Category Archives: website

Digital Marketers Should Start to Build Relationships Off of Their Home Court

digital marketing

A good part of my working day is spent thinking about how I am going to build an audience from zero to one million and beyond. I have recently started at a new company where I am responsible for social marketing and audience development. (DivorceForce is an Online Community for those in a divorce, contemplating a divorce, or seeking knowledge to better plan their future… launching August 3rd) So as I have the responsibility to grow and cultivate the audience, I want to share with you my strategy for doing so.

I am lucky to have an exceptional digital platform with stellar content and forums for engagement as a starting point. You cannot have a mediocre home base and expect people to value your offering. Likewise, yon cannot build the field of dreams and just expect people to show up. This is the reality and challenge for all digital marketers.

I go back to a concept I have been preaching for well over five years. Some of you might be familiar with my A-Path methodology. If you want a full explanation of the A-Path, please see the “Holistic Social Marketing” section in the piece titled “Three Social Marketing Fundamentals”. For now, I want to concentrate on the beginning part of that path where you get people’s “Attention” and get them “Attracted” to your brand and its digital presence.

In the referenced piece I take you through the theoretical steps. But here, I will share with you the exact operation I am practicing. My objective is to collect followers and drive people to our site. BUT while that is my objective, my execution has to be externally driven, not internally driven. Thus my approach is to find people in my target segment that I can help. This is key … helping people. Try to captivate them by simply helping them. Aren’t you automatically interested in someone if they truly help YOU? Marketers are often handicapped at this, as they are often too caught up in their professional responsibility. This clouds their strategy and execution to the detriment of attracting people.

The first step of my execution is to select a limited number of keywords. The keywords are used to search social platforms, blogs, and other online media sources. I use the search to better understand people’s behavior and communication on the topic of interest. First I listen. Then I plot how I can get engaged in the conversation. It is not just about helping people… flattery goes a long way. I want to reinforce people that represent a similar position to that of my brand. I want to tell them thanks, great job, and what an inspiration they are. This emphasis must be authentic. At the same time I still want to find people that need help. I want to be there for them. I forget about my internal objective for a while, but really just want to find the right people and determine the best ways to engage with them – either reinforce what they are doing or support them in some manner. This is the essence of social marketing relationship building. At the same time, I start to determine which people have the greatest reach and influence on my potential target audience.

As I start to engage with people, I find the right moment to mention my brand and possibly our online assets. This must be at an appropriate time. Not forced. Not pushed. Following the A-Path approach, I want to make sure that I am attracting people (not being pushy with them). I want to introduce them to my brand digital assets when I really have their interest and start of trust.

Once you get people to your digital assets you must wow them. You only have one chance to make a first impression. You can further read the A-Path approach in the section recommended above to learn about building affinity, your audience, and advocacy. For now, I just wanted to share with you how you get audience development started. Often, that is the hardest part. Even if you are not starting at zero, don’t you need to build your audience? Think about the approach I have recommended here and …

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, website

Why Your Budget Must Include Website Re-Investment

Yes, it is that time of the year. Sure the leaves are falling and nature reinforces her beauty, but I am not talking about that. It is budget season and everyone is looking at what they have done in the past year and tweaking allocation numbers.

But before you finalize your budget by simply modifying last year’s budget, you need to take a fresh look. What will truly yield growth of brand awareness, consideration, sale, loyalty, and advocacy? I’d expect website revitalization was not on last year’s budget. I will also bet that many say, “websites – oh that is so ‘90’s,” but I will tell you a “correctly designed” website is so 2020’s. Let’s explore why.

website reinvestment

First, let me state that I am very bullish on social marketing as a way to win over an audience and turn them into your most valued customers – advocates. But if we look at social media platforms today, we see that the platform evolution now hinders brand engagement with target audiences. Just look at Facebook. They have practically eliminated organic reach of brand postings. And you know just about all social platforms main objective is to optimize their own monetization. They also look to appeal to their audience. Not the brand’s audience. Social platform’s first concern is their success; not marketers success. Don’t be naive.

Second, I always state that marketers must have complete empathy for their target audience. Culture has been transformed by digital technologies. More people get information online (social networking, mobile, and the Internet) as a primary source. This consumer/client behavior means your website would be extremely compelling if it was a) dynamic with continuous content updates (posts), b) more interactive and social, and c) mobile ready.

The first step in revitalizing your website is to start thinking like a media company. Think about being the “Buzz Feed” for your brand category news, information, and entertainment. Produce original content regularly. Curate relevant content and include it on your website. Think about what it takes to be a resource for your audience such that they want to go to your website daily to get up-to-date information.

