6/5/2023 0 Comments
Digital marketing is crucial during an economic downturn because it allows you to more quickly assess what's working and what's not so that you can optimize effectiveness, minimize waste and maximize effectiveness. But what's involved, what are the best practices, and what results can a growing business expect?
First, understand that B2B buyers will complete 57% - 70% of their buying research before contacting sales. Nine out of ten B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on purchasing decisions. One study found that 59% of B2B buyers would rather do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because they think reps push their own agendas instead of actually trying to solve the customer's problem.
Digital marketing means using digital channels such as your website, search engine optimization, paid search marketing and programmatic marketing to market your products and services. There are several types of digital marketing. Using them in combination is wise, but even adding one will increase your digital reach. Decide which ones make sense for your business and what you’ll be able to accomplish with your available resources.
Key Digital Marketing Tools
Your website is foundational. Research confirms that 99.8% of all first customer interactions begin on a businesses website. You must know your target audience. It's vital that your site can be found fast and impress visitors with fast load times, intuitive navigation, smooth functionality and by being instantly informative. People want what they want instantly - they don't want to have to figure out your website. Make sure it loads quickly and works on both desktop and mobile. Customers skip websites that look unprofessional or make it difficult to find what they want.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a crucial component of digital marketing. Good SEO focuses on improving a website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Great SEO makes a website more appealing to search engines and users. The SEO process involves optimizing various aspects of a website, including its content, structure, and back-links. Job 1 is aligning your website structure and content with Google guidelines so that your site engages your best customers who want, need and buy from you."
Chris Lowers, president of Grey Partners said it best, "SEO is pivotal for small businesses. Through well-maintained SEO small-to-medium businesses can compete and win, increasing their organic search visibility, attracting more targeted and highly qualified customers, and ultimately grow faster than their competition."
Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach people interested in your business. Give customers a simple way to sign up for emails, and you can use it as a funnel for future sales. It’s a great way to communicate relevant information to those who care. Like your website, your emails should be as clean and professional-looking as possible.
Email marketing is a more efficient replacement for traditional direct mail. Mailers cant be tracked and are mostly seen as spam now. Even consumers interested in your business would probably throw out your “junk” mail.
Paid Search Marketing
Paid advertisements are a popular way to reach customers. Typically, a company distributes your ads to the internet, and you pay them for each click they receive. This is known as pay-per-click advertising. It can quickly scale up or down for businesses of all sizes. Ad campaigns can target consumers based on demographics and interests, ensuring that the right audience sees your brand.
Content marketing is a way to reach your audience with original media. Rather than being a direct advertisement, it focuses on related topics that draw users in. For example, it’s now commonplace for a business’s website to have a blog. Content marketing is a great way to maximize search engine optimization (SEO). Your content can be optimized to rank higher in search results, making it more likely to be clicked on.
Social Media Marketing
Social media has exploded over the last decade with billions of people worldwide addicted social media. It's easy for B2B advertisers to consider social media a viable marketing tool but, smart B2B marketers know that while they may receive a large volume of traffic, converting that traffic to paying customers is often challenging.
Yes, a business presence on these social platforms gives you access to billions of users but what percentage will actually buy your goods or services? Well-planned social media campaigns can expose your business to mass amounts of people and are often a wonderful marketing tool for retail goods, entertainment and services but often under perform for B2B marketers.
10 Reasons to Invest in Digital Marketing
1. Reach a Broader Audience. Traditional marketing has limits. Digital marketing offers the opportunity to reach more of the right audience. You can serve your advertising to potential customers with the need and desire to purchase your goods or services at the exact moment they are searching for those products.
2. Reach a More Qualified Audience. Digital marketing lets you focus on the people most likely to buy when they are shopping or researching the goods or services you offer. It's a much more efficient and effective advertising because you know your budget is being spent marketing to those who need your goods or services. Those that are interested in your business, products, or services can choose to follow your content greatly improving your marketing ROI. People also share content with others with similar interests, giving you further reach without extra digital marketing effort.
3. Increase Brand Awareness. Digital marketing offers excellent opportunities for organic brand awareness. One of the best tools is your content. Blog posts, online courses, webinars, and podcasts are a few examples. Anyone searching for suitable topics or consuming related content could organically find yours. That will expose them to your brand and reach even more people if they share it.
4. Measure Results to Focus Your Efforts. Digital marketing channels give you access to important analytics. You can see the number of clicks on your ads, how long people watched your video, where your blog post ranks in search and more. Each piece of your marketing strategy can be analyzed in-depth. This will show you how effective your methods are and allow you to weigh their benefit and cost.
