My goal with this extensive post is to help readers get a better idea of what digital marketing is about.
I started writing about concepts and theories but it sounded too vague. I decided to spend more time and energy on writing about practical tactics as well.
Inside this 10,000+ words article, you will learn about marketing concepts and about all digital marketing channels. In the final two chapters, we will have a look at analytics and strategy.
Back in the ’90s, many were mocking the internet as being a fad and not worthwhile. Twenty-five years forward in time, the internet has now completely changed the world.
It changed how we live as individuals and it changed the way we communicate as humans.
It didn’t change us at our core. We are still the same pre-internet humans with the same flaws and qualities.
Similarly, modern marketing is still about the same thing: get people’s attention. But the means through which marketing is being done are forever altered in this post-internet era.
My own thoughts on marketing
1. As humans, we became very good at smelling what isn’t authentic. Marketers cannot fake it anymore. More than ever before marketing requires humanity, transparency, and authenticity.
2. Whatever your goals are marketing matters. If you want to grow your business, promote your church, or to save the planet, good marketing can help you achieve good things.
Basic Concepts in Digital Marketing
First, let’s understand some of the basic concepts of digital marketing. After that we will dive straight into the theories and practicalities of all the digital marketing channels.
- Traditional vs. Digital Marketing
- Outbound and Inbound Marketing
- The Three Types of Media
- The Customer’s Journey
Traditional vs. Digital Marketing
Traditional ways of marketing such as TV and Radio ads, billboards, flyers lack the advantages that digital marketing offers.
You can go very broad with a TV ad broadcasted during the UEFA Champions League Final. But you can’t tap into a specific audience such as a female home cooker aged between 25-35
Using modern-day marketing tools such as blogging, social media, email, SEO, analytics, you have the possibility to go both wide and narrow.
You can reach people widely by placing ads on popular websites that everybody visits. But you can also target audiences based on combinations of specific criteria such as gender, interests, age.
Outbound Vs. Inbound Marketing
To illustrate the difference between outbound and inbound marketing I will use two different stories with two characters. You, the street magician and Jason.
1. Imagine yourself trying to sell a card trick to Jason randomly on the street. You need to be very good at selling it, and Jason needs to be in the right mood. You approach and ask in the nicest way you can ask. But even then out of politeness, Jason will say that he’s in a hurry and needs to arrive somewhere – even though he’s not really rushing.
2. Now imagine yourself selling that card trick at the flee market and a crowd is already gathered around you. Jason happens to pass by this circle of people. He doesn’t know what’s happening. Naturally, like most of us will, he too will get closer elbowing his way through to the center to voluntarily ask for a card trick (maybe not verbally, but in his mind he asks for it.)
Remember, the same person, Jason acted differently even though you were selling the same thing. The big difference is you were in a different place, he had a different mindset, and people were already there as social proof.
In the first story you performed Outbound Marketing (pushing the message out). In the second instance, something different happened. You created the environment for Jason to come to you. That is Inbound Marketing.
What is Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is about pushing your message out in the world. Done on its own this is a rather hit and miss strategy for acquiring attention and interest.
It’s a game of hoping that your message will be good enough and reach the right person at the right time.
Outbound marketing shines when combined with inbound marketing channels.
What is Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is about creating the right environment around your business. It is about making people come to you because they believe in you. Or because they resonate with your beliefs and values.
You can look at outbound marketing as a push strategy, whilst inbound marketing is a pull strategy.
But if you are a small fish you should focus on low-cost high return inbound channels such as influencer marketing or content marketing and SEO.
The 3 Types Of Media
The types of media that contribute to your marketing can be split into three categories: owned media, paid media & earned media.
This type of media refers to content that is 100% under your roof.
Using your blog, and social media assets you create the personality and brand image that you want users to associate you with.
Cost-effective, flexible, and trust-building are some of the characteristics of owned media.
Any external channel that one uses to promote a brand or product is considered as paid media. These can be paid influencers, paid search, social media ads. Paid media is used for broader reach and for scaling your reach and awareness.
Earned media is the holy grail for marketers. It’s about creating content that generates conversations without your direct involvement.
Your product, your message, your values, a good piece of content can generate real word of mouth across the digital space.
Earned media generates trust and credibility. It goes both wide and deep in boosting your business success.
This is where we end the basic concepts of digital marketing. In the next section of this article we will talk about audience research and the buyer’s journey. Then we will finally have a good look at all digital marketing channels.
Researching your audience will reveal to you where, how, and to whom you will communicate. After all, you don’t want to be throwing a message in a bottle and expect business results.
We’ll have a look at Audience Research, Cultural Research, Competitive Research, and Industry Trend Research.
The more you know about your audience, the easier will be to communicate your message in a way that resonates with them.
In marketing, we categorize our audiences using personas. Audience personas mean that you can include a large group of people under one similar set of characteristics that are relevant to your product or business.
The data that helps create your audience’s personas can be divided into 3 sets:
- Demographics – gender, age, profession, income level, marital status, education, religion, ethnicity, nationality, family size, social class.
- Psychographics – life goals, beliefs, opinions, activities, interests, values, lifestyle, personality.
- Behavioral – where they spend their time online? What sites, what social media platforms? For how long? What content and products? What are their brand preferences?
- Social Media – platforms with strong analytics tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin.
- Social Intelligence paid tools such as Hootsuite, Hubspot, Nuvi that gather all data from social platforms in one place.
- Free Marketing Research Platforms such as PRIZM, Claritas, eMarketer, Euromonitor, Nielsen
- Behavioral Research to track website behavior using Google Analytics or Lucky Orange
There are two main reasons for conducting competitive research:
1. To avoid doing exactly the same thing your competition is doing in their marketing;
2. To discover opportunity gaps in their strategy which you can implement in your own strategy.
You can conduct competitive research by researching their social media activity, their website rankings, and their content and their own website. Here are 3 things you need to know about your competitor/s:
- What strategy are they using and where and what media are they posting?
You want to fill in the gaps and avoid posting the same content on the same forums, groups, etc.
- What is their target market?
You want to reach a different or a larger target market than your competition.
- How are they communicating?
You want to use a different language style and content so you avoid confusion among your audiences.
Industry Trend Research
You can use social media monitoring tools such as Google Trends, Twitter trending topics, keyword research, academic pieces, or specialized firms to help you identify the next opportunities in your industry, and applying the findings in your business and marketing strategy.
Cultural research offers the kind of insights that will fine-tune the language and communication style in your content.
If your current audience is the US and you want to expand your marketing to a UK audience, most likely you need to adjust how you communicate. That’s why you need to consider the cultural aspects associated with different counties, cities, communities.
- Geographic Influences such as speaking differently for an American audience compared to a UK audience.
- Influential Figures and Movements such as Nelson Mandela for Africa or The Beatles for the UK.
- Historic and current news.
- Cultural Rules and Morals such as religion-related rules.
The Buyer’s Journey
The notion behind the buyer’s journey is this: When we buy things online we usually don’t buy it on our first encounter with it.
The concept is based on the idea that a person needs to go through a phycological process in relation to your brand or product before they decide to get their money out.
When we speak about the customer’s journey we speak about a funnel. The funnel illustrates in a more tangible way the steps a customer goes through from the first encounter with your business all the way to the purchase.
You can find more variables of the same customer’s journey, but in this version we have the 5 steps version: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Conversion, Retention.
In this first stage, you need to make the audience aware of your existence. To have a chance at facilitating the next step you need to prove that you have a solution to a problem. They might be aware of their problem or not. If not, it’s your job to make them aware they have it.
The audience may now look for other options on how to solve their newly discovered problem. They will search online for reviews, recommendations, forums, etc.
On this step you want to be active in as many places as possible when performing your digital marketing. People trust people, not brands. No matter how convincing your product is, people will still value more other people’s opinions than your own words as a business.
Presumably, now the user is ready to solve their problem by paying for the solution. Who will they trust more? The competition or you?
At this stage you create FAQ pages, tutorials, how to’s, and other types of content that will answer any of their questions regarding your business, product, or service.
You cal also perform keyword research around your brand name and your product to find out what answers they are looking for. Then you provide those answers wherever they spend their time online.
At the conversion stage, the potential customer is ready to buy. Using retargeting, paid search, promotional offers, free trials you try to stimulate the sale.
Real business is generated by recurring clients. After the one night out it’s time to build the relationship.
Using data from analytics and other means you deliver content that is most relevant to them.
Some tactics for the retention stage are: promotional offers for their favorite items, exclusive content just for clients, reminding them about the products they bought, or even specifying their birthday, etc.
