2014 is going to be an enormous year for digital marketing as consumers continue to turn towards the Internet for their needs. As the digital world keeps growing, marketing strategies keep changing. We calculated the results of 2013, predicted the trends of 2014, and reported them here for you! There are several key digital marketing techniques that will help your business flourish this year. So here are six solid steps to have a fruitful 2014.
Step 1: Master Local Marketing
As more people turn to their devices to search for services on the go, having a strong local presence is crucial for 2014. Being a leader in your area is a small step to being a leader of your industry. Google search picks out the most popular and authoritative business in town, so you need to stir up a local buzz. It is essential for your company to have local search optimization. This requires being on Google Maps, local review websites (Yelp), and local business listings (Google + Local, Bing Local, etc). Networking is key, too. If there is a trade association in your industry, become a part of it. This will give you access to trade shows where your target audience will be present and connect with other professionals in your industry. Simply meeting people can create leads that can result in sales. Another important thing when thinking about local search is that you do not need to include your location because Google already knows it. For example the keyword ‘Pet Store Minneapolis’ is not needed. Google knows your location and the customers location, therefore you just need ‘pet store.’ This simple tip can really help your local search results. Another huge part of getting established locally is to be involved in the community. Offer your own events or sponsor events in the community. For example, have your company participate in a local 5K. It is a great way to get your business name out there. Lastly, ask for feedback! Customer reviews will give you insight to what your company is doing well and places where you can improve on. They can also provide how they found out about you and any other additional comments.
- LocalU: is a traveling 4-hour seminar that can be a very helpful tool to learn more about local marketing strategies.
- Whitespark: offers a free local Citation Finder which allows you to find useful citations and improve your local search ranking.
Step 2: Create Content That Counts
High-quality content has become so vital, experts predict that content will have its own department in 2014. Consumers are turning to the web more than ever before to answer questions or browse for products. This has created a new form of marketing (content marketing) where content is used to create credibility and to stand out as a leader in your industry. So in order to adjust, a majority of businesses have a blog to contain all of their content and even the content on the website itself must be solid. Keep in mind that this content can also be in the form of interviews, videos, podcasts, and charts.
What Goes Into Content?
Creating informative, intriguing, and persuasive content results in many benefits. When executed correctly, excellent content will attract regular readers, make you seen as a trustworthy brand, and be shared/referenced on social media. Need some inspiration? High-quality content can include case studies, frequently asked questions, new products, something new in your industry, debates, how-to guides, and reviews. These topics should be so engaging that people will want to share it with others via social media. You should also aim to create an abundance of evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that is so useful it withstands the test of time and will always get steady views. This content requires even more time and effort, but it pays off by providing constant views.
Take Content a Step Further
Once you get a handle on creating captivating content it is time to take it to another level: the level of persuasion. This isn’t about telling people your ideas, it is about selling your ideas. Try to make the reader vividly imagine using your product or service. For example, that it will reduce time, make things easier, or get rid of a problem. Using persuasive words like you, free, small, because, instantly, and new can help, too. Feel free to use these persuasion techniques with some content on topics surrounding your products and services. Just remember not to do this all of the time (or come on too strong) because then your content is not for the customer, it is for you.
- Keyword Tracking Tool: This can be very helpful while you’re in the midst of writing your content. Moz offers an on-page keyword grader so you can help your content rank higher and target specific search terms. They also offer a way to track your mentions, competitors mentions, and give trending topics to write about for your industry.
- Aggregation Dashboards: Direct multiple feed sources to one central place or dashboard for easy access. Some notable dashboards include: NetVibes.com, Symbaloo.com, and Protopage.com.
- Content Discovery Tools: If you struggle with finding new things to write about, I recommend one of these tools. They give feeds based on keywords and trending posts. Some options include: iFlow.com, Zite app, and ContentGems.com.
- Content Planning Tools: If you work as a content planner or in a content department this is the tool for you. This provides an alternative to Excel by allowing you to plan deadlines for content, then submit it for publishing. Two notable content planning sites are Kapost.com and Compendium.com.
- All-in-one Solution: This provides all aspects of creating content from discovering it to sharing it. If you have the budget to afford such an easy to use platform, you should definitely check it out at Curata.com.
