SEO, social media and email are three of the most important online tactics in digital marketing. Follow these 10 best practices for guaranteed success.
The following best practices cover proven tactics in SEO, social media and email marketing. These expert tips are a great place to start when evaluating the maturity of your organisation’s digital marketing strategy.
Know your audience
The most important factor of digital marketing is to know your audience inside and out. You should create a number of target personas for your brand.
A digitally mature company will know which segments of their audience are more likely to convert than others. They will be measuring not only community sizes, but overall reach, engagement and how many conversions your social media activity delivers. The target personas will be much more detailed, and there could be up to four or five different templates. Hubspot offers some great advice on how to research and create your detailed buyer personas. A digitally mature company will know exactly what tactics will ensure a community members converts into a website visitor and eventually a customer.
Brilliant content is still one of the most important factors to successful SEO. Google analyses over 200 ranking factors to determine your SEO score, and the quality of your content accounts for a high number of them. Some of the factors include content length, grammar and spelling, keywords, originality and layout.
A digitally mature company will be producing original content aimed at establishing themselves as thought leaders. Big data, a different angle, or research gathered through surveys are all good techniques to use to display a deeper level of insight. A digitally mature company will have tailored their content around their audience personas.
No one knows exactly how search engines calculate authority, and there are most probably multiple factors. The type of links your site receives (lots of quality or ‘neighbourhood’ links?) or social references (from respected accounts?) and engagement metrics (long clicks?) may all play a role in site authority, according to Search Engine Land. Best practice suggests any outgoing press, articles and guest blog posts link back to your site. Buying links from dodgy sites will get you nowhere.
Do not overuse keywords
Search engine spiders can detect the overuse of keywords on your pages, so anything written unnaturally or with too many keywords will only harm you. Try to keep it natural and logical. If you are looking for keywords to use, Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner tool can help you come up with more.
Optimised landing pages
A site that is difficult to use or hard to navigate can hurt ranking by reducing time on site, pages viewed and bounce rate. Make it easy for your user to get around, and give prominence to where you want them to click. Too many ads and making it too difficult for people to find content are two common mistakes people make, that only increase bounce rates.
If you know your bounce rate it will help determine other information about your site. For example, if your bounce rate is 80% or higher and you have content on your website, chances are something is wrong, according to Search Engine Watch.
In 2014, a mobile-friendly site will be fundamental to a successful mobile SEO strategy. According to the BrightEdge MobileShare Report, smartphone traffic increased 125% as compared to desktop growth, which increased only 12%.
There is no point having great content if no one knows about it. Remember the goal is to make your content useful enough that people talk about it and link to it. This won't happen if people aren't sharing it so you have to get the word out.
Social networks and forums are the best places to do this. Make sure you are sharing helpful, interesting and engaging content. Also share other people’s content through your social media channels so you are not just talking about yourself. Be active and encourage discussion around topics relating to your industry and those that your target audience will be interested by. Make sure you have easy sharing buttons on your site and you get your staff regularly sharing your own content to their social media channels.
Socially Stacked produced a helpful infographic detailing a few dozen commonly used buzzwords and popular phrases to use in your social and blog content which will boost the likelihood of sharing.
Establish a personality
Establish a tone of voice for your social media channels, as it will help you to differentiate your business from the masses. It doesn’t have to be radical or game changing, but something which your target audience will appeal to and that you feel is most relevant for your brand.
Becca Fieler from Bizactions.com writes, “Many professional services providers, such as CPA firms, financial institutions, law firms, and payroll service bureaus, believe that personality diminishes the respectability of their organisations.”
“The trick is to integrate a unique, yet professional, personality into your marketing to generate more opportunities without losing credibility.” Use this tone of voice across your social media, emails and in your blogs in order to be consistent and memorable.
Include lots of images to make your content more visually appealing and help the reader digest the information. Original images work very well in social media as they give a live and behind the scenes feel. They are much more likely to be shared too.
Posts with photos are far more likely to be shared in social media. Photo posts get 120% more engagement on Facebook, according to Wishpond. Try to avoid stock photography as it can be a bit dull. Embedding videos is great as it will break the post up and appeal to a wider group of visitors.
While social media still enjoys some of its new-kid-on-the-block novelty, email still reigns as the preferred marketing method for 75% of users, according to research compiled by Web hosting service Host Papa.
Email offers numerous advantages when it comes to delivering information directly to users — it reaches a captive audience who has opened it to hear from you, and prompts action from recipients.
Marketers should take advantage of the opportunity presented by email to share information that is relevant to recipients who are familiar with the brand, who already associate with it in some way, and who expect timely updates from their preferred products and services.
According to the Aberdeen Group, personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. A digitally mature company will of course be utilising this, by creating one-to-one email communications and segmenting their audiences based on criteria like industry or product interest.
Measuring all your activity is absolutely key in digital marketing, as we all strive to prove ROI. Google Analytics offers some in depth analytics for free, but it is recommended that an expert analyses and feeds back the data.
Everything you do should be measured; from the amount of tweets you send, to the email open rates, to which keywords perform better for your SEO. This is where you will be able to test out every technique and work out what is best for your company.
A digitally mature company will be using Google Analytics’ Goals to go deeper into your website visitor behaviour and determine whether or not your visitors are acting the way you intend them to. Goals can even put your mind at ease by tracking the completion of tasks on your website, such as downloading brochures and submitting email addresses.
A digitally mature company will be taking those extra steps to ensure that their SEO, social media and email solutions are up to speed for the coming year. Those that don’t get more advanced with their marketing techniques will begin to see results suffer.
Alistair Norman | Marketing Director
Alistair is responsible for the strategy, design and implementation of our Inbound and Content Marketing, with a focus on developing B2B and B2C markets.