The buyer’s journey is a good concept to follow, but not necessarily a religion. Every business is different so take the buyer’s journey as a guide rather than as an exact science.
All Digital Marketing Channels
Hopefully, you have a better idea of what digital marketing is. Now it’s time to move into more tangible matters.
Throughout the following paragraphs, we will have a look at the channels a marketer uses to communicate their message.
In each section we will be covering the next digital marketing channels and platforms:
- Website Optimization
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Display Advertising
- Paid Search (PPC)
- Email Marketing
To the best of my knowledge and abilities, I will touch on the practicalities of each of the channels.
In the final part of this post, we will have a look at 2 other important digital marketing aspects:
1. Website Optimization
Your website is a reflection of your business. It’s the online version of your storefront.
It’s about design, layout, and content. In a nutshell, optimizing your website is about creating a smooth user experience from start to finish.
Conveying a good user experience is translated into increased time spent on site. And data shows that increased time-on-site is a prerequisite to more conversions and sales.
Let’s understand all elements available to create the best experience for your website visitors.
Mobile First Design
Google made it clear: your website loading speed on mobile devices is a key metric for how it ranks in the search results.
There are 2 ways to have a mobile design on your website:
1) by having a responsive design on the same website address that automatically optimizes for different devices;
2) have the mobile version separately on a different domain name. (such as m.yourwebsite.com)
More than just speed
Page speed load time is paramount, but mobile optimization goes deeper than that.
That’s because people on phones have a different mindset compared to when they are on a desktop.
Let’s say you want to order food online. If you are on a desktop maybe you want to seek out some testimonials or check the restaurant’s social profiles before placing the order. But if you are on the phone you just want to place the order now.
As an example, you might have a page with a quick “Place Order Now” button for users on mobile, and have a homepage with testimonials and social media handles for desktop.
The content on your website should be optimized for the reader first and then for SEO purposes.
Here are the 5 characteristics of a well-optimized content.
- Articles should be easy to read using headers, small paragraphs.
- Easy to find all information straight from the homepage.
- Easy to comprehend even when describing technical issues.
- Interlink pages between them to help the reader find out more relevant information, and to help Google understand the relation between pages.
- Include a call to action on all pages to stimulate clicks towards a desired outcome such as “Call us today”, “Book Now”, “Subscribe”.
The first impression is more important than you think.
If your website looks old, unpolished, and makes users feel lost on it, that’s the impression they will get about your product too.
Consider these aspects when creating your website design.
- Make the design simple.
- Simple navigation to find all the information without any confusion.
- Make all website content no further than 3 clicks away from any page.
Consistency may come in the form of the writing style or in terms of design as well.
Your tagline, your mission, your values – make them the underlying theme of all of your posts.
As for the consistency of design consider the website layout, the position of the call to actions, colors, fonts, headers, navigation menu, etc.
Website UX & UI
The User Experience (UX) refers to the perceptions and reactions of the user upon landing on your site.
The User Interface is the medium or the platform of all elements that create the intended experience.
Use these guidelines to create an optimal UX/UI:
- Make everything on your site easily accessible, even for people with visual or mobility impairments. (such as descriptive alt tags for images)
- Make the content clear and straight to the point.
- Make the content relevant to their stage in the customer journey.
- Offer valuable information that matches users’ wants and needs and clear information about your products.
- Offer information about your company such as the history and changes in your company.
- Use highly reputable sources to prove your message.
- Use clear and consistent design.
- Update the design regularly based on industry trends.
- Update old information.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
After establishing a perfect user experience on-site, it’s time to think about optimizing your website for search engines. Broadly this involves 3 main SEO blocks: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.
I will try to cover all you need to know to understand all three. Take a long breath and let’s go.
First, let’s understand the 3 stages a website goes through in relation to the search engines and rankings.
For Google to discover your site it first needs to be able to crawl it using so-called web spiders (or robots). Web spider’s main purpose is to find new pages and revisit old ones for updated information.
In relation to the crawalability of your website, we will later talk about Technical SEO.
If your site and pages are crawlable and have good enough content they will be listed in Google’s websites index. Google’s index means that your site is foundable via the search engine.
However, if you have low-quality, duplicate, or spammy content Google may decide not to index it at all.
We will better understand indexing by looking at On-page SEO aspects.
After your site is successfully indexed the next step is for Google to decide where to rank it on the search results pages.
With over 200 ranking factors in their ranking algorithm that are never publicly released by Google, SEO is a tricky business at times.
Technical and On-page SEO have their own impact on website rankings, but Off-Page SEO has the most impact on your website rankings.
Now let’s dive into all three types of SEO: technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO.
Technical SEO is about the more thechnical things that happen on the backend of your website.
These include having:
- a sitemap file of your website (a file with a map of all the website pages),
- a robots.txt file (a file used to allow or disallow web robots to crawl your website or certain pages on a website),
- and solving any page errors in Google Search Console (a free Google tool to track website performance, and website issues reports.)
Other important technical SEO factors are:
- Website speed which is negatively affected by uncompressed images and large backend files, or by the hosting provider. Some fixes are easier to apply, others require the effort of an expert. To check your site speed and how to improve it use this google tool.
- Mobile Friendliness is based on having a responsive theme or a mobile-only version of your website. Use this other Google tool to check if your site is mobile friendly.
- SSL Certificate is a security technology that encrypts data passed between a user’s web server and a browser. If your website starts with HTTPS instead of just HTTP (without the ‘s’) then your site has SSL installed. Most hosting providers nowadays offer SSL installation as part of their hosting package.
On-Page SEO (or On-Site SEO)
Broadly, On-page SEO covers two aspects:
1) optimizing the information visible in the search engine results pages about your website (Pre-Click SEO);
2) optimizing the actual content on the page (Post-click SEO).
On-SERP SEO is optimizing the website information visible in the search engine (before the user clicks on your website). This step is pretty important since it can determine if the user clicks on your site or not.
Here are the three elements you can optimize at this stage.
- Title Tags (h1) – It’s the first thing the user sees and is considered a heavyweight ranking factor. Your SERP title must include your main keyword or a variable of it and it must be around 55 characters.
- Meta Description – although not directly affecting rankings, meta descriptions can be the determining factor that makes the user click on your site. Use it wisely to attract curiosity while staying true to what the actual post or page is about. Avoid keyword stuffing and spammy looking descriptions.
- URL – considered as a lightweight SEO signal, the URL can attract clicks if it implies the post is what the user is looking for. Include here your main keyword (or a variable of it), make it short, use only dashes (-) and lower case characters.
You did well on the Pre-Click stage and the user decided to click on your website link. Will they leave within the first few seconds or have a good time on your site?
The post-click stage includes every element that is visible to the user upon landing on your site.
Many write content around specific keywords, but the top priority as a marketer should be on the user experience of your website visitors.
Using short-tail or long-tail keywords is a good way to tell Google what the article is about. But if we consider the AI capabilities, I believe that keyword-based content will slowly become irrelevant.
Here is how you can create a better user experience using all the available elements on your page: headings, the body text, hyperlinks, images.
Subeadings (h2 to h6)
They are considered a mediumweight SEO signal. If relevant include keywords within your subheadings. These help users to skim through the content and determine if the entire article is worth their time. Remember, user experience first before everything.
As a heavyweight signal, this is where the user gets the information they want.
In terms of the article length, it depends on what the user is looking for. If they look for a quick answer or a more detailed article, your job is to provide what they want, not what you think they need.
As for keywords, use them sparingly and only if they actually help convey the idea you want to convey.
Hyperlinks are the clickable text and phrases within an article. Since they provide a better user experience, Google likes these.
Linking to internal and external pages provides the readers with additional resources to help him better understand your point and expand their knowledge on the topic.
From Google’s point of view, relevant hyperlinks suggest that you have a well-researched piece of writing. And that is proof that you care about users having a good experience.
They also help Google’s robots understand the relation between pages on your website.
A lightweight SEO signal, again, images need to be optimized for people first and secondly for search engines.
The image Alt tag helps the visually impaired understand what is in the image. Use keywords in the alt tag and in the file name only if relevant to what is in the image.
Images can highly impact the page speed times. To improve page load time use only web-friendly images (gif, jpeg, png) and resize their dimensions accordingly to your theme requirements. Use tools such as tinypng or resizeimage.net to compress their disk size.
There are big companies build on the pillars of Off-Site SEO and things can get complex in the details. But the idea behind SEO is quite simple – build backlinks to your site.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are those clickable links or phrases (hyperlinks). They are links on site or page that point to another external website. From Google’s perspective, backlinks work like an online voting or recommendation system.
