image of person working on laptop with a red topographic overlay

SEO Is About More Than Excellent Writing

SEO content includes blogs, but there are additional components that work together to improve your search engine rankings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a content-based marketing style that drives users to the most helpful content on the web. Based on an array of indicators—including uniqueness, authority, expertise, and trustworthiness—your ranking in a search engine can help determine whether or not a user will find your website to be an answer to the question they asked Google.

An excellent writer wields a great deal of power in this world. With a toolkit full of persuasive devices, a writer can reel in readers with relatable statements, shocking statistics, and thought-provoking questions. This talent has been utilized for centuries to convince people to choose one leader over another, one restaurant over another, one marketing agency over another.

Good writing can move metaphorical mountains, but can it conjure the type of SEO success that shifts readers from passive observers to active consumers? It’s a question that digital marketing agencies have asked themselves numerous times over the last decade. Boardrooms and virtual meeting spaces overflow with opinions about the viability of content-based marketing campaigns.

This blog will reveal exactly why SEO is about so much more than excellent writing.

What Is SEO?

SEO—short for Search Engine Optimization—encompasses the effort to improve a site’s ranking organically (without paid advertising). SEO is all about scoring targeted traffic to a website from a search engine’s rankings. The process optimizes a website’s technical configuration, link popularity, and content relevance with the intention of making it easier for users to find the site via a web search on Google or some other search engine (but, mostly Google).

SEO is achieved through a number of tactics, including the creation of high-quality content with specific keywords and the use of backlinks.

When a site page is optimized with SEO in mind, it becomes more relevant toward search queries and ranks higher in search engines as a result. SEO-optimized content fulfills user search needs through the strategic use of relevant keywords in optimized content such as title tags, meta descriptions, headlines, subheadings, and descriptive URLs that feature pertinent terms instead of a string of numbers.

Is SEO All About Content?

Yes! SEO success is driven by content. This can take the form of any useful, high-quality information that you present to the user/potential customer in a manner that’s emotionally engaging and contextually enlightening. Quality content entertains as it informs and generates interest through messaging that answers pertinent questions. This leads users through the buyer’s journey to the desired conclusion: Attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive customer action.

Content marketing requires your organization to be all in. You will not realize SEO success without constantly creating content for user consumption. Think about how much time you spent on your smartphone or in front of a computer searching for answers. Users will seek out information from whomever is providing it, as long as that information is useful, engaging, and, simply put, there. If you don’t provide answers to search queries, chances are your competition will.

Now, you might hear the term “content” and automatically think “blogs.” This is extremely limiting. Blogs are certainly a pillar in SEO-minded content, but content can also be expressed using a variety of other formats. In this next section, we’ll examine the different types of SEO content and how they build toward SEO success.

What Are Types of SEO Content?

Blog Posts

Blogs have changed drastically over the years. They aren’t just public journals for people’s inane thoughts anymore. These days, blogs are opportunities for companies to establish themselves as an authority in a specific field. And these blogs can take many forms, including lists, guides, how-to articles, and information pieces.

A blog is your chance to answer a user’s question about a product or service before the competition does. Blogs that present high-quality answers that are relevant, smart, and helpful build loyalty, making you a trusted source for any future queries. And with the right SEO juice, your blog posts will rank higher in a Google search.

Product Pages

Product pages—an integral part of your overall site page map—are particularly valuable for e-commerce retail companies. A well-optimized product page does a lot of the heavy lifting, luring in highly targeted, specific individuals who are ready to convert from their position at the bottom of the funnel.

To successfully attract the right kind of traffic, a product page must possess a handful of time-honored characteristics in the backend, such as:

  • A robust keyword strategy
  • Optimized titles and meta descriptions
  • Unique product and meta descriptions
  • Structured data
  • A well-researched FAQ section
  • Customer testimonials and reviews
  • Landing pages
  • Good quality video and images
  • Reduced page load times
  • Audited for technical issues and accessibility

Videos

While there are billions of pages and posts on the internet, there are fewer videos. As such, it’s potentially easier to rank on the first page of a Google search for competitive keywords by creating a video.

Videos are a great way to attract an audience that might not click on an article. Depending on the type of business or website, you could create video tutorials on how to use a product. This is a highly valuable form of content. It provides a unique service to users and likely answers a specific question about a product or service. For SEO, it’s a good idea to include a written transcript for your video.

Infographics

Infographics are large-format images that contain useful data, typically in the form of graphs or charts. Covering a single subject, a well-thought-out and beautifully designed infographic will rack up a lot of page views and links. Since the content is embedded in an image, it won’t be readable as text by the Google search engine, so it’s imperative that you carefully optimize the rest of the page for SEO.

