You’ve probably heard it said before that running an effective digital marketing campaign requires the ability to manage a lot of moving parts. Simply identifying all of these parts can be a challenge in itself, and often digital marketing resources only focus on individual aspects of the process. Sometimes, it’s more helpful to take a step back for a better look at everything that’s required of your marketing campaign; that’s why we’ve compiled our comprehensive 101 steps for your digital marketing plan, featured below.
A social media strategy is most effective when it plays out across multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Regardless of your own familiarity with these platforms, it’s in your best interest to manage numerous profiles, as you never know which platform your target audience utilizes the most.
It’s important that the branding on each of your social media accounts be uniform; this means that spelling, contact information, profile descriptions, and to an extent, images, should be consistent in order to make your company more easily recognizable. Your profile page should also communicate a high level of professionalism; you’ll never be seen as an authority in your industry with social media profiles that feature grainy cover photos or sloppy content.
This can include advertising contests, promotions, sneak peeks of new products, polls, links back to informative blog posts, etc. The idea is to find ways to not just get viewers to visit your social media page, but to engage with the content that’s on it.
Social media profiles become obsolete when they’re left unattended for too long. The key to capturing and sustaining an audience is to make posts on a regular basis (at least 2-3 times a week for each platform).
The point of social media is to connect with others, so when a viewer asks a question or leaves a comment on your profile, always be sure to respond professionally and expediently. This communicates to your viewers that your company is both attentive and concerned about the customer experience.
Marketing on social media platforms is becoming one of the most effective advertising methods; according to AdRoll, Facebook ads maintain click-through rates that are 8 times higher than those of traditional web ads. In other words, social media marketing works.
The realm of social media is still a great place to incorporate keywords that your website is attempting to rank for, but only include these keywords in a context that makes sense and seems authentic to viewers.
Once your Facebook page has 25 likes, you have the option to change its URL to include your company name, rather than the platform’s randomly generated URL. However, note that this URL can usually only be changed once.
Especially on social media platforms like Twitter, your profile’s “About” section will serve as the meta description that appears for your page. Make these social profiles descriptions both informative and enticing (and perhaps inclusive of relevant keywords) to make optimal use of them.
On your website, blog, or other online content, include “buttons” that link to your social media profiles. This will make it easy for your visitors to connect with you on social media.
If your company aims to reach specific local audiences (which most should, when applicable), the first step is to define your local SEO goals. Who specifically are you targeting? Will your SEO strategies vary from location to location? What benchmark will you use as a measure of success?
A local SEO audit is an initial assessment of all of the most influential factors of an SEO campaign, and is used to identify areas of strength and weakness. A local audit would include an assessment of your Google Business page, your website and its landing page, and would analyze your local social media, local competition, and your existing citations. See how you stack up against the competition and compare your website to your competitor’s with an online free too
No local SEO campaign is complete without the creation of local business profiles, such as those available from Google. However, be sure that you’re deleting all duplicated My Business pages, as these can result in a Google penalty, which will hurt your local rankings
Local online directories like Yelp! present simple and easy opportunities to build your company’s citations, which influence search engine results rankings. A citation is any mention of your company’s name, address or phone number on pages other than your own website. On these directory pages, it’s a good idea to include a link to your company’s website, too.
As with social media profiles, consistency is integral to a successful local SEO campaign; however, in this case it is less about effective branding and more about making your business easily searchable.
Customer reviews will encourage visitors to investigate your site and, when positive, they play a significant role in attracting conversions. Google is now featuring reviews on local SERPs; the more diverse, high-quality, and plentiful your company’s customer reviews, the more likely you’ll end up on Google’s SERP carousel at the top of a results page.
Appealing to mobile users is particularly important for targeting a local audience, as approximately 80 percent of all local searches are conducted on a mobile device.
If you have three brick-and-mortar storefronts, create three distinct web pages on your website for each location. This will help better direct those that search for your company name and location to your website, while creating the opportunity for your company to offer content that is specific to each location, and therefore more useful to local customers.
