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Successful businesspeople are unfailingly committed to constantly upgrading their skills, whether they’re learning about the national economic environment or new tactics that help them gain an edge.
Nowhere is the need for constant learning more apparent than digital marketing, where new wrinkles appear nearly every day, and seismic shifts in the competitive landscape occur every year or so.
All marketers, including small businesses that develop their own innovative digital marketing plans, need to pay close attention or they’ll be left behind.
As we’ve talked with some of the nation’s top experts in digital marketing in recent months, here are some of the subjects that are on their minds nowadays:
► Don’t try to game the search engines. Search engines such as Google build their algorithms so that users can find good information quickly. That should be the marketer’s first interest, too. Make sure that your web content organically includes the words and phrases that users are likely to use in searching for your business. You can better understand how consumers are searching in your niche with tools such as Google Trends. Don’t jam your content full of words and phrases just to drive search-engine optimization. It’s cheesy, and potential customers will be turned off.
► Make sure to use local search marketing. Start with Google My Business to take advantage of a free business profile that will pop up when a user does a Google search for a company such as yours. We continue to be stunned by the number of small businesses that haven’t invested 15 or 20 minutes into this powerful, free digital marketing tool.
► Do video right. By now, most everyone knows that nearly 90 percent of digital marketers are using video. But bad video is just another kind of bad marketing. Use video to provide value to visitors to your site. How about a behind-the-scenes visit to your shop? Useful tips provided by your team’s experts to help consumers with their own projects? And take care with the production values. Sloppy video tells potential customers that your business is sloppy.
► Take a close look at automating social media. Marketers at small businesses almost always feel that they’re eaten alive by the demands of social media, especially if they have a robust program of addressing customers’ digital feedback. And then there’s the matter of time zones. Do you get up at 5 a.m. to post something to reach East Coast audiences at the start of their workday? Tools such as Hootsuite dramatically reduce social media headaches and provide useful data as well.
► It’s still all about the story. It doesn’t matter whether the marketing is an Instagram post, a white paper for corporate audiences or 30-second digital ad. Today’s audiences, just like their ancestors sitting around a fireplace in 817 A.D., are engaged by the best storytellers.
But with all the pressures marketers feel every day, how can they possibly keep up with all the promising innovations? One of the best ways, we think, is panel discussions that draw top experts together. By happy coincidence, we’ll be moderating one of them just a few days from now.
Get the latest updates about digital marketing at NCET’s sixth annual State of Digital Marketing Panel on Nov. 11, with the program and lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. with networking from 11 a.m. until noon. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCETspecial.org.
Abbi Whitaker is the president at The Abbi Agency and a fierce advocate for driving positive outcomes through integrated, strategic communications. Jarrod Lopiccolo is CEO and co-founder of Noble Studios, a creative digital performance agency based in Reno. Collectively, Abbi and Jarrod have taken their firms from small businesses to some of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing private companies with offices in Reno, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.