ICE(S)…THE CAKE TO DIGITAL MARKETING

close up of woman in bakery decorating cake with icing

Digital Marketing – what is it? And what do you need to know to succeed in it today.

Is it the same thing as Internet or Online Marketing? The answer is yes, and no. And yes, I know the grammar in the title is wrong…it will make sense as you read the post. 🙂

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as follows:

Digital marketing is marketing that makes use of electronic devices such as personal computers, smartphones, tablets and game consoles to engage with an audience. Digital marketing applies technologies or platforms such as websites, e-mail, apps and social networks. Digital Marketing can be through Non-internet channels like TV, Radio, SMS, etc or through Internet channels like Social Media, E-mails ads, Websites, etc. Digital marketing extends beyond internet marketing to include channels that do not require the use of the internet.

So, it includes online and internet marketing but more. I like to think of it as….if it involves pixels and it is marketing then it is digital marketing. OK, so now we have the perfunctory definition out of the way let’s talk a little about using some of the different aspects to grow our brand and our business in this very noisy digital world.

PLAN TO SUCCEED

I know, I know, if you have been reading my blog posts over the past few years you will perhaps believe by now that I might have beaten this one to death.

Nope. Because I still see almost every day so many business aimlessly floating around in the digital sea, bobbing up and down, with no land in sight, no rudder to steer them and no fishing gear or bait in sight.

Pardon the floating on the ocean fishing analogy. I was just sitting at my desk thinking of my next trip down south…it is currently minus 17 outside….so perhaps you understand.

But I digress.

I speak with far too many businesses that have a “mobile friendly” website, a twitter account with no activity and 12 followers, a Facebook account that has little to do with their business and no leads in their pipeline….nothing!

They say to me “everyone goes online now when doing their research why are they not coming to my website and why is my phone not ringing”.

There is obviously just too much competition now.

I will let you in on a little secret….there has always been competition….there will always be competition.

Deal with it.

To be successful online, or anywhere else for that matter, you must have a plan and you must work that plan. And as Seth Godin so aptly states, “the best time to get started was a year ago, the second best time is now”.

So where do you start, what does it take to succeed in our digital world today?

ICES, as in ices the cake. (This is where I tie it back in to the post title. 🙂 )

Yes, that is correct ICES – my acronym. I love acronyms. I always look for them to help me remember important things.

So, let’s discuss the “I” in ICES first – it stands for Indexibility. And please, before you all write to tell me that there is no such word – this is “my” word to describe the state your website needs to be in.

HAVE A FRIENDLY WEBSITE

Your website must be easy to understand from two points of view. Two very different perspectives.

And what does that mean?

It means that your website must be as “search engine” and “user” friendly as absolutely possible. Here is how human beings see websites. (This is also a shameless plug for another business that I own, AIS Solutions. 🙂 )

We see colours, images, text, etc.

AIS website

However, this is how the search engine sees that very same website. It can only read text. It does not see colours or images and so it is in the text that we must explain to the search engine very clearly what is on this web page. And we do that primarily through SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

ais code view

Using best practices SEO such as accurate, descriptive and unique Page titles, well written unique meta descriptions containing a call to action, no broken links (both internal and external), well written content unique to each web page, images that contain descriptive Alt tags and a clear semantic structure containing correct H1, H2 header tags. This is how we help the search engine understand. Now you don’t need to know all these fancy words, but you do need someone helping you with your website that does understand them.

In other words, everything has been done to make it as easy as possible for the search engine to understand what this website is all about and then to index it accordingly.

Now, from the user or human being standpoint we must do the following as well as possible such as, the navigation must be clear, easy to follow and logical, fonts and colours must be combined so that reading the content is not painful to your eyeballs (try to minimize chartreuse and hot pink), layout each page so that you make it very clear what this page is all about, make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and even easier to get in touch with you if they need to do so. Make sure at a minimum your website is “responsive design” so it can be viewed easily on any device computers, tablets and smartphones. Depending upon your type of business you may or may not require a separate “mobile website”. But that is a topic all unto itself.

So that is the “I” from ICES. Now let’s take a look at the “C”.

CONTENT TO ATTRACT

And the “C” stands for Content.

RULE 1 – Always create your content (text, video, audio, images) for the benefit of the website user first. Period. End of Story.

