Editor’s note: The following is a contribution post from Jordan Stewart, our Digital Marketing Intern. Thanks to Jordan for sharing her insights!
It’s Monday morning in the boardroom, and your marketing manager mentions a drop in the number of leads generated by your digital marketing streams. You think to yourself, “Was it the change in frequency of the social media channels from 2-3xs per week? Or has the SEM budget been dedicated to the wrong targeting goals?” In that moment your team slowly shifts their focus towards you—you are the digital expert after all, right? Well, it’s not that simple.
The digital side of marketing has continued to grow more and more complex as time moves on. Anymore, you need five or six platforms to get the job done, and new trends creep onto the scene faster now than ever. And as the rate of digital transformation increases, it gets harder and harder to keep up. The trap of falling behind often causes marketers to forget the foundational truths that time and time again prove to be most beneficial.
When you feel like you’re falling behind, it’s natural to look for the quick fix. But the quick fix usually turns out to be a myth. So next time you are feeling uncertain about what the current state of the digital world has in store for your company or whether your campaign strategy is falling down a path of no return, think first about what you know to be true, and what you know to be false. Let’s take a look at the latter: some common digital marketing myths that, when you feel like you’re in over your head, can look pretty attractive.
SEO is all about backlinks and keywords
Optimizing a website for search success is a complicated process that’s often challenging even to a seasoned digital marketer. SEO is a complex system based on algorithmic rules and an unwavering commitment for trial and error. Search engine optimization is critical for a firm’s digital success, now more than ever as a business’ web presence has grown in importance over the past twenty years from “differentiating factor” to “price to play.” Although the form SEO and best practices take has changed over that time, its power in the industry still remains.
Back in the day, things were a bit simpler. The SEO game was all about backlinks and keywords. If you had the right words and phrases on your page, and a bunch of other websites linked to it, you were in pretty good shape. The problem, of course, is that it was pretty easy to cheat to win. The pages that ranked weren’t always the ones that actually answered the questions users wanted answered. So Google changed course.
So what does today’s version of the SEO game entail? The combination of alignment and qualification are leading themes in SEO success. Aligning your audience’s search intent with your content can improve your organic ranking on the SERPs and, with some work, take a little-noticed blog post all the way to Google’s front page. Whether you’re teaching, selling, or a little of both, understanding how to create content that matches your consumer’s search process is optimal.
Additionally, qualifying oneself within SEO is about the little touches. It comes down to the details and how they enhance the user experience. From file formatting JPEG images to PNG for optimal site speed to creating intriguing title tags and meta descriptions, the attention to small stuff stacks up when solidifying a strategic direction.
Remarketing is bad PR
Okay, now I understand how touchy this subject may be. After all, marketers are constantly walking a tightrope when it comes to learning about our audiences and prospects. It’s a balance between getting in too deep and being too invasive and sacrificing information, missing the mark on messaging to our target audience, and failing to provide people who are looking for help with what they need. In a world where information sharing is integrated in every app, program, and user tool, skepticism amongst consumers is at an all-time high. A 2020 McKinsey study showed intense lack of consumer trust—no industry reached 50 percent of respondents claiming trust in their ability to responsibly use and protect their data. And while healthcare and the financial sector did achieve relatively high marks (44% each), nearly every other industry received a confidence rate under 20 percent. 18% of respondents said they trust retail business to handle data responsibly. For the automotive and assembly industries, only 12%. Even technology businesses were only trusted by 17% of respondents.
The lesson? Concern regarding privacy can pose a challenge for the marketing world at large, as well as for the consumer.
Digital marketing has proven to be a key part in the mass sharing of information—and it has very real benefits for the consumer, not just the business. It has allowed us to customize experiences so intricately that your pup’s favorite treat company has their Sunday order down to a science, or the sustainability industry can recognize your clear goal to cut down plastic consumption.
