Welcome to the Friday Commentary. In this series every Friday experts will shine a light on the digital industry. Where are we heading, what is going on and how should we approach this as decision makers? This Friday Ben Norman, CEO of Koozai, talks about a CMO’s next strategical steps in Digital Marketing.
Compare today’s online marketing landscape with that of years gone by. Working the Internet to your favor and using it to market your business used to be a lot easier. Previously, you could get away with taking a vertical and running with it without putting too much thought or effort in.
You could essentially get your business up and running and generating a profit by simply focusing on one marketing technique and ignoring everything else. Times have changed; putting all of your eggs in one basket is now a very risky strategy and not one that should be employed anymore.
Whilst you may be sat there thinking this is a strategy you are still doing and it’s making you a ton of money, I would recommend that you start thinking about the other marketing channels available to you.
Even though things have moved on and the marketing options have become vast, many businesses are slow to adopt; and when they do, they get it wrong, very wrong.
The majority of times it is due to the simple fact that the marketing campaign hasn’t been thought out properly or the marketing vertical is poorly understood. This can and should be avoided – investing a little extra time during the initial stage will go a long way, rather than just jumping in feet first and going with it.
We have all sat there and thought an idea will be awesome because we have seen a competitor doing something similar, and we believe it can be replicated and work for us too. However, what we don’t see are the actual statistics from a competitor’s marketing campaign. On the face of it, the campaign may seem like a great success, but how can we tell for sure?
In this post, I am going to look into the next strategic steps that CMOs need to take in order to create a blended and secure marketing strategy.
Why do we need to change?
Like it or not, Google is the number one search engine on the web and they have a lot of control over our businesses. At the end of the day, Google itself is also a business, and they are out there to make money (lots of money!).
Google don’t make any money out of the organic SERPs; they make money out of the sponsored listings (AdWords). It is becoming more challenging to take a website and get it to rank within the organic listings, because Google are making things harder.
There are two ways of looking at this. On the one hand, Google are inadvertently making SEO more challenging, for the reasons they give:
- Make search more relevant
- Get rid of poor websites
- Shut down the spammers
- Deliver searchers what they are looking for
Or you can take the more cynical view that with over 95% of Google’s revenue coming from online ads and around 70% of that from AdWords, it is no wonder Google are making it more difficult to appear within the organic listings! Google want to make more money They can do this by making the other ways to market through their system harder, like SEO; so you have to invest in easier options, like Pay per Click.
However, solely engaging in PPC to market your business is not the answer. Over the years we have seen Google continuously increase the average price an advertiser has to pay for someone to click on their advert and this isn’t going to stop. It’s another easy way for Google to make more money.
Moving forwards companies advertising their business online will have to work much smarter in order to win. You will need to employ a much more strategic and diverse marketing plan with a blended marketing strategy.
There are six questions to ask your self:
- Why are you doing what you do?
- What works and what doesn’t?
- Are you at risk of losing any of it?
- Are you in control of your marketing?
- Do you have a backup plan?
- Are all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to your marketing channels?
Digital Marketing Channel Stress Test
A good way to assess how safe you are is to look at the data you have for your money earning business. Look at the contributing lead source(s) and segment it by revenue amount – now you can work out if you can afford to lose one.
- Look at your sales data for the last year
- Narrow down by lead source
- Order into revenue amount (most at the top)
- Worry (well only if you are very dependent on one stream)
In a lot of cases, analysis will show that a business is heavily biased to one or two lead sources. If this is the case for you, your mission is to increase the value of revenue from other lead sources instead of just focusing heavily on the sources that are currently bringing in the bulk of your business. Of course you need to focus on the core business generators too, but investing in other lead sources will make you less dependent on those that are driving your current business.
If one of your top lead sources is Google natural, you need to take action now. Google are continuously making changes to their algorithms making it harder for websites to rank. Just take a look at the Google Algorithm Change History timeline featured on Moz to see just how many updates Google are making each year.
Don’t let Google catch you out. Diversify your marketing channels so you are not reliant on Google!
Assess Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Firstly you need to look at your overall marketing strategy and ask yourself the follow questions:
- Do you have several different marketing channels?
- Are they the right channels for you?
- When did you last add or remove a channel?
- Goal Focused
- Do you fully understand what you are looking to achieve from each channel?
- Is your goal to drive leads, sales, signups, etc
- Are the goals different per channel?
