Recently I had the good fortune of attending an international convention with one of our association management clients in Las Vegas. The convention had many educational sessions geared towards our client’s industry and one of those was a session on optimizing digital marketing. Although it was tailored to our client’s industry it was applicable and pertinent to all industries that promote their products and services online.
The presentation was delivered by Cyrus Irani, from a company called Level, and he spoke about the various digital marketing platforms and how to build content to develop your brand. He talked about online tactics to address local search engine optimization, mobile, hyper local, paid search, paid video, Facebook and other social channels.
I was fascinated by some of the stats provided on how consumers are using the digital world to research the products and services they are seeking to purchase. Ninety percent of consumers research products and services online, which is an amazing number. The number of people researching using their mobile device is growing more and more, and organizations need to be aware of this. The message was loud and clear during the session that if your website is not mobile/tablet device ready, then you have some work to do immediately. If you make it difficult for people to access your site in the format of their choice, they will go elsewhere.
The session talked about local search engine optimization and knowing where you are in respect to people finding you online. One thing I learned at the session, which I think surprised a lot of people in the audience, was to post your local number as a contact number above any 1-800 number you may use. This is important so when people are searching online, Google and other search engines know you are in their local area and not in another city. The 1-800 number makes it harder for the search engine to locate you as a local business for a local customer.
The other revelation I had while attending this session was the value of video. YouTube is the number two search engine behind Google. People trust video and are more apt to watch a message that has a video than one without. Video marketing is an optimal way to inform, educate and provide confidence in your brand. It can be expensive to produce so you need to be mindful of the amount of resources you commit to this and ensure it is consistent with the other branding initiatives your organization is using.
The most important thing Cyrus talked about in his session was how to measure the effectiveness of your messages online. Make sure you learn where users come from and where they go on your website, track patterns and evaluate the return on investment of your marketing initiatives.
He had some suggestions of programs to track this data – some free and some that require a monthly fee. Of course he suggested using Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics as a way to track patterns on your site.
Another tracking mechanism if you have video on your site is Video testing. Video testing lets you watch actual users as they talk through the experience of using your website while they complete tasks. The User Testing can be found at http://www.usertesting.com. The strong message at the end was to follow the data, as the data tells the story of what is working and what is not.
Having an online presence and using that to grow your business or your association membership is obviously important, and becoming more important every day. The world is changing at lightning speed and staying on top of these changes is becoming increasingly more crucial to stay relevant.
Does your association have a plan to keep up with these new digital opportunities?