Lee Odden published a reader poll at TopRank asking you to help him identify the 3 digital marketing channels & tactics will you emphasize in 2009. At the time I took this screen shot with the top 30, 159 votes put Blogging at #1, search engine optimization (SEO) at #2, and Twitter at #3 over 45 items on the list.
It's finally hitting home that all that great work people do with blogs is also great for your SEO, especially when your blog is specialized and written by someone who is passionate about their subject matter and understands search.
The items in bold are my three votes. Respectively at #3, 13, and 30 on the list. There's a certain symmetry to the choices I made. I'm not surprised by the results so far. Why? Because the tactics floating to the top utilize the top two characteristics of the Web to the fullest - linking and search.
Search is probably the one thing that is becoming increasingly granular and interesting. As well, linking is becoming more valuable in the context of search and to stave off information overload. Many have already remarked about the value of Twitter as a human filter.
If I have a relationship of content trust with someone in my network, I will most likely follow a link they share. This is the peer to peer conversation the Forrester research about corporate blogs was talking about and it should make you think about priorities - trust first, links and any type of push/pull come later.
Onto my votes and why.
My #1 is #3 - Microblogging (Twitter)
As an individual, I don't have a huge following on Twitter and tend to follow those people who engage in conversation with me. The tool can look confusing to people who do not spend enough time on it - listening (reading) to the conversations, watching trends, learning how people use it in different ways.
Last week I wrote about what Twitter is and how you could consider integrating it in your digital mix. There are a few other choice posts on Twitter linked there as well, if you want to dig a bit deeper.
Mixed tweets will provide better results. Contrary to what used to happen with much of traditional marketing, digital media is about mixing many different things, testing, adapting, and going with the flow within a context. Please don't do more of what doesn't work.
In Twitter's case, a mix of types of messages works much better than just one type. It's a social network, after all. For examples, look at the streams by Hoovers (Tim Walk is the author) for business, John Byrne (editor-in-chief, Business Week) for media, and that of the MIMA Summit (I spoke there last October) for events.
I'm planning to start integrating it for events. Making connections between participants, learning about what's new in the program, being able to follow an event you cannot attend - the content, images, streaming video links, etc. - are all ideas for using a microblogging tool at events.
Public relations or marketing? What do you think? Both?
My #2 is #13 - Corporate Web Site
Despite the fact that most company sites are done at a huge time cost - everyone needs to be in the loop, wants their page in the site, etc. are common items for discussion, especially in B2B - they are still the first place someone would look/search for specific information. Better yet if the company has name recognition before the search even begins.
SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) can be put to work to help out as well. Plus, I truly believe that the web presence of the future will be layered horizontally in thirds with each being editorial impact, community building, and marketing or commerce. There are ways to make your Web site sticky.
The action is where the interaction is and today, thanks to broadband and newer content management tools, it's possible to make a site lighter, more efficient, and more interesting. Videos, podcasts, eBooks and many other interactive elements can really help you design a user experience that takes into account different learning styles.
Content needs a different treatment on Web sites to make a difference in your customers' viewing habits and needs. There's room for awareness, discovery, and validation on a corporate site.
Is this the next generation portal? Skinny and deep? Wide and thin? What do you think?
My #3 is #30 - Contextual Advertising
I talk about marketing by context building a lot. Contextual advertising is targeted to the specific individual visiting a website (or page within a Web site). A contextual advertising system scans the text of a website for keywords and returns advertisements to the Web page based on what the user is viewing.
One example of contextual advertising is Google AdSense program. What's interesting about contextual advertising is that instead of having media planners make the choices, computers make the placements across thousands of Web sites.
You may have noticed that Google shifted your RSS from FeedBurner recently (make sure you move your feed by February 28). That happened also to help stimulate the utilization of AdSense. I don't use AdSense with this blog - this is to give back to the business community, you. However, there are blogs and sites that make good use of it.
Do you use AdSense? Is it working for you?
Those are my main three selections for 2009. There's still plenty of room to vote. Lee says they usually get 400 or so votes. As you do that, I wanted to leave you with a parting thought on paid and earned media. Integrated to me means they work together - and they do in this case as well.
In the post, David Armano writes: "Earning digital media doesn't mean it's free. It's not. It's just that instead of paying directly for a placement or making arrangements with a partner—you are paying for the time and resources of people who will investigate what's being said about your brand and engage on your behalf."
There is a cost associated with both - it's up to you to decide which one scales better for your customers and your business. We will talk about blurring the lines and integrating your digital media next week. Make sure you include your questions in the comments, there is a lot of ground to cover.
What digital media are you using? How are you measuring your results? What are you planning to integrate? What will you disconnect?
UPDATE: You might be interested in learning that at 532 votes (March 2, 2009), my picks are about at the same number on the final list. Twitter shifted to #2, switching places with SEO, and Contextual Advertising to #29.