Taking Another Look at How Businesses Use Social Media

You simply cannot ignore social media especially if you are in business and promoting your product/service online.

According to HubSpot , each month there are over two billion active users on Facebook, one billion on Instagram, and 365 million on Twitter worldwide.

Why people and businesses use social media

People use social media to get informed, entertained, stay connected and chat with family members/relatives and friends, and for other reasons.

Knowing why and how people use social media, you as a business owner/marketer realize that these platforms are the channels where you can effectively tune in and connect with your target markets.

The huge number of people spending time on social media is a logical target for marketers who want to deliver their brand messages in real time.

The number of active social media users is continuously growing. Additionally, their influence on brand perception and reputation is getting stronger as well.

Marketers can either communicate their messages for free (organic) or through paid ads. In fact, social media advertising spend is projected to grow worldwide to about US$48 billion by 2021

While the total worldwide social media advertising expenditures is eye-popping, social advertising remains a very-cost effective way of online advertising. It is considered as a low-cost way of reaching people in a broad swath of geographic areas and a wide range of demographic and psychographic profiles. It enables you to target your niche markets.

“You don’t need a corporation or a marketing company to brand you now: you can do it yourself. You can establish who you are with a social media following.” – Ray Allen, Professional Basketball Player*

The common reasons businesses use social media are the following:

  • To reach their target market
  • To engage with their audience
  • To boost brand awareness
  • To improve online reputation
  • To drive traffic to their website
  • To generate sales
  • To build a community of brand advocates

Creating, maintaining, and strengthening social media presence is an effective marketing strategy for businesses.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit*

What are some points to consider when using social media for business?

Marketers have different approaches in planning and implementing their social media marketing. Some important points to consider are the following:

  • Have a well-crafted social media marketing strategy in place

Define what you want to achieve in implementing social media marketing. Come up with SMART objectives such as those identified above. Then describe how you want to attain these objectives through social media.

You start with two things:  your target audience and the content (information, message, or materials (including images, videos, infographics) you want to share with them.

  • Make a content calendar (it is usually a matrix of the content you want to post, where, when, keywords, links, images, and other data needed in creating the social media posts)

Select and study the social media platform(s) you want to use. When selecting one, you must consider only once criterion: where the bulk of your audience spends their time online.

“When it comes to social media marketing, you don’t have to post 3 times a day. It’s never about how often you post but the quality of your content.” – Janet Benson Amarhavwie, Social Media Manager*

  • Assess the performance of your social media marketing by setting KPIs or metrics by which you can measure your progress.

Identify as many metrics as you can but all of these should be relevant to the objectives you are trying to achieve.

Likes, shares, and comments are nice to have. But what count towards your sales objectives are the number of website visits attributed to social media, duration of visitors’ stays on your site, and how many of these visits led to actual sales conversion. Your financial metrics should include not only the actual sales generated but also how much it costs you to generate and convert those website traffic.

“Facebook is a discovery model platform. Its primary goal is to make the audience happy. So you’ll only get ROI if you create quality content for your audience.” – Kelly Hendrickson, Facebook Lead at HubSpot*

  • Evaluate the quality of your audience engagement.

Quantity is good to see but what is more important is the quality of the engagement. What are your audience commenting about? How do they react to your brand – positive, negative, or indifferent?  Do they clamor for more content from you or do they suggest contents that they want to see on your posts?

“A large social-media presence is important because it’s one of the last ways to conduct cost-effective marketing. Everything else involves buying eyeballs and ears. Social media enables a small business to earn eyeballs and ears.” – Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist, Canva*

  • During the current pandemic, more and more people have turned to social media while observing social distancing and working from home.

There are more connections and engagements. For content marketers, this is a good opportunity to create and implement a content strategy.

Without doing any sales pitch, what do you want to tell your audience that will be useful, relevant, and resonant with them? How can you address their needs, problems, and pain points? How can your brand improve their lives or business? How do you establish your subject matter authority? How can you be more credible online?

