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5 Tips Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Digital Marketing

Search engine technology and the way people use it changes and evolves all the time.  The same can be said for business websites. One day, your website that is not built in a mobile friendly way is working just fine, and then a big change happens seemingly overnight, and your company's site traffic plummets as well as it's conversions.

Your job as an entrepreneur and start-up founder is to build a product that solves a problem, finds a way to monetize it, drives revenue and hires the right team to keep growth steady, right?  You are not expected to stay up to date on everything that is happening in the digital marketing industry vertical.  But you can not be so naive to think that you don’t need to know anything.  Here is a list of 5 things you should understand about the state of digital marketing in 2015.

1. Having a Mobile Optimization Strategy is not Optional

The most recent major change in the digital landscape is that mobile search has finally surpassed desktop.  Google’s latest algorithm update made us all very aware that our websites need to be designed in a mobile friendly format.  And what happens if you wait to do this? Then your business can suffer the consequences of users being dissatisfied and bouncing back to search results. They now are including mobile as one of their ranking signals. Google has even announced on their Adwords blog, that mobile search has surpassed desktop search in more than 10 countries, which includes the United States and Japan.   Look around you, people today live their lives through their mini pocket computer smartphone screens. They use their phones to search for answers to just about anything they want to know, do or buy.  In 2015 consumers expect a comprehensive and seamless site experience across all devices.

Google is focusing on mobile so much that, founder Larry Page encourages his engineers and product managers to spend a minimum of one day a week working solely from their mobile devices.  It is not illogical to conclude that a company that does not include mobile search as part of their marketing strategy will eventually be left behind by their more innovative and agile competitors.  Mobile and responsively designed websites are not just for large funded startups with a forward-thinking stance towards innovation and technology.  In order to stay ahead of the digital curve, all businesses must have a mobile friendly website going forward.  Forrester is predicting that by the end of 2015, 42% of the of the world will own a smartphone globally. Mobile shifted startups, such as Uber, are disrupting and putting pressure on competitors by using technology and innovative ways to interact with and win over customers in our mobile environment.  Many companies and industry leaders understand that mobile is going to be a catalyst for a revolutionary digital transformation initiative, which will allocate massive investments ranging from the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in building new processes and systems to interact with consumers more effectively on their mobile devices.

2. SEO is not Dead and it is not a Project

There are a few major digital marketing myths specifically around the term search engine optimization, (SEO).  Sadly, there is more than just a few, the two that business owners seem to think is that “SEO is a project” and “SEO is dead.”  Google made over 665 updates, changes and launches to their algorithm last year.  Last year at the search conference SMX Advanced, Marshall Simmonds, who was the lead SEO consultant for many major publishers, including The New York Times, states in his presentation, that SEO is not a project and it should never be considered as one.  You think that SEO is done, it is never done. Businesses will fail if they think there is a start and end date.  Consumers use the internet to find information on virtually everything. Every year, way too many things change for startups and major businesses to not invest in SEO on a full-time basis.

To address the second myth about it being dead, as long as search engines exist there will always be some form of interpretation and optimization needed. SEO does not die, but it has drastically evolved.  You can think of Google as the IRS and the SEO consultants as tax accountants that are there every year to help you navigate and interpret the new tax law/search changes that have come out.  Many of these algorithm updates happen without the industry noticing, but every few months one of the updates will be so drastic that will shake up the online community, and it will define winners and losers by sending some companies higher in search results and others much lower.  Entrepreneurs and CEO’s do not need to know every detail of what the exact opportunities and consequences are for every Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or Pigeon algorithm change, but they should understand that it is critical to have someone on the team that does.  Search engine optimization is fully alive. Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, one of the fastest growing marketing analytics software companies, recently did a slideshare presentation on the how much SEO has changed in 2015 and how marketing tactics must shift as well.

3. Digital Marketing is more than just Pay Per Clicks Ads

A couple of years ago, paid ads was considered the end-all digital marketing solution. Today, however, PPC has less of an impact–in the sense that it takes more than an ad to convince a prospective buyer to buy.  

Creating organic useful content can help to answer people's questions.  In general ads are more promotional than informational. I watch businesses pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the PPC hole, not knowing how to adequately set up or target ads; even track performance. These days it takes a multitude of announcements, relationship and brand building tactics that will get your brand and product noticed. Large companies themselves know they need to embrace social networks and messaging on several platforms to have consumers interact with your brand.

However, don’t drop your Adwords account just yet.  Adwords is helpful, but it’s only a small part of selling online. There are more ways than one of engaging consumers via the digital landscape, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Just as you would pay Google to post your ads on their network, so would you also need to realize that digital marketing isn’t just adding keyphrases to your website and it definitely doesn’t just consist of one magic thing.  Think of companies like Pepsi and Coca Cola who always have several marketing campaigns per year that each promote a specific product in several ways.

You may have a lot of twitter followers, but how do you convert them to buy? You may get them to your website, but will you keep them there? Are you developing a way to move visitors through the sales funnel on your website?

The thing about this all is that you don’t have to know it all. There are people who specialize in this space that are able to provide you with way more strategies and campaigns than you ever dreamed. Digital marketing can not only boost your sales ROI, but also your brand’s ROI.

4. Great Content = Great Rewards

Content. It’s everywhere you look, a “how-to” blog, a blog comparing products, a blog from an expert, infographics, tweets, status updates, images, pins, pictures, videos, memes, GIFs. You’ve read and seen all of these and by now you realize that this is what powers the web. This is what gets visitors to your website. Those visitors, who in turn, will love your content so much share it with their friends and the rest of the internet. All of a sudden you get a spike in traffic and several calls for your services or orders for your products. This is an ideal situation, and not completely out of reach. It’s all about content, after all, and delivering the most unique and shareable content is the key to making your business noticed on the web. Digital Marketing and Content Marketing are the same thing. You need to have content to have a presence in the digital world.

5. Conversion Rate Optimization can Create a Big Impact in a Short Time

Every startup company’s web site should have something for a user to do, whether it is subscribing, filling out a contact form or purchasing something.  Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the art and science of helping more of your passive website visitors become actively engaged and ultimately complete more goals.  Conversion optimization is not free, it requires hiring a professional CRO company to help analyze and determine how to best optimize a website, implement A/B split testing and then make the necessary adjustments to CTA buttons, web copy and sign up forms etc. This becomes even more crucial when you have an eCommerce business, with cart abandonment rates at an average of 68%, you should be optimizing your shop and cart pages for conversions.  If you are looking to learn more about the basics of how conversion optimization works, check out the serial entrepreneur Sean Ellis’s beginners guide to conversion rate optimization.  If your company wants to maximize its web traffic and digital presence, then I suggest giving CRO a try.

Conclusion

Technology and digital marketing strategies are always changing.  As early stage startups and entrepreneurs are looking to get the pre-product market fit right, they should not consider product development to be more important than branding and digital marketing.  Everything that a customer experiences is the product. This is something that both startups and media companies don’t always fully understand. Things like creating content, blogging, and building brand awareness around a product are often considered a secondary experience and a secondary part of the company, which is a completely wrong way of thinking.  In many instances, what a customer first experiences about your product is on the internet or in the media long before they even get a chance to touch or use it first hand. If your company does not have both of these aspects working together in alignment, then you could be causing yourself problems with building awareness for your company and product.