45 Ways to Improve Your Digital Strategy in 2013, Part Three

content marketing, content strategy, facebook, social media, social media analytics, Social Media Marketing

January 8, 2013 by

The Online Marketing Institute's Annual List of Top Digital Strategists Share Their Best Advice for Driving ROI in the New Year.

Welcome to part-three of the top digital educators series. This part is focused on digital marketing as a whole, including content creation, email, Facebook and affiliate marketing. If you missed part one and two, read about what top OMI strategists had to say about the future of social media, and part-two focused on best practices for B2B marketers in 2013.

To help marketers discover new opportunities for driving ROI, the Online Marketing Institute identified the top 40 digital strategists, and asked them for their best advice for 2013. These are the digital leaders that are:

  1. Embracing the latest integrated digital strategies and technologies
  2. Advancing the industry through education — speaking, blogging, and teaching
  3. Driving game-changing results for their clients and organization


26. Grow Your Skills by Taking on New Projects

"Never limit your work to your job description or to the list of tasks you've specified you'll perform. Great marketers win because they don't let 'that's not part of my job' stop them from achieving great results."

– Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

Rand Fishkin is the CEO of SEO software company; SEOmoz. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O'Reilly Media, co-founded Inbound.org, and was named on PSBJ's 40 Under 40 List and BusinessWeek's 30 Best Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand is an addict of all things content & social on the web, from his blog on entrepreneurship to TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn. In his minuscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, Geraldine, whose serendipitous travel blog chronicles their journeys.

27. Evolve Your Facebook Strategy and Test Promoted Posts

"The introduction of Timeline earlier this year and recent changes to its Edgerank algorithm have changed the game on how brands interact with their target audience on Facebook. Contests and promotions remain the #1 tool to build and engage your fan base. However, gone are default landing tabs on brand pages so now, more than ever, marketers need to be wary of the "Field of Dreams" fallacy that if you build it they will come.

To see results from your promotional campaign you must reach out to consumers through all available social channels, email, and if you want to reach them on Facebook you should consider promoted posts. Once you've built initial momentum then the benefits of social sharing can take hold and your customers will become your brand advocates."

- Ben Pickering, Strutta

Ben Pickering is the CEO of Strutta, a leading social marketing platform and Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer. Prior to Strutta, Ben worked at Yahoo! where he held a variety of strategic roles within the company’s display advertising business. He started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, providing transaction support to the firm's global high tech client base on their M&A activity. Ben holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and an M.B.A., both from Stanford University.

As a writer Ben has appeared on Mashable and Huffington Post Tech, and is a featured contributor to Social Media Examiner. He has spoken on the topic of social media promotions and marketing at events such as the AllFacebook Marketing Conference, Likeable Media’s #Likeable U Summit and as an instructor for the Online Marketing Institute.

28. Monitor the Right Facebook Metrics

"When looking at the performance of your Facebook Page, you should not rely on metrics such as the number of fans or the number of 'people talking about this.'  These metrics are pretty much irrelevant when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing impact.

Content being the king, especially on Facebook, you should focus on your post level metrics and performance. In order to have a precise idea of your Facebook content's performance, it is important that you closely monitor post level metrics such as the average number of fans reached by each piece of content, the average percentage of reached fans who have engaged with that content as well as the level of negative feedback that you're getting. That latest metric is even more important since Edgerank is now giving it more weight."

- Emeric Ernoult, AgoraPulse

Emeric Ernoult is the co-founder of AgoraPulse, a Paris and San Francisco based Facebook Marketing Technology launched in 2011. AgoraPulse is currently being used by more than 8,000 Facebook Pages across 37 countries and is expanding internationally through strategic local partners. He is one of the European pioneers in the field of social media marketing. The first company he co-founded in 2000 was a technology allowing brands to create their own white label social network, this was four years before Ning or Facebook. Emeric has advised French and international brands such as Virgin Megastores, FIA and Microsoft. He is a regular speaker at European conferences such as iStrategy, Digital Paris and eMarketing. He shares best practices for successful Facebook Marketing in his class, Facebook's Best Kept Marketing Secret.

