Priorities. No matter what you’re doing, there’s always something more important to be done. Unless, of course, you know the order of importance from the outset.
Now, we can’t really help you with your dishes vs Netflix quandary, but we do have a particularly strong expertise in digital marketing. It’s what we do. And we have a particular order in which we look at things and how those things are weighted. We’re going to go through our ranking, from most to least important, for ten different aspects of digital marketing and their order of importance.
1 – Reputation Management
It’s important to take just a moment to underscore what this list is: a ranking of priorities for your digital marketing efforts. Your business may have other priorities that, overall, rank higher. For example, if you run a restaurant, you might consider food quality or cleanliness to be your highest priority; if your business is a cab company, then keeping cars operational is going to be one of your most important considerations; if you’re a doctor, it’s the health of your patients.
Where digital marketing is concerned, however, your most important item is your reputation and how you manage it. This remains true for any and every business which opts to pursue digital marketing (so, pretty much everybody).
Reputation management is so vital that when we pick up a new client, it is the very first thing we look at. It is so important to a company’s success in today’s business landscape that we actually built an entirely new specialized service around it.
And before you ask why, take a moment to consider:
- What do you do when you want to know the answer to a question?
- What do you do when you’re considering trying that new restaurant down the street?
- What do you do when you need somebody to cut your grass for you?
- What about when you need a new latch for your dryer door?
You Google it.
Digital Marketing Revolves Around Google
So the very first thing we do every single time we onboard a new marketing client is look at their reviews on Google. We also check any other applicable sites, such as Facebook and Yelp. We might also check Amazon if we have a client who is product-based, or some of the many physician rating sites, such as HealthGrades, if the client is a healthcare provider.
In short, we check any site we could consider relevant to the client’s reputation. But we always start with Google. Not only will a Google search show you the reviews hosted directly through Google, but it could also help find reviews on other sites which are ranking highly enough to be immediately visible.
These reputation management checks are easy and take next to no time, whatsoever. The benefits of this research in shaping the client’s digital marketing plan, moving forward, are immeasurable. There is no substitute for this step.
2 – Content Marketing and SEO
Content Marketing is a critical aspect of successful long-term digital marketing plans. The utmost goal of content marketing is to draw in customers ( or users or readers or patients) organically, over time, for as little effort as possible.
This typically revolves around SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and content creation, which relates to our emphasis on the importance of Google, above.
Your potential customer-base doesn’t just use Google to seek out what other people are saying about your products or services. They also use Google to find solutions to their problems, answers to their questions. Ergo, if you can position your site or your content so that their searches lead directly to your product or service, then you’re picking up easy sales. They’re coming to you organically, without you having to take out ads to try to convince them to give you a shot.
No matter your preferred advertising method – billboards, television, radio, or online – you end up spending less per customer in advertising if your content marketing strategy is on point. Many times, this involves creating content, such as on a blog, which draws in readers who are actively looking for a solution or an answer which you can help with, one way or another.
Any content created for this purpose needs to not only be easily found by those who are searching for your product or service, it also needs to be interesting, readable, and shareable. If it doesn’t meet these criteria, then it’s not going to hold your audience’s attention, meaning that it’s wasted effort.
The Time It Takes
There is a second reason why Content Marketing and SEO ranks so highly on our list:
Search Engine Optimization isn’t a digital marketing miracle cure.
It takes time. In fact, it will take a minimum of three months for your content to begin ranking, in most cases; or to reach peak rank if your domain already has a lot of authority.
‘Domain Authority’ is a major part of Google’s algorithm. Sites that tend to provide information which users find reliable rank better. This is why you so often find major sites like Wikipedia near the top of the search results.
What this ultimately means for you is that the aforementioned three-month minimum is just that – a minimum. If your domain is brand new, it could take six months or longer to begin seeing results. It may not, depending on the niche and keywords in question, but the point remains:
Start working on your content marketing strategy early. Get it simmering, then turn your attention to other things which will make certain that your content marketing impact is effect. Such as…
3 – Conversion Rate Optimization
When somebody finds their way to your website, you may still need to do a bit of convincing before they’ll pull the trigger and make a purchase or subscribe. These prospective customers don’t become customers immediately, however. No matter how convinced they are that they need what you’re offering, you don’t have them until they complete the registration and provide payment.
And if your site isn’t designed to make the process clear and simple, then you might lose them even after convincing them. This would indicate a problem with your conversion rate.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a UX (User EXperience) Design problem. If the initial button to begin registration is too difficult to find or if there are too many steps to go through or if there are too many popups in the way…these things can all frustrate and actually scare off potential customers.
