Smart Ways For Your Iowa Business to Keep Up With Digital Marketing Trends
Successful digital marketing is a constantly moving target that can make hitting the bullseye extremely difficult. It’s a challenge for many organizations to get real results with social media, SEO or online ads because of the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of digital.
Google and Facebook, for instance, are regularly changing their algorithms, terms and the interfaces of their various platforms. I recently attended a search marketing conference and learned information that was irrelevant only two weeks after I packed my bag and flew back to Des Moines.
So, how can your organization stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends? It’s one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients. It’s taken years, but we’ve created a solid system that can help your team continually stay current on the marketing trends that matter most.
Make a Culture of Sharing Digital Trends
One of our company value statements is, “we continually grow our expertise.” We’ve found that if you’re not moving forward as a person or an organization, you’ll fall behind.
If you can create an office culture that fosters and values learning, your team will be much more likely to move forward. Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to increase learning in your office. Encourage your team members to share any valuable digital marketing insights they may come across.
Each Friday our Digital Marketing team sends an email with the five most valuable updates affecting SEO or social media that week. The email contains the most concise, need-to-know info possible, along with a link, should the recipient need to dig deeper.
Scheduling a simple weekly synopsis like this will take a minimal amount of time for one of your team members while providing quick and valuable knowledge for everyone. A few digital marketing resources we frequent include: Search Engine Land, Google’s Blog, Social Media Today and the Moz Blog.
Another great way to boost internal expertise is to ask each employee to bring one learning to share at regular meetings. We’ve found great value in having team members populate a slide with their number one most insightful discovery to monthly department meetings, then discussing that insight together as a team.
Create a Calendar Commitment to Digital Marketing
Life is busy and it can be difficult to accomplish something if it’s not on everyone’s calendar. Schedule group learning sessions to ensure your team is purposeful about staying up to date on the latest trends.
A monthly lunch-and-lunch can be a great way to do this. Bring in a good meal, watch an SEO-focused webinar or a YouTube video about promoted Facebook posts, then discuss with the team.
Digital marketing conferences and training events are another important tool for learning. Of course, many fantastic SEO and social media workshops can be found in places like New York and LA, but you don’t need to leave Iowa to gain the expertise you seek. Great local events you can attend to gain marketing experience include: the annual Market515 Conference, monthly AMA or AAF luncheons, Des Moines Social Media Club events, and University of Blue classes.
Whichever events you choose to attend, consider avoiding training events sponsored by big players like Google and Facebook. At times, the services, ad placements and settings they recommend are better aligned with their own company growth objectives than your or your client's business objectives.
Create Your Own Digital Case Studies
There is a wealth of helpful Facebook, Twitter and SEO-related case studies online that can help positively influence your marketing strategy. However, we’ve found some of the best digital marketing insights come from your own website and social media channels.
Consider running your own case study to pull valuable insights directly from your audience. Try something different with your digital marketing for 30 days. Then, review your Google Analytics or Facebook Insights and discover what worked, what didn’t, and what tactics your marketing team should do moving forward.
For example, using A/B split testing in Facebook’s Business Manager, you can test two different photos with the same post to discover which type of image generates more engagement with your audience. Or, try promoting a similar Twitter post and a Linkedin post for $50 each, and monitor which sends higher quality website visitors to your website.
Surveying your audience is another fantastic way to discover which marketing direction is best for your brand. Tools like Google Surveys or Survey Monkey will enable your team to create relevant questions and receive submissions from your target demographic.
We once searched for stats on the social media habits of Iowans but were unable to find any studies on the subject. So, we created our own Iowa social media survey and discovered exactly how our local audience uses Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.
Encourage Different Internal Teams to Work Together
A final method our team uses to stay up-to-date on the latest digital trends is through interdepartmental interaction. Our marketers regularly meet and work directly with our developers, providing both groups a deeper knowledge and perspective.
Breaking out of our boxes and interacting with people in different roles is a great way to boost learning and understanding. Whenever possible, let people in different departments collaborate.
If your business’s goal is to be more effective at digital marketing, encourage this throughout the organization by enabling your marketing team to work more with other internal teams. The collaboration will help other departments gain more understanding of Google and Facebook and it may open the eyes of your marketing team to the challenges of other departments that marketing could potentially help solve.
President and co-founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden has grown and guided the company from a two-person start-up in 2007 to one of the Midwest's leading digital marketing companies today. He's a published author, has been cited by publications like USA Today and PR News, and has led web projects for clients like Spalding Sports Equipment, NAPA Autoparts and the NFL.