Determining where and how to spend your digital budget can be challenging and overwhelming, especially when you don’t have a trusted source for information. Do you start with the website itself? What about SEO and organic efforts? What about advertising, social, email, blog, video, lead tracking, or any number of other components? The good news is, there are trusted sources and there is a right way to do things, at least at first. In this post, I’ll do my best to get you heading down the right path, regardless of your starting point!
Digital marketing is a big, ambiguous and intimidating world. It’s also incredibly necessary. The internet has changed the way we do business – there are new rules, standards, tools, and metrics. And then there’s Google: the moving target, constantly changing those rules, standards, tools, and metrics, just to keep it interesting.
So HOW in the world are you supposed to figure out what’s available, let alone what fits your business?
It should also be noted that I am not a member of ECW’s Digital Marketing Team; I am a member of our Sales Team. Over my time at Ecreativeworks I’ve talked with many prospects and clients who have struggled with digital marketing strategies and budgets. I’m writing this blog to provide a general context and some basic “rules” to follow, as you enter this conversation, from wherever you are right now.
The good news: Digital Marketing is simpler than it seems… There are a few primary components to creating an effective online presence and once you have the necessary tools and trusted advisors to develop that, you are ready to rock.
The bad news: Digital Marketing is actually pretty confusing – it’s technical, it’s a moving target, it requires data and strategic planning, as well as a serious depth of knowledge to produce the desired results in a responsible and effective manner.
But don’t worry – we’re here to help.
Start with a Well-Built Website
It’s important to understand the fundamental expectations and process for marketing yourself online. The first and most critical component you will need to get started is a well-built website.
In the past 10 years, websites have moved from acting as a brochure for your company to acting as a member of your sales team. In the past, it was perfectly acceptable for a website to serve as a glorified poster. Those days, folks, are behind us; users expect more from you in 2019.
- Your website is available 24/7/365. It should be 100% informative: providing as much information as one could ever dream of finding, in a well-structured, easy-to-navigate, cohesive and overall pleasing experience.
- Your website should be ACTIONABLE – allowing a user to interact with your business. I should be able to call you, submit a form, ask a question, contact support, make a purchase, get a quote, etc.
- Your website should be a major player in generating sales for your business. If it’s not, you’re behind the curve.
At the end of the day, the best way to think of your website is as an employee of your company. Give it a salary, goals, and means by which to measure success. Invest in it! Develop a proper structure and process; “train” and support it; track its progress; measure your ROI; develop future growth plans.
- Strategically developed navigation
- Dedicated pages for all relevant products and services
- Rich, informative content
- Mobile-friendly / Responsive
- SSL Secured
- Excellent user experience
You may be reeling from the fact that I didn’t mention design… Design is important, it’s simply not most important. The design of your website supports your branding efforts; it provides a look & feel to go along with great user experience. The “new” standard is that websites to have a modern, clean and open look & feel.
It’s easy to get distracted by the design piece of the website building process, and it’s understandable. It’s one of the more fun parts of building a website and it’s also providing a brand new “face” for your company. BUT, there are many pitfalls in the design process, when it comes to the performance of your website:
- moving components that “busy up” a page or distract users
- functional elements that slow your load speed way down
- headings and content designed to look good first, and perform well second
Consider this: the most intricately and beautifully designed site is utterly useless if no one can find it… The only reason to make the design your top priority is if you are well-established enough to never need new visitors. And really, who does that fit?? Apple, maybe. Microsoft? Google… Certainly not you or I.
All marketing and advertising efforts are built on the foundation of your website.
Deciding Between a Website Update vs. SEO on Your Current Website
If at this point, you are concerned that your website is not fundamentally sound enough to start working on digital marketing and advertising efforts, it’s worth considering an update. Most websites will fall definitively on one side or the other of this decision. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule.
- Perhaps your site is mobile-friendly and secure, but it is lacking in content and user experience.
- Perhaps you JUST launched a new website, and it looks great and you’re really proud of it but it is in rough shape for the search engines.
