Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Replacing traditional marketing practices with good digital strategy

Good digital marketing practices

#digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy

I have been working in digital for a long time now. I may not have written code for a long period ( although it can feel like forever) but I have worked in IT related disciplines for now almost 20 years which occasionally makes me feel like a grandma and occasionally someone who can now spot what's happening in the industry.

You can read countless articles on how seo used to be so straightforward, the age of purely static web design and so on. I have watched the digital market change and evolve over a period of time and find myself considering that now we have almost come full circle. Back to the business of adopting a good marketing strategy for your business.

The digital world does not have to be complicated and you don't need to be baffled by tech speak. When you are thinking about your business, your only consideration should be 'What was considered good marketing back in the day before computers were mainstream' closely followed with 'So how do I now replicate this online'? The following offers a breakdown of traditional marketing practices and how to replace them to form your own digital strategy.

With 98% of UK adults using search engines*, this article focuses on organic methods of helping search engine performance rather than paid forms of digital marketing. These of course can add real value to any campaign.

1. The questionnaire in the street, the dreaded cold call and other form of market research BECOMES Keyword and peer group analysis

What is keyword analysis?

#keywords #keywordanalysis #keywordaudit
Keywords are the the search terms that people will use to find you. A good digital agency can inform you what phrases people are using to find you, your business or your product online and identify gaps in the market that generate a decent amount of monthly traffic. We can identify specifically how competitive the phrase is and whether we think we could have a fighting shot of competing for the phrase. We can advise on strategy to appear for that phrase. This can help you find your markets. Every time I start a digital job I ask one question to my clients "How do you think your clients will find you?" and we brainstorm ideas on paper. At The Graphic Edge we like to apply a little human logic to the process and we find that it always benefits the client. At the end of the day you know and understand you market a lot more than we do. We work in digital.

What is peer group or competitive analysis?

#peergroupanalysis  #digitalanalysis #competitiveanalysis
Analysis of your competition whether they be a local business competing in the same space or a similar business looking to target the same market as you. This intelligence should inform you what other people are doing online to target their clients and potentially your market. A digital strategy agency could identify for example, strengths and weakness and therefore identify what form of strategy has worked or not and in what timeframe. On the basis of this intelligence we may identify keywords used by your client, spot common SEO errors on their website page and analyse other websites linking to your competitor. This allows us to make well informed decisions about where opportunities lie for targeting your market.

2. Flyers through doors BECOMES good on page SEO

What is on page SEO? #onpageseo #seo #goodwebdesign
This refers to any SEO element incorporated into your website pages themselves. This can include making structural and code based changes to your website, page content and content in the head of the document (although this isn't viewed by a site visitor).
Ensure that you choose a well recommended website design company and that your contact at the agency doesn't throw technical terms at you to the point that you don't understand what you are paying for. Good digital strategy and web design do not need to confuse you. If you don't understand what the agency are saying or how it could benefit you then walk away from them. Good agencies don't do this. Keeping strategies 'white hat' is also important as this refers to working ethically within our profession and in line with sensible search engine practices. Good agencies do not work on the quick fix, we have our eye on the long term.
A crucial part of your website structure is the analysis gleamed from the key phrase and peer group audits. By using the intelligence gained from this, your web team can start to build the foundations of your site pages with a focus so that every site visitor understands the point of that particular page. Breaking website content into recognisable focused parts is key to this.
Your website is no longer a static entity; not static in form OR function. It should be an evolving part of your business. Keeping your website up to date is important. A site visitor will often click away if they see outdated information. A good way to increase your web presence is through a blog or news section forming part of your website. Every new blog or news item should create a new website page and I frequently tell my client that just one article every two weeks can mean that your website increases by 26 pages per year. Major search engine Google, since the big Panda update in May this year are focusing on weeding out thin outdated website content so try to break content into focused manageable chunks and show off your expertise in your industry! Potential customers will love that you are showing your skills as they can learn from your expertise.
Ofcom have written a great piece on adult's media use and with 62%* of adults in the UK now using a smart phone, your website should have responsive elements allowing site visitors to interact with you regardless of device.