Talk like a human talking to a human. Even if your target audience is another business (like a software developer talking to an enterprise client), talk simple and direct to the point but you may adopt an informal and friendly tone. You can also tell them your brand story – including your headaches and heartaches. Always tell the truth and don’t spread or share fake news. Don’t do any sales pitch (reserve that for your ads).

Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people.” – Dave Willis, Author and Speaker*

What does the future hold for social media marketing?

As usually done annually, there are next year’s predictions from the experts. Next year, 2021, will be particularly interesting to look at considering the extremely challenging events that have unfolded during 2020.

Talkwalker published ten social media trends for 2021. These are all interesting insights to study and consider in your 2021 social media campaigns.

Notable among these trends are these two:

  • Nostalgia marketing

Consumers would connect with happier times to distract from current situations. Marketers can highlight positive emotions identified with happier times in the past (like maybe freedom to do things people like to do) to pep up current negative emotions. Give your brand the nostalgia appeal.

  • A little more conversation(al) marketing

Encourage conversation and establish connections to build relationships. The pandemic has highlighted the need for these. Information, engagement, and social issues are priorities for your audience – not sales. Engagement eventually creates sales.

What else?

What you have just read above points out just how important social media presence is to a business and its brands. You can do social media marketing by yourself, using in-house staff, or outsourcing it to professional social media or digital marketers.

* HubSpot

10 Popular Reasons Why Email Marketing Delivers

email marketingThere is no better way to nurture and convert customers than email marketing. With personalization and customization options available to email campaigns, you cannot go wrong in using it to guide your cold leads through the journey that will convert them into loyal brand advocates.

Here are 10 widely acclaimed email marketing features.

  1. The email list can be segmented by groups that have common demographic and psychographic characteristics. This segmentation corresponds to identifying the different buyer personas your business is catering to.
  2. Personalization is a powerful attribute of an email campaign. You can personalize emails so it can effectively connect with your target audience.
  3. All traffic generated by your website, blogs, social media posts, online ads, and even offline marketing efforts would be eventually responded to and managed using emails. Leads move through your sales funnel as triggered by a series of emails you send to your clients until the sales are closed and the customers become your brand advocates.
  4. Email campaigns can give businesses a high ROI. Being a targeted, personalized, and one-on-one piece of communication, emails can systematically guide your customers into making a favorable decision on your offer. This is a high-quality presentation to a qualified prospect leading to more sales at a lower cost.
  5. It was estimated that email users would top 3 billion within 2020. This is a figure that most social media platforms might not be able to equal. Online marketers consider email as the most prevalent and effective way of communicating in a personalized way with their customers.
  6. Contrary to expectations, a great majority of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly. These serve as regular doses of enriching information, insider news, and exclusive updates for your loyal customers and brand champions.
  7. Statistics likewise showed that almost 90% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes. This is particularly pronounced in B2B marketing where information and ideas are formally put down in writing which can be reviewed and evaluated going toward a decision.
  8. Segmented and targeted emails generate more than half of all revenue. The clearer you are as to who your target customers are and how you communicate with them, the greater the chance of boosting revenue.
  9. More than half of emails are read on either smartphone or tablet. The use of smartphones and tablets has enabled us to be always in touch and in the know.
  10. Email marketing creates a strong relationship with your customers and prospects. It is about building real links with people.

To wrap up, email marketing delivers. It has other features that would also be immensely beneficial to your business. Check it out here.

15 Top Reasons Why Businesses Have Shifted to WFH (Work From Home)

work from home

A huge number of companies, from giant technology firms to small marketing agencies, shifted working from a physical office to a virtual office, also known as work from home, remote work, or distributed offices.

COVID-19 was not the main reason for most of these businesses but something else more irrefutable and compelling.

Here are the 15 top reasons why companies have resorted to work from home (WFH) and all of them pointing to the same core considerations – it is highly practical and immensely beneficial to both the employees and employers.

#1 It leads to better quality of life, better work-life balance, and happier as well as healthier employees.

#2 Team is more productive and exhibits better teamwork.

#3 Results in lower infrastructure costs and savings in office overhead expenses.

#4 Brings on higher job satisfaction, higher employee morale, and better employee retention.

#5 Creates amazing corporate culture where people take responsibility and ownership to do the right thing and be productive.