Fixing your CRO requires having a UX Designer review the site and its various elements. The designer will provide a list of suggestions for improvements and the reasons for each. They may advise for improvements outside of your payment channel, and that’s fine. CRO will be most effective when the entire site is optimized – the areas of the site away from the section where users would subscribe or make a purchase can still be vital in further convincing users.
Pro-Tip: While you’re working on your CRO, ensure that one of the implementations made to the site includes the utilization of Lead Magnets. These are opportunities to gather emails of users – both those who are actively registering and those who are further back in the buying cycle. This helps to build your email list (which you need for item #4 on this list) and gives you an opportunity to market directly to potential customers who are still on the fence.
Like SEO, CRO can take a while. That’s because you have to find somebody to review the site (if you don’t have an in-house UX Designer — you probably don’t), parse through their response, and then you have to actually enact the changes, which takes time. Because coding takes time. Because of this, it’s important to get this moving as soon as possible, just like SEO.
By the time your content marketing efforts begin to pay off, the CRO phase should be completed, meaning you won’t lose out on any revenue due to preventable confusion or frustration.
4 – Email Marketing
If you already have an email list, then you’re ahead of the curve here. You’ve got a valuable resource – if you’re not using it, you need to begin implementing it right away.
If you don’t have one, you should begin compiling one.
Even if you only have fifty or a hundred contacts on the list, that’s still fifty to a hundred targeted individuals who are already interested in what you’re offering. Give them the right incentive at the right time, and it’s a sale.
Finding the right promotions to offer can be tricky – especially once that contact list gets up into the tens of thousands. For this reason, it can be helpful to design your content and lead magnets in a fashion which allows you to segment your email list based on:
- Which elements of your niche the user is most interested in
- Which section of the buying process the user is in
This segmentation can help you to better target your contacts, helping you to more efficiently turn your efforts into revenue.
Pro-Tip: You will want to utilize email verification services (such as Mautic, Never Bounce, or Bulk Mail Checker) at least periodically, to ensure that the contacts in your list are ‘active’. If somebody enters a dud email address or if a legitimate contact expires, such as a business email being scrubbed when the employee leaves, these will count as “bounces”. A high bounce rate will cause your domain or IP to register as spam for various email services. This would result in your emails failing to reach the intended audience as spam filters catch and sort them into the spam bin.
As a bonus, these email lists can also be used to further other elements of your digital marketing strategy. For instance, automated emails can be used to help provide extra support to your reputation management efforts by asking for reviews on the sites that you monitor.
5 – Influencer Marketing
Influencers are the ‘Trendsetters’ of marketing. If you’ve already embedded yourself into your niche, then you likely already know who the influencers for your niche are (if you haven’t done that research yet, then it’s time to start). This is the point where you’re going to want to begin reaching out to them, now that you have:
- A grasp on your reputation and its management
- Some compelling content to deliver
- Optimization of keywords for your content and site
- Optimization of your site for users’ ease to encourage conversions
- A robust email list and campaign
If you can provide the influencer with something compelling enough, they will happily share it with their followers, providing you with a host of easy conversions.
Pro-Tip: Every niche will have a variety of influencers, and each influencer will have a different audience. For example, for the healthcare industry, you wouldn’t provide material for Dr. Oz to share if your target is other doctors. Dr. Oz influences the public. There are other voices which are heard more clearly within the medical community
6 – PPC Ads
Some might claim that Pay-Per-Click Ads should be higher on this list. And — for some businesses, some niches, some websites — they might be right. However, in most situations, good SEO has greater long-term value. That does not mean that PPC isn’t valuable, but leaning too heavily on PPC could have a steep impact on your bottom line.
Pro-Tip: Google Adwords allows you to target specific keywords, much like search engine optimization does organically. However, Google also monitors how readily users interact with your content. If users typically leave your advertised content quickly (it is assumed that your content did not meet their needs), then Google will increase their price for your PPC efforts on that keyword. Make certain that the ad’s landing page is engrossing enough to hold users’ interest for at least a minute. This is another reason why Content and SEO are far more important to worry about first.
Google, of course, is the top dog with PPC advertising, just as they are the biggest player in just about every aspect of the digital marketing space. Google Adwords and the analytics software that Google’s entire suite of systems is outfitted with is more complex and informative than anything else you can find.
It’s as close as you can come to stepping into the villain mastermind’s lair and finding the buttons that control every aspect of, well, everything.
Except it’s your
evil marketing lair. And yes, there is the equivalent of a self-destruct button. There are definitely things you should not do, such as trying to set up ads for a shiny new SaaS on keywords for this Christmas’ hot new toy.
That’s not going to work.
Facebook and Social Advertising
Facebook is also a major player for PPC advertising. The trademarked ‘Like’ has gotten such a strong thumbs-up from so many businesses, that there are many owners who run their entire marketing campaign through Facebook. With at least 68% of American adults using the platform, up to 79% by other estimates, it’s obvious why this strategy is enough for some businesses to succeed.
