The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Web Marketers Who Actually Made it to the Top
Success in digital marketing doesn’t come easily. According to a recent survey, only 31% of web marketers say that their strategies are “very successful,” while 46% say they are “somewhat successful.”
The question is: What separates those two groups? What tactics take a marketer from being somewhat successful to being best-in-class in their industry?
Let’s take a look at seven of these tactics right now so you can start building your advanced and highly effective marketing strategy.
1. Define Benchmarks and Goals
You can only gauge your success if you have determined the goals you’re trying to attain. For instance, your goal might be to generate awareness, increase leads, or drive sales on your website. According to Ascend2, 58% of web marketers say that increasing sales is their most important goal for 2017.
Once you have defined your goals, you’ll be able to plan a strategy that will help you attain these goals and choose the right metrics to measure your effectiveness. For example, if you want to generate awareness, you might measure website traffic and social shares. If you want to drive leads, you might measure newsletter signups and form completions. Once you identify your key metrics, you can also set up specific benchmarks, i.e. 1,000 visitors per blog post, or 100 signups per month.
When defining your goals, it’s important to consider audience behavior and interests. Remember that digital marketing is about creating online experiences for your customers. No matter how trendy your ad might seem, or how much money you pump into a campaign, if it doesn’t speak to your customers’ needs and desires, it won’t help you meet your goal.
Consider HP and its Facebook campaign. The technology company wanted to promote its new touchscreen laptops to Generation Z (consumers aged 14-18) and drive sales among back-to-school shoppers. To engage this hard-to-reach audience, HP partnered with influencer Marcus Perez to create video ads that ran during the last three weeks of July. The company ended up reaching four million young people, and seeing significant lifts in recall and purchase consideration.
By clearly defining its goal and audience, HP was able to choose its target demographic, pick a relevant distribution window, and make the most of its budget.
2. Document Your Marketing Strategy
Write it down. This sounds so simple, but many web marketers fail to do it. As the Content Marketing Institute found, effective content marketers have one major thing in common: they document their strategies.
Their report states, “B2B marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy get better results from their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution.” And yet, only 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers follow this rule.
Too many web marketers are eager to just jump in and start creating. They feel they don’t have enough time to create a calendar, or feel that they don’t need one because their team is so small. Without a documented strategy, however, they won’t be guided by any concrete plan, and they won’t know what to refer to if they come up against an obstacle.
By documenting your strategy, you can set a clear path for your team to follow, and you can hold yourself accountable if you veer off course. To get you started, here are a few key elements to include in your documentation:
- Key goals and objectives, as discussed above.
- Audience profiles, including characteristics, behaviors, needs, and buyer journeys.
- Editorial calendar, including the types of content you’ll publish, when you’ll publish them, and who will be responsible for creating them.
- Distribution channels, such as paid and owned platforms where you’ll share your content.
- Metrics and analytics to help you gauge the success of your content and optimize it when performance indicates.
You can use Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Calendar—all of these are free platforms— to outline your strategy, share it with your team, and update it as needed.
3. Set Up Social Listening Tools
If your customers are on social media, your brand should be, too. But where do you start? Some web marketers simply try to publish on every network and hope that buyers see their ads. By doing this, they waste valuable resources when they could be engaging the right people in the right place at the right time.
To use social media effectively, you need to determine where your customers are active, if they’re talking about your brand, and if so, what they’re saying at any given moment. This is where social listening tools come in. These tools can help you track keywords, social shares, engagements, and mentions.
If, for example, you’re a marketer at a software company and want to promote your new business management program, social listening can help you find out who’s talking about business management (and even who’s complaining about their current solution) and deliver your message straight to those high-interest consumers.
You can either start with free platforms like Hootsuite, Social Mention, and SharedCount, or you can upgrade to paid services like Sprinklr, Sprout Social, and Spredfast.
4. Use White Hat SEO Techniques
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day and 40,000 search queries per second. When people search for keywords related to your products, you want your business to pop up. You can use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to ensure that your content is found by Google.
