The Complete Digital Marketing Guide

If you've ever wondered what digital marketing is all about, this guide is for you. There are hundreds of different elements that make up digital marketing, from social media through to organic search.

All of the various elements in your strategy work together to build awareness, drive traffic to your website and ultimately increase conversions. Without an effective strategy or the right tools you will find it more and more difficult for people to find your business in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Developing a winning digital strategy takes time. In addition it demands advanced knowledge of your market, an understanding of your business, its customers and the careful selection of suitable digital tools and technologies to implement your strategy. Collectively these tools and channels can help your business grow by building relationships and increasing engagement with your brand.

Digital marketing is much more than simply choosing one of the many digital channels such as organic search or social media and hoping for the best. It involves a strategic process, looking at your business and what customers expect and then delivering this in a targeted way using the most suitable digital resources. It also involves thinking about how people engage with your brand online and understanding what platforms and channels they prefer.

Using this data you can then create distinct buyer personas and segments which you can use to tailor and deliver specific marketing messages. Approaching digital marketing in this way will not only enhance the effectiveness of your messages but also increase the success rate of your online campaign.

Furthermore, digital marketing allows you to segment your audience in a way that traditional marketing cannot, making your job easier and your strategies more effective.

There are hundreds of ways in which a customer can interact with your brand online. Each element of your digital strategy should focus on achieving one or several goals.

As you start to think about the digital marketing strategy for your business, it is important to consider your objectives. What do you want your digital marketing efforts to achieve? This is important because the strategy that you develop will depend very much on your specific marketing goals. Here are just a few of the many online marketing goals that you could consider:

    
  • Growing your mailing list by encouraging more people to subscribe
  • Increasing interaction with your content - do you want more social shares or engagement with your blog content?
  • Would you like web visitors to download some exclusive content or sign up to a membership area of your website?
  • Have you developed an online course and you would like to increase enrolments?
  • Are you simply looking for more enquiries to your business
  • Or would you like your marketing goals to focus on increasing sales?

Whatever your marketing goal, it helps to build a watertight digital strategy that focuses on achieving your objectives.

You can choose a number of different routes to achieve your aims and objectives but to be successful, the platforms, tools and channels that you choose must be suitable for what you are trying to achieve. Typical resources used as the building blocks of your digital strategy will include:

  • Your company website and blog
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Social Media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Earned media such as features on social media, PR and reviews
  • Online promotional material including prospectus documentation and brochures

The above assets can be used individually or collectively to develop:

Search Engine Optimisation – A combination of on page and off page optimisation techniques to rank higher in the organic (non-paid) search engine results pages. The goal of SEO is to boost rankings for key search terms and increase traffic to your site.

Content Marketing – The development and distribution of digital resources to build brand awareness and potentially gain links

Social Media Marketing – Promoting your business through social media channels to make sales, build connections, and distribute content to gain exposure or build an audience.

Pay Per Click – Creating adverts which operate on a pay per click basis. Each time someone clicks on your ad, you will pay an agreed amount. Generally the more competitive the keyword, the more expensive the cost per click will be. There are multiple PPC channels these days such as Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more paid options.

Email Marketing – Building a list and promoting useful or exclusive content to subscribers in order to increase conversions, boost sales or generate leads.

Digital marketing works in any industry for any business. No matter what you sell, if implemented correctly it works. Although often some industries have some real big hitters that makes it hard to complete without huge budgets – unless you’re really creative with your marketing approach and utilise the power of social really well.

Effective digital communications make it possible to connect and build long-term relationships with customers. Good digital strategies should help businesses generate demand for your products or services using various resources, channels and platforms to offer something valuable that customers want to purchase.

Audience

In recent years digital media and the way in which people use the Internet has changed dramatically.

In your industry there are countless niches and specialist communities. Part of your digital strategy will involve narrowing down a profitable niche and focusing your efforts in this area. However, with so many channels and platforms available to consumers, you have to be creative to capture the attention of and engage with your audience.

With so many choices and so little time, it is very easy for consumers to ignore marketing messages. The more you invest in building relationships with your target audience, the more likely they are to engage when you have a marketing message to communicate.

Segmenting

Niche communities, industry influencers and fragmented attention spans means you need to segment your online audience and customise messages.

Segmentation requires the selection of a general group of consumers and then segmenting this group in terms of common characteristics.

You can then target each group differently depending on their requirements.

Deciding who to target requires you to identify the following:

Characteristics – Relating to your ideal customer profile, typically referred to as demographics.

Value – Targeting the most valuable segments of your market

Lifecycle – Targeting through personalising each visitors experience and using behavioural email marketing

Channel Preference – Grouping customers based on what channels they prefer

When it comes to digital marketing segmentation, customers can be reached across a range of channels depending on their needs and preferences.

After the segment has been created, a super targeted, often personalised message can be distributed to these people using the data that you have collected and analysed. This personalisation could be something as small as adding a customer name to an email message or it can be more detailed, tailoring an entire page of content suited to the customers buying history, connections and the way in which they interact with your brand.

As an example, some shopping companies will provide recommendations based on items that they have purchased previously or similar products bought by other customers.

Measurability (insert analytics style graph type image representing the title)One of the best things about digital is that it is so easy to measure. Due to the range of technologies on which digital strategies are built, almost every action online can be tracked, captured, measured and analysed.

With traditional marketing methods it can be very difficult to see what is working, how well it works and why. Digital can help you specifically pinpoint the way in which campaigns are succeeding, extracting extremely beneficial information such as the channel, audience segment and time of the day.

Web analytics are crucial in measuring digital strategies. They can track, analyse and draw insight from huge amounts of online data. Analytics can also go a step further by helping a business owner understand the intent of their audience.

Measurability is about understanding how people use and interact with technology. Using this information you can develop highly targeted and relevant marketing messages that produce results.

Content


Chapter 1:
Digital Marketing Strategy


Chapter 2:
Website User Experience


Chapter 3:
SEO-Search Engine Optimisation


Chapter 4:
Paid Search Advertising, PPC, Adwords


Chapter 5:
Online Advertising


Chapter 6
Social Media-Paid & Free


Chapter 7:
Metrics

Chapter 1:

Digital Marketing Strategy

A well thought out digital strategy will create a strong foundation on which to develop your business. It outlines what tactics will be used, focuses on your strengths and helps you to understand your goals. The first step in a digital strategy is to identify one or more issues that you would like to solve. This could be generating more traffic or increasing conversions for example.

Marketing efforts should create and satisfy demand for a product or service. Your digital initiatives should drive the creation of demand using a number of carefully selected digital tools and techniques.

An online business can add value for consumers in a number of ways. Usually this is through the delivery of some form of content such as a written blog post, an infographic or a video.

The Internet has completely transformed the way in which businesses sell products and services. Consumers now have greater choice, power and influence over what they buy and who they buy from.Therefore businesses have to be creative to identify new and innovative ways to market their products and services in rapidly changing markets.

Brands build loyalty amongst users who prefer their products and services. Consumers would rather purchase products and services when their experience of buying is tailored to their requirements rather than focusing on the needs of the business. Your digital strategy should aim to establish what problems your customers have and how you can solve their problems through your products or services.

Marketing Strategy Initial Research

Before you can start to put together your strategy you need to carry out some important research.

The purpose of a digital marketing strategy is to formulate a clear road map of how to connect with your clients to promote and sell your products or services. Effective strategies involve making informed decisions about how the brand, product or service should be promoted.

In order to make these decisions, there are several elements that you should consider:

Your industry – Clearly identify your niche

Your business – What is the purpose of your business what products do you sell?

Your customers – Who are they and what are their buying habits?

Your competitors – Who are your main competitors and how do they operate?

Your value – What makes your business valuable?

Using the above information you can then start to work on defining a unique selling point (USP). A USP is a specific characteristic or set of characteristics that differentiates your product or service from the competition.

For any marketing strategy to succeed, you must understand who you are marketing to. The best strategies are built around the creation of accurate buyer personas. A persona will represent your ideal customer. A persona is developed through the careful analysis of your target audience.

