Anyone that gives you a definitive answer on when you can expect to see improved digital marketing results from your content marketing strategy is lying to you. The truth is, there’s no set amount of time you should wait to start seeing your metrics shoot up and to the right. Digital marketing, in the early stages, is about discipline and fortitude.
Sure, there’s plenty of SEO hacks that can give you a bump — but this success is neither scaleable nor sustainable. A quick hack is great for a little bump in your metrics, but eventually the “success” will subside. And worst of all, there’s only so many quick and dirty tricks out there. Eventually you will run out of these quick hacks. Only through discipline and fortitude will you see results, that and setting the right expectations from the outset and creating a strong foundation on which to work from.
- What is Discipline?
Discipline is all about doing the hard work — doing what it takes to create the best foundation possible, aka building a website on a good CMS that allows you to report on all your lead generation efforts and conversion strategies and helps you identify your buyer persona and further comprehend their buyers journey. Discipline is also about content creation and then implementing the right tools, such as email marketing, to distribute that content.
- What is Fortitude?
Fortitude is forcing yourself to stick to the plan, even if the success hasn’t shown itself yet. It’s about the early months of making mistakes, failing and figuring out how to tweak your strategy. It’s about writing an article using a well researched keyword and seeing it begin to rank, but not seeing any results despite all that hard work. Fortitude is about dealing with your boss telling you the strategy isn’t working and that the metrics you’re showing them don’t matter and isn’t leading to more revenue. Fortitude is about holding off the naysayers and sticking to the plan.
The reason most companies who attempt some semblance of a digital marketing strategy never get close to realizing success is that they lack discipline and fortitude and most importantly, they never had the right foundation in the first place.
The Importance of Creating a Strong Digital Marketing Foundation
An astonishing number of businesses who attempt a content marketing strategy never even get close to tasting success because they give up too early. Below is a slide Moz’s Rand Fishkin used in his presentation Why Content Marketing Fails that perfectly illustrates the point in which most companies begin to give up on their digital marketing strategy.
While it’s only natural for you to want to see improved digital marketing results fast, the challenge with this is that there is an endless number of variables that can determine how and when your content marketing efforts will begin paying off. Again, the key is to create a program rooted in a solid foundation and to set expectations based off discipline and fortitude.
How to Build a Strong Foundation of Digital Marketing Success
Pouring the foundation of your digital marketing strategy can get a little messy in the early stages. This is because there are no shortcuts to success, especially when it comes to SEO. Laying the bricks of your digital marketing foundation requires setting up a program that follows best practices, doing the research to know what you’re up against, understanding keywords that will help you rank and creating a list of goals and objectives to shoot for.
But again, if you possess the discipline and fortitude to see things through without giving in, then you’ll eventually begin to realize results.
Asking yourself the following five objective questions will help you determine whether your digital marketing foundation is in good shape or whether you’re like all the others out there floundering in the online abyss — waiting for signs of life and leads from your content marketing efforts.
Is Your Website Optimized for Success?
Does your website stink? Is it just OK? Or is it ready to go?
This is the point in the process where you need to be able to hear the truth about your website. And because it is arguably one of your greatest assets, you need to be able to accept the truth about your website and do whatever is needed to fix it.
For these reasons, it’s crucial to audit your site to ensure it’s meeting current standards for SEO, user experience, and conversion rate optimization. Here’s a list of some of the things you should be looking at when taking a sincere audit of your website:
Asking yourself the questions mentioned above and conducting the appropriate audits on your website will lead you to a litany of realizations such as; Are your pages essentially just dead ends? Are you highlighting your most important offerings on the homepage? Do you have slow page loading times and broken links? Is your website responsive?
Conducting a sincere assessment of your website will most likely lead you to one of the following realizations:
- Your Website is in Great Shape — If this is the case then you possess a solid foundation to begin your digital marketing efforts. What are you waiting for?
- Your Website is in OK Shape — If this is the case then you likely need what is known as a “Book-End build” — which unlike a complete website redesign, involves only key elements of your website undergoing a redesign. This process entails redoing pages like your blog, homepage, contact us, conversion and thank you pages. Redesigning only the key marketing and service pages of your site will help strengthen your foundation and is a cost-effective alternative to a complete overhaul.
- Your Website is in Rough Shape — This is where you’ve accepted that your website is in rough shape and would benefit from a complete overhaul. This process involves redoing the entire framework of your site, redesigning every single page and employing a conversion strategy designed to drive traffic and convert leads into customers. The ultimate goal of every website redesign is to create a site that is easy to use, flexible, scalable and secure.
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway here is that if your website has areas that need significant improvement and looks and loads like it hasn’t been touched in years, now might be the time to consider a serious upgrade. If it’s manageable and only needs slight improvements here and there, perhaps a book-end build is best.
The next question to ask yourself is all about expectations.
How Are You Measuring Your Digital Marketing Success?
First of all, do you even know what success means? Have you defined what success means for your company? If not, this is where setting expectations based on goals and objectives is key.