29. Test Out the Multiple Advertising Options Facebook Offers

"The mounting pressure on Facebook to monetize its vast audience is a win for marketers. Whether you’re looking to build your brand or drive direct response results, there’s a Facebook ad strategy that can deliver results. It may take some time to find the right combination, so keep testing and tweaking."

- Aaron Goldman, Kenshoo

Aaron Goldman is Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Freestyle Rap at Kenshoo, a digital marketing software company that engineers global technology solutions for search marketing, social media and online advertising. He thinks Kenshoo’s product suite is pretty sweet but prefers to let Kenshoo clients do the talking at Kenshoo.com/Testimonials.

Goldman has been running the digital marketing rap game for more than 12 years and is the author of Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google (McGraw-Hill 2010).

Aaron reveals proven best practices for your search and social strategy in the class, Successful Execution of Search & Social.

30. Techniques That Worked One Place, May Not Work for You

"I often speak with marketers who are frantically chasing the hot new channel of the week armed with nothing more than a couple of ideas from a case study.

The implementation plan sounds something like 'My boss said we need to be on Twitter and I saw guru X present a case study that said we should tweet three times per week and use a short landing page with a red button.' Without truly understanding why the red button worked, the marketer blindly applies the techniques. I call this 'copy and paste' approach the Case Study Crap Shoot.

If you want to dramatically increase your chances of launching successful campaigns or conversion tests, taking the time to truly understand the principles driving the results in the case study and translating them into a strategy appropriate for your situation is mandatory. Consistently producing bottom line results in a complex online ecosystem requires research and sound hypotheses (yes, plural. You’ll be testing a lot.). Asking yourself simple questions like 'Why did that technique work?' and 'In what ways is my situation similar or different?' go a long way to increasing your chances of success."

- Matt Dombrow, Clixio

Upon entering the Internet marketing industry in 2004, Matt Dombrow quickly realized that everyone was chasing traffic but only a handful of people were working to convert all of those top search rankings into customers. Matt’s passion and focus has always been on increasing his clients' website conversion rates and driving bottom line results.  Founding partner and head of business development at Clixo, a Denver based, boutique agency that specializes in paid online advertising combined with conversation rate optimization, Matt’s eclectic work history and holistic approach to Internet marketing routinely produce conversion gains of 30% - 250%.

31. Use Audience Delivery Validation to Understand Effectiveness

"An impression can’t make an impact if it’s not seen. Validate delivery and maximize the effectiveness of your digital campaigns by understanding how visible your campaign is and who it reaches."

- Jason Patterson, comScore

Jason Patterson joined comScore to help advertisers get the most out of their digital media investment using comScore’s end-to-end suite of digital measurement solutions. For 12 years, Jason has produced research solutions and analytics yielding actionable insights into media usage and consumer trends for a variety of the world’s largest advertisers.

Jason shares more advice on increasing the effectiveness of your messages in the class, Validating Campaign Delivery: How to Thrive In Our Evolving Digital Economy.

32. Don't Underestimate the Power of Podcasting

"Take a second look at podcasting. Yes, you heard me right. Now that nearly every person in the world has a smart phone with them at all times, this on-demand talk medium is poised to simply explode. Smart marketers are closely examining the power of broadcasting regular messages directly into the ears of prospective customers."

- Micheal Stelzner, Social Media Examiner

Founder & CEO: Michael Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind large events, such as Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Success Summit. He is also host of the Social Media Marketing podcast show.

Michael dives deeper into content marketing in his OMI class, How to leverage business blogging for more traffic, leads and sales.