Step 3: Step Up Your Social Media Game
Using social media as a marketing tool is old news. In fact 93% of marketers are using it (SEJournal). However, there is always news discussing better ways to utilize these powerful tools. A common misconception businesses have about social media is that you can just spurt out promotions and ads to get the job done. But social media is a channel to interact and engage with your audience. Keep in mind that each of these social networks are different, so approach them each separately. Social media helps promote your quality content, make connections with other businesses, share images/videos, build links, and include your brand in the community.
Twitter can be an awesome way to spread your content and news #SoUseIt. Twitter has over 228 million active users with the 55-64 year olds being the fastest growing age demographic (SEJournal). Tackling Twitter can be very tricky since you only have 140 characters per tweet to show your personality. Double check that your Twitter profile has all of the necessary information for your customer (web address, blog link, and location). In order to have followers, you must do some following. Choose to follow customers, vendors, suppliers, contractors, business partners, and experts. The best thing to keep in mind while using Twitter is make sure your content is retweetable. You want the content to be spread by others to promote your brand.
- Buffer: You can schedule your tweets throughout the day and see which tweets get results.
- CoTweet: Lets you interact, track, and see mentions of your brand.
- FollowerWonk: Evaluate and categorize your followers. Provides metrics to help you better interact with your customers.
- HootSuite: Social media dashboard that allows you to manage up to five social profiles.
Seventy-four percent of marketers think Facebook is a crucial part of their lead generation strategy (SEJournal). To have a successful Facebook page you should keep it updated regularly, at least a couple times a week. Try to use Facebook to interact with your customers, like asking a question, asking for opinions on a topic, or taking a poll. This is seen often by big brands or sports teams asking things like: What’s your favorite holiday treat? Or, what are you doing for game day? Don’t be afraid to give offers exclusively to those who like and follow your page, it will make more people want to join in for the savings. Lastly, if you can afford it, advertising on Facebook can be very profitable.
- Facebook Insights: It is a helpful free tool that Facebook provides for your company to see your page’s progress.
- Heyo: Lets you create your own Facebook Apps like games, contests, and job listings.
- SocialToaster: Lets you create loyal customers into brand promoters by offering content to share and incentives.
- Wildfire: Aids in launching promotions and sweepstakes on Facebook.
Step 4: Boost SEO
What is the big deal about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? SEO can be very complicated to understand. To put it simply, SEO makes it easy for your customers and for the search engine they are using to find YOU. This is done by a trial and error of important links and keywords to attract the search engine to your content. Search engines are always changing as they try to better understand the human thought process and eliminate people who try to cheat the system. This results in SEO changing a lot too, which can really make your head spin. When it comes to SEO it is best to leave it to the software and the experts.
There is a bunch of SEO software to choose from. Do some research to find something that suits your company’s needs and experience level. Here are a few simple tools worth mentioning:
- MozBar: A simple SEO toolbar with SERP results and link metrics.
- Rank Tracker: Reports and compares your search engine rankings for pages and keywords.
Step 5: Make Sure You're Mobile
Sixty-three percent of adult cell owners go online with their phones (Pew Internet Research). You need to have a functioning mobile website for 2014 if you do not have one already. Google recommends a responsive design with a separate sub-domain like http://mobile.hdwp.com/. They also advise to provide a different HTML output depending on mobile or desktop. Creating a mobile design is usually something you can do by yourself. These designs must be quick to upload, have easy to use features, and a one-click buying process. Remember to keep things simple and implement your brand’s layout and message to create an overall theme. A mobile website will increase your sales by dipping into the huge online shopping network. It will also improve user navigation, your mobile SEO, and give you a competitive edge.
These tools allow you to manage your business from your mobile device, so you can always have work with you on the go!
- MailChimp: A tool for email marketing that reports your e-mail stats.
- TextUs.Biz: Lets customers text your business about questions or request an appointment and allows you to send out reminders or special promotions.
- Red Stamp: Allows you to send digital copies of business cards, invitations, and announcements.
Step 6: Have Everything User-Friendly
So you’ve mastered all five cylinders of digital marketing and think you’re good to go? Nope! Just bringing customers to the site won’t make the sale. You must meet the customers’ wants and needs. Your site should be so user friendly that someone new to the Internet could maneuver your site. Your call to action should be very strong and clear to the consumer. This will give them that extra push to convert into a customer.
The Final Word
As devices and search engines keep changing, it's best to stay on top of things by reading awesome resources like SEJournal, Moz and other trustworthy digital marketing sites. Then you can learn about the best techniques and trends in digital marketing as they develop and get a leg up on your competition. So there you have it! The six steps for a successful year in digital marketing.