- Perhaps your site is 15 years old and you’ve always managed it in-house. Your developers know how to fix, add and remove things currently, but they don’t know how to optimize and you’re intimidated to switch to a new platform…
These are tough spots to be in. I recommend getting in touch with an expert and starting some research and strategy development.
The critical question for choosing between SEO and a new website is: how fundamental are your website’s weaknesses? If they are structural, content, or design based, you should consider a website update. If they are technical, user experience, or speed based, you may not need a website update. I know this is a vague explanation but every company, website, and market is so different, it’s the best I can do.
I would love to talk with and support you directly if you are in the midst of this challenge.
Where is your digital marketing budget going to be most valuable?
This can be disappointing news and challenging to understand. Here is an analogy I use often when talking to clients about whether or not they’re actually ready for SEO and digital marketing:
You have a bucket that’s leaking. You’ve filled it up a few times and it’s always empty in an hour or so. Continuing to fill the leaky bucket is wasting water, time and energy AND it’s ignoring and denying the core source of the waste. You can’t blame the water for leaking out – you must address the bucket. In the same manner, throwing effort into SEO when your website is not built to perform for search engines is a waste of money, time and energy. You can’t blame the SEO for not working – you must address the website.
Digital Marketing – Where to Begin
So, with a very basic understanding of digital marketing and a website with a healthy foundation, how in the WORLD do you start to market it? Here are some options:
- Do some research! To set a good example of this, I have about 32 separate tabs open in my browser as I write this blog… And there are hundreds of blog posts just like this one out there. Here are some resources to get you started:
- Know what SEO is and how it works:
- Know what to avoid:
- https://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2267471/how-much-should-you-spend-on-seo-services (Check out the list of “Things you should be suspicious of”)
- Get in touch with a trusted advisor. You may already have an agency, a friend, a colleague, a child, or an employee who is familiar with this world. Find someone with industry knowledge, that you trust, and ask them your questions! If our team is any indication, people deep in this field are incredibly passionate and excited about the work they do and will have no problem talking about it for hours on end.
- Get your hands on some DATA. Many people think they have a good understanding of how their website is performing and what it’s doing for them – and many of those many would be wrong. It is not safe to assume that the people you’re used to seeing or working with on a daily basis are the same people that are finding you online. If you don’t yet have Google Analytics on your site, take a break from reading this blog and go do that right now. It’s free!
- Start to build a strategy. Once you have genuine metrics about what your website is doing currently, you can start to dream about what it could be doing for you instead. Keyword research can give you a good perspective on the game you’re playing and competitor research will give you a handle on those you’re playing against. Ecreativeworks often uses competitor reports, evaluations of current marketing efforts, Google Analytics data, and many other tools to develop a strategy. Please reach out if you’re feeling stumped on this step.
- Dedicate a budget. This is a big one and again, it’s tough to know who to trust. To be frank, you should plan on spending a bare minimum of $1,000/month for SEO (keeping in mind this will get you “bare minimum” results.) $1,000-$2,000/month is a good average and $2,000-$3,500/month would cover an aggressive SEO program or a broader digital marketing program involving copywriting, blogging, social media, email marketing, etc.
This post provides a general outline of typical SEO costs and a great list of things to be suspicious of.
Here’s another post entirely dedicated to budgeting. It’s very informative and includes a 30-minute video all about budget.
Finally, here’s an article specifically about B2B digital marketing strategies.
Don’t be Intimidated. Our Digital Marketing Experts are Here to Help!
It is so SO fair to be overwhelmed and confused in the world of digital marketing and SEO. However, do not let this stop you. If you are driven to learn and research for yourself, you’re already on your way! If you’re more inclined to reach out to friends, colleagues or experts, reach out! If you’re still feeling completely lost and hopeless – I would love to hear from you. I, admittedly, like to talk about this stuff too.
Everything we do at Ecreativeworks is grounded in research and strategy. We strive to provide an ethical and transparent digital marketing experience – we want to give you the expert advisement you need and the education you want along the way. Our talented and ambitious team of digital marketing specialists are on a never-ending pursuit to understand, adapt to and succeed in the ever-changing world of digital marketing. And on top of all that, they’re a truly fun bunch!
Written by Sarah Biddix: Sales Account Manager at Ecreativeworks