This requires conducting local keyword research. Identify which phrases potential customers in your target area search for and implement throughout the content of a local page just as you would with traditional SEO ranking keywords.
Coverage from local media is another effective way of getting your company’s name to rank high for your area; the more external sources that associate your company with a specific location, the more your local rankings will improve.
Blogging is a popular method of generating fresh content, but it is actually more challenging than it may appear. A great blog depends less on its inclusion of a ranking keyword than it does on the quality of its content. Today’s online reader is confronted with a wide variety of options in terms of blogging content, so if you want your blog to stand any chance of garnering wide viewership, it has to be top-notch. Make sure your writing doesn’t sound too stilted, that it presents readers with useful and informative content, and that it’s interesting enough to make them want to read your future posts. Today’s online reader also isn’t a fan of blogs that read as overt advertisements or that contain misleading “click-bait” titles that don’t reflect the blog’s actual content. In other words, blogs should focus on the experience of the reader, rather than on sending a marketing message. You should also promote your blogs on social media as part of your digital marketing plan.
Infographics are great alternatives to blogs, yet are slightly more condensed and engaging thanks to their dependence on visual representation. An infographic can serve as a substitute to a post on your company’s blog, or can be featured as an accompanying resource on a product or service page to better demonstrate what you offer. While well-designed infographics will likely attract a sizable number of views, you’ll want to make sure they still provide readers with a fair amount of useful informati
To create a whiteboard video, write out a short script advertising your service, send it to a professional voice-over company, and also include custom graphics using a video creation program like Sparkol. These videos will definitely offer additional value to viewers when placed on product/service pages, and can also make for great social media posts.
Though podcasts themselves are nothing new, they are emerging as a new way to market to a digital audience. Companies can create audio files on a regular basis that offer listeners insight and perspectives on trending topics relevant to their industry.
Ranking keywords are an inevitable part of effective digital marketing and should be an integral part of your content. However, incorporate keywords into content in a natural way, and alternate between short and long-tail keywords/phrases when using as anchor text to links.
In addition to linking to your company’s main web pages, consider incorporating links to your social media profiles, specific product listings or local web pages for more variety and relevance to readers. In addition, for onsite web content, remember that interlinking between your web pages is key.
Web 2.0s refer to content that’s published on external content platforms, such as Tumblr, Slideshare, Themefy, or Weebly. These platforms are a great way to move beyond an onsite or WordPress blog to reach a wider audience.
In addition to being engaging, relevant, and search engine optimized, content should also position your company as an industry authority. In other words, content should in some way offer insight into a topic based on your company’s knowledge of the field
There’s no harm in including links to outbound sources in your content, either. Though this won’t directly drive traffic to your site, these links can provide readers with valuable resources. The greater value your content holds, the more likely readers will return to read more in the future.
When content is published matters, too. Create an editorial schedule that sets forth when blog posts will be published, and stick to it. This schedule will be influenced by your understanding of high traffic days, notable events worth blogging about, or even holidays. Be sure that content is published on a relatively fixed basis, such as every week, every other week, or each month.
An XML sitemap is probably one of the more fundamental steps in setting up a digital marketing campaign. An XML sitemap is submitted to major search engines like Google and contains information about all of your site’s web pages, which makes for more effective search engine crawling. A site that can be easily crawled is a site that has a better chance of earning a high SERP ranking.