5. Compete with Competitors. Keeping up with your competitors has always been important, but digital media has ramped up the race. Businesses that don’t keep track of technology or follow their analytics will quickly be left behind. Technology can change in days, opening a new marketing path or even closing one you used.
7. Cost-effective & responsive. Digital marketing is has a much lower entry cost and you can instantly tune you campaign at eny time to optimize your response. That's a huge advantage over traditioanl advertising which requires a large up-front commitment without the opportunity to optimize - if you're not getting results that's wasted money with traditional advertising. One of the significant benefits of digital marketing is its flexibility. Changing some of your content or advertising only takes a few clicks and, you're in control of all the details.
8. Scalability. Businesses of all sizes can utilize digital marketing. Some aspects will grow organically through SEO, email subscriptions and social media. You can scale the rest yourself. Some small businesses start by doing all their marketing and then hiring it out once they’ve outgrown that.
9. Establishes a Roadmap for Your Business. Planning your digital marketing will also help you plan a roadmap for your business. You’ll be able to analyze where current customers come from and where you can find new ones. It also allows you to map out your growth and create marketing targets.
10. You Can Do It Yourself. Because the barriers to entry are low with digital marketing, small and medium businesses are able to market themselves without an ad agency or hiring a marketing team.
Build Your Business Through Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is more than beneficial — it’s a necessity. Customers research products online. Research indicates that website visitors determine the quality of service within 2-seconds of visiting your website. Without a engaging digital marketing presence, customers won’t find you and those that do will leave and go to your competitor.
Successful businesses know that investing in digital marketing is no longer an option, it's a necessity. If your business needs help taking your digital marketing to the next level, Grey Partners is here to help. Our team will accelerate your growth by helping you attract, engage and convert more of your best customers. We are your force multiplier delivering website design, search optimization and lead generation solutions for small to medium businesses.
5/31/2023 3 Comments
What questions should I ask before hiring a digital marketing company?
The first step in choosing the right agency for you is identifying your specific marketing needs. It’s important to understand that different agencies may offer different services. Some focus on foundational tools such as websites, SEO and SEM, others may favor social media and content marketing while larger firms may offer full-stack services. Businesses should evaluate their marketing goals, review agencies that can deliver results in the areas that matter most and then choose a firm that will truly value your business rather than treat you like a number.
Dr. Michael Perusich, CEO of Kats Consultants remarked, “we often think about marketing as a mechanism to accomplish a task. But, just like the need to create great relationships with your customers, the same is true when choosing your digital marketing partner. I advise my clients to avoid firms with ‘thousands of clients’. Yes, that can be reassuring to hear but, that also indicates a high-volume, cookie-cutter approach where you are just a number. Choosing a strategic partner that truly values your business will bear much more fruit for your business in the long run.”
It’s difficult to be confident about what services are offered and needed, how pricing and terms are structured and most of all, what results should be expected. And with so many choices, how do you select the right professional marketing team?
In this blog post we will explore the critical questions you should ask and considerations you should evaluate before selecting a digital marketing agency for your small or medium-sized business, discuss what services marketing agencies do for you, review the elements that make up an effective digital marketing strategy and, reveal standard costs and compensation structures.
Understanding these points better ensures that you’re more likely to select the right partner and create a successful relationship that generates the consistent growth outcomes you’re looking for. Let's get started!
When looking to hire a digital marketing company there are several things to evaluate. Look for an agency with experience in your industry, ask for examples of past work, what tools they use to track success, how often they can meet with you, the size of the agency, how they are compensated, what specifically is included and what terms are required.
What does a digital marketing agency do?
Digital marketing agencies typically provide a variety of services such as website design, search optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and SEO. Niche firms specialize in providing one or several services. Full-funnel digital marketing firms will typically offer all digital services plus graphic design, copywriting, video/audio production, branding, advertising, media planning/buying as well as public relations services.
What is an effective digital marketing strategy?
An effective digital marketing strategy requires careful planning, research, monitoring and goal-based adjustment. You need to define your target audience, establish your goals, choose the right channels, plan and implement your strategy, monitor and measure your results then adjust for improvement.
Effective digital marketing strategies are comprised of foundational elements no matter a business’s size, target audience or industry segment. By following these steps, you will be able to create a successful digital marketing strategy that delivers results for your small or medium business.
Ask agency candidates for example digital marketing plans and look for these elements:
What does it cost to hire a digital marketing agency?
