It’s easy, in our web-dependent world, to think that—especially if we’ve been doing this awhile—we know all there is to know about digital marketing. After all—knowing that we need a website and a social media presence is old news. At the same time, though, the web moves fast. Just look at how often Google changes the rules and metrics for SEO! We thought—given some of the recent changes, that it might be nice to provide our readers with an overview of how to apply our “standard” skills in a way that incorporates the “newest” rules.
So! Without further ado, here are today’s top 6 rules of digital marketing.
1. Website Design
Simple and straightforward is best. Why? Because you want your website to scale easily to tablets and other mobile devices. These days, one of the best things you can do with your website design is create an easy to navigate and uniform visual that translates well on standard sized screens and smart phones. No more one design for the laptop and another for the phone. Branding needs to be universal.
2. Email list
Obviously you need one of these. You know this. With so many people switching over to mobile messaging, it’s easy to think that your focus should be on getting people to give you their cell numbers so that you can send them SMSes whenever you have a sale or an update.
On the contrary! Most people are still incredibly wary of mobile messaging. They don’t want unsolicited calls or texts (some people are still on a pay-per-text data plan). This is why you shouldn’t be relaxing your email efforts. In fact, with so much of your competition concentrating on SMS, now is the best time to make sure that your emails (and list) are greater than they have ever been.
3. Social media
Yes, you need to have a social media presence. That much is a given. You should not, however, be limiting your social media efforts to Facebook and Twitter. Matomy, for example, has created quite a presence for itself on Linked In. When you go to the Matomy page, you can see by their recent updates that they are making a conscious effort to be present on the network and to build a following there. You should be doing the same. Linked In isn’t just for resumes anymore. For that matter, Pinterest isn’t just for weddings and recipes. There are ways to use even the most niche social networks to your advantage.
Besides, now that Facebook is skewing results against businesses who don’t want to pay a bunch of money just to reach the people who have already “liked” them, more and more marketers are jumping the Facebook ship. You don’t want to be left behind, do you?
4. Content Marketing
It used to be called “Guest Blogging” but now we call it “Content Marketing.” That’s because the idea of using content to market your business has moved beyond the realm of blogging and now includes informational products like eBooks, courses, videos, white papers, case studies, etc.
Guest blogging is still a huge part of content marketing but if you want to make it work for you now, you don’t want to send people directly to your website. That feels spammy in today’s world. Instead you should be sending people to a social media profile or a YouTube channel. That way people are met with more content instead of being forced to deal with your sales pitch before they are ready to hear it.
5. Local Marketing
Local marketing used to be synonymous with “offline” marketing (which you should be doing too). Today, though, it refers to making sure that your business shows up in local searches as well as general searches. For example: let’s say you’re a wedding dress shop in Portsmouth. Instead of catering your content to general tips for wedding dress shopping and design, you’ll also want to create content that is relevant to the Portsmouth community. You’ll want to make sure you’re listed in local directories, that you’ve got a Google Places page, that you’ve signed your business up with Yelp, Foursquare, etc. There are case studies all over the internet that prove how important local marketing has been to companies’ bottom lines.
6. Testimonials and Reviews
Speaking of local review and social media sites, remember: just because those sites make it possible for you to stack the deck in your favor doesn’t mean you should. Angie’s List recently came under fire from Consumer Reports for skewing their results for advertisers. Yelp has been rumored to do the same thing for years. Let people offer their honest opinion of your business on these sites. Use any negativity that gets posted as a way to build your reputation by responding to it in a positive way: making requested changes, tackling problems, addressing individual complaints, etc. The personalized attention will endear you to your followers and help you make more sales.
While we’re at it, don’t stack the deck on your own site, either. The FTC has some very strict rules about how testimonials have to be handled on a business’s website. Make sure you’re following those rules!
These are just six of the things that you should be doing to make sure that your digital marketing strategy is up to date with 2014’s trends. We understand that it might be tempting to dig in and hope people come back around to your comfort zone. If you want to make sales, though, you need to be ahead of the pack, not trying to slow it down.