If a website references your website, Google assumes that your site has something worthwhile enough to be recommended by someone else. Like in real life, the more people recommend you the more popular you become.
However, it is not just about numbers.
Relevancy and Authority
Who recommends your site is a big factor in the backlink game. Is the other site relevant to your business or is it within a completely unrelated industry? Is it a highly authoritative site such as cnn.com or a small site with 100 monthly visitors?
Based on how relevant and how authoritative is a website will determine the value of the backlink (or the vote) from that site.
As an example, you can have 10,000 backlinks from low ranking websites and nothing happening in your website rankings, or have one backlink from CNN and have a noticeable change in rankings.
One other layer that determines the relevancy of a backlink is the text used in the actual clickable text link, called the anchor text.
If you have a website about food and I link to your website using the text ‘buy cars from here‘ in that link then Google will see that as a non-relevant backlink. In this particular example even as a spammy-looking backlink which can actually hurt your rankings.
One single irrelevant anchor text might not trigger spam bots, but the more you have, the more you are at risk.
The concept of link juice is pretty straightforward but requires some explanation.
Let’s say a website has a ranking authority of 70 out of 100. If that page has 10 links to other external sites, that 70 ranking score is distributed to all that 10 links.
However, the link juice is not equally distributed. The position of the link within the page and the relevancy of the linked page are factors that decide how the link juice is distributed between multiple links on a page.
Nofollow vs. Dofollow
Taking the link juice idea one step further we talk about nofollow and dofollow.
When I link back to an external website I can choose to pass zero link juice to it. Adding a simple HTML code manually (or using the “nofollow link” option/button) I can mark the link to your site as nofollow.
Marking it as nofollow I tell Google that I don’t want to pass to your site any page authority (link juice) from my own site.
While working and spending money building external backlinks to your site, it’s highly important to measure those efforts.
Since Google doesn’t publicly release their ranking factors, this gave birth to businesses that do what Google does: index all of the internet websites and the relation between them through backlinks.
Moz and Majestic are two examples of companies that use their own algorithm to track and display the number of backlinks, their relevancy, and their quality.
Based on that data you can understand and influence your website’s performance in the search engines.
To better understand SEO tools let’s have a look at what are commonly used for.
- Check the backlink profile of competitors with the purpose of replicating their backlinks on your own website.
- Track the performance of your website over periods of time.
- Discover new links and new websites that link back to your site.
- Check top linking domains or check unique domains linking to your site.
- Check anchor text distribution among the backlinks.
- Check if you have spammy backlinks.
As you can expect these are usually tools that come with a price. But you can still have a glimpse at what they can do. Give them a try here:
SERP Rankings (Search Engine Results Page)
One way to measure SEO efforts is by checking rankins based on keywords.
How well a website ranks and its pages rank on SERPs is impacted by factors such as:
- Quantity and quality of backlinks.
- The content quality and keywords used in the content.
- The anchor text in the backlink itself and the content surrounding the anchor text.
- The users’ behavior on your website.
- Users’ time on site.
- Website loading time.
- How many websites are trying to rank for the same keyword/niche, and how many of those websites are highly authoritative websites.
Other SEO Concepts & Terminologies
It’s already been such a long topic to write about. I will put this to rest, but before that let’s check some other considerations in SEO.
Social backlinks are always nofollow, they do not pass any link juice. In fact, they are not considered as actual backlinks but rather as social signals.
Being nofolllow it doesn’t mean they are not valuable. Social backinks impact the ranking indirectly by gaining organic traffic when a post with your link is shared across social media.
Hummingbird – Google’s main algoritm that determines how websites are ranked in the SERPs.
Direct Traffic – traffic coming from users who typed your exact website address in the browser address bar.
Referral Traffic – traffic coming from other websites that have links to your website, usually backlinks or social links.
Organic Traffic – natural traffic, or ‘non-paid’ traffic coming from search engines.
3. Content marketing
Content Marketing is about the creation and distribution of content in any form (blog, video, image, social media posts) with the purpose of stimulating interest in a business or product from the targeted audience.
In comparison with other forms of promotional material, content marketing is more of a pull strategy (inbound) rather than a push strategy (outbound).
Meaning that you attract the potential client under your roof with non-promotional content, instead of pushing promotional material to him.
Benefits of content marketing
- Helps grow an audience around what is it you are trying to sell.
- It helps you express your ideas, values, opinions to the world and gather people that share the same perceptions.
- Helps with your On-Page SEO if you have content that is helpful for readers.
- Boosts Off-Page SEO by gaining natural backlinks when creating valuable and sharable content such as checklists, tutorials, etc.
- Enhances the perception of your business, and therefore the affinity with your potential customers.
- Helps boost sales/conversions.
3 Categories of Content
If you think about to what kind of content you engage with online, we can split these into 3 categories.
- Informational Content is content that offers some useful information to the user.
- Educational Content is content that helps the user to actually learn something of value and which is potentially practical.
- Entertaining Content is content that is usually funny, interesting, or stimulates positive (sometimes negative) reactions.
Evergreen and Topical Content
In terms of the lifetime value of a piece of content, we have content that may be forever relevant and content that is newsworthy and relevant for a short period of time.
These are called evergreen content and topical content.
The evergreen type of content covers most of your content marketing efforts. It’s called evergreen due to its timeless nature and because it can bring visitors to your site for as long as the information is still usable.
Some examples of evergreen content are:
- How to articles
- Beginner’s guides
- FAQ’s articles
- Case studies
- List articles
Evergreen content tips
When planning your content you need to think outside the box. Everybody is creating content focused on specific keywords, and you should be safe creating that type of content too. But if you want that winning edge then you need to take things one step further.
For example, if you have a food blog, an article with ‘Top 10 ways to photograph your food’ would be a topic that might be interesting for your audience.
Even though it is not directly related to your main business, it can attract new audiences while improving your relationship with an already-existing audience.
If for example, there is already a top-ranked article about ‘Top 10 ways to photograph your food’, then you create one about ‘Top 15 ways to photograph your food‘, or you might very well make it ‘Top 15 ways to photograph your food with your phone‘.
Topical content is content that is newsworthy and relevant for a specific moment in time. Due to its nature of being driven by popular trends that are time-sensitive and not directly related to your business, topical content needs more creative input.
Whilst topical content can not be accurately planned, is still a good tactic to have it as part of your content marketing strategy. It requires researching trends and integrate that with your business through creative content ideas.
Topical Content Tip
Imagine being in the fitness industry during the Coronavirus global pandemic. Whilst your gyms and all other stores are closed what can you do? You just start creating content for people about how to build up their immunity against coronavirus through physical exercise.
If you are yourself a fitness coach, then you can even host online live coaching sessions.
10 Types of content
Although broadly speaking there are only three types of content: visual, written, and audio form, in the online space we can further expand them down into 10 types of content.
Here are all of them and what do they mean.
A comprehensive academic document that clearly demonstrates the solution to a problem through research and data.
Compared to white papers, ebooks tend to be more interactive and have more practical information.
extensive pieces base don research and evidence that are usually focused on one single topic or theme.
Used for company updates or for writing content that answers people’s requests or are written based on what people search online.
Templates and checklists
A powerful and highly shareable type of content that makes users’ life easier through easy-to-do lists or by breaking down complex operations into clear actionable steps.
Are images with text and graphics that express big pieces of data into an easily discernable visual representation.
The most dynamic and probably most demanded you can use this content type to showcase many types of content: long-form tutorials, behind the scenes content, live sessions, etc.
Growing fast in popularity, podcasts are usually in interviews distributed in episodic format and are focused on one topic or theme.
Used for Q and A’s around a specific topic, webinars are great for creating affinity with your audience.
Not yet popular, this type of content requires users’ input to direct and unfold the progression of the displayed content piece. Some examples are interactive videos, Facebook canvas, or 3D pictures and videos.
Content curation means taking the ideas/content/posts from a trusted third party and redistribute it through your own point of view.
5 Types of Curated Content
To better understand content curation let’s check the 5 types of curated content and what each means.
- Aggregation – when you put together more pieces of content related to one another.
- Distillation – when you extract the main points of a piece of content while eliminating unnecessary noise.
- Elevation – when you develop a new hypothesis based on multiple points of view.
- Mashups – extracting a unique point of view from multiple points of view.
- Chronological – content which when put in chronological order creates a story or showcases the evolution of a concept – such as the evolution of Google’s algorithm updates.
Brainstorming for content ideas for your business takes time and effort. To make your content marketing easier you have to conduct research.
Social listening comes in multiple forms. If you are a new business you search for keywords that users might ask about the kind of product you sell.
If you already have a following base, then you can research the conversations among your followers and identify possible topics.