#6 Brings about flexibility by allowing people to work the hours that are most effective for them and to deliver their best work.

#7 Enables hiring the best talents from across the country and the globe for the best fit for specific roles at hand such as hiring technical people with needed skills from different countries to hasten project development cycles. Collaborating with team members from different geographical locations and cultures brings about the benefits of diversity and variety. Remote workers provide a wider range of experiences and different viewpoints that help find new solutions that would not be possible if everyone is coming from the same background.

#8 Offers a sense of freedom and sense of trust.

#9 Makes people more hard-working, creative, passionate, and loyal.

#10 Saves time, energy, and money by avoiding long commutes and not spending on gas, meals, and office attires/dress codes.

#11 Staggers team members’ work hours so clients can have maximum support by matching resources with clients’ time zones for a higher-level customer service experience.

#12 Allows employees to work from wherever they choose in an environment and location that is most conducive to them like home, coffee shop, or the beach and to make work/life choices that align best with their lifestyles and personal goals

#13 No monitoring of working hours and simply focused on results and productivity.

#14 Contributes to good workflow as workers do not have to deal with the same amount and frequency of distractions in a physical office.

#15 It is very liberating as it no longer matters where you live. You find the best talents; they find the best jobs.

Many businesses who have adapted to the WFH, remote, or distributed work model say this is how the future of work will look.  This will be the new normal a few more years from now.

There are challenges; yes, and these are still being figured out like the suitability of some workers for this kind of work arrangement. But for now, most find it fun. Some find it a privilege to be part of this innovation and experimentation, but they are more than willing to share their learnings.

I have been part of this global experience in my six years of working remotely for companies in different parts of the world. I have enjoyed providing content and digital marketing services in a WFH set-up.

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Effectively Do Marketing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

content marketing during COVID 19

Trying to keep businesses afloat while navigating the unchartered waters of the pandemic crisis, what are some of the more appropriate and effective actions can marketers do? Here are three that I tell my clients to do:

1. Empathize with your customers.

No one is interested in sales pitches. Don’t be insensitive. Be compassionate. Let your customers know we are all in this together and share the hope that times will get better sooner. Ensure that your customers know you are always there for them. Build long-term relationship.

2. Maintain constant communication and keep your customers engaged.

Communicate with your customers regularly through blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, or text messages. Drive engagement through worthwhile content that are educational, entertaining, and resonant. Customers have more time now to engage with your content.

3. Deliver true value through helpful education.

Educational content helps your customers make more informed decisions when the appropriate and opportune time comes. Become a freely available adviser, coach, or mentor to them. Publish content that aids in solving your customers’ problems, addresses their needs, or simply puts them in a positive frame of mind.

While adapting your marketing efforts to the current situation, you can also do some self-improvement programs for your business like brushing up on content development, technical know-how sharpening, and general operations review and upgrade.

Understanding Content Marketing

content marketing

Content is the lifeblood of digital marketing. It is the information or the message that gives purpose to each function of digital marketing. Content powers all the moving parts of your digital marketing campaigns so these can deliver the results you expect.

Content could be any written article, image, voice, or video that serves to inform, educate, entertain, or influence your target audience. It can also be your marketing or brand message.  It attracts your audience, engages them, and moves them to decide or to act.

Creating good content and making sure it’s consumed by your target audience is what content marketing is all about.

Why content marketing

It is a strategic marketing program that aims to attract, engage, and retain a specific target audience by creating, publishing, and distributing useful, helpful, and resonant content.

  • Content marketing is for the long-term

To deliver a positive ROI, your content marketing efforts should be programmed for the long-term. Your strategic pathway should lead you to what you want to achieve after a pre-determined time frame. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing say one, three, or five years from now? How would you like your brand or business to be perceived by then?

  • It has clear objectives

As mentioned above, you have to set specific objectives for your content marketing efforts. Is it building a reputable brand within your community of followers or within your domestic market? Or, creating a highly engaged community of brand loyalists? Maybe boosting sales from $xxxM to $xxxM three years from now? Your objectives depend on or are aligned with your overall business goals.