A meta tag is the snippet of text that appears below the link to your company’s website on a results page. To prevent text from being cut off, meta tags should be no more than 155 characters, including spaces. They should also offer readers a succinct description of what can be found on your webpage. Meta tags should also be optimized to feature your company’s ranking keywords and include a call to action to entice readers to actually visit your site. For a better idea of how to write effective meta tags, check out our Proxima SEO basic training resource
Ensure that your website includes interlinking between pages using anchor text that is optimized for your ranking keywords. If a link will direct visitors to your men’s apparel product page, the anchor text for this link should include one of the keywords for the men’s apparel page
Write title tags that are within 60 characters and include your company’s name, if room permits. The heading should also be relatively concise and, as with a title, include ranking keywords or phrases
Slow uptime is one of the surest ways to achieve high bounce rates on your site. To help ensure that your site loads expediently, double check to see that images aren’t taking up too much space; you may find that simply reducing an image’s resolution or using gzip compression to condense files will do the trick
As we’ve mentioned, strong web content is informative, well-written, and inclusive of ranking keywords. The content you feature on your site’s individual pages should also be at least 200-300 words in length and feature original content; duplicate content is subject to penalization. Google will also penalize pages that appear too “spammy” as a result of an abundance of keywords, so be sure keywords and phrases are included somewhat sparingly and are actually relevant to the content on a page or the page it links to
Every image included on your web page should be accompanied with an appropriate alt tag that describes the image in a few words. This can include a keyword, but the tag must still be relevant to the image described. Think of these descriptions not as a means of improving a page, but as a necessity.
Hosting service does matter, as the type of host your company selects can either hinder or improve your site’s uptimes, speed, and availability, all of which affect user experience and your Google rankings.
The structure of a website is one of the most important determinants of its long-term success. To ensure that visitors can quickly and efficiently navigate a site, create a hierarchy that includes between 5 and 10 main level pages, under which visitors can locate a series of more specific subpages. These main level pages will likely attract the most site traffic, so be sure they’re optimized for keywords and are built on either CMS or HTML (both of which are friendly to search engine indexing and visitors)
In the world of SEO, analytics are essential. How else would you know if an SEO campaign is working without information about your traffic or conversion rates? Use analytics to guide your company’s onsite SEO strategy, and when your findings reveal shortcomings of your company’s goals, consider A/B testing to determine how to make improvements.
Links that lead viewers to 404 pages will almost certainly drive them from your site and hinder your company’s chances of ranking high on a Google SERP. In fact, when a search engine crawls a site and encounters a broken link, it will leave the site altogether. To identify these onsite broken links (or those that are linked to your site from others and are broken), frequently check Google Webmasters.
A URL that is poorly structured can stand in the way of effective search engine indexing, high rankings, and growth in traffic, which is why every page URL should be designed to be within the 256 character maximum, feature only lower case words, and include relevant descriptors with keywords. URLs should not include random number sequences or spaces, and all words should be separated with a hyphen.
Find forums relevant to your company’s industry and participate in discussion boards, leaving a link to your company’s website within your comments. Because the forum is already populated with people interested in a topic related to your company, you have a much higher chance of attracting leads
Guest blogging can be a win-win situation for all parties involved. By reaching out to a relevant third-party publication and asking to write for their site as a “guest blogger,” you’ll not only be saving the third-party publication the hassle of writing a blog post, but can include links back to your own website, making your company visible to a wider pool of readers
You know that local directories are a key part of any local SEO campaign, but they can also be a great way to generate links back to your website. Be sure that every local directory listing you create has a link back to your site
Your social media platforms offer great opportunities to direct traffic back to your site. Aside from featuring a link to your main page in the “About” section of your profile, you can frequently make posts that include links back to either product and service pages or your company’s most recent blog post.
Media pitches are brief write-ups about a trending topic relevant to your industry that someone from your company can speak knowledgably about. These pitches are intended to attract the attention of media contacts and result in an article published on a reputable third-party site that features your company name with a link back to your website. Press releases are also intended for inclusion on reputable third-party sites, but should be created only when your company truly has something newsworthy to announce
Microsites are just what they sound like: micro. Microsites only need to feature a few individual web pages and are a supplement to your company’s main website. Microsites can include basic information about your company or be another home for blog posts and articles; most importantly, they serve as a source for channeling links back to your website.
Digital marketing doesn’t always have to be about competition; in fact, being able to effectively network with your peers can be mutually beneficial. Find ways to forge relationships with others in your field or in relevant fields to pave the way for opportunities like guest blogging, inbound links, and article promotion.
