Digital Strategy

The 4-Step Content Marketing Strategy for Growth-Hacking Conversions

by

Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss a growth hacking strategy that content marketers can use to boost their conversion rates.

 

There are thousands of workable content marketing strategies, but a select few have higher-than-average conversion rates. These content strategies fall under the category of growth-hacking strategies, which include ways of enhancing leads and conversions in a very short period of time.

One of these content strategies is the four-step process outlined below, which I’ve personally seen increase conversion rates for nearly a dozen affiliate marketing websites focused on growth hacking. Let's dive in!

1. Research and Develop Consumer Insight

Every business has indicators of success, or success signals. These success signals range from the number of leads generated by a single blog post (obvious), to a single click through to a landing page (less obvious).

Growth hackers and conversion-oriented content strategists research and develop consumer insights by harnessing the power of data to narrow down exactly what these success signals tell us about our users. Their methods might include conducting polls, surveys, and interviews—each of which can be achieved with ease on social media—as well as implementing user tests or following the trail of web analytics wherever it goes, which can require some buy-in.

(Source: Inflow)

All of these methods can and should be used to pinpoint exactly what your business is doing that is working to convert casual users into customers, and what your site is doing that isn’t working to convert casual users into customers.

Pro-Tip: Use at least two different methods to test your insights into what’s driving users to convert.

2. Publish Information Most Relevant to Incoming Traffic

One easy success signal we haven’t mentioned is incoming traffic to your website.

Most businesses know that if users perform a search and click through to our website, then we’re doing something right in terms of relevance.

But content strategists and growth hackers also know that a steady stream of traffic doesn’t always spell a steady stream of conversions. They also know that the right kind of traffic does.

So what’s the right kind of traffic? Organic search traffic.

Organic search traffic is drawn to your website because you publish some of the most relevant information pertaining to a certain set of keywords, whether that information appears in an advertisement, a search result, or both.

Now having the most relevant information available on a certain set of keywords also means publishing content well and publishing ads often, both of which should focus on repeating the set of keywords that best draws your organic search traffic.

Pro-Tip: Match your calls-to-action with the keywords that incoming traffic is searching before they are referred to you. That means if users who search “content marketing strategy” are coming to you, you should probably include a call-to-action that says “Get Our Content Marketing Strategy” on a landing page.

3. Appeal to Authority for Credibility

If content strategists want to enhance the pagerank for their content on Google (or any of the Internet’s most popular search engines), they need credibility.

What most people underestimate is how long the path to earning credibility usually is. Even sites that start with a bona fide audience or brand name can lose public interest quickly if the content doesn’t measure up to that audience’s expectations. This is why earning credibility is arguably the most difficult step to surmount in this four-step process: it requires knowing how to build relationships and play the long game, fast.

Growth hackers and content marketing strategists know that in order to gain credibility, they must efficiently use each and every piece of content they publish to build trust and establish relationships with authorities in their industry.

The most surefire way to build trust and establish relationships is to curate content that appeals to authority. Publish content you want those big names to read. Build a network of company reviews, logos, and backlinks that connects your brand with some of the biggest and brightest names in industry. Then watch your conversions start to grow.

This takes time, patience, and maintenance, but it will pay large dividends if you persist.

Pro-Tip: Post company email addresses with a person’s name attached to them on your contact or support pages. Doing so enhances transparency, trust, and ultimately credibility.

4. Offer an Option with Calls-To-Action

Think about the last time someone asked you to do something. Now think about whether or not you were happy to do it. If you were, chances are the person gave you an option, and you chose to do what they asked because you felt it wasn’t too much to ask, especially if the other option didn’t sound as good.

If you didn’t choose to do what they asked, then chances are they offered you too many options when too much was at stake, and you felt the offer was too much to ask, which may have forced you into a state of so-called “analysis paralysis,” or worse, to simply ignore the offer in the first place.

So why do people prefer fewer options to more? According to two studies by the same two researchers, giving people fewer options increases their likelihood of making a decision to buy something.

That means it is a virtue in sales to provide consumers with a simple choice.

The same can be said for the content marketing and conversion strategies of growth hackers.

Growth hackers know that less is more, as well as how to avoid overwhelming users with too much information and too many options. One of the best ways to do this is giving users a choice on your call-to-action pages, even if that choice is as simple as a Sign-Up or Login button. Allowing users to choose between two versions of free content (e.g., Free Trial and a Study) is also a great way to increase conversion rates and gain some insight about what your users prefer.

Pro-Tip: Remove the navigation bar from CTA landing pages. Doing so has been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 16% for Free Trial offers and 28% for Demo offers.

Is the conversion rate for your content marketing strategy optimized? To learn more about how you can implement a content marketing strategy that optimizes your conversion rates with consumer insights, credibility, and calls-to-action, join OMI's newest classes on Content Marketing Consumer Insights and Content Marketing Channels.

For ten days, access to our new courses is completely free.

 


Using Predictive Analytics For Unified Commerce

by

Editor's Note: Kate Lincoln is a business analyst, and graduate from the University of Suffolk. She also edits content for CustomerSurveyAssist.com, and joins us today to explore how Unified Commerce is changing online marketing, and how predictive analytics is the best way forward.

 

Although it has existed as a concept for decades, unified commerce is on the verge of becoming a reality. For many companies, everything from web-based efforts to mobile applications and traditional stores are connected in real time. With enhanced usability and speed, it is now easily possible to buy a new speaker from Shenzhen while chatting with a friend from Brazil about buying tickets for a concert in Germany.

While unified commerce has traditionally been pitted against omnichannel marketing, the distinction between them is no longer necessary or clear. With the right platform and design, multiple channels can be absorbed into a unified point of sale (POS), and there are good reasons for doing so.

Shifting Paradigms

A shift across the market to unified commerce seems inevitable at this point in history:

  • 77% of the world’s retailers say they plan to offer customers “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” services
  • 57% also report development of a shared cart that encompasses all channels, thereby simplifying the process of online transactions

The market is already highly efficient and competitive: according to an old principle elaborated by Vilfredo Pareto, the top 20% of customers provide 80% of the sales. Therefore, the struggle to gain customer loyalty will only lead to increasingly proficient marketing campaigns and cheaper products of higher quality.

Fortunately, the new, expanded digital universe produces vast amounts of data, and this trend will only increase as commerce becomes more unified. Centralized and processed by analytics software, the market’s mysteries can finally be unlocked for the profit of all, and sellers in particular.

In order to benefit, predictive analytics – or the use of data to determine the likelihood of future outcomes – must become a primary focus for online marketers far and wide.

Uses of Predictive Analytics

E-commerce has taken to the sky as a result of the new economic environment created by unified commerce. Competition has soared, along with customer satisfaction. Customer input is abundant, due to the feedback systems employed by almost every commerce-oriented business. This entails an ever-growing volume of data that can provide valuable insights.

First, predictive analytics can work toward the optimization of marketing campaigns, making it a new staple in the fundamentals of digital marketing. It does so by looking at the behavior of customers and their responses to certain stimuli via ads. Studying past reactions to specific images, words or entire products can turn up a better product, bringing a higher quality to the customer and increased profits to sellers.

