Thursday, May 16, 2013

Introduction to Digital Marketing

By Ed Mahony – – 2011

The following is a guide to digital marketing: what the chief components (or tactics) are, how the chief components so often form part of an overall approach (or strategy), and how important it is to approach digital marketing, creatively as much as analytically.

Cliche: ‘Content is King’ – but true! Attract relevant audience to your business/brand by offering it quality content on your company website (hence the term, “content marketing”). This could be in the form of, for example, formal articles, informal blog posts, video and audio content, general interactive-website and mobile content, resources, and so on). That the content is relevant (of use / interest) to the audience. And content that is original (above all for the engagement of audiences, but, also because search engines, in particular Google, are quick to spot content that isn’t). All of this will result in your pages ranking higher, overall, in search engines, as well as people engaging in your content with increased loyalty and recommending your content via social media and word-of-mouth in general.

- PPC.
Pay per click advertising (i.e. Google Adwords) for attracting traffic to your website. Particular reasons for using PPC, for example: accurately target key words and geographical locations, useful for campaigns, quick return on investment, straight-forward ROI assessment, assist in organic search.
- Organic Search.
Organic search is about being found in search engines’ free listings. It involves various general digital marketing approaches (in particular, the creation of quality content, but, also, SEO, keyword strategy, and more). Although free, it takes time and skills to rank highly. And can take time for a new site to rank highly. But useful for general, long-term search results.
- SEO. Search engine optimization. Traditionally, SEO is about optimising websites for search engines, i.e. creating unique and accurate page titles, description met tags, url structures, site navigation, and more. Increasingly, SEO is seen as more than this – that it’s an important part of other areas of digital marketing i.e. social media, PPC, online PR. A key approach to SEO is not to overdo it. To be cautious so that your SEO is clearly seen by search engine companies as being legitimate (white hat SEO – as opposed to black hat SEO). That the real focus is creating quality content (with SEO just being a tool – one of a variety of tools – to help bring that content to audiences).
- Web Analytics. Web analytics tools can be used to find out which parts of your site are receiving the most and least amount of attention from your audience. Web analytics is a big subject, and there are many different types of tools. Good place to start is Google Analytics (Google Analytics education).

- General.
Social media is about creating closer ties with your audience, getting people to talk about your brand in general, drive traffic to your website. These activities are achieved by connecting with relevant audiences via social media channels. “Connecting” involves general, informal industry chat and interaction. As well as specific tasks or projects, for example: passing on useful and interesting links and information for a particular topic, running a competition, customer service.
You might want to achieve social media buzz or a sustained social media presence (or both). “Buzz” involves a social media campaign that gets people talking quickly, en masse. But attention that often quickly peters out. “Sustained social media presence” is about interacting with loyal customers on a day-to-day basis, building up a steady presence and loyal audience. These two approaches can co-exist within a particular social media channel (with some channels better at one approach over the other, for example, virals for quick buzz, and blogging for building up a sustained social media presence).
- Blogging. Is blogging worth it? The old format (i.e. informal, jotting down of ideas etc ..) still works. But there’s lots of competition now. Instead you could consider, perhaps, joining up with another group of bloggers – strength in numbers. And, certainly, introduce new types of content on your site (for example, formal and well-thought out articles as opposed to just informal sketchy blog posts, resources, research stats, infographics, videos, podcasts, microsites, games, and so on – depending on your industry), and focusing on your content being found in search engines (in other words, having an organic search and keyword strategy).
As long as you have sufficient following, the blog is, also, a useful tool for online PR.
- Twitter. Microblogging. Twitter is a useful tool for keeping abreast of industry news (by following lists), building up a social media presence (by tweeting relevant content, retweeting, informal industry chat, competitions, and so on). You can use Twitter, for example, to promote a blog article, carry out research, customer service.
- Facebook. Why Facebook as a marketing tool? Facebook has more than 800 million users – professionals, students, and people in general. You can create a Facebook page (with content) in order to build up a loyal audience and promote your brand. But only consider getting involved in Facebook if you’re prepared to commit to it, properly.
- Google+. Social networking and identity service. Debuted: 2011.
- LinkedIn.
A strong social networking tool, in particular, for people in senior management
- Other. Lots of other ways of marketing via social media: photosharing (i.e. Instagram, Flickr), video sharing (i.e. YouTube), social network aggregation (i.e. FriendFeed), and more.

