DIGITAL MARKETING – SIX POINTS TO PONDER

A few weeks ago, while searching through material written but not yet published I came across six missives addressing issues that are surely critical to effective online communication. I am, therefore, enumerating them here in some detail as they might be helpful!!

1.CONTENT MARKETING – BUILDING AWARENESS AND THE BRAND

A 2019 study in the US found that 84.5% of businesses with more than 100 employees have a content marketing strategy.

The Ohio-based Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

The strengths of content marketing include:

  • There is no cost of media
  • When placed well, it can attract attention and educate
  • When written well, it is engaging and adds value

The challenges of content marketing include:

  • The need for high-quality writing skills
  • The requirement for originality
  • An increasingly crowded environment

Maximising the effectiveness of content marketing requires:

  • A well-documented strategy and action plan
  • Well-written and targeted content
  • Something worthwhile to say

If you want your content marketing to work optimally:

  • Target influencers
  • Personalise and tell relevant stories
  • Monitor and leverage data

Content is a fantastic communication medium, but as there is far too much of it available these days, it often fails to achieve its desired objectives. Content is NOT king but high quality, well-targeted content imbued with the right messaging can get very close to that. And at a moderate cost!

2. NATIVE ADVERTISING AVOIDS AD-BLOCKERS

A recent study suggests that native advertising is growing at a rate of 34% per annum. This is not surprising given another study that found that native advertising received 53% more views than traditional display advertising.

The Native Advertising Institute in Copenhagen defines advertising as “paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which it appears”.

Product placement (as in movies and TV programmes) is an interesting form of native advertising.

Native advertising differs from traditional display advertising in that, despite being paid or sponsored, it looks like standard editorial. In this way, it is more attractive to many readers and gets past ad-blockers, which are becoming increasingly common throughout the world.

The strengths of native advertising include:

  • It avoids ad-blocker technology
  • It can engage and educate
  • It is more credible than traditional advertising

The limitations of native advertising include:

  • Not all publications allow it
  • It is not as distinctive as traditional advertising
  • It is more expensive than simple content

To maximise the efficacy of native advertising:

  • Make the content authentic and readable
  • Personalise the content and keep it simple
  • Incorporate your brand name and a call to action

This mode of communication is growing because it works. It is destroying many publications but offers a great deal to marketers. Native adverting can be cost-effective and has a lot to offer when used well.

3. AVOID THE BULLSHIT IN SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION

The statistics relating to search engine optimisation (SEO) are astounding. One study found that 93% of online experiences start with SEO and another study found that 81% of people perform a search before making a purchase. Another study found that 65% of people did not go past the first three listings.

MOZ.com defines SEO as “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results”. In simple terms, it involves the implementation of strategies designed to ensure that your brand or product (through words or phrases associated with it) ranks highly on a search engine.

The strengths of SEO include:

  • Just about everyone searches
  • Applied well it can get you into the critical top-3
  • With the right strategy, it can be inexpensive

The limitations of SEO include:

  • It is complex, and the algorithms change
  • It is far from an exact science
  • It takes a long time to generate results

Maximising the effectiveness of SEO involves, among other things:

  • Understanding keywords and factors that drive ranking
  • Preparing and publishing high-quality content customised for SEO
  • Understanding current search traffic and technology trends

You will almost certainly need to use a consultant. In my experience, however, most consultants don’t always make sense and contribute too little for far too much. Most SEO consultants are actually experts in smoke and mirrors. To find the right consultant:

  • Avoid any that use jargon you don’t understand
  • Have them demonstrate performance rather than expertise
  • Avoid any consultant promising the world in under a year

4. ELECTRONIC DIRECT MARKETING WORKS

Research suggests that by 2022 there will be some 333 billion emails sent each day. The number sent already exceeds 280 billion. This possibly explains why the opening rate on emails is so low in 2019.

The Data & Marketing Association (DMA), formerly known as Direct Marketing Association, defines Electronic Direct Marketing (EDM) as “a strategic process of building and refining a centralised marketing database to communicate directly to subscribers using any form of electronic messaging in a targeted and personalised manner.

The strengths of EDM include:

  • It can be inexpensive given the low cost of emailing
  • It can involve interactive technology
  • It offers access to excellent data to fine-tune

The limitations of EDM include:

  • Opening rates are low
  • Quality lists are hard to come by
  • Legal restrictions

Maximising the effectiveness of EDM involves, among other things:

  • Personalising and customising mailers
  • Leveraging technology to maximise interactivity
  • Taking demographics into account before using

EDM is easy to do, but much more difficult to do well. Most businesses use email poorly and, as a result, get an equally poor response. Get advice on how to do it well and the results can be outstanding. It is also essential to monitor and fine-tune your strategy closely.

5. INFLUENCER MARKETING IS HERE TO STAY

There is an increasing body of evidence pointing to the growing popularity of influencer marketing. One study found that 63% of brands are now engaged in or intend to engage in influencer marketing. By 2020 end this will be a $10 billion a year industry.

San Francisco headquartered technology company, Pixlee defines influencer marketing as “a form of marketing that focuses on targeting key industry leaders to drive brand message and awareness to a specific market of consumers”. In essence, influencer marketing involves leveraging the databases of social media players to communicate with their growing audiences.

On one level, influencer marketing is not new. TV personalities and sporting celebrities have been recommending products since marketing began. In 2019, however, influencer marketing has proceeded to a new and far more targeted level.

The strengths of influencer marketing include:

  • The right influencers have access to your market
  • The right influencers have credibility within your market
  • The right influencers can drive sales of your brand

The limitations of influencer marketing include:

  • Finding the right influencers in a crowded marketplace
  • Influencer marketing can be expensive
  • Measuring return on investment can be difficult

Maximising the effectiveness of influencer marketing involves, among other things:

  • Ensuring your influencer has access to and credibility in your specific market
  • Ensuring that your influencer is using platforms relevant to your market
  • Structuring an offer that makes you attractive to the audience

There is much hype around influencer marketing. Where there is hype, there tends to be an overstatement of value. While good in some product categories, it is questionable in others.

6. CHATBOTS CAN MAKE YOUR WEBSITE WORK

Recent research found that some 80% of businesses will be using chatbots by 2020. Other research found that live chat software has a 73% satisfaction rate as a way for customers to interact with businesses. Chatbots work!

Wikipedia defines chatbots as “Short for chat robot, a computer program that stimulates human conversation, or chat, through artificial intelligence. Typically, a chatbot will communicate with a real person, but applications are being developed in which two chatbots can communicate with each other”.

Websites are often too static, telling the audience stuff rather than engaging. Engagement leads to relationships. Such relationships can be encouraged through the use of chatbots.

The strengths of chatbots include:

  • The software is accessible and affordable
  • They are effective in facilitating conversation
  • They can, and most often, do reduce operational costs

The limitations of chatbots include:

  • Not all people will use them
  • Ideally, they should be monitored 24×7
  • They do not work equally well in all environments

Maximising the effectiveness of influencer marketing involves, among other things:

  • Using the technology that best suits your business and environment
  • Monitoring incoming traffic closely and engaging callers in conversation
  • Making chatbots an integral part of the customer journey

Chatbots have a long way to go in terms of optimising the technology, and they require a human resource to make them effective, but they are a powerful communication tool.

IN CONCLUSION

These are just six of hundreds of insights into online or digital marketing that you can gain from talking to the team at DQ Australia.

Online or digital marketing is a science. Approach it scientifically and the results will almost certainly follow. Approach it haphazardly and you could end up wasting your money!

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