In the light of Google’s more recent changes, and the continued break-neck speed of change in all things digital, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the many different parts of digital marketing are going to fit together in 2014.
Being a visual kind of person, I decided to pull together a few PowerPoint slides to explain it to myself.
I then found that, when talking with clients, colleagues and other people in the industry, I was showing them my personal slides, and one in particular was resonating with them.
So I’m going to share this slide with you today. I hope you find it helpful! Please remember that it’s a work in progress, and built in PowerPoint so not exactly pretty.
What it says, in summary
1. First agree the strategy, then set the direction
Whenever possible, at Cicada we start our digital marketing process by getting a fix on an organisation’s commercial environment. Our baseline audit and planning process goes through four steps:
- Understanding your business and your commercial environment
- Flushing out what it is you want from your digital marketing, and how you’d like to measure that
- Figuring out how well you’re doing at the moment, and how hard it’s going to be to do better
- Creating a plan to achieve your objectives.
2. Get cracking: do some stuff, measure results, modify the direction as needed, and repeat!
The up-front strategic planning exercise delivers, amongst other things, a prioritised list of actions. We use this Google spreadsheet to share them with relevant parties and to manage delivery.
Immediate actions often include some on-page SEO. This is normally around refining page-titles and meta descriptions, and dealing with duplicate content.
From then on in, we deliver the plan in cycles. People are beginning to talk about this kind of approach as ‘agile marketing’ (check this out on google). Anyhow, a cycle begins with a meeting to review last month’s actions, looking at KPIs to see what effect it all had, and planning the next month’s activities.
And it’s pretty easy to understand that the faster you choose to cycle, the sooner you’re going to reach your objectives.
What’s in a cycle?
Well as is often the case, the answer to that is it depends. But more specifically it depends on your objectives, the urgency with which you want to achieve them, and how well you’re already doing compared to your competition.
Ideally we’d like to take clients along a route that involves:
- Content calendar: coming up with campaign ideas
- Content production: crafting some original research or content to communicate the idea, and talking about it on the client’s website
- refining the on-page SEO and user journeys through the website
- ‘Amplifying’ it on a wider set of channels. This might include paid-for channels like Google AdWords, as well as on social media
- Measuring and analysing how well its done and applying what you learn into the next campaign
The one component on my infographic that this list leaves out is ‘traditional link-building’.
What do you mean by ‘traditional link-building’?
This is an interesting one. Best-practice literature will tell you that if your content is helpful, educational, amusing, or relevant and appealing in some other way, then people will link to it naturally and share it socially. This is more accurately known as ‘link-earning’.
Just as a reminder, inbound links are the main currency that Google uses to figure out how relevant and authoritative a webpage is. And if a webpage is going to stand a chance of ranking, it has to have links pointing to it. To outrank the competition, it’s got to have more and/or better quality links than they do.
The contentious issue is just how to go about earning those links. There are some fantastic resources around to help you with this, check out this list by Jon Cooper (oops… just gave him a link). But typically these take time, there are no guarantees they’ll work, and some clients want certainty around seeing results quickly.
To answer this question in proper detail will require a blog post of its own; and maybe more than one! I’ll get back to you on that but in the meantime, do tell us about your favourite link-building tactic in the comments below.