Glossaries

A glossary can improve internal linking, page visibility, and your domain authority. Creating a glossary page for your website compiles a list of terms and definitions that are inextricably linked to your area of expertise. This allows users to get an in-depth look at a specific topic and your glossary acts as a go-to landing page for users to return to again and again. What’s more, a glossary improves the components of Google’s EAT ranking factors: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. More on that later.

Why SEO Is More Than Great Writing

Content marketing that makes a lot of SEO noise will always rely on strong writing in order to get the message across in a clear, informative way that’s also engaging and entertaining. But beyond a talent for the written word, content marketers must also understand what makes SEO tick. Content marketers need to know:

Who your audience is and where they are in the funnel

The marketing funnel describes a customer’s journey, mapping out the route from awareness to conversion and beyond.

Keyword research

This vital information reveals the path to grow your business online. Consistent keyword research tells you what terms people are actively searching for and how competitive those keywords are. This guides your content plan toward increasing organic search visibility, traffic, and rankings.

Paid and free keyword research tools:

  • Semrush (Utilized by 4B Marketing)
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • KWFinder
  • Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • GrowthBar
  • Long Tail Pro
  • Majestic
  • Keyword Tool
  • SpyFu

EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust)

This concept comes from Google’s Search Quality Rater guidelines and is used by the search engine to determine whether the content is valuable to readers and where it should rank in search results. Using the EAT guidelines, Google’s evaluators measure:

  • Expertise of the content creator
    • How knowledgeable is the site owner on the subject matter?
  • Authoritativeness of the creator, the content, and the website
    • How credible is the website publishing the content?
  • Trustworthiness of the creator, the content, and the website
    • How trustworthy is the website publishing the content?

Google Ranking Factors

There are more than 1.8 billion websites floating around the internet today. Does that mean there are 1.8 billion experts out there, all doling out valuable information? Probably not. Think about it: Anyone with even a passing knowledge of web design can push a site live and make all sorts of unsubstantiated claims. While everyone has the right to do so, spreading false or misleading information isn’t exactly good for anyone.

The fine folks at Google have a way of separating the wheat from the online chaff by elevating websites that present good quality content from a position of authority and sidestepping sources that don’t check the necessary boxes.

Google’s most popular ranking factors include:

  • High-Quality Content: Content is king. And content that provides valuable information will always defeat content that doesn’t. Creating content that’s fresh, unique, and helpful for users leads to higher rankings on Google’s search engine page results (SERPs). Google’s algorithm and page evaluators are incredibly advanced. No matter how optimized your site is with keywords, if the content isn’t valuable, you will not crack into the higher rankings. 
  • Mobile First: When crawling sites, Google uses mobile-first indexing. This means that when evaluating a page, the search engine will use the mobile version of a site. A flawless desktop site is all well and good, but it is ultimately fruitless if your mobile site isn’t up to snuff. 
  • Page Experience: This relates to a set of metrics that aim to understand how a user perceives the experience of a specific web page. Google’s page experience criteria are far reaching, but specific considerations include if the page runs on HTTPS, if it has intrusive ads, if the content jumps as the page loads, and more. 
  • Page Speed: Measured by the amount of time it takes for a page to load after a user clicks on its link, page speed evaluates loading, interactivity, and visual stability. If your page is taking too long to load, or doesn’t perform well when it finally loads, your ranking will suffer. 
  • Backlinks: There’s no doubt that you see yourself as an authority, but when another site references yours as a source of authoritative information, that’s Google ranking gold. Simply put, the more links you have from multiple high-authority domains, the better you will rank for top keywords. 

Good UX/UI

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are crucial to the way your website presents to an audience. UX is the journey/experience a user goes through when browsing your website, app, platform, etc.; while UI constitutes the visual portion of what a user sees, whether that is the front end of a website, backend of dashboards, or an app on a phone.

Images (alt text and title text)

A well-placed image can compliment your web copy, adding a pop of color or even a visual representation that leads to a greater understanding of your topic. Reinforcing your message with an image can result in a good ranking in image search results, but you also need to present good alt attributes. Alt text not only improves your page’s message, it also improves the overall accessibility of your website.

Schema (Structured Data)

Schema (Schema.org) is a semantic vocabulary of tags that’s added to an HTML to improve how search engines read and represent your page SERPs. This special markup language explains the outline of your website page to search engines.

Is the Page Indexable?

If Google can’t index your website, the URLs will not make any sort of appearance in the SERPs. In simple terms: When a user types in a query related to your area of expertise, your website will not appear. You need to open your site to be crawled by Googlebot. This means making your site indexable. But what does that entail? Basically, you need to create a sitemap and list the pages you want Google to crawl for and then submit it to the search engines.