Email is still an effective marketing tool as long as your emails are relevant to your audience (and you don’t over do it). If not, forget it (backfire).

Affiliate marketing can cover a wide area of activity (search engine marketing, email marketing, display advertising, and more) and be time-consuming. For that reason organizations often turn to specialists. But remember, you know your product, best, and market place as well as anyone else, so there can be important benefits in doing it, or part of it, yourself.

Consumer generated content is about getting audiences to create their own content on your site. This could lead to increased traffic, as well as building up loyalty with your audience. Remember that audiences aren’t always experts in a particular subject. So consumer generated content can be hit-and-miss.

Customer experience is about the overall experience that a customer has when visiting a site (and in particular, but not exclusively, for an e-commerce site). Customer service is an important part of it. Although large companies and / or e-commerce sites are more focused on this than others, it’s still something that everyone should be thinking about, to a degree, in general.

The look, feel and functionality of a website (and mobile site) can affect a number of things, chiefly: sales, brand impressions, social media interaction, whether people explore the site and find new content, and organic search (affected by factors such as amount of time on a page, bounce rate, and so on).

Return of Investment is important when you’re investing money in software, hardware and services. Research, before spending money, is key, as well as analysis of performance and results once the investment has been made.

- Having a good marketing strategy has, always, been important. And now in the digital environment, more than ever. Firstly, marketers have to follow their audience: Internet usage in the US is now 70-75 % of the population (source: 1+2). Secondly, the way people use the Internet, and interact with other people on it, is getting more varied. This adds complication, but also, creates opportunities to come up with smarter strategies in general.
- Which Part of Digital Strategy Should You Focus On? Broadly speaking: the Internet (and depending on your products / marketplace: static websites, interactive websites, e-commerce websites, and more; social media; search; banner ads; email; affiliate programmes; video and audio content; and more). But digital, also, covers: mobile phones (mobile marketing hasn’t really taken off, yet, but it may over the next while), digital signage (digital screens in shops etc ..), and more.
- What Are You Trying to Achieve in Your Digital Marketing Strategy? Think about what it is, exactly, you are trying to achieve. Digital media can be used in very different ways for different purposes (i.e. sales, developing customer loyalty, creating and maintaining general brand awareness, online PR, driving traffic to a site, and more).
- Who Are You Trying to Reach in Your Digital Marketing Strategy? Think quality versus quantity. You might have lots of traffic. But is it relevant traffic? Are these people going to buy your products or pay for your services? And (/or) are they going to recommend your products and services to others?

BRANDING Is branding a component of digital marketing? Some think so. Others not. It’s certainly connected to digital marketing. Here are a few things to think about.
- General. Are different pages on your site consistent in the overall impression (visual and written) they create? On the other hand is the overall impression you create overwhelming and intrusive?
- Authenticity. Focus on things that will gain your audience’s trust. For example, case studies, awards, recognition, and so on. Show, don’t just tell.
- Brand Story. You’ve got a great looking website that, also, works well. But does it capture the interest of the audience? Is there an interesting story to tell (i.e. about how your online work began / developed, and so on?)

Data has always been key in marketing. Whether it is data for understanding your audience, the competition, the market place in general, and so on. However, the digital environment provides marketers with the ability for even stronger and more powerful analysis based on the wide variety of tools available to them.
A creative approach has always been key in marketing. But even more so, owing to the elaborate nature of the digital environment. Even with a particular digital marketing channel, for example blogging, a creative approach is essential (i.e. creating interesting content, being creative about how you find fresh and original subjects to discuss, and so on). And because so many different digital marketing channels and tactics are inter-related, so a creative approach is essential, at a strategic level, as well.

Introduction / Intro / Guide to Digital Marketing – – 2011


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