Author: Mike Tomita
What kind of digital marketing are you doing? What works? As the Director of Online Marketing at Marketo, I get these asked these two questions all the time.
The problem is that these seemingly straightforward questions require complex and nuanced answers. Mainly because I know the person asking will try and apply the answers to their own digital efforts.
To start, what works for one business or audience might not work for another. Not to mention, what works today might not work tomorrow. However, there are a few foundational elements that you can implement that will allow you to determine what will work best for your business and pave the way for success in the future.
I’m going to highlight three areas of digital marketing where you can set a solid foundation for success with almost unlimited potential for optimization. Let’s get digital!
1. Your Website
Your website is the most important element of your digital strategy. It’s your global headquarters in the digital world, and for many prospects, the first destination in their journey to becoming a customer.
No matter what your digital strategy is, you need to ensure that your website meets a few basic standards:
- Immediately explain what your organization does. Don’t assume that your website visitors are familiar with your company. You will have qualified visitors who land on your site with no idea about what you have to offer.
- Optimize for search engines. Make sure your website is coded in a way that will allow search engines to access, understand, and rank the content on your pages. Even if you are not investing in continual optimization, you should at least implement the basics so, at the very least, your website will show up for searches on your brand name.
- Optimize for mobile devices. The digital world is increasingly becoming a mobile world, and it’s no longer an option to have a website that is not formatted for mobile devices. And now that Google is splitting its search index into a desktop and mobile version, it’s also critical to provide a good mobile experience.
Once you address these fundamental areas of your website, you will be in a good position to start investing in advertising to drive traffic to it. This brings us to the question of which channels to invest in.
2. Paid Search
To pay or not to pay? This is a tough question for organizations with a tight marketing budget, especially if they are competing against bigger, well-established competitors with larger budgets. On the other hand, I’ve also seen marketing teams with plenty of budget put it toward traditional channels like events and print over paid search due to past performance or mistrust of the unknown. In either case, paid search is a channel that should be invested in and tested thoroughly.
Here are some ways to start small and test toward increased investment:
- Bid on your competitor’s brand name. You will pay more than your competitor, but you will also gain exposure to an audience who is familiar with your competitors but not you. This tactic is surprisingly effective for companies of all sizes.
- Bid on broad match keywords. Bidding on a broad match of your core terms will not only give you an idea of your competition and their budget, but it will also provide insight into the language and terms your prospective customers are using and those that they aren’t. This will help you prioritize the best terms to focus on for optimization.
- Invest in remarketing. An inexpensive way to leverage paid search is to serve ads only to people who have already visited your website. These days, you can serve both display and search ads to remarketing audiences. They have already expressed some interest in your brand, so why not try and bring them back?
Paid search doesn’t have to break the bank, but if you’re not at least testing it, you’re missing out on a channel where people are actively researching products or services that you offer. Speaking of research, social media is another information-rich resource your buyers turn to.
3. Social Media
While social media is most commonly known for its organic reach, it is a rapidly expanding channel for digital advertising. More and more of your prospects are turning to social media for the research, recommendations, and reviews that will influence their purchases. With the amount of audience data available, ad targeting on social media is incredibly effective and, for now, relatively inexpensive.
Before you jump into social media marketing, here are a couple of things to consider:
- Have you already created social media profiles for your brand?
- Yes: Make sure you’re actively posting, listening, and responding to questions and comments. Social media is about all about conversations and two-way communication.
- No: Understand the social channels your audience participates in and allocate resources to monitor and respond to posts in a timely manner. You don’t want to invite conversation and then disappear.
- Once you have a profile, invest in ads. Organic (unpaid) reach is very limited on social media due to changes in algorithms that give users a better experience—one with less promotional content. The most effective way to reach your audience is through paid advertising. Social networks are continually improving their advertising targeting and placement, making it a very effective channel for digital marketing. If you’re not investing here now, you will be in the near future.
While some organization are pushing the limits of digital advertising, there are many that are just getting into the game. Wherever your organization is on the maturity curve, the challenge is still the same: test, optimize, and expand what you are already doing.
Digital marketing is ever-evolving, and there are many other channels and mediums to consider as well as how to structure your team, gain executive buy-in, and prove ROI. If you want to hear how digital marketing has evolved at Marketo, from start-up to IPO and beyond, join me at The Marketing Nation Summit for my session, “Let’s Get Digital.”