As a Digital Account Manager at Fast Web Media, it is imperative to have a deep and practical understanding of all aspects of online marketing to ensure you are able to bring maximum value to clients. To help me to achieve this, I recently completed the 10 week long Search and Social Media Marketing (Combined) course at Salford Business School.
Having already developed a strong understanding of a number of digital marketing techniques through hands-on experience, the training course allowed me to take my knowledge to the next level. As well as comprehensive, in depth lectures, the course offers the chance to interact with industry experts and other like-minded individuals.
The information provided in the course was invaluable, so in this article I’ll share my top 10 key takeaways for creating effective digital marketing strategies. The list below is a useful guide for digital marketing beginners and a support for experienced industry leaders:
1. What is your marketing plan?
It is essential that any business wishing to take on the digital world has a digital marketing strategy in place, whether this be integrated into your general marketing strategy or as separate document.
There are many points to consider when putting together a fit-for-purpose marketing strategy, however, for the purposes of this article, please bear in mind the following key components; competitor analysis with a focus on their digital activities, a set of achievable goals, and a defined target audience profile.
2. The STEPPS model
A key element of any digital marketing strategy is content. This has been a common theme throughout this blog with articles around how to create fantastic quality content and how valuable it is. Creating quality content is easier said than done, however Jonah Berger’s 6 STEPPS framework should make creating contagious content smooth and straightforward.
The first step in the framework is SOCIAL currency. Just like an offline conversation, people on Social Media want to appear intelligent, interesting and funny and are therefore more likely to share content that reflects these positive traits. TRIGGERS is the second step in the process of creating quality content and it’s all about easily memorable information. This type of content is always at the top of mind and tip of the tongue.
One of the key motivators for sharing content is EMOTION. If a user sees something online that stirs genuine emotion, they are more likely to want to share that emotion with others. Every message you send should absolutely stay true to your brand, while remaining focused on your customer.
PUBLIC is ensuring that the content is publicly available, easily shareable and formatted in a way that lends itself nicely to the channels that you wish the user to share upon.
The content needs to have PRACTICAL value so seek to ensure that the knowledge and expertise is useful and is presented in such a way that it can be utilised by the target audience.
Seek to ensure your content (and content strategy) provides a narrative or STORY. If the content is unlikely to feature as conversation in everyday life, it’s unlikely to do so online.
3. The growing importance of video
Video content may provide the perfect medium for satisfying all the STEPPS. As video content becomes increasingly popular, digital marketers are (or should be) using video to complement their overall digital marketing strategy. To put the growth of video into perspective, Youtube, which was bought by Google in 2006, processes more than 3 billion searches per month compared to Facebook’s 600 million.
For a number of years now, the way users view content is shifting. To illustrate the point, it was reported recently that BBC journalists have been instructed to create 60 to 90 second videos as the BBC believes that these will perform better on mobile devices and social media.
The benefits of brands producing unique video content are far and wide. Here are my top three: Firstly, video offers “rich” and unique content that you can tailor specifically for your audience. Secondly, Search Engines see video as a key factor for determining your website’s search ranking. Finally, video when done correctly, is easily shareable and mobile friendly.
4. Google Analytics
One of the best tools to assess the impact that your quality content is having is Google Analytics. It is a must-have tool for any business as it will assist you (by providing empirical data) when making any number of critical business decisions, including; whether to fine tune your website, produce new content for your target audience, or begin a PPC campaign.
Google Analytics is split into four key reporting areas; Audience (who is visiting your site), Acquisition (how are they getting to you site), Behaviour (what are they doing on your site) and Conversions (have they completed what you wanted them to).
By using the analysis above, you will be better placed when deciding where best to invest future budget. For example, you may identify that 15% of your users are coming from Manchester, therefore you may decide to run a geo-targeted PPC Campaign to take advantage.
Alternatively, you may see that 70% of users are viewing the site on a mobile device, therefore it may be time to invest the money needed to make your site is responsive to ensure those viewing the site on mobile get the optimum experience. We put together a great Google Analytics Guide that is extremely useful for ecommerce brands.
5. Google’s Zero Moment of Truth
First unveiled by Google in 2011, Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) positions digital as the first touchpoint for consumers when they’re considering making a purchase. The rise of multi- device consumer journeys has changed ZMOT significantly, making it much more granular. This has generated what Google is now referring to as Micro moments.
A micro-moment is a key moment that can happen at any time of the day when consumers turn to Search to learn an important piece of information or answer a question about a product. To take advantage of these Micro Moments, brands must put themselves in a position to answer questions with high quality, trusted, relevant information that can be easily found by Search Engines (and therefore the consumer).
6. Importance of Schema
To ensure that your website stands a good chance of securing a user’s attention during that zero moment of truth, you should be ensuring schema is correctly implemented on your site. In June 2011, Google, Yahoo and Bing announced that they all had started to support schema.org tags.
Schema microdata helps search engines to understand and parse the underlying meaning of any given web page more effectively, which can then assist search engines to display more relevant information in the search results.
It should be noted that Google does not use the inclusion of schema microdata as a ranking signal but instead improve your site’s rich snippets, which should assist with improving your click through rate.
7. Google Alerts
This simple to set-up tool packs some serious punch when used correctly. It allows you to keep track of trends, interesting topics, and, most importantly, monitor mentions of your company.
If there’s a mention of your company anywhere on the web, you’ll receive a notification from Google. You can then quickly check the link to see whether or not they have linked to your website. If not, you can look super responsive and engaged and quickly send them a polite email requesting that they add-in a link to your site. More links plus stronger domain authority equals higher ranking.
8. Social Media
Everyone by now is either involved in, or aware of, the social media phenomenon. Take Facebook for example, who recently announced that on Monday 24th August one billion people used the platform in a single day. That’s 1 in 7 people on Earth just waiting to absorb you latest digital marketing campaign
Before you begin any social media activity, you should consider the following questions: What do you want to gain from social media? This could be brand awareness, increased sales, customer service, or website traffic. What social channels are your target audience using and how are you best reaching them? Social Media can require a lot of care and attention, do you have the necessary resource?
9. Clarify your objectives and budget
Referring back to the importance of a clear marketing plan, it is important to highlight that a business’ overall marketing and digital marketing strategy should be aligned and, crucially, that companies take great care when allocating marketing budget between offline vs. online (and across which digital channels).
According to the Forrester Research Digital Marketing Forecasts, in 2016 the average firm will allocate 30% of its marketing budget to online, this rate is expected to grow to 35% by 2019.
The key points to consider when allocating online budget, whether that be to email marketing, SEO, PPC or social media, is how best to reach your target audience and the typical buying journey, your competitor’s activities, and available budget.
10. Collaborate with your team and experts
One of the last elements of creating a strong digital marketing strategy is having the ability to collaborate with different departments within your business and work together as one unit rather than separate functions. This provides an opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge and create a synergetic environment.
In conclusion, these 10 key takeaways will help you to elevate your own knowledge in digital, build stronger and more powerful marketing strategies. Which elements will you start implementing today? Comment below with your thoughts. If you would like to discuss this with our experts and you’re a looking for digital marketing advice for the future of your brand, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out our presentation about advanced keyword research that our expert team delivered at the University of Salford: