What if you only advertised your business via telegraphs?

You might think no one would be crazy enough to rely on old technology. However, that’s what businesses are doing when they ignore the importance of digital marketing.

Digital marketing is here to stay, and it can completely transform your business. Unfortunately, many businesses do not know exactly why this is so important.

Keep reading to discover our guide to what digital marketing is and why you need to embrace it!

What Is Digital Marketing?

We’ve prepared a solid guide to the benefits of digital marketing. First, though, we need to define what “digital marketing” actually means.

Digital marketing covers almost any form of using technology to market to customers. This ranges from subtle things like website SEO to more obvious things like social media marketing.

The ultimate goal of digital marketing is to reach customers where they are most likely to be. And in an increasingly digital world, that means using the technological tools we are given.

Now, onto the many benefits of digital marketing!

It’s Affordable

First, some good news: digital marketing is very affordable. Especially when you compare it to other methods of marketing.

There are different price points for different kinds of digital marketing. However, you generally see a better ROI with digital than with any kind of traditional marketing.

As an example, you can analyze your own SEO practices for free using various Google tools. And you can enhance your SEO on your own without spending any extra money.

Better SEO leads to more website visitors and more conversions. Pretty soon, you’ll have soaring profits…and all because of one simple tweak!

It Provides Direction

If we’re being honest, most modern businesses lack direction.

Sure, there are many buzzwords about “bold strategies” and becoming “a thought leader.” But this doesn’t translate to practical ideas for what steps your business should take next.

However, digital marketing is a great way of providing direction to the company. This is because the more you digitally market, the more you’ll learn.

For instance, a good CRM on your sites can help you learn which of your websites get customer attention and which ones get skipped. This offers a plan of attack for what you’d like to fix as well as what your future design steps should be.

Futureproofing

We hate to say it, but this digital world of ours is here to stay.

If your business keeps doing what it has been doing for decades, then you will be stuck in the past. And pretty soon, your competition will outpace you (more on that in a little bit).

The good news is that it’s never too late or too early to begin digital marketing. And you don’t have to take on a million different things at once to get started.

Instead, start small and measure your results. As you see improvement, think about the next aspect of your marketing you intend to address.

Mobile-Friendly

Remember when we talked about being where your customers are? Spoilers: they are all over the place!

Traditional advertising is a gamble because of this. You may pay for things like billboards and newspaper pages only to find out these advertisements are not reaching your customers.

However, digital marketing allows you to reach your customers via their cell phones. Social media marketing, for instance, means you can reach customers via their apps.

Simply put, your customers are always mobile. And the only surefire way to reach them is to do so via their mobile device.

Better Demographics

Do you know who your main customers are? Many businesses are shocked when they find out who is paying their bills!

Without digital marketing, it can be tough to figure out who your demographic is. And you are basically left to customer polling and your own observations.

However, digital marketing gives you a ton of great info about your customers. CRMs will let you know where they are shopping from, what their buying habits are, and so on.

Think of this marketing as casting a wide net. Pretty soon, you’ll find out which areas of digital marketing are gaining the most customers. You can then focus more on those areas.

The Personal Touch

Ever notice that the word “artisinal” has taken over the world?

There is a reason for this. Many demographics, especially Millennials, like for products to feel personalized.

They don’t want to feel like something has been mass produced. They want to feel like they have found something one of a kind.

With digital marketing, you can offer customers the personalization they crave. This includes SMS campaigns, push notifications, and website purchase suggestions.

Your customers will feel like you are offering your own “artisinal” experience. And they’ll open up their wallets as a way of showing appreciation.

Enhanced Flexibility

Admittedly, “digital marketing” is a phrase that covers a lot of ground. However, that just means that it gives you the kind of flexibility you’ve been craving.

For instance, many customers don’t know much about your business or any others. Digital marketing gives you a chance to give them a “behind the scenes” peek.

You could create something exciting like a company or product demo reel. Afterward, you can share it on Youtube, social media, and your own website.

By visually engaging your customers, you’ll reap serious profits. There is more info here about the power of a good demo reel.

Keeping up with the Jones

Your parents may have warned you against doing what everyone else is doing. In business, though, you often have to!

Trust us: if you’re not embracing digital marketing, your competition is. You can either compete for the same market or end up looking as outdated as a telegraph machine.

Start your digital marketing journey today while you can still beat the competition!

Importance of Digital Marketing: The Bottom Line

Now you know more about the importance of digital marketing. But do you know who can help you learn about the latest in tech news?

Here at the Florida Independent, we’re here to bring you the latest news. To discover the next big thing, come check out our technology section today!

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The Most Hotly Contested Web Design Concepts of 2016 1 - Florida Independent
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The Most Hotly Contested Web Design Concepts of 2016

If there’s one topic that gets people fired up it’s web design. To succeed online, a smartly designed website is crucial. Something that brings in visitors and keeps them on your page, absorbing content.

Unfortunately, what constitutes a great site isn’t always agreed upon, and there’s constant debate of best practices, what’s hot, what’s not, and what is the cancer that is killing the industry. The argument still rages on, and recently it’s moved on to these commonly used web design elements:

The Carousel

“We’re not at the park, so why are we going around and around? Because people keep designing their sites with these blasted carousels” is just one of the commonly heard gripes about this supposedly interesting design choice.

Unfortunately, we have to keep clicking left or right to get another little morsel of information that the designers have deemed us worthy to handle. Are they afraid we can’t read full paragraphs? This one isn’t just a matter being annoyed personal preference, however, Carousel designs actually harm your websites performance.

