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Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 2)

In this guide, I want to take the opportunity to explain to you exactly what SEO and SEM is and how it can help you take your business to a whole new level if done correctly.

Jandre de Beer

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In this guide, I want to take the opportunity to explain to you exactly what SEO and SEM is and how it can help you take your business to a whole new level if done correctly.

But first, some stats.

Fact #1: Over 90% of all online experiences start with a search engine.

Fact #2: Google receives over 100 billion searches each month according to Mashable.

Fact #3: 61% Of all marketers, feel that improving their company or business SEO is one of their top priorities.

Fact #4: 81% Of shoppers, research a service or product online before making a purchase

Fact #5: 72% Of local customers, perform a search before they visit a store in their area.

Fact #6: Local searches can lead 50% of mobile visitors to a store in one day.

Looking at these stats, it is clearly evident, that any business whether offline or online utilising search engines is essential.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

The 3 Most Popular Search Engines

google-search-engine

GOOGLE

Google is by far the most popular search engine, in fact, over 68% of people use Google as their primary search engine.

Google accounts for approx. over 96% of all mobile search traffic globally!

When it comes to the desktop, Google accounts for over 81% of all desktop search traffic and the rest is divided between Bing, Baidu, and Yahoo.

YAHOO

Yahoo used to be one of the more popular search engines in the late 90’s.

Today however, Yahoo is making little to no impact on the search market as they are only responsible for approx. 1.2% of mobile searches globally, and on desktop they are responsible for 7% of all global searches.

BING

Bing was founded in 2009 and like Yahoo, it’s not really making an impact on the search market.

Which Search Engine Should You Put Your Time and Money Into?

I would suggest that all efforts should be aimed at increasing your company’s visibility in the worlds most popular search engine, and that would be Google.

 This where you are going to get the best ROI.

Improving SEO To Help Grow Your Business in South Africa

business-growth

In Part 1 of the Beginner’s Guide, I mentioned how important it is to ensure you appear on the first page of Google.

The percentage of people that actually view the second page of a Google search results is little to none, and more than two-thirds of all clicks go to the first five search results in Google.

To improve your business rankings, take a step back and find out how a search engine actually works.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur looking to take your business to a whole new level, then this part is especially for you.

How Search Engines Work

One thing to understand is that if you are searching something in Google, you aren’t searching the web, you are searching Google’s index of the web (or at least as much information as they could index).

With that said, if your business or company’s details are not in the Google’s index, then you are missing out.

Google indexes as many websites as they can, but it’s up to the owners or web masters of the company to make it easy for Google to find.

Google is able to find this information and display it on the web through the use of “Google spiders”.

Spiders are bots designed by Google whose sole purpose is to crawl the web and index the information they can find.

In return, when you search for example, “How high is Mount Everest?”, Google then goes into its index and finds every page that includes those keywords.

In this case, there would be over a thousand different results, so, how does Google decide which pages to show first?

They do that by asking over 200 different questions like:

  1. How many times does the page contain the specific keywords?
  2. Do the keywords appear in the title, header tags, and URL?
  3. Does the page include synonyms for those words?
  4. Is the page from a quality website or is it low quality?
  5. Does the page look spammy?
  6. What’s the page’s page rank?
  7. Does this page have any links pointing to it?

Related: Basics Of SEO For Businesses And Brands

These are just some of the questions Google needs to ask itself before compiling all the information and determining each page’s overall score.

The amazing thing, is that this all happens in half a second after you submit your search!

To make your page appear on the first page of Google, you need to ensure that you take all these questions into consideration each time you publish a page or create a website.

And this is where Search Engine Optimisation comes in.

Now that you have an idea of how search engines work, let’s look at the two main ways to optimise your page or website for search engines.

On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO, What Is The Difference?

onpage-offpage-seo

ON-PAGE SEO

On-page SEO is basically what the title suggests.

It’s optimizing the page you want to rank for and improving key elements on the page that is connected to Google’s ranking factors.