Once you have developed your buyer persona you can then start to look at the various channels you will use to market your business. There are three main channels that you will need to explore:

Owned media – Digital resources that your company owns such as your website, social media pages, blogs and other channels that your company has control over

Earned media – The way in which your content is distributed online such as guest posts, PR work or customer reviews. Earned media is the recognition that you gain from the work you undertake. Earned media is generated through positive reviews, mentions in the media and interaction with your content on social networks.

Paid media – The channels that you pay to market your business. Paid media could include advertisements on Google, paid posts on social media or sponsored posts.

After your initial research you should have a lot of information to work with which will allow you to start putting together the framework for your strategy. Each aspect of your digital plan should focus on your goals and the tactics that you will use to achieve them.

Objectives – What are you aiming for and how will you know that your objectives are being achieved? Your objective(s) should be developed around the SMART criteria; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.

Tactics – The specific tools or approach that you will use to reach your goals. As an example, an email newsletter, a CRM system or social media page are all digital marketing tactics. As your strategy becomes more complex you will have multiple channels, many of which will be working towards the same objective. Key tactics include SEO, Search Advertising, Online Advertising, Video Marketing, Social Media and Email Marketing

7 Components of a Digital Strategy
#1 Target Customers

If you're a business owner, chances are you will know your customers really well. Even if you do, it always helps to start your digital marketing plan with the development of personas. Most business owners I have worked with on this process, have found something completely new about their customers. Sometimes being emotionally attached is not the best way.

A persona goes much further than simply segmenting customers based on demographic information. Using personas can be useful in identifying specific opportunities that you can use to build your marketing campaigns.

A business will target families differently from the way it targets single people because each of these groups will display different buying behaviours. The way in which they interact with your business will also vary.

#2 Sales Journey

Understanding the sales journey is really important. When planning your marketing strategy you need to make sure that you understand the different stages in the buying cycle because this will facilitate movement toward the end goal – which is securing a sale.

Key considerations to make in this step:

Understand how you can drive or move traffic along in the sales journey

The length of time it takes for a customer to move through each stage

Are there any reasons why your customers are leaving – looking specifically at bounce rates and shopping cart abandonment rates

Once you have answers to these questions you can move on to the next step in the strategy; analysis.

#3 Past Performance and Analysis

Lots can be learned from analysing past performance because the information you gather can be used as a building block for future success.

Looking at historical data can help you understand what worked and what didn’t and what products or services proved popular.

On page metrics through Google Analytics are great for this step. Using the information that you have available for the past month, quarter or year, you can determine whether there are any major concerns in the buying process and how you can remove obstacles in the future.

Performance analysis can help develop strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which should be incorporated into your digital strategy.

#4 Competitor Analysis

Understanding your online competitors can be an excellent way to identify new opportunities. When evaluating your competitors, you should establish:

  • What your competitors are doing that you are no
  • Whether your competitors are doing anything differently
  • If your competitors are delivering their products or services in a more effective way
  • What their unique selling points are
  • How can you differentiate your products or services?

#5 Business Objectives

Without measurable objectives you cannot develop a digital marketing plan. Before you start to define your goals, you must understand what role digital marketing plays in your business and how it can support the achievement of your objectives.

Each of the above sections goes some way to formulating your goals, which should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Targeted.

If you are marketing products, your strategy needs to focus on each type or category of product that you sell.

Analysing whether your goals are achieved is relatively easy with paid digital marketing because through analytics software and ecommerce you can see whether they are proving successful. It is a little more difficult when working in organic channels such as search engine optimisation as the return on investment is not instant.

#6 Promotional Periods

Your strategy should also identify whether you intend on offering any type of promotion or discount period. If you will what will these be?

Some businesses establish an annual promotional calendar so they know when promotional periods will run. In doing so marketing initiatives can be planned leading up to the event.

#7 Marketing Channels

Once you have defined your goals, identified how you will measure them and decided whether you are going to run any promotions, the next step in your plan is to identify what channels you will use to deliver your strategy.

There are literally hundreds of channels that you can use online including search engine optimisation, pay per click (Google and Bing Adwords), social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), content syndication, email marketing and more.

With each of your marketing goals determine what channels you will be using to market your product or service. This is always going to be a rough starting point, because there is only so far you can go without data and refining your process. There is always some financial cost associated with finding the data you really need.

As you select the various channels for your marketing strategy, keep in mind the buying cycle. What should each channel aim to achieve? Which channels will be responsible for building relationships, generating leads or securing sales?

Not every platform will work for every business. Using your industry knowledge you should have a good idea about where your customers interact with your business the most. Social listening tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite can help you decide which social networks are popular in your niche.

If your business is relatively new or it has been around for many years, a strategic approach is required to improve the effectiveness of your marketing plan. A strategy can establish a roadmap that your company can use to help achieve its objectives.

Remember that it is almost impossible to refine, grow change without data and data is not free, you need to try, and then improve your process, this has to start somewhere.

Chapter 2:

Website User Experience

User Experience (UX) is a relatively new concept. If you have ever visited a website which is difficult to use, where there is a lot of highly complex and poorly structured content or the site is filled with broken links, these are all examples of bad UX design. Excellent user experience will increase conversions and provide a seamless customer experience. Bad user experience can result in lost customers and a reduction in revenue.

At the most basic level, a website must be reliable, functional and convenient.


There are some key components to UX design that you will want to get familiar with:

UX – The overall experience of your web visitor as they interact with your site

User Experience Design – The process of applying techniques, principles and features to create and optimise the experience for the user

User Centred Design – Prioritises the requirements of the web visitor and puts them at the centre of design

User Interface – The customer facing part of the website that they use to access information or purchase products and services

Usability – The efficiency and functionality of the website

When it comes to digital marketing, there are some real benefits in creating an effective user experience. Good user experience is one of the best ways that you can differentiate yourself in the market and provide a competitive advantage. If your website is user friendly, fun and interactive, customers won’t have any reason to look elsewhere.

User Centered Design

Although this may sound like an obvious starting point it is surprising how often businesses forget about the experience of the user. Businesses, marketing professionals and developers often put so much effort into the creation of platforms built around the requirements of their business rather than focusing on the customer. Effective UX design is about asking:

  • Who is the user?
  • What does the user require from the platform?
  • What is the reason for the user visiting your website?
  • What level of skill does the user need to navigate through your site?
  • What features and functions would make the user experience easier?
  • What steps are involved from landing to converting and how can we make that simpler?

Good usability involves adopting the same tried and tested principles and applying the same rules for structuring content. This involves:

  • Displaying hyperlinks correctly
  • Locating navigation menus at the top of the web page
  • Including the logo on the top left of the page which links back to the home page
  • Featuring search boxes toward the top of the page using clear and unambiguous wording such as 'search'.
  • Ensuring that elements of the website such as logos, menus, colours and layouts should be distinctive, easy to navigate and consistent across each page of the site.





The Importance of Simplicity
When coordinating User Experience Projects, the simplest option is always the best. Although your product or service may be complex, this does not mean that your customer facing web pages, have to be too. Simplicity involves:

Pages should be well structured and users should find it easy to see where everything is. Sufficient space between on page elemnets should make it easier for the user to understand how the page is structured and where the information is that they need.

When presented with fewer choices, consumers make decisions more quickly and more effectively

Unless your niche is particularly complex, avoid the use of jargon where possible. Text should be super easy to read and well structured.

Credibility

If your website lacks credibility you will find that customers won't buy from you. This is one of the most important factors for customers when deciding to purchase from you or not. The following can increase credibility:

Appearance – Does the site look polished and professional?

Contact Details – Is your contact information and address prominently displayed?

About Us – Your customers want to see that there is a person behind the website. Use employee photographs and images of the business to make the website more personal

Testimonials – Genuine testimonials are an excellent way to show web visitors what your existing customers have to say about your business.