There are two kinds of SEO techniques: white hat and black hat. Black hat techniques are used to trick the system into ranking your site. These include keyword stuffing, creating pages with duplicate content, and incorporating hidden links into your content. You need to use white hat techniques. This is not just a suggestion; it’s a necessity. Websites that use black hat techniques can get banned from Google search results.
Effective white hat SEO techniques include:
- Creating high-quality content: Your website content should be helpful to the reader, either by informing, educating, or entertaining. It should be cleanly formatted and grammatically correct, and substantial enough to provide value to your viewers.
- Using relevant keywords: Your keywords should match the content of your post. Don’t just stuff your tags with terms you think people will search for. Be smart and strategic about choosing short- and long-tail keywords by conducting research through platforms like SEMrush and Spyfu.
- Making your site easy to navigate: You should provide an enjoyable experience for your readers. This involves making sure that they can find their way around your site, that your site is not stuffed with too many links, and that the site loads quickly.
- Optimizing for mobile: Google recently announced that “after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and new Mobile-Friendly Test API to make sure your site is mobile-ready.
Overall, good SEO is about creating high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience. This should always be the main objective of your marketing operation. If you stick to that rule, you won’t be penalized by Google, and you’ll have a greater chance of being included in search results.
5. Choose the Right Metrics
Creating ads is only the first part of the equation. The most effective web marketers use advanced analytics to measure performance. While there are many different metrics to choose from—such as website visitors and social shares—it’s important to hone in on the ones that will help you meet your key objectives.
For example, if your goal is to increase signups to your email list, you don’t want to get too hung up on page views. Sure, 1,000 page views in one day sounds great, but if those viewers aren’t actually converting, you’re not reaching your goal. This is a sign that you need to revisit your strategy.
When choosing your metrics, consider these four categories:
If you want to generate brand awareness, you should focus on consumption metrics and sharing metrics. If you want to generate leads and convert new customers, you should focus on lead metrics and sales metrics. Once you select the right metrics for your strategy, you’ll be able to use your budget and time more wisely.
6. Be Willing to Experiment With New Platforms and Formats
Just a few years ago, Vine still existed, Facebook didn’t have live video, Snapchat was an up-and-coming platform, and Google had yet to launch shopping ads for YouTube. On the Internet, new platforms and solutions come and go quickly. Consequently, web marketers who don’t keep up are in danger of being left behind.
Take entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. To promote his family’s liquor store in 2006, he started a video blog on YouTube, just a year after the platform launched. After the series took off, this marketing guru launched VaynerMedia, a creative agency that now serves clients like Budweiser, 20th Century Fox, and Spotify.
If you’re not sure about whether to jump on a new platform, ask yourself the following questions: Are my customers using this, or is it likely that they will? Is there a niche that hasn’t been filled that I can help fill? If the answer is “yes,” then there is room for your business to become an early adopter and make your mark.
7. Always Look to Optimize
A digital marketer’s work is never done. Audience preferences and behaviors change, and you need to adapt your strategies to meet these changes. Otherwise you’ll waste money on ineffective ads.
For instance, you might find that during a specific week, a lot of your customers are searching for keywords X and Y on Google. As a result, you bid high on these keywords and let your ads run for a month. Unfortunately, your competitor realizes that, in the middle of the month, customers have started searching for keyword Z. Since you didn’t think to follow up on your keyword research, you lose customers to your competitor and have to go back to the drawing board.
You don’t have to watch your audience behaviors every second of the day. But you can schedule times to check on your metrics and revisit your strategy. You can also use analytics platforms and automation tools to access real-time data, so you never have to miss a beat.
Best-in-Class Marketing Tactics for Web Marketers
In 2017, digital ad spend is expected to account for almost 40% of all ad spend in the US, overtaking other marketing formats, including TV, print, radio, and out-of-home. As a result, competition will become even tougher, and customer attention will become even harder to earn.
Web marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve will need to adopt winning strategies that can carry them through the ups and downs of the digital ad landscape. Define your goals before you spend; document a clear strategy that you can follow; find the right metrics for your objectives; and always look for ways to optimize.
With these tactics to guide you, it doesn’t matter how many competitors, new platforms, or emerging audiences threaten to throw you off track. You will have the tools you need to cut through the noise and make it to the top.