Diversification is Key to Success with your Digital Marketing Strategy

As a business owner, where you put money to grow your business is constant focus. The goal, of course, is to invest where you can see the most consistent return, whether it be in technology like a new computer network, staff like new partners or managers or in marketing, to draw in and convert new business. This investment is also the bane of most business owners, and when it comes down to it, the adage rings true: “You have to spend money to make money.” The question is, where do you invest and how to you ensure that investment offers the best return for your company?

No matter where you invest money into your business, be sure that you have a plan of action, a short-term and long-term strategy with specific goals and check points to gauge success. Impulse investments, rather like gambling, often don’t pay off. You have taken the time to develop a skill that you have found marketable to others in such a way that you built a business around it. You took the time to create your company, and built a brand based on quality work. Don’t gamble it all away on the a hot tip or “sure thing.” The risk simply is not worth it. However, once you have your business positioned, it’s time for the next stage – growth.

Think of your Business Investment the Way You Would Your Financial Investment Portfolio

Any financial advisor worth their salt recommends diversification of your investment portfolio, right? The whole “don’t put all your eggs into one basket” rule holds true for investments into your company as well. The same goes for your marketing program.

When you look to grow your business, the first thing to consider is how to expand your reach to your target market, how to get more of the pie, and that means proactive and intentional marketing not only to your existing clients, to allow for cross-sell or upsell opportunities, but to that part of your audience that may not be aware of your business yet.  That includes friends and neighbors of your existing client base, those that have gotten word-of-mouth referrals and anyone completely unaware that you exist.

The answer to most efficiently developing this awareness? Marketing, with the lions’ share of your funds going to web marketing.

It’s no secret that online marketing is at the forefront of success of the leaders in most markets, not that there aren’t still good ol’ referrals, but even word-of-mouth references are being vetted online. This is not a trend that is going to change, and as mobile continues to drive the world to an increasingly-online reality, any company not investing in their digital brand is losing out on a significant potential for new business.

Diversify, Diversify

When it comes to marketing, as long as businesses have needed to promote themselves, they have sought the “one thing”, the one investment they can make that will work to build their brand, engage new clients and keep existing ones. Well, as these same business owners have come to find, there is no one tactic that will do all this for any company. I mean, even the kids with a lemonade stand use signage and verbal sales to get customers, right? That said, no matter where you invest your marketing dollars, it’s critical to remember the basket of eggs rule. Diversification, like that of a financial investment portfolio, is needed to garner the best return on investment and grow your business effectively.

Marketing is like any other business investment. You need to gauge the risk against the cost and potential gain to make an educated decision where you invest funds to grow your business. The key is to balance risk and potential return.

Keep these 4 points in mind when diversifying your marketing investment:

  1. Keep in mind online marketing is necessary for any business. Even word-of-mouth referrals vet potential vendors online before deciding.
  2. There is no single marketing tactic that will work alone to drive business or build your brand. Dovetail your investment to ensure you vary your tactics as much as necessary to ensure you get the response you need.
  3. Digital marketing does not remove the need for any traditional media, but it can enhance and supplement it. All strategies, online and offline, need to dovetail as far as buyer persona, geography, message, timeline and goals.
  4. Invest in your marketing to meet competition, market trends, requirements and best-practices of the media you are targeting as well as your business goals.

So, balance your marketing strategy. Track for response and real-time business effects and augment as needed to build your business at the pace you are most comfortable with.

What do Google Algorithms, Mobile & Local Optimization and Your Business Have in Common?

algorithm building blocks for web search results

If you have a website for your business, chances are you’ve heard of Google algorithms or their nicknames like Panda, Hummingbird  or Penguin. If not, you probably have noticed that sometimes your website is visible in search, and sometimes it isn’t.

The hard and fast of it is, Google algorithms are the math-based elements that drive search potential and they change hundreds of times a year, with a few “big” changes happening throughout. There is no  absolute rhyme or reason to the scheduled changes except that Google is always innovating and looking to improve the UX, user experience, via their browser. At this stage in the game, user engagement and response drive your search potential, which means how your site visitors interact with your website and pages is crucial to your ability to improve your market share online.

Google makes these changes so the right people can find the right businesses online when and how they want to. The algorithms define the building blocks your web platform needs to use to support your digital brand’s search potential.

So, I ask again.

What do Google Algorithms, Mobile & Local Optimization and Your Business (and it’s ability to make money) Have in Common?

Everything.

With more than 80% of people using the internet to find products, services and partners for their needs, a business that is not paying attention to their digital brand is losing business. Further, any business not paying attention to their web platform’s compliance with Google’s many and ever-changing algorithm focuses – like mobile-first indexing and local optimization is losing ground to the companies that are, which means less market-share (a/k/a/ money) for you.