Timeline of decision and execution is another point of interest: along every point of the sales funnel, your customers might change their minds about a purchase at any time. From a retailer point of view, if customers have a high probability of dropping purchases during a certain period of time, minimizing that period can only lead to more sales. As a result, the distance between decision and purchase has been increasingly shortened due to these facts uncovered by predictive analytics.

Essentially, companies are using predictive analytics to determine which products are most popular, which promotional events are most impactful and which special offers provoke the desired reactions in customers. Devised correctly and sustained by a long-term effort, a strategy involving predictive analytics can lead to much higher return on investment (ROI).

The Unified Customer Market

A single platform for commerce entails a single, unified customer market. The impact of sharing the same goods on a global scale is not yet fully understood: it causes changes and evolution in the quality of life for millions or even billions of people. The transitory period between fragmented national markets and unified commerce is giving rise to another breed of customer: the global buyer.

Not tied to any single currency, niche market or regional economic affiliation, the global buyer is capable of surfing a tremendous number of offers, and choosing those most relevant to his or her needs. Their voices become stronger and - if made consciously by enough people - their purchases gain more regulatory power.

Right now, the world is at a crossroads. The ingredients of unifying commerce and customer markets are already present, but they have not been fully mixed. The future is a realm of endless commercial possibilities and you, the seller, can doubly profit from what it has in store.

By using predictive analysis, your business can stay one step ahead of other modern producers, and miles ahead of old-fashioned competitors that struggle to set up a website.

Learn more with the following classes:

How to Grow Customer Value Through the Right Digital Experiences

Top of the Funnel Tactics for Inbound Marketing

Leveraging Analytics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 

 


Three Easy Steps to Write Better Emails

by

Editor’s note: Sundeep Kapur is an educator and technology consultant who has teamed up with OMI to bring our readers a free Email Marketing Master Class. In preparation, he joins us to share his notes on delivering an effective message to email subscribers.

 

At the core of an email marketing campaign is the email itself, and this is where a brand succeeds or fails. After arriving in a prospect’s inbox, your email has one chance to make an impression. As such, crafting the strongest message possible is vitally important. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is your brand’s value proposition?
Can you verbally deliver it in less than 30 seconds?
Would the listener or recipient remember your key points an hour later?

At every email marketing workshop, I ask my students to apply the less-than-30-second rule to these three scenarios:

  • You are at a conference; how would you introduce yourself?
  • You are calling to get an appointment; what would you say?
  • You are meeting someone you haven’t spoken to in a while (while your plane is taking off); how would you quickly (and not abruptly) deliver your message?

The answers I get for this exercise include the following terms: recognition, interactive conversations, brevity/succinctness, emphasis on key points, high impact messaging, something the recipient can remember, and value based messaging.

Next, I ask my students to write a note for each of the above scenarios – “what if you couldn’t speak and had to type?” I offer them the following pointers:

  • How would you greet them?
  • How would you grab their attention?
  • Would you use an image/What image would you use?
  • What would you want them to remember?
  • What would you want them to do?
  • How would you measure the success of your message?
  • What would your next step be?

Then, I ask them to take what they have written and look at it on a mobile device. Most times, the message is too long, seems disjointed, and leaves the reader confused as to what to do next. Consider this simple advice to write better emails and craft better messages -

3 Practical Steps to Improve Your Email Messaging:  

1 – Go through the exercise of creating a message for a prospect. If I gave you a list of 100K consumers who were well to do, enjoyed a high level of online engagement, and were frequent buyers – how would you message them? Consider designing a series of messages – two to five emails to get your point across. Use the above bullets to think about the content sections and be brutally brief.

2 – A high impact, easy to understand, and memorable message should be designed like a movie poster. Take a look at the three posters below – they clearly tell you what their movies are about.

Like a movie poster, your message should be self-contained, brief, and highly impactful. Readers should be able to remember the core points of an email after one read, hopefully anticipating whatever you have on offer.

3 – In my master class, we cover a simple approach to messaging that has delivered results for many brands. Rich with case studies, my forray into email marketing highlights lessons from Anthropologie, Dillard’s, and Overstock.com. B2C, B2B, or even C2B:  these practical ideas will help you deliver on the perfect message.

Author Bio: Sundeep Kapur is an educator. After 24 years in corporate America as a business and technology consultant he returned to his passion – teaching brands best practices so they can achieve the same success. His email marketing class has been taught across the globe for more than 2,500 brands and he continues to receive outstanding reviews for his content.

Take Sundeep's Email Marketing Master Class for free, and learn everything you need to know about crafting the perfect message!

Join us Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017 from 12:00 - 1:00  PM PST / 3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT

 

 


Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 3

by

career in marketing

Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. Today he joins us to continue a series of measurement related insights he has learned over a long career in marketing, to help those who are on a journey in analytics/data related fields.

 

I never was much for math in school, so it’s ironic that numbers are central to my career. In the past few weeks, I’ve posted the first two parts of a four-part series:

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 1 of 4

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 2 of 4

In the first two installments, I shared 10 lessons in measurement from a career in marketing and analytics. This is the next installment of the series. Please enjoy.

Further Insights From a Career in Marketing

Relational data creates context

Dealing with data all day makes Johnny a Dull Boy. Even today, I struggle to gain insights from spreadsheets. To me, they look like the cascading numbers in The Matrix. Thus, I learned two tricks early in my career:

  1. Visualize the data and
  2. Create context via relationships

While I covered data visualization in part 1, I want to touch on relational data. In the world of marketing, improvements are everything. Optimizing traffic volume, conversion rates or qualified lead value is essential. I’ve found that ratios provide more meaning over time than other KPIs, especially for trending purposes. As seen in the above image, social media link growth increased 100 percent. At the same time, comments-per-like decreased 25 percent, as it doesn’t maintain a similar growth trajectory. Make sure your metrics have some sort of anchor: ratios do this exceedingly well.

Competitive data provides motivation

While sales has been a key responsibility for most of my career, I’ve discovered three ways to get things done, especially deals. One strategy is to use secondary research and social proof as appeals to logic and safety. Another strategy is to use primary research and customer insights for a personalized and often more compelling approach. The most effective technique I’ve used - particularly with senior management - is an appeal to the ego by means of competitive benchmarking.

Everyone wants to be a winner. And when your company or clients are in second place, there is motivation to invest in marketing to gain leadership. Three free tools you can use to benchmark competitors online (at least with relative data vs. absolute) include Alexa Internet, MOZ Open Site Explorer and Google Site Speed tools.

As you can see above, Alexa provides bounce rates, daily pageviews and time-on-site metrics across most websites.

The Google site speed tool above outlines responsive design and mobile/desktop speeds, which all correlate to conversion rates, user experience and thus rankings in search results.

The image above is of the MOZ Open Explorer, which includes data on domain authority. A site is more likely to rank for desirable terms in search engines when they have a higher domain authority, as it correlates with trust. No boss wants to lose the online marketing battle, so tell them how they stack up, then give them a roadmap to reach first place.

