The 3 pillars of digital marketing and how to make them work for you-GUIDE
The internet is booming. There is an entire economy running upon the strengths of this wonderful and magnificent innovation of humankind. It has saved lives, kept us informed about what’s happening around the world, rekindled old friendships, helped us get our thoughts and opinions to those who are willing to listen and made our lives a whole lot simpler. The internet has spawned an entire industry-Digital Marketing. The marketers who work in digital are the frontline of the e-commerce machinery generating revenue by selling products and services via online websites and portals. It is an enormous business and has helped several companies to come into existence that would never have been possible without the internet.
The power of digital marketing and the economy it supports
The digital age has brought upon us the digital economy. One of the fascinating aspects of this economy is the capability of companies to survive purely based on the internet. There are thousands of companies that owe their very existence to the internet. Companies such as Uber, Facebook, Alibaba and Airbnb are classic examples that explain the power and scope of the internet.
The common feature here is the INTERNET. All of the above companies and many many more would not even exist without it. This throws up the opportunity called digital marketing. As vast as the internet is, it is partly a personal experience. A majority of users use the internet for personal reasons such as communicating, reading and entertainment purposes. There is a small amount of time they do dedicate to make purchases or initiate purchases. This is where the digital marketing requirement is needed. All of the above companies are doing digital marketing right. So to go ahead with this guide, we shall take up the 3 pillars that form the backbone of their digital marketing strategy. We will understand the processes involved, the strengths of each and how to optimize them to your advantage.
- SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
- SOCIAL MEDIA
The first pillar
Content is the life blood-Writing to survive
Survival of the fittest has become synonymous not just with the natural world but also in the digital world. The big players on the internet dictate what works and what doesn’t and we create our marketing campaigns to promote services and products using these rules and guidelines. The internet is fed by content and the writers are the chefs. The rule of content has become a lot more significant in the past few years with Google and other major search engines promoting it and clearly stating its importance for search rankings. Some of the most popular websites on the internet such as Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr work on the constant feed of content. The best way to beat competition today is to provide content that not just appeases the search gods but also connects with the prospect.
B2B marketers, as in years past, continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content (72%), citing it as the top priority for their internal content creators over the next year.
76% of B2B marketers say they will produce more content in 2016.
The above data and chart provided by CMI shows the direction content marketing is headed. It is extremely important to have a good content marketing strategy in place if you are actually interested in gaining high quality leads. Lead quality improves dramatically when the lead is generated through the efforts of content. This is because good content engages and initiates a conversation between your brand and the prospects. There is genuine interest created and this leads to the generation of prospects who are actually interested to purchase from you. Content marketing is the most important aspect of inbound marketing, the exact opposite of outbound. Inbound marketing takes time and effort, but the quality of leads generated is a lot higher than outbound.
The amount of time you spend creating and executing your inbound strategy is the same amount of time you will spend on removing weak and useless leads from the outbound program.
The types of content you need to create-as per your sector
Since the internet is heavily divided as the B2B and the B2C sector, we really need to have different approaches to both, even though, at the end of the day, its people we connect with-not machines. The common element has to be the human factor and keeping content humanized has been the single defining factor of the content generation guide.
For B2B marketers
The average number of content types used is a massive 13. That means a content creator has a lot to play around with. For B2B marketers, it seems that social media has taken centre stage of late. We will be covering social media as the 3rd pillar of digital marketing. Creating content for social media is a whole new ball game due to its viral nature and the immediate feedback you get. This is the reason social media is important and much feared.
Blogs and case studies
Blogs and case studies are content pieces that generate the maximum amount of interest within your prospects because they have a lot going on for them in terms of reach, effect and positivity created. People want to know what and how you have helped others solve issues. In this way, you generate trust. This trust is essential to take clients towards the next step-It is not always about pricing. Case studies are used at the first and the last stages of a lead generation funnel, the exact times trust is called upon.