Co-marketing can be the result of effective networking, and can have beneficial pay offs. A co-marketing campaign will feature the products of two different companies that complement each other; this is most often accomplished through the mutual agreement that each company will provide links to the other’s website.
Given that Google AdWords allows companies to customize their ad viewership, knowing your target audience is crucial. This insight can be gained by assessing your company’s own research, such as which demographic purchased the most of this product last quarter, as well as analyzing information garnered from Google Analytics.
Your Google AdWords advertisement will be displayed only to those that are searching for the keywords or phrases you provided to AdWords before launching; therefore, to attract the right audience, use Google Webmaster to determine which keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for when they visit your competitors’ websites
One of the most beneficial aspects of Google AdWords is that companies only pay for ads when a viewer clicks on them; this presents companies with a highly cost-effective means of digital marketing
Though Google AdWords is a pay-per-click service, you’ll still need to set a daily budget for your ad; this prevents a situation in which you receive a higher number of clicks than you can afford
Every Google AdWords ad should be clickable; this may seem obvious given that the service is “pay-per-click,” but it’s still worth emphasizing. Every ad should include a relevant link back to one of your company’s web pages when clicked, whether it’s to a specific product or to your site’s home page. The surest way to thwart a conversion is to make navigation to the product more difficult by not including a link
Does the content of your ad correspond to the landing page that viewers arrive at upon clicking? If not, expect few conversions. Landing pages should present viewers with all of the information they need to learn about the advertised product
Every Google AdWords advertisement will be given a “Quality Score” based on the ad’s following attributes: relevance, click-through rate, relevance to landing page, and your account’s previous performance. Why aim for a high score? Google wants its ads to be well-received by viewers, so those with high scores will receive better AdWords placement on pages and, in turn, more views
Your Google AdWords ad can present viewers with the most descriptive, well-written content in the world, but if it doesn’t prompt a reader to do something, there’s a far greater chance they’ll pass on by. The key to a great ad message is to make it clear and commanding; at the end of a description, invite readers to take action.
Your Google AdWords ad can also include callout extensions, which show additional information about your business. These extensions will be automatically added if Google determines that they will help your ad campaign, and if your Ad Rank is high enough to earn it. These extensions come at no additional cost to companies.
Considering that your media pitches and press releases will be intended for online public relations platforms that have the potential to improve your rankings, it’s certainly not a bad idea to include relevant keywords and phrases in your content when it makes sense to do so.
Media pitches are intended to present media contacts with opportunities to speak to industry experts. If a media pitch doesn’t demonstrate that your company and its spokesperson are uniquely suited to speak on the topic at hand, you’ll likely have trouble garnering responses.
All press releases will require approval from the distribution source your company works with, and approval is based in part upon the newsworthiness of your release. In other words, your press release is unlikely to receive approval if it’s not actually announcing something.
Online public relations will depend on the connections your company forges with various media contacts. These connections will strengthen when communication is frequent and when media pitches are well-written, informative, and offer media contacts something valuable.
Online public relations material can also benefit your SEO campaign through the inclusion of links back to your company’s website. This can be accomplished by simply hyper-linking your company’s name when first mentioned, or including a link to anchor text that’s relevant to something your company offers.
Every media pitch that is sent for distribution should be based on a topic that’s current and relevant; to ensure that your topic meets this criterion, lead with a relevant news article. This communicates to the media contact that others are also talking about your topic.
An “In the News” page communicates to both your viewers and search engines that your company is relevant and referenced as an authority by third-parties.
Make online forms available that ask for a name, phone number, email address, and possibly a place of employment. Forms should be presented to interested visitors as a way to learn more information about something your company offers
Visitors will be more likely to act on their interest in a product or service if they’re met with an attractive offer. A free e-book download is one type of popular offer that companies can use to provide visitors something in exchange for their contact information.
Making multiple calls to action on your website or throughout various forms of advertised content is key. A clear call to action can be the difference between an interested visitor leaving the page and an interested visitor following up with your business a second time.