Facts tell, stories sell

As a huge fan of Mad Men, I get the tingles every time I watch Don Draper's Kodak Carousel ad pitch. The power of the 3-minute pitch is the reality that it’s light on facts, and heavy on storyline. The Kodak Cassette is a time machine or a carousel, which has nothing to do with resolution or technology, but everything to do with family memories. I learned this the hard way working with technology companies that sold chips, printers and software: messaging was always around humdrum tech specs rather than benefits.

Data should create actionable insights

For over twenty years my team and I have put together monthly activity reports for clients. I’ve also had the opportunity to see many reports from internal corporate teams and competitors over that same period. One of the most common shortcomings I see with analytics reports is a lack of value (insights and actions).

Too many reports are demonstrations of copy-paste efficiency, indiscriminately pulling charts from Google Analytics, AdWords and social media platforms. Even third party dashboards that streamline the process create bad habits for marketers, as they make report generation too easy. Value lies in analyzing the data, identifying issues and opportunities and developing specific, actionable recommendations. At Anvil, we’ve streamlined our reports, focusing on visualization of the data, a high-level summary of activities and performance,specific actions, owners and timelines. If your reports are falling short, it’s time to revisit.

Inspect, do not expect

Although I’ve been a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization for a decade, I’m sometimes slow to learn lessons in business. One business measurement lesson I learned the hard way was how to effectively measure my team’s performance. Early in my career as a manager, conventional wisdom (that many still swear by today) was to hire smart people and get out of the way. I got the first part right (hiring smart people), but I did not follow through to ensure they knew how to do their job and had the support they needed to be successful. Most importantly, I managed by instinct and perception, which became deadly.

Years later, my EO mentor advised me: “Inspect, do not Expect.” I immediately instituted a weekly status update, including goals for the coming week and an update on goals from the previous week. It has helped me to appreciate what my executive team can accomplish, where they need support and how often they get side-tracked by unanticipated emergencies. My only expectation nowadays is that my team will update me on a weekly basis. Inspect the rest. Related article: 3 Game-Changing Leadership Lessons.

Don't let good numbers create complacency

One of the surprising measurement lessons I’ve learned is this: success can breed complacency, and complacency creates major problems. We’ve all heard the old sayings about success going to your head. But I’m talking about a slightly different danger: if your car gets you to work reliably every day, it’s difficult to see why you’d open the hood to look for any issues, especially when you don’t see, hear or feel anything wrong. That was the challenge I faced at Anvil. We experienced five consecutive years of rapid growth. Essentially, the car we’d built kept going faster and it sounded great (at least to me). The problem was that under the hood, there was a good deal of duct tape and a few stray hamsters. By the time I figured it out, it was too late and had to completely rebuild the car while we were still on the road. I believe Johnny Cash wrote a song about this problem. Related article: 20 Lessons in 20 Years as a Marketer & Entrepreneur.

There is always a role for humans in analytics

I was interviewed by DMN about the role of humans in the world of analytics. I prepared for the interview by reading a few articles on the subject. That preparation turned into the following article: Underestimating The Human Element of Big Data Analytics. In brief, artificial intelligence combined with big data provides amazing new opportunities for all types of disciplines, including marketing. The good news is that humans still play an essential role in the machine-driven process, including knowing what questions to ask, how to structure the analysis, interpret and act on insights.

Map data analytics to your dream job

When I graduated college in the 90s, my uncle told me to stay close to the money (more on that in part 1). It took me a few years to realize that my role in measuring buying activity through analytics put me on top of the money. That insight has led others to join a booming industry which includes newer disciplines like sales and marketing automation. It also includes maturing roles like data scientist and data analyst. I recently penned an article on the roadmap to building a dream job in the field of analytics: Six steps to a fulfilling and financially-rewarding career. This article will help you understand if your unique abilities and talents are in the ballpark of analytics, and from there, you can network and identify job opportunities.

Build your own career plan dashboard

For those of you that already have a job or a general direction for your career, it may help to validate your level of happiness. I have an article for that: Take this quiz to find out if you have your Dream Job. This article provides evaluation criteria for what a great job looks and feels like, and it can help to objectively assess your situation. If you score well, congratulations! If you score lower, it’s time to rethink your job or career. Start by painting a picture of your ideal job: how it looks, how it sounds and even smells. Then map that ideal to potential employers, and network your way into that company or start your own. Reverse-engineer your career end-point back to the present by setting goals, associated timelines, actions, and execute them.

Start your journey today

The most difficult step in making a career move - especially when it comes to data measurement - is the first step. I’ve written another article that provides specifics steps for building a career in any field, but especially digital marketing.

12 Career Tips for Growth-Minded Individuals

It all starts by networking, researching, studying, applying and improving. The first step may seem like the most difficult, but it doesn’t have to be: I hope you find these twenty lessons in measurement and analytics helpful to your journey.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Storytelling in the Digital Age

Web Analytics Fundamentals for a Data-Driven World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Build an Informative Customer Profile in Minutes

by

Editor's Note: Bruno Delahaye is the CEO of Reach Analytics, where a version of this article first appeared. Today he joins us to review popular strategies for building a customer profile, and a new approach made possible by cloud technology.

 

Having a strong understanding of who your customers are (customer profiling) is a central element in any marketing effort. Marketers may choose to focus on strategic activities like company positioning, and defining target markets. They may also look at more tactical approaches like marketing campaign design and execution; however in all of these cases, the first thing any marketer needs to understand is who their customers are and what they are like.

To obtain a customer profile which provides them with this information, marketers have three traditional options:

  1. Create a segmentation of their existing customer base using internal data
  2. Conduct a market research survey
  3. Append 3rd party data to their customer file as a base for profiling

In what follows, we will briefly survey these strategies and spell out an effective approach to customer profiling.

Segmentation

Segmentation allows companies to sift through company clients and sort them into categories. These categories allow for strategic marketing decisions when it comes to new products and services. Of the traditional choices, segmentation has been the fastest and least expensive customer profiling option until recent times.  Large companies generally have had the resources to run analysis internally, relying on their data infrastructure and the availability of a data science team. This team would typically take between 1 and 6 weeks to report their findings.

The main drawback of this customer profiling method is that the entire analysis is centered on your existing customer base. Although it may seem intuitive that customer profiling should center on your customers, this strategy utterly neglects context: the only way to build a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are is to compare them with non-customers. In other words, you should be asking what differentiates your customers from the general population, and what makes their profile special. For this very reason, market research surveys and use of 3rd party data for customer profiling have become more widely adopted strategies.

Market research

Market research analysis is the most expensive and time consuming technique to build a customer profile. A key advantage is that it focuses on a comprehensive review of customer expectations and personalities outside of your company, allowing you to develop strategies that work broadly and effectively.

...or at least, that's the theory. While hotly debated, market research analysis remains a qualitative technique. Rather than using hard data on customer behavior, it is based on surveys which report customer opinions. While there is probably some value in this, actions tend to speak louder than words, and even moderately skewed survey questions can skew the answers received.

