Another day another can’t miss, must-have marketing strategy, right? I have been working in digital marketing for most of my life. I have certifications of proficiency, excellence, achievements, and more. I am what many would refer to as a well-qualified digital marketing expert, and I work for an award-winning online marketing agency, so who better to come to for advice, right? Well, here it is: There is no such thing as a can’t miss marketing strategy. Like any other decision you make for your business, a successful marketing strategy has the ability to be a game-changer for your business. For the same reason, it deserves your full attention.
According to this study from 2019, 81% of consumers go online before heading out to the store, spending an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase (major purchase is more than $500). The most surprising part about this is the time spent researching, 79 days on average. It stands to reason that a business owner who is looking for marketing opportunities should be at least as diligent as someone shopping for a new vacuum, but are they?
I understand how difficult it can be to tell a promising opportunity from a scam. Sadly, plenty in my business has all the best intentions when they brand themselves a marketing guru. I know plenty of people who can put together a pretty sharp-looking website, or run a few Facebook ads for their buddies’ business. But, what happens as the technology changes, best practices evolve, and new platforms rise to prominence? Most likely, that individual is too busy doing what worked 6 months ago to even notice, and any marketing budget that has been spent is wasted. It is for this reason that you, as a business owner should research thoroughly, and interview prospective digital marketing agencies before hiring one. You would get 2 quotes before replacing your kitchen cabinets, right?
It is one thing to look at a computer screen for hours or days sorting through marketing ideas, but how do you decipher between information and noise? If everyone claims that their way is the successful one, how do you pick the best strategy to increase your visibility online? While we can’t make a personalized marketing recommendation without knowing more about your business, if you keep reading you will see our opinion on 5 different marketing strategies that do work. Important to note: Just because these strategies work does not mean that everyone who uses them will succeed. Important factors that determine success include: How are these strategies being implemented, what sort of follow-up analysis is being conducted, how much competition is there within your vertical, and what timeframe are you using to measure success. So, 5 strategies that have proven successful when implemented correctly coming right up!
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms or websites to market a product or service. While Facebook is the obvious Big Man on Campus here, its little brothers Instagram and TikTok are closing the gap daily. Facebook has over 140 million users in the United States, in addition to around 65 million business pages. Just under 70% of Americans polled in this survey say that they visit Facebook at least once a day, and 49% of those report multiple daily visits. Also worth noting: In this day and age of political stances and a wide partisan divide, Facebook is used almost equally on each side of the aisle.
Many younger Facebook users have taken their show on the road, heading to Instagram. Instagram is also owned by Facebook, and has a familiar yet different feel, focusing more on media, usually images or video, and then allowing a hash-tagged message to accompany it.
How does it work? Let’s say that your business has 500 friends/followers on Facebook. You write a post on Facebook, expecting to inform all 500 people about a great promo you are running. This type of post will be referred to as an “organic post.” The problem is that Facebook chooses which, and how many of your friends even see this ad. Because an organic post does not reach all of your friends and followers, many businesses see the benefit of running paid ads to extend that reach and use Social Media as a paid avenue to connect with more people.
So, you would write a post, choose how much advertising support (money) to give it, and then you choose to target. What types of people should see the ad? Where should the ad be shown? These 2 items are referred to as Demographic, and Geographic targeting, and are the key differentiators between Social Media, and other forms of paid ads. The calls to action vary from visiting your page, your website, a catalog, or anything else you can think of.
Pros: Targeting, targeting, targeting. The main reason that people are wary of Facebook is the biggest reason why they are such a popular advertising platform. Facebook not only knows what you do on their platform (because membership is contingent upon them getting that info), they also know what else you do elsewhere on the internet with your phone, as well as who you talk to online, what you talk about with them, who they talk to, etc. Facebook has so much information, classified so meticulously, that it can truly serve up ads that appeal to you. It’s no small wonder that the average conversion rate of a website is about 2.5% while that of a Facebook ad is closer to 10%
Cons: The secret is out. Facebook and other Social Media Marketing strategies work. The platform is inundated with advertisers and products. For the average small business owner, this means that competition is steep, and prices are higher than they used to be. If you don’t have high-quality content, it will be skipped right over, lost in the shuffle, madness, and noise. The same thing goes for the landing page that clicks are sent to. If it is not engaging, keyword-optimized, and compelling, your conversion rate will suffer.
Conclusion: Social Media Marketing is a behemoth, great for selling products, no matter how small the niche. Extra focus and attention need to be paid to ad copy and landing page(s).
This one seems to be the old reliable in the digital marketing toolbox, doesn’t it? For as long as it’s been around misconceptions have abounded. So, what is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving and optimizing your website with the goal of increasing the website’s visibility to a search engine. We’ll tackle why in a different article, but SEO is a long-term strategy.
How does it work? The order in which Google (we will use Google to refer generally to search engines) displays search results is not arbitrary. While courts are constantly being asked to consider whether Google is a monopoly, and ought to be regulated, their biggest, and a heretofore most successful defense is their algorithm. It is a super-secret formula that determines where sites rank for different keyword searches. Google’s algorithm may be the most investigated secret this side of Area 51, and for very good reason. Recent studies show that the top 3 search results combine to attract over a 65% CTR, with the #1 result averaging 39.6%!
While the algorithm is secret and changes frequently, there are some things that we know will help your keyword rankings. If you have ever worked with an SEO expert or a marketing company specializing in SEO they will tell you that only 2 things affect your rankings, and those 2 things are On-Site factors, and Off Site factors.