The emphasis there, however, is ‘some’. Not ‘most’, and definitely not all.
Facebook is a useful platform, and for many things beyond PPC ads (such as reputation management), but it is not the only social media platform of consequence. Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, SnapChat, and even TikTok can all be leveraged in different ways (depending on your niche) for effective advertising.
However, the most flexible and useful social media platform, aside from Facebook, is YouTube. YouTube isn’t always grouped in as a social media platform, but we cannot discount it here. We use it for our own video hosting – and videos can be tagged with keywords for effective search engine optimization. YouTube PPC advertising shouldn’t be readily discounted, either.
Retargeting Your Audience
No matter which platform(s) you prefer to use for your PPC, retargeting should be an essential element of your PPC strategy.
In short, retargeting is a technique which involves using software which scans a user’s cookies, then delivers ads which match the interests of that user based on their recent browsing history.
For you this can mean that you’re able to keep your business present in their mind throughout the buying cycle. When they’re ready to make a purchase, they’ll remember that you are one of their chief options.
This can help to maximize your conversions, especially since some retargeting can mean that they see your advertisement after looking at a competitor. Now they’re aware of another option.
Some platforms have retargeting potential built in, such as Facebook. Other third-party retargeting services exist, such as the one linked above. Make certain to do your research and find the solution that works best for your business.
7 – Social Media Management
If you have a social media presence, anybody who is doing research on your business’ products or services is going to want some evidence that your business is alive and kicking. It’s reassuring.
Because if the most recent post on a company’s Facebook page or blog is over a year old, you wonder, as a potential customer or client, whether something happened and they’re no longer in business. You wonder whether they’re reliable. If they can’t keep up with their own (free) marketing materials, how likely are they going to be able to keep up with the services that will impact you?
If you’re going to have a social media presence, you have to commit to it. Even customers who don’t find you through that channel will often find your Facebook or Instagram pages while doing their research about whether they want to go with your service or a competitor’s.
This ties in closely with your ongoing reputation management, so don’t let it fall by the wayside.
8 – Marketing Automation
Automating your marketing strategy can result in effortless conversions. Before you can automate, though, you need a foundation – you can’t automate a process that isn’t there, after all.
Once you hit a point where this becomes possible, you’ll want to begin with automating emails, to begin, and preferably with some segmentation being utilized to maximize the effectiveness with different lead types. Other elements you will want to begin incorporating are:
But, again, as fantastic as automation can be for your bottom line, it serves no purpose without first achieving everything else we’ve covered first. It’s near the bottom of the list because it’s a waste of time without that foundation.
9 – Analytics
Good analysis can help steer your business to success. For that, you need good analytics tools. Some elements of your digital marketing strategy will come with their own analytics included, such as Google’s analytics tools which provide incredible insight into your SEO and PPC efforts. For that reason, if you wish to create your own analytics dashboard, it needs to be the last thing you do.
Even if the default analytics tools aren’t optimal for your needs, they are at least a placeholder. And analytics is at the bottom of the list for a reason: you can’t analyze data that you don’t have.
- If you want to improve your Search Engine Optimization strategy, you have to have tried something already to see what is and is not working.
- If you want to refocus your PPC spending, you need to have some information already coming in to know where your adspend isn’t quite cutting it.
- If you aren’t happy with the way your social media campaign is going, you still can’t realize that you need to analyze it for improvement until you’ve tried it.
Analytics is last because it has to be. Because of this, you can’t begin to look at developing your own dashboard until you’ve had a chance to look at the tools you already have access to.
In short: don’t get ahead of yourself. You can begin using analytics tools throughout the process – after starting your SEO, you can begin running analytics on SEO; you can begin looking over PPC data after that element is fully underway. It doesn’t have to be the very last thing, but it shouldn’t be a priority until everything else is operational.
Analytics can be crucial for your long-term success, but you have to get to it after going through the other things first.
Your Digital Marketing Priorities: Now Locked In Place
Once again, our list is as follows:
- Reputation Management
- Content Marketing & Search Engine Optimization
- CRO – conversion rate optimization
- Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Facebook & Social
- Social Media Management
- Marketing Automation
We honestly expect to hear some disagreement on this. Remember that this list is our interpretation of the priority order for digital marketing tasks. These same tasks may also appear on other lists, such as what it takes to start up a diagnostics imaging facility, where the list is going to include non-digital marketing tasks. And, depending on the niche, the order of the digital marketing tasks may need to be rearranged. We believe, however, that this is a decently reliable order of importance.
If you disagree – if you have comments or questions, please feel free to post in the discussion area. We would love to engage with you and hear your thoughts.