Using third party data

The third approach tends to address the major drawbacks of both segmentation and market research surveys. 3rd party data allows your company to synthesize analysis of both customers and non-customers to build a thorough and balanced customer profile. Yet, an obvious drawback of this approach is that it can be a relatively long process and therefore limits applicability:

  1. Small and medium sized companies cannot manage such processes if they do not have the necessary internal resources, and outsourcing might be cost prohibitive.
  2. Companies typically have more than one product/service on offer, and would like to generate more than a single customer profile analysis.

The Cloud Approach

And now there’s good news that will help marketers to resolve downsides of all the traditional approaches. By leveraging a predictive marketing cloud, we are able to quickly generate a complete customer profile with the following characteristics:

  1. A basic profile for marketers to gain an initial high level understanding of their customers’ demographics: age, marital status, income, and education level.
  2. An advanced version of the same profile which enables marketers to identify characteristics that set their customers apart from the rest of the population.

By removing the largest hurdles in the development of customer profiles using 3rd party data (time & data science expertise), small and medium-sized business as well as large companies are in a position to access a more analytic approach and leverage their customer profile to make more informed marketing decisions.

Learn more with the following classes:

Demand Generation: Defining Your Target Market

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Internet Marketing and Traditional Marketing Together

by

Editor's Note: Jim Peake is a marketing writer who joins us to share a comprehensive breakdown of the ways that traditional marketing can be useful in today's Internet marketing landscape. Peake is a contributor at addiction-rep, where a version of this article first appeared. 

 

Inbound marketing and internet-based channels have become the preferred method of marketing for many companies across the U.S. – and beyond. In the past, businesses turned to public relations outreach, TV and print ads, outbound calling, etc. to try to build an audience as well as a larger awareness of their brand. These “outbound” tactics make up what is now often referred to as traditional marketing.

Believe it or not, internet marketing and traditional marketing methods are not wholly opposed to each other. Outbound marketing is still alive and well. OK, arguably not well, but it is alive. Many of its primary tactics are still viable by themselves, and in some cases, they’ve morphed into the strategies of internet marketing.

Anyone with a traditional marketing background who understands how traditional principles apply to the Internet will have a significant advantage over someone who came who came up in the digital age. The two parties have much to learn from each other, but there is already is a lot of overlap, and some traditional marketers have even evolved and adapted to the ways of the internet.

Before we get into how traditional marketing can be integrated into internet marketing, it needs to be clear how the two strategies differ. In this essay, we’re going to take a look at four main topics:

  • Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
  • Traditional vs. Internet Marketing Channels
  • Traditional Marketing Philosophies
  • How Traditional Marketing Can Converge with Internet Marketing

The Difference Inbound and Outbound Marketing

What Is The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing?

For decades, outbound marketing was the primary method of advertising for businesses all over the world. Outbound marketing involves serving up an advertisement or promotional piece to the masses. Think of television commercials and billboard ads.

Granted, even if companies wanted to reach a wide audience through outbound marketing, they often did research to target certain markets where their message would be received more favorably. Still, outbound marketing consists of blasting out a message and hoping for the best. It’s a very impersonal way of trying to attract consumers’ attention and convert them into a customer.

Inbound marketing, meanwhile, offers the opportunity to make personal connections with potential customers, and it primarily takes place on the internet. It starts with optimizing the company’s website and then using social media, search and other channels to try to lead people to the website. Once on the website, visitors will have a chance to go through a “sales funnel” that leads to money eventually exchanging hands.

Here are some other key points to take away when comparing inbound and outbound marketing:

  • Inbound marketing content, in most cases, is much, much cheaper to produce than outbound marketing material. Thus, many small businesses are left out of the outbound marketing game.
  • Outbound marketing is generally more intrusive than inbound tactics.
  • Outbound marketing is also referred to as interruption marketing, while inbound is sometimes called permission marketing.
  • Consumers are not only learning how to tune out outbound material, but they have easy access to devices that help them do the job. Think of fast-forwarding DVRs, call-blocking features on phones, etc.
  • Half of marketers in the business-to-business, business-to-consumer and nonprofit sectors ranked inbound marketing as their primary lead source, according to a 2014 Hubspot report.

Although businesses in the U.S. and beyond are gravitating more and more toward inbound marketing, companies that have completely pulled up their stakes from outbound marketing have experienced difficulties. In 2010, Pepsi abandoned commercials and other forms of outbound marketing so it could focus its efforts on a large social media campaign. The soda manufacturer reportedly lost millions (perhaps even hundreds of millions) of dollars in sales over this span.

Also, Pepsi-Cola fell from the No. 2 soft drink in the U.S. to No. 3 (behind Coca-Cola and Diet Coke) by the time the campaign was called off. Social media by itself may have not been the downfall of Pepsi back then, but pulling out of the Super Bowl ad race that year did not help.

Traditional or Internet Marketing

Traditional vs. Internet Marketing Channels

Traditional marketing largely concerns outbound methods, while the more modern internet marketing deals mostly with inbound tactics. To clarify which methods fall where, let’s break down the differences in traditional and internet marketing channels.

Traditional channels:

  • Radio and television
  • Billboards
  • Publications (magazines, newspapers, journals)
  • Self-produced printed material (brochures, flyers, etc.)
  • Telephones (telemarketing, cold calling, etc.)
  • Mail
  • Face-to-face (such as conferences, trade shows, etc.)

Internet (new media) channels:

  • Websites and blogs
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Search engines
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Videoconferencing and webcasts
  • Podcasts

Looking over those two lists, you should be able to see some crossover between the two disciplines. For example, television commercials easily find their way to the internet now (even showing up when users don’t want them), and audio ads are played between songs on Pandora, Spotify, etc. Press releases have also made an easy tradition.

Traditional Marketing Philosophies

Traditional Marketing Philosophies

At one point, many companies were able to dedicate many resources toward marketing a specific product or product line. In most cases, those marketers aimed their specific product at a specific audience.

This is where the 4 P’s of traditional marketing came in handy. The 4 P’s for a product can be identified either before or after all promotional material has been completed.

Let’s go over what the 4 P’s stand for:

1. Product

With the product in mind that you’re trying to push, you need to try to determine a product-market fit. Basically, how much demand would there be for this type of product or service? Will your featured offering satisfy the demand for it?

The product phase of the 4 P’s usually starts with creation of a minimum viable product (MVP), aka a prototype. Early in the process, you want to gather a focus group that can view and try out the prototype and then give you feedback. What did they like and not like? Are there any features missing? Anything excessive or unnecessary?

If it’s a physical product, this is the point where you can determine if it should come in different color and sizes. This is also where you need to make your value proposition clear: How does your product or service differ and improve on similar offerings?

2. Price

Now that you’re pretty set on what your product or service will be, you have to make sure that you don’t price yourself out of the market – or that you undervalue your item. Are you trying to sell something that almost anyone can afford, or is it a more distinguished product with a high buy-in?