Although many are now shying away from this method of re-engagement, when done properly it can save you time and effort on your targeting work. Narrowing down your content to add a clear and specific value opportunity is essential. Instead of keeping the message broad and largely accessible, narrow it down to the specifics:
- Who would benefit from this?
- Why is it essential that they engage?
- What time would conversion need to take place for their greatest benefit?
This method also applies to those who have gotten lost in your numerous workflows and have seemed to go dark with the company. It’s important to show disengaged subscribers through personalization why they were essential to a part of your business and incentivize them to rekindle the relationship. The most seamless method to do this is by incorporating lead generating ads that move the focus from direct website traffic to social platforms. By integrating this within the digital strategy you are able to gain access to customer information, offer “lead magnets,” and mitigate the risk of disrupting the consumer’s current activities.
Remember that while there’s definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing, remarketing isn’t simply gathering data to use to try to boost your revenue. If your business provides something worthwhile to your customers—if there’s more to your business than the bottom line—they’re looking for you, whether they know it or not. Make it easier for them to find you.
Long-form content is unnecessary
Semrush conducted a study to examine the impact that different content forms have on conversion and customer engagement. Articles with 3,000 words or more end up giving triple the level of engagement and increase the shareability of the average blog post by 400%. In other words, long-form content is far from dead, even as we think attention spans are shrinking—quite the opposite, a long-form piece is still far more valuable than short-form content.
What is the mystery behind the design? Quality, directed content provides actionable steps for the consumer to utilize. Additionally, the word choice game becomes key in differentiation. Pay careful attention to the primary keywords you integrate into the content. There has to be a balance between the complexity of the keywords and attention to the “search volume” to see ultimate impact. SEO helps get people’s eyes on your longer content, and the quality of the content keeps them there—and helps make it more likely for them to convert.
Take the time to evaluate the voice of your brand and ask how the content you create aligns with your strategic efforts. Are you looking to build a new client base? Or are you wanting to inform clients on a new strategic initiative? Whatever the decision may be, make sure that the content is filled with transformative insight and an integration of targeted keywords that can be used to reach the right audience at the right time.
ROI over curiosity
A key part of digital marketing culture is that it’s built around KPIs and quantitative ROI. Having clear numbers to judge your success is a blessing, for sure, but it can also be something of a curse. This unfortunate rabbit hole of concentrating on a number, rank, or marker often decentralizes the complexity of the market at hand. The ability to use data to make informed decisions is only a fraction of what it takes to have a successful marketing strategy. Also at heart of a strong strategy is an element of curiosity, and sense of risk that it takes to truly be great.
It takes a balance—not just numbers, but something more. For example, at Element Three we have nailed down our framework to a trio of “story, strategy, and scorecard.” Within this framework specific KPIs are recognized and kept in a position of alignment, but more than anything else curiosity takes us back to the core of marketing.
It allows us to present ourselves in the project at hand and truly lean into where opportunities are by giving us a standard to differentiate efforts intentionally. How many times have we come up from the weeds of a project and realized that the magic of it has been lost, bogged down by chasing metrics and processes, and we’ve moved something great to something safe with an overall subpar impact?
Practicing curiosity becomes more and more difficult as we move up the ranks, become more distant from the execution of projects, and establish comfortable frameworks that we can easily pull out of our bag. When you pair curiosity with a motivation to problem solve—with a foundational willingness to shake things up—you are able to station yourself to value innovation. It can be scary, and it can seem like another obstacle at hand—after all, trying something new doesn’t always work—but at its core, it is the essence of marketing.
Relying only on your scorecard will mean that you miss out on some big ideas—ideas that can lead to even more monumental wins than business as usual could ever deliver.
There are no quick fixes
The source of all of this is fear. Fear pushes you towards quick wins, and away from trying something new. It pushes you towards the easy and away from a challenge. It makes you play it safe. And of course, not everything has to be revolutionary. But if concern about immediate success puts you in a position where you’re falling farther and farther behind, that immediate success won’t even come.
The quick fix is a myth, almost all the time. Don’t let yourself fall into its trap.
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