Whether you’re a small business owner, a consultant, or a member of a team within a large business, digital marketing trends are notoriously hard to keep on top of. Search engines are constantly changing the rules they use to prioritize search results for users. New tools are launched almost every day for finding, managing, and distributing content. Social media is radically changing the landscape as users are empowered to develop their own customized content streams that may or may not include your brand.
How Do You Keep Track of Digital Marketing Trends?
We won’t lie: it isn’t easy. And no matter what anyone tells you, there’s no one right way. With a conversation this fluid, there are going to be lots of viewpoints, lots of thought leaders, lots of right ways. There’s the right way for you and then there’s the right way for your customers. There are goals you may have as organization or for an individual project. Then there are everyday hurdles you need to overcome like converting leads to customers, converting first-time customers to repeat customers, managing stakeholders, keeping on top of pay per click (PPC) campaigns, making sure your website content is optimized for search, etc., etc.
Though we can’t solve all these problems for you in one post, what we can do is give you some tips for keeping on top of this exciting, ever-changing conversation so that you don’t feel like you’re constantly behind the competition.
Tip #1: Find Digital marketing Thought Leaders You Trust and Follow Their Lead
According to Forbes:
A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.
What we like about this definition is that it shows that recognition is key to who is considered a thought leader. You need to decide who you recognize as a digital marketing thought leader. You need to decide who you recognize as someone who can help you solve problems.
This can include:
- Book authors
- Digital marketing consultants
- Business partners
- Competitors that you aspire to be like
- Individuals or organizations that you consider to be the best within your specific marketplace
The best way to find thought leaders is to read widely. You can’t just read one blog post, one book, or one competitor website and decide that you’ve found your marketing guru. You probably need to read 5. Or 10. You need to think about whose advice makes the most sense to you. You need to decide whose advice you trust the most. You need to think about whose content you get the most excited to read.
The difficulty in finding thought leaders is that it can be a lot of work if digital marketing isn’t your area of expertise. That’s why you should start small. Google terms you don’t understand. Subscribe to individual blogs. Work at your own speed.
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite digital marketing thought leaders:
Tip #2 Use Digital Marketing Tools to Help You With Best Practices
Tools are another key resource for helping you keep on top of digital marketing trends. Tools can help you provide short-term or long-term stopgaps for services you need. Need help optimizing your PPC campaigns? There’s an app for that. Need help publishing and keeping track of social media content across platforms? Have you tried Hootsuite?
The best thing about digital marketing tools is that they’re made by marketers, AKA the masters of the foot-in-the-door approach. This means that many tools are available for free as a basic package. If you decide you like the tool, you can then decide if you want to invest money in it as a premium service.
The difficulty in finding tools that work for you is that, like any technology, tools require their own level of expertise. If you’re not a technology geek (like some of us), you might struggle to learn a new tool before it becomes useful to you. That’s why we always advise trying one tool at a time. If you’re really struggling with social media, for instance, try exploring Hootsuite for a week or even a month. You have to get a good feel for a tool before you decide it it’s for you.
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite digital marketing tools:
- PPC: WordStream
- SEO: Moz
- Keywords: Google Keyword Planner
- Social Media: Hootsuite, SproutSocial, Sprout Social
- Email: MailChimp
- Conversion Optimization: Crazy Egg
Tip #3: Hire an (Affordable) Digital Marketing Agency
Sometimes, you just need one of those most valuable resources: a fellow human being. A good consultant can push you light years ahead and can save you time, energy, money, and the stress of uncertainty.
What you should look for in an agency:
- Someone you’ve been referred to by someone you trust
- Someone who is looking to partner with you to help your business succeed
- Someone who is transparent about how they’re adding value to your business
- Someone who responds to your requests for help in a timely, friendly, and engaging manner
- Someone who provides a dedicated, one-on-one approach
- Someone who can show results, even if they’re incremental
Just Remember: There Is No One Right Way
Ultimately, it’s up to you to find your comfort level with digital marketing trends. Do you want to do the work of reading blogs, whitepapers, and technical articles? Do you want to invest in tools? Do you want to partner with an agency? Do you need some combination of these approaches?
It’s up to you to find your rhythm. Just don’t be afraid to ask for some help along the way.