Associations – If you have any accreditations, associations or awards, include them on your website. This not only establishes your credibility but it will show that you are really knowledgeable about your niche.

Endorsements – If you have received an official endorsement from an influencer or leader, this will certainly increase your credibility

Content – Make sure that your content is up to date, it is factually correct and free from any spelling or grammatical errors. This also applies to any links in your content. Check regularly for broken links and replace them as required.

Website Design and Mobile Development

Websites are at the centre of every digital strategy and they are the key to online success. Good website design is very much linked to effective user experience. You must be able to understand your audience before you can formulate a good design. Website design involves the creation of the customer interface including layout, colour scheme, theme, images, logos and design features.

The design of the website is what the user sees and what they interact with. Design is not just about creating appealing visuals; it involves providing signposts to the visitor guiding them to take a specific course of action.

Web development involves taking the finished web designs and creating a fully functional website. It involves translating the design into coding languages which are displayed by web browsers. Static sites or CMS are the two main types of website.

A static website is one that is built from a coding language with multiple files rather than a CMS, with the exception of the occasional update, the website remains very much the same. If content does need to be added this will need to be carried out by the web developer.

A Content Management System on the other hand is much more flexible and is used to manage the content of any website. Popular CMS's include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and ModX.

Today, the majority of sites are built through a CMS which can allow website owners to upload and update content from any location. It gives business owners much more freedom in terms of controlling the content that they upload and the frequency that content can be added. There are three different types of CMS, bespoke which can be built for your requirements, off the shelf and open source.

In addition to the different types of website, the use of mobile devices has grown significantly in recent years and is set to increase. Your website design must take mobile users into consideration. Responsive websites are the best way to reach a mobile audience.

Mobile websites make it easy for users to access information about your brand wherever they may be provided that they have internet access.

A mobile app is a specific piece of software designed to help users carry out routine tasks such as buying something, checking the weather, making a booking, or accessing information. Although a mobile app is not a necessity it can prove particularly beneficial to some businesses. Apps can deliver an improved user experience which is crucial for attracting and retaining customers.

Responsive is a key term in digital today. Your website must be responsive. This means that the site adapts to different screens in order to optimise the user experience.

As well as the various design elements on your site, the written content should be of a high standard too.

Writing for Digital

Creating copy for online media should engage, persuade and inform. It has to be relevant to the search terms that customers are using to find information about products and services.

Understanding who you are writing for ensures that you can communicate a distinct tone and voice for each project. The more you tailor your content to the intended audience, the more likely they will be to take the required action.

The first step in the process is to research who you are writing for. You need to understand who your audience is, what you want them to do when they read your content and what information they need to take the required action.

How do you write for your target audience? By answering the following questions:

  • Make it clear
  • Be precise and keep the content concise
  • Create content that is easy to read and well structured
  • Write the content for the reader rather than the search engine
  • Include a clear call to action – what do you want the reader to do?

When writing for the web you only have a very short period of time to capture the interest of your target audience. A competitor site is only a click away so you have to both engage with the reader and maintain their interest long enough for them to take some form of action.

Users will scan your page to find clues about what they need to do. Include a call to action. This is a short, effective instruction which tells them what to do. Typical calls to action include 'Click Here', Contact Us, Buy Now or Read More.

Web content should be written to attract interest and increase engagement. The more valuable your content, the more engagement you will receive and the more traffic you will generate to your site. In summary your web copy should:

  • Be written so that it can be easily scanned
  • Include meaningful headings
  • Highlight key phases or words with bold or italic text
  • Use lists to break up and structure the content
  • Be well structured across each page of your site
  • Limit each paragraph to one main idea or topic
  • Be as concise as possible
  • Include interactive content where possible to break up your content
  • Get straight to the point
  • Include the most important pieces of information first

User experience is a complex concept that can make or break an online business. Your marketing strategy should include how you intend to tailor your website to meet the requirements of your users rather than your business.

Chapter 3:

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

With millions of web users performing billions of searches each day to find products, services and information, to succeed online your business must be visible. Search engines are channels through which these searches are undertaken.

The search providers use advanced algorithms to evaluate website content. There are over 200 different factors that the search engines will take into consideration when ranking your website. Understanding which elements these algorithms focus on is known as search engine optimisation (SEO).

SEO is a practice of using on page and off page techniques to achieve the highest possible ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

Good marketers will understand the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO. Black hat SEO should be avoided in most cases to stop penalties and other adverse implications for your main website/brand.

Black Hat SEO strategies will involve the use of questionable methods to achieve high rankings. If your website is found to be using black hat techniques and identified by Google, your site may plummet from rankings or even disappear completely. If you have your website connected to Search Console, you will be notified of any penalties which are referred to as ‘manual actions.

White hat SEO techniques are always preferable. This involves adhering to search engine guidelines and optimising a website to achieve the best user experience. Search engines will send traffic to authoritative websites which effectively meet the requirements of the person searching online.

Before we look at what SEO means and how it is deployed as a marketing strategy, we have put together a list of metrics that some of the big online providers use to measure relevance and authority of domains.

Domain Metrics

There are also some specific domain metrics that you will need to understand as you begin to use the various SEO tools such as Majestic, Moz and Ahrefs;

Moz Domain Authority – A ranking score that provides a prediction as to how well a website will rank in the SERPs. Domain authorities range from 1 through to 100. The higher the score the better your ability to rank.

MozRank – This measures the popularity of links on the sites PageRank algorithm. A page will earn higher MozRank based on other pages that link to them. The higher the MozRank of linking pages, the higher the page will be listed in terms of MozRank.

Page Authority – A score developed by Moz to determine how well it thinks that a specific page will rank in the SERP. Page authorities range from 0 through to 100

Majestic Citation Flow – is a score between 1 and 100 which measures the power of a link. This metric is used in combination with Trust Flow which is a quality score between 0 and 100. Sites which have questionable links will only have a low trust flow score.

The final site is Ahrefs and their most popular ranking factors include;

Domain Rating (DR) – Demonstrates the strength of a websites backlink profile, and the tool will rank your site from 1 to 100.

URL Rating (UR) – This shows the strength of a particular page (URL)s backlink profile and the chances it has of ranking highly (high UR)

Ahrefs Rank (AR) – If you collate all of the websites in the world and put them by the size and quality of the backlink profile you will find the AR of the site.

Keyword Difficulty (KD) – Illustrates how difficult it would be to rank in the top 10 of the SERPS for a particular keyword. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to keyword research.

Now that you have a good understanding of the various terms and what SEO is, it's time to move on and look more carefully at the actual SEO process.

Understanding SEO

It seems a little odd to try to make sense of something that Google doesn;t really appear to understand. If you watch some of the webmaster hangout videos with John Mueller or the older ones with Matt Cutts – they are very cagey how they answer a lot of questions, getting worse over the years with less specific answers and speculation around what's asked.

There are multiple ways to achieve results, lots of data and split testing available on different websites so keep an open mind and do plenty of research.

There are two main elements to SEO as we have outlined below:

On-Site SEO

On-Page Optimisation –The process of optimising elements within the HTML code, the content and structure of the site to ensure that it is accessible for search engines, structured correctly, and user friendly.

There are many factors which search engines take into consideration when they decide to rank a site or a page. If you optimise your site correctly and follow all of the other SEO best practices, the higher your page will rank.

HTML elements should be optimised for each page and include targeted keywords or search terms. Keywords/content tell search engines what your page is about.

Page Title –The Title Tag is really important. Include your key search term in the title tag as close to the beginning as possible. The title tag should be well written and engaging to encourage visitors to click on your website. Avoid strings of keywords in the hope that they will all rank. This can in fact have the opposite effect.

Headings – The Page Headings H1 and sub headings H2-H6 should be formatted correctly. If possible include your search terms at least once in the heading. H1 tags are for page headings and should not feature more than once per page, while H2 and H3 tags are for sub-sections.

Alt Text –Each image that appears on the page should be optimised with suitable description including keywords. Alternative Text should tell search engines what the image is about because they do not yet have the ability to read images.

