23 Oct 2012
Phrases such as “buy two and get one free”, “free holiday for purchases over $1,000″ and the online shopping favorite of “free shipping” are the bread and butter for all marketers.
When you are starting your blog, website or start-up you usually don’t have a big bucket of money to throw at marketing. Traditionally you did something like a letter box drop, a direct mail after buying an expensive list from a database marketing company or you hired a telemarketing company to call people and annoy them.
In the digital marketing world it could be buying Google Adwords and commencing a digital marketing campaign that uses key words and phrases that people would use to find your product or service when searching online, it could also be Facebook ads targeting your city and target demographic. At the end of the day it can cost a lot of money to mount a major marketing campaign unless your family is backed by Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates or a drug baron. The money pit is not a bottomless pile of gold coins produced by the golden goose. You have to get smart and savvy and find cheap or zero cost alternatives or otherwise start robbing banks.
So you have to be clever and work out ways to get free traffic that you can convert to leads and sales.
The three digital marketing strategies that can pay off and drive free traffic include social, search and the all important “unique” content that is the foundation element that facilitates and accelerates the sharing and lifts your search results.
There are two ways people find your blog or website when searching online. They either click on the paid Google Adwords that are placed on the side or the top of the search results page (that someone has paid Google to put there) or they clicked on the other links that are called “Organic Search Results”. These are earned through optimizing your website and blog for search engines.
Five years ago SEO consultants were all the rage. You hired them and put them in a dark room, fed them pizza and pasta and soon your site was ranking on the first page of Google. It was like magic. If you dug a little deeper they were doing things like buying links, setting up domains with the keywords in the URL that were important for your business and other tactics that gamed the search system.
But Google has started changing the rules. Strange sounding updates for Google that include the words “Panda” and “Penguin” are really code words for “watch out your site is about to drop from page one to page ten”
Plumbers, painters and podiatrists that were ranking on the first page of Google and had built booming businesses based on old school search engine optimization (SEO) tactics had dropped off page one and the inquiries and leads had dried up. This type of SEO didn’t require creating great unique content that the web needs and loves but just involved playing the SEO game.
The search game is changing with Google now putting major emphasis on content and social signals such as Retweets, likes, shares and the Google Plus one platform’s +1′s.
It is no longer about gaming the sytem but adding real value to the web through regular publishing of content that people love to share, link to and embed.
Google’s updates have made content marketing the hottest trend since “planking”.
Create, publish and promote great content and Google (read search engines) will start to love you. That content can be a YouTube video, a blog post or a Slideshare presentation or any type of multi-media content. eCommerce stores are hiring magazine editors to lead the creation of content that is visual, viral and valued by readers and viewers.
A word of warning here. Google does not like duplicate content (it has new ways of detecting that) so just copying and pasting someone else’s content into your website or blog is frowned upon. It needs to be unique.
The challenge is to make the content so enticing that people will share it with their friends, family and colleagues. This does take some thought, skill and creativity.
Content with a good headline or a captivating image will be shared much more on Twitter or Facebook than a bland bit of poorly written text. You need to think about what sort of content captures your attention and then create that for your customers that is relevant and tempting.
Social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and social media (YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest) provide the platforms to turbo charge your content. It is how people share content.
Social accelerates the discovery of your content. Before the rise of social web, content was locked up in filing cabinets, hard disks and printed offline articles. Sharing online was limited to sending an attachment via email. This limited its spread as it was private.
Content needs to be re-purposed (Make a blog post into a Powerpoint presentation and put it on Slideshare or take a printed press release and turn it into a blog post), published online and it then needs to be set free. It needs to be built for sharing.
Google has created Google+ to measure these social signals of sharing and is embedding and weaving social into search results.
Content that is shared on social channels is your new SEO.
The days of single channel marketing are over. Combining and integrating social, search and content into your digital marketing strategy are now vital to move from visible to visible on a crowded and competitive web.
This blog was created on a foundation of consistent unique content that was shared on social networks. When I started, Google didn’t really know I existed. Today nearly 50% of my traffic (and it is free) is via Google organic search. That is over 160,000 page views a month. It doesn’t cost me a cent.
How are you playing in the digital marketing landscape? Is it social, search or content or have you moved to an integrated approach?
Which strategies and tactics are working best for you?
Look forward to hearing your stories in comments below.
My book – Blogging the Smart Way “How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.
by Jeff Bullas