This would include the headline of the page, page structure, content, etc.

OFF-PAGE SEO

These are Google ranking factors that aren’t necessarily under your control. For example, the total amount of social media mentions, websites linking to your site, the authority of your site and more.

The Most Important Factors Of On-Page SEO

WEBSITE ARCHITECTURE

Your website structure, in my opinion, is definitely one of the most essential ranking factors.

If it’s not designed and correctly, Google won’t be able to access your content.

You might have all the necessary information on your site to help customers understand your services and products, but if your website is not designed to allow Google’s spiders to crawl your content, then your website might as well not exist.

If you are like me, then you are probably not a web developer, and this can get overly technological, however, bear with me, as I will try and make this as simple as possible.

In a nutshell, the more your website is accessible to Google, the better you will rank.

1.1. It’s All about the user experience (UX), so make sure to put the user first

user-experience

1.1.1 SEARCH AND BROWSING YOUR WEBSITE

Google is always trying to find ways to benefit its users, and if your website is not designed in a fashion where someone has a great UX when they are visiting your site, then sooner or later that will come back to haunt you.

The first order of business is to ensure that your website is easy to understand a.k.a user-friendly.

Make sure people can easily find the content they came for.

One of my favourite things to do is to ensure that the search bar is prominent on the webpage ,thus you can use the search bar to find what you are looking for.

1.1.2 KEEP YOUR SITE SIMPLE

Research has shown that if a website page is filled with banners, different colors, pop ups, and menus, people end up leaving it within seconds.

Why? Because they are overwhelmed with what is happening on the page.

Think about it like this, liken it to going shopping for a printer. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the shop?

You look for a capable professional to help you. You do this because, if it were up to you to browse through all the printers and pick the best one suited to your needs, and most likely end up being overwhelmed and buy the wrong one.

The same rules apply to your website, you need to ensure that your website is not overwhelming. It needs to be user friendly and efficient.

Related: No Money, No Problem: 17 Free Ways To Boost Your Website’s SEO

1.1.3 ENSURE YOUR SITE IS MOBILE FRIENDLY

With more and more people using their smartphones to browse the web, it’s essential that you ensure you cater for them.

Google has also released a few major press statements confirming that they are planning on improving the user experience on mobile.

Improving user experience is one of the major driving forces behind  the project “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)”.

Search Engine Land has confirmed that nearly 60% of all searches are now happening on mobile devices.

Here is a breakdown of the what percentage of users that are searching on mobile devices

  • Food and Beverage = 72%
  • Health = 68%
  • Sports = 68%
  • News and Media = 64%
  • Lifestyle = 62%
  • Automotive = 62%

There are different ways to check if your website is mobile friendly, but my favourite is Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

You can add your website URL in the available field and see what Google has to say about your website.

Make sure to send the report to your developer if you see that it’s not a 100%, as I can guarantee that it’s affecting your rankings.

1.2. Make It Easy For Google To Crawl

easy-website-crawling

Like I mentioned before, the better “the spiders” can crawl and index your website, the better it can report back to Google.

SITEMAPS

A sitemap is a simple way of allowing search engines to understand your site structure.

See it as a roadmap to where you have saved the most important content you want users to find when they are searching the internet.

If you have a developer, make sure to confirm with him or her that they have uploaded a sitemap to Google and other search engines.

1.3. Speed Matters

When was the last time you stuck around longer than 10 seconds to wait for a web page to load?

The chances are you can’t remember. It’s a fact that we have less patience in a world where everything is instant.

On average, if a web page loads longer than 5 seconds, visitors start getting annoyed.

The sad thing is, it’s not only the visitors that get annoyed, but it’s also Google’s spiders that need to crawl your website.

A website loads slowly due to clutter in the code, high-res images, and unnecessary scripts.

With that in mind, the spiders struggle to crawl through all the clutter and eventually leaves before getting to the most relevant content.

A fast loading web page increases the experience of the user and allows the spiders to get to its core content which can then assist Google in indexing your website.

