Driving Digital Within Your Company in 2019 – Part I

The Show Stoppers

On the jury of the XIV Digital Marketing Conclave of IAMAI, 2018, it was heartening to get a close-look at the `client’-side of things with a fresh perspective.

Any digital marketer, worth his salt especially one with 2-3 decades in sales or marketing, knows that digital can today totally change the game for his or her business, drive growth, reverse stagnation, input into product development, totally overhaul ROI, etc.  But before we look at  how you can drive digital in your company, let’s look at what are some of the stumbling blocks:

#1 Getting the right `digital’ partner. Digital agencies can execute but can fall short on strategy, or if they are in place, the young-talent there is not `expected’ to really understand the strategy piece, so businesses end-up sharing superficial briefs with their digital partner. As an independent digital agency ourselves, this is a piece we are really working on addressing constantly.

#2 Mature ad network strategize but limit in adopting digital as an integral practice of all they do and continue to treat digital as an add on. Even after acquiring top-rank digital agencies, the story remains the same, an adopted child being patronized or getting a step-motherly treatment, but not its share-of-voice in the big advertising piece internally.

#3 Digital itself is not just about creative communication and media planning and buying, but it has as a backbone an `alien’ territory that the marketer has to deal with, the rapidly-evolving technology piece.

#4 Digital leaderships within companies are not qualified enough. In-house marketing talent, typically brand or sales managers, and in worst-case scenarios – the Media head, is (often suddenly) entrusted with holding the digital mantle either as a new career opportunity / promotion, or simply as an add on to what they were already doing. Which only adds up to the challenges mentioned in the earlier 3 points.

#5 Top management buy-in to investing in digital marketing, moving away from the comfort zone, is a challenge.
Top brass is okay to spend 5 percent, thereabouts, of total budgets on the most familiar digital avenues like Facebook page, getting a website done, and 20-100 words in SEO.

#6 That smartphones are reaching where even TV does not is now being advocated by Bollywood, as they rapidly are adopting digital to market their films. Winning the Digital Celebrity title, cinestar Varun Dhawan, saw that the residents of a village where he shot knew him, thanks to Jio, access to the Internet with their smart phones, and the videos they saw of his on Youtube. This village does not have any television reach. Yet, feeding the Jio phenomenon as a reality to top bosses is mostly a humongous task, (if this applies to you, maybe the celebrity endorsement for digital reach with Dhawan’s video piece may just work). The mobile revolution is only superficially acknowledged.

#7 Digital is perceived to deliver greater ROI and is measurable, so more accountability on small digital spends is expected, which needs to surpass the ROI from traditional media! This despite the fact that TV is where the the brand is spending 500 per cent more than digital. What’s more even if achieved, the proof-of-concept continues to be a small pilot and all the hard work and slogging is just not able to help create an internal shift.

Read Part II of this blog to find out how you can bring the shift.

Part II: Top 10 Things You Can Do To Drive Digital

5 Ordinary Link Building Strategies that Leave Your Site Exposed

Link building continues to be one of the most important SEO strategies you can implement. This has been the case since Google took over from Altavista as top search engine.

5 Ordinary Link Building Strategies that Leave Your Site Exposed

It will continue to be important in the future. Why?

Links are an incontrovertible way for the search engines to check the veracity of your website.

A Google Search Quality Strategist survey found that one of the most important aspects of SERP is link building, with the other being quality content or having a great blog.

If you are not building links, then you are losing ground in the highly competitive world of digital commerce.

However, this system is not perfect. There are always bad marketers who know how to get around the system. Because of this, Google and the other search engines are always changing the rules for link building.

The strategies that worked even 6 months ago will not work today. What’s more, some link building strategies may even create a security risk for your website.

Let’s take a look at some of the old strategies that may have aged out (or never been viable in the first place).

link-building-infograph

1. Listing in Every Web Directory

Listing in web directories used to be not only viable SEO, but necessary for good SEO. This is not the case now. There are very few directories that are worth the time to list in.

Basically, when you compose a link building strategy by using directories, you are investing in a mutual fund of their backlink profile. If the directory does not have a good backlink profile, then your site loses out by being listed on it.

Under no circumstances should you use the web directory listing as a scaled strategy. If you are going to list your website in them, you must vet them thoroughly.

Use directories that are in your industry, and make sure those directories are high quality.

2. Link Building through Automated Software

In previous business generations, the amount of links that you had connecting to your website was a vital part of your online profile.

