Here’s a common situation, which may sound very familiar to some:
A buddy approaches you and asks for some marketing help. The last few years of striving it out in a job they care little about has paid off, they now have a business idea of their own, some money in the bank, and a revived focus for their career. They are untouchable, fueled up with energy and ambition, and all they want to do is get stuck straight into their new project, make things happen and make some dollars. It’s time for them to let the world know, but the problem is they don’t know how to and the best way to do so. So they look on the web and can quite easily be pulled in every direction by the pure volume of articles, 101′s, books, video’s, guides and expert opinions.So after spending a few weeks/months learning, trying, failing and succeeding , they ask their buddy who works in Marketing for help, as he must know:
- How do I get my site ranked on Google?
- How do I know if my marketing is working?
- What marketing strategy should I be doing?
- Should I set my brand up on Social Media?
- How do I monitor my brand on Social Media?
- Should I use ‘this’ tool? Should I pay for ‘this’ service?
Even the most successful marketing gurus certainly do not have the instant key that will ensure success. However, experience and insights are good things. The tools selection of marketing is essential. They help us to gain accurate insights that become good inspiration. They help us to formulate short and long term strategies, and they are our “silent-reliable-butler” when benchmarking and tracking KPI’s. They also help us to be as efficient as possible with time and situation, whilst not compromising on visibility and quality. The tools that you choose to use are that varied. This post will prevent you from being that person who is still trying to figure out how to light a fire with sticks when matches are available. Below is a quick top-level pointer to some of the basic tools that we use, and would recommend. There are tons more tools out there (good, bad, and in-between) but this should set you on your way. It’s then up to you to discover what works for you.
There are many tools, but which one I have to use?
First of all, there is an old proverb that says something like “a good workman never blames his tools”. This shouldn’t be misinterpreted to mean if a bad job is done it can’t possibly be down to the workman’s tools. A ‘good’ workman should choose the best tools for the job, which give him or her the best results in the best time possible, all with the best return on expense. A good workman, together with good tools, will result in exceptional results. The good workman won’t have any need to blame his tools.
Most people are aware that there are bunch of digital or social media marketing tools out there. The abundance of available tools ranges in quality, usefulness and cost. There are many free marketing tools that are great, and also many paid tools that are pretty rubbish, and vice versa. So to make sure you don’t get trapped in the quicksand of bad and/or expensive tools. It’s also worth noting that there are sometimes subtle differences between certain tools.
- One tool may be ‘better’ than another because it may suit a very specific objective slightly more than another tool.
- Another reason for what is the better tool may be cost versus return (for example, a tool may be substantially more expensive than another but only slightly as well)
- It may simply come down to subjectivity of the user’s own preference, such as the opinion that one interface is ‘better’ than another.
Planning & Analytics
It’s amazing how much this little nugget is neglected!
What’s the situation? What are your objectives? Are they good and achievable? How are you benchmarking and measuring these objectives?
Planning, benchmarking and campaign analysis are the basic needs to any campaign, whether spending millions or just a little. The results achieved will be directly proportionate to your planning and analytics.
Planning & Analytics – Low cost/free tools
- Google Analytics: Data is everything for you. You MUST set-up and regularly use analytics. This will let you see how many people come to your site, where they come from, how long they stay, what keywords they use to find your site, what marketing campaigns they are coming in on, what campaign drives the most amount of leads/sales, user behaviour as they go through the sales funnel, etc. Google Analytics is free and extremely simple to use. There are loads of tutorials on the web as to how to set up use it, and you really don’t need to be technically minded at all to do so.
- Google Trends: This is an extremely useful tool to view and compare search engine traffic on Google for up to five keywords at a given time. It lets you filter the data by location, date range and also vertical. This tool will help you plan, analyse and predict search trends, whilst also giving you valuable insights into rising search terms similar to the words you are analysing. Google Trends is highly recommended.
Search Engine Marketing
“How do I get my site ranked on Google’s Search Engine?”
The million dollar question and probably deserves to be a blog post in its own right, but below are a few bits of advice and links to help the tools.
The short and vastly simplified answer is that there are two main methods of attack. For maximum results, both methods need to be understood, considered, utilised and then monitored: Organic Search and Paid-Ads Search.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or getting ranked organically on a search engine such as Google is a bit of black art, in that there are a lot of opinions on it. Google doesn’t actually say in granular terms how to get ranked; after all a large part of their business makes money from the paid search! Google has a complicated algorithm that determines what sites rank organically for specific keywords, it is constantly being updated, and search engine results are also personalised to a specific user.
That said, Google’s focus is on the user and quality of their search engine results. Google wants people to use their search engine over a competitor (kind of dominating on that front) because their search results are most relevant. So what Google does is give out best practice guidelines to web masters.I would encourage anybody new to SEO to have a read of SEO for beginners guide by Google which is actually a very easy read but a great overview of the basics. Even though Google have recently updated their Search Engine algorithm, I still think this guide is a useful overview to get the background on best practice web content creation.
Content Writing – Think Niche – Be Relevant
This post isn’t about SEO tactics and content writing, but here is little pointer.
A big consideration when writing web content is thinking about what keywords you use on your website. Don’t try and focus on generic keywords that represent entire and vast genres (e.g. Photography, Mortgage, Insurance, Clothes, Consultancy). With generic terms you are competing against thousands upon thousands of well established websites, all desperately trying to be found on Google.
Think more niche. The more niche the keyword, the less available traffic, but:
- The better the quality of the traffic
- The less competition.
An example of this would be Outdoor Extreme Sports Photography versus Photography.As mentioned above use Google Trends
to analysethe actual keyword popularity, and to discover niche keyword opportunities.
