4 stops along the road to digital marketing success
It is a no-brainer that businesses should go where their customers are.
So if your customers are online, it makes sense to have a strong online presence. For such companies, digital marketing becomes vital if they wish to harness the awesome powers of internet to drive their business. For effective marketing, a robust, comprehensive strategy and a definitive “ROAD map are critical.”
The ROAD to digital marketing success contains:
Stop 1: Research
Research is a necessary first stop on your road to digital marketing success and consists of several different types of research.
The primary research you want is to find out exactly which digital marketing model will work best for you. This greatly depends upon which industry you are in.
Then you need to start collecting detailed data on consumer behavior. Before finding people who will become paying customers and will turbo-charge your sales, you need to understand what excites them, what matters to them. It is worthwhile to research your audience before you chalk out any digital marketing strategy.
Define your target audience first and then get insights about income, occupation, age, gender and education through to their online behavior. Understand their expectations and aspirations. And then create a strategy that serves content that the audience wants and not what you want to serve them. Eventually, both of these will become the same. This is when you have achieved the perfect balance.
The process of discovery should include insights about your competitors, along with your audience. It is worthwhile to know what your competitors are doing and then take a leaf out of their playbook. Smart Insights beautifully explores this process of discovery when it states that research is about
collating and analyzing insights about brands, their competitors and most importantly, the characteristics, beliefs, behavior and perceptions of their audiences
Some tools to help you research your audience and the markets are –
- MakeMyPersona – This app lets creates buyer personas for you once you have answered a series of questions about your customers. It’s simple and fun!
- MyBestSegments – Provides insights on trends, lifestyle habits and demographics of a particular area.
- This blog gives you 17 more such market research tools to help jumpstart your campaign.
- MktMaven also provides insights for doing digital marketing research.
Stop 2: Optimization
Next on the road to digital marketing success is optimization.
If you are not getting found on the digital sphere by your customers, you are not going to get anywhere. Your website and all the content you created is at the mercy of the search engines. Getting found by the search engines and ranking consistently higher on SERPs, requires optimization.
But remember, optimization is like perfection. It is an ongoing process rather than a one-time effort. It is a state (in a perfect digital world!) where every piece of content, page, image and call-to-action are perfectly aligned with the needs of the customer. You must track variables like keyword demand, user preferences, and search and social platform updates to move towards a more optimized site or content,
So as the adage goes, “Aim for perfection, you are bound to achieve excellence.”
Google only loves you when everyone loves you first!
This great quote from Wendy Piersall nails it perfectly. Create content not for Google, but for your customers. If your customers love your content, Google will too. Use SEO techniques diligently and better rankings follow.
Unlike the situation just a few years ago, search engines are intelligent and don’t reward you because you successfully stuffed keywords into your content. They reward you because your content offers value to the reader. For a moment, forget everything you know about keywords in the content. Think from the perspective of your customer. If you address your customer’s need for information on your website, search engines will reward you with better rankings.
Interlink pages within your website to achieve semantic SEO is a good practice. Create a chart of your web pages according to page rank and then cross link high-performing pages with relevant pages.
Also include semantic mark-up in your HTML by using tools like Schema.org, which allows you to identify products, places or people in your HTML. Assign these attributes to entities with common search terms.
Your pages rank higher in SERP with such linking and it positively affects CTR.
Stop 3: Analytics
A major issue on the road to digital marketing success is ANALYTICS.
According to sources, analytics is the weakest link on the road to digital marketing success.
Analytics includes monitoring and analyzing campaigns, which is absolutely vital for companies to understand where and how to spend their marketing dollars. Marketing analytics also provides insights into sales and lead generation, customer preferences and trends. And yet, in a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, more than 80% of the respondents (senior marketing executives) claimed dissatisfaction with their ability to measure marketing ROI. According to another study, 37% of the companies did not have competent staff to perform analytics of their marketing campaigns.
Analytics begins, essentially, with defining your metrics and developing a plan. Experts warn you to stay away from what they call, “vanity metrics.” Metrics like site visits, page visits, number of newsletter subscribers, social media followers, bounce rate and time spent on site are not indicative of what’s really happening to your business, though they make you feel good.
You need to “measure what matters,” as Neil Patel, founder of KISSmetrics, says. You need to evaluate things like who is coming to your site and what do they do there, which of your channels drive buying customers, who converts, which conversions drive revenue and deepening relationships and so on.
Once you created awesome content, you need to get it out to people who need it. Also known as content marketing, content distribution provides value. Deliver it to people who find it valuable. Most companies focus so heavily on creating great content, they forget this content needs to reach the right audience to create value.
Numerous content distribution platforms exist, so selecting the right ones for your business goes a long way to determine the success of your distribution strategy. Not all platforms are relevant for your business. Refrain from using them. And focus your efforts on the platforms that give you more bang for the buck.
Essentially, two types of distribution channels exist – owned (internal) and earned (external). Here are examples of internal channels:
- RSS subscribers
- Twitter followers
- Facebook fan page
- LinkedIn followers
- and more
External channels include:
- forums (like growthhackers.com, inbound.org, Reddit, Quora, Quibb)
- communities (like LinkedIn groups,Facebook groups,Medium, List.ly)
- and more
Each type of distribution channel is unique. Internal distribution channels are hard to build but, once built, they are easy to manage and provide a lot of value. External vehicles, on the other hand, are easier to get develop, give you the chance to connect to a larger audience, and give you quicker results.
To gain traction on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, you need to share a single piece of content multiple times, due to the very short lifespan of tweets and FB posts. For example, it makes sense to share content on Twitter at least two to three times the day it publishes, one to two times every day for the next couple of weeks and re-sharing the most popular pieces of content months later.
The digital marketing landscape is a dynamic, ever-shifting one and the job of a marketer has never been so difficult and complex. The journey of digital marketing can be summarized as follows –
- Data will drive digital marketing. The collecting, analysis and use of data on how, when and where customers spend their time is the base of a successful marketing strategy. The quality of research on all aspects of your customers will either make or break your marketing strategy.
- The traditional marketing funnel is a thing of the past. Today, customers take different journeys to conversion and what is important is effective cross-channel campaigns that look like an ecosystem, rather than a funnel. Content marketing plays a vital role in creating such an ecosystem.
- Engage socially. Learn about your audience online. See how fans interact with your brand and what they think of it. Use this feedback to strengthen the voice of your brand. Talk to them and engage proactively. Social marketing is fun. Enjoy it.
Author Bio: Avinash Nair is a Digital Marketer at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing Digital Marketing Agency committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing strategies and drive sustainable business growth. He is responsible for SEO and Content Marketing Services. You can find him on Twitter: @AviNair52