Anchor Text –Within the content of your web page there should be internal links to other pages on your website. Try to make the anchor text as naturally sounding as possible and incorporate keywords if you can depending on your strategy. Avoid over linking. Linking to the same content more than once per page will not bring any additional SEO benefits.

SEO Friendly Website Structure

To ensure that search engines can evaluate your content, you must eliminate the various technical barriers that may be present. If you want to achieve favourable results for your website you must comply with best practice.

There should be clear links to each page that you want the search engines to index. For user experience the most important pages such as your product or service pages should be clearly accessible from within your site.

Silos are often the best type of website structure, they are intuitive for search engines and users, where your content will be sectioned off into categories and all relevant pages that relate to a certain subject will be in the same section, and interlinked accordingly. Your UX should also be considered at this point, with good internal menus and linking structure.

The way in which your content is developed is really important for SEO.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is often overlooked and the biggest cause of poor rankings. There are multiple types of tools these days that will do a full technical audit of your website and give you things to work through, don’t dismiss them as unimportant, it is best to keep on top of these.

Things such as:

  • Canonical tags - Make sure they are set right, including rel for pagination
  • Redirects - Try to eliminate internal redirects unless they are coming from an external domain in which case make sure you distribute link equity properly
  • 404s - Make sure there are no 404s on your website
  • Robots.txt - Make sure you have the correct robots text file.
  • Sitemap - Make sure you have an XML sitemap and HTML sitemap
  • Search Console & Analytics - Make sure your Google tools are setup correctly

Off-Page SEO

Off Page Optimisation – The process of building high quality backlinks to the website focusing on outreach, content marketing, guest blogging, social media anything off the site that helps your rankings.

Backlinks

Building high quality backlinks is essential to SEO, but it involves time, patience and hard work. The first step in the process is to identify a popular topic in your niche using a tool such as BuzzSumo. Focus on content that has received lots of social shares.

Once you have settled on a suitable, proven topic you need to use a strategy such as The Skyscraper Technique to create an exceptional piece of content.

It may take some time to develop this content and it is recommended that it is at least 1,500 words. Once developed, share the content on social media and if it’s good enough it will result in likes, social shares and increased awareness for your brand.

At the same time, undertake outreach to high quality blogs and websites to secure links to your content, which will slowly increase your rankings. You can also build your link profile through guest blogging on authoritative websites in your niche, as well as using PR. There are many different strategies that you can use to build high quality links and these are covered in more detail in our in depth SEO ultimate guide to link building.

Links are powerful in SEO because they verify that a site is relevant. When an authoritative site links to a page or post on another site this acts as a kind of recommendation. The more quality links a website has the more favourable the site is in the eyes of the search engine and the higher the likelihood of the page appearing at the top of the search results for a given keyword.

Keyword

Keyword research is fundamental to any SEO campaign. It does demand a little thought and a lot of research as well as an understanding of what tools you will need to use but if carried out correctly, it can help bring measurable results.

Understanding your audience and choosing keywords is therefore an important element of SEO. In the early days of SEO, optimising pages was simply about including as many keywords as possible into your content. However, as search engines have evolved, using this old, outdated strategy will not achieve anything other than a penalty.

When undertaking keyword research, to identify suitable options, there are some key elements that you need to look at:

Search volume – This provides an estimate of how many searches are carried out for a given keyword

Competition –How many other websites are targeting the same keyword. You don’t want to choose head keywords which are one or perhaps two word phrases to optimise your site around. Use the search volume and competition data to identify medium or long tail keywords of three or four words that have an adequate search volume yet low competition.

Conversions –The likelihood of the click turning into a conversion. Some keywords are more conversion driven than others.

Gathering information on your keywords involves using the various online tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Keyword.io Google suggest, Search Console and your current website if it is established enough to see what keywords people are using to find your site. Also make use of heatmaps, record sessions, funnels, in-page analytics and analyse what the users are really doing.

Social Media

Although social media is not technically an off page SEO technique, it is one of the best places to build your audience which can be great for SEO. Your goal on social media should not be to primarily sell products or services.

Social Media is about building awareness of your brand and developing relationships. Sharing content, interacting with your followers and publishing relevant articles, images and videos will all help reach your target audience.

Once you build interest in your company, and establish yourself as an authority in your niche, people will start to click through to your website, browse your products and services and convert into paying customers.

SEO is evolving all the time. Techniques and strategies change from year to year so it is important that you keep up to date with the latest algorithm changes and adapt your website accordingly.

SEO is a hugely beneficial way of generating new business by driving traffic to your site.

SEO Tools

There are countless SEO tools that you can use to boost and track your SEO efforts, but there are three main tools that any marketer must use:

#1 Google Search Console

The Search Console is a collection of tools developed to assist website owners to monitor the performance of their site in Google. This console also includes Google Analytics from which you can you can extract valuable information about your website such as the search appearance, traffic, keywords, links and much more.

Once you have added your site to the Console there are several areas that you should focus on:

Search Appearance –This is important for webmasters because it shows how your site is displayed in the SERPs. Each element in this section is important and should be tracked regularly. It can provide valuable information about your traffic and highlights when content cannot be indexed.

earch Traffic –Insights into the keywords that your site is being listed for as well as the linking metrics from the various internal and external sources. The search analytics is the most important section because it shows information about clicks, impressions, click through rates and ranking position

If you want even more detail on each page of your site you can explore individual metrics such as keyword(s), country, search type and devices.

The Google Search Console can prove hugely beneficial when monitoring your SEO campaigns because you can quickly and easily see what is working and what isn’t.

#2 SEM Rush

As one of the most well known SEO tools, SEMRush offers marketers, SEOs and website owners a range of valuable tools to set up, monitor and evaluate SEO strategies.

SEMRush is one of the best tools that you can use for keyword research. Competitive analysis is an excellent way to start your SEO campaign. You can explore the key search terms that competitors rank for, what content strategy they have in place and the inbound link profile of their landing pages.

A fundamental element of SEO is to understand who your competitors are. SEMRush allows you to map your competitors in detail.

If you want to explore competitors for your site or any site you would head over to SEMRush and enter the URL of your competitor site. In this example we will use the popular site Amazon.

You can select any of the competitors from the list and start to unravel quite specific data on each of these sites. The data that you can extract from this report will help you to refine your own SEO strategy.

Another great resource in SEMRush is that you can identify the top content of your competitors. In the SEMRush site, navigate to the Pages section to generate a report on the content that ranks the highest on your competitor’s site.

Browse through the list and select any post or page that is generating a good amount of traffic. The tool will also display estimated search traffic, number of keywords the content is ranking for and any additional information on backlinks or paid keywords.

There are so many ways that you can use SEMRush to benefit and strengthen your SEO campaign. The more you use the tools the more effective they will become and the more success you will see in your organic search strategy.

Chapter 4:

Paid Search Advertising, PPC, Adwords

Paid search or (PPC) is an effective way to market your business particularly if you have recently implemented SEO and you are waiting for your strategies to work. PPC can place your site at the top of the search engine results pages above the organic results. Once your ad is displayed on the search pages and a web user clicks on the ad, you will pay a set fee for that click.

Search advertising is constantly evolving and options range from simple text advertisements through to media rich banners and video content. Advertisements on results pages are very easy to identify, usually located at the top of the Search page. In this example, we entered the search term 'Search Engine Optimisation.

As you can see all four of the results listed are paid advertisements for this search term. PPC advertisements are based around keywords. Advertisement campaigns should focus on key words and phrases that you want your advert to be shown against when they are searched for.

One of the great things about search advertising is that you can tell whether customers are demonstrating intent with your target keywords. If there are people searching for your target keyword(s) then its possible that they have buyer intent.

