All right, folks, you know what time it is. Toss out (or hopefully recycle) those 2017 calendars on your office walls and refrigerators. Is this the year you go digital and rely only on Outlook or iCalendar? Or is a whole year of pug pics too hard to resist?
We’ll save you the boredom of reading yet another rah-rah post about how the future is going to be so great and how this is the year we’re all going live in peace and harmony thanks to the Internet. And we won’t waste your time predicting exactly when we’ll all be issued our personal jetpacks (or whatever the Internet equivalent of a jetpack is).
Instead, our theme for this year is simple: fundamentals. There are so many ways to get excited, distracted, etc. in today’s online landscape and it’s increasingly easy to get lured in by The Big Shiny Thing. But resist! We’re here to tell you that, though they aren’t all that sexy, the fundamentals of online marketing can still offer some big wins and ground you in long-term success.
Putting the Fun in Fundamentals
What are we talking about when we say “fundamentals”? Well, let’s break it down into some easy-to-follow buckets, what we like to call the “Four P’s” of online marketing success.
Another way to describe this is “Just Being on Stuff.” For example, your website ranks on Google. You have a Facebook page. You have a Twitter presence. You’re listed on the Waze app. People use an overwhelming number of tools to find services and products now, so you need to have your bases covered.
After you’ve set up shop on a platform, your job is not done. Actually, that was the easy part. Now you have to engage on that platform in an authentic way so you earn some love. A more traditional example of this is what we used to call SEO – search engine optimization. Do things to help Google make their users happy, and you’ll be ranked higher. Of course now, Google needs very little of your (or our) help to do its job and return relevant results to its users. Instead, its algorithms are weighing your presence and engagement across the web as a proxy for your relevance and rankability.
Here’s where the heavy lifting comes in. You need to be engaged in so many places, usually on an hourly/daily basis, not weekly or monthly. Yes, you know about social – Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram pics. But you also need to be actively soliciting reviews on Yelp, engaging on industry-specific interactive sites (such as RealSelf), and updating address and business info on the latest platforms and apps.
Google. PBS. Facebook. One of these things doesn’t belong here! Contrary to what some people think, the big online players aren’t here to make your life easier – they exist to make money. While online advertising is still very attractive in terms of cost and ROI compared to more traditional channels, there’s no doubt that it is becoming more expensive, and very likely it will continue to do so as the Internet giants compete to show healthy returns for their investors.
What this means for you is simple: every online platform is going to be digging deeper into your wallet. Plan for it, and take small comfort knowing that you’re still getting a (relatively) good deal compared to the old ways of finding new customers.
Put simply, if you don’t measure, you can’t get better. And it’s very easy to track the performance of all your online marketing investments. There’s the simple stuff like seeing how people are finding your site or calculating how much each AdWords conversion cost you.
But you should also use some of the more sophisticated options to measure and improve performance. Run split tests of conversion pages on your website using Google Analytics Experiments. Solicit user feedback using one of the dozens of website feedback tools. Track your new customers all the way back to find out what platforms and campaigns they came from, so you can tailor your investments and messaging accordingly.
All in all, we haven’t shared anything that’s a big revelation in this post. The eye opener is that, even with unbelievably fast technological change these days, you can continue to be very successful in your marketing effort by sticking to the fundamentals and avoiding distractions.
Photo credit: Joshua Earle