Modern digital marketing techniques are pulling marketeers in so many different directions that many seem to be permanently on the verge of overload and burnout. If that’s you, grab a brew and take seven minutes to read this quick and dirty guide on how to cut through the crap and refocus on what really matters.
1. Adopt a ‘Content-first’ strategy
Invest time and effort here first. Make it authentic, useful and relevant and get the tone of voice right. Don’t think you can get away with shovelling a load of indifferent content into your content management system and then forget about your website for three months. Establish a content calendar and update your website at least weekly.
2. Who is your audience?
This is where it starts and finishes. Who are you trying to reach? Where do they live, what are they interested in, how old are they? If you’re after retired baby boomers living in Cheshire, you’re unlikely to reach many of them by posting vegan cooking tips on Instagram. Similarly, if you are targeting savvy millennials in Manchester city centre, you’re unlikely to find them on Facebook. Be ruthless – use only the channels that will work for you. Cut out the rest. You really don’t have the time.
3. Drive social media off content NOT the other way round
Once you’ve got the content nailed and have a workable content calendar for future updates in place, drive your social media from that content. Do it this way and you will have structure and focus; attempt to do it the other way and chaos ensues. You can use an eye-catching excerpt or abstract of web content on Twitter or Instagram to drive traffic to an interesting piece of content on your website; but bolting together a series of random tweets or Insta stories, uploading it to your website and calling it ‘content’ is unlikely to end well. And if you’re creating social media content without embedding a call to action linking back to your website. Er, Why?
4. Don’t waste money boosting mediocre content
If you’re lucky enough to have the resources to spend money with Google or the social media platforms to promote a post (PPC), spend that money wisely. Boosting ill-considered, inauthentic or hard-sell content – especially via social media – often backfires. It comes across as fake and intrusive – especially to millennials on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Create great content, put it out there and if the organic engagement levels are high – that’s the time to think about promoting it to a wider audience.
5. Establish clear objectives
Remind yourself why you’re doing this on a daily basis. Get buy-in for the core strategy and metrics from your boss and then be ruthless about executing them. Are you trying build awareness, drive engagement or promote a specific offer? If the latter, why are you measuring the first two? The only thing that matters is link clicks on your website. Review on a quarterly basis and tweak as necessary, but don’t make ad hoc changes on the hoof without giving new strategies and benchmarks the chance to bed down.
6. Don’t let data and analytics rule your life
Many marketeers spend way too much time using data to calculate ROI and justify their job. Whilst it’s tempting to produce reams of figures to placate a scary boss who needs constant reassurance that you’re spending their money wisely, your primary aim is to communicate your brand message to the target audience effectively – not to crunch data. The danger of data addiction is that it becomes more important than thinking creatively about how to engage your audience. Agree clear marketing objectives, establish which benchmarks will identify success or flag failure and set up a simple dashboard. Be wary of third party analytics platforms as they tend to generate more work to justify their existence – sound familiar?
7. Edit, edit and edit again
Less is more. No really, it is. Focus on the quality of the output and refine it to the Nth degree until it hits the mark in as few words as possible. Experiment with shorter and longer form content – but longer doesn’t just mean more words. If you’re going deep, there has to be a good reason. And remember that it’s easier to re-purpose and re-use deep, more detailed content than to make shallow, superficial content more detailed.
8. Be realistic about your resources
Do less content better. Focus on creating less, high quality content then use and re-use it across multiple platforms. This is why adopting a ‘content-first’ strategy is essential. Trying to create ad hoc content from scratch for all your platforms and channels consumes vast quantities of resource and often leads to inconsistent messaging. Agree the core content first. Then edit and re-edit different versions for different platforms.
9. Put people ahead of SEO
Search engines are getting smarter more intuitive and, well, more human. Writing content primarily for machines is a short-term strategy that’s doomed to failure. Using SEO tools to establish what people are searching for is a smart strategy. Writing keyword-stuffed gobblydegook to try to get your message noticed threatens to erode trust and undermine brand messaging.
10. Archive and organise
Really good content can be used again and again – but only if you can find it. Establish an easily accessed archive of ALL your content – including images and videos – and make sure you keep on top of it.
To sum up: Accept that you can’t do it all. Establish your priorities and focus on the important bits. It’s better to do a few things really well, rather than attempting to do everything badly.
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