Plotting a road trip from point A to point B wasn’t as easy before the advent of Google Maps and Waze.
Remember when you had to take out a map and plot a course yourself? You knew your objective was to get to Point B, but you had to take the time to determine the best route.
Many marketers implement digital marketing tools or strategies one at a time, rather than developing a digital strategy roadmap right at the start. Can you imagine if you planned a cross country journey this way, stopping at each intersection and turnoff to plan the drive to the next?
This approach is unproductive at best, and worse if you end up making a wrong turn and travelling hours in the wrong direction. The roads less travelled could get you to your destination faster, but identifying them could be a challenge if you didn’t know the area well.
When getting started with your digital marketing strategy, it’s worth planning your course all the way to Point B. Consult with the gurus of the digital marketing highways to choose “shortcuts” your competitors aren’t travelling on. Eventually you will emerge ahead of them in more competitive spaces.
By implementing a digital marketing mix that is tailored for your business objectives, you will get to your destination via the most efficient route, saving time and money along the way.
The starting point for all digital roadmaps: what are your business objectives?
Your digital marketing efforts need to be tailored to your business objectives. Keeping your business objectives at the forefront of all digital marketing planning will ensure you choose the right avenues to achieve them. Are you looking to:
- Increase traffic to your website?
- Increase brand awareness?
- Increase your flow of qualified leads right away?
- Increase online sales?
It’s possible you want all of these. The question is, how valuable is each objective to your business? By prioritizing them you can design a roadmap with more emphasis on those core objectives.
Who are you trying to reach?
Having a clear picture of who you are targeting will also inform your initial digital marketing strategy.
For every demographic that you value as a customer, you should establish customer personas that answer the questions:
- What do they value?
- What are their pain points?
- What are their buying habits? Online or offline?
- What types of jobs do they have?
- What is their average income?
- How would they look for your products or services online?
- What social media networks do they frequent?
These answers will ensure your roadmap is optimized to target high-value audiences in the right place at the right time.
Roads less travelled can be more efficient
If you invest in evaluating search and digital opportunities at the outset then you can discover high-value digital marketing channels that your competitors might not have considered:
Do your customers ask or research questions related to your business on Quora? Consider Quora Ads.
Do you want to attract more people who search for shops or restaurants on their mobile to your nearby physical location? Try location-based advertising.
Do you want to be able to target search ads to people with certain job titles? Bing Ads now has LinkedIn targeting options.
While the answers to some of these questions may be intuitive, data speaks volumes. Conducting audits of your competitors and your existing digital assets will help you determine which networks and strategies will help you achieve your business objectives.
Perform digital marketing audits and opportunity assessments to determine your strongest opportunities
Knowledge is power, and conducting thorough digital audits is key to figuring out how to get ahead in digital marketing.
Audits that you should run include, but are not limited to:
- Competitive Digital Marketing Analysis
- Website Audit and Benchmarking
- SEO Content Marketing Opportunities
- PPC and Paid Social Opportunities
1. Competitive Digital Marketing Analysis
A proper analysis of your competitor’s digital marketing will show you why you keep appearing below your competitors on search or keep getting outbid in paid advertising auctions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit tools help to uncover what search terms your competitors are ranking highly on, and for which of their webpages. You can also get a view of their domain authority; a numeric value that ranks how many backlinks a competitor’s website has from other sites. These findings should help inform your SEO strategy.
Pay-per-click (PPC) audit tools let you see your competitors’ PPC budgets and what their top bids are for specific keywords.
Aside from that, it always helps to perform an old fashioned SWOT analysis on the website, social media channels and digital advertising of your competitors:
- How well is their website designed? Is it easy to navigate?
- How much website traffic do they get? Where is it coming from?
- What kind of content are they writing? How well does it address the needs of your customers? Is it ranked well on search? Is it being shared?
- Are their social media channels updated regularly? How much engagement do their posts get?
This SWOT analysis will provide you with inspiration for your own website and content, and also identify gaps in digital marketing you can take advantage of.
