Over the past two months we’ve looked at the ins and outs of your digital marketing strategy, and the key elements to consider when constructing a successful website.
A successful website, of course, is one that guides visitors through a defined process, actively aiding your business in converting hard-earned traffic into leads and (ultimately) sales.
Anything else is a failure, a waste of time . . . a costly, empty and largely underutilised World Cup stadium in Polokwane (for example).
Alas, the famous saying, ‘build it and they will come,’ is not applicable in all instances, most notably to your company’s online presence.
You have a strategy in place, you have a killer website built – now you need feet.
There are several key disciplines that makeup an effective digital lead-acquisition and conversion strategy, and it can get a little confusing to know what will deliver the results that are right for your business.
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To make matters worse, industry service providers tend to throw acronyms around as if involved in a free-for-all digital food fight – with you, the client, trapped in the middle and getting smacked about the head with phrases like SEO, SEM, PPC, CPM, CPC, CTR and such.
Everyone promises the world but what that ‘world’ represents is often not clear – and it can cost you a lot of money before some semblance of clarity is achieved.
For the sake of sanity, then, allow me to quickly explain some of digital marketing’s main disciplines in plain language.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is a collective term for all technical and marketing work required to increase a website’s visibility on Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing etc.). This includes organic and paid search options, which we will touch on below.
SEO = Search Engine Optimisation
Is activity that influences where your website ranks when Internet users search for products or services that relate to your industry and expertise. This type of traffic is referred to as ‘organic’ traffic and often delivers superior quality leads as the prospect was already actively looking for a solution that you (hopefully) provide.
SEO is a constantly evolving and ongoing process.
You can’t ‘SEO’ your website and leave it there. It’s a consistent optimisation exercise, driven by many factors that keep your website in with a winning chance of being found, as and when a search query is launched.
What your SEO service provider should promise is to ensure that all the boxes are checked regarding your keyword research and the usual website necessities (such as page title tags, Meta tags, XML site map submissions, Google Maps Submissions).
From there your provider should work with you to ensure that relevant content is regularly added and optimised – and that your website keeps performing optimally with regards to Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines’ constantly evolving algorithms.
- These algorithms are the computer programmes that search engines use to read websites in order to deliver the most relevant results to web users’ search queries
- These change, often
SEO is not a simple thing. It’s a constant, scientific, labour-intensive exercise that requires a high-level of expertise – if you want to do it right, that is.
PPC = Pay Per Click (Advertising)
PPC (also called Cost-Per-Click) deals directly with advertisements placed on search engines, with Google’s AdWords Programme the most popular.
As with SEO, there are many aspects that contribute towards a successful, cost-effective PPC campaign – the most critical being:
- Where the advertisement appears (ranked according to several criteria)
- How the advertisement performs in terms of Click-Through Rate (how many people click on your ad)
- How much you are paying every time someone clicks on your ad (The Cost-Per-Click or CPC)
- How effectively you convert that lead once he/she has clicked through. (landing page optimisation)
- How much you are paying to convert the visitor into a lead. (The Cost-Per-Lead or CPL)
Each of these aspects requires technical skill, expertise, professional application and effective implementation in order to deliver a campaign that is optimised to deliver the best possible results.
Failing to do so will lead to your PPC budget disappearing into thin air – quickly.
GDN = Google Display Network (Display Marketing)
Not just on Google, of course, but the same principle applies across Yahoo, Bing and other search engines and, here, we are basically talking about banner advertising.
Effective Display Advertisements are tailored according to a user’s browsing history (also known as remarketing).
Remarketing is about matching the right display message to the right audience. So if you own a car dealership and “Frikkie” was on your website previously, he will see your advertisements appear on other (relevant) websites.
You are basically following “Frikkie’s” online activity with your marketing message.
Performance is everything.
A successful lead acquisition strategy requires expertise in 4 key areas:
- Analytics and Reporting.
Each of the above core disciplines has subsets of activities, all geared to delivering the best possible leads at the lowest possible cost to you.
Whichever service provider you choose to assist with your campaigns, you need to make sure that you are spending money on the right activities and getting the very best bang for your buck.
Executed well it’s a science that will deliver bankable results – and the “feet” you need to reach your business goals.
Your next job, of course, is converting those leads into prospects and, ultimately, new business. Nurturing your leads through their individual buying cycle from “needs awareness” to “close” is a whole other ballgame however, and something I will address in great detail later in this series.