These past few weeks, I’ve really enjoyed studying Mark Shaefer’s book, Social Media Explained, but as we know, all good things must come to an end…
…Thankfully, I’ve got one good thing to follow another!
For my second independent study text, I’ve spent the last couple of days reading Chapters 1-6 of WSI‘s, a digital marketing company’s, book called Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. The layout of the piece is fascinating, as it’s a collection of 12 different mini-articles or essay contributions by consultants or “members of the corporate team” at WSI “who has specific expertise on their topic” (WSI 39).
Chapters 1-6, for example, covered a basic overview of WSI’s Digital Marketing strategy and their concept of the sales funnel and then delved into more specific sections such as the strategy’s steps, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, and landing page do’s-and-dont’s.
Each writer’s voice really made itself clear with each essay, and the pieces weren’t chock-full of confusing information; the information provided was succinct and helpful.
With that–off we go!
CHAPTER 1: DIGITAL LANDSCAPE BY HUSAM JANDAL
This opening article was a wonderful starting point on how WSI views the digital marketing world. Jandal used a metaphor of a royal court to describe the various aspects of digital marketing in order of importance and potential for growth.
Therefore, I hereby present their Royal Highnesses: King Content, Queen Digital Advertising, Prince Mobile, and Princess Social.
Jandal acknowledges that “content is king” is a cliché in this day and age (48), but it’s a cliché because it’s true! Jandal defines “content” as anything that is “destined to bring value to the audience consuming it,” but he cautions the reader by pointing out that a lot of content on the Internet is mediocre.
The key, then, is for businesses to develop a “content marketing strategy.” A graph provided in the section shows that nearly 60% of in-house marketers and agencies or consultants are developing or already have a content marketing strategy in place. This means that talented writers, graphic artists, etc. are putting together helpful and industry-relevant articles, info graphics, videos, and other such material every week to keep their consumers and customers–potential or loyal–updated (62).
QUEEN DIGITAL ADVERTISING:
Long story short: old fashioned advertising in print and billboards just isn’t cutting it, anymore. Businesses need to keep an eye on how to develop and use good digital advertising techniques in conjunction with more traditional techniques.
Jandal starts the section on the “children of the Digital Royal Family” by cautioning the reader that they are “young, wild at heart, and slightly unpredictable, but their potential is limitless” (62-3).
A provided graph shows that by 2016, in North America alone, there will be over 208 million smartphone users. This means there will be a dramatic shift to mobile layouts and web use.
Social media is something that some businesses choose not to use, because “they don’t understand it” (77). This hesitance is the business’s downfall, however, because as Schaefer demonstrated in his book that I just read & analyzed over these past few weeks, social media is a powerful tool that will only continue to dominate the market as years pass.
Businesses need to study social media, hire outside help if needed, and then figure out a plan that will bring positive results to the company.
After taking a look at the Digital Royal Family, Jandal takes apart what WSI calls the “Digital Marketing Framework.”
To begin, businesses must discover. This means that a business must identify goals and objectives, select strategies and tactics, explore new opportunities, and set metrics and targets.
– Lead generation: find customers through display advertising, PPC, or SEO
– Promote brand awareness through content marketing and display advertising
– Customer retention: interact and always keep an open line of communication–also, consider the importance of good content and social media and e-mail marketing.
After setting objectives, phase two is researching how to “best implement a digital marketing strategy.” To do this, Jandal suggests that a business must perform “market segmentation” in order to target certain market sections. Otherwise, the whole digital marketing process could become too daunting, because the Internet really does seem like an ever-growing swirl of information and chaos.
Next, businesses must develop persona. This was an interesting concept for me as a reader. I’ve of course heard of analyzing demographics and studying and developing the ideal customer/consumer for a market, but WSI encourages literally coming up with profiles of buyers–interests, demographics, locations, ages, gender, habits, behavior–to create “more personal campaigns.” This will result in “higher conversion rate” (conversion rate is defined as a person following through to a website and becoming a paying customer after seeing a digital ad/digital content).
Also, Jandal encourages marketers to analyze competition, which is always a good idea in any business. See what others are doing, scope out the field, and learn from other companies.
The building section of the digital framework consists of the technicalities. Businesses must decide how much time, effort, and resources will go into these campaigns: money-wise, time wise, etc. Should a business utilize in-house talent or hire a consultant? Then, the business will set up or modify digital profiles and campaigns.
Implementation is the scheduling and activating of all digital campaigns. Make sure to have a “cohesive and well-organized launch strategy!”
Next, businesses must measure. Establish target goals, and then evaluate results after campaigns have been running for the designated amount of time. Then, trim or add appropriately. You don’t want to waste resources on campaigns or methods that aren’t delivering!
