At the beginning of each new year, businesses are often in one of two places: either they’re knee-deep in implementing their marketing plan or they’re asking themselves if it’s already too late to create a marketing plan. While devising a marketing plan during the first quarter of the year is not ideal, we know that’s the reality for many small to medium-sized businesses who have more items on their to-do lists than time to get it all done.
To make formulating a 2022 marketing plan easier and more straightforward for our local business community, in late January one of Intellitonic’s founders, Alex Bruner, took part in a local marketing panel. He shared his experiences, suggested marketing tactics and recommended metrics to help track results.
From insights into the way we approach best- and worst-case marketing scenarios to Alex’s top five SEO tricks, below you’ll find notes about what Alex shared at the “Marketing in the New Year” event hosted by the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce.
Q • How did the pandemic and its trajectory affect marketing plans? Do businesses need two completely different worst- and best-case-scenario marketing plans?
A • For Intellitonic, our immediate focus changed briefly from landing reselling deals, which take a long time to do due diligence, to direct-to-client sales to help organizations who were floundering when they couldn’t use their traditional marketing efforts to reach the same folks, or when they had immediate needs to advertise delivery, availability, etc. Our overall marketing did not change drastically, but we did need to modify some focus to address the inbound need.
To that end, many businesses whose marketing efforts were primarily lead generation were shifted to an almost impression-based model to convey to the community that there were new offerings or modified business models available during the pandemic.
Short answer: It depends on your brand. As a baseline, folks should have a marketing campaign that supports most facets of their brand:
- Branded and local
- General awareness
- News and special communications
When using this framework, you can shift your marketing budget to address changing needs. If you are reenvisioning your business based on a global variable like the pandemic, your budget might shift largely to branded or general awareness, top-of-the-funnel marketing.
Q • How can I network and build my business in the absence of in-person events?
A • We did this by joining industry think tanks, working more closely with our nonprofit allies and boards, and by availing ourselves to the general community for Q&A and consultations using video conferencing. Community-based resources that have worked wonders for us include both the Local Media Association and our B Corp network.
Q • What are the top five SEO tricks to keep a website and online presence strong?
A • Here are my go-to recommendations for keeping SEO fresh for your business:
- Leveraging influencer marketing to generate content domain authority
- Add more keyword-researched content to your Google My Business pages
- Set up an easy redirect at /reviews on your website to Google My Business reviews
- Resize images and add keyword-targeted, descriptive image alt text
- Use Google search of brand name in quotes to find references to your organization on other websites, and ask for that content to be linked to your site
Q • How many digital media platforms should a business use for marketing, and how do I choose which ones will be best for mine?
A • As many relevant platforms as you can adequately staff and maintain quality content and messaging. Depending on our growing business needs, we have had periods of time when we were not doing much with our own social media in favor of SEO work, or Google Ads, strictly because engagement on social platforms requires more direct hands-on management. We advise organizations to think in terms of quality over quantity. If you aren’t able to be deliberate with your messaging or you don’t know why you are on a platform, consider assessing whether you need it or have a good use for it. Intelltonic is not yet on TikTok because without intent and a good plan it would be more damaging to our reputation than if we stayed in our lane. But if I come up with a great way to add accessibility to SEO for the folks in that platform interested in it, I would consider that medium.
Q • It is hard for my business to get return on investment from social media. What social media alternatives should I consider?
A • With all of these mediums, make sure you are getting full value by working with the platforms to set up referential backlinks, testimonials, spotlights, etc.
Q • What are your favorite marketing books, blogs or podcasts?
A • Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Crina and Kirsten Get To Work
Q • What are your favorite apps/tools you use that make managing digital media easier?
A • Honestly, folks are going to expect me to say something like Moz, Screaming Frog, SEMrush. All are great but, for me it’s Slack, Google Meet and Google Drive. Digital marketing is more than just the sum of its technical parts—it needs to be a collaborative effort to really shine—and these communications channels are excellent for sharing the documents and having the meetings that are pertinent to marketing success.
Q • What are the top five analytics to track for a business?
A • Top five metrics to track:
- Google My Business Insights
- Basically, all of the data here is gold and is not found within in Google Analytics
- Clicks to call
- Clicks for directions
- Email form fills
- Clicks to email
- Behavior Metrics
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Time of call
- Cost Metrics
- Cost per conversion
- Cost per click
- Cost per view
- Content Flow
- Which pages bring in users
- Any intermediary pages that bring the user to sale
- Where users drop off
- Google My Business Insights
Q • Does my small business need an official marketing plan?
A • Absolutely.