2. Website Audit and Benchmarking
An audit of your website that looks at SEO, conversion and user-experience factors will help you determine your own strengths and weaknesses. It also provides a baseline for any improvements that result from your digital marketing efforts
This audit looks for factors on your webpages that may be preventing you from ranking well on search engines. Some of these factors include:
- Proper use of header tags
- Issues with SEO Meta Data
- Image formatting and ALT tags
- Broken links
- Site speed issues
- Mobile-friendly website design
- The health of your website’s sitemap
- SEO factors for local businesses
- Backlink spam
Related Post: How to Rank Higher on Google With a Website Audit
Are you currently tracking your customer’s path through your website to reach a conversion point? Can you properly attribute a conversion to a specific digital marketing tactic?
Setting up tags and pixels on your website for different analytics and advertising services will provide more insight into conversion paths across all your digital marketing touchpoints.
Are you getting a decent amount of traffic to your landing pages or blogs, but the user never clicks on your CTA? You can use a heatmap tool to determine how users interact with your pages so you can optimize for clicks.
3. SEO Content Marketing Opportunities
When your website comes up on page 7 of Google when searching for your product or service, it’s not a great feeling and you are not generating any significant traffic. So how do you get higher?
Some factors that affect your rank on Google and other search engines include:
- How long your website has been live
- The keywords and phrases you use in your site’s copy
- How much traffic your website gets
- How long a reader remains on your website/webpages
- How many other websites link to your website
- Whether or not readers click through to another page
- Internal linking
Working on your SEO won’t show immediate results. After a few months, however, you will begin to see significant gains to your search engine ranking and web traffic.
To best optimize for organic search, you need to dig deep into your analytics and the results from SEO auditing to determine where to focus your efforts.
You should look into your Google Analytics to get a picture of how your site is currently performing overall for organic traffic.
Google Analytics will help you determine how much search engine traffic is arriving at your website and specific webpages. You can see how many users land on specific pages end up clicking on a link, and how many leave without taking any action. You can also track a typical user’s flow throughout the pages of your website towards a conversion point.
Be sure to read our blog on website audits for SEO to learn how to set up and interpret your Google Analytics.
One of the keys to any successful SEO strategy is in choosing the right keywords to focus on. While you will be using words in your copy that are related to your products and services, you need to research which keywords and long-tail keywords present a strong ranking opportunity.
A long-tail keyword is a combination of words, a search phrase or a search question. You want to perform keyword research to identify long-tail keywords that would be related to your business or products that people often search for, but are also not being leveraged by your competitors.
By focusing your initial SEO strategy on these “quick-win” keywords, you can boost your domain authority and begin ranking more on highly competitive keywords. This approach pivots around a content marketing strategy where you write blogs and webpages that incorporate high-value long-tail keywords as well as related keywords.
Read our guide on keywords and keyword research for more information on how to go about a keyword audit.
To rank higher on search faster, you need to earn links to your site. Once you have more authority online people will link to your site naturally. When you are just starting out though, you will need to use an SEO-driven PR strategy to acquire those links.
Be sure to read our related post on link building in SEO.
4. PPC and Paid Social Opportunities
Running ads across various touchpoints on the web is a great way to reach your customers wherever they are. PPC allows you to run ads above search results, as well as run display and video ads across an enormous variety of websites and apps.
To get started, you need to ensure your keywords and targeting are well-thought out so you don’t end up wasting money on the wrong audience.
How are keywords for PPC different than keywords for SEO?
While all keywords should represent user intent, targeting too many keywords for PPC will cost you money. You need to be particularly careful that your PPC target keywords are focused on a high-intent to purchase searches.
Let’s use the example of a renovation company in Columbus, Ohio. For SEO purposes, they may be trying to rank on the search term “interior design trends” through their content. This keyword is valuable to them as a popular search query for people who would be high in the sales funnel for a renovation.
However, people who search for interior design trends are in a learning mindset, not a purchasing one. If you use that keyword as a target for ads, it will potentially show up to a vast number of people. The majority of them will either ignore the ad entirely, or worse, click on it but not convert.
One way to prevent that is by auditing your competitors’ keywords and their maximum bids on those keywords to strategically outbid them and leverage undervalued keywords. A term like “home renovations in Columbus” may have less overall search volume, but is much more likely to lead to a sale.
Intelligent targeting options
Along with your keyword strategy, you can use various targeting criteria to ensure your ads only show to relevant audiences. These are just a few of the many options available:
Demographics: You can target audiences by age ranges, gender, and interests.
Location: You can target ads to people who live or are searching within a specific geographical radius, cities, states/provinces, countries, or even continents. This is useful for businesses who only want their ads to show to people in the right geographical context.
Remarketing: People who have already interacted with your brand in some way are more likely to convert. Remarketing allows you to target ads specifically to people who are on your e-mail list, have previously clicked one of your ads, or have visited your website or app.
Realizing your objectives by choosing the right digital marketing mix
With your analysis and audits completed, prioritized and packaged meaningfully, you can now put together your digital marketing strategy.
You should now be able to answer all of these important questions:
- What are my business objectives?
- Where are my customers on the web?
- How and when are they looking for my products and services?
- What tools can I use to reach them at the right time and place?
These answers help you choose from the plethora of digital marketing tools and tactics available and how much effort to spend on each.
Search Engine Optimization
To drive sustainable traffic to your website without relying on PPC, you need to focus on search engine optimization. The earlier you start focusing on SEO, the sooner you will be able to rely less on paid marketing and have larger volumes of traffic flowing to your site.
Along with keeping your website monitored for technical SEO issues and optimizing your landing pages, you should be producing keyword-rich SEO-optimized content that helps drive customers down your sales funnel.
To earn backlinks, you should also implement an SEO PR program. This involves reaching out to other websites and blogs to write guest posts or sending your press releases to outlets that might write about your company.
Pay-per-click is ideal if your business objective is to drive leads or conversions. When properly configured, ads can be displayed to users who are the most likely to convert, at the right place and time.
You can segment your campaigns to show different ads or offers to different audiences at different times. Proper segmentation will ensure you are always showing the most relevant ads to a customer.
You can also test different ad images or copy against each other to see what performs best. This provides you with valuable insight into what your customers respond to.
While Google Ads is the largest ad network out there, you might have success on other ad networks such as Bing or niche networks that reach your audience. The smaller ad networks may also have less competition for competitive keywords.
Social media has both an organic and a paid component.
Organic social media is the free use of the platforms to share your content and work at building a community. However, finding fans and building a loyal audience on social media takes a lot of time and effort. Facebook has also made it harder for businesses to show up on users’ feeds organically.
To maximize your efforts, you should include a paid social media component. A strategy should be designed to boost your posts in order to attract more followers to your social media account. Or you can run ads on the social media networks for the strict purpose of bringing high-intent users to your website. Like PPC, you can use intelligent targeting options to only show ads to people at a time or location where they are more likely to convert.
How data from each strategy informs the others
Every one of your digital marketing channels will provide you with data you can use to boost the others.
Important Transferable Insights Include:
- How effective was your ad copy?
- Which of your offers had a higher conversion rate?
- Which paid keywords led to more conversions?
- Which social media posts/ads had the most engagement?
- Which images are resulting in more engagement or clicks?
By learning the most effective conversion tactics across each marketing touchpoint, you can apply those findings to the other tactics. For example: successful organic keywords can help inform your paid keyword strategy, and vice-versa.
The Living Roadmap
Your digital roadmap is not set in stone. Maybe along your route, you will discover a shortcut that wasn’t in your initial plan. That’s great – when we’re working with our partners we are always looking for new optimization opportunities. However, the need for ongoing adaptation doesn’t mean you should forgo the initial roadmapping!
To ensure you get where you need to go, efficiently and quickly, you should look to work with a trusted digital marketing partner.
Pedestal Search was founded by an ex-Googler who worked directly on the search product at Google HQ. Our proprietary SEO and PPC systems and tools help our clients meet and exceed their business goals.
To get going on roadmapping your path to digital success, reach out to us today.