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Digital Marketing is more than just cool tools

8 Apr

In today’s business environment we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of marketing tools that let us communicate easier with our customers and prospects, observe competitors, and scrutinize the market. Many small business owners are competing more effectively using digital media (and extending the value of their traditional marketing efforts). These newer digital tools foster greater competition by enabling our businesses to reach interested prospects with highly relevant real-time communications and get measurable feedback almost immediately.

Successfully acquiring new customers through digital marketing is best handled by employing inbound marketing channels to obtain visibility and leads. These channels include search, social media and email marketing, all fueled by content marketing.

This post outlines the best types of tools and the most popular tactics in each category based on our experience.

digi mktg infographic

We’ll start with a concept known as Content Marketing. Content marketing is the primary focus for business owners seeking to use digital marketing to increase reach, leads and sales. So, what is Content Marketing? Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing fuels:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Event marketing (in person events as well as Webinars)
  • Paid media including Pay per click and display advertising
  • Lead generation and conversion rate optimization (through landing pages)

How do you go about developing a content marketing strategy?

Here is a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Define business opportunity for content marketing
    • Define key segments or target audiences
    • Review current content marketing
    • Review competitor content marketing
  • Define your content marketing strategy
    • Define content marketing plan
    • Prioritize audiences and personas
    • Prioritize content assets for audience
    • Define content marketing resources
    • Create communications timeline
  • Implement and manage your content marketing strategy
    • Update your editorial calendar
    • Manage social media distribution
    • Manage email marketing distribution
    • Manage SEO effectiveness of content marketing
    • Review analytics for content effectiveness

Great. Now what? Time to consider the tools.

One of the tools your likely to be using in your content efforts is social media. In our case, we strongly recommend Facebook as the starting place, but use the platform you are most confident in to get started. (More on social media selection in an upcoming post).

Why focus on social? Leverage social to help find ideal prospects and accelerate list growth. The adage that birds of a feather flock together sums it up nicely. People with similar issues, concerns, challenges, and life experiences typically are connected to others much like themselves. Social is all about connections. Go on, engage your audience.

Online reviews

Today’s consumers check out online reviews before making in-store purchase! Reviews are known as ‘user generated content’ or UGC.

But remember, you must craft content that does more than just ask contacts to buy. Your customers aren’t always in the market to purchase. If all they hear from you is “buy this,” can you blame them for tuning you out? To avoid this predicament, try creating content that helps your contacts solve problems, buy better, and even find interesting things they wouldn’t have uncovered any other way.

Here are a few topics to talk about besides “buy this”:
  • Present information that helps customers use your products correctly.
  • Go behind the scenes by introducing customers to key employees. Show off your offices or factories. Talk about your company philosophy.
  • Add customer voices to your emails by featuring reviews, endorsements, photos and other user-generated content (UGC).
  • Become the authority in your market niche by sharing “insider” news and information.
  • Improve onboarding for new customers with information that helps them find what they want faster or navigate better around your website.

What about email?

Do you collect email addresses? From whom – everyone that you meet, just customers, all appointments, third parties? Think it through. Why not collect them all if they’ll share them with you? Above we discussed the use of social media to interact and extend the reach of your audience. Those names are gold, email address gold to be exact.

Now that you have defined the ways you’ll collect email addresses, let’s turn to what to do with them. First, and this is a critical component, you have to keep track of where the names came from! Two reasons for this – first, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must have permission to use the addresses (if you’ve been given the information freely, you’re good here – no buying or renting email addresses!). The second reason is more practical, since you absolutely want to tailor your messages to each type of audience you identified in the first step of the checklist.

What emails will you send? You really need to ask yourself what messages will resonate with the audience I am targeting. What do they want to know, what is important to them? This is not about your agenda, it must be content that is relevant to them first – then when you have their attention you can ask them to act a certain way, or react to your content. The opportunities are endless, and they are similar in nature to the list of content topics we explored for social media. This is all very connected. In fact, the more connected the content and media, the more effective you will be.

Time to jump in

That’s enough to get started, but remember, the foundation of any digital marketing plan is your website. All of the other digital tools and efforts rely on your website as the central element for customer and prospect communication and an informational base. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and effort into shoring up your website from the content perspective!

AHAA Marketing has turnkey programs and solutions to get you started, just give us a call and we’ll review your situation with you and offer recommendations to get you digitally marketing in no time.

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Why Update Your Website?

23 Nov

brand tree

How Content is Connected to Website Optimization and How to Include it in Your Marketing  Strategy!

As marketing professionals, we hear questions from our Associates daily regarding how to best reach their target audience. More and more, these questions are focused on digital marketing.

 

How do I get to the top of Google search results?

Why do I need to do anything to market my website; won’t customers just find me?

I started my practice to help patients not write. Who else can update my website?

I know I should start doing digital marketing, but how do I start?

 

In today’s business environment, it’s important to have a content-rich website. Studies show 75% of the 57-65 age bracket are internet users1. Another study has shown 71% of baby boomers use the internet when making purchasing decisions2. There is no denying that hearing health patients are already online and using the internet for purchasing decisions, which is why updating website content is critical in driving customers to your site.

