One night stand? Or long term relationship? – The importance of a solid digital foundation

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Warning: A LOT of innuendo ahead…

We’ve just wrapped up the first quarter of the calendar year, and it has been a very busy start for Scout. We’re working with a number of new clients whose New Year Resolution (whether they realise it or not) is that THIS is the year that they will DO digital! Which is great for me, and is a resolution I wholeheartedly support.

However… I have noticed two things:

  • An impatience to “get out there”
  • And me saying repeatedly (when presenting digital and social media strategy recommendations): “it seems really obvious, but…” or “it sounds like common sense, right?”

It’s natural that when we have made a decision to do something, we want it to happen Straight Away. We might have been thinking about, or planning it for a long time, but we want results Right Now, and there to be a Big Bang!

And this is how a lot of organisations (and agencies) tackle digital and social media.

With a bang.

A big campaign or competition that is going to Do ALL The Things. However, unfortunately there is often no ongoing strategy or activity to help back it up, and keep it moving. The “bang” might attract interest, but then what? And internet users are clued into this.

Yes we might enter the competition to Win The Thing, or notice the Fast and Loud flurry or updates or ads, but will we remember the organisation after the campaign if there is no ongoing communication?

And how reliable will the business appear to its community if it can’t even get the basics right?

It might have been a fun one night stand, but it’s no long term relationship, and if there’s no follow up phone call or text, chances are we’ll soon forget the name and face. It’s sad, but it happens. Especially in this digital age where we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish

via GIPHY

Don’t get me wrong, this type of approach does work for some businesses (often retail, high turnover, low margins), and can be a viable strategy to get out there quickly, make a lot of noise, sell or do the things, then disappear and move onto something else.

However most businesses – including the industries Scout specialise in – are generally after long term relationships with their audiences, and long term relationships take time to develop, and constant, regular attention.

This long term approach, is generally relevant for businesses with:

  • high cost or consideration investments
  • long purchase cycles
  • repeat or ongoing customers

These businesses can also benefit from a good bang as part of their digital strategy – especially if it is a new business, new to digital, or has been dormant for a while – but as long as it is complemented with an ongoing plan.

No matter how attractive or fun someone is, we’re not going to hang around long if the conversation or company is rubbish. Well, most of us won’t.

And this is why our digital and social media strategy recommendations always start with building a good, solid, common sense foundation.

So what do I mean by a good digital foundation?

Think of it as the reliable meat* and vegetable-based meals that make the “special” dinners, so special. They provide good, regular sustenance, and help us grow, and bond with the people we share them with. And in most cases this is regular, useful content updates across your digital platforms.

*or the vegetarian substitute of your liking.

For your website:

  • Is your About, Products/Services and more “static” content, correct and up to date?
  • Do you have a plan for regularly creating and publishing new content? e.g. news articles, blog posts, case studies or other resources.
  • Remember, we have a short attention span, and like to be reminded who you are and have regular conversations.
  • This content is also very useful for sharing through other digital channels, and demonstrating your expertise (remember, we’re aiming for long term relationships here).
  • Set an achievable goal – e.g. 1 new blog post per fortnight – and put it in your calendar, assign responsibility, or whatever you need to do to make sure it’s done.
  • This is about making regular dates and turning up!

For your website, you should also:

  • Have Google Analytics or some other form of web analytics installed. You might not yet plan to look at it regularly, but you can’t look back and see how far you’ve come if it’s not set up from the start (or as soon as possible).
  • Make sure your website performs well across a range of devices, ESPECIALLY if your community is known to use a range of devices.
  • Make sure your website is, and can be easily indexed by search engines. Bonus points for having a dynamic XML sitemap that is submitted to Google through your Google Search Console account.

For your social media:

  • Choose relevant social channels – relevant to your industry and your community – and an achievable amount that you KNOW you can keep up dated.
  • Just like with your website, have an achievable plan for regularly creating and publishing new content. As a general rule of thumb, this is a good base level of updates to strive for:
    • Facebook Page: 3 per week
    • LinkedIn company page: 1 per fortnight
    • Twitter: 1-3 per day
  • Think of “series” of content updates that are relevant to your community that you can post regularly, e.g. a motivational Monday quote, or a funny Friday image (who doesn’t like a laugh on a Friday?) Make sure it’s suitable for your business, industry and audience though.
  • Plan a few weeks worth of updates before you begin posting them, to give yourself a head start, and make sure you keep on top of keeping the content pipeline full!
  • Have links to your website and email signature to your social channels. And make sure they work… (seem obvious, but you’ld be surprised) and on your website, make sure that the links are set to open in new tabs or windows.
  • Make sure your social channels include a link to your website, and up to date about and contact information. You can also cross reference your social media channels, including Twitter, Instagram or YouTube feeds etc on your Facebook Page.
  • If your social media accounts have been dormant for a while, look to gradually build up to a sustainable quantity of regular posts, rather than a quick flurry that cannot be maintained.
  • Use scheduling features to space your posts out at regular intervals, publishing them at times that suit your audience… not you.

For email marketing campaigns:

The first quarter of the year has unearthed a pet peeve of mine… organisations whom I haven’t heard from for a long time, getting Very Excited about sending out emails!

I LOVE email marketing, but again, if it’s been a while, it’s like getting a call from an ex out of the blue. A little awkward.

So…

  • Like with your website and social media foundations, you’re far better setting a less frequent, more achievable send frequency, and increasing it depending on content availability and response from your subscribers, rather than getting all hot’n’heavy too quickly and then pulling a disappearing act when you realise you can’t keep it up.
  • If you have a list of email subscribers whom you haven’t emailed before, or haven’t for a long time, start off with an introductory email advising them that you will be starting to send regular emails, and perhaps even asking them what they would be interested in receiving information about in them (you could do this using a survey tool).

Regularly review your results and refine:

And as with all relationships, the most important thing is to listen… take time to regularly review the response you receive to your digital and social media marketing. This can be via the analytics for each, as well as direct and anecdotal responses, and use this information to refine and improve your activity.

So if this is going to be the year that you DO digital and social, set yourself up with a solid foundation, get the basics right, and you should enjoy a rewarding, long term relationship with your online community.

 

Want to review, refresh and cleanse your digital marketing for a healthy and successful year? Check out our free Digital Marketing Detox!

 

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