Social media is just one tool, not the entire tool box – this month’s Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column

This month marks the end of my third year writing a monthly column about social media for Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. This one is a reminder that social media, while important, is just part of the marketing equation.

Social media is just one tool; it’s not the entire tool box

There’s no question that social media has become an increasingly important part of every business’ marketing strategy. As social media has risen in prominence, however, it has somewhat overshadowed other aspects of digital marketing that are just as critical. In truth, your business must integrate a variety of tools for building its brand, telling its story and connecting with

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customers online. With that in mind, here are a few things that deserve as much attention as your social media strategy — if not more so.

Your website: Even as popular as your social-media presence is, it’s likely that your website gets even more traffic. Accordingly, you want to think of your website as an opportunity to make a great first impression, providing background about what you do and how you’re different than your competitors.

Think of it as the start of a conversation that can be continued by the audience via your social-media presence. And, of course, make sure your website includes easy-to-find links to your social-media profiles.

Also, as smartphones, tablets and other devices become more popular, your business becomes more dependent upon a Web presence that anticipates the mobile user’s needs. In fact, many experts predict that by 2014 more than half of all Web traffic will originate from mobile devices. The key is to remember that people looking for you from a smartphone will want something very different than what they would want when browsing from a laptop or desktop computer. Consider what actions they’d be most inclined to take, therefore, and what content they can consume in an environ ment where speed and brevity are absolutely essential.

SEO: Even a great website won’t take you very far if your audience can’t find it. That’s where search-engine optimization — also known as SEO — comes in. By developing content valued by users and tweaking your copy to include relevant keywords, you’ll make it more likely that your site will come up first when users search for a product or service in your category.

SEM: Sometimes SEO isn’t enough, however. If your category is especially crowded, or if competitors have nudged you out of the running for a given search term, it may be worth investing in search-engine marketing, also called “paid search.” With SEM, you’re simply buying the opportunity to be seen in blocks of advertising that run in search engines. It’s not as effective as being first organically, but it gives you the chance to even the playing field — if only temporarily — while you build toward improved results via SEO.

Digital advertising: While SEM is an effective way to make your website easier to find, you may also need to consider advertising solutions that build awareness about your products and services, including video and display ads on websites that deliver your target audience. This includes advertising on social-media platforms that can be tied to a campaign that drives traffic to a page or profile on the same platform.

The digital advertising space has gotten a lot more complex, but the bottom line is that the rules of good advertising still apply: You need a strong message that reaches the audience in the right place at the right time.

CRM: One of the best things about digital marketing is that it’s measurable. For example, you can judge whether you’ve effectively leveraged SEO — or need to invest in SEM — based on how much traffic your website is getting or how many sales it’s generating. The key is to extend this commitment to harnessing data in other ways, including information relevant to your relationships with your customers.

Through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you can track customer purchase activity and interaction with your sales team. You can even track whether they’re connected to you via social media or if they consume content you make available. Having this information at your fingertips is an excellent way to make use of your organization’s collective intelligence and better qualify sales leads. Email marketing: It’s easy to overlook, but one of the most “social” marketing tools available to you is one you use every day: email. Whether you’re a professional services firm sending project updates to clients or a retailer sharing an electronic newsletter with customers, there are few better places to connect than the inbox. To make the most of this opportunity, it’s critical to use email judiciously, providing content and offers that set you apart from spammers. The goal is to continue to earn the chance to communicate with your audience one-on-one by tracking what resonates — and what doesn’t — via your CRM.

Understanding digital marketing can be complex, but it begins with the knowledge that social media is just part of the equation, and that every digital marketing tool deserves some consideration. If you’d like to learn more, join me for my keynote presentation, “10 Marketing Rules for the Digital Age,” at the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly’s Power Breakfast Series event July 11. I’ll discuss the priorities your business needs to consider — and the pitfalls it needs to avoid — in today’s marketing environment. To register, visit FWBusiness.com and click on the “Power Breakfast” link.

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