How 4B Marketing Can Help With Your SEO Strategy

SEO content writers aren’t just skilled at stringing sentences together, using compelling language, and structuring narratives. The people entrusted to create content for your website have talents beyond the written word. In the content marketing industry, each day is a deep drive into the world of SEO, and new lessons reveal themselves at every turn.

At 4B Marketing, we connect you with our team of SEO-driven content creators who are all exceptional writers. Our content creators use their storytelling abilities to elevate your brand beyond buzzwords and data points while incorporating the major tenets of SEO—ensuring you don’t just exist online, but thrive there as well.


4B Designers working on a rebrand

It’s Expensive To Rebrand, but It Costs More if You Don’t

Rebranding a business often comes with risks, but the rewards make it well worth the effort.

Businesses kickstart rebranding efforts for a number of reasons, such as a change in location, a shifting market, the need for new consumer perception, an outdated feeling to the brand, or a company merger. While rebranding adds marketing expenses, it’s often necessary to move to the next level of success with consumers.

For anyone living in the vicinity of a real pizza joint, Domino’s ranks low on the list of slices. Plenty of people have a nostalgic soft spot for the delivery chain, but that can likely be attributed to a lack of late-night pizza options and a good amount of mind-altering substances.

For all the flack it receives from pizza purists, Domino’s isn’t bad. Even without the aid of liquid courage and other recreational substances, the company’s pizza presents a solid option, especially when put up against the chain’s major competitors.

Domino’s uptick in quality can be attributed to a 2010 rebranding kicked off by CEO Patrick Doyle and his team. When Doyle took over as CEO, the company’s profits were as flimsy as its pizza crust, stock prices were stuck at $8.76 per share, and the pizza—generally considered to be some of the worst one could imagine choking down—wasn’t faring any better.

Doyle’s rebranding of Domino’s constituted a two-pronged approach: Improve the product and embrace technology. First, Doyle himself appeared in commercials. He essentially apologized to consumers for the terrible product and promised to “work days, nights, and weekends” until the pizza improved. As for technology, Doyle recognized that Domino’s isn’t just a pizza-making business, it’s also a pizza-delivery business. With that in mind, the company drastically improved its online ordering system, complete with a state-of-the-art app.

The turnaround was immediate and remarkable. Customers embraced the boldness of the ad campaign and the new ordering technology. In 2016, less than six years after rebranding, the share price for Domino’s skyrocketed to nearly $160.

What Is a Rebrand?

The Domino’s rebrand centered around Doyle’s rallying cry that “Failure IS an option.” Essentially, Doyle and Domino’s at large took a chance and sought to transform a legacy company into a technology-enhanced, nimble, category-disrupting machine. The gamble clearly paid off.

That’s the essence of a rebrand. When a company rebrands, changes to logo, slogan, mission, vision, values, name, market, or target audience are all on the table. Rebranding builds a new brand identity and changes how the brand is perceived among customers, competitors, and collaborators. It’s all in the interest of attracting a new audience, bringing old customers back into the fold, staying relevant, standing out among competitors, and improving overall brand awareness.

When Should You Rebrand a Business?

With the ability to influence action, your brand is your company’s most valuable asset. Customers gleefully show loyalty toward one brand over another on a regular basis. Just ask people why they prefer Heinz ketchup over Hunt’s; more often than not, it’s because they grew up with Heinz.

In 2000, when the iconic American ketchup brand suddenly pivoted and released a line of absurd ketchup colors in sleek squeeze bottles, consumers were baffled. Heinz EZ Squirt featured colorful entries like “Funky Purple” and “Blastin’ Green.” While the company enjoyed an initial sales boost, the novelty wore off quickly, and the EZ Squirt brand was pulled from the shelves by 2006.

The short shelf life of Heinz’s rebrand demonstrates that there’s a wrong time for a rebrand. So, is there a right time?

Hand holding blocks that spell out Rebrand - Rethink

If your brand no longer reflects the company’s vision, values, and mission, then it might be the right time for a rebrand.

Other reasons to rebrand include:

  • Expansion into new locations: A brand refresh could be in order if you’re expanding to international markets where your current logo or messaging doesn’t translate.
  • Entering into new markets: Repositioning your business to target new customers might require a rebrand, as you’ll need to connect with a new audience.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: When two brands come together, it makes sense to find a fresh brand for the new entity rather than making two previous brands duke it out. 

  • Outgrowing your old brand: A proper rebranding injects new energy into your business, your people, and, perhaps most importantly, your customers.
  • The need to overcome negative perception: The previously mentioned Domino’s rebranding illustrates this best. A strong rebrand can act as a consumer palate cleanser.