Here are some factors to take into account as you narrow down the price (or price range) of your product:

  • The cost to produce it: It’s obviously not feasible to charge the consumer less than what it costs in parts, labor, manpower, etc.
  • High-end vs. affordability: Are you trying to convey quality with your product, or value?
  • The size of the market: Have you determined if your product is fit for a mass audience, or are you targeting a niche? What’s the potential reach of your product, based on your research during the first stage?
  • The level of competition: How competitive is your market? What are other companies charging for a similar product?
  • Economic level of the market: Even if your target market is niche, your product doesn’t necessarily have to carry an exorbitant price tag. When you’ve figured out the target market for your product, you need to have a rough idea of the economic level of those individuals, and thus tailor your product’s price to that audience.

3. Place

This step doesn’t usually keep marketers up late at night like it used to, but it used to be a make-or-break part of the process. In which physical market are you going to place your product? Which retailers will you use? Or is there alternate way you’re going to try to get your product in consumers’ hands? Do you have to go through a middle man or reseller, rather than direct to consumer?

Place is now often referred to as “distribution” when marketers are using the 4 P’s process. The rise of the internet has made the distribution of products easier, and often faster. Thus, the weight marketers put on place is diminishing in comparison to the other 3 P’s.

4. Promotion

The promotion element of the 4 P’s has three primary objectives:

  • Raise awareness of the product or service (or brand)
  • Generate sales
  • Create brand loyalty

For a particular product, marketers need to have in mind a goal, target audience, and the industry in which it resides. Marketers will give a certain weight to each factor when concocting a plan to promote the item. The ways they can begin raising awareness of the product are infinite, which is why the promotion step of the 4 P’s is the most complex. Which channels can your company afford to go through, and which ones make the most sense for the item you’re promoting?

4a. The Promotion Mix

The promotion (or marketing) mix plays a role in the last element of the 4 P’s, but it contains so many variables that it can an extensive study by itself. Which channels a company is going to use and how many are crucial questions marketers must ask when beginning to promote a product or service.

Marketing experts might disagree on which components make up the promotion mix, especially in the modern era, but the following variables get at the core of what the traditional promotion mix is:

  • Advertising

Advertising is when you have to pay to get your content shown on a mass media format – television, newspapers, magazines, etc. This type of marketing is almost always non-personal.

  • Direct Marketing

Slightly more personal than advertising, direct marketing targets individual consumers with a customized message and tries to build a relationship. Classic direct marketing channels include snail mail, catalogs and telemarketing.

  • Personal Selling

Personal selling takes direct marketing a step further and actually gets you in front of the consumer. This face-to-face type of marketing occurs at trade shows, sales presentations, etc. Like advertising, personal selling can often be a very expensive marketing method, as it usually involves a lot of traveling in order to meet potential buyers face to face.

  • Publicity (or Public Relations)

Public relations is a viable part of the marketing and communications efforts of both digital and traditional marketing agencies. Public relations is not only as about dealing with negative press as it comes out, but it also involves trying to get a company’s products or employees in front of the media. This is a way of getting your products or brand mentioned in the newspaper or on television or radio without having to pay for the spot.

  • Sales Promotion

If you have a new product to sell, are you going to run a certain promotion to entice people to make the purchase, especially if they would be hesitant to do so otherwise? In most cases, it’s better to have somebody buy your product at a discounted price than to not have them make the purchase at all. How will you make consumers aware of the promotion? All of the four methods above could work, but advertising and public relations channels are the most common.

Making Internet and Traditional Marketing Work Together

How Traditional Marketing Can Converge With Internet Marketing

When looking over the components of the promotion mix, it’s easy to see that a company can leverage both digital and traditional marketing methods to achieve their goals. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

For example, any creative image designed for a magazine or newspaper can easily be shrunk to fit as a banner ad on an external website, such as a news website. Also, a television commercial can be uploaded to the web and used on YouTube and other video-streaming sites. Under direct marketing, the classic method of mailing a current or potential customer can now be replicated via email.

Many job positions have been able to cross over from the traditional to the internet marketing world, or they now involve a blend of both disciplines. As mentioned previously, a public relations employee is as relevant for a traditional marketing firm as it is for a digital-based agency. Graphic designers and video marketers also have the ability to bide their time fairly seamlessly between both disciplines.

Integrating Traditional Marketing With Internet Marketing

While most bigger corporations do a mixture of traditional marketing and new media outreach, many are still trying to get out of the habit of keeping the two disciplines isolated. These are the companies where you’d see marketing and communications as two separate departments, and where even sales may be yet another detached area. These departments may even operate on different floors or in different buildings from each other.

If they aren’t already, these types of departments need to be more integrated within companies. Employees who practice traditional methods and those in internet marketing need to be working side by side. They both could be learning significantly from each other. Professional sports organizations, for example, are notorious for keeping their digital, print marketing, communications and public relations teams all fairly segregated from each other.

Also, some employees need to be entrusted with being able to handle both types of responsibilities. If traditional marketers aren’t making their own efforts to get more acquainted with the ways of the web, then companies should be taking the initiative to help them grow as a marketer by modernizing their skill-set to some degree.

Below are a few ways a traditional marketer can work on acquiring a digital skill-set, particularly if they expect to have a hand in web copywriting.

How A Traditional Marketer Can Transition Into An Internet Marketer

If you have a traditional marketing background but are looking to become entrenched in the internet marketing field, either for a new company or a different position with the same company, here are seven tips for preparing yourself:

  • Read Fervently

Your industry is evolving and the internet is constantly changing, so it’s imperative to stay current with the latest news and developments. Therefore, figure out the best news sources and blogs for your industry, and then dedicate at least a half-hour to one hour on reading relevant web-based material daily.

  • Write Frequently

Start a blog, if you haven’t already, and try to compose a new post at least weekly or twice a week. Spill your expertise about your trade, including lessons learned, case studies and more. Also, experiment with different formats of the post and try to incorporate photos, videos, polls, screenshots, etc.

  • Try Your Hand at SEO

SEO is more crucial for some industries than it is for others, but no web marketing department or agency should ignore it nonetheless. Therefore, start experimenting with SEO, such as creating an account on Google AdWords: Keyword Planner. Once you have an idea of what people are searching for, be sure to optimize your blog posts, rather than just writing off the cuff and assuming people will find it.

  • Become Active on Social Media

If you don’t have them already, create accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Try to seek out and follow like-minded individuals. If somebody follows you first, follow them back – as long as they appear to be a real user. Start sharing your blog posts to these channels, and be sure to share other articles relevant to your industry or niche. Don’t forget to interact with your followers as well, such as commenting or liking their posts.

LinkedIn is very important here. It’s been cited as the most effective social media platform for companies that do content marketing, according to recent reports. Be vigilant on this platform.

  • See and Follow What the Experts Do

Figure out who the leading companies and individual “thought leaders” in your industry are, and then closely observe how they operate on social media, blogs, their websites and other online areas. Now that you know what the gold standard is, try your best to replicate the success of those entities.

  • Create a White Paper, Guide, eBook, etc.

