Working in an industry like digital marketing, where the products are intangible and there's a knowledge gap so wide you could drive a bus through certainly has it's share of challenges.
These comics are a light-hearted look at what it might be like if Plumbers had to work like Digital Marketers.
We hope at least that it gives digital marketers out there a bit of a laugh (you are not alone!).
Client: Can you also fix my light switches while you're here?
Plumber: No, sorry. You need an Electrician for that, not a Plumber.
Client: Aren't they the same thing?
Client: Can you meet me for a coffee?
I want to pick your brain about plumbing for an hour. I'm not ready to pay you for your services, but hopefully the $4 coffee will serve as adequate compensation for your time.
Client: A stranger rang me out of the blue and said they can do my plumbing work for cheaper.
I appreciate your services for the last 4 years, but I'm thinking of going with them, even though I've never met them, don't really know who they are and have no evidence of the quality of their work.
I don't even know if they are a real plumber (or a real person), but they sounded good on the phone.
Client: Thank you for your advice about plumbing, but I think I'll ignore it.
I know you apprenticed for 4 years and have been working as a professional licensed plumber for 15 years, but I fixed a tap once back in 1996 and read a couple of articles online, so I feel that I have a complete grasp of all aspects of plumbing and can make a better call myself.
Client: Hey, I just saw a 3 hour online course on plumbing basics for $19.
Do you think that I can take the course, then start my own plumbing business full time?
Client: So, tell me... How does it all work?
Plumber: How does what work?
Client: This 'plumbing' thing... I've got a few minutes, can you explain it to me?
Client (calling in the middle of the night): The pipe under my sink has burst! water is everywhere!
It's 3am but I need you to fix this right now.
I'm not willing to pay you any extra and feel like this should be included as part of the job you did unblocking my toilet a year ago.
Client: I decided I don't need you to fix that broken shower tap after all.
I went out and bought a Jacuzzi. I think it solved the problem.
Actually... I'm not even sure if I need water really...
Job ad: "Plumber wanted. Must have 4+ years experience and also have a relevant degree as well as be a qualified electrician, carpenter, auto-mechanic, an accredited architect and have experience with bookkeeping. Dental experience would be a plus. Salary: AUD$40-49k depending on experience."
Disclaimer: This is intended as a humorous account of semi-fictional 'experiences' only. Any similarity with clients past or present is not intended and purely coincidental. 'Plumbing' was chosen as a random industry for illustrative purposes only. Some credit also due for the article we read many years ago that inspired this post.
(7 min read)
Taking a real example from our own website not long after launch we wanted to share a few tricks and techniques to stand out from your competitors in Google, no developer required!*
* Tips provided here can mostly be done by small or medium businesses through a combination of your website content management system ('CMS') if you have one, plugins and Google Tag Manager.
Disclaimer: This is a basic level introduction to search engine visibility and not an SEO guide - these are tips to improve visibility in SERPs (not rankings). Individual experiences may differ depending on your website and situation. Lastly - Nothing can be guaranteed with Google.
Step 0: Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
We're calling this one 'Step 0' because before moving to the other steps you should first:
Step 1: Google My Business
'Google My Business' is free. For almost all businesses, this is an essential place to start.
You can see below that we even had some difficulty ranking for our own business name initially (more on that later).
A Google search of 'mach digital' returned over 14 million results. Position 1 was initially held by the Facebook page of an unrelated printing company.
The red box on the right is where our Google business listing should have been.
Hey presto! Almost immediately after verification our business map listing started to appear:
*Note that appearing in the map/business results is different to appearing in the main/organic results of Google.
This is a common confusion point. This article explains the difference in more detail.
Step 2: Social Media
Next mission - push down that competitor's Facebook page.
We were having some issues initially verifying our business Facebook page. Since we're primarily a web-based business and don't have a phone number publicly listed, Facebook wouldn't allow us to verify the page by this phone method. We would tackle that later. Note: Facebook states in it's page settings "Verified Pages show up higher in search results."
Google+? What? You're crazy! We're hearing some people say.
For anyone who's generally lost faith in Google+ and doubting it has any effect on web results, check out Mike Blumenthal's excellent local SEO video here.
Step 3: Structured Data
As a bit of extra housekeeping, we added structured data to our page, at this stage focusing on our business details, reviews and social media pages.
There are a number of guides online for adding structured data to your site, so we won't cover it in detail here.
