Digital Marketing – What is it?
Seems like a fairly straightforward question doesn’t it, and perhaps a fairly basic one for a digital marketing company to be writing about? But, with an average of 1000 people per month searching Google for ‘ What is Digital Marketing ’ in the UK alone, there is clearly a demand for a thorough explanation.
What is Digital Marketing – Digital marketing encompasses anything which advertises your business online and helps to build your brand? In recent years the line between SEO, social media, marketing & PR has become more & more blurry as the internet generation comes of age.
To run a successful digital marketing campaign, you need to be an analytical, creative, innovative, organised…a jack of all trades….and yes, master of them all!
So, without further ado, here is a breakdown of all the components which make up digital marketing:
Granted, a fairly obvious component, but one which is often under-utilised. Most businesses these days will have a website. Great news, box ticked. But, and I can’t stress this enough, simply having a website is not enough. It doesn’t mean you can step back and relax, waiting for the sales to come rolling in. Oh, if only! Even before you venture into the possibility of talking to web designers, really think about what you want your website to achieve. Think about how you want to be portrayed.
Think about your target customer. Look at your competitor’s sites. Don’t copy, but allow yourself to be inspired. In fact, look at websites in general, become familiar with styles, whilst keeping in mind the practicalities.
Responsive design, easily seen on mobile devices, easy to navigate design is key, ensuring room for content and optimisation, whilst giving the searcher what they want. Don’t be swayed by the latest gimmicks or trends in design if you want your site to stand the test of time. Take time to plan thoroughly with your design team to ensure you are happy with the end result.
SEO and Design
When you initially speak to your designers, ask them if the site will be SEO friendly. Ensure a blog page is built-in. Ask them to give you a lesson on the workings of your site, will it have a Content Management System (CMS), which will enable you to edit the site without having knowledge of coding…as in all probability you will need to access the site at some time to add products, services etc.
So, you have your new site….wonderful. Now it’s time to tell the world about it!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO or SEM (Search Engine Marketing as is also referred to) is a series of processes performed on your website which, when carried out properly, will result in increased rankings within the search engines, increased targeted visitors to your site, and increased conversions. This is, of course, a basic overview, but you get the gist! In slightly more detail for those who like the nitty gritty!
Title tags – these are titles for each page which the search engine will use to match a user’s search to a relevant website. These titles are not shown on the actual site but do appear on a search engine results page above the meta description
These tags are input via your CMS system. Getting the right keywords within your title tags is of paramount importance. This is where keyword research comes into play. Detailed, thorough keyword research is integral to any digital marketing plan if you want your website to succeed. There is no point being on page one of Google for a keyword which nobody ever uses!
Once you are armed with your keywords and your titles are all completed, reflecting the content on each individual page, you can move on to meta descriptions.
Whilst meta descriptions will not help in terms of rankings, they are an incredibly powerful tool in that the right description could result in a user clicking on your site over and above your competitors. Meta descriptions need to be different for every page on your site, to reflect the content of that page. A large task for a site with hundreds of pages, but a commitment worth making if you are taking SEO seriously.
Once you have your meta descriptions completed, you can move onto header and alt tags, yet more ways of telling the search engines what your site is all about.
Always bear in mind, however, that your site needs to be made first and foremost with your customer in mind, not the search engine. It can be a balancing act to get both things right, which is where an agency’s expertise and experience will come into play.
Image Text Tags
Once all your tags have been completed, photos tagged and content optimised, there is still the rather important matter of technical SEO. Is there a sitemap, is your site loading fast enough, is your site responsive for mobile search, are there duplicate pages or content, are there any broken links, does your site have robots txt? The list goes on and to be honest, that is another blog for another day, but these are all factors which your digital agency will be looking at and adjusting accordingly.
Whilst having good, quality content on your site has always been important, now it’s a must and is one of the major factors Google will take into consideration when ranking your website. So, what do we mean by quality content?
As it stands at the moment, Google cannot read and understand images. Therefore, you need to have content on each page explaining what that page is about.
All content must be original and well written. Ensure you update your content. Do not let your site go stale. By that I mean if you have a news page, for example, keep it updated. One of my bugbears is to have news items or promotions on a site which are a year out of date. It sends entirely the wrong message to your customer.
Show that you care by taking the time to do some general housekeeping on your site.
As a general rule of thumb, 250-300 words per page is a good start. I know that will not always be possible, and of course on blog pages, this number will significantly increase, but it is a starting point.
Everyone has heard of blogs and how important they are, and yet so many businesses either do not use them or have no idea of their power and importance. As I mentioned, the major search engines want websites to be updated regularly with good quality, informative information. How better to do this than to write a blog, which in essence becomes a brand new page on your site (thus more opportunities not only to impress your customers with your superior knowledge but also to utilise more meta tags).
The idea is to become a leader in your field. The go-to company if anyone has questions and queries. By establishing your company as the experts with your regular blogs about your industry, you are also telling the search engines that your site should rank well as it contains information which people want to see.
Thankfully, gone are the days of shoddy websites with little value to the internet user. Today’s most successful sites are full to the brim with current news, useful advice and expert opinion. Hallelujah!
As a general guide, I would suggest a 1000 – 1500 words minimum. Get your team to help as it is a great way to earn more about your industry, or alternatively, ask your digital marketing agency about their blog writing service.
Now, this is a tricky one, as link building as we know it has changed almost beyond recognition over the last few years. Link building is basically the process of getting other websites to link to your site. You know the kind of thing….you may write a blog and reference another company. If you make that reference a link which will take the user straight to that company’s website, they will benefit from that link.
In years gone by, link building was a numbers game. The more the merrier. Link farms (paid for links) were rife, leading to websites having thousands of links from poor quality irrelevant sites, and in return would see their sites soar up the rankings.
