I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and aren’t suffering too much from the after effects of overindulgence! If you did then maybe you’ve already started making New Year’s Resolutions of hitting the gym, laying off the booze and knocking the cake on the head for a little while?
We don’t make those kind of silly resolutions here at Boom (we love cake too much!) but we do use this time to take stock of our performance, strategies and techniques then put on our thinking caps to decide how we can improve them going forward.
The start of a New Year can be a great opportunity to analyse and really get to the bottom of what worked best over the last year and why, as well as putting forward ideas for how to do things even better in the future.
So without further ado here are some of my top New Year’s Resolutions for internet marketers in 2014.
Think beyond the link
For a while now outreach has been too strictly focused on building links and little else, which is a very limiting attitude to develop. We’ve been moving for a long time towards a more open approach but we’ve still got more work to do. By fixating on links alone, you put on blinkers and block out other ways of you and the blogger/editor working together. It closes you off to other possibilities and prevents them from suggesting alternatives too.
It’s important to turn our discussions away from just focusing on getting a link and figure out the best way we can collaborate with others. Giselle Mendez wrote a fantastic post about how a rejection should be viewed as just the start of a conversation. If you haven’t read it already then go check it out, as it’s a really refreshing look at how important attitude and creativity can be to outreach. Just because a blogger or site owner may turn down the opportunity to feature your content doesn’t mean the conversation is over. Contact them with a mind open to all the ways in which you and the blogger can help one another and who knows where you may end up!
As frustrating as it is that ‘not provided’ is moving ever closer to 100%, it does force us to widen our horizons and think more about brand traffic as we can no longer filter it out properly. Brand mentions and citations offer value for clients way beyond links, especially for smaller and local businesses. This turns the focus towards other benefits such as brand exposure and of course referral traffic. In turn this pushes us as marketers to up our game by creating the kind of content that will reap these benefits, as opposed to bog standard guest posts which will offer a link and little more.
This takes us neatly to the importance of tracking microconversions. Quality content on our own site or guest posted on other sites can offer a huge variety of benefits and it’s essential that we understand and track all of them to truly understand the ROI of the work we’ve done.
It’s not just about how many links a piece of content has acquired but what about social shares, engagement, interaction, mailing list sign ups etc? We need to get smarter about understanding the reach our content has and the value of these microconversions to our clients.
Again this pushes us as internet marketers to provide content that is shareable, prompts interaction and leaves people wanting more. James Porter of Distilled wrote a superb post about the key characteristics of viral content which we should bear in mind during the brainstorming process to ensure that the content we create ticks all the right boxes.
Become more holistic marketers
It’s simply not enough anymore for online marketing agencies to offer clients link building in isolation. It’s risky to put all your eggs in one basket and it certainly isn’t the most cost effective way to improve the client’s bottom line. Incremental improvements to each part of the customer journey from SEO and PPC through CRO to post sale activities like email and social provide a much better ROI for the client and an improved experience for their customers.
As marketers we need to brush up on the technical side of SEO to bring a client’s site up to scratch – improvements that provide lasting benefits and can often be overlooked. You can’t just rely on the developer to have figured out the best way to implement canonicals, set up the right redirects or get all the proper tracking in place. We all need to get to grips with the nerdier side of what we do and be in a position to advise on all these factors.
The same applies to Conversion Rate Optimisation. It’s great to bring bucket loads of new traffic to a site but what our clients really care about is how much money this traffic will bring. If a client’s site isn’t converting then all this new traffic is wasted. Even if your services don’t extend beyond SEO, you’re still providing a poor ROI for your client if you’re sending traffic to a site with crappy conversion rates. Learning what makes visitors become customers, and equally what puts them off, is invaluable in becoming a more well-rounded online marketer. Even if CRO isn’t a service you offer, just ask everyone in your team to take 15 minutes to click around a client’s site and report the problems they find – there’s a goldmine of information in there and it’ll pay dividends for both you and your client.
Make content work harder
As we push to make better quality content costs will undoubtedly increase, meaning content has to work harder to turn a profit. To some extent this raises the stakes on the outreach front, but it also makes us get more creative about the different ways in which our content can be presented. If you’ve done the research to create an infographic, could you also write a detailed article to go with it? An interactive graph? Chop up the infographic into a Slideshare presentation? Crowdsource responses for a follow-up?
Chris Bennett did a great presentation at SearchLove London that talked about this in more detail. I’d highly recommend taking a look.
Upcycling existing content, updating evergreen pieces and recycling your ideas into a number of different formats makes your efforts go further and your money work harder. It’s easy to get into the mindset of ‘Let’s make an infographic, here’s some interesting data, create, promote then rinse and repeat’. Turn the focus towards reading around in industries and finding the interesting story there first and then start thinking about all the different ways it can be used to create killer content.
Along with repurposing content we need to get better at promoting it. Even the most finely crafted email is useless if nobody reads it. Get better at finding the right people to talk to and connecting with them in the way they prefer to communicate. Expand from emails and think about starting conversations over social media and even picking up the phone to make sure you’re getting your message across. Take the time to find out who you need to be speaking to, research what makes them tick, where and when they’re online and then make your move.
Of course paid promotion is becoming more important too in order to get your content in front the right people. It takes time and experimentation to make sure we’re making the most of it. Test what content works on which networks, test titles, test demographics – start small to see what captures people’s interest and then roll it out.
It’s corny I know but it’s all about working smarter not harder.
Have more patience
Last but not least is a problem I have but one I’d imagine many of you can relate to! So you’ve spent time and money on an idea you’re certain is a winner and it has turned out perfectly, you’ve uploaded it and put out some finely tuned outreach and then?………Tumbleweed.
It can be frustrating, stressful, disheartening and demotivating when the internet doesn’t immediately erupt with platitudes for the awesome content you so lovingly crafted! It’s essential to keep this in check before you send yourself mad, namely by remembering that:
Content is not temporary!
People might take time to get back to you, the content might be more of a ‘grower’ and (something we’ve seen a lot more of recently) just because somebody didn’t reply to you doesn’t mean that they didn’t love your content and share it – which brings us back again to the importance of tracking!
Give your content time to shine, have faith in what you’ve created and most of all have patience!
A great deal of what we need to do moving forward is simply taking a step back and opening up our mindset. Outreach is not just about getting a link, a piece of content is not just one piece of content, email is not the only way to get in touch. Most importantly internet marketing is far more than just scoring links, it’s about leveraging all the varied opportunities the internet has to offer to find the best way to provide value for our clients.
I would love to hear your internet marketing resolutions for the coming year! Let me know in the comments what changes you’re planning to make to rule the internet in 2014.