Digital marketing is an ever transforming segment. It’s a totally different ballgame altogether. Gone are the days when getting top ranks in search engines and driving visits to the website was so easy with black hat marketing practices and spam content marketing.
Digital marketing today is unique blend of search, social, UX, and mobile. With frequent technology updates, change in user’s behavior towards the technology upgrade, or search engine’s quest for offering users the best experience, it’s very challenging for a digital marketer to keep them at par with industry changes.
In the year 2016, search giant Google made several major changes (removing right column ads from Google search, Possum update for local pack changes and Penguin 4.0) that transformed search experience globally. Social media giant Facebook also made significant changes in News Feed, updated their page layout, introduced Facebook live option, and many other changes to make Facebook a better place for both its users and businesses promoting themselves on Facebook.
Year 2017 is also not going to be an exception in terms of updates in search and social and digital marketing experts will have to keep a tab of everything and keep working on enhancing their skills to give their digital marketing career a push in 2017. This article outlines some of the hot skills that you need to acquire or enhance in order to stay ahead in career competition.
Search Experience Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is transformed into Search Experience Optimization (SXO). Ensuring quick, pleasant, and flawless user experience is must for success in digital marketing. Some integral aspects that affects user experience are:
Website Look & Feel – The look and feel of your website and the way you organize different components of your website is very important for users. You only have few seconds to lure your visitors. So, you need to think about your target audience all the time while designing your business website. The color scheme, font styles and size, images used on the website, and the content readability has its impact on your audience and their interaction with the website.
You also need to incorporate periodic A/B testing of your webpages and review heatmaps to see how users are interacting with your website pages and make amendments accordingly to make it easy to navigate through the desired information.
Web Content – An ideal webpage should have right amount of content answering respective queries of the target audience appropriately, presented in visually appealing manner. Forget the worries of maintaining a certain percentage of keyword density and using keywords all over the page content.
Mobile Experience – In past two years digital marketing industry has witnessed a complete change in the amount of traffic coming to a website from mobile and handheld devices. A study by comScore, Inc. done in 2013 reveals that all major B2C companies were getting an average of 33% traffic from mobile devices.
Also in October 2015, Google revealed that more than half of all Google searches are happening on mobile devices.
Mobile is not only delivering traffic but also a major portion of all online conversions for B2C. Therefore, it is very important to have a mobile friendly website (cross platform and cross device) to cater to searches happening on mobile devices. Having a separate mobile website (or at least a responsive website) with custom content for mobile users, ensure you get the most of mobile traffic.
CTA (Call To Action) – If the goal of your website is to drive conversion, you need to invest a lot of time in identifying more ways of influencing your visitors to take certain actions (filling up a form, clicking a button, or downloading something from your website). You need to look at few aspects before deciding CTA on a web page, what is exclusive about your offering, the way you are going to convey it, and the design of your CTA. Even after implementing best practices of creating a CTA, you need to perform A/B testing to decide what will work best for your business.
Page Load Time – Though we are discussing it a bit late in this article, but page load time is the most important factor affecting user experience. No matter how good looking your website is and how meaningful content you have written for your audience. If the page takes time in loading, it’ll distract users from the website and they will bounce and probably move over to your competitor’s website. Page speed is therefore, one of the signals used by Google to rank web pages. So, it is very important for you to learn how to optimize your website for quick loading. Here’s a brilliant infographics by Kissmetrics illustrating how page loading time affects your bottom line.
Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing meaningful content to attract and retain targeted audience in a specific niche. It’s the base of digital marketing, everything else revolves around it. It is important for every entity involved in digital marketing, be it your consumers, the search engines, or your business. In order to stand out from the crowd in 2017 you need learn all integral aspects of content marketing:
Content Strategy Planning – You need to identify business goals, target audience, and required timelines to plan your content strategy. Spending a good amount of time in research to collect all this information will be worth the pain. Try to learn what your audience needs and the ways to align your business goals with their needs.
Content Development – A well-defined content strategy will not be fruitful until, you convert it into actionable piece of content in different forms. You need to create a mix of informative, provocative and decisive contents for users at different funnels in their marketing journey.
Content Distribution – Selection of right distribution channels, appropriate for the target audience and the type of content you developed for each channel, ensures the optimum success of your content marketing efforts. You may want to share the content on your blog, post it on social media platform, or pitch to a prospective platform where your audience is active. Later on you can also repurpose the content into other formats and redistribute it wisely.
Monitoring – In order to get the best results from your content marketing efforts, it’s very important to monitor content performance and take adequate actions to maximize it. The process will also help you plan your future activities based on the content performance analysis.