Thankfully the search engines cottoned onto this exploit fairly quickly and begun punishing sites who had entered into this practice. Cue mass hysteria!
Google explained that links must now be from relevant, authoritative sites. This was followed by a couple of years where link building became something of an enigma. Everyone knew it was important, and digital marketers would spend hours sourcing relevant websites, guest blogging, everything to gain reputable links whilst avoiding Googles wrath.
Nowadays things have become somewhat simpler. Whilst link building still plays its part in any digital marketing campaign and links from reputable websites are still desirable, the key now is to invest your time and knowledge on your own website, in the hope that others will want to link to your content (linkbait).
It seems like a common-sense solution really, and one that benefits those who do invest in their site to make it the best that it can be.
A word of warning, do check that your site does not have any potentially harmful links, or if you have an agency, this is something they should offer as part of their general SEO offering.
Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram
Social media is a bit like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. But, do not fight it, there is no point. Embrace it! For any modern company, to have a presence on social media is a must. That is not to say that you have to be actively involved in every social media platform. You may find Facebook works for you, whilst Twitter does not, or vice versa. Or perhaps you just have not given it a chance.
Social media is a fantastic way of portraying your company in a more personable way. It is a great opportunity to nip customer service issues in the bud, keep your customers updated with the latest company news, events and offers. Another use can be used for market research and as a sales tool.
It is also a useful tool for driving visitors to your website, so do not push it aside. It is here to stay and should form an integral part of your digital marketing plan.
A great way to contact your customers directly is via email marketing. This may in the form of a monthly newsletter, or perhaps a bi-weekly product update, the choices are endless.
Perhaps you are trying to target new customers, or trying to win back old ones. By targeting your email to the right person using specific demographics, you are increasing your chances of making that sale. Also, with the analytical tracking data available, you will be able to see who has opened your email and so can very clearly make decisions or actions based on these results.
It also has the advantage of having no geographical barriers, meaning your digital marketing campaign could go global with very fast results.
Email marketing has become one of the main online marketing techniques in recent years. With immediate and measurable results, it’s easy to see why.
Lead generation is an area which many companies struggle with. You may not have the resources for a sales team but need that business exposure. This is where digital marketing comes into its own. Whether that is by an email marketing campaign, online polls, social media campaigns, paid search, a fully optimised site, relevant industry-specific blogs. Any and all of these areas will result in increased interest in your company.
Online networking – LinkedIn and forums
Name an industry type and 9 times out of 10 there will be a forum dedicated to it. Do not be afraid to express your opinions on such forums. This is yet another way of putting yourself or your company forward as the experts.
LinkedIn is a fantastic way to meet like-minded business people online, sharing experiences, posting blogs and contributing to discussions.
We all know the power of networking, so do not neglect this powerful tool. At the time of writing this blog, there were a staggering 15 million LinkedIn users in the UK. Members all talking business, many potentially needing your services or products.
As with all social media platforms, there is always the option to pay to promote your company, which can have a dramatic effect in a relatively short time period. There is an art to getting these paid ads to work for you, but do not dismiss it. In years gone by you may have paid for an ad in the Yellow pages. It is often worthwhile to allocate some of your marketing budgets to paid online advertisements…the biggest advantage is that you can target who sees your ad.
If you look at a search engine results page, as a general rule the top 3 websites are paid ads. There are also extra paid ads on the right-hand side of the page too. The major search engines will give your site one of these prime spots if you use their paid ads, or pay per click service. In brief, for every time somebody clicks on your website, you will pay an agreed cost.
This price will be based on the competitiveness of the keyword. Some companies will spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on this service per month.
The advantage of paid ads is the immediacy it offers. Organic SEO can take months before meaningful results are seen. PPC results are immediate, although can be costly.
Research has found that if your website appears within the top 3 paid places, you’ll get most visitors. If you are organically ranking well further down the page, will build trust in the searcher and will lead to a much higher click-through rate.
There is any number of factors to consider when setting up a PPC campaign. It will most certainly help if you have a good website which has been well optimised. Your agency will talk you through the process to ensure the best value for your money.
There is amazing analytical software out there, much of it free. These will give you invaluable insights into your digital marketing campaign. Google analytics and webmaster tools being the two main ones. You will have at your disposal information about visitor numbers. Which pages they visit, where on your website they click, how they found your website and more.
If set up properly analytics can track conversions, which are targets that can be set to track whether a visitor has purchased a product or clicked on a download or similar.
It can also pinpoint technical issues with your site, how many links you have and where they are coming from and so much more besides. Ensure your designer links Google Analytics to your site so you will have this invaluable information at your fingertips. Once you have this information, you can tweak, or if necessary overhaul your digital marketing.
Likewise, there is software available to analyse your social media activity. This can include geographical locations of your followers, age, gender, the time of the day they are most active. Extra reporting on who is active and who isn’t. The influencers, as well as information about your activity and its success. Armed with this information you can target your campaigns much more efficiently and effectively.
So there you have it, a brief overview of the man components which all fall under the digital marketing umbrella, we hope we have answered the big question ” What is Digital Marketing? ”
All of the above components are small cogs in a big wheel, each one reliant on another to make your digital marketing campaign successful. Each one, if done well, has the potential to make a real and significant difference to your company. A mixture of these activities will certainly improve your online visibility. Whilst adopting all of the above processes has the potential to change your business beyond recognition.
It is entirely possible to perform all of the above functions yourself. It will take a lot of research but it is not unachievable. Alternatively, find a reputable digital marketing agency. They will talk you through the process and work with you to tailor a campaign which meets your company requirements both now, and for the future.
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