A Few Words on the Digital Marketing Industry

Mar 02

By Luke Gendron - Zeal Metric

 

A Few Words on the Digital Marketing Industry:
 

For many business owners, digital marketing remains a bit of a mystery.  It is a young industry.  However, it is an industry that has grown significantly and will continue to play an essential role in our domestic and international economies. Adequately executed, digital marketing strategies reduce the lulls that businesses feel during their slow seasons and increase revenues measurably during peak months.  However, for many business managers and owners, navigating the digital marketing industry and the services it provides is a challenge.

Similar to other industries, digital marketing is not without its pitfalls.  Many would argue that the industry could be considered unethical, though many entities within this industry practice philanthropy.  By understanding the digital marketing industry, business owners can understand where their competitive advantage lies.  This article is meant to give a broad overview of the digital marketing industry to support the business within Lee County and the surrounding area.
 

Ethics in Digital Marketing
 

Digital environments are relatively new phenomena. The rise of the internet has allowed billions of people on a global scale to have access to markets and information that were never possible before this revolution.  The Digital Revolution changed the way we connect with everything and gave rise to an entire, confusing industry.  Digital marketing and all of its subsections did not exist before the upsurge of the information age.  However, this new industry has fallen prey to many of the limitations that commerce has historically experienced.  Ethical standards between digital marketing organizations vary as highly as the services that these providers offer to the public.  For business owners, the adoption of these services at the wrong time can create a recipe for disaster.
 

Monetization:
 

For many business managers and owners, this aspect of the digital marketing industry is not a surprise.  Without pointing fingers, the older and outdated mediums of data collection were able to monetize their brands using historical expertise to lure consumers into low cost and ineffective solutions early on.  Now, there are so many options and services for digital marketing; it becomes almost impossible to navigate the industry without purchasing a service that would not produce a relevant business result.

Once a digital marketing business model builds its product or menu of products, pressures to monetize become almost blinding.   Investors are always looking for the end of the profit margin.  Business development becomes the primary focus, and the usual message is that the service they provide will help any business grow successfully online.  The truth is that every company has phases of online technology adoption and skipping a stage for a quick gain is almost always going to create a leak in your organization’s marketing funnel.
 

Who is to Blame?
 

Ethics in business is a topic that is often glossed over in most M.B.A. programs and not a block of training for most organizational business development training programs.  That negligence is somewhat understandable.  A business development professional has one goal, to sign up new clients.  Their managers have one goal, to make that happen.  You cannot blame a scorpion for stinging you; it is just in their nature.
 

More Blame:
 

Business owners are also to blame.  No matter what sized business Zeal Metric interacts with, a lack of an up-to-date marketing strategy with goals outlined is not available.  That documentation takes research and time to create.  That research provides protection and a plan for short and long-term success.  Without even a one page concept for online growth, it is a considerable challenge for a business to outline a successful adoption strategy.

Now, no business owner that we know wants to fall into that category.  We all take pride in our businesses and want to provide a competitive product to our communities.  The intention for a holistic approach to online marketing is usually there, but the amount of time required to enact the planning phases or implementation is often a commodity that is scarce.  Thus, we become reactive.  Honey covered words make it easy to envision success, and that becomes the bait that lures a manger towards a strategy that is inappropriate or ill-timed.
 

How to Protect Your Business:
 

Research and knowledge are the best tools to combat the lack of ethics within digital marketing.  Your business needs to know where they are at and how to get to the next place.  For sites that are light on content, there is a clear direction to be taken.  For social media channels that lackluster or appear to be unable to create value within the organization or in the marketplace, there is a clear direction to be taken.  As a business owner, we all know that technology adoption creates a competitive advantage for your business.  Researching the right technologies and achieving a set of goals behind those technologies can make a massive difference to your business.

However, with all of this available information on the web, literacy rates continue to decrease.  30% of high school educated adults, 59% of college-educated professionals and 68% of graduate level professionals read for leisure (2016).  That lack of interest behind to acquiring knowledge through the written word is only part of the problem.  Managers and business owners share a finite resource, their time.  After the business day concludes, many professionals are still cleaning up priorities to ensure their clients receive the treatment they deserve.  Research, development and strategy implementation often gets pushed to the side as other more immediate needs arise.

The only way to protect your business in the digital age is with information.  Audiobooks are a great way to start.  They allow managers to multi-task while still garnering information about the digital marketing industry through a vetted source, as opposed to podcasts.  Podcasts can be useful but are often equally prone to bias due to the close connection to a brand.
 

What A Researched Approach Provides Your Business: Competetive Advantage
 

With any business operation, the goal is to either reduce costs, increase revenues or both at the same time.  Research and analysis will prevent your business from adopting a technology that does not align with your business goals or industry.  Marketing automation is an excellent example of a technique often selected too early.  Until your business has a dedicate asset(s) to facilitate operations within marketing automation, picking this tactic naturally results in an additional cost and an investment that could be used more efficiently in a different direction.

For smaller businesses, research and analysis will usually reveal a deficiency in content within the businesses online channels.  Google demands that all companies use hearty, engaging content within their web properties for better results within there SERP (search engine results page).  If your business determines that your content is a primary obstacle, content creation needs to be your marketing priority.  Thin content increases the cost of every digital marketing tactic in existence.  It also reduces the effectiveness of the campaigns.  Bounce rate is a crucial metric to determine if you have thin content, though it is only one factor.