A quick example of social listening is collecting questions your audience has about your product and publish FAQ pages that answer their questions.
A second example is to research keywords related to your brand name. That can help you generate new content ideas and even new product ideas.
Two major benefits of conducting social listening
- Identify Opportunities by learning where is your audience spending their time online and aid your channel and content strategy.
- Avoid potential risks by identifying online discussions that might reveal something negative about your product that you were not aware of.
Social Listening Tools
Whilst you can perform it manually, dedicated tools reveal a lot more in a shorter time. Here are some tools you can use to research for content:
- Hootsuite is maybe the best among social listening and monitoring tools. Among other things, Hootsuite can track down key phrases, keywords, conversations between influencers that take place on multiple social platforms.
- Talkwalker monitors popular social platforms + million of other websites to detect mentions about your brand.
- Socialmention is a neat little tool that provides a quick overview of your brand influence across social media expressed in strength, sentiment, passion, reach.
- Tweetdeck is a tool provided by Twitter to track conversations, mentions, hashtags coming from your own audience, or of your competitions’.
- Tweetreach is a social listening tool used for understanding the reach of certain types of tweets, hashtags, or finding out top contributors that are using certain words or hashtags.
- Buzzsumo is a powerful tool that helps guide your content efforts by revealing top content, topics with high interest, and what content types and formats are most engaging on the internet.
Analyzing what content your competition is producing can provide you with some valuable insights:
- Observing how their audience reacts to their content will help you identify what type of content is the audience looking for.
- Identifying their creative formats, language, and style will reveal how to be different and avoid confusion among your audiences.
- Identifying the influencers your competitors are collaborating with will help you stand out by not working with the same influencers.
- Your competitors’ content can be a great source of inspiration for new content ideas.
Content repurposing is a great way to increase your content volume across social media. Let’s say that you have a 1-hour podcast episode. Here is what you can do with just 1 piece of content.
- Video record the podcast for youtube.
- Extract 2 minutes long informational videos for Instagram, TikTok.
- Create a blog post for your blog.
- Convert the podcast to audio-only for Soundcloud.
- Extract quotes and post them as text and images on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.
Other examples of content repurposing are:
- Screenshotting and posting a conversation that you have with someone in your community, that might help others by seeing it
- Asking your followers questions and screenshot your answers for posting across social media
- Convert tutorials and how-to posts into infographics and checklists
- Convert your blog posts into video format.
To take your content creation journey to the next level I highly recommend this 270 pages deck from Gary Vee on how to make 64 pieces of content in a day. It’s a godsend for both beginners and more advanced marketers as well.
Although at the beginning you might test different tones and language styles, consistency is key in your content marketing efforts.
Not just in communication style and slang terms you use, but also in the type of content you post and the times you post throughout the day or week.
4. Social Media Marketing
If you strive to become a business with an online presence, is imperative for you to have a good understanding of social media marketing.
The first thing I want you to understand about social media is the following: Posting the exact same piece content on all social media sites it’s not marketing.
That’s because not every platform is like all other platforms. For example, people on Youtube have different content expectations compared to when they are on Linkedin.
Posting the same piece of content with the same copy on all platforms is appalling. You simply showcase your disrespect for the audiences on that platform.
Content is King, Context is God
If you want to results from social media first rule is this: play the game of the platform by posting content contextually relevant to that platform and its audience.
Benefits of Social Media Marketing (SMM)
- Helps cultivate relationships with clients and potential clients.
- Compared to other mediums on social media you receive quick results and instant feedback.
- Due to its instant feedback quality, you can adjust your paid or unpaid strategy in real-time for higher ROI (Return on Investment).
- Raises brand awareness.
- Create a community around what you sell and around your business values.
- Helps with sales.
- Use organic and/or paid methods to grow your community.
Key social media platforms
In this following section we’ll have a look at the platofrms that matter now the most and best pracrtices to post on each of them: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Although increasingly more expensive, FB Ads are still a great way to go wide or go deep in your reach and targeting.
With over 1.73 billion daily active users and advanced targeting capabilities, Facebook is an important channel for marketers.
Facebook can also be used as a platform for creating relationships with clients by providing support straight in the Messenger app.
With an audience that tilts towards the 40+, Facebook offers opportunities for many types of businesses that historcally had a hard time making an online presence.
Facebook Best Practices
- Currently works with all age ranges but is inclined towards 30+ and even 65+ demographic.
- When creating ads, make them relevant to the platform and your target audience; e.g. start the video with “Hey Facebook, hope you have a great day…” or “Hey London, hope you have a great day…“
- Create video ads that get user’s attention within the first 3 seconds.
- Upload videos to the platform and don’t use Youtube or other external links.
- Use captions on all your videos as most people watch videos on FB with sound off.
- Over 95% of users access Facebook via mobile, so posting videos properly formatted for mobile devices is a must.
- Engage in conversations in the comments as part of the community.
- Ask your audience questions and what type of content they would like to see more of.
- Make 80% of the posts with non-promotional content, and a maximum of 20% with promotional content.
- Make use of the polls feature and other posting features.
Initially a place for photographers to share their photos, Instagram evolved into an all-audiences platform.
As of the date of this post, influencers are complaining about not having the same results as before, but Instagram is by no doubt a great platform for marketers.
Similarly to present-day TikTok, Instagram started as a platform for teenagers. The predominant audience on Instagram now is in the age range of 18-40.
Instagram Best Practices
- Post at least three times a day for maximum impact and reach.
- Behind the scenes videos are great for stories.
- Use story polls to engage the audience.
- For hashtags avoid using too many of them.
- Use popular and easily searchable words as hashtags.
- Test different types of posts and don’t stick to just one theme/topic.
- Story ads work better than ads within the feed.
- Apply Gary Vee’s $1.80 strategy for Instagram which means you leave your 2 cents on 90 relevant posts to get awareness from the right kind of people.
The main difference from all other popular platforms is that Twitter is widely used for real-time communication with others and for engaging in live events conversations such as the Oscars, business events, music festivals, etc.
Due to its newsworthy characteristic, Twitter is a great tool for finding new trends that can help you in your digital marketing efforts. Here are some great ways to make use of Twitter from a marketing perspective.
Twitter Best Practices
- Raise awareness about your brand by searching hashtags relevant to your business and engaging in real one-to-one human conversations.
- Use Tweetdeck to find conversations around hashtags related to your product/service/brand and find out what are people talking about you.
- Use Tweetdeck to find out what are people saying about your competitor and possibly find new opportunities.
- Again, use the same Gary Vee Strategy by interacting daily with tens or hundreds of thoughtful comments on relevant tweets.
Historically focused on business-related content, Linkedin is now making an attempt to create the Facebook version for business people.
For marketers that means that organic reach can go a lot higher than it was previously possible.
However, this does not mean that you post the same copy as you post on Facebook. Linked is predominantly used by people within the corporate sector. Whatever you post try to contextualize it around that kind of audience.
LinkedIn Best Practices
- Engage with thoughtful comments in recent posts related to your business to attract brand awareness and clients.
- When posting videos post them by uploading to the platform rather than posting the youtube link.
- Use relevant and popular hashtags when posting.
- Even when posting the same piece image or video on multiple platforms, contextualize the copy to a business audience.
- Use LinkedIn ads for precise targeting based on people’s jobs or industries.
- Again, follow this Gary Vee’s $1.80 strategy for LinkedIn.
Formerly known as Musical.ly, the TikTok wave took almost everyone by surprise. The platform’s focus on lip-syncing and dancing videos created some unique and interesting trends.
Many marketers doubted at first if it’s even worth creating an account on TikTok. Everybody, including myself, are still trying to catch up with the platform’s language and style.
As of now, TikTok is predominantly used by teenagers. But even Facebook and Instagram started within the same age category. Will TikTok take the same path as Instagram and Facebook? Hard to say but the potential upside is a lot bigger than the possible downside.
Whatever your business is, don’t miss the opportunity. Get on TikTok and start creating content that contextual to the platform. When the platform is matured, you will already have a following while others will feel like they missed the train.
TikTok Best Practices
- Find trending songs and build content with the same songs over your content.
- Find other visual and editing trends and implement them into your own content.
- Just as Instagram started as a platform for photographers and evolved into a platform for everybody, so will TikTok – don’t be afraid that your business is not relevant to the platform; one day it might be and then you will be at least one step ahead of everybody else in your niche.
- Don’t be a slave to the platform by posting just trending content, but stay authentic to yourself too.
Social Media Community
One major advantage of this channel is creating a social media community with an affinity for what you sell or for what you stand for as a business.