I usually use Google’s Speed Test Tool to ensure that my website is on par.

Like the Mobile Friendly Test, just add your URL in the field and see what Google has to say.

If you aren’t happy with the results, make sure to pass it on to your developer to look at, as there is no doubt that it’s affecting your SEO.

1.4. Keywords and URLS

I’m sure you know what a URL is, but even if you don’t, it’s the link you want visitors to click on to visit the specific web page you want them to see.

Keywords play a significant role in SEO, especially when it comes to the URL. They can help Google identify what the link is all about without having to crawl it.

Often I browse a site and and have a look at its URL, and most of the time the URL is something like, www.domainname.co.za/2016/09/12/store/products/77654

If you were a Google spider, what would you think this link is all about?

We see it as a store selling product, but looks are deceiving.

What if it were something like this, www.domainname.co.za/store/shoes/nike/nike-tanjun-running-shoe

Without even having to think about it for too long, we can immediately see that this company is selling shoes, and the page they want us to view is a Nike Tanjun Running Shoe.

The keywords here are the category name which in this case is “shoes”, the brand name which is “Nike” and the shoe name which is “Tanjun Running Shoe”.

This is easy to understand, not only for the user but also for the Google spider crawling your website.

Make sure to have a look at your website’s link structure, if it’s not similar to what I’ve indicated above, then make sure to ask your developer to look into it.

CONTENT AND HTML

Now that you have the basic website structure under control, it’s time to make a move on the content.

It’s difficult to differentiate the importance of one component over the other. In my experience content is the main entity that gets indexed and without it nothing will be crawled.

I believe it’s structure first, and then content.

Back in 1996, Bill Gates said that “content is king”. And he was right.

Related: 5 SEO Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

Think about it like this:

Google is all about the user experience. To keep its users happy, it needs to give them what they are searching for.

If they can do that by showing the most relevant content related to the users question first, the higher the chances of the user using Google again next time.

This is where the quality of your content comes in.

website-quality

2.1. Quality

As a local business or e-commerce store, you need to ensure your pages provide value to its visitors.

What do I mean by this? Well, if someone is visiting a page on your website, the chances are he or she is looking for something.

In most cases, it might be a product or more info related to your services. This is your opportunity to provide value.

2.1.1 HOW TO ADD MORE VALUE?

One simple way to do this is to visit your competitor’s website. What are they offering that adds value to the visitor/potential customer?

  1. Do they explain the product or service in-depth which helps convince the user to make a purchase?
  2. Do they provide extra tips and tricks on how to use the product or service to get the best bang for buck?
  3. Maybe they already address all the question the visitor might have of the product before the visitor even thought of it.

If they are not doing this, ask yourself, why aren’t you doing it? This is your chance to go the extra mile and add more value. I have no doubt that it’s going to help not only increase conversions, but also boost your SEO.

2.2. Keywords

Keywords are not such a big ranking factor as it used to be. However, it’s still important.

A keyword is a specific term you want to rank for when people are searching the internet.

If you are selling shoes, then your keyword would be “shoes.”

However, due to the competitiveness of the online world, long-tail keywords are becoming more popular.

Long-tail keywords are keywords that are more specific.

If you mainly stock Nike shoes, and you know people love the Tanjun Running Shoe, then your long-tail keyword would be “Men’s Nike Tanjun Running Shoe.”

This helps target more specific customers and can help increase conversions rates as well as overall SEO.

2.3 Bringing content and keywords together

You can rank for as many keywords as you want, but you will have to ensure you have the necessary content to support the keywords you want to rank for.

You can’t expect to rank for “Men’s Nike Tanjun Running Shoe” if you don’t have a page showcasing the shoe or actually stock it.

Another example is, if you want to rank for “Best Hairdresser in Bedfordview,” you need to ensure that your website and content supports that.

  1. Do you have a web page explaining why you are the best?
  2. Do you have a page with customers testimonials proving why you are the best?

No? Then how are you planning on convincing customers and Google that you are the best?

