seo how to

5 Steps to a Powerful Digital Marketing Strategy

According to a ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ study by Smart Insights, 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy, while 16% do have a strategy but haven’t yet integrated it into their marketing activity. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a plan in place how can you expect to grow and innovate, to measure meaningful results and to learn from past mistakes?

It’s time to stop panicking about next year or next month and start crafting a plan that can pack a powerful punch. We’ve selected the 5 most important steps that you, the decision maker should take to ensure that your digital marketing efforts create a real impact on your bottom line.

1. Know What You Want (& Set the Objective)

Nail Your Mission:

  • Define your business’ overall mission/objective first – your digital marketing mission must fit into your grand plan.

  • Answer this question: what is the overriding objective you want your digital marketing efforts to achieve (for example do you want to position your company as the go-to online provider for computer parts in Europe)? This is your mission.

Set & Measure Your KPIs:

  • Get specific with your KPIs by identifying the figures you will be held accountable for achieving.

  • Among other skills that can be useful - get realistic with your KPIs by analysing your previous digital marketing efforts first – this will ensure you aim for a positive increase on your current results, while helping you to avoid setting your expectations too high.

  • Identify a method to help you measure each of your KPIs – for example, will you use Google Analytics to measure your conversions, your individual social media analytics to track engagement or a tool like BuzzSumo to assess the success of your content marketing?

  • Here’s a handy KPI template for you to steal: (Insert goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’) by (insert figure)% in (insert number of months).

  • Before you begin planning your KPIs find out which metrics matter most to your CEO.

2. Analyse Your Past (& Learn From Your Mistakes)

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go into the planning period in the dark. Analysing your digital marketing strategy’s past success and failures can help focus you on setting the best KPIs for your business. You, therefore, might want to complete step one and two together.

Choose a time period you’d like to analyse (it’s best to set this time period as the same length of time you plan for your new marketing strategy) – for example decide on whether you’re going to analyse the previous year, quarter or month.

How to Analyse:

  • Determine the time period you would like to analyse and set your Google Analytics calendar to match this timeframe.

  • Try out Google’s Benchmarking Reports in your Analytics account to compare your progress to your competitors.

  • Don’t forget to analyse your competitors’ marketing strategy too – create an analysis spreadsheet of their online activities (you can use SEMrush to identify the SEO strategy of a competitor, i.e. what keywords are driving the largest volume of organic traffic to their website. It can also be used to compare the organic and paid traffic of different websites so again quite useful to see how aggressive they’re being with their paid spend.)

  • Ask yourself this question at regular intervals: is there anything else I need to analyse that I haven’t thought of before – e.g. should I be testing the times I post my content or the types of images I use?

3. Remember Who You’re Talking to (& Speak Their Language)

Don’t let the planning take away from the people you’re trying to reach. You already know who your audience are (at least we hope you do) but sometimes they’re the first thing a digital marketer can forget amidst the KPI setting, budget fretting and channel selection.

You’re not going to make this mistake – not this time. Instead you’re going to put your audience at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, cater to their emotional needs and satisfy their deepest desires. How? Through the creation of well fleshed out and well thought out personas, of course.

Develop Useful Personas:

  • Start with the basics and note down all the demographic information you know about your target consumer – like age, gender and location.

  • Then dig a little deeper and Identify the problems you can help your target persona solve.

  • Delve into their emotional desires, goals, aspirations and fears and document all of the factors that could make them tick (think about their conscious and unconscious desires).

  • You can dive deep into the ‘Audience Reports of your Google Analytics account to identify key characteristics of your target persona like age, sex, career, etc.

  • When creating your personas this is the perfect time to identify the people who will be of influence to them – these will be the influencers your marketing strategy should target. When you have your personas, you can then work on your content marketing accordingly.

4. Identify Your Means (& Stick to Your Budget)

Three things are important for identifying your means: these are your budget, your digital channels and your team (or people). It is important to take stock of all of your resources before deciding on what else you might need for the next period.

For example, now is the perfect time for creating an audit of your existing digital channels and to decide whether you’re going to outsource specific sections of your digital marketing and whether you need to set budget aside for a new hire or two.

How to Identify Your Means:

Your Budget:

  • Define your overall digital marketing budget.

  • Look at the historical data of what has worked before (for example, have any specific channels brought you quality leads at a low cost?)

  • Decide whether you will use paid promotion (for, example Adwords or paid ads on social media).

