Modern Marketing Basics
Measure Your Marketing
The first thing you will want to do is make sure Google Analytics is set up on your site. Even if you don't take the time to fully learn how to use it right now set it up ASAP. Stop reading this article and go set it up. The earlier you set this up the better. Right when you set things up you will be able to track who is coming to your site, where they come from, how long they stay and more.
Google Analytics can be a powerful tool so you know if your marketing efforts are working. It's essential you measure and track your efforts so you can focus on what is working.
Channels and Implementation
In the current landscape there is 19 ways that people can find out about your website, product or business:
- Targeting Blogs
- Publicity / Standard PR
- Unconventional PR
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social and Display Ads (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Offline Ads
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Viral Marketing
- Engineering as Marketing
- Business Development (BD)
- Affiliate Programs
- Existing Platforms
- Trade Shows
- Offline Events
- Speaking Engagements
- Community Building
It's essential that you try different channels. Many times it's the channels that others have overlooked that can be most effective. If your competitors have a ton of investment in a channel it could be a sign that you need to back off that channel. The least crowded channels will likely prove to be most effective.
Your Website - Landing Page Basics
Ensure that landing pages follow basic tips that can be found in my "Creating a Landing Page that Converts" guide. The highlights are:
- Engaging Images
- Make Forms As Short As Possible
- Clear, Engaging Headers
- Clarifying Sub-Headers
- Social Proof
Make sure that each of your landing pages have a clear conversion goal. Make sure you are driving your users to this goal in an honest and understandable way.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics
SEO or "Search Engine Optimization" means that when people google you show up in those first few results. SEO is an art and a science not easily mastered. I will just give a basic checklist for the essentials.
- Get as many links to your site from other sites as you can. (More on this below)
- Make sure you have lots of content on the subject you want to rank for. Specific pages, blog posts, PDF's, images, infographics, even videos. (More on this below)
- Update your site regularly and consistently. (No less than once per month). The more you update your site the better.
- Make sure that your site works well on mobile devices. Google ranks sites lower that take too long to load or don't work well on phones / tablets.
- If you can take the extra time to encrypt your site with SSL. It's not essential for security of many sites. But, Google ranks sites higher if they have SSL enabled.
Get Links From Other Websites
This is the number one most important factor in ranking high in Google Results. A key component of the Google Page Rank is how many trusted sites are linking to yours. The more websites that link to your site the better. Never pay for links or try to scam this. It won't work and Google may blacklist you.
Honest Ways To Get Links To Your Site
- Sponsor an event or charity that offers links to your website as one of the perks.
- Hustle to try to get coverage in niche blogs or websites in your target domain. Not easy but can be extremely effective. Especially if you have a unique story to tell.
- Create great content or offer a discount that's good enough to drive links to your site. If you have a hilarious video or super helpful article links will generate organically.
- Hire a PR service to publish your content across the web and work to get you media coverage. Many of these services start at just $150 and can give your SEO a huge boost. Two of these services are: PR NewsWire and Publicize but there are tons out there.
- Offer to "Guest Post" for other blogs in your niche, this can be an amazing way to build links back to your site.
Have a Clear Focus
The more specific your website is the easier you will be able to optimize for terms and show up in the results. If your keywords and content are too broad you won't be relevant enough to show at the top of the results. Having many topics and keywords and getting great SEO is impossible for a small company. Focus.
You can start to dial in your content focus using Google's keyword research tool. Even just using the Google search bar autocomplete is a great way to find terms that you can use in your content.
Link to Other Websites
Reference other websites and content where relevant. This is an easy way to start building up your online credibility. Don't overdue it. If people are clicking through your site to other pages, your site bumps up in authority on that topic.
Add Your Site to Google's Crawler
Especially if you have a new site or made dramatic changes. Don't depend on Google to just find you or your updates. Make sure you submit your site to be crawled by Google's robots. Do this anytime you publish a new site or make significant content changes.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Basics
SEM is "Search Engine Marketing" - Paying to be at the top of the results. The most common way to do this is through Google Adwords. For many new companies it's a great way to get the ball rolling and get customers in the door.
