Developing a powerful and effective digital strategy is increasingly critical for marketers today. Your strategy should define the specific goal, or goals, you expect to achieve with your digital marketing efforts. The key word here is "specific" because you want to be able to measure your success against those goals, and without specificity, you won't know how you're doing. Your strategy should also outline the specific tools and tactics you are going to use to accomplish your goals.
Often, the hardest part of developing a digital strategy is getting started. It can seem a bit daunting, especially if you've never created one before. In this three-part blog series, we'll present a list of tips that will provide the needed insights to help launch the initiative for your company. By the way, you will almost certainly notice some redundancy or overlap among these sections. That's due to how interrelated these topics are, and how they all essentially work together to form a great digital marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimization
According to the latest HubSpot research report, marketers ranked growing their search engine organic presence (SEO) as their top inbound marketing priority. There's good reason for that! If your website is your most valuable marketing asset (and it should be), search engine optimization is your most important tactic, because it is the most cost effective way of driving traffic/leads to your website. Here are a few tips for optimizing for SEO.
- Select a good domain name - If you can secure a domain name loaded with your most critical and distinctive keywords, that's ideal. If you have or can secure a long-standing domain name, i.e. one that has a long history as opposed to a brand new one, it will give you an advantage over a new one.
- Have a Google site map - Just about any good content management system (CMS) will give you an option to produce a sitemap (usually sitemap.xml) designed for Google. By doing so you give Google direct access to the organization of your website, and a pathway for accessing your content.
- Constantly create new website content - Content marketing is not just about attracting prospects and serving existing clients with rich, helpful, insightful information. A steady flow of good content (and daily should be your ultimate goal) can have a dramatic impact on your search engine ranking. Don't have a blog? Start one!
- Be keyword-smart - The effectiveness of loading your pages and meta-data with strings of keywords is zero. Search engines are now largely ignoring or even penalizing publishers who try to game the system with these dated techniques. But you definitely DO need to develop content that is rich with the terms and concepts that your prospects are likely going to search for. Keyword research and ongoing analysis of the data are essential.
- Mobile friendliness - Increasingly, Google is penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly. Whether you have a mobile website or a responsive website design (that looks equally good on mobile and desktop platforms), being mobile-friendly is no longer just a good idea... it's a must.
- Convert from HTTP to HTTPS - A couple of years ago Google announced that secure web browsing (through a secure certificate) would become a higher priority in its rankings. While a small boost originally, it is likely growing in importance as they have indicated that they want to “encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”
Measurement and Analytics
- Select analytics package(s) - There are a growing number of excellent analytics packages to choose from today. It is always a good idea to install Google Analytics (free) even if you also employ other packages. You should examine the features of your analytics package and determine what is the best fit for your team. It makes no sense to have a package that is so complex that you can't make sense of it. We are fans of HubSpot's suite of tools because the information is presented in an easily digested format, and presents actionable information and suggestions not just raw data. But we also advocate the use of additional tools, like heatmaps, screen recorders, etc. in order to capture and analyze how your efforts are progressing.
- Identify staff responsibilities - It is critical to identify who is going to have the responsibility of analyzing the data. Let's face it. It makes little sense to have a powerful analytics package if nobody has responsibility to analyze the results. Ideally, you will have or hire someone who is eager to review analytics—someone to whom this task is exciting. (I will confess that I love looking at HubSpot's reports, because it provides real feedback on how effective our marketing efforts are going.)
- Establish your goals - As cool as these new tools are, they are of little use if you don't know what you're trying to measure, and don't know if you're progressing toward something. Whether you use KPIs or other forms of goal-setting, you should establish five or six goals that you can measure results against. For example, your initial goals might be something like increasing blog subscribers by 50%, or increasing traffic from social media by 20%, or engagement by 10%. But undoubtedly, your goals should also include bottom line indicators like new customers, online revenue, and conversion rates. When you reach those goals, raise the bar, and go again!
While there is a lot to consider when developing your digital marketing strategy, these first two areas are critical components and a good place to start. Stay tuned for additional tips on how to create your strategy. In fact, please sign up to conveniently receive blog updates in your email.