The days of gaming or tricking the system (search engines), like stuffing keywords to try to gain some advantage are long gone. The search engines are simply too smart today…and getting smarter by the hour.

NOTE: Last year it is estimated that the Google search engine made over 400 changes to their algorithm to improve its effectiveness. That is more than one per day, every day!!!

Never forget that it is people that visit your website, it is people we do business with – we build relationships with people – not search engines.

It is also very important to realize that creating content alone is not enough.

We are creating it for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to attract attention and visitors. So, if content is king then what is attention? Supreme Ruler? (My wife would say that it would be Queen :-) ) Remember, content that does not get you attention, is a waste of time.

Another favourite term for content is viral. What do I need to do to make my stuff go viral?

Easy. If you want to create content that will go viral – in other words people outside of your network are talking about it and it is spreading through WOM (Word of Mouth) then you MUST make sure you create something that is worth talking about.

And now for the letter “E”.

BE AN EXPERT

And the “E” stands for Expert or Expertise.

One thing you should always be trying to do is to demonstrate your expertise in areas of importance to you and your business.

I am often told, “there are already lots of people talking about this subject, why will people listen to me, or be interested in what I have to say?”

Simple really. Your unique voice. Nobody will talk about your subject in exactly the same way you will. They don’t have your life experiences, your career experiences, or perhaps your sarcastic wit. It is your journey through life that makes you unique and it is also what will make your voice different.

Some content topics that will help demonstrate your expertise might cover things like:

A “How To” list – people love learning about new things and how to develop new skills
A white paper or case study as to how you helped a particular person or business with a solution you provided
An ebook is also a great way of demonstrating your in-depth knowledge on a topic – people just naturally assume that because you have written a book then you must know what you are talking about :-) It worked for me.
Your voice, your personality, your knowledge and experience are the things that separate you from the crowd. Use them.

Help yourself, by helping others, by sharing your expertise.

Once you are perceived as an expert in your field you will be amazed at the good things that will come your way.

And now for the last one, the letter “S”.

BE SOCIAL

And yes, you guessed correctly, the “S” stands for Social Media.

But where do you start?

Well I think it was the great Zig Ziglar that said “you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great”. So start.

Social Media is a powerful means of sharing content with your audience, building awareness of your brand, creating a community and being able to communicate with your group (Seth Godin calls them your “tribe”).

If you are in the B2B (Business to Business – meaning your company does business with other companies) space then you must start with LinkedIn. It is the largest social network for professionals in existence. And a second choice for B2B might be YouTube. There are others. Just start with LinkedIn.

If you do business directly with consumers (B2C) then the best place to start is probably Facebook, just because of sheer numbers. But Facebook is not your only option. For example, if your products are visual and you target a female demographic then Pinterest might be the best option.

If you want to learn more about how to pick the right social channel for your business then read this recent post I did on “Choosing the Right Social Channel for your Business

The most important thing is to not start out trying to use every social channel in existence because the odds are very good that you will end up not doing any of them well. Pick one. Learn it well and get it working for you and your business.

When you are happy with the results then move to a second one and so on. You might find that doing one channel well is all you need. There are many success stories of businesses that have been built exclusively through social media, often specializing on just one channel or platform.

CONCLUSION

And there you have it, the ICES on the cake. So, now my grammar error in the title makes complete sense!

This article is not meant to be the definitive step-by-step guide to online success. It is only meant to provide an overview of what you should be thinking about and how to get started in digital marketing.

There are many great blogs that can give you more detail on specific topics for example Social Media Examiner is a great resource for everything social,Content Marketing Institute has lots of great content (sorry :-) ), but they are certainly not the only place to look, and for SEO or optimizing your website you can start with Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Land.

One last piece of advice, and this probably should have been at the beginning since it may very well be one of the most important. Make sure you install some type of analytics software on your website. Google Analytics is the obvious one since it is free. But there are others.

Analytics will give you more data, more information than you may ever need, but what it will tell you is how people are behaving on your website. Are they doing what you expected? Are they visiting the pages you want them to and for how long? What is bringing them to your website? All of this information is invaluable in helping you refine and improve your digital marketing strategy.

I wish you much success and always good marketing. Until next time.

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