  • It lends focus and consistency

With SMART objectives and clear action plans, your content marketing strategy provides you with the focus to ensure that your efforts are aligned and in sync with what you want to achieve. It also gives you guidance on consistency of the content you are dishing out to your audience.

  • It takes into account past and present content

Your strategy also considers what content you have produced so far by buyer persona, journey stage, format, topic, or campaigns. You can evaluate the impact of these content on your objectives and how you can repurpose them to boost your current and future content marketing efforts.

  • It deals with the buyer persona in every stage of the buyer journey

The content marketing strategy addresses the needs of your various buyer personas. Content are created for specific buyer personas to ensure that it resonates with them. What is valuable to a certain demographic or psychographic profile might not be so interesting to another.

Content is also developed for the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey. You can vary the topics and formats for each stage. For example, you can publish blogs or social content for the awareness stage, questionnaire or case studies for the consideration stage, and invitation to free consultation or free trials for the decision stage.

Implementing a content marketing strategy:  Generating ideas

The ultimate goal is to drive sales by converting your website visitors and audience to customers by providing content that guide and help them make a favorable decision on your brand.

Essentially, you have to generate ideas that are helpful, useful, and resonant to your target personas. Where will you get ideas? You may use these:

  • Ideation

Ideation is the process of forming your own ideas or concepts. It should give you a somewhat predictable flow of ideas although it may not be in a straightforward manner. It is something like this:

  • Gather raw topics of likely interest to your audience while you consume related content from other sources.
    • Analyze and distill the raw topics you believe can directly be of use and helpful in addressing the needs and problems of your target audience.
    • Let these topics sink in deeper into your conscious and sub-conscious understanding of your target audience’s needs and problems. Allow it to mellow.
    • After some time, check back on these and see which topics are really appealing to write about.
  • Target persona content consumption habits

Check out social media or blogs for topics that your target audience engage with more often or on regular basis.

  • Competitors

Look at what your competitors are writing about and check how their audience are engaging with them.

  • Keywords used in search

Use Google Search to determine what the popular keywords being used by your target audience when they search for answers to their needs or problems. Look at these keywords and see what topic ideas you can extract or make out from them.

  • Brainstorming

Brainstorming with people dealing with the same target audience can also give you new ideas.

What you need for content marketing

  • Brand message – You should have a distilled and clear brand message.
  • Keywords – What keywords do you want to be known and rank for.
  • Content promotion – Promote your content organically and supplement it with paid promotion.
  • Content performance – Set your KPIs, analyze results, and evaluate how it impacts your overall business success.

I will discuss the above topics at length in my succeeding articles.

Wrap up

Content fuels your digital marketing efforts. Without good content, you online initiatives go nowhere. Content marketing should follow a long-term strategy and be implemented through well-programmed campaigns. Learn more about doing content marketing systematically and successfully.

Passage: My Blogging Story

content marketing blog

I have been writing blog posts for the past ten years or so. It is my way of communicating my thoughts to an audience in a systematic and rational way. Always apprehensive of speaking before an audience, writing has become my psychologically comfortable alternative.

My first blog was written around 2010. It was rudimentary. It was an offshoot of the website I had created on the WordPress platform as part of my SEO training. The website was about my mud crab export and organic farming business.

Although very basic and short-lived, I loved that website and its blog page. It did not create a bang for my business, but I got some sound leads then.  In fact, I was able to close a couple of good export deals.

My next blog was about sustainable development topics like organic farming and renewable energy sources. It was on the Blogspot platform and was likewise short-lived but still online at http://organic-natural-health-topics.blogspot.com/.

My latest and longest-running blog under Gentle Wisdom has been about small business management and digital marketing. I started it on WordPress in 2011 and run it until June 2019.

I was able to publish about 70+ blog posts for Gentle Wisdom.  I have never been a very regular blogger. It has been quite difficult for me to find a regular time to write and publish blog articles due to time constraints. I know many of you have the same reason for not blogging regularly. But you and I know this should not be the case if we really want to succeed at blogging.

At any rate, I will continue to write blog articles.

