Digital Marketing 101

Ask me about social media, email marketing or "what's up with this Google stuff," and I'll tell you that all of those activities can be considered part of the digital marketing landscape. 

digital-header

Let's not sugarcoat it. Digital marketing is an ever expanding umbrella of practices and "spaces" that are gobbling up more of the marketing pie every year. It's not going anywhere, so let's get you up to speed.

Here's a quick look at the most common areas of digital marketing:

• Web Site Design
• SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
• Content Marketing (Web content with a purpose: blogging, video, case studies, helpful guides, and more)
• Email Marketing
• Social Media (Marketing/Public Relations & Advertising)
• Paid Search (Google Ads: Pay-Per-Click, Retargeting)
• Paid Advertising, (Banner Ads, Listings)
• Mobile
• Digital Analytics & Optimization

More on those in a minute.

Point is, there's plenty to consider. And until the last 5-6 years, many of these activities were handled as separate projects. Your business may have "done a little email" or "tried out Facebook" in recent years but the truth is that effective digital marketing now requires us to integrate at least a few of these areas to be successful (and frankly, you might not be getting a solid return on investment if you're not). 

Why should I look more closely at my website and digital marketing?

"57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier."
- CEB, a research, insight and technology company

This means your website and other online spaces (such as industry profiles, social media, etc.) are playing a huge role in shaping whether a prospect or potential lead even considers your company worthy of consideration. That's if they even find you online in the first place.

67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.
- SiriusDecisions, a global B2B research and advisory firm

How much of your marketing budget is spent on traditional media like print ads or going to trade shows? That's not to say those things aren't important, but data and polls show us that 2/3 of customer interaction is happening online, in their email box, or on social media.

So here it is, we've condensed the Digital Marketing process into one graphic:

Why does this go in a circle?

Trust is earned over time. So repeating this process of content creation, promotion, and engagement is key to earning that trust. Rather than blindly emailing and calling people with sales pitches or just plain ignoring people that aren't ready to buy, we use content-driven digital marketing to attract and nurture leads.

It may take several visits to your site, numerous emails and/or a handful interactions on social media to convert a person from a "visitor" into a truly qualified lead. Here's a basic a model for how we use content to progress people in your sales funnel:

Now that I've covered the basic process and purpose of digital marketing, let's look at those steps a little more closely...


1 - Website, "Home Base"

• This is the foundation of your online activities. Your website should engage readers with content they value. By having your social media, email, and other communication activities direct people to your website, we are better able to collect contact info and track useful analytic data.

Show viewers that you’re experienced and knowledgeable. Use case studies, helpful guides, video demonstrations, etc.

• Then provide CTAs (calls-to-action) and turn viewers into leads

• Track the interaction via your web analytics to see the ROI

Functional needs for your website:
• Mobile Friendly/Responsive Design
• Analytics (track data relevant to your site and web content)
• CMS (Content Management System)
• A section to house content, i.e. having a blog and "blog functionality"
• CTAs that work for all types of leads

 

2 - Your Content*

Ever hear people say "Content is King"? Look at the content on your website. Seriously, this is big.

Does your content focus on truly helping customers? Does it show them something they haven't seen before? Or is it just a brochure? 

Your website's content is an opportunity to show customers why they should trust you and demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable. Show people your passion and give them proof of your expertise and industry experience. Make your leads feel like you care about more than just the sale, and, you might find that people seek you out when it’s time to buy.

*Content Types: Content can take many forms, including blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, press releases, infographics, newsletters, white papers, downloads, guides, cheat sheets, ebooks, etc.

Remember, unlike a lot of advertising, your web content is an asset that you control, which can help generate leads indefinitely.

 

3 - Content Promotion

Okay, now you have great content. How will people find you?

• Email Blasts
• PR - Press Releases/Articles/Trade Pubs
• Google Searches (SEO) & PPC, digital ads
• Sales-based activities
• Social Media
• Traditional Advertising
• Trade shows

Note:

- Audience first. Don't lose sight on the fact that "promotion" is just as much about building and connecting with an audience.