Paying for Google to put you at the top isn't enough. If you ignore all the other advice in this article and only pay for Adwords you will likely groups with the adds at the bottom of the page anyway. Google Adwords looks at all your other indicators of SEO and then boosts you up accordingly.
How Google Adwords Works
You write ads within specific "Keyword" groups. For example, "Los Angeles Plumber" could be a keyword group. Once you write these ads you can "bid for clicks" for these ads to show up. It depends how you set things up. But, in general you aren't charged unless someone clicks on your link. This means your ad can potentially show up thousands of times in Google search results without costing you a dime before it's clicked. You only pay when someone clicks your ad and lands on your webpage.
Search Engine Marketing Tips
- Use the Google Keyword Planner to find cheap keywords that your competitors aren't using.
- any times you can find "Long Tail" keywords to pick up cheap traffic.
- Take advantage of Adwords "Geographic Targeting"
- This is especially important if you have a physical address or a fixed service area. Why pay for an ad for a customer you can't serve?
- Take advantage of the Adwords Scheduling ability.
- If you have fixed hours for your company, only show ads for your company when customers can be helped.
- Again, why pay for a customer you can't serve?
- Spend a lot of time on your ad copy.
- Write ads that are honest and engaging. Be sure the content on the page would be expected if I clicked on that ad. Misleading visitors in this way will just waste your money people's time.
There are a few technical logistics that you want to be sure are covered on your website. These are updates to the code to be sure that the "Crawlers" can read your page effectively. The first most important ones are the Title Tag, The Meta Description, and the Meta Keywords. These are directly read by Google's crawler. Don't try to game this system. Make sure your descriptions are honest and not too stuffed with keywords. You want to cover your niche for that page. You can see how these tags render by right clicking your webpage and selecting "Inspect" in the chrome browser.
The Title tag and the Meta Description are what are displayed on the search results.
Make sure your title in your HTML shows your company name and whatever your main focus is. Your title tag's first 64 Characters are shown as the "click-through" link in a Google search result. Every specific content page should have a unique title tag that's relevant to the content on the page.
Meta descriptions are the descriptions that show in the search results pages. These are also factored in how Google ranks your pages. Include two to three keyword phrases at most that describe the page’s content. Be sure you keep these meta descriptions under 160 characters.
Ideally, you should only have one <h1> tag per page. This <h1> should describe whats on the page really well. For example on this page the <h1> is "Modern Marketing Basics". My goal is to have this article be well optimized for the term "Marketing Basics". A good <h1> tag describes the page and is interesting to the reader.
Image Filenames and Alt Descriptions
Adding relevant terms in your filenames and alt descriptions help your webpage show in results. Also, this allows people who are vision impaired to use a screen reader to know what your photos are of. It's a win win for accessibility and SEO.
Make Sure Your Site Loads Fast and Works on Mobile
I mentioned this earlier in the post. Search engines will push your site down in the results if it takes a long time to load or is not responsive. It needs to be useable on any device, Phones, tablets and desktops.
Only set up a social profile if you are going to use it consistently. Engaging with that community on that platform. There is no reason to just have another Facebook page with 64 likes rotting in misery for a local air conditioning company.
If you don't understand a platform, don't use it.
That said, social media can be the number one driver of business for many websites. In some industries having a consistent and creative social medial presence should be goal #1. There are many industries where a strong Facebook or Instagram presence is actually more valuable than a great website.
All the major platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, don't really help with your SEO. Backlinks from these sites are relatively ignored unless your content is shared by a heavy influencer.
It's good to grab your usernames on all platforms you can if they are available. Just so others don't pick it up. However, don't feel like you need activate these accounts. Make sure you have a plan before jumping into social medial marketing.
When Social Media Matters
- If you have a service business with a physical address or service area. Such as a restaurant, contractor, plumber or a dog groomers.
- Make sure you learn to use Yelp and claim your profile. Yelp is huge for the restaurant and service industry.
- If you have a "lifestyle" business. Such as a clothing brand, a club or a tattoo artist.
- Make sure you learn to use Instagram, Facebook or both. These can be huge traffic drivers for these industries. However, again make sure you understand these platforms before jumping in. A clothing brand posting "Tone Deaf" posts on Instagram will hurt the brand, not help it.