For the hardcore businessmen is hard to digest the idea of investing money into building something such as an online community. And they are right in many ways to not invest a single penny.
It’s an open-ended game that requires effort and investment upfront with no clear ROI. But the possible upfront suggests that is a game that is worth trading on.
What a social media communnity isn’t?
A real social media community does not mean how many followers you have, but what’s the overall engagement from your actual followers.
Benefits of a social media community
- It creates a space of safe for newcomers and current users too.
- Creates a virtual space for people with the same interests and values where they can connect and share ideas that can be about your product too.
- Builds trust for your brand.
- Anybody can turn into a brand advocate by voluntarily spreading your message.
- Creates long-term affinity with your clients.
- It shows that you care more than just about selling and making a profit.
- Boosts conversions/sales.
Building a Social Media Community
Non-paid methods to grow a social media community
- Don’t be afraid to invite your virtual and real-life acquaintances to join your community.
- Invite existing clients to join your community.
- Add social buttons to your company website.
- Add social buttons to your thank you page after a sale/conversion has been completed.
- Use hashtags in your social posts to increase visibility across the platform.
- Cross-link social accounts by inserting links to other accounts in your bio/account descriptions.
- Join other groups/communities and share valuable content with the members.
- Add profile accounts in your emails.
- Post regularly.
- Retain your current followers by offering discounts and other exclusivities.
- Use trending formats such as memes, quotes, GIFs.
Paid methods to grow a social media community
- Use Facebook’s custom audiences to show ads to users that interacted with your business in the past, such as existing clients, people that visited your website, etc.
- Use LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities to target specific audiences.
- Collaborate with influencers in a relevant niche to promote your product/business on their pages.
- Pay knowledgeable influencers to create engaging content for your profiles.
- Use shoutout type of campaigns with influencers that have a similar audience as your target audience.
- Pay micro and nano influencers to promote your product and offers such as offering discount codes exclusive to their community.
- Host and post publicly live webinars with influences in your industry.
- Pay influencers to post on their profiles your content.
- Offer your products for free to influencers and if they like it to do an honest review on it.
Tips For driving engagement
- Be succinct in your messages.
- Make your posts relevant to your audiences, needs, interests,
- Provide valuable content.
- Ask questions to your audience.
- Use emojis and hashtags when fit to do so.
Managing a community after is popular
- Follow the 80/20 rule, meaning that a maximum of 20% of your content should be promotional and 80% should bring value to the audience.
- Be consistent in your tone and voice.
- Be responsive to your audience’s comments.
- Interact with your followers.
- Adjust your content based on what the audience reacts more to.
- Offer exclusive content/offers to your followers.
- Create promotional campaigns such as sweepstake contests.
Now it’s time to move to the more nerdy and salesy stuff. We start with display advertising, then we will move to Pay-Per-Ckick, and email marketing.
5. Display Advertising
Before anyone considers buying from you, they first need to be aware of your company, brand, product. That’s what display advertising is widely used for.
However, the remarketing options offer the possibility to also show ads to people that interacted with your business before.
Benefits of display advertising
- Boosts brand awareness.
- Drive frequency of exposure.
- Increased reach of exposure.
- Offers the possibility to put your message in front of audiences that have an interest in your niche/industry.
- Re-engage with customers by bringing back previous website visitors or to complete a purchase they started, or for upselling.
- Drive consideration.
- Create purchase intent.
There are other widely used platforms that come with different targeting capabilities, but in this post I will focus on the features and settings available in Google Ads (GDN).
Ad Placements and Audience
When creating a campaign in Adwords there are two separate targeting options that impact how your display ads are being shown: audience targeting and contextual targeting.
1. Audience Targeting
Audience targeting is about to whom your ads will be shown. You choose your ads to appear in front of audiences based on their online behavior, interests, or purchase behavior.
Lets have a look at the targeting options in Google Ads and what they mean.
- Demographics lets you target audiences based on age, gender, parental status, income, etc.
- Affinity Audiences is about targeting users based on their online behavior such as content they interacted with, purchases they made.
- In-market audience is a dynamic audience of people that are included just for seven days and are formed of users who, based on their online behavior and search queries, Google believes are ready to buy.
- Re-marketing is about showing ads to users that previously interacted with your business such as people that didn’t complete a purchase on your site, people that used your mobile app, or people that watched your YT videos. Most remarketing targeting options require installing remarketing code on your website or linking your mobile app, YT account, Analytics accounts with your Ads account.
- Similar Audiences means that you choose a custom audience (such as people that visited your website, or your email subscribers) and Google will show ads to similarly-looking audiences.
2. Contextual Targeting
Contextual Targeting lets you choose where your ads appear. You can choose your ads to be shown on specific categories of websites or even individual websites. Not just on websites, but also on mobile apps, youtube channels, etc.
There are three options to choose from when it comes to contextual targeting.
- Keywords targeting means that you choose your ads to appear based on words that appear on the page, or based on users’ search queries.
- Topics targeting is about choosing your ads to appear based on broad topics such as travel, business, etc.
- Placements targeting is the option that lets you choose your ads to appear on individual specific websites, Youtube channels, or mobile apps.
Other targeting features
- Targeting Exclusions is for excluding certain targeting criteria based on users’ demographics, keywords, placements, topics, or even exclude custom audiences.
- Advanced Targeting (Observation) is for advanced users. It is about receiving reports based on criteria without limiting your ads reach.
In a nutshell, these are the targeting options you have at your fingertips within the Google Ads platform.
Now let’s shed some light on another highly important step in any display advertising campaign:
In the Google Display Network there are three main types of bidding. Let’s have a look at each of them and each stands for.
- Default Bid is the simplest as it only requires you to set the Max CPC (Cost per Click) for all the keywords in an Ad Group.
- Custom Bid offers the possibility to set a bid based on targeting methods. For example, you can choose a max CPC for ads on mobile apps.
- The Bid Adjustments feature is used for increasing or decreasing budget allocation for specific targeting options. It is applied over of the initial bidding set as default or custom bid. I think I have to use an example here.
Let’s say you have an initial bid of $0.15 for an audience with an interest in business. You let the ad run for a few days and upon a quick investigation, you learn that you have a conversion rate of 0.8% for female audiences and a conversion rate of 1% for male audiences.
Upon this insight, you can use bid adjustments to increase the budget with let’s say 20% more for males or decrease it by 20% for the female audience. Bid adjustments offer the choice to customize the budget spendings based on criteria such as the day, days of the weeks, age ranges, and others.
Remarketing is an advertising option that offers an important benefit. As a consequence of showing ads to people that already interacted with your business, generally speaking, remarketing delivers better ROI.
To effectively implement remarketing you need to perform some technical steps such as installing the remarketing tag on your website and as well as linking Google Analytics with Google Ads for more precise targeting.
There are various methods of targeting when it comes to remarketing.
- Standard retargeting refers to showing ads to past visitors of your website.
- Dynamic retargeting goes one step further. For example, you can display product ads with products that visitors viewed on your website but didn’t buy them.
- Mobile apps retargeting shows ads to people that downloaded or used your mobile app.
- Video retargeting is about showing ads based on people that interacted with your youtube channel and videos.
- Email list retargeting shows ads to people from your email subscribers list (by manually uploading the email list).
When starting the creation of a google ads campaign you have one option that I want to cover here:
Standard vs. Accelerated Delivery
Standard delivery means that your ad will be evenly distributed throughout the day, whilst accelerated delivery means that your daily budget will be spent showing the ads to as many times as quickly as possible.
Be aware that accelerated delivery can go over the set daily budget, especially on video ads campaigns.
Other Display Advertising Platforms
Covering as much as 92% of all internet websites no wonder Google Ads is widely used for display campaigns.
Here are some other display advertising platforms that have their own capabilities and advantages.
- Adroll is mostly used for retargeting to website visitors and have their own pixel to add on your website.
- Premium Network Buy is a platform that specializes in advertising on big popular sites.
- Criteo is used by eCommerce businesses. They are showing product ads to users that viewed similar items on other eCommerce websites.
- Facebook Ads can also be used as part of display advertising campaigns that want to target specific audiences based on interests, demographics, age, etc.
6. PPC (Paid Search)
Raising brand awareness and driving consideration to the product or service is just the beginning of the story.
The marketer’s job is to make the brand visible at every step of the customer’s journey, especially when they are ready to buy.
What is PPC
Simply put, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) are text ads that appear above the organic results in search engines.
Compared to display ads where you have multiple bidding systems, now you have only one bidding system: Paying for each click to your ad.
Although they can be used for any stage of the customer’s journey, Pay Per Click campaigns are used mostly for the conversion stage.