Once you have the hang of writing a solid blog post, try your hand at a longer version: a white paper, eBook, etc. This could be brand-new content from scratch, or you could cull from your past blog posts in order to produce a new, longer creation. Be sure to incorporate an ample amount of media into your web-based guide.

  • Build an Email List and Send a Newsletter

Try to coax your blog visitors into subscribing to your blog by email, and also ask any close social media contacts you can add them to your email list. Once you’ve built up a sizeable email list, start experimenting with blasting an eNewsletter either monthly or weekly. This newsletter can contain an all-new message, or it could recap your latest blog content and entice your contacts to click through to your blog.

Brand awareness across all marketing channels

Conclusion

You don’t see many marketers today who solely practice the traditional methods, but they’re still out there. If they want to start adapting their skills to the web, they can follow the seven strategies outlined above. With a willingness to learn, they can quickly leapfrog their younger colleagues who only understand marketing as it relates to the web.

A deeper study of the 4 P’s and promotion mix are just the start to helping an internet marketer become more well-rounded. It also wouldn’t hurt if they pick up an old marketing textbook from the 1980s and 1990s and see what still applies today, as well as gain a few ideas for how to change their methods to a degree.

Whether an internet marketer is struggling or thriving, adding (or at least understanding) the traditional techniques to their repertoire is only going to provide a boost. The companies that employ them will be all the better for it too.

Learn more with the following classes:

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Top of the Funnel Tactics for Inbound Marketing

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Why Online Businesses Should Invest in Customer Support

by

Editor's Note: Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist and business consultant who contributes to Awriter. Today she joins us to explain how online businesses are passing up major profits by skimping on customer support, and how to avoid that mistake.

 

Every online business has two major goals: sell products or services to customers, and support their continuous use. The first goal increases profits, while the second one works to retain existing clients and attract new ones. Exceptional customer support is a great way to accomplish the second goal because it helps you to meet the expectations of your market, and goes beyond that to building loyalty and improving your reputation.

Surveys have indicated that many online businesses fail to answer 50% of inquiries fielded to them by existing customers, so it’s clear that some companies neglect customer support, perhaps to avoid the costs of maintaining support representatives. But on average, it’s 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

That’s a very big difference, and so are the losses which result from poor customer support.  According to NewVoiceMedia, businesses in the U.S lose out on $41 billion in revenue every year thanks to this systemic oversight.

In this post, we will analyze several reasons why an online business should invest in customer support, and key takeaways that will help you to build a better support team, and avoid an unnecessary dip in profits.

Reason #1: positive customer experience is more valuable than price

Online surveys continue to find that customers regard service and support as more important factors than price. For instance, a 2014 customer experience study by American Express suggested that more than 60 percent of customers were willing to spend more with an organization that provides better service than competitors.

According to the same study, only 5 percent of online shoppers reported that customer support ever exceeded their expectations. It stands to reason that online marketers are losing $41 billion per year as a result.

The statistics don’t lie: when online businesses show customers that they are valued and appreciated, the feelings go both ways. Eventually, people develop loyalty for a company based on good experiences.

The takeaway: customers are willing to pay more if they are valued by a company. Make an active effort to treat customers as people, address needs and concerns, and improve relationships with them.

Reason #2: exceptional customer support builds awareness of your brand

Mark Zuckerberg calls a trusted referral “The Holy Grail of advertising,” and there are good reasons for that. First, word of mouth is one of the most powerful influencers on purchasing decisions. It’s human nature to seek out testimony, and judge based on the experience of others.

Second, more than 80 percent of online customers trust the opinions of their family members and friends about the products and services of particular companies, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report.

As such, it makes sense that content generated by your clients will always be more effective than advertising. The reason is simple: people trust experiences of previous customers, and as we have already established, good customer support makes happy customers!

The takeaway: People will remember your brand if they see positive feedback and comments about it, along with testimonies of good experiences with your customer service representatives.

Reason #3: excellent customer support appeals to new customers

Not so long ago, many businesses exclusively cared about closing a sale. As long as customers signed under the dotted line, it wasn’t very important how they were persuaded to do so. But things have changed a lot since then.

In the information age, and with hundreds of competitors to choose from, your target demographic has a lot of expectations for online businesses. It wants more than a service; it wants a personalized experience to justify choosing you over anyone else. In the competitive field of online academic writing tutorials, for instance, clients prefer services that emphasize and adapt to personal writing styles over generic by-the-book critiques.

Meeting these expectations by adapting to current and prospective clients goes a long way in improving the position of a company on the market, so excellent customer support is appealing to customers who want something more unique.

The takeaway: Internet customers seek out businesses who will adapt to the needs of individual clients, and to attract leads, your business should make every effort to accommodate unique needs.

Reason #4: effective customer support reduces issues

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to do online business without experiencing problems with customers. No matter how hard you try to make them happy, some problems are always going to arise. But this hard truth of business should not stop you from continuing to raise the bar. Here’s why:

While you can’t guarantee a lack of problems, you can ensure that they never become serious enough to damage the reputation of your company. If customers know that potential issues will be handled properly even before they make a purchase, they will feel more confident and comfortable. And, by mitigating the chance of a social media crisis, you take a solid precaution that bad publicity will not tank your business over a simple mistake.

The takeaway: good customer support is a way to reduce and prevent problems, making potential customers feel more confident. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and your business should be as focused on preventing hard feelings as much as it is on resolving them.

If these reasons have successfully demonstrated the importance of customer support for online businesses, here are some ways your customer support can be improved right now.

  • Go the extra mile. If you want customer support to become a tool for retaining existing customers and getting new ones, you could begin by exceeding their expectations. For example, once in a while, provide a free gift in addition to the effective solution to the customer’s problem. This will make them very happy.
  • Ensure immediate answers. When a customer is experiencing an issue, they are looking for immediate fixes. Because of this reason, they will try to contact support using various ways, such as website inquiry, email, or phone call. To ensure that they are getting what they need, keep your support running 24/7. The problems can occur at any time, so it’s better to be well-prepared.
  • Use the latest technology. There is a wide variety of tools available for companies that want to make their customer support excellent:

Sales Force – all-in-one customer service tool that provides multi-channel support, mobile support, case management, and productivity tools.

FreshDesk – a cloud-based platform that features powerful solutions, including self-service, reporting, and multi-channel support.

Vision Helpdesk – a software package that includes a number of effective customer support tools and allows to manage different channels, such as calls, social media, website forms, and email.

AnswerHub – a great option for creating customer self-service platforms and knowledge bases that allow them to answer their own questions when they need. It utilizes Q&A format, which enables a single place for finding answers.

Final Words

When examined closely, it becomes obvious that the cost of maintaining good customer support is justified and well worth it. Whether you already have a customer service effort that needs improvement, or whether you’ve never created one, there’s no time like the present to start. Dive into one of the tips listed above to start preparing your business for the future!

Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist, a business consultant who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger, and currently works at Awriter. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on FaceBook and Twitter.

