In the last few years, digital marketing has increased exponentially and is crucial for all types and sizes of companies. Part of this growth has included SEO and PPC (Pay-per-Click) being used as mainstream marketing methods. But has SEO actually taken the place of digital marketing to the exclusion of everything else?
In this article, I explore the equally important elements of digital marketing that I think should be used in an integral and holistic way to complement an SEO strategy. An online strategy should help SEO, but it should not be implemented to the exclusion of anything else, and an online strategy should also be able to drive traffic from other sources in an integrated and seamless way as part of an overall digital marketing mix.
Start with your website
Google states that website users should have the best experience possible on your website. So start with your main online presence – your website. This is your shop window, the place where you are showcasing your brand, products and services. You will have made a big investment into your website and it needs to work hard for you.
Some websites are not clear or simple in navigation with content that is not suitable or hard-working enough. You need to have a clear call to action, whether it’s to fill out a form, call you, download a discount voucher or click to buy. If you don’t have a clear pathway to what you want your customers to do, they are just going to click off and go elsewhere. SEO will perform with enhanced results in conjunction with a well constructed and clear website.
PPC advertising is perfect when used in combination with SEO as SEO can inform PPC campaigns with the keywords that are being searched for and are most likely to convert. You can also think about additional online advertising such as banner advertising which encompasses text links and buttons.
Banners, although having seen a sharp decline, still garner some Web traffic and are a great digital tool for brand awareness. A year-long test with 10,000 visitors implemented by Econsultancy showed that buttons and text links drove more traffic compared to banners. However, when the same test was conducted and banner adverts were removed, there was a drop of 6% on outbound clicks.
Online advertising still works well for brand awareness and visibility on consumer and business websites and banners, buttons and text ads all perform better with a clear call to action.
Email marketing is still very much an essential part of the digital marketing mix and is still used widely in businesses. According to the Email Report 2013 by Adestra, email marketing shows the second highest return on investment for businesses behind SEO. So if you have SEO in place, you should align your emails with your SEO strategy and use the most successful and hottest keywords that your customers are searching for within your email content to create continuity of perception, product familiarity and brand awareness.
Email is also highly personalized and extremely flexible, and can be used at critical times of a customers’ buying journey. This includes when they have looked at a specific item, have bought an item and you email for cross-sell, or have abandoned a cart at the checkout.
We always hear that content is key – particularly for SEO and driving website traffic. Email marketing is perfect for delivering your valuable content directly to your customers. Email marketing also offers nurturing capability and can be integrated anywhere within the overall marketing mix of a company.
For instance, it can serve as a reminder, a confirmation, a cross-sell and a newsletter. Email marketing has also skyrocketed when it comes to mobile email usage, so email marketing is more important than ever to get your products in front of customers. With this popularity, mobile optimized emails can be easily targeted to users on the move.
Public Relations (PR) is also an effective way to get your products and services noticed for a number of reasons. If you have a great product and service, you want to shout out to everyone about it, and PR is the vehicle to do that. Not only is it unpaid, but you can also get a lot of website traffic from a news release, PR stunt or published survey that can help position you as a brand leader.
Online-PR for SEO purposes however, has been getting a bad reputation. Instead of using online-PR for limp and bland SEO news releases that announce mediocre information of no interest to journalists and readers, think of creating some real PR credibility that could seriously drive traffic for your business.
Effective PR could include commissioning a relevant industry survey or conducting one in-house and publishing the results. You can also produce product or market information using infographics or gaining PR mileage out of a customer, industry or trade event that you are holding or involved with. Always put your offline PR online as you’ll be missing out on key brand awareness opportunities. If you have a genuine, interesting and credible PR story, your SEO with naturally achieve results in the rankings and you’ll gain visibility and web traffic from it too.
I have already mentioned content and during my marketing career, I have witnessed that content certainly has its place and durability. Because we’re online, mobile and connected socially as well as through our professional networks, content is required to attract and keep customers’ interest in a busy marketplace and should influence perception and positioning in your market over your competitors. Content must add value to your customers’ lives.
It also helps to build relationships and build trust with your audiences as described in this great article: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/content-isnt-king-trust-is-king. Content that is created purely with SEO in mind won’t perform well for SEO or serve your customers as well as content that is created specifically for your audience and to solve their problems.
Content that is not useful is also perceived as spam to users and search engines. Content should be created first to help your customer, whether to advise on or solve a problem. Content also needs to be valuable as information that readers want to read and share with their peers.
If content is fundamentally valuable, desirable and of a high quality to the customer, it will ultimately help your SEO in the form of links, references and people visiting your website to read it. And think about why people will visit your website: because it’s useful to them and something they want to read. Content needs to up its game now, the time of just writing SEO content for the sake of link juice has long gone, and the wheat of writers of good content will be separated from the chaff of spam SEO writers.
Social media is the users’ channel, so implement all of your content, PR, news releases, email marketing, newsletters and advertising - in the form of vouchers, discounts and latest offers - on this channel. Everything that you produce should be communicated through social media in a form that engages your customers and gives your brand that competitive edge.
Also remember that social media is a networking platform primarily. Soften the hard sales pitch and go for engagement and appeal and make it viral so people will want to share your content and message.
So there you have it. SEO should be implemented as part of a cohesive, integrated digital marketing strategy. There will be cross-overs and complementary ways to integrate your SEO with a number of other digital marketing tools and channels.
About the author
Sonya Brucciani works for Espan Digital Marketing, a leading SEO, PPC and online marketing agency working in Surrey, London and the UK.