Monday, January 31, 2011

How to “Get Smart” in Digital

By Zach Clayton, Founder and CEO of Three Ships Media

As digital advertising surpasses print newspaper advertising in 2011, Facebook’s valuation blows past $50 billion, and social purchasing sites proliferate, businesspeople and marketers often ask me, “How can I ‘get smart’ in digital?”

A year ago, I co-authored a Harvard Business Review overview on social media, written for the executive.  This article summarizes a process that managers might move through to prepare their organizations for the opportunity and risks that open social communication brings. 

Beyond that primer, I’ll explore 2 questions in this piece: (1) why should you care?, (2) how do you build capability to take advantage of the marketing opportunity?

Why should a business executive care?

How and where people are seeking and consuming information has changed, so migrating to meet the customer on their medium of preference is how businesses stay relevant.  For example:

·         More than 700 billion videos were viewed online in the last year.
·         Facebook surpassed Google in weekly hits to become the most highly visited site in the U.S.  Facebook is the second largest search engine online.
·         Twitter receives over 24 billion search queries each month.

How can marketing executives and business leaders learn more?

I’ve pulled together a summary of sources that can be used to self-educate on digital. The list is far from comprehensive, but rather is a resource for you to gain digital literacy so that you can begin to think about these tools as part of a larger strategy to drive business for your company.

General Digital Knowledge:
·         “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs” by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah [Link].  Brian and Dharmesh are thought leaders who helped build the category of “Inbound Marketing” firms.
·         Regularly updated research based digital focused blogs: Nielsen Wire Blog – Online + Mobile and Forrester Blogs – Augie Ray and Jeff Ernst both focus on emerging media as it relates to marketing

· – Analysis of paid advertising across industries, taking into account major players in the industry and economic trends influencing paid online advertising.
·         Wordstream PPC Whitepaper – “Getting Maximum Value from Pay-Per-Click”

·         Three Ships Media Download: A Guide to Understanding and Implementing SEO
· – This daily blog provides a regular source of marketing news and tips about optimizing your online properties for search engine ranking.
·         Hubspot’s “Learning SEO from the Experts” Whitepaper

Social Media
·         SmartBlog on Social Media – Published by SmartBrief, this blog provides several articles each day that cover everything from the basic differences between Facebook and Twitter to the marking effectiveness of emerging platforms in the digital space.
·         Social Network blogs like All Facebook and the Twitter Blog give up-to-date information about developments and opportunities available on these social channels.

·         iContact’s Best Practices for Email Marketing Whitepaper
·         Email Marketing Whitepaper from Constant Contact discussing how to “Build More Loyal Customers with Email Marketing”

·          “5 Tips for Successful Video Marketing” blog written by Magnet Video’s David Rose
·         iMedia Connection hosted a debate between marketers about the best uses of online video for marketing.  In addition, they discuss ways to capitalize on the potential power of the media channel.
·         Streaming Media’s Field Guide to Online Video Publishing and Promotion, sponsored by Brightcove, Kaltura and other players in the online video space.

The learning curve is steep – for social media, for digital advertising, and for content marketing.  A McKinsey study found a tremendous gap between company’s “most effective” form of digital media and their “least effective” form of digital media. 

Investing on the front end in assessing the landscape to decide where you can have highest return is an excellent investment.

Zach Clayton is Founder & CEO of Three Ships Media, a digital marketing agency based in Raleigh, NC.  Three Ships Media specializes in highly analytical marketing campaigns, and works with organizations -- including AT&T, American Airlines, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Verizon – to improve the way they connect with customers online. 

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