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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Ask the Pit Crew: WHEN and WHERE Should I Start with Web Marketing?

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Members of the Pole Position Marketing pit crew answer your web marketing questions from their unique perspectives, with a “bonus lap” by a guest industry pro.

Have a question you’d like answered? Ask the pit crew!

Stoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:

You can start just about anywhere in web marketing and begin making some headway. You can easily set up and successfully run PPC and social media campaigns and be fairly successful at it. The problem is that each area interacts with the others. Focusing only in one area will only get you so far. You soon have to dive into the other areas to make sure all your efforts are as successful as possible. Your PPC conversion rates will be low if you’re sending them to a non-optimized site, and your social media efforts will take a hit if visitors can’t find what they are looking for.

So the best place to start is really where the biggest need is. Basically, look for your biggest area of weakness and begin patching those holes.

How do you find your holes? Start with a site audit of some kind. A good site audit can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on how deep you want to go. If you have no idea where your weaknesses are, go with a very broad and shallow audit that will cover most areas of web marketing. This will give you enough feedback to show you where your biggest need is and should give you some actions to get you started down that path.

If you already have a good idea of your weakest area, a site audit heavily focused in that area is probably a good idea. This will give a more in-depth understanding of the issues you face, with plenty of action points and strategies to make that a successful part of your overall marketing campaign.

Deb Briggs’ Answer From a Content Marketing Perspective:

Start NOW! Whether you’ve had a website for 10 years or yours is still in the design phase, there’s no better time than the present to build a cohesive online marketing strategy. First things first, though: Do you really know who you’re marketing to?

“Of course I do,” you might be saying to yourself. But even if you know your customers’ basic demographics, you may not understand what really makes them want to buy your products or services. What are their pain points? What benefits does your product or service provide that will solve your customers’ problems? Once you know that information, you can produce content that will provide the information the site visitor needs to be confident in your products or services.

One of our clients produces highly technical equipment for industries such as oil & gas, process control and facilities management. Knowing that their typical customer is male, middle-aged and an engineer is helpful, but you need to dig deeper and consider what types of problems they need to solve at work.

Analytical by nature, engineers look to facts and figures to inform their purchase decisions. They want to see evidence that a product will work. In this case, a detailed customer solution blog post, complete with stats about how the client’s product ultimately helped boost performance, goes a long way in showing how the product will perform in a similar situation.

So talk to sales people and customer service reps and find out more about your customer to begin creating content as part of a successful—and cohesive—web marketing plan.

Kathy Gray’s Answer from a Social Media Perspective:

This may go against what my title says, but don’t start with social media! As much as I love social media and preach its wonders, it’s not the best place to start. Your website should be the hub of your online marketing activity. You own it, and you control the content. Social media sites may come and go, but your website will remain. Also, your website should be a major source for content to share on your social profiles.

However, what you decide at the beginning will influence your social efforts of the future:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are your goals?
  • What is your content strategy?
  • What is the tone of your website?

Knowing the answers to these questions will not only guide your overall web marketing in the right direction, but also your social marketing.

Annalisa Hilliard’s Answer From a Link Building & Local SEO Perspective:

When beginning to optimize your web presence for local search, there are three areas you need to cover:

1. NAP Consistency

If you’ve claimed any local directory listings on sites like Google+, Yahoo, Bing or Yelp—or if listings have been somehow created and exist, but haven’t been claimed or verified by you—it’s important to ensure each listing has your business name, address and phone number (NAP) correctly listed. In addition, check that the NAP iteration across listings is as consistent as possible. For example, if road is abbreviated “Rd.” in one listing, try to follow that abbreviation in all listings. But doesn’t Google know that road and “Rd.” are the same thing? Yes, but it’s best to be as clear as possible, whenever possible.

2. Data Aggregators

Typically, if a listing exists online that you didn’t create, the information was gathered from a data aggregator. The four main U.S. aggregators are Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom and Factual, and they provide your NAP information to local search directories.

Making sure data aggregators have your correct information can save you a significant amount of time going through each local directory that pulls from their data and creates a listing with the wrong name, address or phone number.

You should verify your NAP information with these aggregators to guarantee the information local search directories pull is accurate. Some of them, like Factual and Acxiom, require payment to verify your NAP information.

3. On-Page Optimization

You should begin crafting your local messaging and content on your site. Starting with your title tags, work geo-targeted terms into your custom page titles. Just like with keywords, don’t force or over-optimize geo terms in the content of your website, but add them when and where they make sense for the visitor.

For example, if a roofing company services several geographic locations in which they also have a brick-and-mortar, they should consider building a service area landing page for each of the locations. Each service area page should be unique and offer details about roofing needs and specifications for the distinct locale.

The three areas listed above will give you a solid foundation for local search. If you’ve covered NAP consistency, data aggregators and on-page optimization, there’s always more that can be done. Look for ways to build your local reputation online and offline.

If you haven’t developed a review strategy, this is an important step for taking your local search to the next level. Find out what the needs are in your community and a way that your business can meet those needs. Local search is constantly evolving just like everything else, but building relationships and helping people will always be the basis for improving your web marketing presence and performance.

Mike Fleming’s Answer From an Pay-Per-Click Perspective:

I recently suggested to someone that t-shirts be made for all PPC managers that read, “I say it depends almost every day.” That’s the answer to your question. When and where to start with web marketing depends on your answers to the questions I ask you first.

Before I start working on any client’s campaign, they always receive an extensive questionnaire that lays out all the questions that my experience has told me are important to ask before providing the answers to the question or developing a more thorough strategy.

Before I can do that, here are just a taste of some of things I like to know. . .

  • What you’re offering to the world
  • What your margins are
  • What your goals are
  • What you’re willing to pay for a customer
  • How often and how many times a customer will purchase from you
  • Who your customers are
  • Where they hang out
  • What they’re looking for
  • When they’re looking for it
  • What’s been successful and unsuccessful in the past
  • The condition of your website and how it performs

Once this picture is painted for me, then I can start to prioritize the when and the where of a campaign.

BONUS LAP WITH : Michelle Robbins

Michelle is VP of technology at Third Door Media, the company that gives us Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and Search Marketing Expo. She is a technologist, programmer and web developer (WHEW!) and has been in digital marketing since before it was really even a thing. She is passionate about engaging more women in the fields of STEM and is a strong believer in mentoring.

When should you start digital marketing? Immediately. Even if you don’t have a product, service or client to market at the moment, you need to be marketing yourself—your talents, your knowledge—on digital channels.

Where should you start? I’m a big believer in starting any marketing initiative with research and data. Put in the time to research the demographics of your target audience/market—and where those people engage online. Take that data and research which channels perform best for the products or services you need to market; get an understanding of ROI for soft costs (time) and hard costs (money) per channel.

Develop a roadmap based on the data, invest time in thoroughly learning how to optimize marketing in the top channels and invest money in the channels that have proven ROI. Oftentimes marketers get caught up in “what you’re supposed to do” without applying a model for their own product or service against those “best practices.” There really is no “one size fits all” path. Let the data lead your strategy.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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