Maybe I came on too strong. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say a 3-legged online marketing strategy isn’t actually worthless, but instead, worth less. Hmmm. Maybe.
You could also make a case that I’m being PC and polite. But that’s not my style, so let me tell you why your 3-legged approach to online marketing is just as likely to collapse as a 3-legged chair.
The pillars of online marketing depend on each other.
As a website copywriter, I create, or improve, websites everyday. When my clients lean on me to lead the way online, I tell them the greatest website in the world won’t bring in a single dollar. A great site is merely phase one. If we’re to stick with a chair metaphor, it’s the seat. Chairs need legs, four of them. None is more important than the other.
Same goes for online marketing. You have four legs:
You miss the mark when one’s missing.
Often, when I school clients on this 4-pronged principle, they want me to let them off the hook with one, whichever one seems inconvenient, or unaffordable, or foreign. It’s human nature, right? We deny or shy away from the unfamiliar.
For those new to online marketing one or more of these pillars are bound to be unfamiliar. What’s a poor boy to do? Learn. See it through. Know what? There’s 26 letters in our alphabet. Sure, if we were to nix the vowels we’d have a far more convenient 21, but we’d have almost no words.
Let’s look at online marketing’s four legs.
Let’s blast through the obvious real quick. You need a website. It should be clean, clear, compelling and engaging. We’ll keep it at that for now and aim to keep the rest of this lesson simple too by assuming your site meets these marks. Now how do we seat a whole bunch of butts down on your www-dot-something chair?
Search—Most call this “SEO.” It’s the more common (and more searched) term. I don’t like it. It’s complicated, a bit misleading, and less meaningful everyday. But who asked me?
Spelled out, as you know, SEO means “search engine optimization.” Fuzzy stuff, no doubt. However, the goal is clear: you want your site to get found. There’s no denying search is the engine that powers online marketing success.
It can’t be the leg you opt to live without. But can you cut corners? No sir. You need to understand search and optimize according to your market, opportunities and business strengths. If that smells like liver and onions to you, find someone who knows the territory.
This article won’t allow for a dissertation on SEO. The point is, it’s one of your four legs. It’s leg number one really. Search is about keywords and keywords are what your entire online marketing strategy is based on. If search puts you out, do yourself a favor and get out. Go offline. Many a gardener grows his business by placing door hangers on front doors throughout the neighborhood.
Content—This is what your customers are searching for. And with search engines and the search mechanisms on popular social sites, you can rest assured they’ll find what they seek. But will they find it on your site, your YouTube channel, your online spaces and places?
You need a content strategy and the resources for creating it day after day. The more useful content you offer, the more customers will come to know you. The more value they get from your content, the more they’ll like you. The more guidance, substance and authenticity you offer, the more they’ll trust you. And getting known, liked and trusted is the key to getting, keeping, and growing a loyal customer base.
Again, to disregard this leg is to surrender to the companies in your space that take online marketing seriously.
Social media—Was that a groan I heard? Open your mind. Open your laptop. Open the gates to a powerful and wonderful new world of networking, caring and sharing.
Operating and sustaining a successful business is based on building meaningful relationships. The fact that Facebook’s home to flirtatious floozies, Twitter entries are abbreviated, LinkedIn’s largely for job hunting, and Pinterest’s populated with pretty pictures doesn’t define the true power of social media.
Social media is what you make it. Make it a place to build community, share ideas, teach, promote content, converse, conduct research and connect. It’s not a “nice-to-have-when-you-have-the-time" type of deal. It’s the connective tissue of communication today. Get a handle on social media and handle it with care by making it another pillar of your program.
Metrics—Analytics gives you the fourth leg you need to make it all standup. The Internet has made almost everything measurable. So you’ll need to understand what’s worthy of measuring, the tools it takes to do the job, and the processes required parlay data into action items that make your online marketing perpetually more powerful.
You’re going to analyze your search efforts, content marketing, and social media activity. This is your four-legged approach.
Hardly. Online marketing is Silly Putty, my friend. Its shape is ever-changing. You're connected now, so you’re painfully aware how fast search, social media and content marketing evolves. You need to keep up and keep on it.
But don’t let it make you crazy. Power down your devices and sleep tight tonight. Come tomorrow, if you’re going to make online marketing work for your business, you'll park yourself in front of the computer and remind yourself that seat propping up your posterior has four legs.