- ROI. Many of these methods are very low cost. Email marketing statistically has the greatest ROI of all communication options. But promotion usually takes time and/or money, so it's key to figure out how to balance the two.

- Social Media. Don't jump in without a plan. And keep in mind, consistency is key, so using calendars and staying committed is a must. Even for businesses leery of social media, we suggest looking at LinkedIn or niche industry platforms which often times provide a cost-effective way to promote content directly to quality leads.

- PR. Networking, guest blogging (such as writing an article for a trade publication), creating courses or events, and other opportunities online or face-to-face, can get the word out as well.

- Testing. When it comes to the promotion of your content, remember, "best practices" are only suggestions. Test out different messages and CTAs, as well as different promotional channels – see what works and run with it.

 

CONGRATS!

Your audience has landed on your website to check out your content. What now?

 


5 - Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

What kinds of CTAs?

“Sign up for Email Updates” (this one is big!) – getting an email address from a visitor to your site means you’ve got a lead. This can happen by offering people useful materials in exchange for their contact info.

Read/See More: give viewers more by promoting related content. This is a good option for leads in the top of the funnel. For example, at the end of a blog post, try promoting a related infographic or video.

Connect and engage on Social Media. Look to create a CTA that spells out the benefit to following you on Facebook or Youtube. Or create an incentive to entice visitors to connect.

Enticements for inquiries about your company/products. But not plastered on ever inch of your site. Yes, you want sales calls, but craft and place these CTAs strategically.
 

What's next....

6 - A) Get a Inquiry/Sale!

and/or

B) Assess, Optimize & Bring the Audience Back

 

At this point in the cycle if you received an inquiry you can act on, congrats! Or, more likely, you've got some analytic data and/or a few leads. Assess your next move. For example:


You collected an email address from a potential lead in exchange for offering a PDF download of your E-book.
Great, what was the e-book about? Perhaps this lead already understands your industry and some of the problems you or your product solve.

So, what's next?
Add that contact to the appropriate email marketing list (or in your CRM/marketing software). In the next few days you might send that person a link to some related content or invite them to connect on social media.

Continue to do Analysis
Using your data (web analytics) to understand where leads are within the funnel will help you plot your next move. Timely, targeted follow-ups help build trust and deliver qualified leads.

 

CONCLUSION

What are the important take-aways here?

• A well designed, highly functional website is step 1 for your business

• Customer-Centric Content: information people actually care about is your digital currency. Google, potential/current customers, meaningful influencers in your industry – no one will find you online or care about you or your products and services without giving them something of value.

• Promotion: find what works for you. Ads, Email, LinkedIn, Facebook; doesn't matter, just test and analyze the data. Focus on the promotional channels that work for you and optimize and grow those channels.

• Motivate people to supply you with their email address, to connect elsewhere online, or to contact your directly. As you earn trust, use the right offers (CTAs) to prompt people to willingly engage with you.

• Analytics. Analytics. Analytics. We want people to interact with you on your website, social media spaces, and within email blasts because those are all places we can track data, and thus, prove our effectiveness. Knowing where leads are coming from and what content is working is the name of the game.

• This takes time. Digital marketing isn't going to bail out a struggling sales team this quarter or even the next. Getting serious about digital marketing and your content is more about the next 1-3 years than it is about seeing a quick jump in sales. But not doing anything with your online presence is a sure-fire way to handicap your sales teams and put your company behind the competition. Sure, there are quick-wins out there, but thinking a few one-off tactics will get you to your longterm goals is a mistake. More importantly, it's not sustainable. The internet is here to stay, so get organized, plan for the long-haul, and remember that what you build online is an asset to your company. 

 

Want to continue this conversation?

Todd-sledzik

Call me, Todd Sledzik
Creative Director, Diversa Inc. @ 330-673-6763

Or Email us to set-up a time to talk.
 

Case Study: Creating a brand consistent trade show experience

In 2015, our client Sid Richardson gave us the green light to help plan the company's trade show experience for the rubber industry's most notable trade show, the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland (aka the "Rubber Expo" for those of us that have been attending this for awhile).