Managing results is the last section, and this involves the aforementioned measuring and altering. Jandal encourages marketers to become skilled at this section in order to make “rapid” adjustments and “improvements” as campaigns are running–not necessarily when they’re complete (92-165).
CHAPTER 2: CONTENT MARKETING IS KING BY FRANCOIS MUSCAT
Muscat breaks down the seemingly daunting task of creating content into easy-to-manage segments in his chapter. Content marketing not only “makes financial sense” because you’re taking advantage of in-house, in-the-know talent and not having to buy or use a lot of ad space but also increases “web traffic” and boosts “sales lead quality,” quantity, and provides more access to customer feedback (241-255).
Understand customers’ challenges: identify and understand a particular group of “prospects.”
Solve problems: create content that SOLVES–not SELLS!
Become a trusted source: create meaningful content that solves problems to gain followers’ trust
Fresh content: keep that content updated! Schedule posts and keep up-to-date with industry changes and news. Try to create “fresh” content.
Make it easy to buy: make buying information (i.e. e-mail, phone number, shipping policy) easy to find
Distribute content online: use social media! This is a great way to measure the amount of times material has been shared or viewed.
Make content personal by creating search personas!
Digital marketing allows for great customer interaction that wasn’t available with traditional marketing forms. Address clients “personally and casually.” Explore this open communication and start to better define your customer base.
Understand the MARKETING FUNNEL:
- Potential buyers ask a question and look for an answer.
– Potential buyers research; in this day and age, people are going to the Internet more than anywhere else for information.
– What information (i.e. product/industry reports, how-to blog posts, helpful feedback) comes up via search engines or social media about your company or product is what potential buyers see and learn from–make a good first impression!
Write articles. Create events and webinars. Use and stay active on social media. Write up blog posts, maintain blogs, and create helpful, eye-catching images. Then, schedule all of this content on an organized calendar (240-368).
CHAPTER 3: PPC: GET LEADS FAST BY BENJAMIN SMITH
This was a particularly interesting chapter, because if I’m honest, I didn’t have a positive opinion on PPC ads. I always saw them as click-bait nuisances that were less reputable than the results that popped up on Google first page. Worse, I sometimes thought that the ones that were poorly-worded with horrible grammar would give my computer a virus, so I avoided them completely!
Thankfully, Smith’s chapter helped to open my eyes to the real process behind PPC ads and their potential.
This chapter is rich and filled with specific terminology that will require more than one read and probably some further research into technical marketing, so for this week’s overview, I will simply list what Smith calls the “nuts and bolts of PPC:”
– Knowledge is power: learn PPC strategies and system administration. There are seminars and courses you can take from companies such as Google (Google’s PPC program is called AdWords) to educate yourself or other management
– Do keyword research, do keyword research, do keyword research. Repetition is Smith’s stylistic choice, not mine, so definitely heed the expert’s advice! Explore what sort of keywords or search terms your customer personas are using.
– Consider using an ad platform that semi-automates multiple publisher bid and ad management. This way, algorithms can figure out which keywords are receiving the most hits on ads versus ones that are getting less traffic and can adjust your price bidding accordingly. This frees you and the marketing team to focus on other subjects.
– Learn PPC ad best practices: like I said above, don’t have Every Single Word In An Ad Capitalized. Seriously, why?
– Create multiple ads for keywords and do periodic A/B testing to determine ad effectiveness.
– Learn how to use PPC analytics to continue improvement.
– Learn how to create effective landing pages with content, color, etc. Also, A/B test landing pages, too. They should be super relevant and specific to the keyword! (555-563)
On that note, we head off to…
CHAPTER 4: LANDING PAGE OPTIMIZATION: IT’S ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY NOT TECHNOLOGY BY CHUCK BANKOFF
The biggest point that Bankoff makes in his chapter is that PEOPLE DO NOT READ ON THE INTERNET.
Therefore, on landing pages–which are the sites that people arrive at after clicking on a link or ad–get your point across as succinctly and eye-catchingly as possible.
There are three types of landing pages:
Standalone & microsites: typical pages for specific promotions or products (movie release, new car model, etc.)
On-site: homepage or service product pages. These are existing pages on website with info on a specific product AS WELL AS the option to explore other content; this opportunity is potentially distracting. Also, the website overall can act as a sort of index for a company and its products/services.
Teaser: give viewer just enough info to get them interested in further investigation
Squeeze: capture contact info of visitor to use as future lead in exchange for a special coupon, exclusive download, etc.
Infomercial: engaging and chock-full of why-you-should-buy information to “the point of no return” (603).
