“This article was written as part of the SEMrush Big Blogging Contest”
If you haven’t already made a New Year’s Resolution, perhaps you should resolve to make 2019 the year when you really crack your digital marketing strategy.
The year you go from could-do-better to wah-that-was-awesome !
On the face of it, creating a digital brand sounds so easy. Make some content, share it around and engage with comments to encourage further shares. But you must already know that digital marketing is something that is far easier said than done (or should that be far easier tweeted than re-shared?)
Secret 1: SEO isn’t fire and forget – it’s more like farming – plant, tend, harvest and plant again
There are plenty of people out there who think that once they’ve “done” SEO their work is done. SEO doesn’t work like that. SEO is continually evolving, and that means your approach needs to change over time.
You also can’t stop SEO. Well, you can, but your ranking will suffer. The infographic below is a circle because SEO is never-ending. Google & co. are continually refining your ranking, so you need to refine your site continually.The first thing you should be doing to improve your digital brand engagement is start a continual SEO audit. Websites that tend their SEO well are rewarded with improved brand awareness, higher credibility scores, increased customer loyalty and greater visitor retention.
But just like a farmer, you have to be patient. If you haven’t paid any attention to your SEO, you may get a boost in the first few months, but more likely you won’t see the true impact for 6-12 months.
As an example of what can change in the SEO world consider what happened last August. On August 1st 2018 Google released a new version of its search algorithm – what’s known as a major update (there are minor ones happening every day, sometimes more than once a day). Almost immediately websites such as Livestrong, Travelocity, Buzzfeed and Trusted Reviews lost SERP (Search Engine Results Page) share, while others gained. In other words their pages were returned less often and lower down the page than before the update. Those that lost share and didn’t react to the update would have seen their website traffic tail off – possibly for good. (See moz week 1 for further details about the impact of the update)
Secret 2: Visitors to your website leave much faster than you would think they do, but if they stay they will tend to hang around
So you’ve boosted your website up the search rankings, and you’ve started getting clicks. Most of your visitors are going to be pretty short term – taking less than 10-15 seconds to decide if they are interested or not.Once you’ve managed to persuade a clicker to become a visitor the next hurdle is convincing them to stay long enough to absorb your message. Does a visitor become more likely to leave your website over time or less likely?
The answer to that question lies to a large extent in the quality of your website – whether it answers their questions and invites engagement.
Interestingly, however, if you’ve managed to get someone to hang around for more than 30 seconds, they are more likely to still be there two minutes later.
Let’s take a minute to think about how users interact with websites – and landing pages in particular. Your lead clicks on the search engine result and your page loads. What’s the first thing they see? It ought to be the answer to their question. If they searched for "Widget manufacturer” they want to see that you make widgets – If they have to look for your product list they’re likely to decide you’re not the site you’re looking for and move on.
For a real example simply go to the website of a big player like Microsoft, Adobe or Samsung and you will be immediately invited to linger with offers and buttons to click to find out more about the intriguing prospects. Clicks bring up information which continues to reinforce the brand message and sell the products. Once a visitor has clicked through to a particular product page they will be continually invited to interact further, even once they’ve been shepherded to the shopping basket.
Compare this to duravit which brings up a video of shiny happy people on a beach. A visitor might extend their visit to the length of the video, but with no clear call to action or even clear indication of what the company does they’re very likely to close the tab quickly.
So what does this imply for you? It means you’ve got perhaps as little as 10 seconds to grab a visitor’s attention thoroughly enough that they’ll read on instead of clicking on. It also means they’ll engage with you if you do manage to get them to stay.
Secret 3: Influencers aren’t as influential as you might think
The concept of a digital brand influencer seems pretty obvious. People are like sheep. On the whole, they like to do what everyone else is doing and if a pretty face on Instagram tells them about this amazing new product they’ve tried then many of them will be convinced to give it a try themselves.
The problem is that there are lots more wannabe minor influencers. The number of followers does not really indicate the true level of influence that a person can offer. To really improve brand engagement you need to be looking for thought leaders. established experts who have real followers interested in their wisdom.While an influencer might post a review of your product (especially if you pay for it) most of their followers aren’t interested in you – they’re interested in your influencer (and that’s assuming that their follower numbers aren’t made up of bots and automated re-follows).
Choose who you work with carefully rather than on follower numbers alone. After all https://www.instagram.com/world_record_egg/ has millions of followers but is anyone going to make a purchase based on the recommendation of an egg?
Secret 4: Your community likes to see who you are
It’s a bit too easy to fall into what I like to call the “Joe Bloggs Trap”. You become so hung up on audience demographics, facts and figures that you forget that you’re actually talking to real human beings who want to see a human side to your business.