As a quick mention, here are some ways to go about it:
1. Via Google Tag Manager using the JSON-LD method.
This one may not be best in all cases, but it is particularly good if you already have GTM code installed on your side and/or don't want to hassle a developer every time you need something implemented.
In the case of some CMS' like Weebly where things are a bit 'locked down' at times, using GTM can also be good as a workaround to add schema to blog posts etc.
2. If your site is on Wordpress -
3. Or you can try Google's Structured Data Highlighter within Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to apply structured data to page elements without any coding needed.
The social media structured data is to tell search engines that the social pages are the same business/entity as the website.
The social media 'sameAs' data looks like this when implemented (partial code shown only):
"sameAs" : [
Step 3.5: Reviews / Ratings Data
Working towards positive Google (and other online) reviews is important for any business online. Users rely on social proof more than ever before making a purchase decision.
Being mostly white labelled, we found that we had a number of positive reviews from other sources but couldn't directly display these online or ask our clients to post these in Google. Note: The method below is NOT a substitute or replacement for getting real, authenticated user reviews, but it can help as a start.
The code for products looks a bit like this when implemented (partial code shown only).
"@type" : "Product",
"name" : "Digital Marketing Consulting",
"image" : "http://www.machdigital.com.au/uploads/9/8/2/3/98239458/icon-fix-digital-skills-gap-1_orig.png",
"description" : "Fix your digital skills gaps - Digital Marketing Help on Demand - Training, Strategy, Consulting",
"@type" : "aggregateRating",
"ratingValue" : "4.7",
"reviewCount" : "13"
In the space of only a couple of weeks, there was quite a dramatic change:
After a bit of time we also noticed our LinkedIn page appearing in search results.
Our Next Action/s
Getting that Facebook page verified and showing about the competitor
At the time of writing, we're still fighting to get our Facebook business page verified.
Once we do, we'll post further updates.
Since it's almost impossible to get much organic visibility in Facebook these days unless you have at least a few people following you, along with micro-boosting, we ran a small Facebook paid ads campaign to increase likes and thereby reach and engagement of our Facebook posts.
It's also perfectly fine to invite a few friends and colleagues to like your business page.
This campaign resulted in around 60 page followers in 5 days for a spend of around $100. We're now getting some good engagement with our posts which is starting to work as another channel.
Once you've created some valuable content on your site, hopefully you will start to see some of this get amplified and shared via social media, which all helps.
Other Things You Could Do
The list goes on.
Most steps from here on will depend on your own business goals, the type of business you run, your industry and a number of other factors.
If you're at this stage and wondering how to get started or take it to the next step, check out our free 35 point digital marketing checklist we hope this gives you a start.
Or, check out more detailed tips and strategy around gaining more 'Share of SERP' here.
As a final note: When Googling your business name like this (or other keywords), results can vary based on a number of factors such as user location. Also, if you're logged in to Google, preferences and web history can affect search results if this is not turned off, so for better accuracy and less skewed data ideally:
Take Charge of your Digital Marketing with this 35 Point Checklist
No, this isn't another washed-out guide spouting trends like 'social media will be big in 2017'.
Yes, this is a real, step-by-step digital marketing checklist.
How do I use it?
Most importantly, we want to help you answer this question:
"We're an [insert company] selling [insert products] in [insert location].
How do we go about digital marketing?"
* The checklist is based on 15 years' working with clients digital-agency-side and similar to the kinds of questions you might get asked in a typical 'client brief' or 'discovery' meeting.
A) To Start... Housekeeping & Prep
Whether engaging with a digital agency for the first time or changing agencies (or even if you aren't), it's always good to have your house in order.
1. Get prepared. It will save time and effort later.
For example, a digital agency will often need access to:
This might seem basic at first. But, if we had a dollar for every hour spent chasing down login details over the years... well, you know how it goes...
Also give some thought to:
2. Nominate one key stakeholder
This is a primary contact to act as a liaison between your business and the agency. That person should be a filter for any internal conflict and only relay the final decision and comments to the agency as well as acting as a conduit with other service providers to keep information flowing.
B) Your Current Marketing Strategy
Take stock of your current strategy:
3. Which providers do you already work with and how will they work together moving forward? (will there be any conflict of services?)
4. What other domain names / apps / online assets do you own and how are these related to each other?
5. If considering SEO... Has any previous SEO work been done on the website(s)?
Is there any risk that dodgy techniques were used or could your website be penalised?
