top digital marketing questions

Top 5 questions to ask your head of digital marketing

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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.

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 campaigns 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 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?

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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?

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Optimizing conversions extends to technical aspects of online business too.

Google says they lose 20% of their traffic for each additional 100 milliseconds it takes a page to load.

This makes it important to be aware of technical SEO issues in addition to marketing and sales funnels considerations. You can learn more about speed & SEO in the technical SEO section of our comprehensive guide to search optimization.

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.

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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?

How to work with social media effectively

Social media marketing is one of those things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners wonder if they really need.

In general, my answer is yes, but I need to qualify that by saying that the amount of time, effort and cash you invest must be proportional to the returns you want (and can realistically achieve).

I serve on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit, registered charity, and we have utilized the tools and technologies provided by the Web, and in particular, social media, to drive visibility, engagement, and awareness that would simply be out of reach otherwise.

Tips on how to do B2B networking

Having a great product or service is simply not enough to enjoy strong sales (especially online), which is why it is crucial to build strong relationships with other organizations.

But recognizing that your enterprise can succeed or fail depending on the quality and quantity of the business relationships around you is one thing - finding and nurturing those partnerships is another thing entirely.

This article highlights three techniques that have proven themselves to be invaluable when it comes to ensuring that your company is constantly growing a powerful network of allies.

Drive traffic without SEO

I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.

Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.

Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.

"Are you looking for some great content marketing strategies that will help to generate plenty of buzz around your blog posts and articles?"

Content marketing is not only important for getting your content read by other people.

One of its primary purposes is to help establish authority so that your content enjoys high page rankings and gets plenty of organic search traffic from Google.

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Customer service is a great marketing opportunity

Any company that outsources their customer service is being silly, and are inviting competitors to swoop in and pilfer their client base.

Customer service is one of the few real opportunities you have to forge a solid relationship with people. Why on earth would you want to hand it over to someone else (who hides you from the people that sustain your business)?

And while handling customer complaints and queries can seem like a chore, it can be converted into one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to you.

How to breakthrough with marketing

Businesses can take off overnight. Social networks, global media, the Internet, marketing and word-of-mouth that spans the globe can drive your message to millions of people instantly. But it rarely "just happens".

If you've been marketing your startup, product or business online then you'll have seen product launches that seemed to come out of nowhere to become the hottest thing around, or videos and content that have gone viral driving millions of potential customers through to the originators - the "Charlie bit my finger" YouTube video sensation netted that family several hundred thousand dollars in revenue:

While some people luck out and ride a wave of viral/social popularity, basing your livelihood on success through blind luck is not a particularly fruitful strategy. Most people have to work hard for quite some time before they achieve a breakthrough marketing success. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to give yourself every chance of success.