Did you know that a website should load in under 3 seconds on a mobile device to be compliant to Google guidelines? How about the fact that, according to Google, 53% of site visitors abandon a mobile site that takes more than 3 seconds to load? And one more to drive it home – 62% of people who have a poor interaction with a brand on a mobile phone or tablet will not return to the website.

What’s so important about local optimization, then, you ask? Mobile lead the local optimization need. When your client is on the street or in your vicinity, they should be able to find your office via search when they’re nearby. Have you checked on your local listings – like Google Maps, lately?

What’s the Bottom Line?

If your website is not compliant with the latest and upcoming Google algorithm updates, you’re losing out on business and losing position in SERPs. These algorithm updates are not a shock to digital marketers who have been watching the search results adapt to the latest technology uses and user behaviors. Mobile devices are not going away, so local and mobile will continue to be a focus for search performance potential, using user engagement (do they click on your sites and pages) and lead generation (do they call, chat, email or stop in) as performance criteria.

Ensure that your digital brand and properties, website, social platforms, local listings, etc. are hitting the markers Google has set to be able to drive business for your company.

Need help? We’ll do a free audit of your digital program and let you know if there are any gaps in the bridge leading your leads to your business.

 

Momentum and your Web Project

indexUndertaking a web project like a website redesign or redevelopment is often seen as arduous to many companies, a necessary evil driven by the fluidity and innovative nature the digital environment requires to keep your business competitive. And to be honest, it does take a good amount of concentration and coordination to pull it off effectively. Your company’s website is the central hub of all your online marketing efforts, the lead generating focal point of all your content, and as such, it needs to be maintained and updated regularly and keep to ever-changing best practice standards. Why? To keep your brand relative and aligned with your customers needs, ahead of competitors and a representative industry.

Setting the Stage for your Web Project

So, yes, you need to redevelop your website and yes, you need to design it with your target market‘s needs in mind. The activity requires, first and foremost, a pre-development, development and post-development calendar that lay out each phase, detailing the active members at each stage as well as their deadline orientations to keep the project moving.

This process requires a deep-dive both internally and externally using resources like sales and customer service staff to map your buyer’s interactions with your company to understand what your customers want and how they interact with your brand. External data can be acquired using incentive-driven polls or surveys that will garner direct answers from your existing target lists. Industry statistics round out the data you need to develop your web design strategy. Too often a website strategy is begun with “how we want the site to look”. This is the wrong strategy.

The Web Development Process

Using your gathered data, the first step is the development of your website navigation, keeping in mind at all times how your customers will get the information they need to understand who you are, what you do and what makes you different (a/k/a: better) than your competition. Website navigation is the foundation upon which your web design is built, so take the time to consider all interaction types, and how your audience wants information served up to them. Remember, the goal of this website is to drive leads, really knowing your target market, and keeping to the KISS principle for global navigation, will lend to a navigation strategy that will increase lead generation.

Following these research and navigation development stages are design mock-ups. Now is the time to think about how you want your site to look. Do some competitive analysis at this point and think of how you want your brand to be perceived. With design and navigation finalizes, we then move on to site development, content creation and implementation, testing, internal reviews, edits and adjustments, then finally, site launch.  While listed sequentially, the process is not always linear, and many of the steps are continually repeated.

Feels like it’s going to be a long road already, doesn’t it? Well, it should feel that way and it’s worth every second when it’s done properly. Marketing strategy begins with understanding who your brand is in the industry, what your differentiators are and how you can help your customers. Your web project needs each individual component to fit together naturally and flow as one unified and pleasant experience. to support each of these components.

However, no matter how organized, focused or engaged your team is with the web project, there is one thing that will derail even the most-strategically developed plan: loss of momentum.

Stick-to-It-iveness and Your Web Project

Have you ever gone to the store with a list of items that you intend to buy and gotten sidetracked looking at some well-placed item that isn’t on your list, eventually forgetting to get what you went to the store for in the first place? Or, have you begun writing an article or a speech and walked away when things started to flow, only to lose your perspective? You spend time driving back to the store, wasting time and money, or flounder looking for the “perfect phrase” that, once lost, can be very elusive to regain, and while you’ll eventually finish writing the speech the results are diminished somewhat.; due to loss of momentum in the creative process.

We have noted that a web redevelopment or redesign is a multi-step, and lengthy, process and then apply the same concept of losing momentum during the shopping trip or the writing activities. When you pause, or worse yet, stop the forward motion of the web project, you lose track of your timelines, your strategy, and of the plethora of direction and goals that were developed during your research stages. Small misses in content, layout of specific pages and navigation options are forgotten in the downtime.

When things pick back up, your project manager is tasked with remembering where things stopped. All outstanding items and their status need to be reassessed, team members have to spend more time re-reviewing items they already vetted, and due to simple human nature, errors happen. You’re left, in essence, having to spend time and money driving back to the store to get what you forgot (additional project costs due to dropped website items) or floundering to regain your creative perspective that will drive the best response from your customers.