33. Use Your Blog to Generate Sales Leads

"Turn your blog pages into social media landing pages by advertising your products around your own content. Put calls to action in your posts and always ask for something at the end of a blog post. Make it easy to share and ask your readers to do so."

- Brian Massey, Conversion Sciences

Brian Massey is the founder of Conversion Sciences and author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist™. He’s helped dozens of businesses transform their sites through a steady diet of visitor profiling, purposeful content, analytics and testing. Brian’s workshops have been characterized as “memorable” and can be attended virtually at OMI.

Brian shares proven advice for blogging success in his class, The Blog Volcano.


 34. Create Content Relative to the Stage in the Buying Cycle

“Content marketing isn’t just about adding more content; it’s about creating meaningful experiences for a targeted audience that inspires business outcomes. Smart marketers can do that by focusing on the information needs of their customers throughout the buying cycle and creating an optimized and socialized content marketing plan. Content and user experience focused optimization efforts will enable brands to attract, engage and convert more business while growing community and engagement."

- Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee Odden is the author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. He is also the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and online PR agency that specializes in a 360 degree approach to growing new business and community engagement online.

Lee has over 15 years experience consulting, and is an active international speaker and publishes one of the most popular marketing blogs on the web.

35. Content Strategy is More Important Than Tools (Although, They Help)

"By now we all know that chasing the hot new marketing tactic is a fools errand, if for no other reason than it would be a full time job to keep up with them. Determine what you want to say before you decide where you are going to say it. Implement a content development process that blends helping with selling and allows you to understand where your leads are in their buying journey. That will set the foundation for everything else (including how you use the new shiny objects that pop-up)."

- Kim Albee, Genoo

Kim Albee is the founder and President of Genoo, a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering of Marketing Automation and Integrated Online Marketing Tools. With over 23 years of software experience including 15 years of corporate and entrepreneurial management, Kim works closely with customers to ensure that marketing and sales are able to sustain and improve their alignment.

Kim has authored a quick-read booklet, “Effective Online Marketing In A Nutshell,” to help business marketers and owners easily get their arms around online marketing. Follow Kim on Twitter @kimalbee and LinkedIn.

36. Evolution of Strategy is the Future

"The online marketing ecosystem changes so quickly and so often, that you can't stand still. You need to ensure that you're constantly moving forward; evolving your strategy and tools at a pace equal to or greater than your competitors to match what the search engines and social networks are doing - otherwise, you're going to be left behind."

- Simon Heseltine, AOL

Simon Heseltine is the Director in charge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at AOL Inc. In this role Simon and his team are responsible for organic search and training across all AOL and Huffington Post Media Group properties. In his previous position as Director of Search at a Washington D.C. based agency, Simon was responsible for developing and implementing organic search and social media strategies for companies across several industries. He also developed and delivered training programs for clients, including several large U.S. media company, to enable them to best take advantage of the opportunities available to their companies through both organic search and social media.

37. Digital Strategy Must Appear Cohesive Across Devices

"About three years ago I became device agnostic as it relates to how people connect to the Internet. The reality is that over 50% of daily active users on Facebook are mobile-only, there were more iPad's sold in December 2011 than PC's, and the growth of tablets and mobile devices among youth, late adopters, and the developing world is staggering.

In short, if you are a business owner or want to make money online you need to devise a business strategy that is device agnostic and appreciate that the 'Internet world' as we knew it has drastically changed. It's not enough to simply have a Web site and it's not enough to only advertise on Google AdWords. The game has changed and to be competitive you need a multi-channel approach that optimizes across search, social, display, e-mail, mobile, and tablet....for starters."

- Kris Jones, ReferLocal

Kris Jones is a prominent and respected internet marketing expert and award winning entrepreneur. He brings with him expert knowledge of affiliate and search engine marketing and has been featured as keynote, panel member, and moderator at prominent national and international industry conferences and events. Learn more about Kris.