Pay-per-click advertising (like Google AdWords, mentioned above) is also an effective way of generating leads, especially given that these advertisements are only shown to those who were already searching for keywords relevant to your business.
Email marketing is still very much a relevant form of lead generation in the world of digital marketing, as evidenced by the consistent popularity of mass mailing services like MailChimp. The contacts on your company’s mailing list will have given permission to receive emails, and thus your emails become a way of sharing more about your products/services, and hopefully scoring a sale.
Consumers are more likely to act when the decision to do so is made easy. Presenting clear, high-quality content in lead generation material is one effective means of doing just that. It’s also important to keep web pages well-organized with an easily identifiable lead generation form
The first step to launching an effective email marketing campaign is compiling a sizable list of contacts. This can be achieved through direct invites to visitors of your website, or by asking for email information when customers make a purchase order. When requesting an email address, be clear about what your company will and will not do with this information. For example, you should reassure customers that you won’t sell their address to other marketers, that emails will only be used for promoting exclusive discounts and deals, or that individuals can opt out of the email list at any time.
This designation ensures that your emails won’t be placed in a recipient’s spam mailbox, and will instead always be delivered to their primary inbox. This is best accomplished through addition to a recipient’s address book, which you’ll need to explicitly ask for in your initial emails.
Be clear about the frequency with which you’ll send out emails, and follow through with this promise. This is primarily to ensure that you don’t annoy recipients by sending emails more frequently than you said you would.
If possible, consider the value of personalizing your messages to recipients based on what you know about their buying behavior. Rather than sending out a blanket promotion to a large contact list, it may be more effective to break up your email list into groups of recipients based on their demographic or buying behavior and send emails that more accurately align with these characteristics.
Newsletters can be an alternative to traditional email messages, offering recipients more valuable information, or helping encourage more people to sign up for your email list. Newsletters should include announcements, updates, or interesting information relevant to your industry, in addition to sales or product descriptions.
Signing up for an auto-response system is a more efficient means of keeping in contact with recipients on your email list, and doesn’t limit contact to just promotions (which can become annoying to some recipients). With an auto-response system, your company can automatically issue a series of say, 15 brief yet informative articles about a topic your company is qualified to speak on. When a customer signs up for your email list, he or she will begin receiving auto-response content at whatever interval your company deems appropriate.
How many people actually opened your email? How many clicked on a link within it? How many decided to unsubscribe to your email? Each of these questions can be answered with analytics, which, when analyzed carefully and frequently, can help you make impactful changes to your strategy.
As with almost every other aspect of a digital marketing campaign, offsite marketing must be guided with an understanding of your company’s target audience. Who you’re appealing to should definitely influence the types of sites you seek out; always stick with sources you know receive substantial traffic from members of your target audience
Open Site Explorer is an analytical tool that allows you to identify all of the online content that has a link back to one of your web pages. This can help you determine who is linking to your site, which site pages are garnering the most offsite links, and how you fair against your competitors.
After analyzing the data generated from Open Site Explorer, decide which specific link sources or general categories of link sources are most valuable. You’ll also want to find out which sources are linking to your competitor and whether or not you could get them to link to you as well.
Who generates an inbound link for your company matters. Google is more likely to see your site as an authority if you have links from reputable sources like nonprofits or educational institutions, rather than from low-traffic, independent blogs.
It’s important to be measured in your search for inbound links because acquiring too many links, too quickly, puts you at risk of being penalized by Google
Offsite marketing is an ongoing process, which means that companies should never cease looking for opportunities to request inbound links from others; the inbound links you have today aren’t guaranteed to hold up one week or one month down the road. Therefore, the challenge of continuously attracting inbound links is continuous.
