Welcome to the world of digital marketing!

FeaturedWelcome to the world of digital marketing!

The digital world can be overwhelming. What message should you send? How should you send it? How does a company wade online and make a splash — and lots of cash?

Digital marketing is, at core, no different than traditional marketing. Marketing is a means for a business to keep in constant contact with customers (and potential customers), so that the business can profit by reading customers’ needs, developing products and services to meet these needs, and building a strategic program of communication to express the business’ purpose.

But what makes digital marketing different – in fact, what makes it unprecedented – is that the digital medium allows for marketing’s effects to be measured, from the time a person spends on a page to where costumers are coming from, and where they are going to.

Once upon a time, a business would advertise in a newspaper or on television or radio and hope their message would be heard. With digital marketing, a business can not only place an ad (or advertorial content) directly in front of a customer, that business can build different ads for different customers depending on the social networks they use.

With digital marketing, advertising has never had more power to influence.

But digital marketing also puts power in the hands of customers. Customers gave give instant and public feedback on products and services thanks to social media. You know the adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? Digitally savvy customers can not only give feedback, they can help create new products and services, and enhance brands via crowdsourcing and microtasking.

How should a business wield – and yield to – these digital powers? Many attempt to harness the power of digital in an intuitive way. But just as a naturally talented writer or athlete thrives input from coaches, mentors and education to improve their skills, so should anyone seeking to marketing digitally.

This blog will help you learn how to digitally market with expertise and a with a plan. By reading this blog, you’ll learn:

  • how to blog
  • how to take advantage of search engines and their optimization
  • how to utilize paid search terms and Google AdWords
  • how to effectively design content and interfaces for the Web
  • how to understand web analytics and measure Return on Investment
  • how to successfully market on social media
  • how to manage your online reputation and your customer relationships

All of these skills will help you create a community for your business’ product, values and brand. By creating this community, you’ll create a talented, faithful group of consumers who will help spread your business’ word in a positive way – and help you make money.

If you want to become a pro digital marketer, you’ve come to the write place. What do you want to learn about? Tell me in the comments!

Let’s dive in together!

Andrea

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Analytics: The hunt for effective digital marketing

Analytics: The hunt for effective digital marketing

Sniffing out how visitors use your website can yield remarkably rich results, provided you know how to analyze their digital footprints. With thorough analysis that focuses on longer-term trends and patterns, digital marketers can prove campaigns are working – and over time, improve ones that aren’t.

Your website and digital marketing campaign should be aligned with the strategic desires of your business (Stokes, 2013). If you’re a travel agency, for example, your marketing objective could be to have clients book online, or to provide information so you can entice them with great package deals via email. But how do you ensure visitors make this conversion to action?

Analytics is “the science of analysis using data to understand historical patterns with an eye to improving performance and predicting the future (Digital Analytics Association, 2017).” Unlike scientists, digital marketers don’t have to create their own data through experiments. Thanks to the Internet’s inherent traceability, the data is already there.

By measuring information, also known as metrics, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can be created to determine if these objectives are being met (Stokes, 2013). In non-virtual media, action data was scarce, but online, information is everywhere; at times, it can be overwhelming. KPI helps sift through this data glut for what’s important. As in the travel agency example above, a KPI indicator could be the number of site visitors who choose to sign up for newsletters.

It then becomes a matter of massaging the campaign to its maximum potential with data-driven decisions.

Just as a scientist would draw conclusions from statistics, so should a digital marketer. There are two ways to track and collect data. Both have their benefits and drawbacks:

  • Cookies: are most common. They are a piece of code attached to each page of a site, which sends information to a third-party server (such as Google Analytics), that requires a log in. Problematically, cookies can be blocked and mobile devices – whose use is ever-increasing – don’t’ use them.
  • Server-based tracking: review log files created by the servers which store websites. They are easy to access, provided you have access to the server. They record every click, including failed page requests, but cannot record events like Java interactions and filled forms.

No matter which tracking method you choose, both can capture a variety of useful information. Basic site traffic counts can be segmented into returning and new users, for example, to see how specific groups interact with your site. Views of a specific page can be counted, and a user’s “click path” – i.e. the journey they take through your site – can be tracked and timed (Stokes, 2013). Referring websites can be tracked, as well as the clickthrough rate, which is the number of times a link is clicked on by a visitor.

But analytics go beyond simple tallies. By determining referring URLs and search terms, you can learn how users find your site. You can also discover what kind of device users are viewing your site on. Internal search queries can also suggest how well your site is delivering content.