Since Heinz maintained their flagship product while they maneuvered toward the technicolor nightmare of EZ Squirt, they only partially rebranded; however, it remains a stark reminder that novelty should never be a reason to rebrand. The capital required is far too high! It would have been wiser to conduct some market research instead.

How Common Is Rebranding?

The general consensus is that even companies that are household names will go through a rebranding every 7-10 years. One incredible example of this cadence is Pepsi, which has experienced a major rebranding 11 times in its 122 year history, and that doesn’t count the company’s minor brand shifts, such as Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Zero.

Similar storylines have played out with other companies like Starbucks and Apple, two highly recognizable names that have rebranded numerous times.

How Long Does It Take To Rebrand a Company?

“Patience is a virtue.” That’s one oft-used phrase that won’t be rebranded anytime soon. According to rebranding experts, the average rebranding process takes 12 to 18 months to complete from beginning to end.

The process requires more than shifting color patterns. You need to dive into a protracted timeline, complete with upfront research, design conceptualization, brand identity design, engagement campaign implementation, trademark approval, and launch. 

What Are the Risks of Rebranding?

Change can be terrifying, and with good reason! When you’ve established your brand over many successful years, the mere thought of scraping what you’ve built in favor of a new approach can be excruciating. There’s no guarantee the shift in focus will work, and if it doesn’t work, your previously loyal audience might just move on.

The Risks of Rebranding:

  • It will cost money: Rebranding is an investment in your company’s future. As with any investment, you need to drop some cash in order to make it happen. Depending on the type of rebranding—brand refresh, brand reboot, brand overhaul—it could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $250,000. 
  • You might lose customers: Not all of our current customers will be on board with a rebranding strategy. Some might even feel insulted that a brand they’ve come to know and love has altered its appearance and/or approach. But you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. The hope is that the rebranding effort will attract new customers and a wider audience.
  • It might be a tad chaotic for a while: Customers, and even team members, could express confusion or frustration as the change is taking place. Internally, you can get ahead of the chaos by constantly communicating with the team your intentions and reasoning behind the rebranding effort. On the external side of the equation, issue press releases, social media campaigns, and newsletters to keep the public aware of what’s going on.

Why Is Rebranding Not Always Successful?

It’s easy to say that the previously mentioned Heinz rebranding ultimately failed because no one wanted purple ketchup. But in truth, unsuccessful rebranding efforts meet their doom because of an array of problems.

One of the main reasons a rebranding will fail is the company in question not conducting enough market research.

Before taking the plunge with a total or even a partial rebrand, it’s a good idea to dip your toe into the market and find out what might work and what might not work for your company. One of the greatest rebranding miscalculations of all time occurred when Coca-Cola switched to New Coke in 1985. Consumers responded with swift anger, pouring New Coke down sewer drains, while one consumer even filed suit against the company. After 77 days, the previous version of Coke was brought back as “Coca-Cola Classic,” a genius rebranding and marketing spin in its own right.

A modern day approach to market research would have saved the soft drink company a lot of money. Analyze the industry, target markets, and the competition, and run focus groups or brand monitoring software to measure brand perception and the potential impact of a rebrand.

Market research provides invaluable insight into all of the factors that could potentially impact your bottom line after a rebrand.

  • What tools does your target audience use to find products and services?
  • Which competitor is most able to answer your target audience’s questions?
  • What does your buyer see as trending in your industry?
  • What influences purchases from your target audience?
  • What is the overall feeling about your particular brand as it’s currently constituted?
  • Is there a demand for the type of rebranding you’re targeting?

4B Marketing is a Hubspot Platinum Partner. As such we have access to a wealth of marketing research tools that can help you read your target audience.

Most Successful Company Rebrands

There are plenty of rebranding success stories to counter the corporate hiccups that were Heinz EZ Squirt and New Coke. Along with Domino’s, many different companies kicked off rebranding campaigns to rousing success. Here are a few of the most noteworthy:

LEGO

Everyone remembers playing with LEGO as children, and that was the company’s problem. In the eyes of consumers, LEGO was an outdated toy of a bygone era. At one point in 2003, the company was $800 million in debt. But then in the mid 2000s, the company rebuilt itself and diversified its products. It culminated with “The Lego Movie” in 2014 and “The Lego Batman Movie” in 2017. Thanks to its constant innovation, the LEGO brand could now be considered the “Apple of toys.” 

