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5 new rules of engagement for online marketing

The one truism of the digital age is that everything is in flux and will remain so. This is now the natural order. It’s like Darwinism on steroids. Change is happening at an increasingly rapid rate but this doesn’t mean you are going to be left behind. Follow these 5 new rules of engagement for online marketing and you’ll have a roadmap for the foreseeable future.

1. Prepare for multi screen engagement

The latest Google research confirms what we all already know; people in business and in their private lives are engaging with multiple screens, on multiple devices, performing multiple tasks at the same time. Your digital strategy needs to take this into consideration. It’s important to understand the role of each of these devices and tailor content and engagement for each one. For example, 65% of web searches begin on a smart phone but move on to a PC or tablet. Consideration should be also given to when devices are used sequentially (to complete a process) or simultaneously (for multi tasking or complementary usage).

2. Your website is the epicentre of your marketing strategy

All roads should lead to your website. Your website is the one area of your digital strategy that you can completely own and control. Don’t be distracted by the ‘latest new thing’. Apps are great but most of what they do can be achieved by a well designed, developed and maintained website, which is ‘device agnostic’ (apps are not). Social media has it’s role but all of the research shows that the most valuable online activities for a business take place on a PC, through a website. An insight to how important websites have become in the transaction process is the fact that one of the key roles of television advertising now is to drive viewers to a website. Although the rules are changing (think multi-screen usage), your website should still remain at the heart of your marketing strategy for the foreseeable future.

3. Keep an eye out for the Pandas and Penguins

Google has been continually raising the bar with its Panda algorithm and Penguin filter in the last 12 months. They are punishing all web content and behaviour which is not in the best interest of web users. And so they should. For too long the focus has been on formulas that raise the profile of websites in organic Google searches but create meaningless experiences for users. The great news for you and your organisation is that if you are willing to adapt your approach, you have the chance to leapfrog your competitors in key word searches. The most important lesson here is that ‘content is king’. Be prepared to be gregarious with your online activities and generous with valuable information. Google’s little animal friends will reward you for your effort.

4. Social media’s great but is it great for you?

Maintaining a large network of friends is exhausting and at some point you discover that most of your interactions become superficial. Social media for business can be exactly the same. We all hear the success stories of how organisations have used social media to dramatically improve the success of their business. For every one of those stories there are countless stories where social media has been a monumental waste of resources. Social media is like any other tools you use in business; you need to understand how each tool works, where they are best applied and how much they cost and what they are best suited to help you achieve. Key social media influencers use (on average) more than 10 different social media tools. Maintaining 10 different social media accounts is a waste of resources for most business. Organisations that deal primarily with business should focus on LinkedIn and Twitter as their start points. Businesses that are ‘consumer-facing’ should focus on Facebook and Twitter as their start points.

5. It never ends

How you begin your new digital strategy is important but equally important is your ongoing commitment. You must be adding new, engaging, informative and meaningful content (at the very least) once a month. Even when you think you have nothing to say, learn how to say what you’ve already said in a new way. Use the web to research what’s happening in your local market, as well as what’s happening abroad. Discuss emerging trends and what you have learned as an organisation, from your collective experiences. Be generous with the information you provide and remember that this process never ends, so you can’t afford to loose focus or energy. The future survival of your organisation depends on your ability to maintain an effective online marketing strategy.