When it comes to digital marketing, user behavior, website design or analytics and measurement it’s safe to say we’ve learned a few things over the years. Some approaches work, some just do not. If you are engaging in digital marketing we encourage you to pick a topic below.
DIGITAL MARKETING & CONTENT
Put Content First
More than ever before, content matters. But it’s really important to have the right kind of content.
Useful content sells.
Content that tries to sell probably doesn’t.
It’s a cruel world. Search engine algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated, and your competitors have figured out how to build great websites, create videos and send emails, just like you.
But there is some sunshine behind the clouds:
Your customers are using the Web to get information to solve their problems. They’re looking for video, for blog posts, for reviews, for anything that seems honest and trustworthy. You can differentiate yourself by producing content that has real value to them, that helps them make a decision or educate themselves. And if you do, you’ll be rewarded.
Imagine this scenario: You’re looking for a hotel in Springfield. Lots of websites give you hotels, pricing, location, reviews. Which site will you choose to use? The one that gives you the information you need in a way that you can make up your mind faster and more easily. Will you go back to that site next time? Yep. If they offered you another product that also seemed useful, would you consider it? Yep.
The Digital Marketing Advantage
(You know this already, of course)
Digital marketing is, in many ways, just like any other kind of marketing – not a separate discipline that’s managed independently of “traditional” marketing (like print, radio, tv). But the biggest difference between digital marketing and what came before it are:
- Digital marketing lets you better target who is seeing your marketing material (for example by gender, age, location, interest)
- Digital marketing lets you measure how well you did, so you can quickly adjust, refine, and improve
Before digital marketing, it was almost impossible to target nearly so specifically, and measurement of results was always a stumbling block. Therefore, marketers are increasingly using digital methods.
Digital Marketing: the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
Most Businesses Fall Short in Digital Marketing
Most marketing executives (like you) do understand the modern marketing landscape, and have plenty of knowledge about effective tactics and strategies.
We’re sure that you’re feeling the crunch like everyone else: you just don’t have enough resources and time in your day to consistently execute and measure the digital marketing efforts you spend so much time developing. Working with an agency to manage these efforts can make them more effective and lets you focus your time elsewhere.
USER BEHAVIOR & WEBSITES
If You Build It, They Will NOT (Necessarily) Come
Building an elegant website, making an entertaining video or designing a beautiful company profile on LinkedIn isn’t enough to bring in customers. You need to drive traffic to your site.
Each component of your digital presence should have a purpose for driving traffic, whether it is customers at the beginning or end of the sales journey, or different customer persona, or customers with different business problems or pain points. All of these elements needs to be consistently executed, supported, measured, and adjusted (when needed).
A Better Way to Budget A Website
The next time you’re thinking of updating your website (or building a new one), keep room in your budget for some essential ongoing activities. We recommend setting aside as much as 30% of your budget for ongoing activities like:
- Reporting and analysis: with Web analytics you can measure just about anything! What KPIs do you need to report on? Do you have an easy-to-read report that provides useful information about how your site is performing?
- Content updates: Writing new content for the site, as well as refining and updating existing content (new products, refining your keywords, responding to customer behavior with better information, adding new videos or product information as it becomes available)
- Design/UI changes: Site analytics may suggest changes, like your changing your homepage, or combining pages, and moving buttons around – do you have budget to do this?
- Website maintenance: Lots of little tasks need regular attention, like updating your CMS and plugins, maintaining backups, and testing your site with new browsers and devices. Are you falling behind?
Business Customers Use the Web Just Like Everybody Else
Chances are your B2B customers are 2/3 of the way to a purchase before they even contact you. They’ve already researched and:
- Gathered general information
- Found brands and products they weren’t aware of
- Compared prices across brands
- Compared features across brands
- Decided which companies are on their short list
If you have a content marketing program and developed material that helped them do that, they’re going to be better predisposed to you.
95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “Provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.” [Source: DemandGen Report]
STRATEGY & MEASUREMENT
Should You Focus on Earning Web Traffic, or Paying For It?
(SEO vs. SEM)
“Earned” traffic might come from a search engine optimization effort, or from a link to an article you published on someone’s blog. “Paid” traffic might come from a banner ad on another website, or from pay-per-click advertising run through Google Adwords.
Your most successful efforts will have a mix of both. Paid search can give you fast results. But it will continue to cost money, and the costs often increase. Earning traffic takes time. It also takes more effort to create the content that earns traffic. But earned traffic will pay for itself over and over again, because every indication shows that customers are more trusting of information they receive through organic search or unadvertised links. A balanced mix of both is the way to go.
Ready, Fire, Aim!
It’s important that your message gets in front of customers as soon as possible! When you use a step-by-step, or linear process, it’s easy to get bogged down. Campaigns, websites, apps, videos can be very complex, with a lot of steps. In a perfect world, you’d get sign off on every step before moving on – but that can take forever. Meanwhile, your customers don’t get the benefit of your message, your app, or your product, and your competitors move on without you.
When developing for the digital world, it’s better to use a more agile process, planning for incremental, but continual, improvement. If you’re not making 10,000-unit print runs, and you’re not in a highly regulated environment (2 big caveats!) you can release versions, make updates, and change most anything. It’s been a long time since we used the words “final version.”
All I See Is A Bunch of Numbers
Digital is measurable. Unfortunately the number of data points we can measure can be just plain overwhelming. Too often, “analytics” means a spreadsheet report with row after row of figures. Unless you’re a real data maven, the result is usually confusion and inaction.
“My direct traffic is down 12%…but why?”
What we’ve learned is that while data is great, most of our clients need insight on how to act on and react to the numbers. Depending on the amount of data and number of sources you’re trying to interpret, the your best solution might be an off-the-shelf software, app or service, a custom app, human expertise, or a combination of these.
This Isn’t a Sprint, It’s a Marathon
In the digital world, we hardly ever say “it’s completely, totally finished.” Constant improvement and enhancement is the rule. It’s important to build this concept into your planning and budgeting.
- Build website, don’t touch it for 3 years
- One-off email campaigns 2x/year
- Print catalogs – updated every 3 years
- Budget, build, and promote a new app – 3 years later, abandon it due to low acceptance
- Regular maintenance includes informed updates based on results of analytics
- Monthly, biweekly emails based on editorial calendar keep you front-of-mind, using analytics to improve CTR/lead generation
- Digital catalogs – updated regularly
- Build and soft-release app. After 6 months of market testing, revise and begin promotion. Budget for continual improvement
It may be hard to get your company behind this “marathon”-type thinking, especially for large, established companies and marketing departments. Keep in mind that digital marketing is measurable. If you start small and prove that your methods work, you can gain internal acceptance.