Get Real with Digital Marketing in 2014

Reading the year-end wrap-ups on retail, you cannot help being impressed by the fact that the empowered consumer is at the base of all the changes being reported. 2013 saw some changes in digital marketing, too — all designed to empower the searcher, for which you can just as easily read “consumer.”

What does this mean for your brand and your website?

Content is still king, and you still can’t game the system. In fact, Google’s Hummingbird update, the transition away from keyword reporting, and new search options all mean that you need unique, compelling content more than ever. Keyword density, meta tags, and other SEO tips and tricks have moved from fairly worthless to entirely worthless. If you don’t have a writer on staff, hire a company like Haden Interactive to look after your blog, social media, and content marketing. DIY means spending more time for less result, and is usually not cost effective.

You must have a strong online presence. Consumers look for brands and businesses online. Your office or shop is not the first impression for most of your clients and customers. The first impression is how you look on the search engine results page, or perhaps your social media presence or advertising. The second impression is your website. Only after getting a good impression online will the average consumer buy your stuff or visit your business — and 58% of consumers surveyed by 1&1 said they had stopped trading with a company because of a poor experience at their website. Recent research suggests that companies are still fooling themselves about this particular truth. Wake up, smell the coffee, and enjoy a cup. A great online presence can level the playing field for smaller companies.

Quit obsessing over being #1 on Google. Spammers are still offering to make everyone #1, but it’s just not as meaningful any more. Search results are personalized, people search differently now, and the amount of competition online is enormous. Don’t make being #1 on Google for your primary generic keyword your goal. More useful goals for digital marketing include brand awareness, increased sales, and actionable data. Goals for your website should also include providing value for your customers, reflecting your brand or company identity accurately and positively, and giving visitors a great experience.

The empowered consumer wants to find full information and then to make up his or her own mind about how, where, and when to buy.  Be the one providing the information and make it easy for the consumer to buy on his or her own terms. Embrace the empowered consumer — and prepare to be embraced.

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