I believe many among my readers and followers get something of value from by blog posts. I am confident that my articles are useful and helpful to many of you. It may not always entertain despite my effort to make it so. I guess my not-so-outgoing personality is the underlying reason for this. Nevertheless, I am confident that these are informative enough for you to pick up a point or two that can help your small business operation.

With this belief, I will continue to write blog articles.

From business management and traditional marketing topics, I then shifted to writing more about digital marketing. This shift had been dictated by business realities. More and more of my business consultancy clients had found the compelling need to promote their business online, as it is where most of their target audience are spending their time on.

Digital marketing is an interesting and widely read topic with a broad diversity of sub-topics. I have written about social media marketing, email marketing, market research, strategies, and other topics. Under each of these, more sub-topics can be written about.

I am now relaunching my website under a new URL (https://content-marketing-specialists.com/).  I have officially retired the Gentle Wisdom website.

With this move, I am also shifting focus of my blog.  I will be writing mostly about content marketing.

This is also in line with the current focus of my consultancy work.  I will be more focused on content marketing.

After years of offering digital marketing services, I am now focusing on content creation, strategy development, and campaign implementation.

Content is the fuel that powers digital marketing. Content is the lifeblood of the different moving parts of digital marketing.

I invite you to continue following my blog posts which will now be more on content marketing.

I am confident you will also find it useful and helpful not only for business but also for not-for-profit endeavors.

Emails: The Best Tool to Manage the Buyer’s Journey

email marketing

No other online tool can beat email in effectively communicating with your buyer as they go through the various stages of their buying journey – from awareness to making the purchase decision and continuously delighting them as your brand loyalist. Besides, a great majority of customers check their emails daily.

Whatever new online tools become available or new trends emerge, email marketing will stay in the foreseeable future.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is the process of sending emails to recipients in a database with the purpose of promoting a product or service.

An email can be one time or a part of a series of emails programmed to be created and sent on specified dates and times.

The email database can be a list of existing and potential customers created over time in the course of business operations.

While the overarching purpose of an email is to promote, it can be crafted in different ways to achieve specific goals in a buyer’s journey like to create brand awareness, encourage viewer engagement with the brand, answer questions, offer customized solutions, and eventually close the sale.

What makes emails an effective online marketing tool?

The email list can be segmented by groups of recipients that have common demographic and psychographic characteristics. This segmentation corresponds to identifying the different buyer personas your business is catering to.

With this done, you can create different email contents that will appeal to these various personas.  You can then personalize your emails so it can effectively connect with your target audience.

Emails to millennials should be different to those sent to baby boomers, or it may be a bit modified to entice more the female audience, or emails can be customized to appeal to different behaviors and lifestyles. 

Personalization is a powerful attribute of an email campaign.

Another strength of an email campaign is that it can be programmed to be sent based on specific triggers or events.

As buyers move from one stage to another of their online journey, specific emails can be sent to them. If a buyer has responded positively to your emails customized for the consideration stage, you can consequently send them emails designed for the closing stage.

Email softwares are available to enable you to send drip emails or automated emails.

You can also enhance the effectiveness of your emails through creative copywriting, attractive visuals, and compelling calls-to-action (CTA).

The words, visuals, and CTA’s used in every email can appeal emotionally and resonate effectively with your target audience. Thus, they engage with your emails and take positive actions on your brand and offer.

A good email is clicked, read, and shared thus enhancing its effectiveness.

How to create an effective email campaign

  • Create your buyer personas and segment your email list based on these personas;
  • Know the needs, problems, or pain points of your target customers;
  • Write short email pieces that directly and emotionally address these needs, problems, and pain points;
  • Create catchy subject lines, headlines, and body text for these emails using creative fonts with appropriate sizes, colors, and spacing;
  • Select visuals that clearly portray the content of your email; the visuals can be images (pictures, drawings, illustrations, infographics), videos, or gifs;
  • Design a call to action button that catches the attention of the readers and compels them to click it;
  • Use a responsive overall email design that can be read perfectly on all devices especially smartphones;
  • Use software to automate the process of sending out your different customized emails;
  • Prepare an equally appropriate and easy-to-understand landing page where your readers will be directed when they click your CTA button;
  • Remember: your landing page should reflect the content of your email and enable the readers to take the desired action;
  • Send the corresponding follow-up or thank you emails;
  • Monitor periodically your open rate, click rate, and other metrics to optimize performance.

