Friday, February 15, 2013

Integrated Digital Marketing 2013

Where are we headed and what are the digital challenges facing brands and the industry in 2013? On reviewing efforts from the previous year, we notice that search engine marketing continued to be developed with the integration of social media elements, including the integration of public relations campaigns for link building and the measurement of social media campaigns within Google Analytics. This trend is set to continue. In 2013 it looks like the proliferation of social media integrated digital products and services will continue to expand, with Search Marketing Integration (SMI) reaching into all elements of the marketing mix.

In late 2011 it became obvious, in Australia at least, that mobile smartphone penetration was leading the world and in 2012, developing web sites that were optimised for mobile browsing became the must-do project for marketing departments. Distracted by social media and the potential that lay within the mobile apps marketplace, 2012 became a catch-up year for those who didn't see this coming. Using your thumb to browse, watch, comment, purchase and share forced companies to look at what information was really important and what was the real goal of each landing page. This will go down as the year that truly brought the mobile revolution to the fingertips of every business.

Gone are the days that people asked the question, "are you online?" In 2012, it became the must-have item. Felt most acutely in the retail market sector, corporate advertisers took a holistic approach, dominating on search engines with content marketing campaigns that were woven into the fabric of their search optimised web and mobile sites. Seeding original content across multiple social networks, the question became "where is our audience" and "do we want the audience on this platform"?

Analysis of big data metrics put the science back into marketing departments that had been swamped with questions from CEO's across the country on "where is the return on our social media investment"? Social engagement, performance and interaction metrics closed the loop on quantitative data to determine digital marketing strategies and platform developments, as well as communications messages that were appealing to audiences.

Social media continued to put the audience in the driver's seat. Felt most acutely in the media industry, radio stations were slammed in Australia for communications that went against the tide of social acceptability, putting public relations (as well as customer services) into the social mix. The counterpoint were mobile apps from TV stations complete with social integration, driving terabytes of interactive data within seconds of programs going to air, creating an instant feedback loop on what was popular, liked or otherwise.

With the advent of Google+ and the various updates to the search engine algorithm (Penguin and Panda) public relations campaigns to build back links into web portals replaced the outsourced (to India) model that had precipitated in previous years. Companies that took the lead to build audiences on the fastest growing social media network of 2012 recognised the synergy that was created by providing audiences with quality content, leading to more +1's and it's correlation to improve SEO rankings. Video and images lead the content charge.

Small to medium businesses who can't afford to spend heavily on developing their digital assets and who did not have expertise in-house to keep up with the rate of change, focussed on external peer-to-peer networking, while dabbling in Social Media Marketing (SMM) mostly through Facebook and to a lesser extent on LinkedIn. When Google+ came along, many complained about "social media exhaustion" and opted not to follow their lead.

In the new economy, I firmly believe that every digital asset must set a strong foundation of search marketing in-order to generate qualified leads online. It appears that in some cases, the proliferation of social media disruptor technology has shifted focus away from the number one most reliable source of potential sales. Be that at their own peril. Search and social marketing initiatives must both be addressed to get the traffic to come and convert - audiences are looking for social proof when they arrive at their search result.

"Social proof of performance continues to influence audiences to convert them online."
+Markham Lane is available to help your company with an integrated digital marketing strategy that harnesses the power of search engine, social media and content marketing platforms. If you want to grow audience engagement, improve performance metrics and increase interactivity, contact him in Sydney on +61-414-446-660 for an obligation free initial appraisal.