The better your content can support your keywords, the better you will rank in Google, the more you will outrank competitors and the more new business you will be driving your way.

This concludes the basics of on-page SEO. By no means are these the only factors involved in improving your SEO.

But by ensuring you have these basics covered, I can guarantee that you would start to see a growth in organic traffic in a few months.

The 3 Most Important Factors of Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO

In the beginning of the article I’ve roughly mentioned what off-page SEO is all about, now let’s dig into how it affects your SEO.

TRUST

This is actually simple but think about it like this. Where do you take your car for a service whenever it’s time for a fix-up?

The chances are, the car dealer you bought the car from, or alternatively, someone you trust.

The same goes with ranking higher in Google. Google will rank the page it trusts higher than the page it doesn’t.

1. How do you improve Google’s trust

Google likes websites with authority, and if your website has a low authority score, the chances are Google doesn’t trust it too much.

Two factors that determine your overall authority

1.1.1 Domain Authority – How popular your domain is, and how well-known it is in its space.

1.1.2 Page Authority – Which has got to do with the credibility of a single page.

If you want to view your website’s domain authority, have a look at this link.

Usually, a new domain has a score of 0 out of a 100. The majority of websites on the web has a domain authority score of 0-20.

Anything higher than 20 tells Google that your domain can be trusted, then it’s just a matter of how much.

Websites with an authority score of 100 out of 100 are usually companies like Facebook, Google, Youtube, etc. These are the most popular and trusted pages on the web.

Most universities and governmental websites usually have an authority score of 70 to 80 out of a 100.

You can always use that link to see what your competitor’s authority scores are. That will give you an indication if they are trusted more than you by Google.

Factors that can Affect Your Domain Authority

Domain Authority

Bounce Rate – A bounce rate is someone that visited one page, and not another. This tells Google that the website was not as impressive or interesting and caused the user to leave after only one visit.

Now you can start to see how user experience plays a role in bounce rate. And that eventually plays a role in domain authority.

Domain Age – It’s sad, but if your website is new, you will, unfortunately, have to start at the bottom like all the others.

Links – Links can play a significant role in your domain authority. If high authority websites are linking back to you and if you are linking out to authoritative websites then the chances are your own domain authority will increase.

Think about it like this,  who would you rather take a restaurant recommendation from? Your best friend, or a stranger?

Google works in the same fashion. If a high authoritative website links out to you, it’s telling Google that this website can be trusted.

SOCIAL POPULARITY

The more people you have following you on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., the more it can help benefit your SEO.

The two main factors that play a role here are:

The Number of Shares – This is the total amount of shares a page or website receives.

If your Men’s Nike Tanjun Running Shoe page has received over 500 shares, it tells Google that this page is popular and people enjoy its content.

That’s in a nutshell how a number of shares can play a role in off-page search engine optimization.

The Quality of Shares – I’ve talked about getting high authoritative backlinks from other websites, well, this is similar to that but just related to social shares.

Even though the number of shares plays a role, the quality of those shares is even more important.

Here are two easy ways to get more people to share your content

 

  1. Have a look at sponsoring key influencers in your industry
  2. Produce quality content that adds value to customers

USER PREFERENCE

Maybe you are not aware, but if you visit a website frequently, the chances are whenever you are searching something relevant to the company or business, the higher its pages will rank in your search results.

Google’s algorithms are intelligent enough to know when you are visiting a website frequently. If you are visiting it often, it must mean it offers some value to you.

With that in mind, if the search term you are searching for falls in line with the companies organic keywords, Google would allow it to appear higher in your search results.

There is no way of forcing people to visit your website often, but by producing quality content and offering them a ton of value, I can guarantee you they will be coming back soon or later.

Please keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving your business and website’s SEO.

By ensuring you keep what is mentioned in this guide into account, and making some necessary changes, I do not doubt that you will start to draw more organic traffic within a few months.

I hope this guide has opened your eyes as a sole entrepreneur or business owner.