- Are you tracking the performance of each channel?
- Can you tell what is working and what is not?
- Do you know how long to wait before switching off a channel if it is not working?
- Cost Effective
- Have you worked out what your target Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is?
- What is the highest amount you can afford to pay for a conversion?
- Are each of your channels currently delivering within that limit?
- Could you afford to lose one of your top performing channels?
- How many channels are responsible for driving the bulk of your business?
By answering these questions, you should be able to identify where you need to focus your time and effort; which will help establish where you’ll receive the quickest wins and if any changes to your strategy are needed.
A Blended Strategy
Having a blended marketing strategy is an absolute necessity in today’s digital age. As mentioned, you need to ensure you are not focusing all your efforts in one channel. In addition, certain core marketing channels need to integrate with other channels in order to get the most out of them.
Let’s look at an example using the following channels:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Content Marketing
- Social Media
- Pay Per Click
The first marketing channel I am going to use is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). On page optimisation is now more important than ever before, but the links and citations to a site still have a big influence on your rankings (whatever Google would have you believe).
Now, I don’t want to debate the value of links in this post. There are plenty of blog posts out there that you can read on that subject, but my opinion is that they are still important. What has changed over the past few years is that Google don’t like you aggressively building links. I have heard this saying a few times “A good link is a link that you don’t know is about to come into your site.” Google don’t want you to manufacture links, so don’t.
Instead of actively going out to build links using old fashion techniques, you need to be using a blended strategy. If you create a piece of content that is both useful, targeted and sharable, you are focusing your efforts on getting the attention of your target audience and using them to generate links and citation naturally. Not to mention driving people to your site who could potentially buy from you, regardless of Google.
Once you have created the content, you should be using social media to seed that content within your target audience. Social media platforms are fantastic for giving the content you create a nice push to grow the awareness of that piece. You are simply pointing people in the direction of your content, but if the content is not well thought-out, targeted, interesting or entertaining, people will not share it.
On top of doing SEO, Content and Social, you want to add PPC into the mix. Using Pay Per Click advertising, you can get some quick wins by bidding on the core keywords from which you want to generate business. You will obviously be going after these terms organically too, but using PPC you can test to ensure you are targeting the right terms. Once you have a PPC campaign up and running, you will quickly be able to see whether your website converts for the terms you are going after and if it doesn’t, then you can either make changes to your website or review the keywords you are targeting.
There are a lot of other marketing channels that you should at least be looking into and deciding whether or not they are a good fit for your business. However, the last channel I am going to talk about in this post is remarketing.
Remarketing is a very cost effective way of keeping your brand in the forefront of people’s minds. If a potential customer visits your website, but does not complete your desired goal, you can use remarketing to target that customer with a branded advert when they are searching on other websites. This helps to keep you fresh in the customer’s mind, helping to drive them back into your website to convert when the time is right.
By taking these five channels and really focusing your efforts on them, you will have a blended online marketing strategy that should limit the risk of just focusing on one channel. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – so combining these separate, yet complimentary marketing verticals will be far more effective than just trying to use one by itself.
White Space Marketing
White Space Marketing is where you don’t follow the crowd, you look for angles that your competitors have not taken and you aim to do something completely different that has not been done in your industry before. For me this is the most effective way to market your business for two reasons:
- You can be positioned as a market leader within your niche
- You can uncover a new audience that may not have been marketed to in your niche before
When you are looking for new marketing ideas, one of the first places companies tend to look is at their competitors. You see that they are doing something that looks good and it is logical to assume that if you do the same or something similar, you will be able to get results. This may be the case in some instances, but as mentioned, you don’t know what results your competitor actually got from that marketing campaign, so you could be spending time creating something similar that may not actually work.
You often see examples of companies following the crowd when it comes to competition giveaways. I have lost count how many times I have seen people giving away iPads to the lucky winner! The trick is to look for things that your competitors are not doing, test it on a small scale initially, measure the success and if it works roll it out on a larger scale.
If you do your competitor analysis and uncover that the vast majority of your competitors do their entire advertising online, think about doing an offline marketing campaign. If they are all investing time in writing articles or blog posts then don’t, do video marketing, create yourself a profile on YouTube and OWN IT!
The key things I want you to take away from this post are:
- Be original
- Don’t follow the crowd
- Analyse your lead sources
- Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket
- Employ a blended marketing strategy
- Uncover the white space and own it