To put it simply, when you delay the web project process, for days, weeks or even months, when things get tabled and pushed aside, you are left with a website that is diminished from the original vision, either in its cost effectiveness, its strategy or its ability to drive results.

The key to avoiding a dilution of your online marketing strategy and website is to stay the course, build a calendar and stick to it. Keep the team on track and thinking strategically about your website, your customers and your online marketing goals until testing begins. You’ll get a better performing website in the end, you’ll keep your costs in check and your visitors are ensured the best web experience you can offer, which means more conversions, and sales, for your brand.

Get More Sales with Actionable Content

You’ve got a great website with all the bells and whistles in place to draw attention of the search engines. You’ve got a plethora of great back-links to your site. Your company ranks on page 1 of Google. Your page views are increasing exponentially every day. From a digital marketing perspective, you should be making money. Problem is, you’re only seeing a trickle of sales coming in through your website instead of a flood. There is no business that can live on prospects alone. You need a strategy in place for converting leads to sales.

No matter how large the company or the market, basic sales still comes down to people selling to people. Web consumers come to your website seeking out your company and/or your specific services. Good SEO practices help get them to your website, but how do you turn site visitors into more customers?converting leads to sales

Website shoppers have such a vast amount of information and businesses at their fingertips that they can afford to be very, very picky about what they buy and from whom. When viewing a new site, web surfers allow mere seconds to size up a site. How can you increase your potential of converting leads to sales?

  • Site layout and viable, actionable content can make a sale from a fleeting glimpse. It’s about basic sales practices, but in a virtual world. Website shoppers have to include all the warmth and personality of a handshake and a smile, without the benefit of hands or a mouth.

Think about the last time you shopped in a new store. When you walked in, did you check out the decoration and the layout? Were your turned off by the color schemes or did you love the lighting? Were the salespeople pleasant and did they make you feel important? Were the products easy to find and nicely displayed? Web consumers want all these same amenities without having to leave their home. Remember the adage – “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? That first impression is the means to a successful web business.

Like any other store, your web company has to have an appealing layout to draw the customers through your door. Keep your page layout easy to navigate and keep the readers eye drawn to your sales copy with strategically placed graphics. The longer a consumer is on your site, the better chance you have of making the sale.

  • Good content can make your would-be buyer feel “right at home” while on your site. The right keywords can show them that you have what they seek and can appeal to their specific needs. Great content can express, in just a few sentences, why your wares are better than rest and move a buyer towards a purchase.

Remember, ABC – Always Be Closing. Engaging and easy to navigate website layout helps beckon consumers to come in, sit down and stay awhile while concise, actionable content works on your website, converting leads to sales.

Taking the Wind Out of the Sales of Marketing

This was a line I recently alluded to in a blog article for a client. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I can’t get it out of my head, so I thought I’d see if I could write it out and find a little peace.

When I wrote this line, I was trying to say that social media marketing, when properly used by businesses to promote their services and products, has added some of the humanity back to sales. It helps marketing be a lot less “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! , radio announcer guy and a lot more “Hey, guess what I just found out” word of mouth advertising. In other words,

the focus should be on trust and brand development within your target market, developing relationships that in turn get more leads for your sales team.

how NOT to manage social media to get more leads

I like social media for this human quality – I really do. I enjoy connecting with audiences via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. It can be very effective and not nearly as blatant as email marketing. I recommend a social media aspect to all of my clients marketing plans and the results have been great.

However, it’s important that we, as social media marketers, keep these sites friendly, comfortable places where site members can share information without feeling like they’re being constantly bombarded with “deals”, because if we all come off sounding like car salesmen, we’re going to scare off our would-be contacts.

I’ve found that a 60/40 rule works to get more leads with social media. 40% obvious promotion of content and company-oriented information, 60% “hi, how ya doin’, look at this cool thing I found.” A few consistent trends I’ve noticed:

  • Sites like LinkedIn allow you to be a lot more business-focused, where you are able to do a lot more sharing of industry-focused content within targeted groups and to your contacts through your profile.
  • You can (and should) market your business from your Facebook page, but if the content is too monotone, the same stuff every day, your losing the potential for likes and shares.
  • Through Twitter, if all you do is try to sell, or push your business, with each 140 character post, you’re going to lose followers. Keep to the 60/40 rule to keep your audience engaged and connected to your brand.

Even when you’re making a pitch, be human about it. Don’t ramrod your information down other members’ throats. Take as delicate an approach as you would if you had just met this person, face to face, over cocktails at a networking party. Keep that first impression about who you are, not what you sell. Give them a reason to trust you, and your brand, so when the time comes that they need your services or products, they “know you” well enough to want to come to you.

Good business to you!