digital marketing technology

How Has Digital Technology Changed Business Marketing

There are two answers to this question, both of which are equally valid; not a lot, and loads. It is certainly true that PR has gone through a transition / new awakening in the last few years, particularly with regards to how it capitalizes on social media. However I would also argue that the fundamentals of PR – communicating a message to a stakeholder to influence their behavior – have not changed. Fundamentally PR is the same as it always has been. It is for that very reason that we don’t position ourselves as a digital PR agency – there’s no such thing!

It is also worth bearing in mind when reading this that my time in the PR industry has always been ‘digital’. Unlike my more learned colleagues I have never fundamentally had to change the way I work to fit into a new ‘digital age’. I have never sent out a press release with a fax machine, or heaven forbid via post, and the 24-hour news cycle and online newspapers have always been my playground. I’ve always worked in the technology sector too, so I’ve probably embraced the digital lifestyle a little more than, if not perhaps earlier, than most (when I worked for Cisco for example sharing my PC’s screen on Webex was practically a daily occurrence). I also love technology so am always looking for ways in which it can help me work more efficiently and live more enjoyably.

So with that caveat in mind, here’s my double view on how digital has, and hasn’t, changed PR:

PR is the same as it’s always been

As I’ve already stated, PR is fundamentally about influencing stakeholders. This will always be the case. The only difference is where you go to influence these stakeholders. In the past, PR was predominantly focused on the media as they were the gatekeepers to your stakeholders. While the sales and marketing team would go to potential customers directly, PR would use the media to build authority, credibility and advocacy for your brand/service/products etc. You needed the media’s endorsement to be credible. Media relations was one of the many feathers in your marketing cap. There are arguably more opportunities now for brands to communicate directly to their stakeholders in a credible way, particularly with well written blogs and/or social media. This does not change the fundamentals of PR however – PR is still about engaging and influencing with these stakeholders.

Digital has changed PR a lot

The new media landscape
Firstly, the media has changed a fair bit over the last decade. The media no longer has the monopoly on opinion and news it once had. Everyone can publish their views on a blog, and anyone with a smartphone in the right place at the right time can be a reporter (setting aside the fact they still need a venue with lots of eyes to send their story to i.e. a media site). This has implications for PR. It isn’t as easy to know who the influencers are now. In most cases it is still the established media, but there may be a few influential bloggers that should be nurtured too, or LinkedIn groups that should be monitored and, if appropriate, contributed to. The key to PR today is knowing where to spend your limited resources to exert the greatest influence. Any ‘digital agency’ could spend your marketing budget building up great relationships with a group on Facebook, but if they’re not influential what’s the point?

Blurring the lines between PR and marketing (and increasing cooperation)
Digital has blurred the lines between PR and marketing more than ever before. At the cusp of the social media revolution, when Facebook first opened itself to the general public (before you had to be a university undergraduate) and the BBC started to mention Twitter handles during its programming, PR and marketing agencies were fighting it out for their share of the social media pie. It was the next big thing and there was serious money to be made by those who could pitch a good social media campaign. But who should own it? PR said it naturally belonged to them because they are the vanguards of their clients’ reputations. PR is sensitive to the news agenda, it knows what is topical and knows how to have conversations and do the ‘soft sell’. Don’t give it to marketing because they’ll just bombard customers with product messages which will turn them away. Marketing on the other hand saw it as a natural extension of their remit – online is marketing’s realm, as is digital content. Since social media is just another digital channel, marketing should own it. The fight was bloody, and while both sides delivered some real value to their clients with some very creative campaigns, social media has ended up straddling the divide. Both sides now work together to add their respective value (at least they should in a best practice scenario). That is a big change from ten years ago.

Making PR more accountable
The transition to a more digital media has enabled PR to be more accountable than ever too. Website analytics can now track inbound links from major news sites so you can really see the impact that PR can have on behaviour. Campaigns can be formulated to drive traffic to a specific URL with a data capture element, so PR can now even track sales leads. This is a huge boost for PR. But it has also highlighted the intangible nature of PR more than ever. Not every campaign or press article can link to a trackable URL. In a world where practically everything can be measured, PR’s inability to consistently measure a change in someone’s mindset or opinion sticks out more than ever. With so many statistics and facts available at our fingertips, PR requires a little more faith than perhaps it used to.

So there you have it. Digital has, and hasn’t changed PR

So what do you think? While this doesn’t cover everything, it’s a good start. Would you say the fundamentals of PR have changed? Should a company not only enlist the help of marketing and PR agencies, but also digital and maybe social media agencies too? Are they now separate disciplines in their own right?

what is marketing

What is Marketing

Marketing

Traditional Marketing

At its highest level, marketing is about delivering a competitive advantage with longevity and a satisfactory return for an organisation’s or individual’s stakeholders. Put another way, like it or not, it’s about profit – which is achieved by delivering more sustainable value to everyone involved than your competitors do.

