In 2011, Google released its newest website ranking algorithm, known as Google Panda. This launch was smarter, more discerning, and more critical than any of Google’s previous algorithms. Initially, Panda threw the search marketing world into a tailspin, because many of the reputations painstakingly built by search marketing teams were suddenly void under the new ranking system. Many sites that had enjoyed steady traffic suddenly experienced epic falls thanks to changes implemented by Panda. In the year and a half since the release, search teams have adapted and rebounded – learning the important lesson that nothing in search marketing is secure.
Paid search advertising has not been without controversy and the issue of how search engines present advertising on their search result pages has been the target of a series of studies and reports by Consumer Reports WebWatch. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also issued a letter in 2002 about the importance of disclosure of paid advertising on search engines, in response to a complaint from Commercial Alert, a consumer advocacy group with ties to Ralph Nader.
I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don't have a clear strategic goal for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don't have goals with SMART digital marketing objectives you likely don't put enough resources to reach the goals and you don't evaluate through analytics whether you're achieving those goals.
Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer's journey. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above, throughout an inbound marketing strategy, to create a customer experience that works with the customer, not against them. Here are some classic examples of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing:
Search engine marketing is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.
During the baby boom era, Kellogg’s began selling sugary cereal to children. With this change in business model came sociable animal mascots, lively animated commercials and the back of the cereal box as a form of targeted content marketing. Infographics were born in this era. This represented a new approach to make a brand memorable with the audience.
Google is now a familiar term for everyone from kindergarteners to octogenarians. As the number of websites increased exponentially throughout the mid-1990s, search engine platforms like Google were developed to help people find the information they were looking for quickly. Over time, they developed highly complex algorithms, determining which websites should be given the most weight (and the highest results) for each search term typed in.
Customers are often researching online and then buying in stores and also browsing in stores and then searching for other options online. Online customer research into products is particularly popular for higher-priced items as well as consumable goods like groceries and makeup. Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to look up product information, compare prices, and search for deals and promotions.
In my experience, a common challenge is where to start drawing up your digital marketing plan. I think there is a fear that a massive report is required, but we believe that lean planning works best. Your plan doesn't need to be a huge report, a strategy can best be summarized in two or three sides of A4 in a table linking digital marketing strategies to SMART objectives within our RACE planning framework. We recommend creating a lean digital plan based on our 90-day planning templates to implement your digital plan rapidly to gain traction. You can learn more in our free download.
With that understanding of marketing in mind, let's turn now to the focal point of an effective campaign--the consumer. People will have different ideas and beliefs at different times. For example, among smokers, some may not believe smoking is that bad for them, others might understand the risks but not care, still others may not want to take the effort to stop smoking, and a final group of smokers may be actively trying to quit. A social marketing campaign will see all of these beliefs (and their related actions) as part of a continuum, and try to move people along to the next step.
Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I'm sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. But I'm equally sure that many are missing opportunities for better targeting or optimization, or are suffering from the other challenges I've listed below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organizations who most urgently need governance.
Website saturation and popularity, or how much presence a website has on search engines, can be analyzed through the number of pages of the site that are indexed by search engines (saturation) and how many backlinks the site has (popularity). It requires pages to contain keywords people are looking for and ensure that they rank high enough in search engine rankings. Most search engines include some form of link popularity in their ranking algorithms. The following are major tools measuring various aspects of saturation and link popularity: Link Popularity, Top 10 Google Analysis, and Marketleap's Link Popularity and Search Engine Saturation.
Before we discuss social marketing further, however, it's important to have a grasp on the principles of commercial marketing, since that is what it's based on. As community health workers, or members of non-profit organizations, the idea might seem a bit odd. We're used to a completely different mindset. Terms like "marketing" may conjure up images of big business and corporate greed; they certainly don't make us think of programs to try to help our neighbors.
SEO Specialists take care of the bulk of search marketing behind-the-scenes work. They ensure that their websites are optimized to attract and engage the largest amount of applicable visitors who will eventually convert into customers. They do so by making sure that the website’s branded content across all platforms leads Internet users to their offerings by building search engine rank, reputation, and traffic.
Speaking of what they termed "social change campaigns", Kotler and Ned Roberto introduced the subject by writing, "A social change campaign is an organized effort conducted by one group (the change agent) which attempts to persuade others (the target adopters) to accept, modify, or abandon certain ideas, attitudes, practices or behavior." Their 1989 text was updated in 2002 by Philip Kotler, Ned Roberto and Nancy Lee. In 2005, University of Stirling was the first university to open a dedicated research institute to Social Marketing, while in 2007, Middlesex University became the first university to offer a specialized postgraduate programme in Health & Social Marketing.
Understanding the working mechanism of social algorithms is not a piece of cake. The algorithm for each social platform works differently. For instance, on Facebook, a core factor that affects the rankings of a post is its relevancy score, whereas on YouTube the total watch time of the video per session decides whether a video enters a ‘Recommended Video’ section or not.
Promoting your cause doesn't need to take a lot of money. It can also take place through less costly methods, such as good old-fashioned word of mouth. Convincing people through a one-on-one conversation can be just as effective at changing someone's point of view as the best made commercial, or even more so. (Think about it. Which would make you get a tetanus booster: a television commercial or a suggestion from your doctor?) Word of mouth is a highly desirable part of social marketing.
Back end tools like Google Analytics and HTML validators measure the success of a website by providing data on visitors. More than just counting traffic, these sophisticated back end tools can reveal important information about specific web pages and how they’re being used. Once a search team knows where they’re gaining and losing website visitors, they can target their keywords to fill those holes.
Today, organic marketing does not exist in Social Media and in SEO. Even if you somehow manage to rank first on the search results for a specific word, how many resources did it take you? how many resources will it take you to maintain this ranking against eager competitors? your time is money, and many businesses spend way too much time trying to rank for keywords or trying to grow their social media page organically.