Key Terms

Before exploring paid search advertising in more detail, here are a few terms that you should understand to maximise the effectiveness of your campaign:

Click through Rate (CTR) – Number of clicks divided by the number of times the ad was shown

Conversion Rate – Number of conversions divided by the number of visitors

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – Total cost when a user carries out a certain action such as making a purchase or an enquiry

Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost for clicking on the ad

Impressions – The amount of times the ad is shown in search results

Keywords – Words and phrases that form part of search queries

Search Terms – Actual searches users type in before clicking on your ads

Quality Score (QS) – A metric used by Google AdWords to determine the quality of a keyword in relation to the ad that is displayed and the landing page.

Campaign Planning

The first step in the process is to plan and set up your campaign. Setting up a series of adverts won't work; you have to be targeted and strategic with a well thought out plan.

Step 1 – Create Your Account

Search advertising is constantly evolving and options range from simple text advertisements through to media rich banners and video content. Advertisements on results pages are very easy to identify, usually located at the top of the Search page. In this example, we entered the search term 'Search Engine Optimisation.

As you can see all four of the results listed are paid advertisements for this search term. PPC advertisements are based around keywords. Advertisement campaigns should focus on key words and phrases that you want your advert to be shown against when they are searched for.

One of the great things about search advertising is that you can tell whether customers are demonstrating intent with your target keywords. If there are people searching for your target keyword(s) then its possible that they have buyer intent.

Key Terms

Before exploring paid search advertising in more detail, here are a few terms that you should understand to maximise the effectiveness of your campaign:

Click through Rate (CTR) – Number of clicks divided by the number of times the ad was shown

Conversion Rate – Number of conversions divided by the number of visitors

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – Total cost when a user carries out a certain action such as making a purchase or an enquiry

Cost Per Click (CPC) – The cost for clicking on the ad

Impressions – The amount of times the ad is shown in search results

Keywords – Words and phrases that form part of search queries

Search Terms – Actual searches users type in before clicking on your ads

Quality Score (QS) – A metric used by Google AdWords to determine the quality of a keyword in relation to the ad that is displayed and the landing page.

Campaign Planning

The first step in the process is to plan and set up your campaign. Setting up a series of adverts won't work; you have to be targeted and strategic with a well thought out plan.

Step 1 – Create Your Account

At the very beginning of your campaign you will have a series of products and/or services that you want to promote. The best way is to structure your ad campaigns in a similar way to how you have structured your website. If your website was set up correctly, and with the right structure recommended in the UX best practices you can make things easier by using the same categories.

There are two main levels that you can use in Adwords to organise your campaigns; the higher level (campaigns) and the lower level, the ad groups. You can assign multiple ad groups to each campaign. Campaigns should represent the larger categories in your business while the groups represent the smaller sets of products or services. If for example, you run a store that sells office stationery you may structure an ad campaign in the following way:

Campaign A Paper and Card

Campaign A Paper and Card

Ad Group 1 – Printer Paper

Ad Group 2 – Notebooks and Writing Books

Ad Group 3 – Letter Writing Stationery

Campaign B Craft Items

Ad Group 1 – Glitter and Glue

Ad Group 2 – Ribbon

Ad Group 3 – Paper flowers

Creating individual campaigns will offer more structure to your strategy and will keep your ads relevant to search queries. The more focused your ads are, the more effective they will be.

Also be mindful of the amount of keywords you put into each adgroup, try and keep it more granular and limit the volume this way the landing page can be tailored to the specific keywords increasing QS and conversions.

Step 2 Decide Your Budget

With Google AdWords you are in full control of how much you spend. There are many ways in which you can set your budget, through your daily budget, your bids, geographical multipliers (where you are willing to pay more based on location), time based multipliers (where you are willing to pay more based on time of day).

The budget is the amount of money that you are willing to spend on your campaign each day. Your bid is the price that you will pay for a specific keyword when someone clicks on your ad that is displayed in search results.

Step 3 Select Keywords

When selecting keywords think about the search terms that your target audience will use when searching for the products or services that you sell. Keywords should be as relevant as possible. Consider intent keywords vs. informational keywords.

The Keyword Planner is free tool that can help you undertake keyword research for your campaigns. It can also help you decide on how much you should bid for your keywords so your ad will show up in the search results.

The more competitive the keyword is the higher the cost of the bid. Medium to low cost keywords can still bring in the traffic that you need and they can also help you test your campaigns.

Step 4 Create Your Landing Page

The next step is to create a landing page. This is a page that your customers will land on when they click on the ad. You may wish to choose a product or service page on your site or take it a step further and create a dedicated landing page. This is very important as paying for traffic to come to a poor converting page can be a costly mistake.

Step 5 Write the Copy

Make a great impression with ad copy. This is the first thing they will see so it has to have impact. The ad should effectively communicate what product or service you have and how you can solve a problem for them. Include a call to action in your ad, letting the reader know what you would like them to do. A typical call to action for an ad would be something like 'Buy Now' or 'Learn More'.

You now have everything you need to publish your ads and deliver your campaign. Don’t forget to link up your Google Adwords with analytics so you can receive detailed insights into the performance of your ads. This will allow you to tweak your campaigns or try something different.

Search Ads Explained

Search ads usually follow the same structure:

A heading | Two lines of ad copy | URL | Ad Extensions

Each of the above elements should work in combination to encourage searchers to click on your ad.

Within the ad there are several elements that you need to focus on; the keyword optimised text, the link to your site and the ad extension.

Ad Text

The ad text is the main part of the ad. Good Copywriting skills are essential to create short, yet engaging ads which encourage clicks. There are also guidelines as to what you can actually write in your ad which are outlined in Google Adwords editorial guidelines.

Guidelines for Expanded Text Ads:

  • The headline fields can be no more than 30 characters each
  • The description supports up to 80 characters
  • The path fields can up to 15 characters each
  • Words cannot be written in Capitals
  • Nonsense words cannot be used
  • Repeated exclamation marks cannot be used
  • You cannot use the words 'best', 'top' or similar superlatives unless they can be suitably verified by a reputable third party
  • Product numbers can be used

Search advertising is much more than simply creating adverts and bidding for keywords. The process keeps on going even after the user has clicked on the ad.

The page that the user will reach is referred to as the landing page. Sometimes businesses create custom built landing pages for each ad they create or keyword they target.

Landing pages can result in the success or failure of an ad campaign. Campaigns that convert will ensure that the landing page specifically matches the search term and include a clear and compelling call to action.

The ultimate goal of a landing page is to focus on a conversion. So if you were a training provider you would build your landing page around a specific course that you were marketing, compelling the user to sign up or enrol.

Ranking for Search Ads

As we have already discussed, search adverts are based on payment for each click. The cost that you pay for each click will depend on a range of factors and is built around a bidding system.

Search engines will identify a number of factors such as relevancy to the users search query. Search engines need to ensure that the results they display to users are accurate. If the SERP continually displays ads that are irrelevant to the users search, they simply won't receive any clicks – or revenue.

There are a number of elements that you need to include in your ad to ensure that it appears as close to the top as possible:

  • Relevant to the users search query
  • Consistently high click through rates
  • Competitive CPC bid and regularly outbids other ads of a similar quality

In terms of ranking however, it’s not as easy as following the above steps. As well as your bid the search engine will evaluate a number of other factors. This is known in Google as the Quality Score. It is applied to a keyword, ad group or account so it is important that you build your quality score and maintain it. This not only impacts your ranking but also your cost per click. Quality Scores are determined by a number of factors including:

  • Relevance of the keyword to the search string
  • Relevance of the ad copy to the search string
  • Relevance of the landing page
  • Data on the click through rate

What about Ad Rank?

Ad Rank is an important concept in paid advertising. It is a value set by Google that determines where you ad will be displayed on the Search Engine Results Page, or in some instances whether your ad appears at all.

Ad Rank is calculated through a number of different factors including key components of your Quality Score, your bid amount and the expected impact of extensions and formats of your ad.

The main elements of Ad Rank include the bid and quality of your website and ads. When deciding whether or not to display your Ad Google will factor in multiple elements such as click through rates, performance and relevance. Even if your competitor pays more for a keyword than you, you can still outrank them simply by increasing your relevance. The position of your ad will not remain the same; they constantly fluctuate to reflect competition in paid advertising on the results pages.

