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4 strategies for effective digital marketing

Simon Slade presents four digital marketing strategies to keep your marketing efforts relevant in 2016 and beyond.

As a marketer, you must always be aware of what’s on the horizon to make sure you’re prepared with the best marketing strategy. Digital marketing is ever-changing and quickly adapts itself to new technology, new attitudes and new behaviours.

Technology will have a major impact on marketing efforts in the years to come. Rapidly developing technology is set to break boundaries and push us all out of our comfort zones.

Don’t know how to keep up? Here are four digital marketing strategies to keep you relevant.
 
1. Keep it visual: pictures, video and live streaming
There is no doubt that the way we consume content has changed drastically. Our attention spans have become increasingly limited and we are much more attracted to visual content such as photos, infographics and video over traditional plain text.

Engaging visual content means a user is likely to spend more time on your website. Additionally, a site with more visual content is likely to rank better in search engines. If your visual content starts to appear in search results and users click through, you will get additional brownie points from Google for relevance.

But, even though images are important for improving your SEO, it’s video that dominates the visual content marketing and consumption space. In a Nielsen global survey of 30,000 respondents from 60 countries, 55 percent asserted that video programming is an important part of their lives. Whether it’s on mobile phones, desktops or smart TVs, video is well loved by the average Internet user.

For marketers, this growth in video consumption is a new opportunity to produce more video content themselves, and to advertise where and when their audience is viewing this content.

With the boom in video production has come a massive growth in the live streaming trend as well: Facebook Live and Periscope are rapidly becoming more relevant. The quality of videos and the ease of accessibility (via mobiles and tablets) helps the live streaming cause.

What does this mean for marketers? Put simply: Go where your audience is. For example, if your audience is live-streaming events instead of watching traditional TV, this is where your marketing efforts need to be focused. Or, if your audience is hooked on Periscope, find a way to personalize and humanise your brand by creating interactive content.
 
2. Track your data
Digital marketing is well and truly out of its nascent stages. Whether we’re talking content, paid, social or another strategy, online marketing is now a familiar field and marketers need to know what metrics to monitor to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Unlike traditional marketing efforts, intuition is no longer a metric for success. Digital marketers now have access to very detailed data and analytics. The success (or failure) of every campaign can now be determined and backed up by cold, hard data. Having access to this information and knowing which data insights to pay attention to will be crucial for making business and marketing decisions.

For marketers, it’s important to use all the sources of data available and make better decisions about every aspect of your digital marketing efforts. Want to launch a new landing page? Run a split A/B test first to determine which page your users will prefer. Creating a new content calendar for your blog in 2016? Don’t wing it. Analyse the posts that performed well in 2015 and work on creating similar content that your audience will enjoy.

Use data for every decision. Learn which metrics are important and figure out how to find the information you need. Guesswork in marketing is over.
 
3. Go mobile
In the past few years, experts have emphasized the importance of catering to a mobile audience, as an increasing number of Internet users were using it as their second screen. Now, mobile is the preferred first screen for many people. Mobile-friendliness is officially a factor for search engine appeal.

In addition to mobile sites now being an SEO requirement, a mobile-first strategy is also crucial to other marketing efforts, especially video. Mobile-optimised sites have gone from ‘nice to have’ to an absolute essential.
 
4. Create a budget for social media advertising
Social media marketing is continually evolving. You’ve probably noticed that ‘free’ on social media doesn’t cut it anymore.

Things have changed a lot since many of us first got into social media marketing. Organic reach, especially on Facebook, is something most brands struggle with. If you want to reach your Facebook fans, you have to pay up.

Of course, Facebook isn’t alone when it comes to paid advertising options. You can now place ‘Shop Now’ Instagram ads, create Buyable Pins on Pinterest, create Brand Stories on Snapchat, and so much more.

But research says those dollars are probably well spent. According to the Global Web Index, at the end of Q1, 2015, stats revealed that we are spending 28 percent of our Internet time each day on social media. At the start of January 2015, there were 2.078 billion active social media accounts across the world. This number has no doubt continued to grow.

Marketers are now investing heavily in paid advertising on social channels as part of an overall paid advertising strategy. Surprisingly, consumers have also adjusted to advertisements within their social media feeds and the study found that consumers also perceive these sponsored messages to be equally or more effective than TV commercials.

So whether you like it or not, a budget for paid social is a good idea. If you don’t pay, you’re simply not going to reach your audience where they’re spending most of their time.
 
Update annually
Your digital marketing strategy will need updating every year. As fast as new ideas come in, old ones become outdated. Find out where your audience is, whether that be on their phones or social media — and put your message there. Ensure you’re at the top of the digital marketing game by using these strategies.
 
Publishing Information
Magazine Issue: NZBusiness May 2016 Page Number: 38