Ever tried using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail? You’d be surprised how often I see people using similar techniques when trying to market their business today. There are literally hundreds of ways to market yourself online. With so many tools in your marketing arsenal, it can be difficult to decide which one to use. If you don’t understand each tool, and what they are best at, you’ll end up wasting time on the wrong thing. We’ve all been frustrated after a miserable failure. How many of those were doomed from the start? I’ve tried almost every thing possible to market websites and make money online. Here’s 4 essential tools I believe you need to use and understand for the remainder of 2011, and into 2012.
1. SEO- Search may be outshined in 2011 by social media and mobile, but it’s still a quick and effective way to get free traffic. Search engine optimization by this point has become a science, there is very little mystery left here. Use Google’s keyword tool to find the right phrases to target, build your domain authority with a little help from Open Site Explorer, and write lots of great content. SEO isn’t a magic bullet, but the return on your investment is extremely good. A few tweaks to a poorly designed website can double or even triple your traffic within 6-8 weeks. What are twice as many sales worth to you?
2. Social Media- If SEO isn’t a magic bullet, I’m not sure what to call most of what people are doing in “Social Media”. Creating a facebook fan page doesn’t mean you have a social media marketing plan. Having 10,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t give you Klout worth bragging about. Social Media is something you need to think about and plan BEFORE you start spending money. A recording studio in Amarillo, doesn’t need to spend the same percentage of their budget as Coca-Cola. There is a huge myth being perpetuated in marketing that just having a presence in Social Media will tap into some kind of hidden tidal wave of free traffic. If engagement, reputation management, and consumer intelligence are foreign concepts to you, then it’s a good sign you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.
3. Apps- Much like Social Media, apps are something that a lot of people are doing, yet few are doing well. The companies that are winning in this space are pushing the very envelop of what smartphone’s are capable of, all while integrating it seamlessly into our daily lives. Apps like DoAT are playing chess, while the rest of us don’t realize there is a board. If you have a singular concept, then you might have a good reason to build an app. But unlike Social Media or SEO, apps usually don’t come cheap. This makes the entry barrier steep, so don’t step into the ring with Ali unless you know you can box.
4. Video- Engagement, engagement, engagement. Did I say engagement yet? I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read in the last 18 months just like this one. Everybody knows that pictures are more engaging than text, and that videos are even stickier than pictures. Go figure! The more time users spend on a website, the more money that website generally makes. Once people found out that people like to watch videos more than read text, it was game over. According to the latest video statistics from Comscore, the time spent per viewer on YouTube is 311 minutes, crossing the 5-hour mark for the first time ever. Your talking about how many minutes spent on site? No no no, I’m talking how many HOURS people spend on your website.
The Big finish…
I didn’t even get to the most important part yet. Don’t forget that you need to be actively playing in each of these spaces to really win! Don’t just take somebody’s word for what Social Media can do, get in there and try to mix things up. Create a few cheap videos and watch how they get indexed in Google. Maybe even download an app just for the purpose of picking it’s brain. Like any tool that you don’t use, digital ones become rusty in time. Not many people become successful by taking other people’s word for things. Bill Gates began programming computers at age 13, Mark Zuckerberg hacked up the first facebook, and Google’s famous PageRank formula was created by none other than current CEO’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
So roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and refuse to learn vicariously through the “experts”.