In order to reach the web-savvy baby boomers, you’ll need a strategy to optimize your website, including routine updates. Your strategy may include:

  1. Increasing traffic to your website through keywords
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to improve your site’s search engine ranking (AKA getting to the top of Google via a keyword search). One tactic to organically optimize your site is to include relevant SEO keywords within the content; Google differentiates between websites with fresh, relevant information and those which have never or seldom been updated. By regularly updating the content on your site, you may just pull ahead of your competitor across town when people search for providers in your area.
  2. Blogging to position yourself as an expert
    We’ve all run across websites with forgotten offers that have long since expired, displaying the “newest” must have product (which is five years old), or a blog post referencing an outdated study. Because this type of neglect does exist, you can use it to your advantage. By bringing new technology to the forefront and discussing industry trends on your blog page, you provide your online audience with timely, educational content that establishes your expertise. Positioning yourself as an industry expert allows you to differentiate your services from the competition which lets you focus on adding value to the customer experience.
  3. Strengthen your brand awareness online to increase referrals
    Your brand is your non-verbal “voice,” letting patients know who you are, what they can expect from your services, and what sets you apart from your competitors. Maybe you were born with a hearing loss and that’s why you focus on treating pediatric hearing loss. Are you the go-to provider for patients with complicated hearing issues? Today, practices can be deeply affected by how their brand is defined online and, in turn, how they are talked about in-person. A continually updated, content-rich website ensures your online “voice” features information that sets you apart from your competition and lets patients know how and why you work hard to provide quality care. When your online presence is strong, current patients can feel good about referring their loved one to your site for more information, and a word-of-mouth referral is the strongest referral you can receive.
  4. Attracting repeat buyers
    Since hearing aids are not necessarily a one-time purchase, visitors to your website may be current patients who are due for an upgrade and want to preview technology advancements. When you have a website that presents techniques for maintaining hearing health, explains the outcome of a new study, and features the newest hearing instruments, those customers will remember why they chose you and your practice in the first place – you’re an industry expert that stays abreast of the latest in hearing healthcare! This encourages repeat business as customers decide to upgrade their devices.

 

Updating the content on your website with new and relevant information is a critical tactic in driving traffic to your website. Make sure your website can be found when baby boomers – the age bracket with the biggest uptick in online and social media usage – are researching hearing health-related information. Regardless of whether you update your site in-house or hire a digital marketing partner, content creation needs to be an integral part of your web marketing strategy. Implementing this type of activity will help you gain new clients, service repeat patients, strengthen your online reputation, and take on your competitors!

 

 

  1. http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/28/baby-boomers-and-technology/
  2. http://www.comingofage.com/coming-of-age/marketing-to-baby-boomers-seniors-creating-a-websiteonline-business-plan/

A Decade of Marketing: a journey through change and transformation

18 Dec

When I began my career in marketing over a decade ago, my world was very different. Reflecting upon this time with what I now know, I admit that there was a lot of guesswork, trial and error was often a “strategy,” and the concept of tracking was a “nice to have.” It wasn’t just because it was early in my own career; it’s just how things were done. At the time, most of my clients were focused on their newspaper and direct mail efforts and were obsessed with the creative side of things. They reluctantly dabbled in digital media [which was barely a “thing”] with a “state-of-the-art” HTML website – and this was only when they had a few dollars left in the budget and were told ad nauseam it was a good idea. These approaches were acceptable for the time, but there’s been a LOT of evolution at a breakneck pace over the past decade. As a marketer, I’ve continued to run to keep up [and have enjoyed every minute of it]!

Truth be told, during the early 2000’s it was a bit of a “churn and burn” approach to marketing – which campaign can we implement now to obtain a few new customers, never to think about them again after purchase? Since there wasn’t much data analysis, when a client “felt” like something didn’t work, they’d pull the plug and often prematurely abort an otherwise successful program. Plus, social media was in its infancy and you were lucky if you carried the latest flip phone…

Fast forward to [almost] 2015 and it’s truly a different world. There are many things I’m grateful for – the focus on segmented, targeted messaging, a high level of importance placed on tracking and analytics and the power of the consumer. The last point might be the most significant switch – as marketers we need to constantly focus on customer experience, retention and communication preference. 10yrsThis concept is a wonderful touchstone to consider when planning and implementing marketing strategies. We now find ourselves continuously asking: What resonates with the customer? How do they like to be reached [via text, email, direct mail, etc.]? What does “great” look like to them? How can we better reach, speak with and connect with our customer?

Successful communication with the customer is hinged upon targeted messaging via the appropriate medium, not just about the creative campaign – this is a significant cultural shift in the world of marketing. The mass messaging approach of yester year is a waste of time, energy and resources. Today’s consumer is highly educated and motivated to purchase based on their needs and preferred buying habits. Understanding these preferences – and communicating to each consumer in a relevant way – is the key to capturing their business, making them a repeat buyer and [hopefully] obtaining referrals for your business and/or product.

The main way today’s consumers become so informed and savvy is through online research, including price  shopping, product reviews, and referrals from peer-to-peer interactions [social media]. These are the main reasons that today’s marketing strategies and tactics are so digitally focused. It’s important for potential clients to be able to find your business via online mediums. You’ll want to ensure that you’re online reputation is stellar; this is accomplished through online reviews, social media exposure and ongoing content [regular blog postings].

Regardless of the industry, times change and marketing is often a significant driving force. I know that both my professional and personal experiences have changed because of marketing. Those who pay attention to the changes, embrace the journey and transform along the way are the ones who’ll have the most success!