2012 was a big year for digital marketing, especially when Google upgraded their Panda update and released a Penguin algorithm that had marketers quaking in their boots. Everyone began to take social media seriously, future-proofing not just websites but marketing strategies took prevalence and the focus on producing content became more important than ever before.
You could say it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Digital marketers couldn’t take their eyes off the ball for fear of losing sight of the next important update or advancement that could either leave their brand in the dust or help generate more success, and 2013 won’t be much different. We must all be prepared to build on the skills learnt from last year’s events and apply them to, most probably, a whole new set of trends, so why not take a lesson from the masses and write out a set of New Year’s resolutions for your 2013 digital marketing strategy?
1) Try the keyword diet
Rather than stuffing your content to bursting with keywords, implement just a couple to ensure that it reads well, focuses on giving value back to the person reading it and abides by the rules of Google’s newest algorithms.
Penguin and Panda have been lambasted by some and praised by others for their ousting of black-hat, keyword heavy SEO techniques in favour of intelligent and ethical social media, content and link building practices after quick fix companies, and even some who did nothing wrong were punished. It isn’t hard to take advantage of these algorithm changes though; simply pair your keyword diet with the production of shareable content, ethical link building through recommendations and guest blogging, and a carefully planned social media campaign.
2) Keep a weekly blog
Blogging is an ideal way to take advantage of Google’s new algorithms by building trust among potential leads, before nurturing them into your sales funnel and even creating more inbound links. Blogs are now so much more than outlets for users to talk about their hobbies and interests; they’re vital to company growth and traffic generation, which makes getting them right extra important.
As well as making the actual content contained within the blog worth your readers’ time, you need to post frequently enough to build a strong community of followers and keep the search engine spiders returning. Quality over quantity is the buzz phrase of 2013, so posting two to three times a week is generally frequent enough to keep traffic and Google returning.
3) Spend more time with your inbound marketing
When you’re caught up doing so much for clients it can be easy to forget about your own brand. Inbound marketing is a grossly underestimated feature of digital marketing, even though it’s the cornerstone of business success and has been proven to deliver much warmer, more qualified leads to your brand.
This is the main advantage of really getting into inbound marketing. It’s so much less intrusive than outbound techniques such as cold calling that often aggravate potential leads. Instead, inbound marketing uses a host of lead nurturing techniques such as buyer persona and content creation, webinar hosting, social media activity, guest blogging and ebook creation to nurture leads. It all depends on which approach works best for your company and prospects, so take your pick!
4) Get more adventurous with content
2012 saw blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers hailed as the kings of lead nurturing, but poor old video content didn’t get too much of a look in.
Not only is video content incredibly easy to access and share, but it appeals to the visual nature of consumers who can quickly get bored with plain text. The main reason I think businesses haven’t really invested in video is that they aren’t totally sure how to approach it or what their video would be about. The truth is, your videos can be about anything – given it’s relevant of course – why not try turning a how-to, quick digital marketing lesson or even customer testimonials into a moving picture? Look at it just as you would any other piece of content, taking into account your buyer personas.
5) Choose your ad audience carefully
With the wealth of targeting options that were released in 2012, there’s no excuse to run unsuccessful ad campaigns this year, whether they’re on Facebook or Google.
If you’re pumping money into an ad campaign that’s accessible to anyone and everyone, the hot leads you’ll receive in return will be few and far between. Target ads towards people of a certain age, job description and interests (in other words, you buyer personas) and you have a much better chance of receiving conversions. And the other good news? Most ads – especially those on social media – can be bought relatively cheaply.
6) Get in with the in-crowd
Make 2013 the year you really step up your networking. Part of any good inbound marketing plan, developing relationships with industry leaders builds a strong sense of trust and set of familiars that you can rely on to act as advocates for your brand, spreading the word about your services and even building links through mentions in content. It’s all about establishing yourself as credible enough for others to work with you and be proud of it, and cite you as an authority in the long run.
7) Prepare for the future with responsive web design
The world might not have ended after all, but that shouldn’t stop you preparing for the future of digital marketing. The sector changes so rapidly that apps are already less influential than they once were. Early last year Heidi Cohen revealed that a quarter of apps are downloaded only once, and never used again after their initial download. That’s a lot of wasted money for both parties.
Instead, keep your whole website optimised for the mobile trend by designing it responsively. There are so many different mobile phones and tablets in use that designing an app or mobile site for each one isn’t just time consuming, but very expensive in the long run. Responsive web design eliminates the need for these multiple sites, instead shifting and tilting its shape to fit the screen it’s being viewed on. Remember, a great user experience means happy visitors.
8) Focus on conversions
It’s surprising how many companies are still focusing all their energy on netting website traffic and forgetting about CRO. Attracting thousands of site visitors is all well and good, but if they aren’t converting to business then what use was all of that effort? Regularly reappraising and A/B testing site elements like CTAs, page colours, headings and page layouts ensure that your techniques are up to date and constantly optimised for both users and search engines.
While we’re on the subject of conversions too, it’s also worth reinforcing Dave’s previous point that a 1% conversion rate shouldn’t be an accepted norm. There are so many ways you can boost it, with many of them already explained in this very post.
The Tone team are all very excited to see what 2013 will bring for not only us, but our outstanding clients and the digital marketing industry in general, but what about you? Do you have any resolutions to abide by?