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10 Things Brands Need to do to Own Their Digital Landscape

10 Things Brands Need to do to Own Their Digital Landscape

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Having a professional business presence online isn’t optional anymore for most businesses, even if they rely heavily on referrals. A consistent, strong digital brand that clearly gets your purpose across while also presenting the business in the best way possible will help grow your sales and influence, no matter the industry.

Below are 10 areas to focus on to build up your digital branding landscape and make sure it’s useful and professional.

10 Things Brands Need to do to Own Their Digital LandscapeFix The Easy Stuff

If your brand already has a digital presence, it is easy to overlook what has already been done, thinking that it doesn’t need to monitored. However, changes over the years to logos, phone numbers, addresses, and even team members need to be updated online as soon as they happen. Your first priority should always be the goal of customers getting ahold of your company easily, so set reminders to check all profile information, contact forms, and lead generation sequences. Many times, updates in third-party tools (especially if they are using APIs) can lead to something breaking, and if those little things aren’t checked regularly, no one knows they happened.

Post Regularly

Even if your customers aren’t on social media in a business sense, they are likely using at least Facebook in a personal sense. According to Pew Research Center, 79 percent of all adults in the United States use Facebook. If you think your business won’t cater to social media, think of it as a yellow page listing that people may end up looking for online.

Post at least once a month (ideally, you’d want to post every day) so your last update isn’t something from years ago. For many users, even subconsciously, that is a sign that the business doesn’t care about their online presence. This could be a reflection of how they care about their customers.

In addition, there are targeted ad campaigns for Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin that allow you to target audiences by age, interests, and location. Think past where your audience is at during business hours and look to where they may be spending their free time online.

Use Consistent Branding

Good branding is more important than ever for a digital presence, because that’s all your customers have to go by. A terrible, outdated logo could reflect negatively on a business, even if it’s not a true indication of quality. Look for graphic designers through networking groups or ask your colleagues or friends for referrals.

Many graphic designers charge $800-$3000 for a branding page with logo, color scheme, and a few other materials (like letterhead and business cards). This may be a significant investment for a business, but it is always well worth it when you find the right designer. Shop around until you find a designer that could work with you on updated branding that reflects your business well.

Go Beyond Blog Posts

Think regular blog posts are enough for your brand? For many industries, content marketing has gotten so competitive that regular 600-800 word blog posts just isn’t enough. Come up with a content strategy that offers a buzz piece, like a free ebook or online course, that you can build additional content around. Getting users to download your buzz piece can help you grow your email list, which in turn can produce more revenue. After all, according to eMarketer, email beats almost every other marketing tactic when it comes to return on investment (ROI).

Think of The Target Audience

Working inside a company may give you an unfair view into what you think customers actually want. Something that your team finds interesting may not be of interest at all to the actual target customer. Create personas that you can build content for, with their needs and interests in mind.

Link to Your Other Content

Many marketers are great about developing content, but when it comes to cross-promoting it with other things they have created, it falls flat. Make sure you are always linking to applicable related blog posts in content and always end your content with a call-to-action when it makes sense. After all, content should be created to turn traffic into revenue, and without enough knowledge or a push to engage, customers will simply leave a page without making any kind of purchase on your website.

Look to Where You Can Expand

Most brands feel safe using Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn, but if you find yourself stagnating on these platforms, consider where you could expand. This could mean trying new features of the platforms you already have a good following on, such as Facebook live video or Twitter polls. Or, it could mean checking out new platforms to grow your online community. Many brands still haven’t used Reddit or Snapchat to do campaigns or engage with customers. If your target demographic uses these platforms, consider trying them as well.

Have a Unique Voice

Online users of all ages and demographics are online enough to know when a brand is trying too hard. It can come off as callous, disingenuous, or just out of touch. This can often backfire tremendously. The meme How do you do, fellow kids? is now used by users as a way to call out brands that are trying to seem cool but don’t really belong.

Before engaging with your online community, make sure you know each specific platform’s slang, features, and use and you respect users’ time. Logging on to Reddit and recommending your line of bras for every woman with a bra question isn’t going to win you any new customers. Demonstrate value in a unique voice that acknowledges you are a brand without trying too hard.

Use Media Purposely

Just like with blog posts mentioned above, it used to be enough to use basic stock photography for images in content and calling it good. While this is still better than content with no images, using bad stock photos that are cheesy or don’t make sense for the actual content (e.g. they are vague or misleading), can turn users off.  Try to create custom graphics for content using tools like Pablo by Buffer, Canva, PicMonkey, or Piktochart. Even just adding your logo and content title to images goes a long way (and is better for social media).

Think Digital First

Whenever you are building a new campaign or introducing a new product or service, think of your digital strategy first, because it has the largest potential to spread. Deciding budget for paid campaigns, graphics for the promotion, and messaging can help ensure the new offering has a consistent message. This is important because online is likely where customers of most businesses are going to find out about it.

 

When it comes to a better digital branding landscape, make sure all your company’s presence online is consistent, engaging, informative, and easy-to-navigate. Focus on what you’re best at but try new things to be innovative in your industry, when it makes sense. Being proactive about a better online presence will lead to more engagement and traffic from your target audience.

Email and the rise and proliferation of mobile

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Takeaway #1: Use mobile marketing and social media to engage a younger demographic

“In our market, loyal customers are getting older so we are focused on mobile and social as a way to communicate with younger customers to increase their loyalty. Spot on!!” said Randy Kobat, Vice President and General Manager, Strategic Initiatives.

 

Takeaway #2: Consider mobile design, not just content

“Mobile is dead on with our strategy and focus. We are developing programs with mobile in mind not only through content, but design. How have you faired with responsive design in email? Have you seen engagement go up?” asked Ivan Printis, Email Product Manager, Gannett.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, I moderated the Mobile Email Panel, in which Laura Velasquez, Marketing Program Manager, REI, shared the retailer’s experience with responsive email design.

Below you can see how the emails display differently on an iPhone thanks to responsive design.

Default on iPhone Responsive on iPhone

 

Results

 

The above charts show the results of A/B testing the responsive design email versus a traditional email, and you can see how Laura’s team was able to improve open rates with responsive design.

Laura also noted while mobile was slowly increasing as a percent of all opens of REI emails, the largest increase came after the change to a responsive layout.

For those looking to move to a responsive email design, Laura suggested marketers shouldn’t only focus on making mobile-friendly changes and creating a template, but they should also look at change within their organization. She advised marketers to have discussions with key stakeholders so they understand how their email messages will be affected.

 

Takeaway #3: Integrate mobile and social

“Also, I’m curious to hear from the group about how you are integrating social with email. That has not really been on the radar, so I’d love feedback on using these two channels to communicate with readers,” Ivan asked.

For some tips on this integration, feel free to read the MarketingSherpa blog post Mobile Social Media Marketing: 3 tips to take advantage of this growing convergence.

 

Related Resources:

2013 Mobile Marketing Trends: 2 key data points to help you understand this growing behavior

Mobile Marketing: 63% of marketers view increasing sales conversion and revenue as a top objective

Mobile Marketing: 31% of marketers don’t know their mobile email open rate

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013: Social media is email with fresh paint

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It’s a smart strategy to have your organization move into a content producing institution. The benefits are great! Just be sure to have the necessary time and creative effort to deliver concise actionable results….oh and coffee.