Years ago, I was working as an online marketing manager at a digital marketing agency in Salt Lake City.
One of my clients was a large university that offered online courses. The client had expressed concerns that while organic search traffic was up, our “request for more information” goal was down (one of the primary KPIs).
The client was questioning the value in our work and the partnership was in jeopardy.
From competitive analysis I knew we had multiple online competitors that offered similar programs, and also that signing up for college level online courses wasn’t an impulse buy – prospective students were doing their research.
Understanding the customer path to purchase
After the call I referenced the client’s Multi-Channel Funnels Report in Google Analytics. I confirmed that the top conversion path was visitors finding our online courses via Google Search, and then coming back directly at a later point to request more information. Once I shared this with the client, she immediately saw the value in the work we were doing.
From that day forward, I included data from this report to not only show the full value in our work, but also gain a deeper understanding of my client’s customer online journey to purchase.
This lesson is one of many that I’ve applied to assist me in running more effective campaigns, provide more actionable and insightful reporting, build stronger relationships with clients, and develop more efficient processes.
Here are the lessons I feel will provide real value and help you be a better digital marketer.
1. SEO is far from dead
While Google is continuously refining and introducing new systems to help it better understand queries and return relevant results, both optimization and inbound links still work amazingly well to improve a page’s visibility in Google Search.
Caption: This screenshot is of YoY organic search traffic with a filter applied to remove spam/bot hits. The website is a local business that had existing authority and no previous on-page optimization.
While not a definitive rule, pages and posts with links from authoritative, trusted sources tend to perform better organically than those that don’t.
Ensure your website is sending clear, concise signals to search engines. Make on-page optimization and earning links a component of your digital marketing strategy by creating and promoting great content, getting the word out for company news and events and building online relationships with others in your industry.
Client education is key as it can often take months to see the benefits from optimization.
2. Community, Community, Community
Image Source: ALLBRiGHT 1-800-PAINTING
Getting involved in your local community can be an effective way to earn links, increase brand awareness and strengthen your UVP as a national or local business.
A community event can include charity work or sponsorships, meetups, presentations, etc.
If you need ideas on how to acquire links from your clients’ community efforts or events, I’d recommend checking out this post.
Do something newsworthy that includes your local community and then get the word out!
3. Social media attribution
Many social media managers will agree that it can be difficult to show an ROI from building an engaged social community.
For many of my clients, I’ve found that social activity typically “assists” as opposed to acting as a last touch channel that directly leads to conversions. While traffic back to your website from your social channels is great, showing how these efforts are bringing in new leads and sales is even better.
By default, Google Analytics credits all conversions to the last channel a customer interacts with before converting. To help me show clients how both paid and organic social media marketing campaigns are contributing to either leads or sales, I use Google Analytics Multi-Channels Funnel reports.
Google lumps all social traffic into one channel, so you’ll need to create custom channel grouping that defines all your social channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. You can also create a channel for specific campaigns that you’ve tagged.
4. Start with a great visitor experience
Spending time and valuable marketing dollars on campaigns won’t be nearly as effective if your landing pages are providing a poor visitor experience. Don’t put the cart before the horse.
For any online marketing campaign, start with optimizing the visitor experience on your website, then move on to marketing.
If you have suspicions that a design element/feature isn’t enhancing the visitor experience on a site, request a few free 5-minute evaluations from Peek User Testing for unbiased feedback. In my experience, clients love it and it can be used in conjunction with analytics data to confirm a hunch.
To assess areas that could be limiting conversions, set up funnels for your goals in Google Analytics.
Are most visitors abandoning their cart? Are they making it to the contact page but not filling out the form? Funnels can help you assess where you may need to make changes.
The below screenshot shows a basic funnel that was set up using Google Analytics Goals.
You can also install and use heat map software to see exactly how your visitors are engaging with your landing pages. I like SumoMe’s Heat Maps.
5. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it
I’m a firm believer in letting the data drive the decisions, but in order for data to be actionable, it needs to be as accurate as possible. Internal sessions, junk and spam traffic, accounts that aren’t set-up properly, can all make your data less insightful and actionable. This is especially true for small businesses and websites that don’t receive thousands of visitors a month.
Providing your clients with a thorough analytics audit can be worth its weight in gold. Having accurate tracking in place will not only help you know what’s working, but also show how your work is impacting your client’s bottom line.
6. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose
Time and budgets are limited so why not get the most exposure possible for your content and events?
Repurposing can be defined as taking new and existing content assets and sharing or recreating them across multiple channels and content formats.
For example, if your client is holding an informative event, you could repurpose this content in the following ways:
- Live stream the event on Periscope, Facebook Live or via a podcast
- Record the presentation on video then upload and share it to Facebook and YouTube
- Transcribe the video or podcast and publish it as a blog post
- Gather emails from event attendees and send them the video and a link to the transcription on your website
- Take any presentation slides and add them to SlideShare
- Syndicate the content across other websites with a link pointing to the original post on your website
Before starting a new campaign, do a thorough content audit, then ask the client for anything and everything that’s ever been used as marketing material. This can include PDFs, videos, PowerPoint slide decks, brochures, materials used for print advertising, etc.
7. Do a good job
Sounds pretty obvious right? Before starting my own digital marketing agency, I never considered word of mouth, reviews, and recommendations as marketing channels. The marketer in me would be amazed to learn that many successful SMB’s were able to grow solely off of client referrals.
Since starting my own business, I’ve also found this to be true. Doing a good job can mean a lot of things, but I’d sum it up as working hard, keeping communication frequent, and showing the value in your work.
Remember, it’s less expensive to retain a current client than it is to find a new one. Doing a good job means you’ll retain clients longer and increase the chances they’ll refer you to other businesses.
8. Be prepared to wear multiple hats
As a digital marketing consultant, it’s my job to be able to advise and drive successful marketing campaigns across all online channels. SEO, PPC, social media, email – it’s a lot to keep up with!
My advice: make a goal to read at least one blog post a day on a different marketing channel and keep good notes. Take the best ideas and test them for inclusion in your internal processes.
9. Develop processes
Having processes in place ensures that your success is repeatable … and it also saves you time. While every business is unique and no digital marketing campaigns are identical, many strategies and tasks can be defined.
Having tools, templates, and repeatable tasks will provide consistency and help your business to grow sustainably.
10. Pay to promote
Growing an audience and building awareness for your business takes a lot of time and effort. While not all industries are social, for those that are, utilizing social advertising on the social channels used by your target audience can be an effective way to get the word out.
Make sure to retarget those who were interested enough to visit your website. This can include advertising on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even StumbleUpon.
You can learn something from everyone
I’ve only scratched the surface, but these were a few of the most actionable lessons I could share.
Do you have something to add? If so, please drop it in the comments below!
Guest Author: Brian Jensen is the CEO at Congruent Digital, a full-service online marketing agency that provides clients with a data-driven approach to search engine optimization, social media, content marketing and pay-per-click advertising. Connect with Brian on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.