LEADING A DIGITAL ERA
By Natalie Riviere, CEO, Commetta Communications.
Navigating the wild wild web of digital marketing is unchartered territory and “many universities don’t teach it. Unlike CPAs, lawyers, architects, and doctors, marketing has no quality control or licensing standards that require passing comprehensive exams. As a result, the profession is populated by a wide range of people with varying skills and ethics – from slimy, sleazy liars to some of the most professional and talented people in the world.” (19)
Initially marketing was applied to the internet as per all other traditional forms of media; monetized with paid advertising. Promotional culture consisted of spending marketing budgets on buying ads and keeping communication one way. In 1995 Search Engine Optimization made its debut with the launch of Search Engines Yahoo and Altavista. By the end of that year “0.4% of the population were searching to find the information, products and services they desire” and marketers began to prioritize a website’s “on page factors, such as inbound links and metadata,” that determined a web “page rank” and the order it would appear in Search Engines results (20).
It was only in 2011 that Google made the “Panda” update to their algorithms favoring social sharing, authenticity, and quality over quantity in terms of a website’s links and content (20). Though social media emerged in 2003, the leading channels only introduced advertising in 2007 (22) and last year Facebook adopted similar algorithms to Google helping to filter fake news, fake profiles, fake followers, and value true engagement. Finally, in digital marketing, it is not about the quantity of how many, but the quality of who.
BRAND + SITE
I like to describe Inbound marketing as the organic digital marketing that involves a brand’s Strategic, Reputation and Relationship Management. Though last year 55.1% of the population was said to be online, 100% of those are navigating through, and relying on, Search Engines inquiry results that speak directly to a brand’s reputation. Due to how Search Engines work and the organic techniques that allow for natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media sites are among the first to be found and can therefore be considered as part of a brand’s “Earned Media,” SEO, and Reputation Management. Social media is also a fantastic tool for customer service, events, private groups, and developing user generated content, however do not be fooled, those are Facebook’s friends and Twitter’s followers until you are in possession of your community’s contact information.
Websites, the content that keeps them interesting, and email marketing to inform and delight users of your updates, represent a company’s professional digital Relationship Management channels. This speaks to a brands “Owned Media” as they are tools over which you have full control (23). The visibility your brand produces on your website, and contact list you develop through conversions, are the two aspects with dollar values that contribute to an organization’s transferable marketing assets. This means you could calculate and charge advertising or sponsorship based on the views and visits your brand website gets, and sell your healthy user database. These are also the reasons social media companies are so rich and powerful as not only do their visibility and contact lists make for mega marketing channels, all that they are fed via one’s videos, pictures, words, links and audience interaction are literally building them a valuable content bank.
At the time I went to marketing school I was taught that you could not measure the dollar value of marketing reach, and the metrics traditional media outlets produce on readers, listeners and viewers are just that- produced internally, or by mostly private, profiting marketing research companies. However, each Inbound reputation and relationship management tool now comes with some form of public and free analytics, based on community usage, that indicate a brand’s value. Depending on your brand’s Strategic Management, meaningful metrics can be isolated to indicate your opportunities, demand, effectiveness, and even social economical impact online.
All of the tools implied in Inbound marketing are now available for free, in some form, making this the most accessible and transparent time in the history of media for you to barter, exchange and trade what you are here to offer. With all of these communication possibilities, and so much room for economic improvement, how will you claim your space online for trade and market yourself to lead the way?