Last Wednesday a new report entitled “2012 State of Digital Marketing” was published by the fine folks over at Webmarketing 123. They were wise to also release an accompanying infographic which I’ve posted at the end of this post. I wanted to talk briefly about a couple of the takeaway points from the report/infographic that immediately stood out to me. It should be understood that I am an individual who deals primarily with small businesses that fall under the B2C (Business to Consumer) label…both as a private consultant and as an owner of TrustWorkz® .

First, to answer the question in the title: Yes, if you are not seeing a tangible and measurable impact of your spend and efforts in Social Media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s definitely your fault. We can’t very well blame the whole of the internet or the poor response of our potential customers now, can we? If you’re not pro-actively involved with creating and optimizing content on your website or participating in social media, please refer to the rest of my blog posts, this one isn’t for you.

SEO Measurement

What I’ve found is that most small businesses have little to no insight about what or how to measure the effectiveness of their SEO efforts. The Webmarketing 123 findings support this in a pretty big way. You may actually be a skilled marketer and have SEO fairly well figured out. This fact alone sets you ahead of most of your competitors…especially if you are a hyper-local business.  How are you adjusting and refining your efforts as you go forward though? What metrics are you looking for and what does your idea of success look like?

“The most common measures of SEO performance are the volume of traffic, organic traffic, and the number of keywords appearing on page 1, which give no insight into financial impact.” – Webmarketing 123’s 2012 State of Digital Marketing Report (free report download link)

Financial impact, right; Actions that can be directly attributed to your SEO and social media efforts where your web presence drives MORE feet through the door, MORE phone calls, MORE dollars in your pocket. It’s a no-brainer metric, but you’d be shocked at how many people don’t even ask each and every new customer or client “how did you find us?” I know that what we all want to hear are MORE people saying that they found us and our businesses via the Internet. The one thing I know we can all agree on is that our own marketing efforts on the web are FAR more cost effective that other methods of lead generation.

SEO measurement

If you’ve read through this far, I’m going to assume that you are at least using Google Analytics or some other system or tool to measure traffic to your site, keywords used, etc. If not, go now and get Google Analytics set up. Most people stop there. Not that they don’t LOOK at the reports every hour of every day…it’s just that most never really take the time to understand how to use the tools to mine meaningful data. The data is what tells you where you’re winning and where you need work. I suggest looking into Google’s own “Google Analytics IQ Lessons” to help you more fully grasp what this powerful analytics tool can help you to accomplish.

I know I’m at risk of seeming like a real Google fan boy already, but few companies have gone to such great lengths to help people to really understand and benefit from SEO. Check this 32 page Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide to see what I mean…along with all of the other links in today’s post.

Another invaluable tool is Google’s Webmaster Tools…this one touts, “Improve your site’s visibility in Google search results.” How can you NOT give it a whirl? As with most Google products, there is also a great Google Webmaster Tools tutorial and help section.

With just these two Google tools and a better understanding of both, I can assure you that you will develop better intuition and real skills that can help you perform better in search results. What’s more is that I can almost guarantee that your competitors are NOT digging as deeply in order to learn this stuff!

Social Media, Still a Mystery

Social Media has been around for quite a while now. It’s quite natural that the levels of engagement would continue to be on the rise. This latest report shows that up to 70% of the companies surveyed considered themselves moderately or highly engaged with social media. I find however, that most of our clients at TrustWorkz® and my own personal clients are only engaged with social media for social media’s sake.

What I’m trying to emphasize is that businesses do not understand the real benefit from having an engaging social media presence. It is extremely difficult for a business to leverage a marketing channel if its activity on that channel is not directly tied to some business objective. Furthermore, and as mentioned above while on the topic of SEO, business do not understand what key performance indicators to be watching for and measuring.

I want to tie together two things from the report to make a point here.

  1. The percentage of marketers/companies SPENDING money on social media seems to correlate pretty closely to those who are generating leads and MAKING money from social media.
  2. There is a higher level of SEO and Social Media satisfaction when companies work with agencies.

social media spending


social media money

I could be tempted by this to believe that the advertising and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) opportunities on social channels truly yield results…unless I knew better. Let me just be brief and say that because professional marketers for larger companies and agencies ARE involved here…I attribute these figures to the fact that refined marketing practices and disciplines are at play here.

“Marketers working with an agency (as opposed to in-house) are twice as likely to be highly satisfied with SEO and Social Media, and significantly more likely to be highly satisfied with PPC.” – Webmarketing 123’s 2012 State of Digital Marketing Report (free report download link)

What does this mean for smaller businesses? It means that you’re going to have to become more pro-active in this arena as well. How are you using social media to drive traffic and grow our businesses? Can you answer this question with confidence? Do you know how to use social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to drive relevant and valuable traffic to your site? More importantly, where exactly are you driving traffic and how does this play into an intentional marketing and sales schematic? Filling the top of your sales funnel and filtering leads through a pipeline and following up…you have clarity here? My guess is that you probably don’t.

Amateur marketers…and that’s what most small business owners are, don’t have a good understanding about things like highly optimized landing pages and calls to action. What I see from most small businesses in their social media bios and the links that they promote on social media channels are weak and without intention.

We tend to see and use social channels as just another place to promote ourselves as better than the other guy. “Look at me…I’m better than them and you should buy my crap.” If this sounds like you, then surely you’ve wondered why you’re so easy to ignore in your social media efforts.

Intentional and pro-active are the key words here. You can’t be either without the best possible understanding of how to leverage these important touch points to benefit your bottom line. Most of us don’t have internal marketing departments or the means to hire ourselves an agency to help us navigate this landscape.

The difference between the guy on the cover of Forbes magazine and the guy on the cover on Bankruptcy magazine is likely only a few paramount decisions. For you, the small business owner, your win will come to be looked upon as the day you made the decision to become a more skilled and pro-active marketer for your business. It’s going to take time, and now is a good time to start. I’ll leave you today with this ancient Chinese proverb:

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is today”

Enjoy the infographic…and do go download the full 2012 State of Digital Marketing Report. I hope you find some inspiration and encouragement there.

If I can ever help you out, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here to help you out of a jam.

State of Digital Marketing 2012 Infographic

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