Today, Google and the rest of the major search engines put much more emphasis on the quality of your links than the total number.

Automation would be a perfect solution if things were still the same as three years ago. Using software dedicated to the task definitely gets things done more quickly.

However, the landscape has completely changed. It has done a complete 180. Using automated software with no filter is a very, very, very bad idea.

Neil Patel did state that the quantity of links pointing to a site accounts for 22.33% of its SERP profile. However, this is not an excuse to spam your link building, because Neil was talking about quality links only.

The Skyscraper Technique from Brian Dean is a great application of link building in the right way. He increased his search traffic by 110% in 2 weeks, but he definitely focused on quality links.

Link-Building-through-Automated-Software

Not only traffic generation but brand visibility, authority, influencer marketing, credibility boost and site ratings are impacted in a big way.

3. Spamming Your Favorite Keywords

Using variation in your anchor text is definitely a great idea. Google knows how to read now, and simply trying to spam a keyword will do nothing but get your site ignored by the search engines.

You will get blocked even more quickly if you try to attach links to this keyword, so do not do it.In general, if the writing on your site looks unnatural to a human, then it will look unnatural to Google as well.

The easiest way to use variations on your keywords is to simply write well. Getting a copywriter for your site is a great way to do this if you do not have time to write yourself.

4. Commenting on Blogs

Are you kidding? Now you can’t even comment on blogs? Well, if you are using it for link building purposes, no.

Feel free to comment on blogs if you are naturally attracted to them and want to say something about the content. However, if you are doing it for link building, your comments run the risk of destroying your online profile.

This strategy is especially bad if you are using blog commenting as a singular strategy. There are still ways to use it to your advantage.

However, it can be a very difficult pathway to trek without a guide who knows what he is doing.

If you must do it yourself, then make sure that you only comment on high value blogs. Make sure that the comment is relevant, and follow the same keyword strategies that you would for on site content.

Blog comments also have a rate of diminishing returns. The case study below shows how a commenter found that her work was not bringing the same kind of results as she kept going, although she was commenting with greater frequency.

average-daily-visits-per-comment

5. Submitting to Article Directories

Yes, content marketing is still king. It will be for a long time. However, do not try to stretch this content out farther than it would naturally go.

Submitting to article directories is the same as submitting your URL to web directories. It used to be a great strategy. It is not any more. Why?

The article directories are starting to become low quality investments. They are just looking to get as many articles as possible, and they do not have the money to lobby for quality.

You are the company you keep online. If you get surrounded by low quality articles on a directory, then Google and the rest of the major search engines are going to consider you low quality. Keep this in mind.

Final Words –
Right SEO practices bring benefits multifold. Refer to this case study of a liquor retailer. Following correct techniques considerably increased its revenue in no time.

These five best practices will keep your site out of the gutters of Google and the other major search engines around the world.

Follow them, and make sure that you are keeping your ear to the street for the next new changes.

37% of company owners are spending anywhere from $10k to $50k on link building, so make sure that you are making a significant investment as well.

Remember – if you are standing still, you are losing ground in the digital world!

Micro Targeting Using Paid and Owned Media

Vishal Agrahari, Media Head, BC Web Wise

Vishal Agrahari, Media Head

A much more specific form of market segmentation is possible today, as opposed to the generic profiling of consumers that erstwhile marketers used to conduct. This provides impetus to micro targeting- personalized marketing tactics relevant for a small, well-defined group, in contrast to large-scale campaigns for broad segments.

The need for narrower segmenting, and coming up with well defined groups in order to streamline your marketing efforts, has made micro targeting gain increasing prominence.

The Crux of Micro targeting

With its original roots in the political arena of tracking, segmenting and subsequently influencing individual voting behaviors in major election campaigns, micro targeting has come a long way.

The crux of micro targeting lies in the fundamental concept that the more precise you are in tracking the needs, wants and attitudes of your potential customers, the wider are your chances of reaching out to them exactly when and how they want you to. In line with this requirement, the recent years have witnessed a rise in the micro targeting options provided by social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that include Reach Blocks, Page Post Links, Promoted Posts, Geo targeting, Sponsored Updates and so on.