38. How Sophisticated is Your Digital Strategy?

"Think about five stages of sophistication for your digital marketing. Stage 1 - You do it because it is cheap. Stage 2 - You do it because it is quick. Stage 3 - You do it so you can track and adjust. Stage 4 - You do it because you can personalize. Stage 5 - You do it to move your consumers across channel. The higher your number, the higher your sophistication. Where do you stand?"

– Sundeep Kapur, NCR

Sundeep Kapur has been assisting organizations with their converged channel marketing strategies since 1990. From direct marketing to digital to converged, he is a passionate teacher who works with businesses across multiple industries, helping them to enable technology and services to brand, personalize and speak to consumers more effectively. Sundeep is also an avid user of social media, having leveraged words, pictures, & video into a conversational blog. His daily dose of best practices can be found at EmailYogi.com, where he wrote his 1,000th article on February 17, 2011.

Sundeep demonstrates how to effectively integrate your social and email strategy in his OMI class, 5 Ways to Leverage Social Media to Improve Email Marketing.

39. Leverage the Affiliate Marketing Channel

"Affiliate marketing is the only marketing channel that integrates multiple consumer touch points strictly on a performance basis. Advertisers can leverage search, social, mobile, shopping, international and even offline marketing campaigns through third-party vendors completely based on performance to make it the lowest cost, lowest risk and widest reach marketing channel available today."

- Sarah Bundy, All Inclusive Marketing

Sarah Bundy is the founder and CEO of All Inclusive Marketing, Affiliate Management Trainers, and Affiligate.org. Her passion lies in teaching advertisers how to get more out of their affiliate marketing programs through innovation, increased profits and high value affiliate relationships. Sarah leads the Affiliate Marketing department at the Online Marketing Institute where she educates students on performance marketing. Her blog, SarahBundy.com has been nominated for this year's Pinnacle Award and is ranked in the Top 25 Affiliate Marketing Blogs of 2012.

In her class, Affiliate Marketing 101, Sarah explains how marketers can get started in affiliate marketing, and use it to build their business.

40. Define Your Goals, Success Metrics and Revisit, Revise - Optimize

“Digital marketing begins with a business objective.  After the goal is clearly defined a strategy can be designed using tactics to implement and Analytics for tracking.  Then it's critical to revisit, revise and optimize.”

– Kelly Cutler, Marcel Media

Kelly Cutler is the CEO of Marcel Media, a Chicago based digital marketing firm specializing in search, social and analytics. Marcel Media uses a data driven approach to solving business objectives with digital tactics. Kelly has applied her knowledge and expertise to clients ranging from eCommerce to healthcare to financial services. Kelly speaks at conferences and events around the country including the American Marketing Association, Search Engine Strategies, Healthcare Internet Conference and many more. Under her leadership, Marcel Media has earned national recognition as one of the Inc. 5000's fastest growing private companies and has won many awards for their outstanding achievements.

41. Establish the Email Relationship First

"Contrary to what most marketers may think, the biggest challenge for email marketers is not about generating revenue. It’s about how to holistically manage their email program in a way that not only stays 'on brand,' but also increases brand equity while incorporating email best practices.

Whether the challenge is acquisition, engagement, attrition, or a combination of these, marketers can achieve success by creating positive customer experiences that enable a relationship--not by simply sending a promotional message that relies on discount for effectiveness. Once the relationship is established, and not before then, marketers can gain the sales and social advocacy that lead to long-term upward growth."

– Ryan Phelan, Acxiom

Ryan Phelan is the Vice President of Strategy for Acxiom/Digital Impact with over 13 years of online marketing experience to help clients realize the potential within their email programs. Prior to Acxiom, Ryan served as VP, Strategy for BlueHornet and Director of email marketing and acquisition for Sears.com and Kmart.com.  Prior to his tenure at Sears Holdings, Ryan managed the east coast professional services division at Responsys and was director of internet marketing and advertising at InfoUSA.