> The Premise
The goal was to do something fun at the booth, to bring people by for some conversation, and to make a solid impression with various people tied to the industry. Sound familiar? Maybe that's because this is the goal of every exhibitor at every trade show EVER. Which is why give-a-ways, passing out swag, having contests, using video displays and so many of the typical trade show tactics are used year-in, year-out.

So we had to ask ourselves, what would make Sid Richardson stand out? How could go step further? What to consider? As it turned out, another company had a putting green -- these people like to golf, right? Another company gave away a Harley motorcycle -- wow, now that's lofty and sure to draw major attention (but, let's be honest, it's a move that had us wondering about the true ROI).

> The Strategy
Truth is, so many of these ideas and tactics we see at trade shows lack a relevant tie-in to the companies and brands they are supposedly representing. Not all booth traffic is created equal and even having the best chachkies on the floor only counts for so much.

So we had to do something that spoke to what Sid Richardson is all about. The strategy became clear to us. Our idea had to be based on Sid Richardson's brand-focus of being a straight talking, hand shaking, hard working, American made company from Texas – a company of people that answer the call. This is a major point of distinction (in a global industry with so much focus in Asia) of which Sid is proud to be based in the US with a focus on serving North America. With Sid, there's no corners cut and the company's 100 year history is still part of the brand today. This is where we make our mark.

> The Idea
The solution? Answer the call for lunch (when is food a bad call, right?). But do it the Sid way, with Texas BBQ. Make it free, and serve it with Shiner Bock, a beer with the same Texas roots as Sid. We even took this a step further – staging the booth with authentic long horns, a saddle, and notable western art from the Sid Richardson Museum collection in Fort Worth, TX. Looking across the show room floor, filled with you're typical Rubber Show booth contraptions, we felt Sid stood out just in the way we wanted – with a little western flair, a tip-of-the-hat befitting the brand.

Western Art on lone from the Sid Richardson Museum.

Western Art on lone from the Sid Richardson Museum.

As for the Sid gang, they ditched office wears for blue jeans and a combo black shirt, black cowboy hat. As we we began lunch service, sizable samples of a 14-hour smoked beef brisket and pulled pork sliders, we wrangled patrons into the quickly growing line in front of our "Chuck Wagon" (the section of the booth space we allocated for food service).

Now, Diversa had designed a few invites and some promotional materials for this event (shown below), but in truth most of the people came via word-of-mouth or they just followed their nose you might say. Between 11:30am-2:30pm we served over 500 people (which is roughly 65-70% of all attendees and exhibitors for that day). And with our booth's TV playing Sid's video material as people waited, Sid's VP of Sales and Marketing, Greg King, suggested that, "more people watched our video today than during the entire year."

Sid 2.jpg

> Results

Amidst the continual service, our Sid Rich team worked the crowd, chatting up colleagues, clients, media folk, and even a few competitors. In fact, we'd like to think our little event (within an event) may have helped trigger this piece (shown below, note, the first image being our chow line) written by Rubber & Plastic News (among the industry's largest, most respected publications). The author even noted our "marketing technique" of filling the show floor with the aroma of BBQ. And certainly, we thank our friends at R&PN for taking note and providing some press coverage online and across social media.

We also agree with the article's sentiment, suggesting that tactics such as these need to be measured for ROI. When compared to the cost of a single ad placement, sponsorships, or high-priced give-a-ways, we left the show feeling like our small investment (some catering and minor staging and promotion) out-performed most efforts we noticed this year. And most importantly, with hard-number results still being evaluated, we were proud that our event was true to the Sid Richardson brand. Hopefully, the experience left people with the image of a hands-on, down-to-earth company that's proud of it's history and those it serves.

3 must-haves for any company website in 2016

What should a modern website have and how should it function?

Are you feeling "not so up-to-date" on web design and digital marketing? Are you looking to hire a web developer to build your website but need some updated background on what to look for? Then start here with the "big 3" (things your website should have) for 2016.

In no particular order, make sure you are getting:

1) Responsive Design
2) A Content Management System (CMS)
3) Analytics

Sure, great design, UX (user experience), SEO optimization, video integration, blog functionality, e-commerce and other elements are still critical depending on your needs. But if you're creating a new site or updating a site that hasn't seen any major updates in the last 2-3 years, then focusing on these 3 must-haves should be your starting point.