Tracking

To accurately report on your campaigns you need to use appropriate tracking tools. Conversion tracking is usually achieved using a small tracking pixel which is located in the confirmation page of your site. If you are sending traffic to your site, Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring the effectiveness of your campaign. AdWords and Analytics can be linked to share information and help you to fine tune your campaigns.

Effective Tools

At the core of every search marketing campaign is a suite of effective tools. These tools will help you plan your ads, select your keywords and understand competition and cost. Some tools are free while others are paid. The main tools that you can use include:

  • Google Adwords
  • Keyword Discovery
  • WordTracker
  • Google Trends
  • Google Keyword Suggest
  • Google Keyword Planner

If developed and implemented well, a search advertising campaign can prove incredibly successful.

Chapter 5:

Online Advertising

As we have already explored there are lots of ways that you can market your business online. There’s organic search including SEO, paid search such as Google Adwords and then there’s wider online advertising which we will discuss in this chapter.

As you use the internet, you will see online advertising everywhere. It includes adverts that you see as you log into your webmail, ads that are placed in emails or those that appear on your social media pages or banners that you see on news and information sites.

Digital advertising covers almost every platform, website and app that you will use. It is even used on mobiles. As you use apps or access websites through your mobile device, you will see mobile advertising at work. .

Businesses use online advertising in many different ways. Some use it as a way to increase awareness, while others will use it to boost sales. Whatever the goal of your ad campaign, it should address two key factors.

Firstly the advertisement should create demand and secondly the end destination should satisfy that demand.

The way in which online adverts are delivered will reflect user behaviour. Even the most well thought out ad campaign would prove unsuccessful if the ads are targeting the wrong people.

Online advertising is not just restricted to one platform or approach; it is a strategy that can be distributed across a number of platforms and websites specific to your niche. Depending on your industry, the adverts may include media such as video, interaction and sometimes even games.

One of the best things about online advertising is that you can measure it. Every aspect of your campaign can be tracked, measured and monitored. In doing so you can collect valuable snippets of data which provide you with detailed information about how your advert is being received and how effective it is. This data can then prove crucial when it comes to decision making.

Before we start to look at the specific elements of online advertising, we will run through a series of key terms that you will come across as you start to plan and implement your ad campaigns:

Key Terms
Banner – An online advertisement which is displayed on a web page

Conversion – When a visitor carries out the required action

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – The cost of acquiring a new customer

Cost Per Mile (CPM) – Total amount of money spent for every 1,000 impressions for an advertisement

Display Network – Websites that distribute pay per click adverts

Tracking – The effectiveness of a campaign through the collection and analysis of statistics

Tracking Code – A piece of code which tracks how a user interacts with a website

Advertising Objectives

An ad campaign is not complete without at least one objective. Defining your objectives will help you establish a clear focus for your campaign and ensure that your goals are being reached.

One of the most popular advertising goals is to increase awareness. The majority of businesses want to build awareness of what they are selling.

If executed correctly, online advertising can achieve this. As people start to see your brand more and more online and they see you build your reputation, the more they will trust your business. Greater trust means increased brand loyalty. The only issue with this is its difficult to measure its effectiveness.

As you market your business online you will start to build your brands authority. As online advertising is largely visual, it allows you to promote brand imagery such as logos and further increase the chances of your brand becoming familiar with your target audience.

Ultimately for your ads to prove successful, you have to create demand for your product or service. Creating customer demand is a three-step process. Firstly you must inform, secondly you must persuade and thirdly you must remind them.

A customer cannot want something that they do not know about. Advertising should convince them that a product or service is desirable and inform them why they should purchase it.

Online advertising provides a great way to communicate the unique selling points (USPs) of a product, helping to drive demand and remind customers about the benefits of the product or service.

Deciding your objectives is just one part of the process. The ads that you choose need to be created for your audience and the platform that they are running on. There are many types of display ad that you can choose from and in the next section we will explore the various types of ad and how you can use them in your campaign.

Types of Display Ad

A banner advert is an animated display or still image which is placed on a website for the purposes of advertising a product, service or business. Usually a static banner will be displayed in a JPEG or GIF format.

Animated banners can use a range of media including JavaScript, Flash or HTML5. These technologies allow people viewing the ad to interact with the banner. However, some banners are not limited to a certain section of the web page or app. For example, they can pop up or expand when the mouse rolls over them or when they are clicked. Yahoo! often uses this type of banner advertisement.

Before you start to think about placing an advert it is important to understand the various sizes that are available. There are several standard sizes for animated, static and rich media banners. Creating banners which are of a standard size will mean that the advertisements can be placed on a range of websites. Depending on the ad that you create, you can expect to see varying rates of click throughs.

On Google’s Display Network, the main banner sizes include:

Medium Rectangle Banner

Leaderboard

Mobile Banner

Half Page

Large Banner

Other types of Banner

Interstatial Banners – Appears as you click through the pages on a website

Popup –Displayed in a separate window over or under a page that you are viewing. Sometimes you will see the popup immediately while other times the popup won’t appear until you close your browser

Floating advertisements –This will be displayed over the article or page that you are viewing. These can be annoying for web users so they should have a prominent ‘close’ icon or button clearly displayed on the ad. Where the ad includes animations or videos the ad will usually close once they have finished.

Online Advertising Platforms
There are many different platforms for running your advertising campaigns. In this section we will explore some of the most popular channels:

Google Display Network

There are two ways of running your display activity through Google; the Google Display Network or the DoubleClick Bid Manager. Both of these platforms can manage display campaigns, and they offer a number of different options. The platform that you choose will depend on a number of factors such as your individual requirements and your budget.

The Google Display Network (GDN) is suitable for running campaigns through AdWords which makes it ideal for small to medium sized advertisers.

DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) on the other hand provides the ability for you to enter into real time bidding.

In digital advertising, retargeting is a powerful tool. It allows you to use targeted advertising to increase sales. Using a platform such as Criteo you can deliver ads at the right stage in the customer journey.

A piece of code will be placed onto your site which allows Criteo technologies to view shopper engagement and drive product recommendations ensuring that the ads are relevant to the people viewing them.

Using a solution such as Criteo, you can use retargeting to help re-engage with web visitors who have left your site before they have made a purchase. Retargeting ads will follow your audience through each stage of their journey and then target them at a later stage with personalised product offerings.

Adroll is another retargeting platform which brings people back to your website by providing them with tailored adverts based on what they viewed previously.

Adroll is a platform that is used to convert window shoppers into buyers. Retargeting is a technique that will convert those who are simply window shopping into buyers. All that is required for this to happen is a piece of JavaScript on your site.

This will collect a list of people who visit your site and then create a series of retargeting cookies in their browser. The more targeted the ads are, the more likely the visitor is to click and return to your site.

Online Advertising Step By Step

Understanding the various types of display advertising and how they function is great, but you need to understand how to develop and deploy a winning online advertising strategy.

Step 1 Goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A good digital strategy is based on strong goals and objectives. The first step that you need to take to launch an advertising campaign is to decide what exactly you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase awareness of your business, boost subscribers to your email list or generate leads? Think about what you want the goal of the ad to be.

A great way to define your goals is to visualise your ad and consider what you would like the web visitor to do when they see it. Once you have defined your goal(s) you need to identify your KPIs. This will highlight the data that you can collect which will help you decide whether your goals are being achieved. Typical KPIs include click through rates, cost per click, conversions and impressions.

Step 2 Audience

Identifying your audience is closely related to highlighting your goals. The target audience is the group of people that you want to reach through your advertising. Although online advertising allows you to reach a huge number of people, it will only prove effective if your ads reach the right people. But how exactly do you ensure that you are targeting the right people?

Return to your buyer personas or customer profiles. These are descriptions of the ideal customer based on a range of demographics. You can use these personas to specifically target your display campaign.