Dunkin’

Some rebrandings just make sense. When you hear the word “Dunkin’,” sure you think donuts, but you also think coffee, sandwiches, avocado toast, and an entire lifestyle. As such, the company dropped “Donuts” from its name in 2018 and rolled out new logos, brand messaging, and ad campaigns. Now, when a consumer says “I’m going to Dunkin’,” it’s no longer a colloquial shorthand, it’s the actual company name.

Old Spice

Before rebranding as the company we know today, Old Spice truly lived up to the “old” in its moniker. Consumers viewed the company as stuck in the past, offering an odor that reminded them of their grandparents. That wasn’t what any company would want to be known for. It all changed with a rebranding effort that spun Old Spice into something sensual and alluring. Without changing its logo, Old Spice changed public perception through a clever ad campaign

How To Rebrand a Company: 4B Marketing, Your Digital Rebranding Agency

The first step to rebranding your company is to stop and consider your options. With all the pitfalls associated with a rebrand, it’s crucial you start on the right foot. As we’ve seen in this article, rebranding is expensive and can change your audience’s perception of you, often for the worse. That’s why it’s incredibly important to talk to a trusted partner first. A skilled marketing company can help you outline your brand’s needs and collaborate with you on a plan of action.

4B Marketing will walk you through your rebranding strategy step by step, offering counsel and reasons for every decision we recommend along the way.

We specialize in:

  • Developing your business reason for rebranding. Are you trying to accelerate growth? Has your brand grown stale in the eyes of consumers? Pinpointing the reason for the rebranding can help inform decisions moving forward.
  • Researching your target audience. It’s hard to overstate how important solid market research is. The information you glean from market research tells you everything you need to know about why and how one rebrands. As a Hubspot Premium Partner, we have access to a wealth of research tools.
  • Developing messaging around your brand strategy. The right kind of messaging conveys your brand’s mission to consumers, informing them of your intentions and the reasoning behind the rebranding effort. 

  • Building your brand identity. Our content creators and designers will develop the visual elements and storytelling of your brand.
  • Building your website and deploying marketing collateral. Your website must immediately match your new branding, as should all marketing material going forward.
  • Maintaining consistent visibility in the marketplace. A rebranding effort that doesn’t meet your audience where they are is a wasted rebranding effort. We keep your new message moving with consistent attention and extensive marketing campaigns. 

Rebranding cannot happen in a vacuum. Connect with 4B Marketing for a full examination of what you need to alter your brand.


old technology equipment

The Reasons Even Top IT Companies Struggle to Market Themselves

Digital marketing is crucial for IT companies to hit their B2B goals.

But marketing requires many skills that don't come naturally to info tech teams.

Digital marketing enables IT companies to connect with potential customers via the internet and other forms of digital communication. Also known as online marketing, digital marketing utilizes blog content, email, social media, web-based advertising, and website copy, as well as text and multimedia messages.

Modern-day marketing is all around us. Every day, we jump into our social media world of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, sharing blogs dutifully written by experts in various fields while “selling” ourselves and our lifestyles with pictures, posts, and reels. No wonder everyone thinks marketing is easy. 

But does having access to marketing tools mean you know how to use them? If you hand over your car keys to an emu, would you trust it to drive on a cross-country road trip safely? Probably not. So maybe you shouldn’t let a team of engineers start a TikTok account in the hopes of finding your target audience.

The ubiquity of marketing tools makes everyone believe they know how to run a marketing campaign. From the CEO and the CMO to the accounts payable department supervisor and their spouse and children—everyone thinks they know exactly what the company needs to do to sell a product or service. 

The reality is that marketing is about so much more than posting a photo at the right time or jumping on a viral TikTok dance. Marketing is actually a data-driven effort built on strategic messaging and a solid, targeted content strategy. And just as engineers should be handed the reins of tech design, professional digital marketers should be relied upon to pilot all-encompassing marketing campaigns.

Why Marketing is Important for Tech Companies

Taking a 30,000-foot view of marketing, the goal is to inform and engage with your target audience so that they conclude your product or service is the best solution for the problem they’re trying to solve.

In B2B marketing, business buyers are catered to specifically, with the goal of improving lead quality, sales acceptance of leads, and conversion rates. 

For the information technology industry, the need for a superlative B2B marketing strategy is as crucial as ever. Global IT spending is projected to total $4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2021, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. This massive dollar amount reveals that while competition is at an all-time high, so is market opportunity. 

There’s a good chance that if you get in front of your target audience at the right time, with the right message, you will succeed. But how?

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What is Digital Marketing?

First, it’s vital to understand what digital marketing is. Some might think that marketing simply equals advertising—web ads, social media ads, print ads, radio, and TV spots—but that’s not quite what we’re talking about. Paid advertising is just one channel for increasing reach or amplifying elements of a more extensive marketing campaign or strategy.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is all about marketing efforts that flourish on the internet. 