Here's a closer look at those terms, what they mean, and some questions you might ask your web designer/developer.


> 1 - Responsive Design

Responsive design is a design approach that allows your site to "flex" and shift to fit any screen size. Rather than designing a separate mobile site (a dedicated site design for smart phones), we design one site that flexes and reformats to fit the devise it's being displayed on – PC, tablet, or smart phone.

Why is that important?

GOOGLE says: “...more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including
the US and Japan.” (Google May 2015)

In short, it's likely that 30-40% of your site traffic is coming from a phone or tablet. If your site isn't designed to display properly on all of today's popular devices you're turning customers and leads away.

Furthermore, Google’s algorithms now include a ranking metric that evaluates whether a website is mobile friendly –  effectively penalizing your site within Google rankings for not being "mobile friendly."

Note, how this design from Squarespace "condenses" so that the navigation, images and text are still highly readable and usable.

In the following example, we demonstrate how a more traditional "fixed-width" website (meaning it doesn't allow for a responsive change) displays on a smart phone versus a responsive version of the same site. The first version displays the traditional fixed-width site, or "desktop" view, that functions poorly on a phone. More importantly, no one wants to use a site this way and it makes you look bad. Where as the second version demonstrates how a responsive version of the same site delivers a highly usable mobile experience. Note, the change to the "hamburger" (3 line) navigation and large text size.

What to ask your web developer:

Start by asking: "How will you approach making my site responsive." Your web design team should be able to break a few things down for you, including the differences involved in modifying your existing site vs. going to a new template/theme. Often times, getting your site to function in a responsive manner requires some level of redesign pertaining to your navigation and content (most of which is geared at making your site faster and more fluid in its "responsiveness"). So it's a good time to consider if your site could use a basic design refresh anyway.


> 2 - Content MANAGEMENT System (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) allows non-technical users (meaning you don't code websites) to edit basic web content such as text and images as well as adding things like blog posts, links, and video. If you haven't been offered a content management system by your web developer or marketing agency, you are seriously missing out.

We are labeling this as a "must-have" for 2016, but in truth this has been part of our "must have" list since 2012. That's why all popular website platforms and developers now offer a CMS option. As a marketing company we actually prefer that our clients handle basic website edits themselves so we can focus on more significant strategic and creative elements with regard to digital marketing.

If you have not used a CMS for website edits, know that most systems mimic typical word processor interfaces and tools. If you can handle MS Word and your typical web form, you can run most any CMS. (below are screen shots showing a few popular CMS interfaces.

What to ask your web developer:

There are dozens of viable CMS systems on the market. Some are tied directly to development platforms, some are open-source, some are separate 3rd party products that can be added to any site, and others fall somewhere in between. Ask your developer what options they use and why? At Diversa, we look at your needs and how your site is currently built prior to suggesting one of several options. Point is, there's no "perfect" CMS, so don't go crazy doing your research – just know that a savvy developer will help find the best option for you.


> 3 - Analytics

Heard of Google Analytics? Big Data? (Maybe, not exactly?) Just be aware that web data is driving modern marketing and you don’t need to be a statistician or an IT expert to get solid, useful data from your website.

Simply understanding the basics regarding how much web traffic you receive, where it’s coming from, and what parts of your website are visited most can help you be a better online marketer. In 2016, there's no excuse to not understand the basics of digital and web analytics. And if you care about your company's marketing ROI, you should care about web analytics.

What to ask your web developer:

If your agency or web company isn't providing basic Google Analytics reporting or data via another 3rd party analytics solution, it's time to speak up. If tracking your web stats is more than your team can handle, ask for a quote on an analytics and SEO (search engine optimization) program with monthly reporting. (here's a few samples of reporting data showing traffic volume, bounce rates, and referrals).

> Conclusion

Are you looking for further clarification on our 3 must-haves? Or maybe you have a handle on these and you're looking for a deeper conversation on digital marketing all together? Give us call at 330-673-6763 or request a quote for web services here: