Creating a holistic digital marketing strategy can take months. Effectively executing the strategy after tweaks, minimal fails and multiple learning curves can take up to a year. One stage often omitted from this important plan is monitoring competition. Watching your competitors online holds unparalleled benefits such as identifying market opportunities, connecting with companies you should be cross promoting, back-link insight, social listening and more.
Here are 5 Free Tools to monitor your competition:
- Google Alerts: One of the most underused tools, Google Alerts allows you to monitor the internet for “interesting content”. You can set up alerts for your industry keywords or even for mentions and articles on your competition. Google alerts lets you customize the email reports you receive by how often you’d like the notifications, type of sources, the origin of source, and languages. Use alerts to drive trending content ideas and see how well your competition is doing with PR.
- Facebook Pages: Facebook offers page admins the opportunity to “watch” competitor Facebook pages. To add a competitor page, simply go to your page insights, scroll to the bottom and type in the name of the business you’d like to watch. You can see the company’s follower growth, engagement and even the competitor’s top post from the past week.
- HootSuite: HootSuite is a simple social media publishing tool that also offers numerous in-platform apps to increase the overall user experience. One of the free apps, TrendSpottr enables you to set up multiple “streams” in your HootSuite to watch trending topics, keywords, brand reputation and even identify industry influencers. HootSuite is also an excellent “social listening” tool for when potential customers are unhappy with the competition. Below is an example of great social listening in action. In this instance, I had tweeted dissatisfaction to Xfinity and within minutes received this tweet from their competitor:
- Alexa: Alexa is a brilliant tool that my company uses prior to working with any company to analyze their overall reach. It can also be used to analytically measure competition. You can see how the competitor’s website ranks globally, what keyword searches are driving traffic to the site, which pages generate the highest engagement, and which sites link to the competitor’s site.
- SEM Rush: SEM Rush offers great analytical reporting on all aspects of digital marketing performance. With a free account, you can see how your competition ranks, the keywords that generate high traffic, and even view their AdWords and video ad campaigns.
Once you have all this data at your fingertips, it is time to utilize it wisely by crafting new campaigns. Contact websites that link to your competitors to build new relationships, start focusing on keywords that drive heavy traffic to your competition’s site, avoid social media snafu’s that failed on your competitors’ platforms, and contact your competitor’s dissatisfied customers through social listening.
As we wrap up 2014, now is a prime time to look back at what successes we’ve had at work and where we may have room for improvement. Many business leaders are projecting the next year’s potential growth along with strategies to increase business development. While there are many known general methods to market a business, here is a list of 5 very specific actions you MUST take to stay ahead of the curve in 2015.
5 Specific Marketing Action Steps to Take in 2015:
1. Use Facebook “custom audiences” for ads. Facebook has recently launched a new way to target your ads to your current contact lists. You can import emails or phone numbers in the audience tab in ‘ads manager’. Then when you create the ad, you can choose that custom group to show it to.
Why it works: With Facebook targeting options you can narrow your ads even more by age, location, and interests. This will increase click-through’s substantially as well as provide you with more options such as Facebook offers, deals and more to present to your interested lists that you could not otherwise through email.
2. Build your personal brand on LinkedIn. Since rolling out the ability to post blogs and articles directly on the LinkedIn platform, many savvy leaders have begun to leverage their knowledge and expertise to further their personal and business brand awareness. Make sure your profile is updated and start planning the types of posts you can contribute on the largest business networking social media site.
Why it works: When you post quality content on LinkedIn, you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build yourself a positive reputation with potential customers or referral sources.
3. Get on Google My Business. Google+ has been slowly creeping up on Facebook as the second largest social networking site since it launched in 2011. Google provides you with the platform to create a personal identity along with a business page, locations for your company and it all gets tied together under Google My Business.
Why it works: Having all these elements updated and posting relevant information to your page can actually help you rank higher!
4. Brand your visuals for Pinterest. Pinterest currently has 70 million users and that number is growing by the minute. People pin articles, blogs, websites, recipes, shopping, lifestyle dreams and work ideas onto their boards, and the one thing they see when searching the site is the visual associated with the content. Make sure that each piece of collateral you produce is branded well and also includes a quick catchy title.
Why it works: By placing your logo on all your visuals, you are expanding your reach to each and every person that searches for that topic on Pinterest. When you place a CTA title on the visual, it will increase the clicks and provide viewers with a sense of motivation to read more.
5. Re-purpose your blogs. Pick 5 of your most popular 2014 blogs and expand on them. Take those blogs and create a “part 2” for each. Or turn one into into a whitepaper or e-book.
