with everyone else’s.
22. Share Photos & Videos
Don’t be shy with your visual content. Just make sure you’re keeping it unique across all channels. Facebook is fantastic for sharing the occasional photo or video.
23. Don’t Overpost
Facebook should be used just a couple or few times during the day. For a home and garden business, no more than 5 posts per day would be advisable.
24. Curate Content
Share content from around the web that users will find interesting. Even if it’s not directly home and garden-related, your community still might enjoy it.
25. Peek Behind the Curtain
Going behind the scenes makes social media even more personal, so offer a look at how your employees work with your company.
26. Customer Service
Your customers and community members will reach out with concerns or questions via Facebook. Be ready to respond, quickly and thoughtfully.
27. Exclusive Content
Each channel should have exclusive content that you market as such, but Facebook should have the most dynamic.
28. Make Announcements
Every once in awhile, especially if you’re a larger company, it’s cool to announce something specifically over Facebook. It really helps build a connection with your community.
29. Products around the World
There are tons of ways to engage users visually. Have your online community share photos of themselves using your products or ideas in interesting places.
30. Creative Uses
Another great way to get your customers excited about your products is to encourage that they share their most creative uses. It’ll be a fun and engaging campaign, that could even go viral.
31. Caption Contest
If you find or produce a hilarious picture of your own, post it and encourage a caption contest. Offer a prize, and you’ll be even better off if the original photo incorporates your brand.
Home and garden is a great industry because it’s so close to a customer’s life. Encourage your customers to share their home and garden inspiration so that your community becomes a center for discussion.
Instagram is a great place to share your artsy, or cool-looking behind-the-scenes images. It’s a lot more about interesting visuals than anything else, so you don’t need to say a lot.
34. Contests & Giveaways
Offer prizes or giveaways relating to your brand for users who share the best home or garden advice. Incentivizing the sharing of content is a great way to rally participation.
popular photo-sharing network Instagram began as an iPhone-only app, but has expanded to include web access and Android phones (photo via Brent Ozar)
35. Share Images that You Like
It doesn’t have to be all about you! Sharing images that aren’t necessarily related to you and your brand is a great way to show some authenticity and give a peek into your personal life.
A great way to focus the discussion and provide anyone with easy access to it, the hashtag is one of Twitter’s most popular features.
37. Keep up with the Discussion
Twitter gives you a chance to see what both the industry heavyweights and individuals are saying about home & garden topics, so you can know how to best contribute.
38. User Feedback
Since it’s so fast, Twitter is a great way for customers to fire off feedback. Make sure you’re responsive and helpful.
39. Real-Time News and Announcements
As a home & garden business, you can make announcements over Twitter, or live-tweet instructional workshops…any number of events can be shared immediately.
40. Show Your Personality
Microblogging demands that you be quick and to the point, which makes it perfect for snappy one-liners. Don’t forget to let your lifestyle advice come with a little bit of zing.
41. Share Links
Always link to useful, interesting content throughout the day. Keep in mind that not everything is about your brand on social media. Distribute information that will help everyone.
42. Curate a Lifestyle
Pinterest has emerged primarily as a lifestyle website. Use your pinboards to curate content that supports a home & garden-oriented lifestyle, with advice and inspiration.
43. Share Diverse Content
Pinterest is a fantastic place to link back to your own home & garden products and services. You can link to your own items, but be sure to include content from all over the Internet.
44. Catch Trends Early
Pinterest offers a “Popular” section so you can make sure you find the best posts related to home & gardening ideas and share them right away.
45. User Testimonials
The great thing about home & garden services is the effect it has on your customers lives. If you can record that effect and add it to your online marketing arsenal, you’ll have some real gold on your hands.
46. Google Hangouts
Google’s social media platforms offer great ways to connect with your online community in real-time so you can share ideas and answer questions about your products.
47. Unconventional Uses
Capturing video of your customers being creative and clever with your products can help you go viral and become a household name within the span of a week. Such is the nature of the Internet.
48. Special Guests
Lots of home & garden personalities have video series’ or shows — network and see if you can partner up with one to score some real visibility and credibility for your brand.
49. How-To Series
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to home & garden care. An instructional video series done right can get a lot of views over a long period of time, as the information is timeless.
50. BE OF VALUE
The last and most important step to any online marketing campaign is making sure you’re providing value to your loyal community. Curate, create, and share content that will entertain as much as it will make your community members’ lives easier, and you’ll have some of the most loyal customers around.