Digital marketing agencies typically offer two types of compensation structures: project-based & retainer-based. Project-based compensation is charged by the hour for one-time projects such as website design, branding, or social media setup. Retainer-based compensation is charged monthly for services such as content creation, social media management, and email marketing.
When asked about why they chose a retainer through a full-funnel firm, Eric Johnson of CJ Real Estate said, “We struggled to realize how our website, SEO, email, events and social media - all our marketing - works together and needs to be managed as a whole. We wasted so much time and money with one-off projects and short-term focus. I’m so glad we listened to Chris Lowers and let his team get us marketing strategically. Grey Partners is a remarkable digital marketing agency – they have us off the sales roller-coaster and enjoying steady business growth. And, we’re spending about half of what we did on project work. Go figure!”
Service costs are often substantially reduced by entering into a monthly retainer agreement because it offers the same benefit for both the client and agency – consistent success. Agencies know that your success is their success. One-time projects typically won’t be good for them or their clients over the long term because websites and SEO must be continuously nurtured to be consistently successful.
Check out these FAQ’s to learn more about digital marketing agency pricing:
Before hiring a digital marketing firm, it’s crucial to do your research and ask critical questions to ensure that you end up with a firm that complements your business needs. Ask about the firm’s services, previous success stories, industry expertise, who will be managing your account, and their pricing structure. Ensure significant experience, an understanding of your goals and objectives, a commitment to be ahead of the latest trends and technology, transparency, and the ability and desire to measure success. With a clear understanding of the digital marketing firm, you’ll be more comfortable working together toward the common goal of building your brand and achieving consistent growth outcomes.
Is direct mail an old-school relic, or a powerful tool that helps you bypass digital clutter? It pays to look at the whole package. There's more to direct mail than you might think.
Integrating your inbound and outbound funnels with sequenced direct mail can help you reach the right person at the right time through cohesive campaigns can fuel impressive gains.
Learn more in this article from our friends at Adweek.
SEO is the primary driver of brands, businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. Customer journeys beging with search. And, organic search delivers 53% of all website traffic.
Think about it, whenever you want to go somewhere, do something, find information, research or buy goods/services – what's the first thing that you do? It's probably involves a click.
How people search is fragmented and businesses are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. While Google may represent over 84% of all searches most business leaders aren't aware that 61% of Americans start their product search on Amazon verses the 39% who begin on a search engine like Google.
Unlike other marketing channels, SEO work is sustainable. Think of SEO like an ecosystem. As long as you care for the individual parts the system sustains itself with minor maintenance requiired from you. However, when a paid marketing campaign ends, so does the traffic. f
The bottom line is that SEO is foundational to your business. Yes, it's a marketing channel but the most successful businesses budget SEO as a capital expense because they understand that SEO is elemental to consistent market share. Without a strong SEO plan your business simple can't compete.
Start-up AI search-bot companies seek to one day carve out a slice of the massive web search market that Google has so thoroughly dominated for 30 years.
Large Language Model (LLM) AI search-bots represent a fundamentally different approach to retrieving content from the web. Google works by matching search queries with relevant sites that its web crawlers have found and indexed, then ranking those content sources based on their popularity and other factors. AI “answer engines” (as one start-up, Perplexity, terms them) leverage the language skill of LLMs to understand queries, then assemble customized, conversational answers based on content from millions of web pages.
Learn more in this 4-minute read from contributor Mark Sullivan's article in Fast Company.
If you’re serious about vying for top search engine results, then you know you that brand crediblity is a critical component. But Google has been ambiguous about what E-A-T (expertise-authoritativeness-trustworthiness) actually is, and how it plays into your SERP rankings.
So how do you prove your E-A-T your success?
Learn more in this video from our friends at Moz where Lily Ray discusses the ways in which you can prove that all important “E” – expertise – and measure your success.
E-A-T, Google's acronym for EXPERTISE, AUTHORITATIVENESS & TRUSTWORTHINESS — isn't a new topic, Google has been evaluating EAT signals for years. What's vital to your business is boosting those signals through content that's strongly inline with Google's 2023 Helpful Content Update.
For years search engines have demoted sites deemed to have “unhelpful” content, giving them less visibility in search results. Google’s internal communication revealed: “Any content—not just unhelpful content—on sites determined to have relatively high amounts of unhelpful content overall is less likely to perform well in Search, assuming there is other content elsewhere from the web that’s better to display.” Yikes!
The bottom line is that you can have a great mobile site experience, create engaging video content, and optimize for voice search. But, if your content doesn’t align with Google's definition of 'helpful', your business will suffer.