Deeply mining analytics can reveal surprising results that affect your KPI – and your business’ bottom line. If users with a slower connection speed spend less time on your site, it may be because your site takes too long to load, for example. If users begin to fill out a form (known as an “event”) but then stop, a conversion funnel can help determine why (Stokes, 2013).

Analyzing user behavior shows the intent behind their visits to your site; analyzing the outcome – if events and conversions are made – shows if your site is meeting its objective and goals.

By looking at user experience, you can determine how to influence visitors to make conversions.

Despite all the potential data – and data’s potential – analytics are fundamentally quite simple. Users should be tracked and analyzed to determine whether their online habits line up with your business’ goals and objectives. If they don’t, the nature of the digital world allows for perpetual content optimization and the testing to ensure they do.

With these three actions in mind – Track, Analyze, and Optimize – your campaign will surely have your customers squarely within your desired crosshairs.

Questions? Shoot them to me in the comments!

Digital Analytics Association (2017). What is Digital Analytics? Retrieved from http://www.digitalanalyticsassociation.org/

Stokes, Rob (2013). eMarketing: the essential guide to marketing in a digital world, fifth edition. Retrieved from https://www.redandyellow.co.za/courses/textbook-digital/

SEO, SES and SEM: revving the search engine

SEO, SES and SEM: revving the search engine

According to Stokes in eMarketing, 59 per cent of all Americans use a search engines daily; that’s a potentially huge market for your business. How do you steer these people toward your business?

Search engines grease the wheels of discovery. The algorithms that power search engines want validation that your website has trustworthy content so your site can be confidently recommended. If you can prove that your site is authoritative, your site will rank higher in searches – and in customers’ minds.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can provide this proof. As per the Zen Marketing Group, SEO is you telling search engines who you are via efficient site construction, keywords and content, and other sites confirming this quality by linking their sites to yours.

It’s important that your site is compatible with the words searchers use to find you.

Key search terms should be deliberately yet logically sprinkled through every page of your site and in your title, header, body text, URL, meta page description, and link anchor text. These keywords can also be used in file names and captions of videos and images on your site.

Determine these keywords by reviewing your site’s referral logs for the words which historically draw visitors to your page, as well as being specific, such as including a location or product. Don’t forget to consider human nature when determining your keywords. What alternate terms can be used to describe your business? How are these words misspelled? How many sites are targeting these same terms? How many are in direct competition with you?

As you regularly maintain your end of the bargain via quality content and design and keywords, other sites will organically want to link to you.

There are a number of search engine strategies (SES) you can employ to increase your visibility and links.

You want quality links: create tools and documents that people want to download, games people want to play, and widgets that will make people’s lives easier. Social media can also help your brand name dominate the search results – and don’t forget to develop a mobile version of your site; a site with “mobile” in the URL helps populate search results.

But – what if you could be the first search result almost every time you’re sought out, and only pay when people visit your site?

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be an amazing way of drawing searchers to your site; after all, 73 per cent of American web users employ a search engine, according to eMarketing. Google AdWords is the gold standard for SEM; in fact, in generates 95 per cent of Google’s revenues.

SEM is affordable, and can be an excellent source of keywords and improve your SEO by creating an immediate web presence.

Search ads appear at the top of search results and are marked as ads; they contain a keyword-optimized heading, a few lines of copy, a URL, and an ad extension, which can flesh out the ad by including your business’ location, a call button, seller ratings, images and more. The best ads employ a “call to action”, inviting searchers to take a specific action via the click.

AdWords offers myriad options for directing and placing ads, but first, an advertiser must bid for placement, or for how much they are willing to pay per click. The advertiser must also create the copy, establish the landing page the click will lead to, and set a budget.

AdWords provides a comprehensive video tutorial, and it’s important to know key terms before beginning. An impression is each time someone sees an ad, and is free. When an ad is clicked on, there is a charge; the advertiser determines the maximum amount of this charge. Click-through rate is the ratio of how many clicks versus impressions; anything greater than 1 per cent is considered good.

If you have a high Quality Score – meaning that your site content, copy, landing page and click-through   rate are all relevant – your bid price per ad will be discounted. Search engines, after all, want quality advertising to make them money, too.

What you’re hoping to achieve is conversion; how many clicks turn into customers. SEM  allows you to track all of this to ensure you’re receiving return on investment and making money.

Ready to start your advertising engines and drive business to your site? Let me know in the comments!

Andrea