In person events
You might think what does content have to do with in-person events. In-person events are one of the largest sources of leads for B2B marketers today. It is not easy to get like minded individuals and companies together in one place at the same time. Events do that. You may have their attention for some time, but if your content is not matching their requirements, then it fails. Therefore, creating specialized content for events is essential to generate good interest during and post the event too.
The internet is a visual medium because we see first, then react. The visual medium has to be utilized well and for this purpose- the infographic. Providing good and meaningful information graphically is the need of the hour. This is also important because the attention span of the average internet user has gone below 8 seconds-lower than a goldfish! This makes the task of attracting attention a lot harder. Adding the visual element with text enhances the chances of getting positive feedback. Adding videos to the mix is also important today. Videos are widely consumed and with YouTube being the 2nd largest search engine, purpose built videos are not a luxury that few well funded companies have.
For the B2C marketer
The B2C market allows you the freedom to captivate and motivate entire masses. Social media has played a pivotal role in this. Also, regular email campaigns help in increasing engagement to the websites too. The need to produce good images and videos that connect is high as the average B2C customer is young and visually inclined.
Whatever may be the mix you use for content marketing, it is also important to do a good analysis of your target market and understand the types of content that are read more and where. Distribution of said content is also essential to ensure that it reaches the right audience at the right time. This is where SEO and social media step in- the other 2 pillars.
The 2nd pillar
Search Engine Optimization- It gets you the all important visitor
The internet is made up of websites and SERP is the place to be. For this purpose, SEO is essential. People search for services and products online and if your SEO game is on point, then traffic will come. For this, you need to master SEO and with it changing at the rate of 500 algorithm changes per year, it is dynamic, fluid and aggressive.
The most important factors for SEO impact this year will be mobile-friendliness, which will increase in impact by 88%; analysis of a page’s perceived value (up 81%); usage data such as dwell time (up 67%); and readability and design (up 67%). SEO factors that reportedly will decrease in impact are the effectiveness of paid links (down 55%) and the influence of anchor text (down 49%).
This chart provided by moz.com, though a bit technical, gives you a fair idea of the metrics that matter when it comes to SEO. For a marketer, it is important to understand the effect mobile friendly sites will have on search. It is by far the single biggest factor to affect SEO in the recent past. So having a mobile friendly website is not a luxury, it is important if you want to survive the SEO wars. Content is a close second. Content shot into the limelight when the algorithm change was made where keywords were downgraded for density and content was upgraded for relevance.
Relevance and intent
Gone are the days when an exact keyword match is required for going up on the search results. Post click activity is as important. Search engines are looking at how visitors are interacting with your website. Are they able to get answers they asked from your website? Getting the click is not enough, the satisfaction of the intent is important too. For this, once again, good content that answers visitor queries is important. Along with it, good website navigation, attractive calls to action and meaningful content is the key.
Keywords are the rulers of the past
Inclusion of keywords in the headline does not mean you will get a click. The meaning of the headline is as important. For example: you want to be ranked for ‘best hotels’. You can only incorporate the keyword so many times. After that, it is up to the content and what it talks about. Today, writing about ‘best hotels’ will get you ranked higher!
More is good
Content length matters to the whole process. There is data that suggests the average length of the post should be around 1000 to 1200 words and Google will pick and index it faster. It does not mean that everything and anything needs to be of that length. It also depends on the type of content you write. Shorter posts that engage visitors more are obviously better than ones that are long and full of misleading or invalid information.
Images and videos
These go hand in hand with SEO. Since Google has a separate tab for video search and if you have a video that is related to the search term, it will be featured on search. Using high quality images that are genuine and/or royalty paid get the maximum mileage.
The future of SEO is tied to the amount and quality of content you generate. It does not take away the significance of the keyword. It has always been and will be the focal point for SEO. Investing in keyword research, competitive analysis, and buyer personas, site maps, on-site optimization and internal linking and user experience have always been key to a good SEO strategy- They still are.