At the end of the day, you don’t need the skills to improve your SEO, you just need to understand the basics and know what to look out for.

At least now you know as a CEO, marketing director or business owner what to ask your marketing team or developer and what to do about it if your SEO is not on par.

Having started his first business at the age of 22, and selling it at the age of 25, Jandre fell in love with marketing! Jandre is a sales and digital marketing consultant with an appetite for entrepreneurship, and is the Founder and Managing Director of V8 MEDIA: V8 MEDIA.

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Online Marketing

The Top Ten Marketing Trends To Look Out For In 2019

With 2018 behind us, there is no better time to start looking to the future.

Jandre de Beer

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chatbots

Most people start making their new year’s resolutions this time of the year, goals to make things better for themselves in the coming year. This is something that businesses need to look at doing too.

Running a digital marketing agency means one needs to keep ones finger on the pulse.

The world is continually changing and developing, and if businesses want to survive and thrive, then they need to grow and develop too.

As with everything else, marketing is also continuing to change over time, so it is important for businesses to be on top of the newest trends. Even if 2018 was a successful year for you and your marketing team, don’t get left behind by ignoring the latest trends. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that 2019 is just as successful.

Maintain an advantage over your competitors by preparing yourself and adjusting your marketing strategy before they do. Whether your current marketing strategy is working for you or not, this article will help you by identifying the top ten marketing trends that businesses should look out for in 2019.

The first few trends look at technology that you have likely already heard of, but with constant advancements in technology, it is still worth taking a look at.

1. Chatbots and live chat

Although this is not a new technology, chatbots and live chat is becoming very popular with businesses all over the world. People are interacting with more and more chatbots on a daily basis. This technology has become so popular because of the benefits it offers businesses in terms of customer interaction and better customer service.

In a very conversational way, chatbots message back and forth with customers for a number of tasks, such as suggesting products to customers and ordering the items. Chatbots enable businesses to provide a 24-hour service to customers by providing customers with an instant response to questions, providing an easy form of communication, resolving complaints quickly and providing a good customer experience. It is a lot easier for customers to communicate with chatbots online than it is for the customer to phone or send an email to a company representative.

According to research, live chat makes it three times more likely that customers will complete the purchase process. With so many benefits to businesses, it is very likely that the use of chatbots and live chat will continue to grow in 2019 and beyond.

If you want to experience chatbots, feel free to visit this link and click on the chat button that appears on the screen.

2. Enhanced personalised recommendations

This technology has already stared becoming the way of the future. Personalising the customer experience is a trend that most businesses are already starting to implement, whether it is recommending movies or series when watching Netflix or recommending other products that the customer might be interested in based on previous buying behaviour, this technology can help businesses enhance the customer experience by giving the customers more of what they want.

This artificial intelligence algorithm is constantly being bettered and is making more accurate recommendations as time goes on. This is a trend that should not be ignored in the coming year.

Related: The Complete Guide To Writing A Marketing Plan

3. Facebook and Instagram adverts

The trends around paid social media ads are constantly changing. With these changes it is becoming obvious that businesses prefer to focus their attention on Facebook and Instagram ads over other social media platforms.

Social Media Examiner published the following data to show how ads on social media sites like Snapchat and Pinterest are becoming less popular with businesses, while Facebook and Instagram are growing in popularity.

social-media-marketers-paid-social-usage-trends-graph

As we know, Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it is not a surprise to see these two social media sites growing in popularity together. Businesses are able to manage ads on both these social sites in the same place. The format of these sites make it much easier for businesses to create ads that target the right audience, based on its needs.

Although it is a good idea to advertise on as many social media sites as possible to ensure that you are reaching the largest audience possible, it would be wise to focus most of your attention on these two top trending sites. If you are only looking at making use of paid social media ads in the coming year, then these two sites are the ones to start with.

