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Digital Marketing Advice For The Forward-Thinking Business In 2015
The search landscape is always changing, and columnist Trond Lyngbø reminds business leaders that thinking and planning ahead is critical to beating the competition.
Every new year brings new challenges — and fresh opportunities. Smart, future-oriented businesses are prepared for both and will thrive. The less savvy ones will succumb to the changed environment, or at least seriously underperform.
So, what’s my advice for businesses heading into 2015? Allow me to share some general wisdom, its applications to SEO and digital marketing, and practical advice for navigating potential issues in the year ahead.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure
Here’s a scenario that occurs far too often, in my experience.
A business will decide to buy a new content management system (CMS), either because their current one no longer meets their needs or because it’s “redesign time.”
“Our old CMS is holding us back,” the client will tell me during a consultation. “It’s time to change!”
Once they buy and install the new CMS, they expect that it will magically make everything better.
What they don’t understand (or at least refuse to admit) is that the old CMS wasn’t the problem. The problem was the fact that they bought it without thoroughly investigating if it was right for their present needs and would serve their future requirements as well.
The capabilities of software, and even the future roadmap, are easy to find out in advance with some preliminary research. However, in most businesses, these decisions are made by someone who is not qualified to tell if a particular CMS is the best solution. This business-critical choice is, surprisingly, based upon gut feeling and perceptions from a sales presentation.
A trusted and convincing sales person can use the right selling points to move the decision-maker a step further along the buying process. But in such a situation, the sales person is not your friend. It’s just like while you’re buying a home. The real estate agent isn’t your friend. He or she is motivated just as much by the commission earned from closing a sale and understands that the figure will depend on the price paid.
Leaving this important decision to the seller is a bad idea. Vendors do not know enough about your company, your customers, or your competition and business strategy to make relevant and informed recommendations. And installing a CMS, only to find that it doesn’t fit your needs, is ultimately going to cost you big in the long run when you have to migrate to a new system.
Make sure that anything you buy — whether it’s a CMS, a web analytics platform, or a PPC management solution — will help you achieve your marketing goals.
SEO is an integrated discipline. Different components influence and impact other business activities, and synergies between them can be lost unless you take the right precautions. Make sure you’ve mapped out your marketing goals and anticipate future requirements before even looking at software. Seek your SEO consultant’s advice early, before buying (or even deciding upon) a new product or service that impacts your online presence.
Proper foresight will allow you speed up and grow in the year ahead, rather than get bogged down by products that don’t support (or worse, hinder) your online marketing efforts.
Learn As If You’ll Live Forever
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
An often overlooked aspect of business growth is staff training and development. As things shift and evolve around you, the people running your show must learn, grow and embrace these changes in order to remain competitive.
If your employees aren’t up to speed, your business will be in trouble. So make sure they are properly trained to tackle new developments and take advantage of improved technologies and opportunities that arise from time to time.
Make an investment in staff training and development. This should include SEO training, but also cover other areas that will affect organic search and SEO.
That blanket prescription will span a lot of disciplines, and I suggest asking your SEO consultant for help in choosing the right courses for instruction — and maybe even to act as trainer or instructor for your team.
To Be Perfect, Change Often
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
Everyone pays lip service to change. Yet, deep within, no one wants to change. We all hope that the same happy circumstances in which our business thrives will last forever.
But that’s not going to happen. If anything, change is happening at an ever-increasing pace — and that looks set to continue into the foreseeable future.
When the marketplace evolves to a new level, your business must evolve, too. That means taking steps in a concerted and focused manner in order to stay ahead of the curve. It isn’t enough to pick something here and there, changing only the few things that suit you while ignoring others which are important.
When everything you do is designed to make new systems fit your needs, you’re merely repackaging the same system in a shiny wrapper that appears fresh and different. Fundamentally, however, nothing has changed… and that won’t benefit your business in any way.
Take change seriously. Have a structured approach to implement improvements and modifications so that you can be prepared for what’s coming tomorrow.
Focus on areas where your existing processes are outdated or in which the industry has evolved significantly, threatening to leave you behind. These are the “low hanging fruit” where you can achieve significant gains from making changes.
Develop internal systems to periodically review performance in specific departments or activities, matching your current results to your predicted KPIs and seeing how well each has lived up to its potential. Whenever you see a significant drop in achievement, it merits further evaluation in collaboration with your SEO consultant and heads of relevant departments. This should happen systematically, in an organized fashion, if your business is to continue to stay relevant in the long term.
Hopefully, by following this advice, you will shock-proof your business against the ripples and whirlpools of change in 2015 and beyond.
Do you have any other favorite strategies for winning big in the coming year? Please share it in a comment and let’s discuss it in more detail.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.