Viral: get the potential consumer to tell their friends/share!
Keys to success: define success, goals, and ideal customer, select domain names and amount of page(s), wireframe/layout web page or site before actual coding, copywrite good material, test & tweak
DO NOT DO THESE THINGS: too much text, error pages, broken links, required fields (“less you ask for, more you’ll get”), reset buttons, lack of privacy statements, lack of numerous communication choices (i.e. online chat, phone number, e-mail), lack of pricing and shipping info, too many links
Basically, don’t OVERWHELM the viewer with too much information or TOO MANY options. Sometimes, too much choice is not good!
Keep it simple, succinct, and helpful, and don’t take a lot of the user’s time. You have about 2-8 seconds of a web user’s attention before they move on, so make those seconds count (572-764)!
CHAPTER 5: DISPLAY ADVERTISING: WHAT YOU’RE MISSING BY DARRYL CHENOWETH
Basically, display advertising is a “cost effective” way to personalize ads and marketing campaigns on the Internet (801). When potential customers are browsing the Web for research, answers, and recommendations, let your ads be seen and stored away in the user’s memory!
Chenoweth advocates for geo-targeting, site specific targeting, and behavioral targeting.
Geo-targeting is exactly what it sounds: targeting based on a geographic area. For example, if I work at a local company, I’m only going to want to advertise to customers in the target city or nearby counties. Reaching someone on the opposite side of the country will do me no good.
Site specific targeting involves placing ads on “highly recognized sites.” This is helpful if you have a niche audience in mind and know a site has good traffic.
Behavioral targeting involves looking at consumers’ Internet behavior via cookies and search terms and then placing ads appropriately. Often, related or similar industries will advertise on others’ sites (i.e. home improvement business advertising on DIY blog).
Demographic targeting involves gender and age. A female over 50 will be more interested in certain ads than males ages 18-34.
Chenoweth encourages businesses to not be afraid to re-market or re-target ads.
As web users “surf other sites supported by specific chosen advertising partners,” a company’s “display ad is carefully and repeatedly shown” (831). This then allows for continued brand awareness.
Consider design and content (not too much text, for example) when developing these ads, and keep in mind the importance of impressions on audience and good calls to action!
Chenoweth ends his chapter by stating that “targeted display advertising costs less money and delivers better results” regarding conversion rates (892), and that sure sounds good to me!
CHAPTER 6: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION: IT’S NOT DEAD BY ANDRE SAVOIE
I was surprised by the title of this chapter, because in a lot of my marketing and social media classes and internship experience, SEO is one of the main subjects we discuss! I certainly don’t think it’s “dead.”
And, essentially, Savoie agrees.
He cautions the reader that “SEO is not the complete answer” and must be supplemented by PPC strategy (903), but SEO is still important to research and use.
The most fascinating facet of this chapter was the discussion of Google’s “Penguin” and “Panda” techniques that completely changed the SEO game and cost some businesses a lot of money and web traffic.
SEO is based off of keywords that are embedded into website coding. Originally, when SEO first became well-known, the idea was to cram as many keywords as possible into the code, but Google quickly caught onto this trend.
The company established regulations. Essentially, Google’s Panda and Penguin policies defined what was considered “good quality” work and promised to deliver users the “best” websites. The result? A lot of websites lost their rankings, and a lot of companies suffered.
Now, in order to rank high on Google search results (aside from paying big money to Google itself, of course), a company needs to generate substantial, more-than-300 word web page content. Basically, “thorough” is better for Google (946).
Also, Google established rules on what sorts of links were quality and allowed to be posted on high-ranking sites.
Savoie argues that this is subjective; opinions on good-and-bad web and link material differ, so this is a tricky requirement for companies to meet.
With this history in mind, Savoie gives the following suggestions for websites to be SEO and Google friendly:
DON’T just write material for search engines/to rank high on search engines or to update content like a marketing robot. Define what is VALUABLE content for your business and create from there.
EVALUATE existing content. Does it need to be trashed or improved?
CHECK website structure. Are tags, archives, and categories helpful or hurting your site?
MINIMIZE internal linking.
Provide CLEAR contact information.
Implement PROPER layout with metadata and headings.
MOBILE-FRIENDLY designs are a must!
CLAIM profiles around the Web (ex. Twitter and Facebook) and link resulting content appropriately.
REACH OUT to other companies and see if you can cross-combine and create helpful content that is mutually beneficial (946-1036).
WSI. Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Victoria, BC, Canada: FriesenPress, 2013. eBook.
Whew…quite a write-up! Next week, I’ll be covering less chapters, only chapters 7-9, so there won’t be so much text! Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!