Ivy Buchelli, Account Manager
Our daily lives revolve around digital, whether it’s how we consume the news, enjoy entertainment or work. With the pandemic, this has been emphasized – so it is unsurprising that digital has woven itself into the fabric of traditional PR even more tightly than before. Companies should take deliberate steps to integrate digital marketing and PR. Otherwise, they risk leaving opportunities on the table.
Often prospects will search online before they reach out to a business. Companies can’t just rely on media coverage to influence their customers’ perceptions; they need to think about their whole online presence. A brand’s reputation can start through a Google search, social media click or a direct website visit, reinforcing the need to have a digital element in your strategy so that you can control the conversation.
Here are a few areas that should be part of your digital marketing toolkit to supplement your PR wins and help you take control of the customer journey.
Your website will typically be the first-place prospects go to when researching your company. This is their initial exposure to your brand’s core message and value proposition and will help shape their perception of your brand – so make it count.
A website’s functionality and aesthetic can strongly impact a user’s perception and can ultimately make or break an engagement, so the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” does not apply. In short, a bad website experience can permanently drive a prospect away.
Things to factor in when thinking about UX include load time, navigation, design, SSL certification, messaging, keywords and content. Moreover, the website UX should be optimized for desktops, tablets and mobile users.
Google Analytics is a good place to start when it comes to assessing your website’s user experience. Are there specific pages with a high bounce rate? Understanding problem areas can help you to prioritize changes and give a benchmark for performance so you know that any updates have had a positive impact.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or organic search, encompasses the practice and tactics used to help optimize a website to increase presence in search results and the quality and quantity of traffic from a search engine. With over 85% of the market share, Google is king of the search engines, and as such, your Google ranking matters. It comes as no surprise that page one of Google is a competitive environment. To improve rankings, companies need to understand which keywords their prospects are searching for and optimize their website around those keywords.
Still, it’s not just about keywords. There are more than 200 ranking factors that Google uses, and it evaluates quality through expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Google’s latest algorithm update places more focus on user experience, so it’s important to think about how these elements go hand in hand. Of course, traditional media relations also helps build authority – and getting good quality backlinks from relevant publications is a strong signal to Google that a website is a trusted source.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising includes paid search, display advertising and paid social media. It gives companies brand recognition, drives visibility and can support in lead nurturing. Results are easy to measure and track, allowing you to adjust campaigns and scale as needed.
Supplementing SEO with PPC allows even more dominance in search results. By honing in on PPC, you increase the odds of being found through searches – either for your brand name or relevant keywords. However, your competition may also be using this tactic, meaning several companies are competing for the same impressions, clicks, and search terms. If you take the opportunity to explore this venture, you need to ensure you have the expertise to create, implement and manage the campaign so that your budget is being used efficiently. Targeting the wrong keyword(s) without strategic knowledge in match types can lead to high impressions but low click-through rates if the keywords are too generic and the ad copy isn’t targeted enough. Ultimately, this error will eat up your budget without providing proper ROI.
Social media allows you to reach a broad audience to communicate and reinforce your messaging. But it doesn’t stop there; it also enables companies to share news stories, announcements, engage with prospects and customers, and drive users to the company website to generate impact. More so, tools like LinkedIn sponsored ads allow you to narrow down your pool of audience members to specific high-quality targets – whether by job title, company name and/or a particular industry.
An exceptional social media post is more than just words; it requires knowing what visuals will resonate with your key targets, understanding when it’s the right time to post, having a strong call to action and remaining consistent.
The Importance of Integration
Traditional PR is an essential element of the marketing toolkit and always will be due to the power of high-quality media coverage when it comes to brand-building and awareness. Digital marketing, on the other hand, allows companies to deliver the right messaging at the right time to the correct audience, and provides a valuable, measurable complement to traditional PR. Digital fuels traditional PR efforts, serving as the yin to the yang of traditional media relations. When done well, using digital as a supporting tactic to an overall strategy can help clients win big in awareness, prospect interest and lead generation, and overall, help increase ROI.
Learn more about our integrated marketing and communications services.