Each different display marketing platform will have different options for targeting the correct audience. On facebook you can set demographics, status, liked subjects etc and on linkedin you can set job titles, demographics and more, all of these help you target the right audience.

Step 3 Advertising

Now that you have narrowed down your advertising goals and identified your audience, it is time to look for suitable advertising space. You can buy advertising from a range of online sources including publishers directly and ad networks as well as demand side platforms and advertising agencies.

Step 4 Decide Your Budget

The majority of advertising platforms enable you to set and manage your budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per click, engagement, action or impression and assign your total budget accordingly.

Step 5 Design Your Ad

Ads must be designed using best practice and created to encourage clicks. A creative team skilled in banner or ad creation will be able to help you design a practical ad for your campaign. An online advert should gain attention, communicate your message and drive a response. The ads should also include a clear call to action.

Step 6 Landing Pagep

Select or create a landing page for the ad. All adverts must be linked to a suitable web page. This may involve the creation of a microsite or it may lead users to an existing product or service page on your site. However you must make sure that the click throughs are relevant. Avoid directing ads to your home page as visitors will be unsure where to go next and will usually click away from the site and look elsewhere.

Step 7 Run Your Campaign

Once you have all of the components in place for your campaign you are ready to deliver your ads. Be careful to monitor your spending so you are not exceeding your budget.

Step 8 Monitor and Measure

The final step in the process is to measure and monitor the progress of your ads. Collecting data on the success rates of your advertising is important because it will allow you to understand what is working or what needs fine tuning. Ads should be regularly monitored and tracked to ensure that your goals and KPIs are being achieved.

Chapter 6:

Social Media – Paid & Free

Social media is about collaborating, building relationships and sharing valuable content, information and ideas. It could be said that social media is perhaps one of the main reasons why so much content is now available online as the various channels allow users to share articles, videos, images and more.

Information created for social media is designed to be shared.

Key Terms

There are many terms which are associated with social media:

Blog – An online collection of content around a specific topic. Blogs are usually made up of content such as articles, video posts (vlog) where web visitors can like, share and comment on the posts.

Microblogging – Publishing very brief posts between 140 and 200 characters on a specific topic. Often this post will include a link to a longer piece of content. Twitter is an example of a microblogging platform.

Impressions – The amount of times that your post has been seen on social media

Engagement –The amount of times someone has engaged with your post whether this is clicking on a hashtag, a link or expanding to read the full post

Tag – Indicates what the content is about

Hashtag – A hashtag is a key word used to tag the content on specific platforms. If for example you were writing a post on content marketing you would include a series of hashtags in your post such as #onlinemarketing #digitalmarketing #contentstrategy

Social Media Channels

Social Media is a key component in your digital marketing strategy. There are many different social media channels but you don’t have to join and manage all of them. This is not only a huge task in terms of ongoing management, would be very difficult to maintain a quality content strategy across every single platform.

For the majority of businesses it is best to choose the most suitable channels for your business. The decision that you make should be based on factors such as your target audience, the industry in which you operate and your wider social strategy.

Identifying the right social media channel for your business is achieved in a few simple steps:

#1 Know your Audience

The most important stage in social media marketing is to find out where your audience are. It is no use targeting platforms that the people who purchase your products and services don’t use. Therefore you should identify your target audience and then compare these with relevant social media demographics. Social listening tools such as Hootsuite and Buzzsumo are great for this purpose.

You can also undertake a manual search of these social networks to explore the type of content that is being published and who the content creators are. If content is regularly posted that relates to your industry it is probably a good match.

#2 Understand Your Industry

Not every social channel will be suited to every industry. Visually driven industries such as photography, fashion and cosmetics would benefit from channels such as Pinterest or Instagram.

Other businesses find that the microblogging platform Twitter suits their business better because it is better suited to content curation. The best way to understand whether a social network fits in with your industry is to undertake a competitor analysis and determine what platforms they are using.

Two key questions you need to ask are: Is the business active on the social channel and is there engagement with their posts?

The first of these questions is really important. A business usually won’t be active on social media if it is not delivering results of some kind(unless they are new or lost). These results may not necessarily be sales, but it could be traffic, leads or increased newsletter subscribers.

Secondly, social media engagement is vital. It demonstrates that there is an active audience in that industry.

#3 Content

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked steps when it comes to selecting a social media platform. Before you decide on which networks to use, consider how social media is used.

More specifically what content do you wish to publish? Content that performs well on one platform won’t necessarily perform well on another.

Twitter, Google+ and Facebook Best For – Content Curation

Twitter and Facebook Best For – Distributing Company News

Facebook and Vine Best For – Video Content

Tumblr, Pinterest or Instagram Best For – Image Sharing

LinkedIn, Facebook Best For – Lead Generation

It is recommended that you choose a few social media channels to focus on. That way your content can be more focused and of a higher quality than if you spread your social presence too thin. Obviously it is all budget dependant, if you can afford time, money, staff to the process then try them all to see what truly works.

Social shares are the main currency of social media. The more shares that your content receives, the more people appreciate what you have to say. One of the best ways that you can measure shares is to use a tool such as BuzzSumo.

When you arrive on the site, enter a key search term. In this example we will use the phrase, social media marketing. Click Search and you will see the following screen:

As you can see this page lists the most shared content on social media and how many shares the content has received. This tool is also great for content marketing so you can select popular topics to focus your content creation on.

Paid Social Media

There are many different types of social media channels, but for the purposes of this guide we will look at the most frequently used platforms: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms and the people who use it are extremely engaged with the content that is posted. When it comes to advertising you need to focus on a small segment of your audience, otherwise your advertisements will be too broad and your advertising budget wasted. The people you target should be interested in the products or services that you sell. Facebook offers many different approaches to targeting your advertisements so you can specifically target your advertising to a distinct audience, maximising your Return on Investment.

Different Types of Facebook Advertising

One of the great things about Facebook is that it provides a set of 10 objectives that you can use to build your campaign around. For each of these objectives you can choose a number of options depending on your audience and goal.

Firstly let's look at the 10 main campaign objectives:

#1 App Installs – Promote your app and encourage installations

#2 Awareness – Building awareness of your brand by promoting your business to increase likes, comments and social shares

#3 Conversions – Compel your audience to take action on your website such as subscribing to your mailing list or buying a product or service

#4 Engage – Promote a post through the 'Boost Post' feature to increase its reach

#5 Leads – Generate new leads and drive them to your sales funnel

#6 Reach – Expose your advertising to as many people in your target audience

#7 Sales – Link your ads to Facebook catalogue

#8 Visits – Promote a physical, location based store

#9 Traffic – Drive Traffic to your website

#10 Video – Distribute video content to increase awareness of your brand

Guidelines for Facebook Advertising

Now that you understand the various ways in which Facebook Advertising can be used, let's take a closer look at the various types of Facebook Ads.

Photo Ads – Be creative with your images and include a short but concise statement of text to accompany the image.

Video Ads –Maximum length of the video is 120 minutes. Video ads can be one of the most effective methods of engagement provided that they are properly produced.

Slideshow Ads –A video ad which is created using up to 10 still images delivered as a slideshow.

Carousel Ads –Up to 10 videos plus photos in addition to text

Collection Ads –A specific ad type for mobile devices only and one that can display multiple features or products

Canvas Ads – A comprehensive ad which combines video, up to 20 photographs and text Placing Your Facebook Ad

If you already have a business page on Facebook, you have already made a start. You need to navigate to the Ads manager from your page to set up and manage your campaign.

Step 1 Choose your Objective – Decide the most important metrics for your business and identify the goal of your ad. For ads based on conversions you will pay per action while increasing awareness ads you pay for impressions.

Step 2 Audience – Knowing your audience is crucial for success. There are no restrictions on targeting your Facebook audience. You can target by location, behaviour, gender and many more. You can also fine tune your selection in a number of ways including connections or custom audiences

Step 3 Budget and Schedule – Decide how much you want to spend on your advertising. You can schedule a lifetime budget or a daily one where you can select start and end dates.

