A new year is a time for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the future. We hope to increase productivity. We want to reconnect. We carry along a mental note of what-not-to-do (thanks, 2016!) and we look forward to a fresh start, or, better yet, a jump start!
When it comes to digital marketing, we begin every year trying to figure out how in the world to generate even more content than last year, and seeking to pinpoint the best avenue to bring in more leads. So, we begin another year with another list of resolutions that looks overwhelming. How do we turn those into accomplishments? Let’s start with an “Om …” and begin with analytics.
Are you tracking your marketing efforts?
I am assuming everyone is here because we want to be effective digital marketers. Many of us are inundated with new methods and flooded with what we should be doing. Instead of digging into what’s missing, let’s start by analyzing what we are already doing to see if it is working. Here are a few measurable results to track:
- Social Engagement. A huge list of followers is one thing, but a connected, communicating community is the real goal. By tracking likes, shares, comments, and clicks per post along with audience growth rate, you’ll have a better view of real engagement. (Bonus: you’ll also get insight into what kind of content is resonating, and what to kick to the curb.)
- Website Visits. Move beyond total hits to your website and start digging into what people are doing when they get there. Freely available metrics from Google Analytics or partnering with a service like HubSpot will get you going, and there are endless resources for hyperanalyzing visitor data.
- Email Metrics. How is your subscriber list looking? Growing or shrinking? Are you tracking your bounce rates? Are readers clicking on your links or forwarding messages to friends and associates?
- Conversions. How many people are filling out the form once they’ve been directed to your landing pages? How many are opening the follow-up email you send once they do? How many are doing something with the email content?
- Access Devices. People who access content via mobile devices tend to behave differently than those who use desktop or laptop computers. Being able to see what each type of user is doing will help you customize the experience for better results.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
To set up your company’s marketing for success, you need to know where you are and set up performance measures that will inform whether you are meeting your goals.
The importance of your website
At a recent AMA Cincinnati Digital Marketing SIG, we talked about the importance of your company’s website. What is the difference between creating a LinkedIn Company Page or a Facebook Company Page and building a website with a specific domain name for your business?
While a social media presence is important, your company’s website is where you build legitimacy and trust with your audience. In today’s business world, a company without a website of its own is an immediate cause for suspicion.
Think of your company’s website like its social security card in the digital world: your domain is your company’s social security number and source of identity. If you’re not legit they won’t commit.
What’s displayed on your website is also where people make their first impression of your business. Are you waiting there with a firm handshake and a friendly smile? Or are people left to wander around and try to figure it out for themselves?
Our websites are more than just a business (or social security) card; they must be comfortable places for people to get to know your company, your products and services, and to take themselves part of the way through the buying process. An inbound-friendly website has pre-planned paths for people at all stages, yet still feels natural and flexible to the user. Sounds complicated? It’s not, as long as you keep your focus on the needs of the visitors at all times.
Some inbound-friendly components include:
- A clear idea of who you are talking to. HubSpot calls them Buyer Personas, and they are an essential part of focusing on visitor needs rather than company goals.
- An understanding of what sets you apart from your competitors so you can deliver that to your visitors.
- Plenty of paths for everyone. Some people are trying to decide whether they want to consider a product or service, others are price-comparing. Some show up cash-in-hand, ready to buy.
- A solid SEO strategy. Attracting customers organically from search engines and referrals is the hallmark of inbound marketing, but remember SEO must always come second to visitor experience.
You have a solid inbound-friendly website, now what?
Stale content will be your demise. First, Google rewards active websites with a boost up the ladder of search engine results. Second, people want to know there’s someone in there. That behind that website, there is a human being doing the typing; someone they can reach out to and have a conversation with when the time is right. A blog post from 2008 will not provide that reassurance.
Planning for all that fresh content is another one of those things that seems overwhelming and messy until you have the right framework in place.
Forget about those meetings where everyone haphazardly contributes topic ideas and pencils in a rough calendar only to have it all slip through the cracks because everyone is “too busy” to contribute.
You need a real plan that starts with the buyer, rests on a theme and keywords, and is directed toward a specific offer. Then, you create the content that supports that plan.
Bringing it all Together
Now you have the tools you need to jump-start the new year and begin turning those resolutions into results. Start by measuring the results of what you already have in place. Then, turn to your website to make sure it is optimized and continue to measure visitor activity to make sure it stays optimized. Then, create an ongoing content creation process that delights your readers and meets their needs so they convert to paying customers. Rinse and repeat.
I hope everyone has a great start to the new year!
About Sarah Tsai
Sarah Tsai is a digital marketer who leverages her background in disruptive innovation and consumer insights to create differentiated positioning for products and services. She thrives on taking on client challenges in their specific industries. The digital landscape changes daily; it’s more important than ever to embrace new tools and methods. She believes that through thoughtful collaboration, we can all achieve more than working individually. Mother of two unruly toddlers, she is a resident in Mt. Lookout.