  • Allocate a specific portion of the budget for each digital channel you want to use for paid promotion (delve into your Analytics to help you assess the most cost effective digital channels with the largest reach and conversions and the lowest Cost Per Click).

  • If a certain element of your paid promotion strategy isn’t bringing you the results you desire, revisit it and invest the allocated budget figure into the channel that’s bringing you the best results.

Your People:

  • Look at your current team and assess what you are capable of achieving (be realistic here and ensure that no-one will be over stretched or over worked).

  • Identify whether you need to hire more people and whether you have the means to do so.

  • Decide whether all of your digital marketing activity will take place in house or if you’ll need to outsource some elements to a third party agency.

  • Get each of your team members to review their digital marketing activity and brainstorm a few ideas for their future marketing strategy (the more autonomy your employee has in their role the more they’ll be on board with your new plan).

Your Channels:

  • Review your current digital marketing channels and decide which channels to keep and whether you’d like to invest in any new ones (this depends on where your customers are and the time you have available).

  • Clearly articulate what each digital channel is trying to achieve.

  • Make sure you have at least one KPI attached to each of your digital channels.

5. Make the Plan (& Don’t Stick to It)

‘Create a plan and don’t stick to it? But, but, what do you mean?’ Before the panic sets into the most organised of digital marketers let me explain…your plan is never going to be perfect from the outset. Not every assumption you make is going to be correct.

And although you’ve taken every care to craft a carefully constructed plan based on a set of insightful assumptions and analysis you still can’t predict exactly how your customers will behave. It is, therefore, essential to continuously measure and monitor the performance of your digital marketing strategy and to change elements where needed.

Create Your Digital Marketing Calendar:

  • Try creating your timeline using Google Calendars – that way you can share it with your team members and allow them to edit it where necessary.

  • Highlight the key campaigns you’ll create and promote throughout the year and allocate a timeframe for each.

  • Document the digital channels needed to ensure the success for each campaign.

Review Your Marketing Strategy & Identify Changes Needed:

  • Create a measurement and monitoring plan (this should fit in with your KPIs).

  • Check the success of the individual elements of your digital marketing strategy at continuous intervals.

  • If something is not working (i.e. you’re not achieving the KPIs you’ve set out) isolate the different elements and try to identify what is not working (e.g. is it the time you’re posting content or the taglines you’re using for your ads?).

  • Revisit your previous analysis, personas and budget allocation and try something new.

  • Create a clearly defined KPI for your new venture.

Want to take a step further in order to come up with even better digital marketing strategies, or be a better digital marketer? A digital marketing course will be helpful.

Source: Digital Marketing Institute

What Are the Benefits of Offering Digital Marketing Education?

Just 50 years ago, the idea of having constant, real-time updates of current events in another part of the world, or a vast social media network exchanging ideas was unheard of. Today, it’s something that people take for granted, especially in cities like Hong Kong.

However, with such immense changes to technology and society comes dramatic shifts in the way we do business and advertise it. Marketing, one of the cornerstones of any successful business, is rapidly changing in the 21st century. 

Successful marketing is now digital marketing, which is why digital marketing education is crucial in today's job market, for a flourishing career, and for any professional interested in staying relevant.

Marketing is constantly evolving

Just two years ago, the Wall Street Journal, proclaimed that traditional marketing was being replaced

There was an understanding that the old methods of marketing, such as billboards on roadsides or even 30-second commercials on broadcast television, were losing their effectiveness. That did not mean marketing was dying, far from it, in fact. It was simply an acknowledgment that the most effective means of marketing was no longer the older, established ones.

With online methods of advertising and engaging consumers, digital marketing education is vital. If traditional marketing is no longer working, then what is? 

“Analog media” such as television, print, and radio are still alive, but they no longer occupy the same niche in consumers’ lives.

Computers have become the nerve centre of most daily activity, whether in the form of a desktop, laptop or the ubiquitous smartphone. In fact, the smartphone is the most popular computing device in the world, with 6 billion phones in use in 2018! That’s a huge number compared to the figures for television viewing, newspaper circulation, or radio listeners. So what will digital marketing education cover in this new, digital world?

Targeted marketing is effective marketing

A recent Neilsen study on television programming and marketing revealed a disturbing trend. The 18–24 demographic of viewership shrunk by about 50% in just five years in the United States. And it is safe to assume the trend applies to Hong Kong as well.