4. Voice search

Voice recognition software has been around for a while, but the technology is evolving at a steady pace. Google Home now has a 95% word accuracy which shows how the technology is gradually getting better and more accurate. Voice search makes it easier and faster to search apps, to conduct web searches and even conduct image searches. Very soon, voice searches may represent the majority of total searches.

With voice search technology, people are searching for information, making purchases and even interacting with websites using only their voice. In time businesses will need to rethink how information is presented to audiences and may even be forced to come up with entirely new structures to keep up with this change.

In was reported that as of January 2018, voice searches were conducted 1 billion times a month, and in 2019 this figure is expected to grow. As a business, this should be flagged as technology of interest.

5. Mobile payments

Marketing your products and reaching potential customers is only half the battle won, the other half is completing the sale. Being able to offer customers a variety of payment options is something all businesses need to look at. A growing trend in this regard is mobile payments, so this is another option that businesses need to look at offering customers.

One portion of mobile payments allows customers to pay for goods and services directly from a mobile app, another portion of mobile pay comes from alternative payment options.

In 2018 an estimated 440 million users across the globe used contactless pay options, and this number is expected to increase in 2019.

The following graph shows exactly how this trend has been growing.

mobile-pay-is-expanding

Your business should be prepared to accept these types of payments because consumers are getting used to it. If you don’t have their preferred payment option, they may take their business elsewhere.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Interactive video content

Video marketing is a trend that has been on the rise for many years. More and more videos are being uploaded to social media and websites as part of marketing strategies. Video blogs (vlogs) have also been taking off in this regard. In 2019 we will start seeing changes to the way video is consumed with an increase in interactive videos.

An example of an interactive video is a 360-degree video that allows users to view the whole area being discussed in the video by clicking the navigation button in the top left-hand corner of the screen while the video is playing.

interactive-video-youtube

This 360-degree video was uploaded to YouTube by Washington Post.

Offering interactivity with videos means that more people can engage with your content. Interactivity also makes your videos more exciting for your viewers to watch than traditional videos. Research has shown that 360-degree videos have a greater click-through rate than traditional video formats, offering a higher return on your investment.

This is a trend that will continue to grow due to its popularity, so it definitely worth looking into now.

7. IGTV

Instagram has decided to re-envision mobile video with the introduction of IGTV. This new standalone platform has been developed specifically for mobile phones. Instagram has caught onto the fact that people these days are watching less TV and more videos. They have decided to develop this trend and cater to the growing wants and needs of the masses.

Instagram is definitely evolving with the times and its popularity has continued to grow because of this since its launch in 2010. Instagram currently has over 1 billion active users on its site, so even if a small percentage of these users download IGTV, it is still a large audience for marketers to target.

instagram-marketing-numbers

It will be highly beneficial to have an active presence on both Instagram and IGTV in order to use the large number of current users to your advantage. With the IGTV platform being so new, try to get a step ahead of competitors by getting to know the platform and producing content for it.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

8. Beacon technology

In a mobile era where mobile apps are becoming more and more popular, businesses need to get onboard with the latest technology if they want to stay current. Beacon technology is a great way for businesses to improve the profitability of their mobile app. This new technology works in a similar way to GPS, just not quite as complex.

Firstly, with this technology retailers need to encourage their customers to download their mobile apps. Once the customer has downloaded the app on their mobile phone, the app will be able to track their location. Retailers can then strategically place beacons around the shop so when the app users walk past a beacon, the business will know exactly where the customer is and what the customer is shopping for. With this information businesses can then send the customer a promotion via push notifications.

This technology can even be used by businesses that only have an ecommerce platform. Beacons can be placed in public areas relevant to what the business offers. Promotional push notifications can then be sent to the user when they are in the vicinity of the beacon.

Below is a visual representation of how the beacon technology works.

beacon-technology-diagram

2019 Will see a rise in popularity with this technology because of the rise in popularity with mobile apps.

9. Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is very much related to personal recommendations in the sense that it uses a variety of statistical techniques that analyse current and historical facts to make predictions about the future. Businesses can use predictive analytics to gain a competitive advantage by uncovering new opportunities. Predictive analytics are used to determine customer responses or purchases and help businesses to attract and grow their customer base.