Final words

Email, being an effective online marketing tool, will be here to stay. It is advisable that you develop a well-prepared and targeted email marketing campaign appropriate to your buyer’s journey. Create useful, relevant, and compelling content targeted to your buyer personas to eventually effect an improvement in your conversion rate.

We would be delighted to receive your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Social Media Marketing: The Best Marketing Tool for Small Businesses

social media marketing

Almost everyone in the world is aware of social media – from children to senior citizens. Businesses of all sizes are likewise using it in their marketing communications.

People and businesses have been using social media to connect with people and organizations in various parts of the globe.

For businesses, particularly small businesses, social media have become a potent tool in marketing their products and services.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the planned, organized, and measured use of social media platforms, usually in conjunction with other online assets, to promote a product, service, or idea.

How does it effectively perform marketing functions for small businesses?

These are many ways social media help small businesses in their marketing functions:

  • For promoting products/services

This is the most common reason why businesses use social media. Products/services can be promoted for free and/or by using paid ads.

  • It offers incredible marketing reach

Social media can reach millions of users worldwide.

  • To create/enhance brand visibility

Big and small businesses have used social media to create or enhance their brands with a varying degree of success.

  • To build corporate reputation

Businesses have used social media to communicate their mission, vision, and even corporate social responsibility programs. It is good for public relations.

  • As a tool for audience targeting

Social media have provided online advertisers with a way to focus on their target audiences such as geographic locations, gender, age, interests, and behaviors.

  • To complement non-traditional advertising

It is a common and effective practice by businesses to use social media to mirror or reflect any advertising they do on traditional media such as broadcast, print, and out-of-home. Similarly, these traditional media ads also show the brand’s presence on social media.

  • As a source of information

Social media is a free and readily accessible source of valuable information about a product or service. This is how it educates its audience.

  • For market research

Social media is a good source of information for marketers doing research, particularly on product preferences and consumer interests and behavior.

The information may include problems encountered by customers with a product. It may also point to potential market opportunities not identified before by marketers.

As these are usually fresh information, businesses can analyze and evaluate these and can lead them to have an advantage over competitors.

  • As a medium for audience/customer feedback

Users usually give comments on social media regarding specific products and services. It is also a common outlet for customer expression of disappointments or praises for certain brands.

User feedback may also be considered in improving product features and/or customer support.

Positive user feedback is also a form of customer testimonial that can encourage potential customers to view the brand favorably that can lead to more sales.

  • For customer engagement

Social media is an open venue to engage with customers or brand followers, particularly during special events or promotions.

Users can also post contents that can be useful to a brand and its market. Thus, they become informal contributors to the marketing knowledge of marketers which otherwise may not be available from other sources.

  • As a platform for personnel recruitment

Businesses use social media to recruit personnel on a wider scale given their reach.

  • Helps in improving search visibility

Businesses that are active on social media usually rank well on search engine results. Social media activities of businesses and their followers are positive signals for improved search ranking.

  • As a medium for influencer marketing

Many businesses are using influencer marketing. They engage reputable social media personalities who have a strong influence over large genuine followings to endorse their brands through social media posts.

  • Provides real-time analytics

A very important feature of social media is its analytics. It gives businesses a gauge of how well their audience/market is responding to their online initiatives. Analytics enables businesses to analyze audience/market engagements and optimize their succeeding online efforts for more effective results.

There are other ways that social media help small businesses.

Why is it the best marketing tool for small businesses?

Considering the abovementioned ways, the information, engagement, targeting, and reach of social media plus the fact that most of its available functions are free makes it the best marketing tool for small businesses.

These are, of course, to be executed in a planned, organized, and measured manner by a good social media marketing strategy appropriate for each business to guide its actions toward its desired outcome.

Final word

So, go social. Done the right way, it can bring significant positive marketing results for small businesses.