As with everything, when you delve a little deeper, Marketing gets more complicated. To keep it simple at this stage, I would consider the main role of Marketing to be communication with ALL stakeholders – stakeholders being customers, employees, the public, investors, influencers…the list goes on.

Marketing decides the who, what, how and when of business communication. Communication is how you reach people, it’s how they know you exist and what you do – it influences how they see your brand and if they want to spend their money with you. Ultimately it’s what achieves the high level statement outlined at the beginning of this article.

You may have heard of the four or seven P’s of Marketing – Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Physical Evidence and Processes. These are the tools which all marketers use to deliver their objectives. You can read more about these in our Basics of the Marketing Mix article.

So if you’re new to marketing, I would urge you to start by really understanding the marketing mix and marketing communications. Get to know these two things and how to use them to achieve a sustainable and profitable competitive advantage – master them and you will be set for marketing super stardom

 

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a sub branch of traditional marketing and uses modern digital channels for the placement of products e.g. downloadable music, and primarily for communicating with stakeholders e.g. customers and investors about brand, products and business progress.

So digital marketing is about two things –  access to your products and communication.

Follow the link to learn more and access the effective digital marketing resources.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO search engine optimization

Online Videos

With more than 78% of internet users watching video online and 30% of search engine results now containing video – video search engine optimisation (VSEO) is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing.

Let’s start by quickly defining VSEO:

VSEO is the process of optimising your videos so that they appear, for your desired keywords, in the hosting site’s results e.g. YouTube, and search engine’s results e.g. Google.

So what are the basic steps to optimising your videos?

– Add a relevant video title and description
– Add relevant video keywords; there are 3 types,
—– Informational (e.g. What is VSEO?)
—– Transactional (e.g. Buying books on VSEO)
—– Navigational (e.g. VSEO.com)
– Build quality links to your video (hopefully this will occur naturally)

Note: Informational keywords perform better in search results, so they should be your primary focus.

Other factors which can affect your video ranking?

– Number of thumbs up and down against your video i.e likes and dislikes
– Number of comments and shares against your video
– Number of channel subscribers

With these in mind, it’s important to consider what you want to be found for and name, describe and add the relevant keywords against your videos.

SEO for Websites

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is part of Search engine Marketing (SEM) and can be further broken down into on-page and off-page optimisation – not really something we go into here.  This article will take you through the very basics of SEO – it’s really a beginners ‘check list’ and will get you on your way to building long-term results.

The SEO foundation

  • Buy an independent domain name i.e. one which you fully own and can get hosted where ever you want.
  • Depending on your brand, it may be an advantage to have a URL with your main keyword in it. If your main keyword is Digital Marketing; then DigitalMarketingxxx.com would be perfect for us.
  • If you can, buy .com, .co.uk and .org for your chosen URL name. This will ensure any competition can’t snap them up! You can buy other ones later, but in the mean time redirect the secondary ones to the main one you use.
  • Do some keyword analysis so you’re clear on the keywords you will be targeting (the google keyword tool is a good place to start)
  • Focus on two or three keywords/phrases per page on your site.
  • Name your pages sensibly, using words not numbers e.g. www.digitalmarketingxxx.com/free-stuff It’s usually good to separate each word with a hyphen. This allows search engines to separate each word.
  • Put keywords in your page titles. Google has recently released an ‘optimisation’ update which now means you can’t just fill your page titles with keywords like Digital Marketing | Marketing | Social Media. You now need to be writing ‘natural’ page titles such as ‘What are the basics of SEO for a beginner?’ – not perfect grammar, but it includes more natural keywords.
  • Although not a part of Google’s search algorithm, you could add a page description and relevant keywords as your ‘meta data’ (this is basically held in the page code), but I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time on this.

The things which affect your ranking the most are:

  • Content – It’s ALL about quality!! Write good, relevant content with your keywords naturally woven in. Use appropriate header tags, bullet points, paragraphs etc so it’s easy for the reader to understand (this will make it easy for the search engines too!)
  • Backlinks – Get quality backlinks/in bound links to your site. You want links from relevant pages on a relevant site. The stronger the page’s PageRank (PR) where the link comes from, the better. The anchor text for these links should be the keywords you want to be found for. E.g. a link from www.marketing.com to www.digitalmarketing.com where the user clicks on the word (anchor text) Digital Marketing Resources would boost our organic rankings when our audience searches for ‘digital marketing resources’. Ideally you want more backlinks/inbound links than outbound links for each page.

Give your site time to mature and obtain authority with the search engines, it’s not an overnight process and people make a living out of this subject alone, – so get the basics right and build from there.