The next step in revitalizing your website is to make it more interactive and social. If we look at human behavior, we see that they do want to engage with brands. That is, if the brand makes it worth their while. Converse with your audience. Listen to your audiences needs and wants. Produce compelling content based on their input and comments. Build sustainable relationships. Facebook and other social networks have clamped your ability to engage. So bring that functionality to the digital platform you own and you control – your website. Consider building a community integrated within your website. True, you may not get as many subscribers as Facebook likes or Twitter followers, but certainly you will get individuals that want to remain engaged and are likely your best customers/clients.

At the same time, various social platforms do continue to be an important part of your marketing mix. They should be used to proliferate the content on your website. Additionally, paid media of social platforms is a very important budgetary consideration. The greatest value of paid media on social platforms is the ability to target specific demographics. I have seen paid media deliver very strong click through results (back to your website).

I hope it goes without saying that your website MUST be mobile ready. More and more people access the Internet via mobile device. Do you really want to eliminate access of your website to a majority of the population because you have not made the investment to make it mobile ready?

I have given you the three areas to focus on with regards to the revitalization of your website. Staying consistent in numerology, there are three reasons why website revitalization must be part of your 2015 budget:

1) Audience use of digital is not only ubiquitous but their individual use is very strong,
2) Your website is something you completely own and control … you do not have to worry about the usage rules being changed, and
3) Your website is likely the strongest digital source to monetize your brand.

Make sense? Can do?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under community, content marketing, marketing, marketing plan, Social Steve, SocialSteve, website

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, Word of Mouth Marketing

End of the Brand Websites?

For the past couple of years I have been hearing many people state it is the end of the brand website … I could not disagree more! I see proclamations like

• The end of the website due to the rise of apps
• The end of the website due to the rise of mobile devices
• The end of the website due to the collapse of civilization

as stated in an article I read this week. This mentality is completely backwards.

For far too long, marketers have regarded websites as a place for purchase first and information second. Yes, a website should be a place for commerce, but it needs to be a source of content first. Content that provides entertainment, subject matter expertise, and information. The content needs to be crafted such that it promotes the brand’s target audience’s lifestyle.

Let me give you an example to start and then I will come back to points of consideration. Look at Red Bull’s website – they have nailed it. Yes they could try to sell Red Bull on their site, but their audience would be completely turned off by that approach. Instead, Red Bull uses their website to be a media company. They understand their audience and give their audience content they want. Content on extreme lifestyles of adventure, motor sports, biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, and music. They do not push their brand, but they sell a brand lifestyle. This reinforces the position of their brand and the feeling they want their target audience to have about their brand.

Now Red Bull does take my point to an extreme. I think it is worthwhile to have some brand soft sell on the website – coupons, sweepstakes, ecommerce – but all of these marketing touches should not overload the web content and overtake website real estate.

Many digital marketers focus on their brand’s play on social and mobile marketing. There is definitely a need to have strong brand presence in these digital areas because of today’s audience behavior. All marketing efforts must be driven by target audience actions and motivations. Now at the same time, we want brands to have a core, consolidated portfolio of content and information availability.

Almost one year ago, I wrote an article on the importance of content on a brand’s website. I brought up this concept of a content hub. Your brand website should include this content hub, and the content hub should be a primary part of the website. Then, social channels, mobile, and apps should be used to reference the content, proliferate the content, and to engage with the target audience.

core content

I argued that while social marketing is not about direct sales, certainly we do not want to miss the opportunity for sale conversion if the reader has that interest. Having the content directly on the site where there is also product information and ecommerce creates increased consideration and sales opportunities. Social marketing and the wide spread use of mobile should be used to leverage the brand content and direct people back to a place where all content resides. This approach allows the audience to see the breadth of valuable content provided by the brand as opposed to simply putting content in social postings. The audience will gain an appreciation for the breadth of content and spend greater time on the website. This may result in greater brand preference and ultimately greater loyalty and advocacy.

As an audience gains appreciation for the brand content, they should be able to use the brand website as a utility for purchase as well. Include ecommerce and shopping cart technologies on the website, but once again, do not hog up website real estate. Yes, I understand this is a brand’s primary interest – to sell. But we must be cognizant of audience motivations or lack there of. They do not want a hard sell.

Gain trust and reputation. Then make it easy to purchase. Your brand website design should be driven by these objectives, in that order.

The end of the website – definitely not. But rather I see the stylization and utility of brand website needing a dramatic change.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, content marketing, marketing, mobile, social marketing, social media, website