An end-to-end digital marketing strategy leverages digital channels such as social media, search engines, web pages, email, text, multimedia messages, and other collateral to connect organizations with current and prospective customers. 

For business growth and brand awareness, digital marketing is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal. The purest way to get your story out there, digital marketing connects you with customers where they spend the majority of their time: on the internet. 

So, while digital marketing is about the message, it’s also about how it is presented and the different channels used to spread that message.

What Happens when IT Designs Websites

Nobody knows more about information technology than those who work within the industry—and no one knows your business better than you and your team. 

But while you should leverage in-house expertise, it can often take the form of a raw and unfiltered knowledge drop. Which, unfortunately, could turn out to be a detriment to your success. 

Like many other industries, IT is loaded with jargon and technical speak that doesn’t exactly constitute a universal language. It’s true: The companies that require IT assistance do not necessarily speak that same technical language. This leads to marketing messages being lost in translation and potential customers going elsewhere for technical assistance. 

When an IT company writes and designs its own website, there’s always a danger that the end product will rely too heavily on that in-house expertise without any of the digital marketing finesse. One common feature of this kind of “expertise-heavy” site can be referred to as “tech messaging.”

Tech Messaging

The minute you start sounding like you’re merely trying to sell a batch of products and services, there’s a good chance you’ll steer some customers away from your company. 

A winning digital marketing strategy begins with identifying your customer’s problems, explaining why they are worth solving, then relating how you can go about solving these problems. This approach leads to engagement from your target audience, extending the conversation and growing your business. 

Conversely, bad content marketing will try to pitch products and services without mentioning problem-solving or anything else that might make a prospective customer’s life easier. This prevents any engagement—if customers wanted to read a sales pitch, they would subscribe to a product catalog.

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Why Only One Marketing Channel Can Hurt You

There’s a reason why people still say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That old idiom crams a lot of wisdom into only a few words, especially regarding a digital marketing approach for IT companies. 

The IT landscape is crowded, and, as mentioned earlier, companies are willing to spend a lot of money on information technology. Fierce competition only increases the need for an agile, robust, and diversified digital marketing strategy.

A single-channel marketing strategy is tenuous at best, mainly because:

 

  • It takes time. Different digital marketing tactics require different amounts of time to generate results. For example, without additional channels to support it, an “organic” content strategy can take anywhere from 12 – 18 months to generate ROI.
  • It overlooks potential customers. What happens if your main customers don’t frequent the one marketing channel you’ve chosen? You miss out on those customers, that’s what. There are too many options for customers—if you miss your opportunity to hit them with your message, it’s over. 
  • It’s one and done. When you invest all of your marketing dollars in one channel, the fate of the marketing department (or team) tends to ride on the success or failure of that single initiative.

A more holistic approach to digital marketing is safer and, overall, more effective. Utilizing a marketing strategy segmented across an array of channels helps tailor your message to more customers at all stages of the “buyer’s journey.” The most common marketing channels include:

 

 

All the channels listed here are time-honored digital marketing tools leveraged by millions of companies across thousands of verticals—with IT no exception. However, these tools are just that—tools. A successful digital marketing program isn’t just about the tools you use; it’s about the strategy they support.

Focus on Marketing Strategy, Not Just Marketing Tactics

Tactics are simple tools you can learn and deploy without knowing what you’re doing. 

Describing the tactics inside of the marketing toolkit doesn’t sound all that complicated—there are emails, social media posts, videos, blogs, and maybe even a cute infographic or two. 

Strategic marketing constitutes a business’s overall plan to reach prospective consumers and transform them into active customers. Any solid marketing strategy will leverage your company’s value proposition, brand messaging, customer demographic data, and other elements.

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Why Brand Management is Important for Tech

A successful company reaches a broad audience, converts prospects to leads without blowing the budget on advertising, grows revenue, and is scalable. 

The good news is that you can achieve all of those goals through brand management—an offshoot of your greater strategic digital marketing efforts. 

Brand management goes beyond your name, colors, and logo. While it includes those three crucial details, it also encompasses your customer touchpoints. Successful brand management takes great care in calibrating how your brand looks, sounds, and feels across all marketing channels, content, customer service, and communication.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in brand management, but perhaps the most essential points in the process include:

  • Ensuring brand positioning and values are aligned
  • Monitoring brand reputation
  • Centralizing brand material
  • Measuring and analyzing brand performance

For tech companies, increasing competition makes brand management imperative. In a highly competitive marketplace, IT companies with a strong brand presence and promise to deliver value have a better chance of leaving an impression. 