Add Google rich snippets to your SERP link to make it more attractive; Google’s SERP rich snippet tool will allow you to customize page titles and Meta descriptions, and add valuable micro-data (more detailed information) about your company. For example, with a rich snippet, your business could feature a positive customer review or its hours of operation, which can help attract more clicks
You know that press releases are central to online public relations, but they can be just as integral to your offsite marketing efforts. A press release issued through a partnering distribution affiliate will afford opportunities for your company announcement and name to appear on various third-party sites online, which is essentially a form of offsite marketing in itself.
Offsite marketing will depend in part upon your company’s ability to forge and sustain relationships with actual people. Reach out to editors that run digital publications on which it would make sense to link to your site or write a guest blog. The better connected you are, the more opportunities you have for creating links.
Placing your domain name or site name within anchor texts that appear in the content of third-party sources is an important part of brand recognition.
To ensure that users have access to websites that are well-designed, optimally formatted, and easily navigable on a mobile device, companies need responsive web design. A responsive website allows content to be seamlessly re-organized to fit any mobile device.
Google now indicates on search engine results pages which websites meet its criteria for being mobile-friendly. Earning this distinction can have a big impact on the amount of traffic your site receives from mobile users, and is based on criteria such as text that doesn’t require zoom to read, no horizontal scrolling, and easily clickable links.
Though similar in many ways to traditional web advertisements, the clickable mobile ad should be more concise, feature a more prominent call to action and include only one message. Mobile ads don’t afford as much space as desktop ads, so the key is to make them short and sweet (but still appealing).
When setting up a mobile marketing campaign, you’ll want to implement either a unique identifier matching tool or a device fingerprinting tool to ensure accurate attribution; these tools will make it possible to attribute a conversion to your mobile advertisement and, in turn, help your company assess an ad’s effectiveness.
Mobile advertisements can now specifically target mobile users who either live or happen to be within proximity of your storefront. These users can be identified based on their searches (whether or not they frequently search for terms with your location), or from things like Foursquare check-ins. The benefit of geo targeting mobile users is that your advertising dollars can be spent on appealing to those who are already in the area, and who are therefore more likely to actually visit your store.
First, determine what your company’s online reputation actually is. This involves looking for your company on various search engines using a range of keywords, such as your company’s location, products, or brands. Review the results that appear on at least the first and second pages and create an organized spreadsheet of the sites that generate negative listings, as well as those that generate neutral or positive listings.
Determine what aspects of reputation management will be achievable for your company. Keep in mind that a reputation overhaul won’t happen overnight; start by targeting the negative listings that appear on the results pages for some of your most commonly-searched keywords, or that appear within a page’s top 10 results
As mentioned, if you don’t take charge of your reputation, somebody else will. You need to claim your company’s name on all online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (really, every social media site) and local listings like Google Business. Claiming your name on these platforms is not only beneficial for SEO purposes, but guarantees that nobody else can create an account with your name to distribute irrelevant or unauthorized content.
You can’t force negative listings to disappear, but you can force them down a results page by replacing them with links to more positive content. If you’re already engaging in a full-fledged digital marketing campaign that generates fresh blog articles, inbound links, and social media posts, you should be well on your way to improving your standings. However, you may need to bolster your efforts by adding new web pages or creating additional pages and sites.
Though the thought of encouraging customers to leave reviews of your product or service can be daunting, it’s important to let customers write reviews. First, it shows that your company values your customers’ experience. Second, it creates a platform on which satisfied customers can do your marketing for you. Research has shown that people are more likely to purchase a product when it’s been endorsed by other customers. There’s always the possibility that someone will leave a negative review; however, you now have the ability to address these comments and demonstrate that your company sincerely apologizes for the customer’s experience, while explaining how you’ll prevent it from happening in the future.
Digital marketing is an ongoing endeavor that has no end point; even when goals are met, you’ll still need to be fully invested in strategies that ensure you can sustain your position as a top company in your industry, Effective digital marketing isn’t just about staying the course; it’s also about recognizing when it’s time to shift direction. There will always be new platforms, strategies, and algorithms emerging that can dramatically change the marketing game, which means you’ll want to be perceptive of these changes to maintain a competitive edge.