3. Direct Mail BECOMES Email Marketing

#emailmarketing #smartinsights #davechaffey #emailmarketingstatistics
 Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights wrote a fantastic article this year giving useful information on email marketing statistical clicks and opens for the UK marketplace. Suffice to say that given that old direct mail responses were 0.05-0.5%, email marketing is a lot more effective. Average open rates for the emails themselves average at over 22% whilst click throughs to the website were over 3%. These figures were up on the year before. Getting visitors to your website is half the battle. Once they are there, your web design company should ensure that all pages are optimised for maximum conversion. Is there a hook that draws people in. Are your landing pages converting?

The great news is that often with old marketing practices, you were literally shooting into the dark with no idea of what aspects worked or could be improved on. That is simply not the case now and with analytics on hand, we can make knowledge based solutions to evolve, tweak and establish your digital presence with a pretty solid idea of how to reach your customer.

4. Advertising BECOMES social media, blogging, link building

#blogging #socialmedia #links #linkbuilding
One of the most common marketing tools to inform our customers about a company service or product was through the use of advertorials, editorials, advertising, media advertising. Having a standard weekly advert in a local newspaper is still the staple for many businesses, but are they missing a trick.
I have already mentioned that this article focused on techniques relating to appearing in organic search results but of course you could talk about the benefits of applying your budget to paid advertising which is much more targeted when used appropriately. Your digital agency could advise you on the most beneficial approach for your business which may be a combination of both.

Social Media
Social media is a great way to interact with your customers or potential site visitors. It is a fantastic way to communicate ideas, your expertise, provide links to white papers or free blog article and to engage your customer. It may be a way for you to have a 'heated discussion' with another business with opposing views or a way to try out online promotions such as competitions or contests to start to form relationships with your customers. Linked in, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the main social media to target and with 66%* of the UK adult population using social media, you could be missing out if you are not involved. Facebook currently is the most popular as 96%* of the adults using social media have a Facebook account.

Blogging is another way to start to communicate to your customers or potential customers. Make a list of commonly asked questions on customer visits or on the phone and try to answer some of those queries online in the form of an article. Dig out the list of keywords that your web company determined could be lucrative for you to pursue and see if you can match any of the subjects together. Is there a way of combining a good keyword with one of the articles you hoped to write. Could you add the keyword to your blog title? Use your website to promote your articles or social media. If your blog is part of your website then you have just added a new page which could convert, if the blog is hosted elsewhere you could help to build valuable 'links' by linking words in your text back to your website.

Link Building
Whenever I chat to my clients about #link's and #link building I always make an analogy. I imagine a set of old fashioned scales. On one side there are links and on the other there is your website. Whenever a link is given to your site from somewhere else online, a weight is popped on the links side of the scale, forcing your website higher up. Links add value to websites and help to hoist them up in search engines. Link building is achieved through good online marketing practices; talking to your customers and asking if they would review your product or service, spreading the word on social media, commenting on blogs from people in related industries, writing and sharing blog posts with the world. Depending on your industry your digital agency can advise on strategy and opportunities that are related to your industry or market sector. Be warned there are many people offering to sell links or help you with get links quickly. Reputations are not made quickly but can be broken in days when you opt for a shortcut. Remember when you equate everything online back to a traditional marketing communications strategy ask yourself if you would have posted 20,000 flyers to someone that had written you a letter saying that they would send them out for you.

5. Customer relationship building BECOMES customer relationship building

#onlinecrm #onlinerelationshipbuilding
Some things don't change. We all need to communicate with our customers. Interactions whether they are online or offline really matter to you and your customer as well as your reputation and your business. Respond quickly, find solutions to common issues, reward loyal customers and make sure that following trade, consumer or networking events you follow up quickly. There are more channels open these days for communication and the more effort that you put in, the more you will see an impact on results. Your businesses market may be global or local but people don't change. When you genuinely care, it shines through.

Moving with the times can be daunting but it is a challenge worth facing. I frequently tell my clients that it's not about one thing whether SEO or websites or keywords or social media. Its about the bigger picture and the best route to market for my clients from a digitally strategy perspective. Good solid digital marketing practices provide long term solutions with enhancement, fulfilment and expansion at their core.

Clair Marr
Digital Enthusiast
The Graphic Edge
Digital Strategy, Web Design, SEO and Development Services.
Brooklyn The Street Teffont Evias Wiltshire SP3 5RG
Tel: 01722 717860
Email: info@thegraphicedge.co.uk

*Source is Ofcom- Adult media use and attitudes 2014.