Gone are the days of post-and-pray blogging or spamming inboxes with incessant emails. These days, you have to be strategic and highly targeted in your marketing tactics in order to see improved digital marketing results. And to be strategic, you need to track results.
Results you should be tracking include Traffic, Leads, and Customers. Sure, everyone wants to know about revenue, but you can’t do that until you fully understand where your traffic is coming from, who your leads are and ultimately how to make customers come back for more. Starting with this trio of metrics provides a good baseline on which to judge your success.
One of the main benefits of inbound digital marketing is the ability to track everything you do. Outbound marketing tactics like direct mailers and billboards take a lot of time and effort to create and distribute, and they don’t offer any usable marketing metrics in return. Since everything is online now, we’re able to see if the blood, sweat, and tears poured into marketing efforts actually even pays off.
But in order to measure these results, you’ll need to implement the right analytical tools first. This will be key to understanding what your baseline metrics are to set goals. Tracking everything from website traffic, to contact form leads, to email open rates will help identify what’s working well and where you need improvement.
Every website should have Google Analytics to track website traffic and other important metrics related to your website visitors. HubSpot is also a valuable tool for measuring SEO performance including page rankings and keyword volume.
Now let’s talk about the tactics you’re employing to achieve digital marketing success.
Are Your Digital Marketing Tactics Diversified?
It’s a common misconception that your company’s success can improve from focusing on just one tactic, like SEO.
Your digital marketing efforts should be divided into two main categories: Assets and Channels.
Assets are essentially the content you create on your site. This includes things like: blogs, news & events, marketing pages such as product and services pages, as well as premium content that is gated such as videos, infographics, eBooks, white papers, case studies, webinars etc.
Channels are things like lead nurture campaigns, email and blog subscription strategy, social media, PPC, SEO, etc.
Both assets and channels are complimentary of one another — meaning you should be using your channels and assets in concert of one another. The following example may help explain this best:
If you use Pay-Per-Click and decide that the words you are targeting are going to send people to your homepage, then you are essentially working in a silo. A homepage is a ubiquitous page that does nothing in terms of conversion. Sure, it’s the main page of your site, but it does nothing to push visitors closer to becoming a lead or converting. Conversely, if you are using PPC and decide that the words you are targeting are going to send people to a marketing page filled with conversion opportunities (aka an asset), then you are not connecting a channel and an asset — which will ultimately amplify your digital marketing efforts.
Placing all of your emphasis on only one area of digital marketing is sure to leave you with slow and inconsistent results. Your best bet is to follow a comprehensive approach to digital marketing with a well-planned content strategy that’s backed by solid SEO and distribution strategies. Sprinkling some paid promotions like Pay-Per-Click advertising on top of your content, email and social media strategy is also helpful to expand your reach and enhance brand notoriety.
But be careful not to limit yourself with the expectation that any tactic alone will be the key to achieving results.
So who’s going to help you employ these tactics? Who’s going to help you build your foundation? Who’s going to ensure you set realistic goals? This next question should help.
Are You Surrounding Yourself with the Right People?
The digital marketing agency you select to help you with your digital marketing efforts should be filled with experts across all channels.
The team you select should be a multi-disciplined team, with unique experts in their respective fields—design, development, SEO, content strategy, social media, brand development, etc. Is the owner or founders involved, and are they accessible to you? Does the team have a dedicated PPC person?
Additionally, make sure you take a look at their messaging and how they talk about themselves—do they speak your language? Do they address your needs? Check out their portfolio for experience with clients of your size (will they think you are too small or too big a client?), and even within your industry (will they be familiar with your challenges and experienced in solving them?). When you meet with them, is their presentation tailored to your needs—have they done their homework?
And once you’ve determined whether the team you are working with is the right fit, now it’s time to talk about the investment you’re willing to make.
Are You Investing Enough Into Your Digital Marketing Strategy?
When assessing your current digital marketing efforts, ask yourself if you’re giving it your all. Have you dedicated the right resources (people, time or budget) to your initiatives? Are you maximizing your digital marketing potential?
Like most things in business, the more you put into your digital marketing efforts, the more you can expect to get out of it. Any good marketing plan should include a mix of tactics that range from high effort to low effort, but not every business is ready to tackle their own digital marketing strategy by themselves. This is where digital marketing agencies come into play.
Through research, testing and analysis, the marketing agency that you choose to work with will be able to help you understand if you’re missing any opportunities that could support improved digital marketing results.
Examples of this would be: your agency understanding when a special promotion you’re sharing via email should be amplified by paid advertising, or when dedicating additional time towards A/B testing will help confirm the form make-up that converts the most with your audience.
Asking yourself the five questions above is critical to creating a solid foundation in which to build your digital marketing strategy. But only with discipline and fortitude will you truly be able to realize the success that drives traffic, creates leads and converts them into customers.
If you’re just getting started with your digital marketing efforts, an agency will be able to determine what opportunities are available for you and how you can best go about executing them to achieve your goals. Give us a shout and we’d be happy to go over the basics with you.