That's where GP Coaching can help. Our experts provide the strategic architecture that gives your marketing team the ability to build 'helpful', engaging content that puts you on top of search rankings to keep your business relevant and leads flowing.
Striking the perfect balance between aesthetics and usability is key to crafting great user experiences. So how will your website give every visitor a great experience? 4-minute read.
A well-designed site builds trust and guides visitors to take action, all the while creating an enjoyable user experience. So how will your website give every visitor a great experience? Read on to learn 10 keys to great site design:
Let's raise a toast to the innovator's driving web design as we check out check out 4 examples of fresh ideas that we expect you'll see a lot more of soon.
Fresh, Fun & Optimistic Designs
With simple navigational flow this trend brings a little happiness with strong use of fun colors, faces, shapes. It's most effective with portfolio sites or e-commerce sites targeting youthful, energetic users.
Bold & Experimental Typography
San Serif rules no more with this trend taking foot. But, how long will it last? Big bold fonts seem to be popping up everywhere - even stodgy business sites - and they look amazing. Remember to keep your team tightly focused on impact across all platforms when employing bold typography. Will the design and US flow seamlessly?
Websites That 'Just Get Them'
Personalization is one of the strongest design tools. Designers are challenged with creating engaging user experiences without being creepy. It's a tough balance but when you pull it off, users simply ooze brand positivity.
Three-Dimensional Design Elements
Full, three-dimensional site designs are fading quickly because, while they score high on the first impression 'cool' factor, they simply lack everyday usability. We love how 3D design is evolving as more flat overall aesthetics are populated with 3D elements that shine creating a 'wow' factor with simple navigation for fantastic user experiences.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving practice. Search engines continually update their processes to provide a better user experiences. Where SEO could once be effectively done with keyword density equations and cheaply bought back-links, modern SEO only works as part of an integrated digital marketing ecosystem.
Hiring an SEO company or agency can be a daunting task. In the best-case scenario, your partner grows organic traffic to your site, improves your search rankings, and helps you generate more leads and sales. In the worst-case scenario, your SEO partner engages in black hat techniques that give the appearance of success, disappears before the penalties kick in, and leaves you with less traffic than ever—and months’ or years’ worth of costly cleanup.
However, hiring someone to create and execute an SEO plan doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to be an expert to hire one. You do need to know what questions to ask and what answers to expect. Consider the following 12 questions—and what to look for in the answers—to find a proficient SEO company that follows best practices and drives the results you’re seeking:
1. What is your philosophy of approaching SEO to deliver results?
There are three major facets of SEO, and the most effective SEO companies consider all three as components of a comprehensive SEO strategy.
Many SEO agencies operate in one of two ways:
Modern SEO requires a holistic strategy and experienced execution. Make sure the SEO agency you are evaluating can do all three (technical, UX, off-page), and that they have a clear strategy for balancing them.
2. How will you adapt that strategy to our brand/business/industry/niche?
SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and your SEO partner should have some ideas as to how your business needs a unique approach that caters to your industry, business model, and goals. SEO for a local business interested in attracting customers from a dozen zip codes requires a very different approach than SEO for a major corporation with a global market.
Experience in your industry is a plus, but it’s not necessarily a requirement. More important is the SEO agency’s ability to articulate how they will adapt the general approach to cater specifically to your niche. Make sure that the company can highlight specific places where the general approach will vary.
3. What metrics define “success” for you?
This is kind of a trick question. While SEO companies may come to the meeting with certain, general goals in mind, their success metrics should really stem from what success means for you. No SEO company can guarantee page-one rankings, and those that make these types of promises are likely using black-hat techniques. These techniques may get you traffic for a short time, but they’ll ultimately land you a penalty—along with significantly reduced traffic and rankings.
Legitimate SEO professionals will build their plans around your goals. If you’re looking for increased traffic, they may prioritize keyword optimization or content creation. If you’re looking for more local traffic, they may recommend optimizing your local business profiles on directory and review sites. An SEO agency’s success metrics should be directly based on your business goals, so look for companies that turn this question around and seek the answer from you.
4. How long will it be until we can expect to see results?
Effective SEO takes time, but that shouldn’t prevent an experienced agency from giving you a time frame for results. In general, you should expect to see results from legitimate SEO techniques within six months of getting started.
The possibility of seeing results earlier depends on the health of your site. For instance, correcting technical errors and oversights can net some legitimate SEO gains in a short period of time. However, if your site is already structured well and free from technical issues, you will have to wait longer for measurable change.
If your SEO company promises quick results, ask why. If they point out technical factors that need to be cleaned up, good. If not, be wary—they might be using outdated, spammy techniques that will eventually get your site penalized.