Marketers use this channel to target ads for sales pages, products, limited offers against people who based on their search queries look like they are ready to buy.
Benefits of PPC
- Quick access to a market with a buying intent.
- Mobile position 1 which is an advantage since on mobile devices the user prefers to click on first results rather than scrolling down to the organic results.
- Sitelinks and other ad features that help improves the user experience and consequently your ROI.
- ROI is easier to measure for visitors coming from paid results.
- Possibility for time-sensitive promotions – paid results are displayed and updated almost instantly.
- High level of control upon what is viewable in the search results, what the user sees after clicking the ad, and control over your spendings.
- Most people have a search bar at a hands reach these days, therefore PPC is more relevant today than ever.
Since PPC ads are on the same page as the organic search results, let’s do a comparision to better understand their qualities.
|Element||Paid results||Organic results|
|Timing||Paid results are ranked almost instantly||It can take months or years to rank|
|Priority||Paid results always show above organic results||Organic results appear below paid results|
|Content||For paid rankings you only need a landing page||Ranking organically requires content and backlinks|
|Landing Page||Although it helps to have a relevant landing page to users’ search query, paid results don’t require SEO||Are ranked based on on-page SEO and Off-Page SEO (and other 200+ factors)|
|ROI||The ROI is easy to measure||The ROI is trickier to measure|
|Traffic||Only paid traffic is coming to your page||Traffic is “free”|
Main elements of a PPC Campaign
When creating a PPC campaign in Google Ads there are three main elements that form the structure of the campaign: Keywords, Ads or Ad Groups, Landing Pages.
Note: The image above displays the structure of the campaign after it has been created. When creating a new campaign it always starts with your keywords.
1. PPC Keywords
Keywords refer to what the users type in the search bar. The PPC ad is triggered by keywords or variations of keywords.
best practices for keywords
- When choosing your keywords, consider the intent behind that search query. Is the user merely researching or are the searchers ready to buy?
- Create a complete list of keywords that covers the entire buyer journey from Awareness to Conversion.
- Allocate a budget for keywords based on their intent. A keyword with a high buying intent behind it is usually bid on by many marketers. A keyword such as ‘buy keyword research tool’, usually requires a higher bid, therefore a higher budget. A keyword such as ‘how to perform manual keyword research’ might have a lower bid, therefore a lower budget needed for keywords like that.
- Use negative keywords to avoid your ad being triggered by search queries that contain words such as free, or queries that have a low conversion rate.
- Group keywords based on their search volume into different ad groups. If you have the same daily budget for all keywords, the keywords with a higher search volume will eat all your budget before fully tapping into the lower search volume keywords.
2. PPC Ads
PPC Ads are what the user sees and clicks on the search results pages.
PPC Ads Guidelines
- Must be Relevant to the users’ intent behind the search query and to the search query itself. You don’t show an ad with London hotels for someone in New York.
- Must be Attractive to the user by showcasing your unique selling point (USP) or an emotional selling point (ESP). e.g. ‘We have the most affordable prices and a spa, 5 stars on trip advisor.’ (USP) or ‘Spend the most enjoyable holidays with your family.’ (ESP)
- And Directional by clearly pointing the user his next step through relevant CTAs (click-to-action), such as Book Now, Apply now, etc.
3. Landing Pages
The landing page is maybe the most important element of your PPC ad. If the user clicks on the ad but doesn’t convert on the landing page, your money is wasted.
- The landing page must deliver on what was promised in the ad and resolve the user’s need.
- Include clear CTA’s to direct the user to the next action such as buy, download, etc.
- Use large CTAs and easily readable fonts for mobile visitors.
- The LP must have fast loading time by using optimized images and other speed friendly practices.
Other PPC elements
Ad Rank & Quality Score
These are two important aspects of your PPC campaign creation that highly impacts your ad performance and budget spending.
Quality Score (1-to-10) refers to how relevant your ad and keywords are in relation to the user’s intent behind the search query.
Other elements that influence the quality score are:
- How much are you willing to pay for a click
- Google’s estimation upon the expected CTR
- Landing page relevancy to the user’s needs and intent.
If you have a Quality Score of 9, and the other bidder has a quality score of 5, it means that you can actually pay less money compared to the other bidder and still have the top position in the ad results.
Usually it’s a good idea to strive for a quality score of at least 7.
The Ad Rank reflects the ranking of your ad within the multiple ads. Although you pay for ads to appear above the organic search results, other people are biding for the same keywords as you.
Here is how to calculate Ad Rank:
Max CPC Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank
This marketing channel is highly focused on sales and profits. It’s no wonder everybody wants a piece of the cake. To optimize your spendings your PPC campaigns will need someone with sales experience that can develop ads and landing pages that convert.
- Recommended reading 1 (external source): 8 Dos & Don’ts for Your PPC Landing Page
- Recommended reading 2 (external source): Branding Success: How to Use PPC to Amplify Your Brand
7. Email Marketing
Compared to all other channels we talked about, email marketing is unique in its tactics and concepts.
It requires a different set of skills and a lot of patience most of the time. But the potential of email is without limits.
Email Marketing Basics
Emails are mainly used for sending updates promotions, advertising offers, and even educational material straight to the user’s email inbox.
Benefits of Email marketing
- High ROI channel with a low cost per lead (CPL) and low cost per acquisition (CPA).
- The possibility to monitor your campaign performance in real time.
- Works in conjunction with other channels such as using social media to increase your email subscribers, or use email to increase your social followers.
- Use email data for retargeting by showing ads to people that are your subscribers.
- Use heatmap tools to understand more about your users’ behavior/preferences.
- Helps create lasting relationships with your audience.
- Maintain a good relationship with brand advocates by sending exclusive content and exclusive offers.
Email marketing is not about blasting “buy this” type of emails and hoping someone will buy.
Creating an effective email strategy requires detailed planning and fine-tuning along the way.
Segmentation refers to categorizing your audiences and sending emails with information relevant to them. You can categorize audiences based on their gender, age, industry, purchase history.
Personalization is not just about addressing their name in the email. It is also about recommending relevant products to them based on their previous purchases, website behavior, etc.
Timing your emails can make a big difference in your campaign performance. To get valuable insights perform A/B testing and find which is the optimal time to send emails. Also, consider the different time zones as well.
This is a must for your email campaigns. With so much facade from businesses that focus on sales, people become more attuned to honesty and transparency.
For example, when sending the welcome emails to new subscribers be honest and let them know what do you plan to do, what kind of content to expect from you, and what’s the real value for them in signing up.
Secondly, make your emails simple, concise, straight to the point, and don’t use more than 2 CTA’s for the same link. This way, you show that you care about their time.
Analyzing email data is essential for your email campaign optimization. Analyzing email data you understand what type of subject lines deliver more open rates, what type of information is being read, or what type of offers are being clicked on.
Managing an Email List
There are three main types of recipients to efficiently segment your subscriber’s list right from the start: New Subscribers, Existing Customers, Brand Evangelists.
How to Gain new Subscribers
- Blog signups are the most efficient way to gain new subscribers. The more value you bring to your visitors through your blog content, the more they want to hear from you again. Have your email form visible on any page of your website.
- Opt-in media are another way to collect emails. Create a valuable piece of content such as an ebook, or a checklist then gate it with an email form. Share and promote that piece of content via social media.
- Partnerships with other companies in the same industry wherein they send your email to their subscribers’ list to promote your own email address or to visit your website.
Caring for Exisiting customers
You want to build more rapport with people that already bought from you. To do this have two different list segments: one for new subscribers and one for buyers.
By having two lists, you can create email campaigns with content that is exclusive to your existing customers.
Supporting Brand evangelists
If your values as a brand are strong and you have your own voice in the market, existing customers will turn into brand evangelists and will naturally spread the word.
They are important to your business and you want to provide the best value to them. Here are is how to create long lasting relationships with brand evangelists.
- Create content exclusively for them to share on their own profiles.
- Ask their opinions about your product and deliver on the expectations.
- Share their own content on your profiles to help them gain more awareness.
- Provide exclusive offers and discount codes for their own audiences.
Types of Email
In this section will have a look at the most common types of email and what do they mean.
- Announcements type of emails are about your next webinar, your next sale, your next event, etc.
- Product updates such as new products, improvements, new prices.
- Newsletter emails such as a summary of your latest blog post.
- Event invitation emails about your own event or about an event you are going to attend to.
- Social media updates such as requesting your subscribers to share your polls on their social media.
- Internal updates for keeping your employees updated with company changes and news.
Automated types of emails
Not all emails should be under an automatic schedule. Here are the types of emails that are always automatically triggered by certain actions.
