top digital marketing questions

Top five questions to ask your head of digital marketing

Online marketing is about much more than introducing carefully selected keywords and phrases into content to optimize for organic search; or build up backlinks to increase traffic.

The phrases marketing & SEO have become really broad - basically, they can mean anything involving PPC, conversion optimization, analytics, social media, and a host of other activities.

Marketing, SEO, and your business

A digital marketing director needs a broad range of experience, and an intuitive knowledge of not only how content, social media, search and advertising interact to form an evolving mosaic, but also how your own brand and web real estate fit into that "fabric".

With a deep understanding of your brand's position, and a clear vision of where it needs to go, the leadership then needs to invoke a host of creative and technical skills to generate the right content, understand its effect, and react and refine accordingly.

You need to know that the person in charge is fully aware of their responsibilities. All too often companies hire someone on, and assume the job is done because the position is filled by someone who met the stipulated criteria.

The fact that overall traffic volumes increase marginally subsequent to employing a digital specialist is not sufficient evidence that all your company's SEO requirements are being met.

Here are five important questions that I would ask someone in charge of a company's strategy and implementation.

1. Can you list all business objectives?

There's no point in having a marketing department working furiously when no-one knows what the ultimate goals are.

Are you entirely satisfied that a complete business requirements analysis has been performed and that a comprehensive list of business objectives has been drawn up?

Business objectives influence every aspect of marketing because every ounce of work that goes in must further these objectives in some way.

The head must be intimately acquainted with these objectives, since they guide him/her in everything they do.

2. Can you demonstrate how each of the objectives are reflected in the marketing activities?

If the head of marketing has a good idea of what is required from your campaigns, then it should be easy for them to demonstrate how everything from the design and layout of the website, to the frequency, timing and content of the tweets, are informed by these objectives.

There's little point in wasting resources and man-hours on SEO campaign projects that aren't specifically tailored to further one or more of your business objectives.

Don't be remiss in your evaluation here either. If a business objective is to build a social media following, then tweeting is part of that. But how effective is the current twitter strategy? How many followers do you have? What is their level of engagement?

3. Are we driving new traffic and increasing our conversion rates?

We can define a "conversion" as the fulfilment of any business objective for the sake of this argument. So what effect are the campaigns having on these conversions?

If the company's online spend is $80 000 per month, then what is coming out at the other end to justify this expense?

Yes, often strategies need to take a medium and sometimes long term view, but the person in charge needs to be able to justify SEO related performance at any time, day or night.

4. Can you prove that conversions are optimized?

Let's say that your website or landing pages are converting at 2%. Is the person in charge convinced that this is the best possible?

Has the company performed split testing? Do you have multiple landing pages to cater for different audiences? Are you funnelling traffic to the correct landing pages optimally?

Has all available analytical data been scrutinized to identify traffic patterns and behaviors that can be used to further maximize conversions?

5. What refinements have been made in the last few months?

This is a great question because it covers multiple bases.

Is your marketing department being dynamic? Are they adapting and evolving in response to changes in search, trends, social media, society, and anything else that affects the stated business objectives. Or, are they plodding along - going through the same routine day in and day out.

Just because a campaign worked once, doesn't mean it should be implemented without question in perpetuity. The Internet changes. Your company needs to adapt with it.

If changes have been made, is it clear that they are the correct response? In other words, has the data collected been properly analyzed. Have the correct conclusions been drawn? Are the changes in line with the business objectives?

Marketing hacks that worked. Pic by Steven Depolo

Every company in the world is obsessed with marketing and sales - trying desperately to get in front of potential clients, gain visibility, join the conversation, and generally drum up new business in order to grow.

Competition is fierce these days (regardless of size and industry), so it's not that surprising that innovative and creative people are out there trying to find new and interesting ways to market and promote themselves.

But which marketing strategies actually work?

Free email marketing setup guide. Pic by Wayne Stadler

Modern email marketing campaigns, especially from small businesses, need to be able to grow a killer mailing list and deliver awesome emails to the right audience as efficiently as possible.

In case you're still a bit undecided about whether an email marketing campaign is right for your business, here's an old saying that should help:

How to see what your competitors are selling, and why

Whether you're a small business or an enterprise eCommerce store, you should know what competitors' sales are (in real time), find out what marketing and advertising they use, and leverage that knowledge to boost your own sales.

Unless you are selling an item so unique that no-one in the world has anything like it, you're going to have competitors who are doing everything they can to capture market share and pull sales away from you.

Sample press release template. Pic by Matthew Guay

The other day I decided to get some coverage in the news - actually, I wanted to get some exposure for a particularly nice bit of research we'd done - and started to toy around with a few publicity ideas. A press release seemed like the perfect way to go.

But, as it turns out, it's not that easy get a mention in the news - especially, if like me, you don't spend a lot of time networking and building up a list of contacts in the world of journalism. Which brings me to my first tip...

Gathering useful articles from top influencers

Content fatigue, when it comes to finding innovative and creative marketing advice, is becoming a serious time burglar for me. It is getting harder and harder to find the really useful nuggets of info hiding behind mounds of mediocre content and fake influencers.

That's why I've decided to put together a list of the best articles I come across over the course of 2016 - to save you the hassle of monitoring hundreds of sites yourself. I'll continually update this page whenever I see something genuinely useful that I deem worthy.