If you only remember one thing – everything is about quality and natural content and backlink profiles – at the end of the day Google is providing us all a service and wants to deliver the most relevant results based on our searches in our local area, if the business or keyword is local oriented. Meaning that you could rank for “Your main Keyword” + “City, Town, or Area” such as “SEO Sligo“, or “Digital Marketing Services Dublin”. Trying to cheat the system will only work short-term, if at all! So work with these basics for longe term success.

Beginners guide to mobile app development

Beginners Guide to Mobile App Development

Applications Are “Products” We Sell

The problem is that too often we, as app developers/publishers, don’t treat our apps as real products and end up producing the equivalent of a “white package” for our apps. We use weeks or months of hard work to build the inside of our applications but barely spend any time presenting our apps in a meaningful way on the outside. It’s actually hard to work an app a long time and still keep a fresh look on how people will see it.

The problem is that our app can be the best in the world, it won’t get many downloads if its presence in the app stores doesn’t convince people to download it. Similar to choosing cereals, the process of choosing apps to download is most of the time very fast. Users take few seconds to glance at each app. Use a confusing icon or a not self explanatory first screenshot and you will have lost their attention.

As an exercise, go back to your app portfolio and for each app ask someone who doesn’t know your apps and who can be honest with you to tell you more about each app. Can this person explains you what your app does just from looking at how it’s presented in the app store? Are the app icon, first app screenshot, app name enough to convince them?

mobile apps

5 Tips to Treat Apps as Products

One of my goals when I release a new application is to use all the app store assets to clearly explain what my app does and how people will benefit from downloading it. Below are 5 tips to let you do the same:

app development tips

1 –  Create a great looking icon

The app icon gives the first impression so make sure it’s designed well. If possible design one that helps people understand what your apps’ main goal (a check mark for a to do list for example). The use of flashy colors also helps your app stand out. If you’re like me and don’t know how to design app icons then spend few hundred dollars to pay a professional. You can find  freelance graphic designers on sites like eLance or oDesk or pay a service like 99 Design to have an icon designed for you.

Note: If you end up choosing to hire a graphic designer, pick someone who has created app icons before. This will save you a lot of time and money as you won’t have to explain which icon size and name you need for your app.

2 – Add a short description to your app name

Adding a short sentence to explain what your app does at the end of your app name helps in 2 ways. First it clarifies why people should download your app. Second, it makes your app more “findable” on the app stores as each word in your app name is used by Apple and Google as a keyword.

For example, the website Hotels.com has tons of customers around the world to book hotel rooms online. The company also has an application on the Apple store. They could have just called it “Hotels.com” but instead they picked this longer name:

“Hotels.com – Hotel Booking and last minute hotel deals”

The longer app name is helpful to people who don’t know about this app yet as they’ll know what they can do with this app. The app will also be part of the search results if someone searches for “hotel booking”, “hotel deals”, “lsat minute hotel deals” as those keywords are in the app name.

One suggestion though is to not make your app name too long. Apple allows you to enter 255 characters but I find super long app names ugly and not user friendly. Long app name also have a higher chance of being rejected by Apple.

If you look on Google Play, the app name is following the same format but is shorter:

“Hotels.com – Hotel Reservation”

The reason for a shorter name is the fact that Google Play allows 30 characters for the app name only so it’s more restricted.

3 – Use self explanatory screenshots or add text to explain the app benefits

All app screenshots are important to present your app as a product but your first is even more key as it will be the first one people see when they search for apps. So make sure that you put your most convincing screenshot first (this also means that you don’t want to use your splash page as a first screenshot no matter how gorgeous it looks).

The reality is that for most apps, showing regular screenshots on how the app looks inside is not clear and convincing enough. Instead you’re often better off adding few words on the screenshots to explain the different “benefits” of the app.

By adding benefits on the top of each screenshot, they are creating a more convincing product than by just showing how the app looks inside.

4 –  Hook users within the first few lines of your app description

This step is last because most people don’t read app descriptions before downloading an app. If they do it’s after looking at everything else (icon, app name, screenshots, …). That being said they those persons are probably on the fence and are seeking more info to download your app or not. For this reason, you need to do your best to convince them at the beginning of the app description, not at the end. If your app has been featured on the store or got good reviews on the web, mention it on top. You can also add short sentences to promote your app benefits and reasons why people love it. In any case, be short and to the point.

5 – Test your changes with real people

Once you’ve done all or any of the 5 changes above, it’s time to test their impact. Show your app’s new look in the app store to people who don’t know about your app and ask them to:

  • Describe what your app does before downloading it
  • If any element is not clear or matching the rest (app icon, name, screenshot, description,…)
  • If they would be interested to download it
  • If they have recommendations to better present the app

Talking to real people should help you see if the “product” you have in the app store is clearly understood or needs refinement.

Go ahead and use those 5 steps to better present your apps.

Feel free to use the comments below to share the outcome or suggest other tips.