Woman Stressed About Digital Marketing Strategies

Top 10 Digital Marketing Strategies for 2016

Let’s say you are business owner in 2016, and your online customer acquisition is mediocre, or perhaps non existent. You want to get more customers online, but don’t know where to start. You seek advice from friends, and get many various responses. Some people strongly recommend SEO. Others will extoll the virtues of Pay-per-click Advertising, others will insist you need email marketing or marketing automation. With so man digital marketing strategies, where do you start?

Whether you are a completely online business, or a local SMB down the street, there is a large a number of tactics you can use to grow your business online and boost your online presence. Too many to count. In order to not waste your time, we will whittle the list down to just the 10 most common growth strategies that the best and most successful internet companies are using in 2016.

Our Top 10 Digital Marketing Strategies

So without further adieu, we present our Top 10 Digital Marketing Strategies for growing your business in 2016.We’ll describe each strategy, list benefits and pitfalls. We’ll tell you when you should use it, and when you should avoid it.

Strategy #1: PPC Advertising

What is it?

PPC stands for “Pay-Per-Click” advertising. You pay money to Google or Facebook or somewhere else to get your message in front of everyone else. You can advertise on a search Engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Or you can advertise in Social Networks such as Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram. Or you can do Display Advertising, and advertise on site that are most related to your niche. In most cases, you can pay per 1000 impressions (CPM), or pay per click (CPC).

The most popular type of advertising for first time users is advertising on the results page of Google Search. In fact, that search page on Google is worth about $40 Billion dollars a year to Google bottom line. It’s a big industry. But even though the ads are just 3 or 4 lines of text, the user intent it high, as is the likelihood of getting your ad noticed.

By just paying a few dollars a day, you can easily generate traffic to your landing page or website. You just nee to write compelling ads.

  • Near Instant Feedback, very quick for producing results
  • Can very quickly identify what keywords your customers are searching for
  • Can very quickly test marketing messaging by using A/B ad tests
  • Can turn it on or turn it off at any time
  • It’s very targeted. Only the most needy people will see your ad
  • Costs money
  • Need to write compelling ad copy
  • Be careful, easy to throw money away
  • It’s complicated to set up
When to use it
  • Early on, when trying to determine if there is a market for your product
  • When you already have a marketing funnel that works, and you know your life-time-value of your customer.

Above all, PPC Advertising (together with a good landing page) is a great way to quickly determine if you have a product that people want to buy (AKA “product market fit”). Just run the ads, then measure the results with analytics, optimize and repeat. It remains a great way to A/B test different ideas, and find your niche.

PPC also works well if you have an established market (marketing funnel), and you know that X dollars of ad spend will net you 3X more in profit. Then you can scale it as much as you want.

When not to use it

If keywords bids on Google are expensive, and you already generate healthy traffic from other sources, then you can save your money and not use Pay-per-click Advertising.

Need more help with PPC ads in English or Japanese? Visit our PPC Ad Services Page.

Strategy #2: On Page SEO

What is it?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the art of putting lipstick on your sites to make them more attractive to search engines.

Remember the case of the 2 anthropologists observing wild lions in the Serengeti Dessert? One anthropologist puts on running shoes. The other mocks him saying he’ll never outrun a lion. The others reply is this: “I don’t need to outrun the lions, I only need to outrun you!”.

In many case, the same could be said for On Page SEO.  By just doing these basic tasks, you can outrank over 80% of your competition. This is especially true for local businesses.

Onpage SEO Tactics can include the following tasks.

  1. Creating blog articles for specific Keyword Phrases
  2. Setting page titles to match keyword phrases
  3. Labeling all images on your site with keyword infused titles
  4. Having a clear page link structure
  5. Adding page URL “slugs” that match keywords
  6. Removing duplicate content
  7. Hiding inappropriate pages from search engines (like Privacy Policy)

For more ideas on how to do this, check out this article by Eric Siu.


  • Simple SEO tactics can get you some quick wins
  • Once established, can yield hoards of visitors over time.
  • Once established, visits are free traffic, as opposed to Paid Advertising.
  • Simple SEO work can be done in a day, but more advanced stuff takes months or years
  • No matter how good your SEO strategy is, if your landing pages don’t convert, you won’t win
When to use it

For one page SEO, the tactics are relatively easy to implement. So if you have launched a new website recently, or have never done some of the tasks above, then do it right away. At the very least, run though a checklist to make sure your website it not holding you back.

Strategy #3: Off Page SEO

What is it?

Besides on page SEO, there are plenty of things you can do outside of your webpage to improve your ranking in the Search Results Page.

You see, one of the biggest ranking factors in SEO is the links to your site. You want to get links from high authority websites are in the same genre as your own website. (high relevance). The more links to your website from high authority, high relevance sites, the better your site will rank is search.

One popular technique is guest blogging. Instead of writing a blog article on your own site, you write a guest blog on another website that has high domain authority in your field. At the end of the article, you close with a link to your site. Your website will get “link juice” from that site.