Now, there are excellent brand management examples and some not-so-great brand management examples.

In fact, some of the biggest names in tech have fallen completely flat in the brand management department. The mere mention of some of these big tech companies—Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, for example—often elicits groans of resentment. These are some of the most profitable tech companies of all time, yet their brand management has been arguably awful.

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The Consumer Decision-Making Process for Technology

Recent history saw a drastic change in the consumer decision-making process for technology. In days past, a consumer would read an ad, see a commercial, or pass a billboard. Then, the consumer would seek a quote from the company, mull over the purchase, shop around with competitors, think about it some more, then decide whether or not to fork over the cash for the product or service.

It was a long process, often with a decreasing chance of a sale with each step in the path.

In the era of digital marketing, the consumer’s decision-making process has been streamlined. Consumers can access a wealth of online information that helps them research quickly, find precisely what they need, and make a snap purchasing decision that’s greatly influenced by customer reviews.

While customers are more informed than ever, some industries like IT are still characterized by impressively long sales cycles.

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The Long Sales Cycle for Technology

A 2018 Gartner survey of more than 500 corporate technology buyers demonstrated that buying teams could spend close to 17 months on average to complete a new IT purchase. According to the study, there are a few factors at play:

  • Buying teams are often comprised of more than ten individuals, all bringing a complex set of priorities, ideals, and perspectives to the buying decision.
  • These teams perform extensive research with partners, analysts, vendors, and external peers, leading to more diverse opinions.
  • Examining cost and risk causes buyers to frequently change plans, altering the business case and requiring multiple resolutions.
  • Buyers typically juggle multiple projects and are often forced to make numerous purchasing decisions simultaneously.

Making individual sales and building overall revenue are undoubtedly among your primary business goals. So the question becomes, how do you align those goals with your marketing goals of website traffic, likes, and clicks? And what happens when your business goals are not aligned with your digital marketing efforts?

 

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When Marketing is Not Aligned with Business Goals

If the connection between marketing and business goals is severed, it will be impossible to measure the success of your digital marketing efforts. Without clear benchmarks, the chances of launching a successful marketing campaign is slim to none. Aligning the two requires elevated communication and diligent planning.

Marketing Should Build Toward Business Goals

A strong marketing campaign might not lead to immediate, measurable results. However, a sustained digital marketing effort can help build forward progress toward your ultimate business goals. 

In digital marketing, there’s a constant stream of new information about strategies that work—and don’t work—with your target audience. Unfortunately, making split-second decisions based on data that hasn’t had a chance to mature can make you lose sight of your business goals. 

This is why a digital marketing team must know the importance of data and how to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in service of your long-term business goals.

Let us do the marketing; you take care of IT.

Click here to get started.

Hubspot Platinum Agency Partner

HubSpot Platinum Partner - 4B Marketing Agency

4B Marketing recently became a HubSpot Platinum Agency Partner

Creating and maintaining an inbound marketing program for businesses of all sizes is no small feat.

That’s why businesses ready for quantifiable growth rely on 4B Marketing for content creation, content marketing, lead generation, and reporting.

4B is on a mission to change the narrative around marketing because marketing shouldn’t be a cost center. It can be (and should be) a revenue-generating machine for improved business performance.

Our proven success record and uncanny ability to align marketing tasks with business outcomes show 4B clients exactly how – and where – they fit into the marketplace and helps us create high-output content laser-focused on our customers’ target personas.

Greg Peters | Owner of 4B Marketing

“Every business owner is focused on increasing profits, reducing risks, and controlling costs,” said Greg Peters, 4B Marketing CEO. “We audit the competitive landscape, personas, and our client’s unique value to serve those core business needs.”

Are you ready to get focused and dominate your industry? 

What is inbound marketing?

According to HubSpot, “Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”

Our Inbound Marketing work starts with your customer personas.

We base personas on your best customers today. We also base them on the untapped marketing potential you know exists but that you haven’t been able to access.

With personas developed, we use your team and our research to identify topics and content styles most likely to win consideration and MQLs (Market Qualified Leads). We market the created content organically, through paid ads, or earned through PR hits in the places where our personas hang out digitally.

As your share of voice, influence, and trust within an industry grow, your list of leads and close rates should grow, too. Using HubSpot’s in-depth reporting tools (which can easily integrate with your website and social media), we can chart your growth and offer data-driven predictions.

Inbound marketing relies on multiple communication channels, including social media, organic and paid search, email marketing, in-person engagements, and more, to create a marketing engine capable of producing an abundance of leads. It also helps increase your business development teams’ bandwidth.

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Is inbound marketing right for my business?

Inbound marketing isn’t always suitable for every business.