How SEO Enhances Digital Marketing Effectiveness

search engine optimization
Image credit: Pixabay/Pexels

I attended a series of special classes about SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) about ten years ago. I was not yet into digital marketing at that time, but I had a compelling reason to study SEO – to ensure that my business gets found online by potential clients.

While its technical aspects (algorithms) have since undergone many changes, many basic elements remain the same. Present day online marketers still have the same reason that I had ten years ago why they practice SEO (get found online) plus they do so to achieve a high ranking on search engine page results.

Let us discuss how SEO can help small businesses enhance the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts.

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of ensuring the visibility of a website and its content on the search engine results page (SERP) through organic or free traffic generated by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Visibility of a website refers to how high up the SERP a website is for specific keywords or search terms.

SEO has two methods:  on-page and off-page.  On-page are the techniques done on the website itself while off-page are those intended to promote the website off the page like backlinking and social media marketing.

How is SEO done?

Hereunder are some common on-page SEO techniques:

  • Site speed

The loading speed of their website is of prime concern by marketers especially now when a larger percentage of the target audience is using mobile devices to search online.

A slow-loading website (taking 3 seconds or more particularly on mobile) has a slim chance of being viewed by potential customers.

  • User experience

Users of online devices would naturally prefer websites that not only load fast but also give them a good experience in terms of site navigation, simple but aesthetically pleasing page designs, useful and engaging contents, logical and easy-to-understand presentation of information, and functioning links.

Good user experience fosters positive actions from users that result in sales.

  • Relevancy

The content of a website should be clearly relevant to the search queries of online users. The content should not only be useful but also highly relevant to the specific terms used in the search.

  • Content quality

The importance of content cannot be overemphasized. Content basically refers to two things:  copy (the text or written information) and creatives (the images, videos, infographics, slides, and other graphical or artistic representations of information).

Content is at the heart of digital marketing. Content should resonate with the target audience. It moves them to take the desired positive actions. It is important to note here that content should be written for humans and not for search engine bots.

Besides content quality, the frequency of publishing good content also matters for SEO.

  • Keywords

Keywords are words used by searchers when looking for products/services online. These can be one or several words they key in when looking for products/services using search engines.

It is therefore important in order to get found online that websites use the most appropriate keywords that describe their business and those that would be most likely used by potential customers searching online.

Determining the appropriate keywords require not only a deep understanding of one’s business but also of the potential customers. Resources for researching keywords are available online. It is important to consider only a short list (of no more than ten) of the most appropriate keywords rather than a long one.

  • Domain name

A domain name that contains your brand and a simple description of your product/service is advisable.

  • Title tag and meta description

The title tag tells the search engines what a webpage is all about while the meta description is a short description (just a few words) of what the users can expect from the content of the webpage.

Both the title tag and meta description (collectively known as metadata) are written in codes and are not visible on the website itself but only on the search page.

  • Headline and permalink

Headline is the title of a specific page or article within the website. The permalink is the address (or URL) of a specific page which is commonly used in creating a link to that page internally or externally.

  • Alt text

As search engines bots cannot read images, the alt text is a word or group of words in the website coding used to describe what an image is all about.

  • Internal linking

Internal link is a way of connecting a webpage with other pages within the same website. It is done by creating an anchor text in the website code. It facilitates navigation and understanding of a website content by search engine bots.

  • Multiple device optimization

A website should load, appear, and function well in any type of online devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops.

  • Visitor engagement

Another element that improves SEO is how well visitors engage or interact with the website. A good website will encourage visitors to stay or engage longer with the website or read more pages.  If a visitor does not stay long or just look at one page, the website is said to have a high bounce rate.

The commonly used off-page optimization techniques are the following:

  • Backlinking

Backlinking is getting a link to a website from another website (inbound link). 

What contributes to good SEO though are only those links coming from websites considered as recognized authorities particularly in the line of business or industry that a website is operating in. More backlinks from authority websites contribute to higher credibility.

The first authority site I heard of when I was in SEO class was Wikipedia. A link from a friend’s website is not considered good for SEO.