Another popular technique is “dead link recovery”. You scour sites in your field looking for links to a website that no longer work. You then contact the site administrator to get them to point the link to an equivalent article on your site. You then get Link Juice. There is a nice article about that technique here:

Other Off Page SEO tactic is user comments. These days search engines are taking into account user rating in Google, Yelp, Amazon and other public websites when ranking search item. This is especially true for local businesses.

  • Once established, can yield hoards of visitors over time.
  • Once established, visits are free traffic, as opposed to Paid Advertising.
  • These tactics might work, but it’s not guaranteed, you could be wasting your time.
  • Takes time to get established and see the results
  • Beware of SEO specialists who make promises to get your site on page 1 of Google at a cheap price
When to use it

Most off page SEO techniques require a lot of time and effort. So we recommend it after implementing a simple On Page SEO, followed by running some paid advertising campaigns to understand your online market.

Need more help with SEO in English or Japanese? Head over to our SEO Services Page.

Strategy #4: Contents Marketing

What is it?

As mentioned before, Google’s algorithms have become much better in the last few years. As a result, companies that want to be competitive in SEO, need to have a good Contents Marketing Strategy. They publish and promote useful content. After a period of time, the content is shared on social networks, and linked to via other websites. They then get the benefits of a higher domain authority in their field. With the additional traffic coming to their content, companies can then leverage those users to purchase products or services. These days, advance SEO of yesteryear has evolved into Contents Marketing of today.

Once you create a library of useful contents, your SEO will improve as users around the internet consume your contents.

BTW, the “content” does not need to be limited to written contents. These days, many Internet famous personalities are killing it right now by posting videos of themselves on YouTube or Vimeo. Video is really hot right now.

  • Once created, can bring a never-ending new flow of users to your site.
  • Only have to fund the cost of creating contents, could be much cheaper than PPC Advertising.
  • Can take a long time to get the benefits. Sometimes more than a year.
  • It often takes more time to promote the content as well as create the content.
When to use it

Like other Off-Page SEO Tactics, this technique is more of a long-term strategy. Since it may take 6 to 9 months of writing effective content, we recommend to start sooner rather than later. Just don’t expect the results to happen right away. But long term, the helpful content of your site will ultimately separate you from your competition. So choose wisely.

When not to use it

If you are a local business, the other strategies listed here may be enough to get you to the top of Google Search. For Local SEO, Content Strategies do help, but may not be worth the effort.

Strategy #5: Landing Page Optimization

What is it?

So let’s say your business has a successful PPC Advertising Campaign, or get many visitors via blog or other SEO friendly ways. How do you capture those visitors to turn them into paying customers? The next step is to send those visitors to the landing page. Landing Page Optimization (LPO) is the design of landing pages to convert them into customers. The design of the actual page is key. A poorly designed landing page can cause your visitor to “bounce”, or leave your website to never return. These days LPO is turning into a data-driven science, highly dependent on Analytics. Often a small change in text or page layout can yield big changes to final results.

In many cases, the landing page could be a sales page. In many other cases, the goal is to get the user to sign up for something like a newsletter or mailing list.

  • In many cases, optimizing your landing page can yield the biggest wins to your business
  • You can quickly determine what types of offers give you the best returns.
  • Easy to set up, no website needed
  • Need to set up your analytics, and watch it carefully
When to use it

First, if your business is just starting out, you absolutely should be running paid traffic to a landing page, to measure the viability of your offer. But also long-term, you should be continually A/B testing your landing pages to optimize your profits. In short, all the time.

Need more help with LPO? Head on over to our CRO Services Page.

Strategy #6: Email List Building

What is is?

These days, the best most successful internet marketers all claim how important it is to build a high-quality email list of engaged fans. Most online businesses run Ad campaigns to a landing page, then offer them something free in exchange for an email list. Once on the email list, you can warm them up by feeding them information on a regular basis, until they are ready to purchase your product.

  • Unlike Paid Advertising, it’s free to market to your list of users
  • Considered by many experts to be the most effective tactic to marketing your services online
  • Takes time and money to build an email list
  • Need to keep email list recipients engaged, send them regular emails
When to use it

If you are looking to build a long-term fan base that you can target for free, then this is the strategy for you. Whether you are a local business or an online business, you should always be trying creative ways to build an email list.

When not to use it

If you are looking for a quick win, then maybe not the best strategy.

Strategy #7: Marketing Automation

What is it?

Marketing Automation is like email lists on steroids. First, you segment your lists based on where users in the buying cycle. Some categories are “Leads”, “Customer who purchased bad Product” and “VIP Customers” Then based on how users interact with your contents and on your website, you market to them based on their current intent.

These days, marketing automation is really starting to take off. Companies such as Marketo, InfusionSoft & Drip are leaders in this space. The key to the success of marketing automation is to provide the exact type content, or make the exact type of offer based on your user’s past interaction with your website & email, as well as where they are in your sales funnel.

By using marketing automation, you can send less email, but more targeted to the users that are receptive your offers.