- Welcome email for new subscribers.
- Onboarding emails that will help them find out more about a product they bought, a subscription service they enrolled in, a product trial they activated, or even about how to find more about your company.
- A confirmation email for users that register to an event, webinar.
- Form response/thank you email for users that complete and a form and as a consequence receive what was behind the completion of the form, such as an ebook, checklist, step-by-step guide, etc.
- Abandonment cart email to remind your visitors about products they added in the shopping cart but left the website without completing the purchase.
All Email Components
Once you developed your strategy it is time to start structuring the actual emails. Here are the email components that together forge your emails.
- The Subject Line is the first element of your email the recipient sees. It is the most important as it will make the recipient open or ignore your email. Read more about subject lines here on my other blog post.
- Email Copy is the actual text within the email. The email copy must arouse curiosity and must be aligned with the Subject Line. Other guidelines are: use headlines to make it easily scannable, make it clear what is in for them, and call the reader to action through clear CTA’s.
- Email Design and layout is about using brand colors, fonts, and being consistent in the layout. If you have more sections such as multiple news stories make them distinguishable from one another.
- CTA’s of your email must be easily visible in the email. Make it clear for the user what is on the other side after he clicks on the call-to-action button.
- Images are another element of your email that can improve the overall conversions. Some ESP’s will not display email images, therefore images should be complementary to the email so the user understands the email without images in it. Limit your image size to 200kb or less and don’t exceed 564 px in width.
Email A/B Testing
Improving the performance of your emails is a never-ending process. Email A/B testing (or split testing) is about testing different elements and finding out which works best to deliver on your goals. It helps you find the right subject lines and the right type of content for your audience.
A/B testing Best Practices
- Create a plan with what elements you will test and how often.
- Test only one variable at a time, for example, test 2 subject lines and all other elements are the same.
- Test equally-split and random groups every time.
- Follow the 80/20 rule: Send the test emails to 20% of your recipients and send the winning version to the other 80%.
- Test minor elements as well, such as using the first name instead of the last name.
- Record the test results.
- Confirm the results with a follow-up test.
Other email considerations
There are two widely used methods for users to subscribe to your list: Single Opt-in and Double Opt-in
Single opt-in means that the user is added to your subscribers’ list just by submitting the email, and ticking a confirmation box without any later confirmation.
Double opt-in means that the user receives a confirmation email specifically to confirm that they want to receive emails from you.
Using the double opt-in you will have a stronger list of subscribers that have a higher interest in receiving emails from you. As a matter of fact, you are actually legally required to have a double opt-in system in place.
Email Legislations & Regulations
To avoid bad intended people send harmful and dangerous emails, legislations were put in place for protecting the user’s safety and privacy. There are three main pieces of legislation you need to know: CAN-SPAM, CASL, GDPR.
1. CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) applies to the US consumers and requires email senders to:
- Have a clear and simple opt-out option in all sent emails
- Identify themselves in the email and their physical address (company address)
- The subject of the email must reflect the content of the email.
2. CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) was put in place in 2014 for protecting consumers and businesses against electronic threats. The main regulatory acts are:
- Marketers must have explicit permission from the user before sending marketing emails or SMS, meaning that double opt-in is legally required for sending emails to users living in Canada.
- The users’ consent for receiving emails from you is valid for a limited time of 24 months. A follow-up confirmation is required after this period.
- Social media interaction is not an implied opt-in and conditional opt-in is not valid. Implied opt-in refers to a page where the user must submit his email and it’s not clearly specified that his email will be added to the email marketing list. Conditional op-in refers to the scenario when the users must enter their email to access a page, a website.
- Failing to comply with CASL regulations the marketer/business risks to sued, face charges of up to 10 million Canadian dollars, personal liabilities, and other civil charges.
3. GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation) act was put in place in 2018 for the users living in the EU. Some of the basic principles are:
- Again, you can only send emails to people who explicitly have been accepted to receive marketing emails from you (double opt-in).
- All data about users must be protected and never shared outside of your business.
- Users can at any time request to have deleted all stored data about them.
- Businesses that do not comply with these GDPR regulations can receive up to 10 million euros in fine or 4% of annual revenue (whichever is higher).
Official GDPR page is here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection_en
GDPR FAQ Resource 1: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/business/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-faqs/
GDPR FAQ Resource 2: https://gdpr.eu/faq/
Although email marketing is old, it’s still gold. However, the fine line between effective and ineffective email marketing is thin.
Email campaigns requires a lot of planning, action, testing, and patience before seeing real results. It’s about building trust, it’s about promising and always deliver on the promise.
Having a website for your business is not optional anymore. Everybody search for everything using google search.
Analytical data about your website visitors helps understand your customers and your business better than was ever possible. In this section of the article I will write from the perspective of the most common analytics platform: Google Analytics.
Benefits of Analytics
- Make informed data-led decisions for better website and business performance.
- Understand the user better by understanding the story behind their website behavior.
- Improve your conversion funnel by understanding where the user gets ‘stuck’.
- Get closer to the customer by understanding their preferences for products, content.
- Forecasting using trends and patterns in customer behavior.
- Higher conversion rates and enhanced ROI.
Data collected about your visitors can be split into two main categories: Dimensions and Metrics.
Dimensions refer to the type of collected data that is described in words (not in numbers) such as gender, age, location, device used, channel name, source, etc.
Metrics express the data that can be shown in numbers such as the number of visitors, percentage of new sessions, page views, pages per session, average session duration, revenue, completed goals, etc.
When we view data about visitors we usually segment the metrics based on dimensions such as the number of visits coming from mobile users, or the number of visits coming from Google Search or from social media for example.
Google Analytics (GA) Basics
The most common free tool for web analytics is Google Analytics. Let’s check the basics of a GA account.
GA Account Structure
There are three Google Analytics account level: Account Level, property Level, View Level.
Account Level Settings
- Adding multiple properties (websites)
- Changing the account name
- Viewing audience filters
- Records of your account activity.
Property Level main settings
- Setting your default dashboard view.
- Property permissions (adding new users to have access to your property settings).
- Tracking settings such as adding the tracking code, data collection and data retention time, and search-related settings such as excluding visits coming from specific search terms, or from certain websites, IP’s.
- Linking other Google products such as Google Ads, Google Adsense.
At the View Level is where the main analytical related features are. Here you can create filters (audiences) based on specific dimensions and metrics.
For example, you can filter visits coming from mobile devices only if you want to understand their behavior more clearly. Or filter visits that come from your Facebook Ads Campaigns.
To help create your own audience filters in GA here are the most common types of audiences filtering:
- Filter visitors based on specific parts of your website such as conversion-related pages, specific posts.
- View data for specific types of visitors such as new visitors or returning visitors.
- Filter visitors based on viewed pages.
- Focus on users coming from specific sources – for example, if you are working with an influencer you can filter the audience coming from their website.
- Filter visitors coming from social media or specific social media platforms.
- Filter users coming from paid social ads or on visitors coming from PPC ads.
Google Analytics Goals help you track valuable actions on your website such as purchases, downloads, subscriptions, conversions.
To better understand this, let’s check some common types of goals.
- Create an URL Destination goal triggered by specific page visits such as thank you pages after a purchase has been made.
- Create a Session Duration goal such as a 5-minute session. You would use this to track the source of visitors that spend more than 5 minutes on your website.
- Pages per session type of goals for users that visited a specific number of pages on your website.
- Event Tracking goals are actions that are not trackable using the standard GA code. You need to find an expert or use Google Tag Manager to track actions such as video views, pdf downloads.
On the left side of the GA main dashboard is the Reports Section. There are 4 reports that you have to be familiar with: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions Reports.
This report is about who is coming to your website and how they got there. Let’s have a look at each subcategory and what it means.
- Demographics Report offers information such as age, gender, etc.
- Interests Report offers insights upon the type of audience that comes to your website based on Affinity, In-market Segments, and other Interest categories that are also applicable when selecting your targeting audiences in Google Ads.
- Geo Report provides insights about the location and language of your audience.
- Behavior Reports (under the Audience tab) is about what the users do after they landed on your website.
- Technology Report shows the type of operating systems of users visiting your website. If the report hints towards some OS not performing well, use www.browsershots.org to check your website performance on multiple OS versions.
- Mobile Report is another useful report. You can understand better what devices deliver the best results so you can further dig deeper and find new opportunities or possible website issues.
- Benchmarking Report compares your website with previous performance, industry average, and with your competitors. However, these are broadly categorized and might not be exactly related to your niche.
- Cross-Device Reports show data about users that access your website from multiple devices, such as new visitors based on the device used.