The On-Site factors most focused on are Content and Technical data. The content on your website should be original content that is relevant to your business. Keywords that you’d like to rank for should be utilized in the content. Each distinct product grouping should have its own page so that the content can be focused and relevant. The other On-Site factor happens “Under the hood,” of your website. Think of this data as Cliff’s Notes version of your website that Google can scan while determining which sites to display in response to a keyword search. These factors are often overlooked or ignored by web designers, but optimizing this technical data is a necessary step to ranking on Google. On-Site optimization is a necessary step but is not a sufficient solution on its own.
Off-Site factors seem to be the real movers and shakers when it comes to SEO and keyword rankings. The 2 offsite signals that we will focus on here are Directories and Links. Establishing and building trust with Google is essential for local businesses. Directories are kind of like an online phone book, and Google certainly keeps an eye on the top 100 or so. What are some things that can help to establish trust? Consistent, and correct information registered with these directories. If all of the directories show the same name, address, phone number, and company information, it is a great signal to Google that you are in fact “Who, where, and what” you claim to be. The other offsite factor is links. When a website links back to your site as part of the content that is relevant to your business, it is a sign to Google that you are an expert. Google considers this a “vote” for your site. All links matter, but links placed simply to manipulate search rankings can be penalized. Earning backlinks with quality content is an SEO best practice, and is the optimal way to get links. DON’T BUY LINKS!
PPC, Pay Per Click, Paid Search
What is PPC advertising? When you do a Google search you will see 3 or 4 entries at the top that are labeled, “Ad” That listing is a paid placement, and the ad is being shown because of any number of reasons including- Your location, your search history, and the keyword query that you searched. For search queries that have advertising, which is most of them now, the paid ads will show on the top of the screen, above any local listings, and then the organic search results.
How does it work? There are a million reasons to decide to do PPC advertising which I will cover in a future blog post, but for now, a business decides that they need leads quickly. Knowing that SEO is more of a long-term strategy, they go to Google Adwords, and set up an account. This business would identify keyword searches that they would like their ad to appear for when someone performs that search. They set their bid, choose their ad copy, set a location that they’d like the ads shown in, and link the landing page. That’s pretty much it.
When a prospect does the keyword search, an auction takes place in milliseconds. Adwords tallies who is in this auction, each businesses’ maximum bid for this keyword, and the quality score of each of the bidders. When this quick math is done, the query pops up and Google returns the results, ads, local, organic. When the searcher clicks on an ad, that business is charged for that click. Regardless of what the person does while on the site, that business will have the click amount debited from their Adwords account.
Making a system as complex as Adwords seem so simple is one of Google’s crowning achievements. You know what else is really easy? Baking a cake. But, plenty of people decide to freestyle, or to speed up the process, and guess what happens? The cake sucks. A very similar scenario often occurs with PPC advertising. It seems so simple that many business owners think, “Why would I possibly pay someone to do this, it’s so easy!”
Here is just one thing (of hundreds) that the average business owner would not know how to do, or even think of. Negative keywords are words that when accompanying your target keyword, stop your bid. Example: I’m a landscaper, so one of my target keywords is “summer landscaping.” A negative keyword in this instance would be “jobs,” so if someone searches “summer landscaping jobs,” the ad will not show, and they will not be charged for a click.
Pros: For some businesses, this is the only way that they will ever achieve that kind of placement on Google, and the visibility that is received is worth the ad spend. For some searches, like emergency towing, it is assumed and understood that the person searching is in a bit of a time crunch and is no comparison shopping. If you’re not first, you’re last.
Cons: Running a campaign that is not set up correctly can be very costly, as you are paying to get traffic that has no chance of converting. Basically paying for the ad that sends this prospect to a competitor. Some businesses do not have procedures in place to deal with a sudden influx of leads and phone calls. Not ideal. Before you pay for leads, make sure that you are in a position to handle the business. Our bottom line: Until you have lead nurturing software or another method in place, it is foolish to pay for those leads.
Email marketing has been moved to the kids’ table with its cousin, Content Marketing. That is not because these are less important, but because they typically are not often used by themselves. Email marketing is an extremely effective tool when used correctly. It is a great supplement to any marketing campaign. From the moment you get a prospect’s email address, they should be entered into some sort of email list. Typically you would want to have at least 2 lists, one for prospects and one for clients. That way you can craft bulk messages that are still customized to a certain extent.
Some popular and successful uses of email marketing include but are not limited to: Birthday wishes, confirmation of appointments, thanks for coming notes- With an invitation to leave a review- closures, delays, announcements, etc. Because of the relatively inexpensive of an email marketing campaign, it is often cited as the most cost-effective way to convert and retain clients.
Content marketing can enhance any existing marketing plan. Content marketing often refers to the syndication of articles, stories, videos, memes, and whatever the next thing is. Content should be relevant, Useful, Informative, and/or funny.
Every time you add a blog entry, you are actually adding a page to your website. An active website is a clear signal of trustworthiness to search engines and directories, as is the engaging content on the site. An active and interactive blog can be a great boost to SEO efforts as well, allowing a marketing firm to introduce and target new keywords.
In the coming months, we will break down each of these strategies even further. If there’s anything that you think we should cover, let us know!
Email Marketing: Still the most powerful tool…
Lead Generation that works for you