We’ve all received the spam emails: “Get to TOP SPOT on Google FAST!” they excitedly shout. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the ultimate business battle; a competition that every website owner participates in, and that only one brand can win for each search term.
When you look at the stats, the focus on SEO is understandable. When you have a question that you need to answer, the first thing you do is navigate to a search engine. And if you’re like ~94% of Kiwis, you’ll go to Google.
This means that by creating a website that comes up as a top result on Google, you’ll instantly gain access to the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders. More importantly, SEO will allow you to gain access to the people who are looking for exactly what you offer, right now.
If you’re a Christchurch plumber who successfully targets keywords like “emergency plumber Christchurch”, your business will be presented to people who are in dire need of your expertise. The best bit: you don’t have to pay Google a cent for the pleasure!
It poses the question: if SEO is such a powerful marketing strategy, why bother with anything else?
You can’t survive on SEO alone
Such is the power and potential of SEO that it can blind a business to other important aspects of marketing. Standing out in a crowded and competitive marketplace demands a more multifaceted approach.
While potential customers might go to Google for answers, they do a lot of other stuff on the internet too. They go to social media to be entertained. They go to Google Maps to explore. They check their emails and chat on instant messaging services. They often browse the web mindlessly.
SEO is an important slice of the marketing pie, no doubt. But the fact remains that it is but a slice. The journey a modern customer makes through the sales funnel paints a picture of the many ways that a brand needs to present itself through digital marketing:
- Awareness: It can take up to eight touch points before a prospect even considers buying from a brand. Marketing strategies like PPC advertising can help to get your brand in front of people who don’t yet know you exist, slowly and subtly building up their familiarity with your brand.
- Interest: Once you’ve captured their attention, you’ll need to retain it. Targeted content like videos, ebooks and social media posts can keep your brand in front of the right eyes for longer, eventually bringing them to the point where they consider a purchase.
- Evaluation: Once a prospect is seriously considering your solution, they tend to compare before committing. Offering up plenty of info on your website, and actively encouraging your current customers to leave reviews on Google and Facebook, will help you to convince them that you’re the right choice.
- Engagement: The battle isn’t over once a customer chooses you. You’ll need to ensure that they follow through with the purchase, and that they ideally come back for more. A purpose-built email marketing strategy is one of the best ways to do just that.
SEO only really helps at the very top of the sales funnel. Sometimes that’s enough to secure a new customer, like when someone is in desperate need of a plumber. But far more often SEO needs to be backed up by a wealth of other marketing strategies if a prospect is to convert.
We’ve hinted at a few of those strategies already – but now let’s take a deeper dive into each. SEO aside, modern marketing is built around five main pillars, each of which plays a unique part in transforming prospects into customers.
What are these five areas of focus? Let’s take a look.
1. Paid digital advertising
There was a time, years ago, when marketing and advertising were more or less the same thing. If you wanted to get in front of customers, you paid for the pleasure. Print, broadcast, outdoor and other forms of traditional advertising were more or less the only way to put your name up in lights.
While marketing has since evolved – as we’ll discover in the sections below – there’s still a place for paid advertising in the digital sphere.
Pay per click (PPC) ads can instantly take you to the top of the search engine results page (SERP), a feat that can take months or even years with organic SEO strategies. In fact, as this article reveals, the best search engine marketing strategies are those that combine SEO and PPC.
Paid digital advertising isn’t limited to the SERP either. Paying to sponsor a podcast or YouTube video can enhance your brand’s reputation by connecting it to a reputable source. Display advertising can form an effective ‘remarketing’ channel, in which a prospect is served up an ad for a product they had previously shown interest in.
Digital advertising also offers far better bang for your buck when compared to traditional forms. TV, radio and newspaper ads simply aren’t targeted. You send your message out into the world in the blind hope that it reaches the right eyes and ears. Digital ads, meanwhile, can be directed at the exact demographics that are most likely to buy.
2. Content marketing
“Ads help you be seen. Content helps you be chosen.” – Chanelle Le Roux.
Once you move from the awareness phase to the interest phase of the sales funnel, you’ll need more than a PPC ad at the top of the SERP to drive a prospect toward a purchase. This is the role of content.
Trust is earned. By creating helpful, educational or entertaining content, you build that trust with your audience. You also grant yourself the chance to position your solution as the best choice.
Content can come in any number of forms: blogs, ebooks, infographics, social media posts, videos, podcasts and more. The best content is the type that answers the most pressing customer questions, and that drives them further down the funnel.
Content is also super valuable in terms of SEO. It gives Google more keywords to latch onto and can generate valuable backlinks. This is why every business should have a regularly updated blog on their website (at the very least.)
3. Social media
Social media offers businesses the opportunity to show who they really are. You can bring purpose, personality and fun to the table. You can build a dedicated audience by consistently posting quality content and by interacting and engaging regularly. This audience will then be more open to the occasional piece of promotional content that you post.
What’s more, in terms of targeting a specific audience, there’s no marketing tool quite like social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn also have an incredible amount of data on each and every user. Some of this information is offered up by the users themselves, some is built up based on behaviour.
The ultimate result is the ability for your brand to target the specific type of person that is most likely to buy from you. Paid advertising can work better here than almost anywhere else.
4. Social proof
From social media we move to the concept of social proof, which can be thought of as a measure of your brand’s reputation.
Consumers are savvier about marketing than they’ve ever been before. The days of doctors peddling cigarettes are well behind us. Many people therefore have an innate aversion to advertising and marketing. Younger people, for example, are more likely to avoid online ads, use ad blockers and click ‘skip’ on video content.
In short, consumers don’t trust brands to talk about themselves. They do, however, trust other people. They trust other people a lot, in fact.
According to Invesp, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. More surprisingly, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Social proof is the art of capitalising on these statistics. It’s about encouraging happy customers to leave ratings and reviews wherever they can, like Facebook, Google and other platforms with review functionality.
Many businesses encourage social proof with incentives. Happy customers could be offered a freebie, discount or special deal in return for a review.
5. Email marketing
The internet began as a system for sending electronic mail. Unlike most other early web technologies, email remains as relevant as ever all these years later. In fact, by some measures email is the most effective form of digital marketing there is. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing can generate an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.
But how do you achieve such an incredible figure?
First, you should work to build up deep profiles on each of your customers. Second, you should use technology to automate the email marketing process, delivering compelling promotional material direct to each customer’s inbox. There are a wealth of tools designed to do exactly this, including Mailchimp, HubSpot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Email marketing can be used to remind a first-time customer that they’ve left items in their cart. It’s also super effective in transforming one-time customers into loyal return customers. As you build out each customer profile, you’ll get to know the sort of offers and content that will make them click.
Modern marketing is more than SEO
Search engine optimisation continues to be a critical tool in your marketing tool belt. But it’s far from the only one.
The most effective marketing strategies are broad, deep and multifaceted. They meet the customer at every stage of their journey. They are designed to continually drive the customer down the sales funnel.
The most effective marketing strategies are also crafted by experts. And that’s where we come in.
At Traction we’ve built a reputation for making marketing more accessible, and more successful, for Kiwi businesses. If you’re ready to enhance your online presence, we’re ready to help.
Get in touch today.