We often hear from clients that the online marketing world is tough to navigate. They rely on us to provide guidance and clarity so they can make the best decisions for their business.
In the online world, the speed of technology and adoption presents unique challenges for businesses. Below are five challenges I routinely hear from clients and some suggestions on how to deal with them.
Word to the reader: if you’re a “skimmer,” be sure not to overlook the fifth topic, where I introduce Utility Marketing – one of the more recent and exciting marketing concepts.
1) Social Media Management
Chances are you do not have your social media strategy figured out. Social media is still so young, that businesses are much more likely to have failed on social media than succeeded. This includes brands of all sizes – from the mom and pop shops to global brands with billions of dollars and seemingly unlimited manpower.
Common Social Media Challenges:
Questions you may already be asking yourself include:
What kind of content should we produce?
How can we produce remarkable content?
How often should we sell on social?
Who will do the work?
How do I hold them accountable?
Do I have the right person to lead and execute my social strategy?
Work on process:
Deming famously observed that most problems in business can be traced back to process. In my observations working with clients, I’m more likely to see a flawed process for managing social than a flawed content strategy. Granted, I don’t often see great content strategies either, but it’s even more rare to see a great process. Given the choice, you’d rather have a content problem than a process problem. Content and strategy are relatively easy to fix. Incorporating a disciplined process for execution, measurement, and accountability is much more difficult.
To overcome the inherent challenges running a successful social media campaign, start with process, then input strategy.
2) Getting Value From SEO
I’ve written repeatedly on the challenges facing SEO firms today. From the changing algorithms to the lack of keyword data, it’s become harder to get results and even harder to see results. Not a fun combination. The biggest losers were the companies that relied on these search engine rankings for the majority of their online revenue. Once the rankings disappeared, the revenue stopped.
Even if you don’t find yourself in recovery mode, trying to break through the competition without the availability of effective low-cost solutions has many questioning the value of SEO. And rightfully so! Simply put, the cost of input has increased while the expected output has decreased. That’s a dangerous trend.
Ultimately, we want to know how much revenue can be attributed back to your search engine visibility. That hasn’t changed, but how you make that connection isn’t as transparent. You have to be smarter and willing to dig deeper into your data.
What do I mean by that?
DO NOT rely heavily on rankings as a barometer of progress. The personalization of search results based on your specific location and your search history can significantly alter what one person sees compared to the person 10 miles away.
DO use the multi-attribution report to see how many assisted conversions are a result of organic site visitors.
DO NOT create pages and pages of weak content simply to attract search engine traffic. Even if you’re successful at increasing traffic volume, no one will want to stay on your site after they’ve read your content. Remember: Grade A quality or bust.
DO create a consumer-centric culture that makes people want to come back and recommend you to their friends and colleagues (more on consumer-centric approach below).
tablet and smartphone
3) Multi-Device Usage
As a data-driven agency, one of our biggest challenges is how to track the visitor experience across multiple devices over the course of the consumer buying cycle. I wrote about this a couple months back, but here’s a quick refresher:
Day 1: potential customer is on their couch with their iPhone. They see your product in their Facebook news feed. They click through to your site, take a look, and then move on.
Day 6: that same potential customer is now on their iPad researching products like yours. They can’t remember your brand, but while searching for your type of product, you come up in a Google search result, along with your competitors. They have a look around and compare prices and features, but still don’t buy.
Day 15: potential customer is on their desktop computer with their credit card in hand. Having seen your website a couple times already, the consumer remembers your web address and goes to it directly. They add the item to their cart and successfully purchase.
How can you possibly trace that sale back to its origin (which should be split between Facebook and Google)? According to your analytics, Facebook and Google both sent you a visitor that didn’t convert. If that happens several dozen times, the conversion rate on these channels starts to take a major hit, leading you to question the value of those channels.
But remember, those channels played an integral part in leading up to the purchase.
There are no easy solutions, but being aware of this behavior is the first step to making smarter decisions with the data available, even if it doesn’t tell the whole story.
4) Optimizing The Mobile Experience
For years you’ve been hearing about the mobile revolution. As former Google CEO Eric Schmidt put it, “the trend has been mobile was winning. It’s now won.”
I’ve watched client’s mobile traffic go from 5% to 30% in the last couple years. With this shift in traffic comes drops in conversion rates, less time spent on site, and higher bounce rates.
A responsive website, which reformats your site content based on the users’ screen size, is a step towards an improved mobile experience. But if that’s all you do to cater to your mobile audience, you’re missing the boat. Mobile users have less patience, are seeking different answers, and can be at a different stages in the buying cycle. The mobile user is different and it’s up to you to find out how and why. Only then can you adjust your messaging and presentation to suit the mobile user.
5) Competing With The Noise
As businesses continue to build out their online presence, consumers are provided with more and more choices. The streets have become crowded and everyone wants a piece of the action. Staying on the front end of the curve and rising above the noise is harder than ever. If you are selling the same thing at the same price to the same people, how can you expect to win more market share and grow your business?