Why it works: By re-purposing your successful content that you already know is popular, highly searched for and engageable, you can collect leads and take potential customers further down your funnel.
2015 will bring us many new opportunities to build our audiences and see marketing success. Which of these actions do you plan to implement into your strategy?
We have all heard of the wedding day traditions for wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Originating from an old English rhyme, the 4 items a bride carries with her is supposed to bring her good luck. Transitioning into today’s digital age, we can actually leverage these 4 elements as a means of remembering some best practice strategies for top notch social media posts!
Post Something Old:
For the bride, something old represents continuity. Psychologically, people prefer to see social media posts they are comfortable with and they can relate to from their past. This creates a sense of safeness. This explains why so many people love the “Throw Back Thursday” picture phenomenon. A great tip: post something exciting about an employee that has been with the company from the beginning to give your prospects a sense of your company’s stability.
Post Something New:
For the bride, something new offers optimism for the future. One the social media spectrum, posting something new positions your company as the thought leaders. When you are the first to post the latest events, products or news in your industry, it is your post that will get widely shared, commented on and “liked”. Furthermore, when you are posting about your company’s news and updates, you are demonstrating your company’s ability to provide top service or products by exposing its growth.
Post Something Borrowed:
For the bride, something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness. When it comes to social media, you too should be borrowing happiness and success. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. When you see another company’s digital marketing campaigns working well, borrow their strategy! While it’s always ideal to be the first, it may not always be practical. It is better to be on the right bus, even if you aren’t driving, than to not get on it at all. Tip: borrow a post but put your own unique spin on it by adding a call to action or a different opinion!
Post Something Blue:
For the bride, something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity. In social media we know that when a customer loves a post they become passionate to spread it. Every once in a while, post something controversial to incite engagement. Nothing attracts more shares and comments then the posts that hit a nerve, good or bad with followers!
Use these 4 tactics in your social media strategy to ascertain your commitment to your followers and with time they will say ‘I Do’ to your services!
LinkedIn, known as the “Social Network for Businesses” has immense potential to provide users with the ability to network with-in their own industry and more importantly find and convert customers. As opposed to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, where statuses lean towards the light, funny or more personal, LinkedIn offers users with a platform to encompass strictly business updates and news related statuses.
7 Beginner Tips to Marketing on LinkedIn:
- Update your profile, often. First, make sure your personal LinkedIn profile is completely updated. LinkedIn even tells users how well their profile is performing (see picture below). Your profile is the driving force behind how you will be viewed by potential customers, job seekers, employers or possible partners. It’s also wise to spruce up your profile once every few months. Every time you update your profile, your connections or network (depending on what your privacy settings are set to), will see it in their feed, making updating a great “exposure tool”.
- Setting up a company page. LinkedIn is regularly changing the way company pages operate. Make sure you stay on top of the trends and that you have an updated company page. Here are some quick tips:
- Keep your company description written in a style that reads well to customers.
- Link to your website.
- Make sure to utilize the services and products aspects of the page.
- Create a strategy for the types of updates you post on the page vs. your profile.
- Post jobs on the company page, and share that in all your groups, resulting in driving traffic to the company page.
- Encourage your employees to update their profile linking to the page and to share any page or job openings.
- Update your status with relevant information. By providing your connections with the latest news, updates and blogs in your industry you are positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field. As with updates on other social media platforms, keep your statuses “engage-able”.
- Join groups. There are two types of groups you may want to join on LinkedIn.
- Groups of professionals in your industry. Doing so, will enable you to share ideas, network, cross refer and hopefully give you a chance to learn from one another.
- Groups of customers. Ideally you have done appropriate research on who your target client is. Find the groups that your customers are in and get your name out there!
- Get Recommendations. There is something to be said about the phrase “give a little, get a lot”. Take time to truly recommend a co-worker, employee, client or consultant. By giving your honest positive feedback, that person will likely recommend you in return. When a potential client comes to your public profile (and yes, they will check you out on LinkedIn before agreeing to do business) and sees you have many positive recommendations, it will compel that client to trust your expertise even more.
- LinkedIn ads. If you have a specific campaign to market, and the budget to allot for it, LinkedIn ads may be beneficial for you. LinkedIn ads allows you to sponsor updates, target demographics and even use videos. Make sure to consult with an expert first to get the best ROI.
- Look at someone’s profile to get them to look at yours. It seems borderline stalker, but it works. If you want someone to see your profile or notice you, simply look at his/her profile. He/she will get notification that you looked at his/her profile, and it will prompt that person to check out what’s new with you, which is why it’s important to routinely change up your profile.