“A touch of humanity is increasingly essential for your brand in this age of authenticity.” – Marcus Varner
And this is true whether you are talking about B2B or B2C. Even that stuffy old CEO is an actual person and will relate better to companies that come across as being run by real people themselves.
Did you know:
- According to Video Explainers, 63% of senior executives have visited a website after watching a video?
- Based on a study by Nate Elliot of Forrester, a video has a 53 times higher chance of being on the front page of Google?
- A study by Brightcove showed 85% of customers in the 18-34 year old bracket are more likely to purchase having seen a product video with 76% overall reporting that they’ve actually made a purchase after viewing a video?
Adding pictures and videos into your social media strategy is a simple way to increase customer engagement. They are ideal for sharing and allow you to present your product in a dynamic way which can really show off the plus points.
Mobile phone case company Peel found a 16x increase in revenue and 3x ROI over 2015-2017, according to figures published by Biddy. Their blog includes a peek inside their offices, their website story appears to be written by the CEO, the featured video on their Facebook page shows real workers responding to an order being placed (or does it…?). It may only be 30 seconds long but that’s 30 seconds longer that visitors are staying on the page and being exposed to the brand’s marketing message.
Secret 5: Bad reviews can be turned good
Sometimes things go wrong. Suppliers let you down, so you’re late with your orders. The postal service damages a parcel. A burst pipe means you have to cancel bookings.
In the modern digital world when bad things happen, they can happen extremely publicly. That disgruntled customer can leave a bad review, or report the issue on social media. leaving you no option but to deal with the problem with a potential audience of customers and visitors who are going to judge you every step of the way.
But credit your customers with some common sense. It’s how you handle the problem that is going to decide whether their loyalty wavers or not. So listen to the complaints and try your hardest to offer a good resolution.
In 2014 Mike McCready stayed in a hotel in Vancouver. Whilst there he tweeted a photo of the view with the comment ““The inside of my room at the Delta is really nice, but the view, not so much.#PSEWEB.”. An hour later Delta Hotels were offering to switch his room, and when that didn’t prove practical, they sent a dish of pastries and a handwritten note up to his room. They turned a minor customer niggle (he hadn’t even tagged the hotel chain as he wasn’t really expecting a response) into a chance to shine on social media. All for a few minutes of time and a plate of confectionery.
Secret 6: All work and no play makes for an extremely dull social media feed
This is especially important to remember if you are selling B2B or have a serious product. Social media is often where your followers have gone to check up on friends and family. So while they may not be actively looking to engage with your digital brand, if they see a fun post they may still be inclined to respond.
So mix up the fun with the serious. Fun posts can be great for gathering new followers and going viral. A good meme goes a long way. But as you go down the funnel, your audience will be increasingly interested in the specifics of your product and will be looking for more serious content.
A good rule to mix things up is:
- 20% informative content or blogs
- 20% curated industry content
- 20% conversational content
- 20% promotional content
- 20% FUN!
Over time you can adjust your percentages as feedback and analytics show what types of content are working for your brand.
The Dollar Shave Club weren’t afraid to go with a bit of fun with their “Our Blades are F***ing Great” video. Which now has more than 25 million views on YouTube. All the time raising awareness of their subscription grooming products service.
Secret 7: Get your timing right on social media
New posts are more likely to be shown in social media feeds than old ones, so it is imperative to post when your customer base is online and listening. This is most likely to coincide with downtime – the periods before, during and after work when your followers aren’t working and during the evening as they prepare for bed.
Social media automation means you can post something to catch the early birds and night owls without having to actually click send at the appropriate times.
The Burrito Principle is simple and straightforward, but different customer bases use different platforms. A further refinement is to choose times based on the peak usage on a per-platform basis.
The other important thing to consider about post timing is post frequency. Some social media platforms, for example, Twitter, are fast-moving and are best bombarded with short messages which will ensure that at least one of your posts ends up in the eye-line of your audience. Other platforms are better targeted with one or two daily posts. On Facebook, for example, you can use Insights to find out when your audience are online.
Finally, while it is perfectly OK to repurpose content for different platforms make sure that what you are posting is appropriate to the platform you are posting it on. If you don’t provide viewers with what they expect to find they will simply scroll on and all your effort will be wasted.
Hootsuite combined fun, being on trend and video into a social media post called “Game of Social Thrones”. Timed to coincide with the start of the fourth season they still consider the campaign to be one of their most successful – four years later!
Make 2019 your best year yet…until next year!
Putting this much effort into digital brand engagement can take time and it will take consistency to the plan, but if you work at it for the entire year all that work is bound to pay off, and you’ll likely wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Take a snapshot of your brand now, try to utilise some of these secrets, and come back in December to see how much that snapshot of your digital brand has brightened, strengthened and developed with those few careful tweaks to your strategies. Using what you’ve learnt over the year about what has worked and what hasn’t should also give you more ideas of how to take your brand even further in the years that follow!