Digital Marketing Elements
Creating a digital marketing strategy is typically a tentative affair that gathers momentum the more you learn and experience the rapidly evolving world of marketing online. There are elements of every marketing strategy that hook business owners and others that confuse and even annoy them. Personally, I call this the gloss and the glue of digital marketing.
Typical gloss involves slick marketing banners, creative social media campaigns, quality pdfs and eye catching infographics. In many ways these are the icing on the cake options that take your digital marketing campaign from solid to scintillating. On the flip side of this are the elements that hold the whole strategy together, the glue. The regular social media posting and responding, weekly blog pieces, weekly/monthly emails, SEO, and website updates.
The glue is what your audience comes to expect because it is consistent in message, quality and delivery. The glue has captured your branding and ethos perfectly and gives clients, perspective clients and new visitors a valuable insight into what you do and how you do it. If we extend this basic need for glue to every company there quickly becomes five elements that are crucial to any digital marketing campaign:
- Having a current, up-to-date website
- Building and maintaining a content hub (a blog, forum, news page)
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Being active on social media
- Regular content creation
There is tons of material out there on each of these because they are quite simply crucial to any marketing strategy. That short list creates multiple landing pages for users to find you as there is the website, a content hub on or away from the website and usually several social media profiles. What gets them there lies heavily on the content you produce and the accessibility and online presence of your website which comes down to SEO.
Maximising the top five
Before you jump into anything more challenging or more demanding on budget and time the big five pillars of digital marketing need to be solid. That means having a highly responsive and informative website that is easy to navigate and full of engaging content. Implementing a social media plan that defines which platforms your company should target and how you will do that. Basic SEO fulfilled so there are no page errors, it is appropriately optimised with key words, meta-descriptions, backlinks, and local SEO strategy. Then once you have driven people to those pages it is about engaging them and keeping them on site for as long as possible – or until they head for the contact us page or checkout.
That means creating regular optimised content that ensures people click through for more. It is very much an intertwined process – no single element will be as powerful if it is not synched with the others.
This image captures the relation between the website, external sources, the content hub and social media, showing how each elements feeds from the others. In terms of best practice it is easy to get bogged down with how to create the perfect digital marketing strategy but in reality most people grow towards this. It is not an immediate creation and takes time and effort to cultivate the right connections and test quality content pieces against audience expectations.
Here are some top tips in each area to get you started:
- Create variety: Infographics, links, quotes, video, images.
- Be human: Don’t be all salesman/woman or robotic and unfeeling – be human, approachable and let your personality shine through
- Make it shareable: Would you share it? Would you read/like/comment on it? If the answer is no then don’t put it on
- Interact: Do not just leave it to run itself, you have to engage with followers, respond to comments and be available to answer questions/queries
- Optimise it just like you do your website with keywords, meta descriptions, headings, titles
- Have prominent calls to action so that blog or post readers know where to go next
- 1000-2000 word blog pieces are perfect for giving Google lots of fresh content to crawl but make sure they are broken up with images and headings to make them readable
- Have a share plugin on site so people can share the content over social media platforms and you can measure exactly how popular it has been
Current up to Date Website
- User friendly navigation – no broken links or inconsistencies
- A weekly updated news or best sellers page
- Social media icons visible and content updated daily
- Modern feel and look – in line with current design trends
- Keywords researched and used to optimise content, site headings and titles
- Local SEO: https://www.seotrafficlab.com/blog/optimising-site-local/
- Images with full description, title and alt tag
- Site speed checked and optimised: https://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
- Audit your site for any issues: https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/
Content on your site is key to SEO and will be one of you main sources of new visitors. The relevance of keywords and quality of content is what will attract visitors as well as links from other sites.
- 6 word headings for blogs, articles, news posts
- Break up bulky text with headings and images
- 1000-2000 word blog pieces, 50/50 text to image ratio on website where possible (do not detract from the navigation or aesthetics of the site)
- Make it wow, inspire, engage, shock, or amuse your audience if it is not standard text on the site (it is something fresh and original that will only be front of house for a week or so)
- Make it entertain, educate, inspire or convince if it is standard text on the site (it is embedded on key pages and says something about your company and service/product)
Adding the gloss
Now that the basics are strong and gathering momentum it is time to start looking at additional extras. In an ideal world your digital marketing strategy would encompass every tool and technique available. You would send out a press release monthly, have a weekly email campaign, and produce high quality videos weekly to keep your audience engaged and impressed by your stature as an expert within your industry. The gloss however takes a lot of time and in some cases money to maintain. There are three rules that you should consider when looking adding a layer of gloss:
- Can you maintain it?
- Is it consistently high quality?
- Does it work?
At any stage, but particularly at this one, you need to make sure you are measuring your ROIs and your KPIs. Use analytics across social media, on the website and in every area where you can collate measurable data.
If you can answer yes to those questions then you know you have a winning formula. If one of those answer is a no then the gloss is not going to shine. Here are the digital marketing extras (for many companies these are a staple and very relevant/key strategy in themselves):
- Online PR
- Email campaign
- Superior sharables like infographics, videos, pdfs
- Adwords or paid search
- Facebook Advertising
- Advanced SEO
I have given you a lot to think about already so my plan is to return to the gloss items in a blog next week. As I have already mentioned some of these are used by companies singularly and other companies use a particular combination. The trick really is not what they all provide (many speak for themselves) but how you chose the right ones for your business.
Straight away you should remind yourself:
Why are we doing this? What are our core objectives again? Here are three that should remain at the fore of your mind for the duration of your marketing campaigns. It will be written into your digital marketing strategy but it also needs to be revisited and evaluated because your objectives will change depending on the data your campaign has yielded for you so far.
Number 1 Objective: Remember your audience
At all times you have to remember that you have two potential audiences which have two very different needs. I refer to Smart Insights Content Marketing Strategy Guide (p.43) for a useful table that defines these two audiences perfectly:
Make my work easier
Help me develop
Make me look good
Give me a great deal
Make my life easier
Help me learn/have fun
Make me look good
Give me a great deal
Whenever you are building a digital marketing strategy you need to consider these needs over and over again. This is what will refine your strategy and prioritise the elements you need most. It is not always what is most cost effective, convenient or expensive and labour intensive that will resonate with your audience best. Try and dull your preconceptions and likes/dislikes and think like a consumer.
Number 2 Objective: Create awesome stuff
Digital Marketing strategies always come down to the quality of your content. It has to be outstanding and sustained at a high level if it is going to be shared and interacted with by your intended audience.
What isn’t at first apparent is that there is a formula behind this:
LEVEL OF CREATIVITY + TIME AVAILABLE = QUALITY OF CONTENT
The skill of the people creating the content to research quality material, think outside of the box and deliver something special could be mind-blowing but if they do not have the time allocated to create it properly then it will never live up to the brief. At the same time someone who lacks a creative mind could spend hours on producing a mediocre email campaign with a bounce rate higher than its open rate. There has to be a balance and enough creativity and time available to consistently create awesome stuff.
Number 3 Objective: Connect, connect, connect
Once you are creating outstanding content you need to get it in front of people. That does not happen via a few Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ posts. To achieve maximum exposure you need to be utilising:
- All social media networks
- News sites
- Influential blogs
- Key experts within your field
- Portals and partner sites
This means connecting with as many relevant people and sites as you can. It starts with sharing content and following them (don’t stalk them – add them on Twitter I mean). Then you research what they like, retweet, and produce themselves so you can write content that will interest them. At this point you can reach out to them, share your stuff, ask questions and comment on their stuff. These people may be bloggers, be very active over social media, or have relevant websites or forums. You have to make connections if you want to put your material out there in the hottest spots because your reach alone is not big enough. You have to nurture relationships with others and extend your reach so that content receives the level of exposure it deserves.
If you nail these three objectives then you will know what is likely to work best for your company. Look at the talent you have to hand and set reasonable targets for your team. Enjoy the process and make sure that you follow this simple sentence of advice:
It is better to do less well than to do everything poorly
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