A day in the life of a digital marketing agency involves a smorgasbord of PR and digital marketing campaigns, supporting a variety of clients at different funding stages, levels of maturity and resources. On top of that, there’s staying up to date with the ever-evolving external platforms and game-changing algorithms, channels to market, media networks, opinion leaders and influencers. Together, these elements are part of the wonderful marketing mix that supports us in our ultimate mission to drive brand awareness, sales and growth.
Over the past year, we have found some key themes, challenges and opportunities to learn from, adapt to and educate ourselves on. And we’re using them to propel our 2023 missions for success.
When developing a content marketing strategy, it is essential to differentiate between the different elements or terminology in the digital content mix. This might include terms like public relations (Organic PR), paid content and amplified content via social and backlinks.
Each has a different but important purpose to raise brand awareness and support organic search engine optimisation (SEO) in order to increase and drive sales. Your organic SEO must be in order to complement any paid search engine marketing (SEM) activity.
If you use video, YouTube is one of the best places to boost both organic and paid content using SEO practices, as it is owned by Google and uses the same algorithms to rank content on the platform. If you want to know about organic SEO and SERPS results click here.
Organic PR raises brand awareness with the target press publications and audiences. This can be shared with known target audiences to reinforce your credibility and with target communities, and it also appeals to the Google algorithm for organic search. Sometimes publications will add backlinks to these articles, but that is not guaranteed. However, it is important to reinforce the fact that brand equity is not built on backlinks. It is created by communicating a clear understanding of what a company stands for, its core offering and how it is differentiated. Public relations (PR) supports brand development together with wider organic and paid SEO activities. To learn more about why PR should not be measured by backlinks, read our blog here. To look at an overview of Google algorithm ranking factors for 2023 please visit here.
Paid to play – Are your channels ready for the traffic?
There are different models with different publications which offer guaranteed placement of content whether digital or printed. Publications often have an editorial arm (organic) and a commercial division (paid or advertising) – they do, after all, have to pay overheads including employee wages. Banner ad placements can also be paid for where it is possible to manage budgets through a pay-per-click (PPC) model driving traffic through to a brand’s digital sales funnel. If this is a planned part of your strategy it is important to understand how PPC and bidding works. Read more here.
When heading down the paid ads or content route, Google is often aware that there is a ‘Do Follow’ ad-based link, which is considered in the algorithm preferences and prioritises organic content and user-based preferences. Here the backlink can be guaranteed, yet the organic value and perhaps the authentic content value may be affected if the content is too sales-led. But that is all part of the content marketing mix and the different formats should be A/B tested, monitored and optimised to achieve objectives. Learn five strategies for optimising your sales funnel here.
Riding the wave of amplified social
Publications use their readership to attract paid placement in digital publications. If a publication has a large print or digital readership it will also have the same social media following. Therefore packages can be negotiated to include social amplification across the publication’s social media pages. This can be increased further across brand or company social channels and, as there is a commercial agreement, this will not be blocked via the publication’s social media management. This is a great option if you want to drive and track leads into your sales funnels or loops.
Google ads and competitive landscape
Google has more than 90% of search engine market share, which is why organic SEO is so important for brands operating the in the western market. So you will need your organic SEO in order, including landing page and sales funnel optimisation, before launching Google Ads can be considered.
When setting up a Google Ads campaign, you pick a list of key phrases people might use when searching for your product or service. Google provides tools that help with this including setting the bid amount you want to spend – known as cost per click (CPC) – when someone visits your site or completes an action.
Whilst in set-up mode, Google tools can also tell you the ad quality score (matching keywords and content) and how your ad will rank compared to other ads. When you use Google ads you are essentially entering an auction for keyphrases or words, and the market that you operate in will determine how competitive and costly your keywords are. This is where competitive analysis comes into play and some tools can help you do this here.
Backlinks matter – How to avoid ‘Google Jail’
Building backlinks is still an important activity in ranking factor but it should not be an isolated activity. A recent assessment of the Google algorithm ranking factors by Sage cited backlinks as having a 15% weighting, whereas at one point, this made up more than 50% of the algorithm. Backlinks are a relic of an era when Google’s AI wasn’t developed enough to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of web content and needed other websites to do the job.
Now Google, prioritises content that is well-written, fresh and informative. It’s important to share content that people want to read and share.
Good trustworthy tactics to apply to good link-building practices could be by answering other people’s questions, and exploring partnerships with other relevant brands and companies by creating blogs, videos, or infographics, together with backlinks. That way, both collaborators benefit from linking to each other’s sites. This is similar to how brands look for brand matches with influencers based on the topics that they post about.
Also, be aware of firms offering paid backlinks on well-known sites. Buying links is not only a black hat SEO practice it’s an expensive one that could also land you in Google jail. A good practice is to create good quality content or get more traffic to existing content through paid ads.
Influencer marketing and the new kids on the block
Traditionally when we think of an opinion leader in public relations and digital marketing it was always the journalist or market analyst that came to mind. But now social media influencers are an essential part of that content creation and promotional mix. As found in the Influencer Marketing Hub’s Bench Mark Report 2022, influencer marketing has grown to $16.4 billion in 2022, so it is an avenue that should definitely be considered if your business channels are ready.
Brand fit, reach and content engagement is key to creating an authentic collaboration before the business models and contractual agreements can be considered. Influencers can be split into different categories based on their followers: Nano is between 1k to 10k followers, micro is between 10k to 100k, and macro 100k to 500k. Beyond this, you enter the realms of the brand ambassador which is a different level of negotiation and fee – some can command 70K for just one tweet. Some influencers will collaborate based on special interests close to their heart, others on gifting, but most work on paid or pro bono agreements. It is all about negotiation, which does take time and an understanding of the needs of both parties. Read more about the new wave of marketing influencers here.
Researching the influencer landscape
When researching influencers across relevant social channels, a good starting point is to look at the hashtags, keywords, and topics the influencer is connected with. Of course, the number of followers is important, as well as how they fit with your brand positioning, product benefits, and shared brand values. The quality of content and engagement also needs to be considered when selecting and approaching your short list of influencers. Then it’s on to the negotiation of the contract and deliverables. Will it be gifted or paid, what will they share and for how long, and will there be a discount code for followers who engage with the campaign?
So depending on your business environment it is important to develop an integrated campaign which helps to evaluate and map out your route to market as well as your content strategy across the different owned and non-owned channels. First, your owned channels must be in order and ready for traffic that is driven to your site. Organic off-page optimisation comes next, followed by paid.
To get some ideas about how PR and digital marketing can be applied to your business check out some of OggaDoon’s work here.
To discuss your own marketing projects please get in touch with [email protected].
OggaDoon specialises in guerrilla communications and marketing to gain you reach.