Low-cost, direct-to-consumer manufacturers, for example, probably won’t find much value in generating marketing-qualified leads and nurturing them into sales-qualified leads.

But, inbound marketing is the missing piece of your marketing puzzle if your business relies on developed and retained trust, consumer education, or shortened sales cycles.

Are you ready to pave the road to predictable growth and consistent lead generation? Inbound Marketing is for you.

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How do you get started with inbound marketing?

Most businesses already create inbound marketing content without realizing it.

Are you blogging to grow your visibility in search? Do you run paid advertisements? Does your company publish on social media? These are all inbound marketing actions.

Still, without the larger framework of persona development or the reporting to justify your next inbound marketing tactic, these actions will probably fail to produce the desired results.

We can remove the guesswork out of Inbound Marketing and optimize your content and communications to extract the most significant returns.

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What is a HubSpot Platinum Partner?

It’s not easy to achieve HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency status.

You have to attract and maintain new client relationships through the Inbound Marketing process to become a HubSpot Platinum Partner.

Ascending the ranks past Provider status, through Gold status, to become a Platinum Partner Agency means we’ve developed marketing engines that work for us – and work for our clients.

As a HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency, we can adjust set up fees, resource libraries, offer you prioritized one-on-one technical support, and we can join HubSpot’s Advisors Council (and more).

Hubspot Platinum Partner status is more than an agency victory lap; it’s proof that our existing clients have chosen a vetted and trusted marketing partner.

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“We are excited to see 4B Marketing reach another level within the HubSpot Partner Program. Their deep experience in helping companies drive sales growth paired with HubSpot’s platform for developing and executing inbound strategies makes them very attractive for any business looking to grow,” said Kevin Dyess, HubSpot Channel Account Manager.

What makes 4B different from other agencies?

4B Marketing is obsessively focused on your business objectives.

We’re passionate marketers, and we want to help you achieve your goals. We also want to help you positively impact the lives of your customers and your employees.

We’ll learn where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. Let’s create award-winning work together.

Let’s have a short conversation to discuss your goals. 

Journal

Seth Godin's Thirteen Principles of the Marketer's Mission

I am an extremely slow reader. I tell everyone this fact whenever they hand me a book; “Don’t put this book in my hands,” I’ll say, “unless you’re prepared to not see it again for a couple of years.” Curiously, I have a strong appetite for learning and I put valuable lessons to work in my life as quickly as I can. All I can say is: Thank God for audiobooks.

Recently, I wrapped up listening to Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing. As with all of Godin’s books, it’s a worthwhile read with more than a few nuggets to sink your teeth into and reference during meetings.

Late in the book, Godin recites a list of rules to help people achieve the change they seek. It’s a fantastic list and one I wanted to share throughout the office. Unfortunately, though, unless I wanted to transcribe that list myself through repeated listenings of the few seconds it takes Godin to recite the list, I was out of luck. I didn’t have a printed copy. This is the downfall of consuming books in audio form.

‘He’s gotta have this on his site somewhere,’ I thought. If he does, Google hasn’t found it.

Through the prompting of my daughter, I found myself later that day at Tattered Cover. I decided to see if they had a copy of This Is Marketing. In short order, I located both the book and the page with the passage and snapped a photo of the pages containing the thirteen principles. So, for anyone else, like me, who listened to the book and wanted to reference this list of principles, here are…

SETH GODIN’S THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES OF THE MARKETER’S MISSION:

  1. “Put people to work. It’s even more effective than money.”
  2. “Challenge your people to explore, to learn, and to get comfortable with uncertainty.”
  3. “Find ways to help others on the path find firm footing.”
  4. “Help others write rules that allow them to achieve their goals.”
  5. “Treat the others that way you’d want to be treated.”
  6. “Don’t criticize for fun. Do it when it helps educate, even if it’s not entertaining.”
  7. “Stick with your tactics long after everyone else is bored with them. Only stop when they stop working.”
  8. “It’s okay to let the pressure cease now and then. People will pay attention to you and the change you seek when they are unable to consistently ignore it.”
  9. “Don’t make threats. Do or don’t do.”
  10. “Build a team with the capacity and the patience to do the work that needs doing.”
  11. “If you bring positive ideas to the fore, again and again, you’ll raise the bar for everyone else.”
  12. “Solve your own problems before you spend a lot of time finding problems for the others.”
  13. “Celebrate your people, free them to do even more, make it about the cohort, and invite everyone along. Disagree with institutions, not with people.”

And, as a bonus, if you wanted the list of marketing books Seth recommends at the end of the book, Redditor u/IAmSimonDell compiled those here.