Step 4 Ad Creation – One of the most basic methods of advertising on Facebook is to simply promote your post. Alternatively you can create your own ad choosing from the range of options outlined above.

Instagram

If you have an account on Instagram for your business, you can use it for advertising in a number of ways, similar to Facebook.

Whether you wish to increase customer numbers, drive awareness or simply share stories for greater engagement, Instagram ads can help achieve your goals. The main types of ad include:

Photo Ads

Communicate your story clearly and effectively with a creative canvas to tell your story in either landscape or portrait.

Video Ads

Use the power of images combined with the power of motion, sight and sound. Use videos that are up to 60 seconds in length to communicate your brand message.

The goals of the Instagram ads are to build awareness of your product, service or app, encourage potential customers to visit your website or boost conversions by increasing sales, downloads or subscriptions.

Youtube

After Google, YouTube is the second most popular search engine. It has helped start many businesses and even created a number of industries; video tutorials being just one.

Through YouTube you can build small business teaching videos, share tutorials or share any type of video content. For marketing professionals, it is a great way to share long form content with viewers if they are not into reading.

As an example, a blog post could be turned into a short video tutorial, or an ebook converted into an online video course. There are two main purposes for YouTube. You can either teach or entertain.

LinkedIn

Through LinkedIn advertising you can reach several business goals using the worlds leading professional network. With more than 500 million professionals on LinkedIn there is a vast audience to reach provided that you target your campaigns effectively.

Whether you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads or boost sales, LinkedIn advertising can help your business. It takes minutes to create and publish your ad on this platform and your ads will be seen on mobile, tablet and desktop versions of the platform.

The advertising system runs on an auction system where you bid against other advertisers who are trying to reach out to the same type of audience. You can choose one of two models; CPC or CPM. Alternatively you can choose Sponsored where you only pay if your message is delivered.

With LinkedIn Advertising you are in full control over your budget and your schedule. Targeted ads can help you reach all kinds of business goals.

Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging site which allows you to share posts and useful content in ‘tweets’ of no more than 140 characters. The strength of twitter can allow your post to go viral. The more people who share your content, the more followers you can build.

Rather than being a platform to communicate with friends, Twitter is built for businesses to connect and communicate. Twitter has become an important marketing and customer service tool. It allows businesses to distribute information quickly and easily.

Now that you have a good understanding of the various social media channels it is time to start formulating your strategy. Social media is an opportunity to resolve a range of marketing, communication and business challenges. Social media can be used for:

  • Outreach and communication
  • Customer service and support
  • Building awareness
  • Generating leads
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Undertaking research

Social media is incredibly fast paced which means that you must undertake the right amount of planning. Creating a winning social media strategy involves:

Step 1 – Understand the landscape

Social media is much more than a social space in which you can interact with people. The first step in your strategy is to simply listen and observe. Aim to answer the following questions;

  • What conversations exist at the moment about competitors and your industry?
  • Where do these conversations take place?
  • Which platforms are most popular?
  • Can you add value to these conversations?

Step 2 Analysis

Once you have collected valuable information about the social media landscape, it is important to analyse. Think about your strategy and your brand as well as your wider marketing and communications strategy. Your analysis should cover:

The social media channels that you should target –

  • Who are your customers
    • How do they use social media
    • What platforms do they use?
  • Groups or communities that exist in your niche
  • An overview of existing conversations in your industry
  • Competitor activity
  • Industry influencers

Step 3 – Objectives and an Action Plan

Objectives should be clearly defined. What do you want to achieve from your social media campaigns? More website traffic? Increased leads? More subscribers to your newsletter? Ensure that your objectives are clear and measurable. Once you have defined your objectives you need to create an action plan to achieve them.

  • Identify who will be responsible for what in your social media strategy
  • Identify what tools you will use
  • Develop a content strategy. How often will you post
  • Establish a conversation framework
  • Create guidelines for tone of voice

Step 4 – Implement Your Strategy

Create your platforms, write your bios and ensure that you have tracking in place to monitor your strategy.

Step 5 – Monitor, analyse and optimise

One of the best things about digital marketing is that everything is measurable. Every user interaction from users to clicks can be measured. Collect as much information as you can to see how your social media presence is performing and use this data to tweak your campaigns.

Social media marketing is just one component in your wider digital strategy and it requires a lot of thought, active listening and an understanding of your audience.

Chapter 7:

Metrics

When it comes to digital marketing the chances are that you have spent many days pondering over your online strategy, meticulously selecting the right channels and deploying a well thought out content strategy. However, all of this work will be wasted if you are not monitoring and measuring the right metrics for your campaign.

There is so much data that you can collect and analyse it can sometimes prove overwhelming. What data do you need to collect and most importantly, what are the most important metrics that you should be evaluating? Here’s a list of the top metrics that you should be tracking:

#1 Traffic Metrics

The first set of data that you should explore is the information that is specific to your website. The metrics in this section will look specifically at traffic generation and are important for SEO and paid advertising in terms of your digital strategy.

Site Traffic

Traffic flows to your website can provide an excellent insight into how effective a specific strategy is. If you have specifically targeted one platform or deployed a technique to drive traffic to your website but the numbers are relatively low, it may be an indication that you need to adapt your approach. When measuring your website traffic don’t just focus on page views. Also explore the number of unique visitors that your website has received over a week or month.

Traffic Source

Understanding where your main traffic sources are coming from and what keywords they are using can provide an insight into whether your keyword strategy is working. Viewing the data may highlight a specific keyword that you haven’t targeted and it can help you refocus your SEO strategy.

Click Through Rates

A key metric for paid search advertising is CTR. Using this metric you can determine the number of clicks that your ads are receiving in comparison with the number of impressions (views). The higher click through rate can contribute towards your quality score. This will reduce the cost of your PPC campaigns.

#2 Conversion Metrics

Conversions are the ultimate goal of every marketer. Conversions should be at the centre of your digital strategy. The following metrics can provide valuable insight into how your conversion strategy is performing.

Conversion Rate

Measuring how many web visitors actually convert to customers is a valuable metric that will ultimately determine the success or otherwise of your campaign. Monitoring conversion rates can help you specifically identify which elements of your strategy are the most valuable. CRO or Conversion Rate Optimisation can be more effective than spending money on more marketing channels if done right.

Cost Per Lead

Digital marketing success depends on how effectively your website & content converts readers into customers. All marketers want to keep their costs as low as possible. Cost Per Lead is a key metric that enables you to identify the cost of leads across various platforms or campaigns

Bounce Rate

Not every website visitor will convert into a paying customer or result in a lead for your business. Sometimes web visitors will leave immediately after landing on your site. This is referred to as bounce rate. The higher your bounce rate the more work you need to do on your web page, or, your source of traffic. So which one is it?

Page Views Per Visit

Driving traffic to your website is one thing, but driving the right traffic is just as, if not even more important. Your content should aim to keep your readers on the page for as long as needed to convert them into a lead or sale. The more page views which are generated from each visit, the more likely the visitor is to eventually engage with your brand or purchase a product or service.

#3 Revenue Metrics

Your digital marketing success can be accurately measured through the use of the right revenue metrics. These will identify whether a particular campaign is profitable so you can make the necessary adjustments to create increased engagement, more conversions and higher revenues.

Return on Investment

The return on investment can be calculated by subtracting the cost of your traffic and marketing efforts (website, staff, etc) by from your total turnover. This will leave you with a figure showing you what you have invested is bringing back in, anything that works well can be scaled carefully.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Cost per acquisition is measured by assessing the total amount of new paying customers over a certain period of time. The cost to acquire these customers is defined by calculating the cost of your marketing and advertising for the same period and dividing it by the number of new customers that were generated. Although not super accurate this metric can give you a relatively good idea of how effective your digital strategy is.

Without monitoring your digital metrics, it is impossible to know how your strategy is performing. Insufficient tracking could result in you investing time and resources into platforms and tools that are not generating a sufficient return on your investment.

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