They kill local SEO efforts by starving your site of actual content, the slow your site down with huge image files and JavaScript, and they are so confoundingly bad that nobody clicks through them all the way. The naysayers might have a point on this one, Carousels are way more trouble than they are worth.

Parallax Scrolling

You’ve seen this technique on graphics heavy sites in which the foreground and background scroll at different speeds. It creates a feeling of depth, helps tell a story through visuals, and looks pretty cool when properly implemented.

Unfortunately, it comes with some (resolvable) issues that may make it a waste of time. Like the Carousel, use of Parallax Scrolling is damaging to SEO. Since there’s usually just one page and a bunch of images, there’s no text content for search engines to crawl through and rank.

The abundance of images reduces performance (and completely kills performance on mobile devices). Most damaging of all though, is that the technique can just make it confusing to absorb any useful information, which will cut your number of repeat visitors down tremendously.

Think about it, would you stick around on a website where your only navigation option was to scroll downwards through hard-to read image/text combos? Of course, there are examples of Parallax Scrolling done right, so the argument is there that it’s all about how you choose to use it.

The Hamburger Menu

That three lined symbol in the corner on most websites that you click to access navigation options is commonly known as the hamburger menu.

While it does look cool, and you can see why one might be tempted to clean up their navigation by having it sleekly displayed in a drop-down menu, many say it kills a websites discoverability.

When your navigation options are out of sight, they are also out of mind, the thinking goes. There’s also the argument that it’s less efficient, since you’re forced to go to a separate menu just to see your options, but that’s more a matter of personal taste, it would seem.

We may never get definitive answers on whether these trends are good or bad, but it seems pretty clear that if you are going to try to incorporate any of these ideas into your design, you have to do it with care.

We’ve given you an overview of the tons of free web design options out there for building a pretty good site. When you have to move up to the big leagues though, it’d be prudent to hire some big league talent.

Professional web developers like Big Drop (out of New York), or Brown Box Branding (Dallas TX) offer great designs coupled with high level marketing strategies proven to keep the visitors coming back to your site for more.

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The Rise of Soft Skills in the Digital Age 3 - Florida Independent
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The Rise of Soft Skills in the Digital Age

I’m not going to waste your time talking about how ingrained technology is in all our lives. You may be reading this on your smartphone while killing time at work, where you stare at a separate screen for hours, only to drive home and turn on another screen to relax.

Or maybe you’re rewarding yourself with a little down time after seeing your Fitbit has recorded an extra 1,000 steps today.  Or your kid is using the computer, so you’re tethered to the wall by the tablet charging cable, looking for a well-written blog post.  Or maybe you’re not, but the point is that you could see yourself, or anyone, in that situation.

This obsession with technology has led to an explosion of never-conceived businesses and jobs. Social media, IT departments, software development, data security, the list goes on, and we’re only going to become more dependent as time goes on.

Organizations estimate that one-third of their human resources budgets are delegated for hiring IT talent; computer science majors experience a 76% increase in their salary in just the first three years. Clearly, the stats all say that hard tech skills are what job seekers should be focusing on. Except that’s not the whole story.

With connectivity comes complexity

As technology becomes more and more ingrained in our lives, so does its complexity.  No one outside of a calculus classroom carries a phone and a calculator. Some of us rarely turn on a PC anymore, since our smartphones are sufficient for quick browsing.  Our cars come enabled with Bluetooth.

Soon, every household appliance will be connected to a singular device, which we will also use to send messages, pay for groceries, tell our car where to take us, open our front door, monitor our daily steps, and automatically remind us of appointments- and it already does most of that.

But as the interconnectivity and complexity of technology rises, our ability to understand it decreases. We can’t keep up with the constant stream of our own inventions. While specialists might be able to fully utilize every software update, most of us can’t be bothered to learn all the nuances every time.

That’s why IT is such an emerging field, but even they won’t be able to keep up with the coming technological evolutions. As Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner, says, “Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves.”

Importance of soft skills

Where does that leave business now? While you certainly can’t forego employees with the technical skills that you need, you need soft skills now more than ever. According to an Adecco Staffing survey, there are twice as many business executives concerned with the soft skill gap than those worried about hard skills.

Traits like communication and critical thinking are becoming more highly valued than straight computer skills. Some businesses that require their employees to have technical know-how, like engineering firms, have tried to ignore soft skills in favor of some desperately sought-after experience, but this is no longer possible.

In fact, it’s commercial acumen, communication skills, and adaptability that employers should be prioritizing. Adaptability is especially useful in a world where technology is constantly evolving, and, realistically, malfunctioning.  Sometimes things do not go to plan, and employees need to take that in stride.

Similarly, it won’t matter how well you understand CSS or can fix a pipe if no one can relate to you. Google provides consumers with ten options on just the first page, and they will reject your business if they can’t communicate with your employees.  Additionally, your business will also suffer if your employees can effectively communicate with each other.

Moving forward

It’s important to provide employees with both soft and hard skill training. This can be expensive and time-consuming, so you will have to strike a balance particular to you. If you work in an industry that the hard skills can be learned on the job or fairly quickly, make sure you’re searching for candidates with appropriate soft skills.

However, if your employees must have hard skills before they walk through the door, that doesn’t give you an excuse to ignore soft skills entirely. Offer soft skill training and assessments, because while soft skills are more difficult to measure, they are just as important.

That holds true even in this technological age. We may cling to our iEverythings, but only because they allow us to tap into humanity. Your business needs to utilize this underlying need.

People may pay for your product or service if you can deliver, but using the human element gives you that much more leverage.  In a world where your competitors are accessible at the click of a mouse, you’ll need all the soft skills you can get.

Author: Dayton socializes for a living and writes for fun. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests. 

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