6. What is your current marketing mix and spend? What's working and what isn't? How are things connected?
Radio, TV, Print, Directory, Website, Adwords, SEO, Social Media, Direct Mail, Other?
C) Be Clear on Your Goals
Before you get to the 'marketing' part, it's essential to be clear on the basics.
7. List 3-5 primary goals of your digital marketing efforts.
Be specific. Don't just list 'more sales'. They should also be measurable, agreed upon and achievable (especially if working with a digital agency), realistic, relevant and time-based where possible (SMART).
8. Define what success looks like - what metrics do you plan to track and use to gauge success?
9. In what time frame do you hope to see these results?
10. Which conversion goals do you want people to take?
11. How much is a good conversion worth to you? Consider one-off sales and also the lifetime value 'LTV' of a customer.
Some example goals:
D) Your Company
Be consistent in how your company is represented online:
12. Ensure your NAP ('Name', 'Address', 'Phone') and Industry details are consistently formatted, complete and clear on all online portals. *This not only helps people find you online, but it's a local SEO tip too.
13. What's your grand vision / story / purpose? Why does your organisation exist?
Don't underestimate the importance of starting with the 'WHY' of your organisation.
14. What are your Unique Value Propositions (or 'Unique Selling Propositions')?
What are the main benefits of your products or services that are unique to your business?
15. Is your business (or products) seasonal?
Are sales heavily influenced by the time/season of year or during specific holidays?
16. What is your main business model? How does you business work?
For example: Online / offline sales? Retail or wholesale? Physical purchase or mail order?
17. How many staff do you have?
What skills or qualifications do they have that are worth highlighting?
18. What memberships or associations is your business part of?
Give thought to what logos etc. you need to display and also how you can connect with these groups online.
19. Opening Hours
As with point 12 - be clear and consistent with these, including your holiday opening hours.
E) Your Products & Services
Understand your highest value products and services:
20. Is your website up to date with your current products/services?
Are any of the products listed no longer available?
21. What are your 'hero' products (your most profitable products or services to promote)?
22. How many of these products/services do you sell in a year?
How many would you like to sell?
23. What (according to your customers) makes them choose your products or services?
24. Why do clients come back to you/repeat purchase?
F) Your Audience
Get to know your audience.
25. In which geographic areas do you operate and where could you expand to?
26. Are your current customers your ideal customers?
Why (or why not)?
27. Who do you most want to reach?
28. 'Personas' - What do your most valuable customers look like?
Personas are semi fictional representations of real customers.
** Repeat points 28 a-t for at least 2-3 'ideal customers':
Digital Marketing opens up many opportunities to identify and target your customers. Take advantage of this: understand your customers, go where they are and make your marketing investment count.
G) Your Competitors & Industry
We're not suggesting you 'copy' your competitors, but you should understand what they are doing and how your audience is used to receiving information in your industry
29. Who are your 3 biggest direct competitors?
30. Which channels do competitors typically use to compete online in your industry? (Video, SEM, SEO, Social Media, other)
31. What's the size of your industry and your current Vs desired market share?
32. Is your industry price-sensitive? Are there any other specific ways competitors compete in your industry? Seasonal discounting, value-add products, free quotes etc.
33. How are you currently positioned in your industry?
Are there any opportunities or threats?
34. Are there specific words or phrases (or 'industry jargon') people might search for ONLY in your industry?
35. Are there specific promotions you would normally run?
When and how could you run these on digital/online channels? Who would you target and why?
Putting It Into Action - AKA 'The Marketing Part'
Now, what do you do with this information?
Hopefully you've already had a few light bulbs turn on during this process and some ideas are flowing.
If not, then engaging with a digital marketing consultant or digital agency can certainly help you kick start things, avoid any costly mistakes and set you in the right direction.
If you still want to give it a try yourself first, here are a few tips:
What works for your business and customers will not be the same as someone else, even if they are in the same location and industry.
The diagram below gives an example of what you could focus on at various stages of the customer journey, and which channels may be effective. But this is only a guide; always start with your business goals first.
A few thoughts and ideas:
a) If you need more awareness or are looking to influence buyers during the consideration stage you could:
b) If your goal is more activations or purchases, perhaps:
c) Or are your customers likely to make repeat purchases or refer friends?
And don't forget -
d) In all of this, it's important to make sure your website:
You don't want to be 'pouring water into a leaky bucket'!
Get the 35 Point Digital Marketing Checklist PDF
Free PDF version available for download.
No annoying popups or email address required!