A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This ancient Chinese proverb still holds true in today’s marketing world. There are literally thousands of marketing platforms, apps, channels, networks and formats. For overwhelmed marketers wondering where to begin, the best first single step is understanding integrated digital marketting.
Ok, so what is integrated digital marketing? It’s when PR meets advertising meets direct response meets ecommerce meets sales. And, all ideas, activities, plans and campaigns are categorized into one of the following four interdependent media categories:
- Owned Media: You publish and distribute your own content online. For example, you might publish thought leadership articles on your blog, produce a podcast or go ‘live’ on Facebook.
- Earned Media: Sometimes referred to as ‘PR’, this is when other entities cover your news and information. This includes the news media along with other influencers such as analysts, bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTube Creators and more.
- Shared Media: This is social media. Others share your content with their own friends and followers via in social networks and other digital channels. It could be via a retweet, an Instagram comment or a LinkedIn share for example.
- Paid Media: This is advertising, sponsorship and other ‘for money’ ways of extending reach and boosting engagement. This includes social media ads, search ads, native ads, advertorials and more.
Often one of my clients will suggest that ‘we just start with a little PR and see about the rest’. I always push back on this. Because with integration comes real power. And when you leave something out of the mix, your efforts stagnate.
Let’s look at an example
Your company gets a great profile on a local news website giving you relevant exposure and credibility. (Earned Media)
But your customers, staff, shareholders or any other important stakeholders are not likely to see it because you have no social media profiles to share it. And because they don’t see it, they can’t share it with their own social networks so you are missing the chance to gain valuable exposure. (Shared Media).
You don’t have a website so there is no link media story to allow readers to find your company online. You have no newsletter, so you can’t share a link to the story with your own stakeholders. (Owned Media).
And, you have no control over who sees the media story because you don’t use ads to target your own potential customers or other important audiences via social media or search.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have no way to evaluate the impact of the media story on your business. You have no digital analytics to show you who saw it or if anyone was moved to act upon it.
So, having made this first step towards integrated digital marketing, you are ready to take the next one: building the foundation. Before you can launch any campaign, you need the following things in place.
Earned Media Foundations
Start with setting up online monitoring for mentions of your company name, brands and products and services. Google Alerts are one good free tool. Talkwalker is another similar free tool that seems to get results fast. There are also several paid-for media monitoring services that provide quality, timely reports such as Cision, Meltwater and Agility PR.
Then build contact information lists of relevant influencers such as reporters, radio & TV producers, Instagram influencers, policy makers, etc. Part of this exercise should be to use Twitter lists to group influencer by areas of influence.
Start watching HARO and reviewing publishers’ editorial calendars for opportunities to pitch stories. This is a great way to be included in stories that are already being planned.
And finally, provide your company spokespeople with training on how to perform in media interviews to get the most positive coverage.
Owned Media Foundations
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of having a website. It’s the anchor to everything in digital marketing. There are lots of low-cost options such as Shopify and Squarespace among others. Or you can get one built especially for you. But make sure your website has an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) so you can update it often.
If you already have a website, make sure that it’s mobile responsive and has necessary security certificates. Make sure it has fast load times and that meta tags and meta descriptions are all optimized for search.
Start building your email list right away too by installing a ‘subscribe’ button or pop up. A good clean email list is ‘marketing gold’ and can be used for a lot more than just newsletters and sales pitches. Mailchimp and Constant Contact are two popular email marketing platforms with free and low-cost options.
You should also create some cornerstone content. This is the most important information that you want to rank highest in the search engines. These are usually long-form articles that are informative, not salesy. If you already have cornerstone content, check that it’s still relevant, all the links are working and that the meta and alt descriptions are optimized.
Shared Media Foundations
Here’s where you spend some time creating or updating your social media profiles to get them ready for more strategic use. Make sure they are all branded consistently, that the ‘about’ sections are all up to date and that bio links are working. It’s probably a good idea to update passwords and make sure the right people have admin access.
Don’t be afraid to cull your ‘following’ lists. Follow only those profiles that can inform or further your own strategies. I recently worked with a company that was following all it’s competitors on social, for example. There are ways of keeping an eye on competitors (see monitoring below) without linking to them in any way. You don’t want to provide your customers with a one-click view of alternatives.
Seriously consider ‘tombstoning’ in active profiles or ones that don’t align with your target audiences. It’s not uncommon for a company to have had profiles set up by long-since departed employees for purposes that no one can remember. Just delete them or leave a pinned notice to let visitors know where your active profiles are.
Establish and publish your brand and or campaign hashtags to your profiles too, so that people can find them easily.
And in addition to the media monitoring mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have social media monitoring set up and ongoing. Look for iterations of your company name and brands. Look for your competitors too and even for mentions of trends and issues that important to your company. For example, if you are in the tourism industry, you’ll want to know when people are talking about cool destinations so that you can interact with them to build relationships.
Paid Media Foundations
To get ready to launch paid media campaigns start with doing keyword research. Find the search terms that people are most likely to use when looking for an organization like yours. Google Keywords, Moz and Wordstream all have useful free tools to help with this.
You should also get your Google paid ads up and running as soon as your website is ready to go. This will guarantee top ranking even when your website is brand new or has had a low domain authority score to date.
Also research opportunities to place advertorials on websites used by your target audiences. For example, an online vitamin retailer might consider writing a story about the benefits of vitamin D supplements and paying to place it on an alternative health website as a way to get guaranteed visibility and valuable back links.
All these things are low or no cost activities and they will forge a strong foundation for future integrated digital marketing initiatives. Take this first step now by contacting me.