On the flip side, a researched approach provides a strategy with tactics that have a proven return on investment when utilized correctly.  Email marketing, content marketing, and Google AdWords all have proven return on investment, when used at the right place, with the right content, at the right time.  Those that say any of these tactics do not work are either selling their brand of snake oil or used one of these tactics at an inappropriate time or way.
 

Understanding Your Audience:
 

Another aspect of research overlooked by managers is understanding your audience.  Your business has two significant audiences; those that fall within your human audience profiles and search engines.  Researching audience profiles allow your business model to create content that your human audience will find engaging and consumable.  Removing assumptions through research will open up new markets and opportunities for managers looking to grow.
 

Search Engines Are An Audience:
 

The second audience is Google, Yahoo, and Bing.  They only have one standard.  It is the same standard that Pepsi, Amazon and every business model in existence has to follow.  That standard is unforgiving and universal.  No industry has a pass or works around.  If a provider tells you they do, be wary of black hat digital marketing tactics.  The search engines are brutal when they feel that an organization has violated their rules and forgiveness is a slow, expensive process.

The previous statement may seem daunting.  Enterprise level organizations have mountains of resources and the ability to acquire talented individuals to execute their content marketing strategies.  To the small business owner, it would appear like a giant is in the way of their success.  Here are some words of hope.  Small businesses get the most significant gains from just trying to do the right thing.  Google and the other search engines want your businesses to grow so that they can increase their advertising revenues.  No matter how big the internet gets, there is an opportunity for your small business to shine.
 

Avoid the Quick Fix:
 

There is no silver bullet solution to the building of an online community or credibility online.  Digital marketers that understand their craft comprehend that content creation is the first solution to the majority of a deficient marketing strategies shortfalls.   To business owners, this equates to an increase in costs without a clear output of increased revenues.  It is easy to understand the draw of these fantasies, but the lack of results can sour your outlook on the entire digital media industry.
 

Low-Cost Solutions:
 

Lower cost solutions become extremely attractive when managers are pressured to create results, or business owners are searching for a quick gain.  Current trends include pushing low-quality short-form content which is usually off-shored, annual agreements for advertising services on secondary social media platforms, and alternative website development platform services.  Another low-cost solution is the hiring of a freelancer that is under qualified to represent your brand.

The key to avoiding a dangerous situation is understanding to standards that Google is operating within.  Google and all of the other search engines want to show your website to the world.  However, it also wants to continue to be the highest trafficked search engine in the developed world.  If you are producing adequately formatted, meaty content for your audience and it can see that, you are ahead of the majority of your competitors.  That is the only solution that comes with a guaranteed result.  Good content created consistently!
 

What is Good Content?
 

Content on the internet has many forms.  Written content takes on two forms; long form, and short form.  As the names imply, long-form content is written materials that have depth and length.  The exact word count varies, however, a good rule of thumb is more than 500 words.  If you are asking yourself why this article is so long, it is because it meets the 2000 word ideal that seems to be gaining traction within current trends.  Short form content is less than 500 words.  As a rule of thumb, anything less then 300 words is not considered search engine in a friendly way.  Current search engine technology “reads” your web properties and assigns values based on relevancy and long-form content that contains keywords that are relevant to your audience is looked on favorably.
 

Other Forms of Content:
 

Other forms of content include video, images, information graphics (infographics) and audio content.  Each type of content has its own set of guidelines, advantages, and disadvantages.   When prioritizing content creation, it is essential to understand the quality standards advertising mediums institute.  In the end, content needs syndication to be consumed by new people.  An example would be the quality score that Google AdWords uses to calculate the cost of ad placement.  This system measures the quality of a landing page by relevance, quality and critical attributes of an adequately formatted landing page.  If your organization does not know what Google is looking for or have an asset that does, do not start a Google AdWord campaign.  It will not achieve the result your business desires.

In Google’s “mind”, good content is shareable and creates credibility through link building. Content is the cornerstone of search engine optimization.  This article is an example of the type of content your business should be investing their time and efforts.  Zeal Metric is honored to be invited to guest blog on the SAGA website.  We are proud to be a resource for our community.  It also is creating a credible link between our organizations, which Google and other search engines can see.
 

Summary:
 

-The digital marketing industry is young.  Its youth leads to mistrust and pressure to monetize often directs these organizations towards substantial investment in business development.  Protecting your business means understanding what works, not a lack of strategy or null level investment.

-Strategy before tactics, tactics before content execution.  Content is the driving force of the internet. Ultimately, there are opportunities for all sizes of businesses.

-Search engines love great content, no matter what algorithm update occurs.  Invest in the right content, at the right time and in the right place.  This leads to credibility and the sharing of your content via third parties.

-If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
 

Zeal Metric is proud to be a resource to the businesses of Lee County.  Our organization believes that our growth in the future should be directly related to increases in revenues for our local business partners.  Please reach out to our team through the SAGA member directory to garner access to discounts on our services.  Advice is always free for our chamber members.  Please reach out with any questions; we are happy to provide answers.

Sources:

Ingraham, C.  (2016, Sept. 7).  The long, steady decline of literary reading.  Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/07/the-long-steady-decline-of-literary-reading/?utm_term=.f66d9aa57771



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