Marketing Data Analytics
We discussed about monitoring content performance earlier. But apart from content performance data, there are several segments in digital marketing where one needs to analyze the data from different channels and make informed decisions based on the analysis. It was the most neglected part in digital marketing till few years ago and there was huge gap between the demand and supply for skilled data analysis experts. In the year 2017, it’s still a challenge for entities involved in digital marketing to find and employ right talent in this segment. So, if you enhance your knowledge of marketing data analytics (collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to make informed decisions), it will certainly help you grow your digital marketing career in 2017.
Online Reputation Management
Warren Buffett says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”The statement clearly defines the importance of reputation. Even in online world, it’s equally relevant. According to the “Local Consumer Review Survey 2016” by BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. So, learning the tricks of online reputation management can boost your digital marketing career in 2017.
As a marketer, your responsibility is to drive as much business as possible to meet marketing goals. It doesn’t matter, you are working for an agency helping small and medium businesses, or you are working for a large corporation, the focus is always on utilizing every aspect of digital marketing to drive all-round performance. Paid advertising is the best segment in digital marketing where you can get instant result to your activities.
Gone are the days when having knowledge of just SEO was enough to make you employable. Today, it’s a must for everyone in digital marketing to have knowledge of paid advertising using Google AdWords, or Social Media Marketing using Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
For different verticals you might need to use different mediums of paid advertising. For eCommerce you might think of using PLA or Product Listing Ads, or for everyday services using PPC ads by AdWords might help you achieve your business goals. If you are advertising any product or service with visual appeal, you can think of using Google Display ads or YouTube videos to attract relevant audience. So, having skills to setup and manage just one type of ads will not help, you need to acquire knowledge of all relevant mediums of paid advertising.
In order to be successful as a digital marketer, one needs to focus on maximum growth of the accounts they are working on. In addition to branding, maximizing the conversions and overall revenue is the topmost priority. Remarketing plays an important role in reaching out to people who are already interested in your products or services and who have visited your website already in past but didn’t convert as a customer. So, one needs to learn the art of converting potential customers into actual customers by using accurate remarketing techniques.
There are several online tools offering remarketing feature. Ad Roll and Google AdWords remarketing are most commonly used options. Learning about these two and their effective utilization in digital marketing campaigns will provide an added boost to your skills in 2017.
Awareness with Online Tools
There was a time when manual practices were considered as the best in online marketing and tools were used for spam activities. Today, it’s a completely different ballgame. You can’t expect to succeed as a digital marketer until you develop proficiency with several online tools to perform different day-to-day activities. Below list provides a brief of what tools you might try to enhance your skills:
Mandatory Tools – There are some mandatory tools that everyone needs to use to perform basic tasks. For example, Open Site Explorer and Google Search Console for links analysis, Google Keyword Planner for keywords analysis, HootSuite for social media publishing and tracking, and BuzzSumo for discovery of content ideas.
Web Analytics/ Performance Tracking – We discussed the importance of web data analytics earlier too in this post. Google Analytics is among the most popular tools for tracking performance of your website and analyzing visitor’s data. Depending upon the nature of accounts you are managing, you might need to learn Kissmetrics or Adobe Omniture.
Review Tracking – Online reputation management is an integral part of digital marketing and it’s very important to track what your customers are saying about you on different online channels. Reviews on Facebook, Google+, Yelp and vertical specific platforms (like Zomato, Tripadvisor, etc.) not only affects online reputation but also result in providing positive or negative growth tendency to businesses. So, using review tracking and management tools like Repugen might differentiate you from others as a digital marketer in 2017.
PPC Tools – In order to maximize your competency in PPC you need to learn to use tools like Wordstream and Optmyzr for account management, and SpyFu and SEMRush for keywords and competitor’s research. Lack of knowledge of using these tools might pull you behind in the race in 2017.
For anyone in digital marketing, personal branding is a must. If you are not able to portray yourself online impressively, you can’t expect other to trust you to do the same for their brand or business. Also, your online visibility and presentation makes an impact over your employability. So, having strong social media presence, constant engagement on social media with industry influencers, and having a personal blog where you share your knowledge and writing samples will make significant difference for your career in 2017.
In addition to all the skills highlighted in this post, you also need to keep yourself updated with the latest happenings in digital marketing industry. Keep yourself informed with periodic updates in search engine algorithms, their impact over industry and ways to counter them as these are must have abilities for future-ready digital marketers.
Share your views on what you feel about the skills discussed in this post and add your points too in the comments. We’d love to know your opinion.