10 Top Things I Learned About Digital Marketing , Content Marketing, SEO and PPC in 2015

Digital marketing is in a state of flux today. Brands are unsure what to do to set themselves apart with all the proliferation of tools and techniques on the market.

Are you a digital marketer? Are you trying to grow your brand’s reach on social media? Below, I summarize some of the very best tips on digital marketing from my research and experiences in 2015.

I had some good experience on a blog of mine at HackishWord in 2014. The blog was an attempt to curate some of the funny and useful content from the web, trying to generate traffic so I could make a killing off traffic numbers, ads and product referrals.

I did not quite take over the world, but my link-building efforts have continued to bring in traffic into 2015, even when I abandoned the effort and focused on building other products.

To take advantage of search engines like Google today, you will need to adapt your approach to SEO. In a word, you need “rich content” more than ever before.

A link-builder in 2015 is still going to contribute a lot of value to an online marketing team. He or she just needs to be armed with a prolific Content-Production team that can put out impressive stuff as fast as the link builder can find linkers interested in linking to it.

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1: SEO still works, sort of

Some SEOs say link building is dead. Here’s what you need to know. Link building is definitely not dead. Build as many legitimate links as you can. Google is still paying attention to links. I figured this out from my experiences and what other people’s experiences has proven to me. I mean, how could they not? Links are here to stay. The reason why Wikipedia has so many other sites linking to it is because it genuinely holds a treasure-trove of legitimate content, and even if Google were to stop ranking them, all that mind-share that Wikipedia has is not going to go away.

Get a clue? Yes, you too can be the next Wikipedia. Note what this does not mean. I’m not saying go chasing link farms. But if posting great, on-topic content in your industry is going to induce thousands of other sites to link to you, do all you can to chase those opportunities.

2. PPC is big now, and will only get bigger

The gains from SEO and “free” traffic can make a big difference to the profitability of businesses that have small marketing budgets. With heightened competition in the marketplace, time-saving solutions like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads and other paid acquisition PPC channels are proving their genius more and more.

If you’re in charge of a digital marketing campaign in 2015’s market, you should ideally have some budget allocated to PPC and not rely on organic traffic alone. This gambit can jump-start your marketing, with massive results for your brand or business.

3. Data analytics is more critical than ever

The funny thing about analytics is that few organizations have an appropriate handle on the analytics that would benefit their business the most. Imagine a brand focused on impressions and what the numbers say about their impressions, when really they should be focusing on less quantitative and more qualitative data about the perception of value that their brand has with their target market. My advice is: think outside the box and don’t parrot the same analytics as everyone else. Just because it works for Samsung doesn’t mean it’s going to work for Sam’s Super Electronics.

4. Most data analytics is not up to snuff. There will be a revolution in the market

The tools marketers use are rather clunky, our approaches sometimes pedestrian and immature, especially so in the digital context. Take Google Analytics, for instance. The whole ecosystem is still so clunky and unwieldy that better and simpler analytics tools and approaches are going to rise and replace the old stuff. You can just take a look at the masses of data analytics startups now starting up to get a measure of the scale of this revolution that is waiting in the wings. Where some good value could be added would be in trying to do something orders of magnitudes better than the current state of the art, and that’s where a lot of these efforts will most likely fail.

5. Marketers need to see beyond the hype and focus on essentials

Focus on essentials to stay on track. When you’ve got 50+ social media channels with a vast mind-share, and each with a different mode of engagement, a different approach to talking to your market, and a plethora of off-topic data and slightly-relevant information flooding your analytics, it’s no wonder many brands and marketing teams are kind of adrift in the new marketing landscape. So what are you going to do? You need to know what makes your brand tick. What are the key marketing essentials your brand needs to reach the right people? And now might be the best time to bring on board strategic marketers who can pilot a marketing product through the murky waters of digital in 2015 and beyond.

6. Story-Telling Is Still Hard, and What Brands Should Be Focusing On

Listen, marketing in 2015 is hard, if it was easy, every business left and right would be thriving and finding its right market at the press of a button. And there’s a ton of tools all selling buttons that promise to deliver that exact utopia, but that day is not here yet. Until that happens, you need to get your hands on the digital marketing talent most suited to your products and market focus, and you need a sensible approach to the market. But most of all, you need to become good at telling stories that resonate with your audience, and coming up with innovative ways to deliver those stories.

7. Content Promotion, done right, can make or break a product

Don’t just make content. If you make a million-dollar video promo of your brand and product, and no-one ever sees that video, guess what? That’s a million dollars down the drain! So, before you make and produce content, always think: Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!

To promote content, you need a vast digital footprint, so invest in that, if that means partnerships with publishing channels, promotion of your own publishing channels, unscalable things like building relationships on social media, maybe you need to scale your team up so you can do unscalable things. Just make sure your efforts leave you in a place where you can promote to millions.

8. Social media is good for engaging customers and fans, but innovations are needed to monetize your online fanbase

A lot of companies and brands have discovered that just investing in social media alone without thinking about how you monetize your online fanbase can be a costly proposition. What does this mean for you as a marketer? It means you can’t just be social, bring your business and financial goals to the wine-and-dine. Send people to carefully thought-out landing pages, makes sales pitches to appropriate leads, in other words, do the actual hard work of selling to your fanbase, don’t just leave it to chance.

9. All brands and market segments are not created equal

This is huge, and took me a while to discover. There are brands and sections of the market you absolutely don’t want to be a part of. And there are market segments where anything from a dead cow to a Ferrari will sell, sometimes surprisingly. So people that get market and segmentation and strategy will have a leg up on the hordes who take whatever the market gives them unquestioningly. If you’re not getting the results you want from the market, go back and examine the fundamentals. Are your target customers there? Is the value to the end customer there? Who is doing the buying? Why are they not buying? Do they buy a similar product, at a similar price point? What are their objections to your value proposition? Maybe try a different market segment, or a different market altogether!

10. Try a lot of different approaches, there’s such a huge opportunity in digital marketing that Gun-Slinging experimenters are bound to hit upon a successful approach sooner than the slow and careful Method People.

That’s the science and un-science of it! In marketing, you’ve got to be ready to experiment, sometimes with wildly off-road and off-the-books techniques. I mean, dead cows and Ferraris? Yeah, unless you try something different, you’re never going to know. And if you don’t know, then you don’t know.

The market is going to reward those who dare to try bold new approaches, and who experiment and tinker with marketing approaches in a multitude of different ways.

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