 

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Developing a Social Media Customer Service Plan

Crisis Management with Social Media

Brand Advocacy Strategies Using Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Future Fundamentals for Digital Marketers

by

future of digital marketing

Editor's Note: Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss the future of digital marketing, and fundamentals that will guide the industry for the foreseeable future.

 

To be successful, digital marketers must be able to think beyond the present. Not only should they understand the present state of the industry, but they should also have a grasp on what’s coming down the road. While this is no small task in the constantly shifting work of technology and social media, being able to view trends through the proverbial crystal ball will keep you ahead of the curve, ensuring that your strategy will keep both current and future prospects interested. With that in mind, let’s take a look at developments which seem to portend the future of digital marketing.

Social media gets more visual

In 2015, Shareaholic reported that more than 31% of traffic to websites was driven by the top 8 social media platforms that year, up from 23% in 2014. It’s clear that social media will continue to grow and remain an important way of attracting users to your website, though the venues and types of sharing may change. Keeping up with the most popular networks and how people are using them is key to keeping your brand relevant in the future.

The rising popularity of video platforms like YouTube, Vine and Snapchat has inspired other networks like Facebook and Instagram to add video features. If you’re not already using a video as a part of your digital marketing program, you might consider finding ways of integrating it into your strategy. Video content will continue to be a key growth area because of its popularity and potential to convert leads. How much potential? Shoppers exposed to videos are 174% more likely to follow through with a purchase. They’ll also stay on your site twice as long, and look at twice as many pages.

Forbes predicts that more people will want to experience events vicariously, meaning they’ll want to see video to get a feel for scenes they can’t attend in person. What better way to display your company culture than bringing your prospects to the party? Think of other ways you can share your company’s story, help people to learn about your brand, and provide useful content that helps users solve problems and pains.

Aesthetics become more inspiring

Your digital marketing efforts must hold the attention of your prospects while clearly demonstrating who you are. While attractive color schemes and eye-catching font are the basic places to start, aesthetics are moving to a deeper plane in the near future.

Forbes predicts that content will move from the practical to the emotional – what will touch your consumers? Think inspirational, artistic and beautiful. Think about the kinds of videos that go viral – often, they touch people in a deep way. Connect with your prospects on a visceral level, and your content has a better chance of moving them to action while achieving a broader reach.

No matter how your posts change, one constant that will take your digital marketing into the future is authenticity. People can see through rushed, generic content, and will lose interest before you can lure them in with discounts and offers.

Analytics get analyzed

If you only think about analytics in terms of finding out much web traffic you’re getting, you’re missing out. Future analytics will build upon the use of psychology to help drive the success of websites. Already, basic principles of psychology are at the core of most marketing campaigns: think of FOMO, or fear of missing out, and other countless ways that marketing is designed to make people feel positive or negative emotions. More psychology to predict consumer behavior is a natural progression, and will help to improve the results of your digital marketing strategy.

Factors that are increasingly taken into consideration include when and why consumers abandon a sales funnel, how they respond to price changes, and methods that work on certain kinds of visitors, such as “flash” sales which are mainly effective on impulse buyers. Combined with user data, these advanced analytics will benefit your conversions. This brings us back to the idea that inspirational content will become more popular: it’s all about appealing to people’s emotions. In the next generation of content marketing strategy,you’ll be taking the principles of authenticity and compelling content to a new level.

Branding gets fluid

How the public sees and recognizes your brand, can be enhanced by the kind of content you offer on your social media channels and through your website, blogs or direct emails. The fluidity of social media and targeted messages may be fueling another trend: shaping the brand to an audience. Landor says the look and feel of a company’s brand may be shaped by its appeal to particular audiences, and the days of carefully-guarded branding may be over. Moving forward, smart companies will increasingly adapt to the changing tides of audience mood, habits and feedback.

Location will matter for digital marketing

According to The Guardian, when people are ready for information on a product or service, 89% of them turn to search engines first. Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your target audience reach by raising the prominence that search engines give to your content and products. The future of SEO will move far beyond keywords and quality content. Going forward, GPS will start to play a greater role in SEO – even now, Google doesn’t just care what people are searching for, but where they are searching from. Location-based advertising and mobile marketing will be significant areas of growth.

Geolocation is being used now to target advertising customers who are located a certain distance from relevant businesses or venues. Starbucks allows consumers to pre-order when they’re close to a local branch, and some retailers bring purchases out to a customer’s car when they arrive for a pre-ordered pickup. In customizing a marketing campaign to customer needs, it’s clear that geolocation will be another target for optimization and research. 

Not every crystal ball is clear: trends are bound to emerge that were not previously seen or anticipated. But hopefully this article has given you a sense of areas that already promise future relevance to your business. The key fundamental that will take you into the future is a sense of adaptability which allows you to change up your strategy with the times. By reading this article and keeping yourself informed, you’re already a step ahead of competitors who live entirely in the present.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

 


The 5 Skillsets You Need to Master Digital Fundamentals

by

Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our New Digital Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us this month to discuss the skillsets that marketers need to master the fundamentals of digital marketing.

 

To call ourselves digital marketers, it has become imperative to master the fundamentals of digital marketing. Today, marketers inhabit an educational universe that’s expanding at a rate of 7 new bachelor’s programs every year - but in this competitive educational marketplace, jobs are increasingly based on skills rather than degrees. And despite their growth, marketing degree programs are struggling to teach every skillset we need to legitimately claim we’ve mastered the digital fundamentals.

To be sure we’ve mastered these preliminary areas of a comprehensive digital marketing education, we need both knowledge and skills. We need to know the history and evolution of digital marketing. We need to know the ins and outs of the kinds of online media used for content promotion (like blog posts, white papers, videos, infographics, and press releases), and we need practice placing them in appropriate media moments.

These basic components of a digital marketing campaign allow us to execute marketing strategies with the care, precision, and digital mastery that today’s jobs consistently demand. That’s why we’ve laid out the 5 skillsets necessary to truly master the fundamentals of digital marketing: to help you prepare for the next step in your marketing career, and secure it in a solid foundation. Let's dive in!

1. Digital Advertising

Although email marketing is often considered the staple of every digital marketer’s playbook (see skillset #4), it’s really just a single play with multiple options. A competent digital marketer knows how to assemble a binder of playbooks, each of which might include a list of relevant search engine marketing tools that complement each other. At the same time, masters of digital fundamentals know where they can strategically place ads that reinforce email messaging, and they understand the importance of participating in complex, growing trends like affiliate marketing and programmatic ads.

A quick Google search of these terms and their definitions will show it is no easy task to comprehend these relatively new outreach methods, much less harness them skillfully. But masters of digital fundamentals can balance these skillsets in order to solidify a brand’s place among the rank and file of similar brands competing for the top spot on search engine result pages.

2. Social Marketing

With literally hundreds of social media platforms developing since the late 1990s, social media marketing is essential for conducting digital business successfully. Competent digital marketers know that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube get our feet in the door. But a master of the digital fundamentals also knows that their brand needs to harness the staying power of more permanent visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, at the same time making ample use of more ephemeral visual platforms like Snapchat, Periscope, and other live streaming services.