If the Audience Report is about ‘who using what‘, Acquisition reports are about wherefrom is your audience coming. Here is what each report under the Acquisition tab means:
- All Traffic Report shows the source of all traffic based on channel, country, devices, and many more. Link your Google Ads Account with Analytics to get additional insights about Display Ads and PPC performance.
- Source/Medium shows the traffic source such as Google, Facebook, etc, and the type of traffic which may be CPA, organic, Ads, social, referral.
- Referrals Report shows insights about other websites that link back to your site. You can identify high-value SEO links here for example.
- Social Report details social traffic. It’s a more limited report since GA it’s a Google product whilst other social sites are not related to Google.
- Campaigns Report it’s another useful report. It limits your data to the traffic source and on-site engagement. It details data about other Google Ads products which are already linked to Analytics. If you need to add other external sources such as an Email Marketing campaign you need to use Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool. Check this YT tutorial to find out how to use it. It’s about adding a unique URL to your campaign links so GA can differentiate them from all other traffic sources.
- Search Console Report requires to link your GA with Search Console and receive SEO data such as search queries that lead to website visits.
- Google Ads Report is an important report that helps you maximize your PPC efforts. For example, under Search Queries, you might find new converting keywords that you might want to add in your PPC campaign. Hours of Day Report helps you identify the best converting times and days to optimize your budget in Google Ads. It also offers insights into Google Display and YT ads campaigns.
Behavior Report show details about the visitors’ behavior on your website. Is about what they are doing on your website.
- Behavior Flow Report shows common patterns of pages that website visitors go through after they landed on your website.
- Site Content reports can help improve the content on the website. Under All Pages, you get data about pages with higher engagement. Under Content Drilldown you have your pages shown as folders (such as a category on your website) and you can then drill down the most common pages viewed after users landed on that folder (page/category).
- Site Speed shows speed-related data based on country, devices, etc. Even more, you can get helpful suggestions on how to improve your site speed.
- Site Search shows data about what are user’s searching on your website’s search bar. This can be very helpful as you can find what new products or information users are already searching for. GA is not able to track this on its own so you need to set up Site Search manually in Analytics by following this simple tutorial.
- Events Reports shows data about the standard goal set up methods that are already available in GA. For other types of event tracking such as clicking the play button of a video or clicking a button on your website, you need to add additional coding into the actual item that you want to track so GA can record that action.
- The Experiments tab gives you the possibility to perform and measure A/B testing of elements such as new layouts, content types, or formats. Go to the experiments tab and follow the setup instructions.
Conversion Reports show data based on the actions that you set up for eCommerce sites or for non-eCommerce.
Some predefined types of conversions are purchases, download, register, comments submitted, social share, media play.
Here is what tab under Conversion Reports mean:
- Funnel Visualization shows pre and post-conversion data. If you have a purchase goal, you can visualize at what stage of the process the users are leaving the page before completing the purchase.
- Goal Flow shows a graphic visualization of many types of data reported to the completion of the goal. Here you can find out which users coming from what medium is most likely to complete the purchase process. For example, maybe females aged between 25-34 that are coming from organic search have the highest goal completion rate. Therefore you this data might suggest investing more in that medium for that audience.
- Ecommerce reports require either manual e-commerce tracking implemented into your website, or use the more user-friendly platforms such as Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce. Here is a tutorial for Shopify, a tutorial for Magento, and one for WooCommerce that guides you on how to integrate Analytics into their platforms. Setting this up you will have pieces of data such as product views, unique purchases, the conversion rate between new and returning visitors, and other eCommerce focused reports.
- Multi-Channel Funnels shows reports about Assisted Conversions (assisted value of channels and campaigns si provides insight into how different channels function at each end of the funnel, from awareness to completed conversion), Top Conversion Paths (the most common journeys that lead to the final step), Time-lag report (The time span between the first interaction with your website up to the final conversions), Path Length (how many interactions were necessary until final step)
Because of privacy regulations and legislations such as GDPR, it is legally required for you the website owner to inform your website visitors that third parties will be collecting data about them for marketing purposes. You must provide them with the option to accept or not accept these conditions.
You have o clearly specify on your website that you will be collecting data about the user through Google’s web cookies (or any other tracking/analytics company).
If you are new to Analytics and want to learn, don’t overwhelm yourself with all the reports at once. Instead, focus on one Reports Tab until you master it before getting familiar with the next Reports Tab.
The same applies for the creation of Audience Filters under the View Level settings. Create simple filters that are focused on specific metrics or dimensions at first, such as conversion pages, or visitors coming from organic search.
In this final chapter I will briefly talk about fundamentals and best practices for developing your own digital marketing strategy.
The starting point of any digital strategy is your target audience. Instead of creating a new behavior, you integrate your brand/product/service within the already established behavior common to your audience.
5 Elements of a Digital Strategy
After the audience has been identified, it’s now time to start developing the strategy. The main 5 blocks of a strategy are: Objectives, Channel Strategy, Content Strategy, Paid Media, and Tacics.
What are you trying to achieve with your digital marketing strategy? What should each channel be used for? Using the SMART Goals system you can set clear and concise objectives for every channel you are going to use to meet your main business goal.
Examples of strategy objectives
- 100,000 subscribers on all social media platforms within 6 months using paid and organic tactics.
- 2000 daily website visitors within six months using youtube tutorials, giveaways, promotions, how-to articles, and influencer collaborations.
- 5000 subscribers in your list within 6 months by collecting emails through checklists, step-by-step-guides.
2. Channel Strategy
The Channel Strategy is about planning the channels and platforms are you going to use and what features for what purposes. Preferably, you want to focus on the platforms your audience is spending their time on.
Are you going to use Instagram Influencers for the Consideration stage and Story Ads for Awareness? Or maybe Facebook and Youtube Video Ads with how-to videos.
3. Content Strategy
What content, what language style, voice or tone are you going to use in your messaging? What type of articles on your blog, what kind of Ads, or what kind of tweets?
The content strategy refers to the image that you want to be associated with. This brand image you create through the content itself, but also through other elements such as the images, website logo, and website colors.
4. Media Strategy
How much of your budget for Facebook Ads, and how much for influencer collaborations? Can you afford professional videos, or are you going to rely on images only? Do you have in-house experienced writers, or should you hire new ones?
Media Strategy is about allocating your budget across all the different platforms and content formats that you want to tap into.
Tactics are about the course of action for each individual channel, piece of content or paid media assets. What content, on what platform and for what purpose?
Let’s say you are running a restaurant business. Your goal is to raise awareness on Instagram using food bloggers. Your tactic would be something like ‘use story ads targeting local food bloggers to promote our food picture contest‘.
Or maybe you are a photographer and you want to get clients. Your tactic would be to create youtube tutorials and articles on photography and sharing them on social media to raise awareness while creating valuable content.
A similar tactic would be to create Facebook ads and target the followers of a wedding-related business such as a wedding caterer page or a wedding photography page.
These were just some short examples. In reality, an action plan is about detailing as much as you can, including expected results, budget allocations, and more.
Measuring the performance of your tactics
It is important to check the performance of your tactics periodically before the final deadline.
If after 3 months you are still at 200 daily visitors when your goal is to reach 2000 daily visitors in 6 months, then maybe you need to rewrite your plan of action for that channel.
Some other things that worth mentioning here are the budgeting plan and zie, and digital tools costs.
When planning your budget makes sure you take into consideration the time span of your campaign. If you have a 6-months campaign then your budget should detail the costs for that exact timeframe.
If you have a smaller budget is worth considering a smaller audience that you believe would deliver better results. Let’s say you are selling portrait photography services. What segment of your audience would be most likely to convert? Males or Females? Should you target the age group of 18-24, or the 25 to 34 years olds?
Digital Tools Costs
When allocating your budget, take into consideration additional spendings that are not directly associated with your strategy elements.
This overlooked costs might be for digital tools necesary to perform keyword research or to track your website rankings.
Having a digital marketing strategy is imperative. It creates a roadmap and you avoid being overwhelmed and feeling a lack of control and direction.
Your strategy doesn’t have to be perfect at first and it is not written in stone. You can adjust it on the go based on how well it performs as you execute and measure it.
Final Final thoughts
With this final chapter we reached the end of this exhausting article. I hope you are now a little more educated and more motivated to take action, start planning and start doing.
You don’t have to make the perfect decisions at first. Every business is different, and every audience has different expectations. Your job is to find out what works best by trial and error and then triple down on the most efficient tactics.
See you at the next point of contact. For any suggestions, or if you want to ask me anything, use the comments section or the links on the contact page.