The 3rd pillar
Social media and its awe-inspiring reach
Social media rocks! To say this is an understatement. It is not just in business that we see the massive reach that social media platforms have, but even on a personal level. More and more people are turning to social media as the preferred means of communication and information discovery. With Facebook leading the way, social media has muscled its way into the core structure of digital marketing. Just a couple of years back, social was just another platform to be on, for the purpose of branding and visibility. Today it has transcended into a source of leads, referrals and more. This is due to the aggressive adoption of these platforms on a large scale and the features that they provide- not just for personal users but also to businesses.
94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as part of their content strategy. Other popular platforms include Twitter (87%), Facebook (84%), YouTube (74%) and Google+ (62%).
For the marketer- it was Facebook, it’s not anymore
Facebook-almost a billion people use it with a quarter of them actively using it daily. It is truly a marvel of the modern times. Facebook has been evolving over the years, listening and understanding the users, their choices and preferences, and fine tuning the experience. From a business stand point- LinkedIn seems to be surging ahead. The professional network- as it has been marketed is pushing ahead with a lot of opportunities for businesses and marketers. The fact that LinkedIn users are seen as serious folks and not the time-pass lots found on Facebook, marketers are focusing on breaking in. it is not easy to get in an sustain a marketing campaign on LinkedIn. Even with your personal profile, it takes a certain amount of time, effort and smartness to build a good network that gives you returns.
Using specific networks for specific goals is easier now. With diversified platforms that clearly differentiate its users, it is easy to focus on certain platforms more so that you get benefits as required. Each network has its own strengths and this has to be understood well. Along with it, it is essential to know where your prospects are, so that you are using the right platform to approach them.
Facebook, as usual still holds the undisputed crown of the masses. That is old news and the fact is its size seems to be working against it now. There are some interesting changes that we see with the inclusion of newer platforms now. Pinterest and Instagram seem to have taken up a place of prominence when it comes to usage. There is a common feature between the two. They rely on the visual aspect. Pinterest allows you to pins vivid and high definition pictures. Instagram is a photo sharing platform that has seen a great surge in its user base this past year.
Things you need to do if you are serious about social
Social search is increasing
This is an interesting off shoot of the social boom. People are relying more on the search functions available on these platforms than use traditional search. It is such an irony to say that search has become traditional! Pinterest offers visual search where you can search within an image. If you like some image and want more of the same, simply click on it and you get similar images. This is the level of search being offered today and marketers should be accommodating of this.
Mobile is in- All in
Having an immersive experience on mobile allows these social media platforms to perform well. Since ad blocking hasn’t reached the mobile, marketing on mobile seems to be the easy way out. Since mobile usage is high for social platforms, it is important to have a mobile social media strategy in place.
Real time updates are getting real
According to Search Engine Watch, 70% of Twitter users expect a response from brands they reach out to, and 53% want a response in less than an hour. That number jumps to 72% when they’re issuing a complaint. This is the sign of the times. Customers want what they want and if they do not get it from you, they will assuredly go to your competitor because they are listening too.
Social helps SEO
A good social presence basically adds as a side kick to your SEO programs. Keeping your social media stream active, updated and ready to respond delivers value to your SEO too.
Data is the decision maker
Social media used to be about followers and likes. That has changed today. Metrics such as engagement and response rates matter now. These have a direct effect on SEO too. It is important to have the right people talking about your brands too. Influencer marketing is essential for social media success. It is also important to do keyword analytics for social media. Using data to guide your social media campaigns and processes will allow you to be found easier and connect with the right audience.
The three pillars of digital marketing – content, SEO and social media are to be taken seriously if you are looking to gain traction online. Relying only on one will not get the job done. It is easy to say that you don’t need this type and that, but the truth of the matter is, deciding what you want is not simply about not using one type of process. It is about understanding the requirements of the clients you want to service. Without using these 3, rest assured, you cannot reach your potential target audience. The industry has evolved in such a way that these 3 are intertwined beyond belief!
Marketing to the new generation requires you to understand the new generation. Adequate market research, buyer persona based content creation and an effective sales team that understands the value of a lead generated through these mediums is essential. Eventually, the potential customer will come to your website, so ensure that your website is easy to use, easily found and allows the visitor to navigate and reach the goal you want them to reach- fast.