  • Less email to fill up users inboxes
  • More emails that matter to the users
  • Able to provide the exact message at the exact right time to the prospect
  • Much higher conversion rates
  • Marketing automation packages can be costly $50/month to $1000/month and more
  • Setting up can be complex
  • Need to watch your analytics carefully
When to use it

Recommend using it after you have some base contents created, and are able to generate some traffic to your website. Works best for those businesses who already have paying customers.

When to run away?

Don’t need it of you are just starting out, or don’t have product market fit yet.

Strategy #8: Social Proof Boosting

What is it?

These days Social Proof is becoming a big factor in Local SEO. Bing & Yahoo will take into account reviews on sites like Yelp. Google has it’s own review system, and for Local Search, they will put your business review ratings right in the service results page. Getting and maintaining a 5-star review will help you business stand out in the search results page. Having a 5-star review on Amazon is tantamount to selling your book.

These days you need to be careful to address negative reviews directly, or down them out with a sea of positive reviews. Just ignoring them will cost you business.

Most internet savvy businesses will actively seek out positive reviews form there best customers, or offer a reward to get them to post.

  • Positive Reviews can make your website really stand out in search results, especially local search results
  • Not has hard as people think
  • Very important for Local SEO
  • It takes a while to flush out negative reviews
When to use it

This is an absolute must for local companies who want to gain a competitive advantage over their peers.

Strategy #9: Social Media Strategies

What is it?

There are many different ways that businesses can make an impact in the Social Networking space. Too many to list here, but here are a couple of examples:

  • Answering questions on twitter to build an audience
  • Building a Facebook fan page, getting likes, then target then audience with ads
  • Answer questions Reddit or Quora to build a reputation
  • Create a popular infographic and distribute it on Pinterest, have it go viral
  • If the strategy works, it could go viral and succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
  • If no competitor uses the same strategy, could be huge success at a cheap price
  • It could fail completely. Don’t bet your entire business on this growth strategy.
When to use it

If you are looking for a unique and creative way to grow your business online, give it a try.

Strategy #10: Retargeting (AKA Remarketing)

What is it?

Very few visitors that visit your website the first time convert, either buy something or leave their email address. So how do you get users to come back? Enter Retargeting Ads. This technology tracks visitors (usually via pixels). Once a user visits your site, sometime afterwards they start seeing your ads when they visit other sites on the internet. These ads will seem to follow them around the internet, no matter what sites they go. They are a little bit creepy, often referred to as “staking ads”. However, they are very effective to bring the user back to your site, since the user has previously shown “intent”.

Most effect retargeting ads will make an offer to entice the user to come back to the website. For example, a discount, say 20% off if you come back to the website and order within the next 24 hours.

Google, Bing, and Facebook all offer retargeting ads. You can also purchase retargeting packages from companies like Perfect Audience, Adroll or Criteo.

Need help on retargeting for Japanese or English customers, visit our PPC Services Page for more info.

  • Way more cost effective than standard PPC advertising, since the user has been to your site before
  • Just a fantastic way to bring users back to your site
  • Not free, it still costs money
  • Some users have strong negative reactions to “stalking ads” that follow them across the internet
  • Need to carefully track the success of ads in terms of conversions
When to use it?

Pretty much all the time.  If you have an offer, and want to get more people to convert. Even if you are just starting out, you will may want to add a retargeting-pixel to your landing page now, so you can retarget that audience a couple of months later.

Other Strategies to Consider

In his excellent book, “Traction”, Gabriel Weinberg lists 19 different ways to get customers. The ones not covered here are listed below.  You may find something that works for you.

  • Viral Marketing
  • Public Relations (PR) & Unconventional PR
  • Offline Ads
  • Engineering as Marketing
  • Business Development (BD)
  • Salesion
  • Affiliate Programs
  • Existing Platforms
  • Trade Shows
  • Offline Events
  • Speaking Engagements & Webinars
  • Community Building

Putting it all together

Whether you have an online business or some local, are so many digital marketing strategies you can get attract new customers online.  Every business situation is different.

In the beginning, you probably just want to create a nice landing page, run an ad campaign to generate some visits, and see how they do. For those with established local or online businesses, you can use some of the more advanced strategies we provide here.

As time goes by, you want to create some online marketing funnels that use more of the tactics above for getting customers.

If you have feedback, please leave a message below.

For those businesses in Japan, that are looking to grow their markets in English overseas, feel free to Contact Us for more info.

About the Author Jeff Crawford

Jeff Crawford is a Digital Marketing expert, technologist and Manager. He has worked for technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Apple, WebTV and Microsoft. He has lived in Tokyo Japan since 2004, working for companies such as Microsoft KK and Adobe Systems Japan. Jeff is founder of Zo Digital Japan, an SEO and Digital Marketing agency based in Tokyo. Jeff started the Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup in 2016, which now has over 2000 members. He has also presented about Digital Marketing at such events as Ad-Tech Tokyo, WordCamp Tokyo, Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), and the Japan Association of Translators (JAT).

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