What really matters in digital marketing (digital marketing part 1)

June 13, 2019 ATB Financial

People working on a digital marketing plan on a desk.


Digital marketing changes faster than you can type “trending,” but that doesn’t mean you need to be overwhelmed. We sat down with four digital marketing specialists at our EMERGE summit to get their take on what’s important for entrepreneurs to know about digital marketing in 2019. This is part one in a five part series on digital marketing.

Our panelists included Andrea Gibson, Account Director at Vovia, a premier marketing and media buying agency based in Calgary; Neil Smith, ATB’s Senior Manager, Digital Conversion; Tyler Butler, ATB’s Senior Manager of Story and Karl Yeh, who leads Brookfield Residential’s digital marketing program in Alberta and has worked in the digital marketing field for more than 10 years.

Here’s their first piece of advice for digital marketing in 2019:

Digital marketing is still about connecting with your audience

This isn’t anything new, but it’s worth repeating—without knowing and connecting with your audience, any tip or trend just won’t work.

Neil encourages entrepreneurs to constantly be asking, “how can you be using digital means to forge deeper and deeper relationships with your customers?” According to Neil, digital marketing is all about listening to your customers and finding our what they want and need—and giving them that in the way you’re marketing back to them.

Karl gives the reminder that business owners need to first consider where their customers are consuming media and making their purchases. This points you towards their behaviour and what they want. “Think of it from the customer lens first.”

But how exactly do you get this “customer lens” when you’re just starting out?

It may be simpler than you think. Andrea breaks it down, explaining that the simplest way is talking to your audience—in person, over the phone, on social, however—and asking where they are and how they like to be communicated to. Once you have that nailed down, there are methods on social platforms that allow you to target your ads based on interests.

Creative ways to reach your audience online

Another way that you can figure out what your customers like is to get a little creative. Karl knew who his competitors were, but he didn’t know how to reach the customers he wanted. So he took a look at the social media accounts of his competition to see who was following them and what kinds of questions they were asking.

Then he turned to Amazon to check out books about his industry and read the reviews. These reviews gave him an expanded view into who his audience is and the exact pain points they had based on their comments and questions. Karl recommended that you can contact those people who left reviews if you want to ask them more questions.

Neil tacked on that if you want to gather information, Reddit is a great place to do so. Topic-specific communities make it easy to find groups of people who’d be your target audience. Keep in mind that this isn’t the place to pitch your business—it’s the place to have genuine dialogue with the customers you’re looking for.


Want to read more of our digital marketing specialist’s tips?

Here’s their second piece of advice on organic content. ​

​If you’re looking for more advice to help you with your business, our Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business is full of resources and advice for emerging entrepreneurs like you.
And if you enjoyed EMERGE, sign up so you don’t miss any future events.


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