Ryan is a frequent speaker on digital marketing, and he reveals the latest techniques for successful social integration in his class, 5 Fundamentals of Integration Social into all Digital Efforts.

42. Provide Solutions with Your Content to Drive Results

“If you want to be effective with your digital marketing, you need to understand and map out your customer touch points. If you fail to do that, then you’re missing out big time when it comes to generating traffic, optimizing content, conversions, and social media participation.

For example, when someone first engages with your company online, what does that person know and what is he or she looking for? Are they coming to you with a problem they’re trying to solve and they need education on how go about it? Do they even know they have a problem? If so, are they aware that relevant products exist and they’re just looking to compare?

Before you dive head first into driving traffic, developing content, optimizing landing pages, etc., it is important that you do your research to understand all the various touch points it takes to get a sale, support, retain, and ultimately turn that customer into a great referral source.”

- Adam Proehl, NordicClick Interactive

Adam Proehl, Managing Partner of Minneapolis based NordicClick Interactive, is a seasoned online marketing executive who has a passion for helping clients use online channels to grow their business. As a practical marketer, his ability to get at the heart of the core business issues, establish measurable goals, and map the appropriate online tactics to further those objectives has served his clients well.

In his class, Building the Ultimate Dashboard, Adam explains how to focus on the right metrics, and create an actionable dashboard.

43. Make Your Content King

"It's time to replace the abstract 'Content is King' analogy with an analogy that has real meaning to marketers today, especially when it comes to creating, pitching and justifying content budgets. A more apt analogy is that Content is Gold. Like gold, content is an investment that holds or builds value and provides long term return on investment. Gold is highly conductive, and so is content, i.e. content is key to 'conducting' Likes, Shares, Earned Media and Word-of-Mouth referrals. Gold provides its holder with status and influence, and so does content. Think of it this way ... in a competitive environment, those with the best content earn status and influence that provides competitive advantage. Like gold, content today is a form of 'virtual currency,' a medium of exchange for building audience, driving engagement and so on. And when done well - and by that I mean the most entertaining, the most educational, the most useful - content is the marketer's bling."

44. Create Awesome, High-Quality Content

"The competitive imperative should be influencing marketer's decisions to increase their content marketing activities for this simple reason: whoever has the best content will win. That means that whatever sector you're in, whether it's B2B, B2C or non-profit, if you're not the one who is driving awareness, sales and customer service by providing the best content, it's likely that your competitor is. Furthermore, there's no turning back. This is real. The 'content' train has left the station. And marketer's have ZERO choice over whether or not they need to be not only on board, but driving that train within their sector."

45. Operate Like a CNN Newsroom

"A marketing department needs to look and function more like a CNN Newsroom and less like a cubicle enclave or warren of offices. In this new configuration, marketing, sales and customer service are seamlessly blended together into a single "Department of Communications and Engagement." Walls and desks are populated with monitors displaying in real time all brand related activities, conversations, sales data, etc. This configuration enables cross-pollination of ideas and awareness, and empowers the type of "real time" marketing, PR and sales activities that are critical in today's environment."

Russell Sparkman is a new media craftsman with more than 25 years of visual communications experience. Sparkman has been a content marketing evangelist since 2008, the year he first wrote a blog post about the topic.

Sparkman’s experience with what’s now called "Content Marketing" dates back to 1999, when he co-founded FusionSpark Media, a new media production and marketing communications firm that inspires, informs and influences through online content in support of corporate, non-profit and government communications initiatives. As CEO, Sparkman has played key roles in all FusionSpark Media projects, including executive producer, chief photographer, videographer, information architect, and project manager.

Russell provides a proven framework for content marketing success in his OMI course, Content Marketing Crash Course.


OMI is committed to bringing forth the insight of industry leaders. Look for the full list of classes from these top digital educators on the online learning center’s class topics page.

Your evolution starts here. Try our classes for free.10 day free trial

10 day free trial