Social Media Basics for Companies
Have a Key Person, Have a Plan, Stay Consistent
Ideally you have a single person who is the voice of your brand. Someone who understands the platform and community they are engaging with. They need to have a schedule of how often they post and keep it consistent. You want to share great content from your site and others regularly. Make sure it's things real people will be interested in. Just posting for the sake of posting doesn't help anybody.
Don't Be Afraid of Negative Reviews
This is a big one for many business owners. They are afraid to engage with communities on Yelp or Facebook because of the negative posts and reviews they might get. Make sure your business operations are dialed in before pushing live to these platforms. Also, don't be a crook. That will help to avoid negative posts and reviews about you.
Negative Reviews Are Great Marketing Opportunities
Never be defensive or attack customers in your responses to these comments. Always take the time to hear them out, honestly asses your business, sympathize and try to make it up to the customer any way you can.
Responses like this to negative reviews can go a long way for your business.
"Thank you so much for your feedback. I'm so sorry your pasta was cold and your waiter was rude, I would love to make up to you with a free entree on the house next time you come by. I'll personally make sure we do much better, we've made changes in our kitchen to make sure food gets out nice and hot."
Many times if you work to genuinely correct a customer's complaints in a generous way your company is better off for it. Every time your company drops the ball it's a marketing opportunity.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Marketing Basics
With each of these platforms you can pay to push content into peoples "Feeds". Depending on the platform you can push Video, Articles, Photos or links right to where your potential customers are.
The pricing depends greatly on how your campaign is set up, who you are targeting and how many people you want to reach. There are two ways that cost is generally calculated:
- CPM - Cost Per 1,000 impressions or views.
- CPC - Cost per click - This is more like the model of Google Adwords where you only pay for clicks.
I have found much better results from CPC ads vs CPM ads. Paying per click is a very straightforward way to estimate what your costs will be.
The more you are already engaged in one of these platforms the better results your advertising dollar will provide. Using the paid adds to simply "Boost" an already successful social strategy is the best bet. You can also use these paid posts to try to establish your presence on these platforms. However the results with paid social media marketing will be directly tied to the level of engagement you already have on these platforms.
Tips for Paid Social Media Marketing
- Try to design your ads in a way that people want to engage with them or share them.
- For example, running a discount, having a really interesting article, a funny video or a picture of a puppy. These are all ways to get users to engage with and share your content.
- Keep in mind any images you use can't have a lot of text on them. These platforms usually only allow 20% of the image to have text.
- Spend time crafting and testing different ad combinations.
- Change up your photos / copy of ads and track the results. You'll see what's working and what's not pretty quickly.
- Highly target your ad.
- The more specific of a user you target the better results your ad will have. Highly targeting your ad makes it more affordable as well. You can get extremely granular about who your ad shows to on these platforms.
- Location, Schedule, Other interests, parenting and homeownership and more are all available to you to tailor your audience. Use these. Do your best to aim your ad right at your target customer.
Practical Hands On Marketing Books
Both these books are fantastic step by step guides to marketing your business. They go into exhaustive detail on a lot of what is covered here.
Conceptual / More Generalized Books
These books are less of a "Step by step" and more about teaching larger business and marketing concepts. Specially, lean startup covers much more than just marketing. From business development to accounting. It's all there.
Both of these apps have had so much value. One in learning marketing and the other in creating better content.
Google Primer - Google Built an app to teach people about marketing and website optimization. It's an amazing resource. You can just spend a few minutes here and there with this app and get incredible knowledge firsthand from Google.
Hemingway Editor - This text editor helps you be concise, direct and clear. It pushes you to understand what grade level you are writing at as well. I always write my marketing copy with Hemingway. I always keep my grade level at a 6th grade or lower level. This makes things much easier to read for users.
These sites showcase marketing best practices, research and ideas. They aren't marketing "tools" necessarily. These are resources to learn more about marketing.
Marketing Stack - A directory of resources and tools for marketing. Great site to explore a lot of different tools and methods.
Great Email Copy - This site collects the best of email copy from around the internet. It's a great resource for examples of great copy.