Really! Wow, that’s a nice chunk of money to spend on digital marketing every month, so how are you going to use it?
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising, Email Marketing, Writing Articles, External Link Building, Social Media Awareness, the infamous words “Search Engine Optimisation”…..maybe a little bit of everything?
In this article I am going to explain what perhaps to do with a marketing budget, what will help you rationalise your marketing objectives so you don’t waste your money AND see a return on your investment.
How to get started
Immediately work out what you want to get from your digital marketing. If it’s leads, brand exposure, awareness on social media or just more traffic to your website organically, set out a plan of action for your goals, what you want to achieve, why and by when. Once you have your list, assign a budget out of that grand to each one.
If your budget is too low on some of your goals then it might be better re-assigning that particular budget to another so that you have one meatier strategy option rather than two smaller ones.
Digital marketing costs and time can very easily spiral out of control and before you know it you have spent your entire budget on one single element without a return within that period. So ensure a digital marketing plan has been created before setting out spending that money!
Any full service digital agency will want to see this plan first, or will in turn create a plan for you after carrying out a full digital audit in order to have a focus monthly, as well as to show you regular performance and measures against goal criteria.
Once you have worked out what you want to get as a return on your investment, the digital marketing methods below are a good generic next step that should allow you to see that without spreading your budget too thinly.
The first thing to understand
Even though it’s still the most popular term for businesses requiring digital marketing services, few actually understand what Search Engine Optimisation or “SEO” means. After the countless algorithm updates by Google over the last 5 years and how Google understands what is relevant and what is not relevant, SEO is now an extremely complex method to optimise your website for search engines.
There are no longer quick wins to optimise your website to appear on page 1 of Google’s and other search engine results page (also called SERP). Nor are there a couple of “SEO” tricks you can do to increase your organic rankings for your favourite keywords. You cannot expect good website exposure or visibility by taking the short route. In fact, doing anything that contradicts Google’s terms will ensure you are de-listed and de-ranked on Google and you will be penalised automatically by their algorithm updates.
You may also get a few messages in your Google Webmaster Tools account as well asking you to alter various page elements as a consequence, so you really want to get it right first time around.
It takes quite a few different methods to fully optimise your website for search engines, some of which have an intrinsic link with each other.
What digital marketing methods?
Search Marketing is one optimisation technique and is a science and art form in itself.
Every digital marketer has a different way of delivery, each with positive results. However the most important and valued way of search marketing, by that I mean methods to increase your website and brand exposure organically on search engine results for keywords and phrases, is through writing content.
Writing suitable blogs and articles with rich, relevant, human content, together with a natural keyword flow (using keywords as you would do naturally in a sentence and not by stuffing keywords together), as well as providing relevant internal and external links on those keywords (called anchor text) will deliver positive results on search engines.
Back these messages and articles up by rolling updates out to your social media platforms, especially Google Plus (since Google ranks their own social media platform first in results, of course they would!).
Content and your content reach (how far your content is spread) is a very powerful way of producing increased rankings as the re-posting, re-linking, commenting, sharing of your content makes you relevant. And Google loves relevancy.
Consistency and Frequency
Another very crucial search marketing method is consistency and frequency of delivery. If your messages are periodically seen by Google (and not just a one-off piece of writing), Google will start to see you as relevant to searchers and that is what you want. It is extremely important to be seen as a credible source of helpful and relevant information as you will more likely receive actual referrals or at least new business interaction through these social channels.
If you can provide that full circle effect of, “this is what you can do and here is how you can get it”, backed by qualified sources and if possible an array of good quality (not spam sites) relevant external back links and shares, then you will start to increase your rankings organically on search engines quite quickly.
Website and Platform
I won’t go into too much detail but as crucial as it is that your content is relevant and consistent, your website must also be as well. That means the platform and hosting it sits on can be easily and speedily crawled by Google and other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo and ideally within your geographical service location. For example, if you sell to UK businesses, your website should be hosted in the UK and have a UK IP Address.
It is also really important that your website’s uptime is as near to 100% as possible monthly, the speed of your page load is less than 3 seconds, the structure of your website is organised (how your pages are nested together and categorised) and all pages are unique. In other words, not a whole website of duplicate content and page tags that all loads painfully slow!
Although it takes time to really understand, it is also very useful to install an Analytics, Tracking and Reporting Tool such as Google Analytics (free) or OpenTracker (paid) to really understand your website’s performance and conversion. Again, any good Digital Marketing company can advise, translate and take ownership of this to provide you with useful information and not just a bunch of incomprehensible performance graphs.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is another great way of promoting your services and products, however, be careful about maximising your budget. That means concentrating on keywords and longer phrases based on realistic user search criteria. So before you start with PPC, you must a) know your audience and b) understand what keywords and phrases they would use to search for your products and/or services.
What you want to avoid is bidding on high single searched keywords as you simply will not be able to afford the types of budgets required. If you decide to compete with those companies who can afford bidding on those particular high traffic keywords, ensure you have sufficient funds, otherwise you will not get many ad views per day, or clicks to your website. Plus you could easily spend £1000 just on PPC for one day competing!
For example, the keywords “IT Support” would be a significant cost per click to even appear in the bottom 3 ads on Google, let alone the top 3. However, “IT Support and IT Services in Hertfordshire” being a long tale keyword (whole phrase) is not only cheaper but very likely to be searched by somebody trying to dissect their search keyword criteria for search result relevancy.
Remember, being at the bottom 3 ads on page 1 or even page 2 of Google can also be favourable than being say 5th or 6th as your ad will also be more noticeable at the tops and bottoms of long lists. Being mid-way your ad can get lost, especially if it doesn’t stand out. So psychological tactics are important, to include how visually noticeable your advert is also!
If you manage your PPC Campaign properly with good call-to-action ads and with good content, then you will benefit from PPC not only on a lead scale, but it will also improve your organic click through rate to your website. This is because your natural placements will be backed up by your ads i.e. repeat messaging and repeat brand credibility. So there is a direct reciprocal and collective relationship between organic and PPC traffic.
Our recommendation if you have not used Adwords before (Adwords is Google’s PPC platform but you can also use Microsoft’s Bing Ads as well which will manage ads in Bing and Yahoo Search Engines) is to start with Adwords Express which is designed to optimise your keywords automatically based on your website, content and Google Plus page. It is designed totally for local results, so selling your products and/or services from 15 miles up to 40 miles from your location and is great if you are a local business looking for local enquiries. Once you have got to grips with Adwords Express and you wish to move to a more self-managed, more detailed PPC platform, then upgrading to Adwords is quite easy to do.
Lastly, Email Marketing really does help back up all of your company messages and is not too costly to setup or deliver to your clients and contacts (a few pence per email). However, as with the content writing, it is again vital to ensure consistency and frequency to maintain your brand and content credibility. Repeat messaging will boost your profile as a credible source of information and will lead to inbound traffic, not to mention, that ever important enquiry. A couple of good email marketing platforms are MailChimp, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor to name a few.
Just ensure you design your email template to work across all devices and keep your messages relevant. It will also help if you split your email marketing into separate campaigns based on your audience so you really deliver targeted information to the right contacts and not just generic “salesey” content in a global email to everyone. As you will find your open rate and click through rate reducing if you are not keeping your readers engaged with relevant content.