Assessing Your Online Marketing Strategies
Online Marketing seems to be an ever-evolving industry, where new tactics are being implemented on a daily basis. Many times, companies begin to execute on the latest fad with little idea about why it’s important, and even less idea about its application.
What becomes important when taking a look at your online marketing strategy is to do a proper assessment of the situation before making off-the-cuff decisions based on the latest Google search or blog post (ironic, isn’t it, that I use a blog to get this point across).
Here are a few things to consider when determining the strength of your online marketing strategies.
First of all, has your company done an in-depth analysis of the customer profile? Even if the exercise was performed three years ago, updated technologies, browsing habits and corporate demographics could require you to do an in-depth re-examination. Your customer profile should be one of the most important parts of any marketing strategy – offline or on. If there isn’t a clear picture of the audience you’re targeting, the messaging, branding, and voice could be extremely misguided. If the personas aren’t relevant, it could be a clear indicator that your marketing efforts are being wasted simply because they aren’t speaking to the right person.
Don’t be afraid of the persona exercise – it’s a great way to get to know your prospects. Consider the age, gender, life stage, and motivations of each persona. Give each one a name, title, and even a backstory if it will help. The key here is to become extremely familiar with your prospect profile so you can appropriately direct content to them. If you know that your prospect is an upper management level woman, in her late 30s, married with 2 kids, who is most concerned about breaking gender barriers in the corporate world, it probably does your marketing very little benefit to produce a text heavy article about the latest trends in office design, accentuated with floral imagery and little in the way of relevant data – your key prospect has neither the time nor the inclination to bother reading.
Since the age of 15 and the first experience with high-school guidance counselors, people have had goal-setting drilled into their heads. Why? Probably because it’s extremely important. Your marketing strategy should have a goal – one that is measurable, realistic, yet challenging. If there isn’t a clear idea of the end goal, marketing strategies can begin to look like Frankenstein’s monster. Content, imagery, branding and collateral all get thrown together in a haphazard manner for the simple reason that there isn’t any clear direction.
Set marketing goals that make sense. What should the marketing to sales lead percentage look like? What amount of conversion is required to do so? How many active visitors, interactions and touch points are needed to get there? These are just a few standard examples that should be considered – goals that can be tracked, measured and analyzed for success. With an appropriate idea of the goal posts, it’s easier to define an effective strategy. With a clear direction, marketers can avoid falling for the latest fad, while ensuring the effective execution of a plan.
How’s the website doing? If this is a question that hasn’t been considered in a while (which, in the web industry could mean less than 6 months), it might be time to have a look. Web technologies change so fast, and people’s browsing habits have evolved with them. The state of the current website is going to be very significant in determining the effectiveness of any strategy. With mobile browsing growing (on an hourly basis it seems), new SEO rules being applied, and browser applications being launched, improved and re-launched, the sheer dynamic nature of the web requires that marketing teams keep their technology platforms updated, ensuring that they are in compliance with the latest standards.
Websites that are out of step with search engine algorithms could suddenly find themselves losing precious search ranking, and in some pretty extreme cases, could even find themselves being penalized for violations. In cases like this, recovering the lost status could be a long-term, time consuming and expensive task. Likewise, sites that are not easily accessible through handheld devices or tablets could easily find themselves losing over 30% of their audience to competitors, if for no other reason than it was simply too inconvenient to view. At the end of the day, ensuring that the site meets acceptable minimal standards can be the difference between an active marketing campaign, and a failing online presence.
One of the most interesting topics of late has been that of “content marketing”. This is one of the most often used buzzwords that seems so awkward to explain. Plain and simply put, content marketing is all about producing meaningful content that provides some kind of value to potential clients. Take this blog piece, for example. It should be no secret that this article is a content marketing piece. That said, in writing this commentary, I’m not just trying to get my audience to read my work and like my company – I’m actually trying to provide some relevant information that people will find helpful. If more people think the content a company produces is relevant and valuable, the more likely they‘ll be to seek out the source when it comes to a potential purchase or project.
Currently, the ability to provide meaningful content to prospects is a key factor being taken into account by search engines. Whereas once the Search Engines put a ton of faith in the number of inbound links a website had, now they’re paying attention to the number of shares, likes, and comments on any piece of information. Instead of basing search results on math and algorithms, search engines are basing rankings on what the social network indicates is relevant. In order to ensure an effective marketing plan, it may be important to examine what your content is saying. If it’s only preaching about your product or service, and never providing any additional value to the reader, you’re likely to see a dip in your overall ranking.
Active Social Media
As if to re-iterate the previous section, an active social media presence goes a long way to determining the success of a marketing strategy. Only a few years ago, companies were jumping on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon without really understanding why – they just knew it was where the people were. In today’s online marketing world, the same is true – it’s exactly where the people are. Now, as content marketing contributes to the overall success of a strategy, an active social media presence can likewise contribute to the effectiveness of the content marketing effort.
As marketers begin to streamline their content creation, and really focus on messaging that provides value to readers, the ability of social media to keep that content in front of the audience is unparalleled. As well, as the algorithms of yesterday have evolved into the social proof of today, the need to generate interaction on social media platforms has become integral to the marketing process. If your current marketing mix doesn’t include an active social media presence, it can be very hard to garner exposure for the company, but even harder to procure the approvals, likes, comments and shares that are becoming increasingly important.