Good digital marketing and optimization isn't just about a big launch or inconsistent participation. It is a gradual process, which with continued focus over time will provide increasing returns.
Smart digital marketing is set up in a way to provide steadily increasing returns bit by bit over time for your top-line key performance indicators (KPIs). These gains may be difficult to see over shorter periods, but over longer stretches they should become apparent.
Graphs from Google Analytics of (top): a site that purely chases spikes, vs. (bottom): one focused on increasing returns.
Take great care that your digital marketing strategy, particularly analysis work, is one which encourages tactics, tests, and optimizations to produce increasing returns. When you're executing correctly, your blog, network, content, traffic, and interactions will incrementally add value to your brand and feed into your success. You will create what is known as a positive feedback loop.
It may be hard to see this in the beginning, but your efforts actually get easier and become more successful over time, provided you create the proper conditions to encourage organic growth. Following are several areas specifically where this is true:
Whether you are building email subscribers to a newsletter or a blog, or even new users to a service, if you're doing things correctly your subscription numbers should be growing naturally as a byproduct of publishing content. If people subscribe and you continue to deliver value, in time they will share it with their peers (particularly with the right calls to action) who also may subscribe, and the cycle repeats. This explains why it's actually easier to go from 100 to 1,000 subscribers than it is to go from 0 to 100 subscribers. The jump is larger but the momentum is already there.
If you are purely getting people to sign up through push means but don't have pull means as well, users may have less affinity to share your content than those who opt in through pull means. For example, don't expect something like purchased subscriber lists to grow themselves; just the opposite: they may not stick around because they are not a naturally built network. For this to be effective, subscribers need to be genuinely interested and passionate about the content presented. Also, if your subscriber base is made up of people like social media power users and well-connected individuals this will be even more effective.
Many businesses make the mistake of not consistently publishing fresh content over time to cover the spread of the long tail and provide plenty of "hooks in the water" for social users to re-share. In fact, some companies and even media entities that aren't so digital-literate go as far as to remove content from their sites (which is bad for social, as users such as bloggers work to thread the past with the future). Companies that do this not only become less likely to attract referral traffic and shares, but they also put themselves at a disadvantage to other companies who are publishing to the Web on a frequent basis.
If your content isn't unique, useful, and updated, you likely will not attract social attention which will amplify referral traffic and key sharing KPIs. Being consistently awesome when creating content for your industry is really the only way to win in content marketing, which is a long-term, sustained effort. Be sure to keep tabs on social sharing KPIs (such as +1s and retweets) in tandem with traffic to your pages from social. Also consider making content groups to analyze not just singular stories, but larger categories at a time. This will help you focused on what your users are most interested in sharing (pro tip: use the Multi-Channel Funnels tool in GA to also see how social is impacting metrics further down the funnel like conversions).
There's the old steadfast of Web popularity: that popular brands, people, and products just get more popular and increasing returns happen for those who break an intangible threshold for their niche. It's why the old adage of "any press is good press" rings true for many.
If you don't think through ways to be a legitimate part of industry conversations in relevant trades and build relationships with writers there, you'll basically be invisible to those covering the industry. Creating a PR strategy is an in-depth process but one worth spending the time on, as PR can impact many digital KPIs that feed increasing returns.
Good digital marketing and optimization isn't just about a big launch or inconsistent participation, It is a gradual process, which with continued focus over time will provide increasing returns. In other words: all of your previous efforts should help future efforts be even more successful. Of course use big events and moments in time to drive jumps in KPIs, but do so in a way that's conscious of the long term.
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Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, a marketing, media and PR industry speaker, startup adviser and blogger. He previously was digital director for a 300+ person global consulting team and over the course of his career has provided online marketing strategy for B2B & B2C brands in a variety of industries including marketing technology, healthcare, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as TechCrunch, AdWeek, NY Times and more for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award-winning blog with more than 25K subscribers and frequently-referenced source of what's new in digital marketing.
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