A recent story from one of our new clients provided a salutary lesson when it comes to online platforms for your marketing communication and wider online services from hosting your marketing content.
Ongoing to his blog one morning, a blog that formed the core of his marketing story, it had gone. Replaced instead by an error message! On investigation, he discovered that some changes made by the platform meant his blog was no longer compatible with there system. Whilst in this case he was able to make changes to bring it back to life, it made him think about the level of control he had over his marketing! Whilst we will come back to this story later, I think the story prompts a broader question.
Are you in control of your Marketing?
To answer this, we must first look at what tools you have available for your online marketing, and the control you have over them. In doing this, I would like to look at 5 key tools:
- Your Website
- Search Marketing (SEO)
- Paid Search Advertising
- Social Media
All of these probably play a part in your marketing mix, but they are very different. Especially in the level of control you have over them.
Search marketing (SEO and paid)
Search marketing is important. Look at your stats, and for most businesses, a significant proportion of traffic will be coming from search. but search comes in many flavours. so lets look at these:
Optimisation of your site to maximise the chance google will list your page in its natural listings – Whilst it is good practice to optimise your pages for this. in my view spending significant time and effort “optimising” your site is not a good use of resources as, firstly to have a significant effect, the amount of resource required is outside the scope of most small businesses. GOOD SEO is expensive and at the whim of the search engine algorithms. Once change by them can wipe out your efforts at a stroke. That said, ensuring you understand how people search and making sure you reflect this in your content (Yoast is a great WordPress tool for this), should be central to your Content Strategy.
Paid Search Advertising – If you are looking to get your site well listed on search engines, then the best option is probably to pay for those listings through advertising, taking this approach means your can, using Google Analytics, easily assess the efficacy of your campaigns through monitoring how much you are spending, and the impact this is having in terms of sales or website. Whilst campaigns need careful monitoring to ensure their effectiveness. Paid advertising is a much more controllable tool and one where search engine companies are much more interested in supporting you in making your campaigns work for you.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media! I don’t like it because you have very little control over it, and changes made by Social media platforms can have significant impacts on your marketing. But in reality, it can be a great tool if used appropriately.
I think the key when considering social media, it to use it for what it is – A tool to get your message in front of people. The message itself should not, in my opinion, be hosted on a social media platform. My reasoning is two-fold. By making your content exclusive to a platform:
- You immediately exclude anyone who does not use it.
- You become totally dependant on that platform, and if they make changes that negatively impact your marketing (as in the story that started this post) You have little recourse other than totally shifting your strategy, which can take time.
For some businesses, this may be a risk worth taking. But it should be considered when using a single social media platform to deliver all your marketing.
Many people think that email is old hat and irrelevant in the age of social media marketing, but I disagree. Whilst there is no doubt that it role has changed over the last few years. I believe it still has a significant role to play.
But that’s another post – once which we will be publishing over the next couple of weeks, so watch this space
Finally, we come to your Website. This is THE most important tool in your kitbag. It is the one over which you have close to complete control. Furthermore, because everyone uses a web browser, it’s the one place where you can put your marketing message that everyone, irrespective of which social media or search engine they use, will be able to access. I would suggest that even if it is a simple homepage stating what you do and how to contact you, you should have a website.
Coming back to the story that started this post. The solution to their problem was to refocus their marketing onto a WordPress website. Though this move their content was available once more, and on a platform over which they have control. Furthermore, the fact that they now control the platform means that they have the scope to develop their offering. Allowing them to be driven by their marketing strategy, rather than by the functionality of the platform hosting it.
We talk more about websites as a marketing tool in this podcast on the subject
The Marketing Mix
When I did my formal marketing training, more years ago than I care to remember, “The Marketing Mix” was one of the stars of the show. Today, though I suspect it will have a different name, I am sure this is still the case. To be effective, marketing needs to be varied and use a mix of the tools available.
- Understand your market. Who is it that you can add value to through your products & services
- Next, develop your message. Without a clear understanding of how you add value and how to communicate this, you are unlikely to b successful
- Then spread the word. Only once these two are clear should you start thinking about communication tools like search and social media. When you do, you should focus on how they add value, and risks arise from focusing on anyone.
Follow these steps, and even if the goalposts do move, you should be able to adapt your strategy.
As always, if this post has made you think about your marketing, and you would like some help, get in touch