In more recent years, LinkedIn has become one of the most authoritative platforms to hatch a professional digital marketing strategy, especially because its social network has the capacity to connect disparate people with shared interests for the express purpose of doing business. And of course, blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress always help raise a business’s profile on Google and other search engines. While the skillsets for each of these platforms overlap, masters of digital fundamentals know when and where to use each one to its full potential.

3. Mobile Marketing

Mobile is the fastest-growing marketing skillset on this list, and it is quickly becoming the biggest and best way to spread a message. The core tools and terminology that surround the discipline grow as fast as the research and development, and so does the number of mobile marketing programs. The competent marketer knows they need to optimize their site for mobile users in order to make brand content easily accessible. But a master of digital fundamentals will know that the most popular content medium for mobile is the mobile application, while mobile video and location-based advertising have continued to grow in both popularity and opportunity for expansion. They will know how to do their homework and apply research to place messages at the most opportune moments. They will also know that because two out of every three Americans (and counting) own a smartphone, digital marketers need to exercise each of these skills in order to move forward boldly.

4. Email Marketing

As alluded to in the first skillset, email is one of the most fundamental skillsets to exercise in any digital marketing strategy. Running a direct email marketing campaign is perhaps the most essential skill necessary for executing such a strategy effectively. Competent digital marketers know that outbound campaigns like this can be easily automated, and masters of digital fundamentals know that learning automation tools can be difficult to use without expert training. They also know that the same can be said for learning the practice of small batch email marketing, which includes research, list building, targeting, message drafting, and tailoring to specific audiences with special kinds of content. They know that both learning and practicing all of these approaches is essential to mastering email marketing, and that when push comes to shove, email marketing campaigns can mean the difference between virality and obscurity.

5. The Marketing Funnel

As the structure that surrounds our foundation, the marketing funnel wraps all the digital fundamentals into one package. A competent digital marketer knows they need to direct people down their funnel for conversions. But a master of digital fundamentals knows that certain parts of the funnel are better for certain types of content than others. Assuming they need to market a mobile application, masters of the digital fundamentals might plan a digital advertising and email marketing campaign for the top of their funnel to increase brand awareness, a social marketing campaign with video for the middle of their funnel to pique interest, and a mobile marketing campaign at the bottom of their funnel to set up a free trial that leads to loyalty and a sale.

Above all: a true digital marketer knows that the more they practice these skillsets in conjunction, the more confident they’ll be when they say

they’ve mastered the digital fundamentals. Everything else comes with experience; experience comes by knowing the basics and applying them in everything you do. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

 


Digital Fundamentals: A Recipe for Success

by

Editor's Note: Tracy Vides is a content strategist and OMI contributor. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss how small and large businesses can benefit from studying fundamental digital marketing strategy.

 

The beauty of digital marketing is that it gives startups and smaller companies a chance to compete on a stage shared by larger enterprises; it levels the playing field by eliminating the need for a huge budget to reach a vast amount of consumers.

In the old days, a good deal of marketing boiled down to scale: companies threw out wide nets, hoping to gain as many leads as possible. This posed a serious obstacle for small businesses lacking the capital for such an expansive reach.

Now digital marketing has made it possible to pinpoint a target audience, research consumption habits and find the most effective strategy to broadcast your brand messaging and improve ROI without wasting copious amounts of money on experimental campaigns based on guesswork.

Let’s talk about fundamental digital marketing strategies, and key advantages that businesses of all sizes stand to gain from mastering them.

Create an effective SEO strategy

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a cornerstone of digital fundamentals. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. With a number like this, omitting SEO causes you to miss out on a lot of benefits. A well-planned strategy can do a lot to improve search rankings, increase web traffic, build leads, and ultimately make sales.

If you want to experience these types of results, it will require more than a one-day effort. SEO is built on five pillars:

  1. Strategy
  2. Conversion
  3. Content
  4. Optimization
  5. Authority and Trust

It might take weeks – or even months – to start seeing the results you want. Stay consistent with your efforts, and in time you will see the fruits of your labor.

Use social media to boost engagement

Currently, there are over 2 billion people using social media worldwide. Opting out of this bandwagon is simply not an option. Social media is an arena where brands have a prime opportunity to let their unique personas shine through while contributing value to the lives of their prospects.

The biggest advantage provided by social media is an opportunity to boost all your other marketing channels. For example, a good SEO strategy is based on producing quality content. One of the best ways to share that material is through social media outlets.

Additionally, it can play a huge role in learning what makes your target audience tick. Tools like Brandwatch give you the ability to monitor what users are talking about within your industry. Backed with actionable-metrics, you can properly gear your approach in a manner that will not only keep viewers engaged, but also maintain positive sentiments about your brand.

Social media marketing remains a mainstay of digital fundamentals. Understanding the ins and outs of how it can affect your business is crucial in building brand trust and exposure to your messaging.

Adapt to an increasingly mobile landscape

Back in 2014, mobile devices became more popular than desktop for digital media consumption.

More recently, global internet traffic in terms of pageviews on mobiles surpassed desktop traffic.

With this in mind, integrating your marketing strategy to fit the mobile landscape is vital. For instance, 71 percent of marketing emails are opened on a mobile device.

Mobile the go-to medium for people on the move. In turn, big e-commerce brands have made it easier than ever to make purchases via a smartphone. The benefits of optimizing for mobile are practically infinite. Here are several of them:

  • Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in search results.
  • Mobile advertising is more cost-effective than desktop advertising.
  • Mobile gives you a broader range of personalization options when marketing to prospects.

Altering your entire strategy towards mobile is an involved process. There are many things to take into consideration, like content format and consumption duration. But given how much it can improve a business, learning how to optimize accordingly is one of the best decisions you can make.

Make your operation efficient with marketing automation

Marketing automation is especially useful for startups and small businesses. Regardless of your goals, you should always strive to maximize efficiency. With automation, you can harness the power of technology to manage a significant portion of your marketing activities without depending on human control. This can do a lot to cut down on labor, and frees up more time to focus on big picture innovations.

According to Gartner Research, by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their brand relationships without talking to a human. Benefits of automated marketing include:

  • Targeted landing pages
  • Effective lead nurturing
  • Complete workflow management
  • Targeted and responsive email marketing
  • Increased productivity
  • Brand presence on multiple channels
  • Detailed customer profiles
  • Quicker and better customer support
  • In-depth tracking and measurement
  • Consistency

There is a whole lot more to gain from marketing automation than you might think. Do yourself a favor and study what it can do for your business. In the long-run, it can save (and earn you) incredible amounts of time and money.

Over to you

It’s no secret that the traditional marketing funnel is going obsolete in favor of digital. Brands everywhere are realizing how this shift in the landscape is putting a big emphasis on customer experience and targeted strategies. The underlying truth is that consumers are more connected than ever. Learning how you can accommodate this trend is crucial in building a brand for the future.

If you’re involved in a startup, small business, or even a large enterprise looking to build its knowledge of digital fundamentals, there’s no time like the present to learn. Get started today!

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI