We all like choice, or do we?
It would probably be safe to say that we all know how amazing a tool the Internet is and are aware of the wonders it can do. When it comes to Internet and business, many businesses do share one common problem, how to market their business online. Today’s rate of change on the web, and the vast number of online suppliers who offer a variety of web design tools, and multiple online marketing services, very quickly start to add to the choice, and to the cause for confusion. It is therefore apparent that the volume of information available online is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to make informed decisions as to what online marketing strategy should be used for their business.
Hand me the acronym dictionary…
If you are active in the internet marketing world this may be a section you can skip, if not, do continue reading, although you may be confused. Alongside the above we are now having to contend with all the jargon out there (PPC, CPM, CPC, SEO, ROI, SEM, SEP, and so on…). This post is written with the aim to discuss approach to Digital Marketing, and key steps in making a strategy, in a more business focused manner.
Digital Marketing, the places to be seen…
When it comes to creating a website, it’s probably a wise suggestion to not follow the philosophy of ‘Build it and they will come’. Whilst this philosophical myth has, over time, permeated the business world, we have also been encountering the more modern day philosophy of ‘Facebook it and they will come’. As a lover of all things social media it pains me to say even this is a slight myth. There is a major hype around social media, and we only need to look at Social Media Giant Facebook, boasting 845 Million monthly active users, generating 100 Billion friendships, and creating 2.7 Billion Likes & comments per day (figures from Facebook S-1 filing), to understand why many businesses believe that social media provides an endless stream of traffic and customers they can access by simply ‘getting involved’. This is again myth, and although evolution of the web generates great opportunities to market for businesses, you still need to act smart to get results. Acting smart in the ‘Digital World’ means you need to be very well informed.
Due to the changes in the web, new technologies now make it easier for non-technical users to interact with the Internet in many ways. Social media is a term given to this interaction, but the words ‘Social Media’ don’t do justice to the true definition with respect to the various forms of interaction that fall under this title, such interaction includes, blogging, consumer insight, media uploads, and so forth. Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may well provide most opportunity for business growth in the Digital World if used inventively, and let’s not forget it’s free! But it is also essential not to lose sight of other interactions, as these are also growing at an exponential rate, and unsurprisingly so are the methods of accessing them.
Digital Marketing and Google
Google recently added a new helix to their algorithm aka “Search, Plus Your World” (SPYW). Many publishers have been left wandering if they are verging on another ‘panda like’ update. As a result of the change in the Google algorithm, Google now factor in your site’s social activity in its search results. If your company is web based, and as a result it depends on search traffic, it is imperative that your site content has the capability of being shared socially, or it is likely you will be saying goodbye to organic search results.
More on SPYW
Google have been making preparations for this for some time. Over the last year you all may have noticed the +1 button beside every single search result. Google have collated enough social data, and are now putting it to use. The results that appear first when typing a search query into Google are now the results that are most socially relevant to you, instead of results of content that may be most relevant to your search query. The end result now is that without a social connection to a search query on your site, it will become harder for it to be seen. It is therefore a good idea to invest some time implementing some form of social sharing tool to your site.
Practical steps for online market research
It is sensible to think like a consumer/user and their journey. Start searching on Google with keywords and phrases related to your business, and focus on your user journey. Make notes of the ranking sites and the types of content on them. It should only really take a short while before you start finding the highest ranking sites that relate closest to your business. The sidebar on Google will allow you to breakdown the results in to different forms of contents such as blogs etc. Use ‘related searches’ to help you brainstorm some keyword ideas.
Analyzing Social Media
There are many tools available to analyze Social Media data. If you are a Facebook user you will find such tools incorporated in the platform. However, it is also far easier to actually follow your competition on these platforms, subscribe to your competition on Facebook and follow your competitors on Twitter. It’s not necessarily about obtaining mass following and fans. Focus on getting users to engage with you, you will find this is a key step in becoming viral.
Digital Marketing Activity
So your company now has a better understanding of its online presence. It’s done the ground work. Theoretically, your next move is simple. Your business, along with its products and key messages need to end up right in front of your target audience. Therefore you want to rank on Google for the relevant keywords you researched. Your content needs to be placed on many of the relevant sites and web properties that you found when running through your customer journey exercise. This can all be summarized by one phrase – ‘Create great relevant content and do smart things with it’.