But of course, this younger demographic hadn’t just given up on video consumption. They were still consuming huge amounts of video content; they just weren’t getting it from television anymore. They were watching videos on the internet, primarily on YouTube. In other words, they were seeking out their own kind of content, the type that was targeted at them.

Analog media methods have two major weaknesses for marketers. 

1) Analog is passive, and it is low on data collection. A television ad, for example, is like setting off fireworks. It goes up into the air, and it creates light and noise, and all the audience can do is watch it, then go home. 

2) The extent of the relationship between the marketing, media, and the audience; it’s entirely one-sided. The audience has no way to interact with the media; they can only consume it. And a marketer has no engagement with the consumer.

All of this means that there’s a lot to learn now for businesses, especially those that rely on traditional or analog media marketing. Continuing to invest in conventional marketing will yield lower, less certain results. 

For a new generation of marketers, not knowing how to take advantage of innovative, modern platforms means being hamstrung for relevancy when applying for jobs.

The Benefits of Offering a Digital Marketing Education

here is a growing demand for digital marketing skills, from businesses and students. Getting a digital marketing education benefits businesses that invest in training sessions and courses, students who are looking for employment, digital marketers who want to stay relevant, career changers who want new prospects, and of course, schools that want to increase their profits.

Investing in digital marketing education is a way to future-proof workers who can bring a highly desirable set of skills to the workforce.

Graduates

For people who are still in school, considering graduation and career choices, the increasing importance of digital marketing means career opportunities. 

Unlike other jobs that are vulnerable to automation in the future, digital marketing is something that will always require a human touch. A concentration in digital marketing immediately gives an edge when it comes to applying for jobs in today's digital business world.

Established Professionals

For employers, getting existing employees to upgrade their skill set with a digital marketing education is a wise investment. A trusted employee that already produces good results is invaluable to any business, but to help that employees grow is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the bottom line. 

Employees feel more loyalty to a company that is willing to invest in their skills and help them thrive, and at the same time, the company benefits from a tried and tested asset with an upgraded, modernised skill set.

Career Changers

Nearly $50 billion was spent last year on digital advertising and the figure continues to grow. Many people already in the workforce are aware of how digital is affecting every industry, and they want to either remain relevant to their companies or get better job prospects through retraining and professional development.  

A program or course developed to enhance the skills of working people will boost enrolment rates and the number of qualified individuals who can fill open digital marketing positions. 

Quality Education Still Matters

Program coordinators or business executives who are looking at their curriculum or training sessions understand that education is always changing. 

With new technologies, markets, and industries, there’s a growing need for graduates and employees with relevant knowledge and training in digital marketing. In order to remain relevant, quality education must have its finger on the pulse of the conditions in the marketplace and workforce. Schools need to focus on offering what will get their students meaningful employment while businesses need to provide employees with opportunities to bring more value.

A valuable digital marketing education (for students and businesses) should not look like a diploma mill. The courses and topics should cover strategies, tools, and trends that prepare students for real-life situations and challenges. 

Digital marketing education is an area of professional development that is growing larger with each passing year due to the changing nature of jobs across industries and departments. 

Final Thoughts

Digital marketing is an ever-evolving field that continues to grow more important.

It’s not going to go away anytime soon, and organisations that can offer education in this field are future-proofing both upcoming graduates and established career professionals who want to broaden their skillset and prospects.


Source: Digital Marketing Institute

How to Become an SEO Professional

Whether you’re making your marketing content or not, the number of clicks on your page matters. When organic traffic increases, so does potential revenue. Investing time to become an expert in SEO is an essential part of any successful business marketing plan.

You may be switching careers or just starting out; perhaps, you’re a digital or traditional marketer looking to learn more. In any case, the first thing that any SEO professional knows is that SEO stands for “search engine optimisation." SEO is the practice of creating content designed to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site via organic results on search engines.

Search engines have algorithms, “crawlers,” that scan the pages of your site and organise yours and others on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Practicing SEO involves understanding the rules of the search engine’s crawler to make sure your posts skyrocket to the top of the first SERP.

An SEO professional stays current in this quickly moving digital marketing field. Though making your content according to SEO seems like a daunting task, it’s easy to grasp when you take the time to figure out how search engines work and how you can tailor your content to get it into the highest-ranking search results.

Here’s how to become an SEO professional and get as many clicks as you can.

Read, Read, Read

SEO writing is a constantly-changing field because search engines are always changing. It pays to stay on top of any updates to Google and know what current software patents they have.