Technology like this can be so beneficial to a business, and that is why more businesses are making use of it. Its popularity is growing and will definitely continue to grow throughout the coming year and many years to come.

10. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is by no means new technology, in fact, many of the trends discussed in this article make use of AI and machine learning. It is so important for businesses to learn the marketing skills needed to survive in this age of AI as it is the fastest growing technology and no business can afford to ignore it. Ignoring developments in technology could mean that businesses will not be able to keep up with competitors.

Related: The Curious Case Of AI And Legal Liability

Conclusion

It is so important for all businesses to recognise the newest trends and to keep developing their marketing strategies along with new technology in order to be able to compete in such a competitive, ever-changing market.

2019 Is sure to be a very big year for marketers so I hope that by following these trends, your business will find success in the coming year.

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Company Posts

Now’s The Time To Go Digital

The digital age has completely transformed the way businesses market their products and services to their customers. As a result, the playing field of industries both big and small has forced companies to relook their strategies.

Digital School of Marketing

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lisa-schneider

Vital Stats

Digital marketing is a broad term covering digital channels that people use to market their products. But what makes digital marketing different and unique compared to traditional marketing channels?

It gives the marketer or advertiser the opportunity to hone in on specific audiences that are more likely to purchase or see value in their offer, says Lisa Schneider, Managing Director at the Digital School of Marketing.

“Because digital marketing is computerised, it allows the marketer to get accurate analytical data about their campaigns, both in the research phase and when their campaign has finished. This makes digital marketing an easy way to gauge ROI of marketing and advertising efforts.”

Do you know how to market your businesses online?

Regardless of the size of your business, to remain successful, you need to have a good understanding and grasp of what digital marketing is and train your organisation on the skills it involves. According to Lisa, digital marketing skills encompass aspects that include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Social media skills
  • Search marketing skills
  • Copywriting skills.

“Without a doubt the most important element is understanding who your customers are and what makes them tick. One of the biggest advantages by far in digital marketing is the ability to market to an audience, assuring that your message will be seen, heard and appreciated,” says Lisa.

“The technology that is made available to market products in the digital realm is sophisticated software that allows the marketer’s message to be seen as widely or as granularly as they would want. A solid understanding of your target market is absolutely one of the most fundamental and important elements of digital marketing.”

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Advance digitally without breaking the bank

Marketing is an expensive exercise no matter how you look at it, says Lisa. “Digital marketing requires a solid understanding of many different areas that are quite broad, and how to manage and understand a multitude of platforms and analytical data is imperative. This will allow the marketer to extract the most value without burning a hole in their pocket.”

As a business owner, you must look at what is out there in terms of online education providers. It’s important to do your homework about the company and what accreditation and endorsements the company holds.

Lisa suggests contacting the accreditation body to find out the legitimacy of the educational provider. The Internet provides a wealth of information regarding different institutions and how their courses can benefit the company.

What defines a reputable online marketing education provider?

Authentic online education providers have a third-party accreditation or endorsement. In a nutshell, accreditation means that a third party, that is usually government regulated, has looked through the institution’s educational material and internal business procedures to see that it has met their standards of approval.

What this means is that the education provider is not self-governed but is regulated by higher government authorities. This makes your course more credible, recognised and respected compared to a non-accredited provider.

For best results, choose the experts

“The Digital School of Marketing stays on top of trends through solid research,” Lisa explains.

“Google is constantly updating algorithms and adjusting their online marketing platform capabilities. Social networks also come and go and adjust their marketing and advertising platforms.”

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

DSM prides itself on the ability and appetite to constantly research trends by reading industry journals, attending workshops and seminars, but only publishing what is relevant and has longevity. “We also benchmark the changes that are made on online learning platforms, so we can offer our students an experience that is unique and truly fulfilling on their educational journey,” says Lisa.