5. How do you approach mobile?
Ideally, mobile should be part of the conversation when you discuss the general strategy. Google announced last year that they were in the process of moving to a mobile-first index, making mobile optimization more important than ever. Look for companies that have a process for conducting a mobile audit of your site, and ensure your SEO agency can convincingly articulate why mobile is an important SEO consideration.
6. How should SEO incorporate with our overall marketing strategy?
The most successful SEO initiatives are part of an overall marketing plan, so avoid companies that expect to perform their tasks in isolation. SEO goes hand-in-hand with content marketing, and public relations and social media marketing activities can be used for effective link-building. Your SEO partner should be very open to collaborating with your other marketing teams—as well as other teams as needed, such as your web development and sales teams—and should have a basic plan for integrating their efforts with your existing marketing initiatives.
7. How do you conduct keyword research?
In the past, keyword research meant plugging a term into a keyword research tool, populating a list of relevant keywords, and developing content with keywords inserted at various places. However, modern keyword research requires much more effort—it’s an exercise in understanding user intent. It seeks to understand what information a user is looking for when searching a keyword phrase and provides content catered to the intent behind the search.
As you’re interviewing prospective SEO companies, make sure that they refer to user intent and speak about the tools and methodologies they use to determine keyword intent. If the entire conversation revolves around number of searches for a keyword and keyword density, it’s likely that they’re operating on outdated practices.
8. How do you approach link-building and influencer marketing?
Some SEO companies will promise to get you thousands of links within a few weeks, but the reality is that those links will not be high quality. One high-quality link from a credible, authoritative site is more effective than hundreds of low-quality purchased or machine-created links in blog comments. The conversation should focus on building quality links over a large quantity of links.
Modern link-building is better described as link-earning. It’s executed by providing high-quality content that drives incoming links organically, and building relationships with influencers and editors. Your SEO company should describe their link-building efforts in terms of relationship-building and quality—not quantity and expediency.
9. What tools do you use?
Knowing exactly what tools an SEO company uses isn’t necessarily important, but knowing that they can describe why they use those tools is critical. Legitimate SEO professionals will have a number of tools they use to conduct audits and complete tasks, and they will have tested multiple tools to find the best. Ask the following questions:
10. How do you report on progress and what does it look like?
Ask to see a sample report created for another client in order to ensure that the SEO company has a valid method for reporting their progress toward your shared goals. At this point, you’ve already discussed your specific goals, so ask how they would customize the progress report to cater to your unique goals and KPIs. Be wary of companies that cannot provide detailed information on how progress will be measured and reported.
How often an SEO agency reports on progress will likely depend on the size of your project. Most brands can expect monthly updates. Bigger companies, or short-term and specific projects, might require more frequent updates on the work being done, but bear in mind that tracking actual progress week-to-week is largely ineffective and can be deceptive.
Search results fluctuate for a variety of reasons: Google testing new algorithm changes, competitors making dramatic changes to their content, etc. SEO is a long-term strategy, and companies that monitor close-term changes often make rash changes that end up hurting their efforts.
11. How do you stay up on industry trends?
At a minimum, you’ll want someone who stays up to date with the information posted by Google on its Webmaster Central Blog—Google’s own outlet for news on how to best position a site for their search algorithms. Better, is someone who follows popular industry blogs and participates in SEO forums and conversations. The best SEO professionals will do all of the former as well as conduct their own research. They monitor the properties they manage for potential signs of algorithm changes and investigate possible shifts in SEO best practices.
12. What do you need from us to be effective?
Legitimate SEO companies should respond with a long list of questions and needs. To conduct their work effectively, they’ll need detailed information about your audience, industry, goals, and KPIs. They’ll need to know what other digital marketing platforms you’re using that will affect your content, if any, such as marketing automation. They’ll also need access to your Google Analytics. Effective SEO requires a partnership between multiple teams and company leaders, so agencies that need very little from you are unlikely to build an SEO plan that will help you achieve long-term success.
Hire an SEO Company that Delivers
SEO is a complex field. Effective SEO companies stay up to date on key changes and adjust their plans and practices accordingly. Additionally, the ultimate goal of a search engine is to provide quality results to searchers, so effective SEO should be more concerned with quality for users than with ranking factors and quantity of links.
By asking these questions and evaluating the answers to determine the practices and policies an SEO company employs, you’ll be able to weed out bad actors and find an agency that delivers long-term success.
What other questions would you ask an SEO company?
SOURCE: Adobe Experience Cloud Blog. Check out the original post here.
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