Paid Search Advertising is one of the best and most efficient Digital Marketing tools a brand / person should use to grow their business; caveat if used properly. You need to be careful that you spend sparingly and monitor what the traffic you are buying does. For example, if you spend some dollars, how many visits do you get from this, and from these visits how many actions do you get such enquiries. Those leads will act as a guide to determine how many sales that you might win. You will then be able to work out your ‘Cost Per Acquisition’ (CPA). If you spent $1,000 on driving traffic but it generated 500 sales at $50 each, you would be pretty happy right. That’s kind of how it works, if managed properly. Google has loads of free online courses to teach you on this.
Social Media: Management & Monitoring
One of the best and most cost effective ways you could possibly get people to your site/blog is via word of mouth and Social Media. The opportunities in social media are endless and ever growing. From being a valuable customer service channel, to driving awareness of a product, to engaging with your target audience. Brands’ success on Social Media really is in direct relation to their level of planning, creativity, resource, and on-going analysis of the data. Consider and test all of these elements, and you’ll be on your way.
The problem, if you can call it that, is there are new social networks coming out all of the time. Don’t overstretch yourself. You don’t need to be on every social network. Better to focus your efforts on a couple first and build up greater engagement than have poor engagement but be on all of them.
Key to Social Media Success
Objectives: Success is just a metric of an objective. Define a realistic objective and then measure success against that. Right now, for the majority of brands, selling directly via social networks is not a realistic objective, so therefore if measuring success on this, you will fail. That’s not to say social can’t help selling, as it really can. Word of mouth and endorsements from friends are the most powerful way of selling, you just need to be creative, engaged and not talk like a car salesman.
Frequency: Doing a trillion Facebook status updates and tweets in a day is really not the right approach! The key to all social media is engagement. The higher the frequency of posts (particularly on Facebook) the more you are diluting your own message, and clogging up your fans/followers news feeds; which is annoying. Big big brands like Starbucks and Coke will normally only post 3-4 Facebook updates a day (max), and they have millions of followers!
Quality over quantity: Despite what some people / books would have you believe Social Media is not about quantity of followers, that is quantity should not be your primary focus. Social Media is all about the quality of the engagement/interaction.
Key Social Media Sites:
- Facebook: Creating a business/brand page is simple and quick to do. Leverage your buddies to promote you (they are your biggest assets), and you will start building an audience. Make sure you keep your posts short and sweet.
- Twitter: If you do it right, Twitter is an amazing tool to build a quality engaged network that will help promote your content, as well as assist you learning a lot from other like minded people.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share images and videos you find on the web. You can browse boards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. Depending on your specific business, objectives, and creative; Pinterest can be a great network to drive traffic / brand exposure. Pinterest have recently launched brand pages, which now makes it even easier for brands to be set up on this network. Here is a Pinterests 101 guide from Pinterest themselves.
Social Media Management:
You have set up your Social Media properties, it’s important that you closely monitor interaction on there, keep your posts fresh, and engage with like-minded people talking about subjects relevant to your business. Well, this is where Hootsuite
comes in. Hootsuite is a fantastic social media management tool. You can use the free edition, or if you want more functionality such as assigning interactions to specific team members, and more detailed analytics, you can upgrade it to the pro account. Here is a useful 101 video guide to Hootsuite
Blogging is a great way of keeping your web content fresh and engaging. Having and maintaining a blog not only keeps your own mind focused and up-to-date on relevant subjects, but it also shows your audience that has a genuine interest and passion for the subject area, and that you are a leader in what you do. All of this helps build your personal/brand’s credibility.
I use Blogger - it is free, a google tool (which has its benefits), very easy to use and makes your blog mobile friendly, which is key in this day and age. There are hundreds of templates you can use, and there is a huge online community to help if you don’t know how to do something. Word Press (Paid &Free) (is probably the most widely used Blogging platforms), and amongst many others there is also TypePad. They are all very easy to use and setup, and all are good for different types of blogging. Have a play, and at the end of the day it comes down to what you feel most comfortable using.
Despite what some people would have you believe, Email Marketing is still a very powerful method of marketing and the way to keep your service/brand in your audience’s mind. As with Social Media, you need to be considerate of the frequency of emails you send. Frequency for email marketing really comes down to your business type, and what the user opted in for.
MailChimp is a fantastic Email Marketing product and one that I highly recommend. Here is a Best practice guide to Email Marketing by MailChimp.
If you are creating a survey, again there are many good and cheap products available to you. The two survey tools below are the ones I am most familiar with. Both of them have simple interfaces and easily integrate with your Social Media properties such as Facebook.
Knowledge is power, or to step that one step further as per a comment from the great Tony Robbins, “Knowledge is only potential power until it comes into the hands of someone who knows how to get himself to take effective action. In fact, the literal definition of the word “power” is “the ability to act.“Arguably one of the most important ‘tools’ is your own brain. Digital knowledge today can very quickly become old news tomorrow, even though it can be time-consuming to keep up-to-date with everything it’s essential you keep your finger on the pulse. Here are a few tools above and beyond those mentioned within this article that help you keep your finger on the pulse.
News Apps / Alerts:
- Zite - From social media to sport news. This is a brilliant news aggregation tool.
- Flipboard - Similar to Zite, but not as good. The interface is great though.
- Google Alerts - Very handy tool that allows you to set up email alerts for specific keywords that you want to monitor across the web.
- Get Abstract - One of the best services out there to help with learning. This subscription service is a very large collection of business book summaries. The key elements / learning of each book are summarised and available to read. This not only enables you to ‘read’ more, but also helps you decide whether the book is of use to read from start to finish or not.
Well, that’s it. A quick crash course on some of the tools that are at your disposal. The key to success is clear objectives, considered strategy, research, analytics and a pragmatic mind: test, refine, test, refine.