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Online Marketing

I Built A Social Media Following Of 1 Million In 30 Days. Here’s How You Can, Too

By applying these social strategies you can build a huge following with high levels of engagement.

Brendan Kane

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Many people want to share messages with the masses to gain exposure for their brand, product or service on social media. But, with over 60 billion messages shared each day on mobile platforms alone, most content gets lost in the noise. For the last 10 years I’ve worked on improving online strategies for people like Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Disney. I’ve learned how to optimise analytics, data and paid media to help companies achieve massive growth.

When I set out to gain my own One Million Followers, I was aware that the people I work with had the advantage of fame and influence. But, I wanted to see if I could use what I’d learned to build an audience for someone unknown – someone building a following from scratch. That way I could gain validation and credibility for anyone that wanted to achieve their dreams. So, in June of 2017 I put into practice all my tools and by July of 2017 I had a million Facebook followers.

The experience changed my life and now hopefully it can impact yours. If, as an unknown digital strategist, I can create this type of social following so can you. By applying the social strategies below you can build a huge following with high levels of engagement. For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on strategies for Facebook, but many of the tactics can be applied to the other social channels as well.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

1. Hypothesise and test

Aim to create shareable content with your audience. Do research about what gets people to share and come up with a hypothesis about the type of content to create. Identify a format or theme that will engage your audience around a specific message. Then create a low-cost proof and test it.

When I built my following, I used a lot of picture quotes. They are fast and easy to create and are highly shareable. However, if you have the means to create short videos, between 30 seconds and four minutes, they usually perform the best.

2. Learn from your tests and pivot when necessary

My ability to learn from the tests I conducted was essential in reaching a million followers. Take the time to understand why certain content works and why other content doesn’t. Be very specific with your tests – I tested thousands of variations of content and segmented out as the variables to truly learn what was optimising performance. I also didn’t waste time; as soon as I saw that something wasn’t getting the engagement I desired I pivoted. For example, I posted viral videos of dogs and kittens performing cute and funny actions as well as prank videos. Although they all performed really well, I decided to pivot because they didn’t align with my brand’s theme of thought leadership.

Analyse the results from your tests and allow them to drive both your short and long-term content strategy. Test until you find a format or theme that truly works.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

3. Find a hooking headline

Imagine walking by a newsstand in the supermarket. What is it that makes you stop and stare at an article in a magazine? Usually it’s a headline that communicates the story’s hook-point in a succinct and exciting way. It’s a short sentence or phrase that stands out, grabs attention and leaves your audience wanting more. A good headline helps communicate what makes your brand, message or content different and valuable to your customers.

When creating the headline be specific and find relevancy to your audience’s lives. Linking content to celebrities or current events is a great way to grab people’s attention.

4. Target the right audience

You can have great content, but without reaching the right audience you won’t develop a following or find the people who will champion your message for you. As Nike‘s CEO Mark Parker explains, “It’s our obsession with serving the consumer that sharpens our focus and drives our growth.”

One of the benefits of using the Facebook ad platform is the level of niche targeting it provides to find your ideal consumer. When creating ads, segment out your targeting by: Gender, age, location, interests, lifestyle (married, single, occupation, yearly income and products or brands they like) and target some of your competitors’ fans.

Related: Why You Should Sort Your Social Media Policy (Like NOW!)

5. Invest the time and money necessary to reach your goals

Reaching a million followers has gotten me opportunities to speak at conferences, but getting to a million isn’t necessary for everyone. Gaining a following requires an investment of time and money. Where you put your energy depends on how quickly you want to grow.

To determine how much you need to invest, analyse the benefits you want to receive from building a large following – the return on investment (ROI). Imagine your end goal and work backward. Sometimes the ROI isn’t a dollar amount – instead, it’s more validation or credibility that gets you into a meeting with a casting director, modelling agency a music producer or an investor. Ask yourself how many followers you truly need and invest what’s necessary to reach those goals.

We live in a digital world and social following numbers matter. Hope to see your content on Facebook soon.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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