A useful tool to unravel the mysteries behind the engine is checking out sites like Search Engine Roundtable. Here, authors fluent in SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) create forums and threads about SEM topics. If you’re looking for discussions and information about Google’s recent bugs and tests not only in Hong Kong but in places all around the world, this is the site to check out.

Search Engine Land is another great platform to learn more about what industry experts are saying about current search engine trends. They even have SEO search engine specific content where you can learn about the difference between optimisation on Google and Bing.

A great way to get software-specific information is to check out companies that offer SEO solutions.

Software like YoastMoz ProConductor Searchlight, and Serpstat are good SEO tools that digital marketers use to improve their rankings on SERP. You can run your content through these products to get keyword analysis, backlink tracking, and trend analysis – these all provide useful insight into how to make your content more SEO friendly.

Check out an SEO software company’s blog to acquaint yourself with the kind of services they offer and what you’re looking for. Yoast has a great blog that’s specific to the SEO services they offer. Here, you can keep abreast of the kinds of updates coming to products that Yoast runs on. For example, their post about WordPress’ message to consumers to update their PHP for the upcoming WordPress 5.2.

Get Hands-On

All of that SEO reading can get repetitive and confusing after a while. Take a break and get hands-on by reading through some training guides or getting enrolled in an SEO course.

You’re never going to get better at SEO without practice. Training guides and courses are a great way to get real-life experience without buying the software.

Search Engine Land has a helpful video with Common Craft for beginners explaining how a search engine’s algorithm organises content’s position on SERP according to its words, titles, subtitles, and links.

They also offer a complete SEO Guide on common pitfalls and ways to improve your search rankings. If you don't have time to read the 9-chapter guide, they have a Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors that summarises the guide’s information for quick reference.

Yoast offers a variety of SEO courses designed to improve your SERP ranking. They also offer practical all-around training, specific copywriting training for a writer looking to make their content more SEO friendly, tips for web designers and marketers looking to improve their website’s SEO, more technical SEO training, and coding specific training.

Moz also offers an SEO guide for improving your rankings. Their guide is useful for beginners to people fluent in search engine algorithms. Moz takes a triangular approach to teaching SEO; their guide starts with a general focus on improving rank and then narrows its focus to making your content and website more competitive.

If you want a guide not created by an SEO software company, SEO by the Sea offers consultation, training, and coaching for people interested in being more web visible. 

Be Both Analytical and Creative

SEO is a unique field that blends creative content with the demands of a search engine algorithm. An SEO professional writes content with a two-pronged marketing approach. They must try to appeal to both people and search engines.

There are two types of SEO expert – the developer and the marketer. Website development improves the "crawlability" of the webpages, while the digital marketing aspect makes the links, titles, and diction more SEO friendly.

No matter how much people enjoy what you write, there’s no way it’s going to create traction and generate organic traffic if it doesn’t hit the top of the SERP. On the other hand, nobody wants to read content or buy a product that’s surrounded by a mass of keywords designed to exploit Google’s algorithm.

From January 2018 to 2019, Google searches took up 74% of all internet searches. If you’re not marketing your content in a way that’s Google-friendly, you’re missing out on most potential clicks.

Since algorithms scan and organise your page according to its code, link structure, titles, and diction, it helps to have a fundamental understanding of the technical aspects of SEM before you start writing and designing. 

Anyone Can Become an SEO Pro

It’s not hard to become an SEO pro with a little practice. Anyone can learn how to use search engine algorithms effectively regardless of whether they have a degree in digital marketing or computer science. Whether you’re transitioning careers, just at the beginning of your professional life, or looking to improve your digital marketing tactics, SEO fluency is vital, and it’s easy to learn.

Bill Slawski

Bill Slawski, the editor of SEO by the Sea and Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital, attended law school and worked as a legal and technical administrator at the Superior Court of Delaware for 14 years before he joined an SEO agency. Bill Slawski uses his expertise in law to focus on search engine patents and white pages. In Slawski’s words:

"Just because a search engine has a patent on an invention doesn’t mean that they are currently using it. The search engine may have technical or business reasons why they may not be or have decided to follow a different approach. But a patent is a clear signal that a search engine has researched a topic and has had search engineers and lawyers work together to protect their intellectual property and to exclude others from using the processes described in those patents."

Bill Slawski is just one of many people who have used their SEO knowledge to supplement their skills and experience. Understanding how to optimise search engines for your website is a transferrable skill that you can use across fields, businesses, and organisations.

Source: Digital Marketing Institute