For instance, if you are an e-commerce store selling anti-ageing products for women above the age of 40 years, creating a micro targeted Facebook ad would be a powerful way of reaching out to your target audience. Apart from specifying the location ( a cluster of cities, 10-50 miles in the vicinity of each other can be chosen for one ad), age (40 and above), gender (female), general interests (Health and Well Being) and precise interests (Beauty Products/Cosmetics/Beauty Tips/Anti Ageing), you also have advanced targeting (http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/4127-How-to-Target-Facebook-Ads-to-your-Audience ) options like custom audiences and lookalike audiences.

In 2013, Twitter introduced TV Targeting which is yet another powerful way of targeting specific groups, by channelizing real time content and ads to target the increasing number of consumers who watch TV on their smartphones or tabs. Aptly categorized into TV Ad Targeting and TV Conversation Targeting, a number of brands like Adidas, Jaguar and Holiday Inn reaping its benefits. (https://business.twitter.com/tv-targeting )

Owned Media: Micro Targeting for Long-Term Relationships

There is often a very thin line that demarcates micro targeting and intrusive marketing, and this can be understood better by clearly defining your short-term and long-term marketing objectives, validating your data, and paying genuine attention towards what your customers really want. The basic principle is to understand when and where the potential customer is actually looking for information, and reaching out to them only then.

Marketers tend to cross the line and become intrusive when they try to force their offerings upon customers when they are not looking for it. So no matter how alluring an offer on a random, unwarranted pop-up ad might be, it will in all probability be found to be intrusive (and annoying) by a potential customer. On the other hand, putting your best foot forward where the end-user is actually looking for a good offer, is the way to go in micro targeting. For instance, the behaviorally targeted ads of Amazon and EBay, based upon the search history and browsing patterns of users have enabled thousands of e-commerce stores to reach out to the right consumers, at the right time and right place.

As far as cost effectiveness, control, versatility and establishing a long-term rapport with a nice audience is concerned, your owned media channels will always provide you with an upper hand. In fact, the right use of owned media micro targeting techniques can work wonders for your marketing campaign. And with all the clutter that customers finds around themselves today, it is equally important to create high-impact, engaging and personalized content to stand out in the sea of mediocrity.

Stepping out of the realm of social media, even online communities offer vast potential for micro-targeting. The Geo-Educator Community formed by National Geographic has been pivotal in increasing the brand’s engagement levels with the teaching community across the world. Even the simplest of features in your owned media channels can be harnessed for targeting specific groups. For example, you can customize your Facebook pages with different custom banners or cover photos for different groups, rather than having a standardized banner for all. So if you are selling a product for pre-teens and teens, and you want to drive a message across to parents as well, your customized banners will enable you to micro target these groups separately, and in the most effective manner.

Paid Media Micro Targeting: Broadening Your Horizons

Very often, well-charted and high-budget marketing campaigns fail to bring in results, because it failed to reach the right audience at the right time. For reaching out to the group that is most relevant to your organization, opting for paid media micro targeting options, such as display ads, paid search sponsorship, or even outsourcing your requirements to an established digital marketing company, is necessary.

While owned media has its own significant role to play in projecting your brand, its scope will always remain limited. Take for instance, the significant role of micro targeting in movie promotions, as opposed to the kind of promotional activities that were conducted a decade earlier. With teasers and trailers going viral on YouTube, and content being directed towards key audiences groups on Twitter and Facebook, digital micro targeting has been instrumental in the success of many movies today. Who would have thought that a limited release, $5-million budget movie like Spring Breakers, would gross $31 million purely on account of its social media campaign, intensively targeting teenagers and youngsters on Twitter and Facebook.

The magic of micro targeting is also evident in the realm of book promotions. In the words of renowned Author Amish Tripathi, who is accredited with the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing, it was the digital media that came to his rescue, when the mainstream media ignored his books. By providing the first chapter of ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ for free on his Facebook page generating instant word-of-mouth, and targeting YouTube users by creating a short, high-impact YouTube trailer based on his book (the first of its kind in the history of Indian Publishing), he was successful in selling 1.7 million copies of the book, and has paved the way for other Indian writers to follow similar digital marketing techniques today.

The Way Ahead

The key to success in micro targeting lies in focusing on the relevance of the parameters that you use for categorizing your target groups. Once you get the basis of your categorization or profiling right, it becomes easier to focus on your audience, thoroughly understand their needs and sensibilities. Leveraging multichannel campaigns with a combination of owned and paid media channels, is what comes next. For all the digital marketing professionals who haven’t started their journey in micro targeting, the time is ripe to commence now!