  • Social media marketing

This is now a popular way of establishing links to a website. Publishing articles from a blog page or website page on social platforms where the targeted audience spend time online is a good way of creating links back to the website which potential customers may click.

There are other practices that SEO professionals/experts use that are not taken up in this article.

The abovementioned SEO practices are categorically referred to as white hat practices or the good, ethical practices. There are black hat practices too which are the bad ones and are frowned upon and penalized by search engines. I will not discuss here the black hat practices such as keyword stuffing, use of link farms, and others.

Why is SEO important to small businesses’ online success?

SEO enables small businesses to succeed for free by getting them found online by potential customers searching for the product/service they offer. 

Big businesses have big budgets for promotion – online and offline. SEO somewhat levels the playing fields for all sizes of business.  Even when a small business does not have the budget for promotion, they can have a highly visible presence online if they practice good SEO. High visibility gives a business a high probability of getting more website clicks, more website visitors, and more customers.

Final word

As organic search still comprises the bulk of web traffic, SEO will continue to be a major approach for small businesses to get found online and generate sales.  While businesses with promotion budget can certainly use search engine marketing and social platform ads to dish out paid ads online, good SEO practices can still provide visibility for small businesses. 

Content Marketing: The Heart of Digital Marketing

content marketing
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Content marketing gives life to digital marketing. Without content marketing, digital marketing will be ineffective.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing encompasses all long-term activities involving the creation and distribution of useful contents relevant to the needs and interests of a target audience with the ultimate purpose of driving a desired action from said audience.

Contents are normally developed to attract, engage, and drive to positive action the target market of a product/service.

Contents are also positioned to readily answer the questions and address the needs of a brand’s target audience whenever they search online.

How important is content marketing?

Content marketing achieves the core objectives of digital marketing which include the following:

  • Educate and entertain the target audience;
  • Foster audience engagement;
  • Build credibility and authority;
  • Develop trust and confidence;
  • Nurture leads and convert them to customers;
  • Transform customers to brand advocates.

Content marketing empowers today’s modern customers who research and conduct studies online before making purchase decisions. It is crucial therefore that brands have relevant and useful contents readily available online for their target customers.

Common forms of content

These are the forms of content commonly used:

  • Blog post

Blog posts normally are articles discussing topics or subjects about which the author has working knowledge of. These articles may be directly or indirectly related to the product, service, or business the author is involved with.  The objective of a blog is primarily to inform the target audience.

A search engine-optimized blog helps improve its website’s ranking on online search and drives organic traffic.

  • Video

Video has the same purpose as a blog. It is more popular though than blogs as it is a visual way of communicating.

  • Podcast

It is a convenient way of listening to content instead of watching it on video.

  • Infographics

This is a graphically attractive way of presenting useful information with minimal use of text.

  • E-books

This is a long-form article that discusses a subject or topic on a deeper or more extensive manner normally downloaded by truly interested audience.

E-books, like other forms of long-form content, belong to the category of gated content. Seriously interested readers are willing to give some information about themselves in exchange for access to this type of content. Thus, it becomes an effective way for the e-book author to generate leads which can be nurtured to eventually convert into paying customers.

There are other forms of content including slideshows, case studies, white papers, and reports/statistics.  What form to use depend on the target market, client persona, and your content marketing strategy.

Promoting contents

A good content is practically useless if nobody finds and reads it. Like a product or service, content must be marketed also. It needs promotion and distribution too. So how are content marketed so the target audience becomes aware of it and engages with it? Here are some ways:

  • Search engine optimization

Using good SEO practices like choice of appropriate keywords, proper titles and headings, alt text, and internal linking can give content a good ranking on search results.

  • Social media marketing

Publishing content on social media, particularly those that educate and entertain, can move the audience to like, share, or comment on it.

  • Email marketing

Regular newsletters can highlight good contents to subscribers.

  • Online advertising

Advertising on social platforms or on search engines can deliver contents to targeted audience.

Closing word

Content marketing is the lifeblood of digital marketing. Marketers should therefore start their campaigns with a good content marketing strategy. They should research, curate, study, and develop good contents in varying forms and market them through different channels to reach, connect, and engage with their target audience.

We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.

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