I recently ended my time working as a social media marketing manager for a Nottingham based estate agent. To facilitate the handover I had a number of meetings with my successor and they got me thinking – what’s the best way to get started with digital marketing? My colleague was a beginner in the field, which meant I needed explain the essential components of a successful campaign without overloading her with jargon. This started with the perhaps obvious question of “why bother?” Why should an already successful business spend hours every week creating content and targeting potential customers with ads when this process is both expensive and time consuming? In practice these aren’t hard questions to answer. A well managed campaign tweaked to perform better using analytics should lead to a comfortable return on investment. Customers are guided through a metaphorical conversion funnel and you achieved your desired result, be it a purchase, someone signing up to your mailing list, or in this case renting a property. However, I wasn’t going to be able to convey all the practical nuances involved in a few meetings and therefore recommended what I think is the best introduction to all things digital – Google’s Digital Garage.
The award-winning site offers a host of free educational videos divided into a number of sections. These cover everything from SEO to remarketing, and most importantly are approachable for those just starting out. They work through the topics in question slowly and use a number of real world testimonials to illustrate the ways in which each area benefits real people. You get to hear how a woman running a cake business benefited from a mother’s day competition that was promoted across social media and the ways a speech writer gets his website to show up on relevant browser searches across the globe. It also offers impressive flexibility. You can pick and choose individual lessons, all the while earning badges towards an accredited certification. Not every section is relevant to every business: a local estate agent doesn’t need to dwell on the “take a business global” topic, whilst this would be essential for an online retailer looking to widen their customer base. On the other hand, if you’re looking to get yourself certified but are already a dab-hand in a certain area you can immediately skip ahead to the topic assessment, just be sure to get the questions right!
ROI isn’t everything and the importance of communicating a coherent, trustworthy brand across digital platforms does also come across in a number of these topics. The problem is that the sheer variety of businesses that stand to benefit from digital marketing makes it difficult to teach these principles effectively. As a result they often fall by the wayside in favour of Google’s tool driven ‘Garage’ shtick. For example, Digital Garage shows how social media can be used to nurture a relationship with your customers, but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head when it comes to the values that should be underpinning this process. This isn’t a shortcoming as such – Google set out their goals when it came to the Digital Garage and achieved them. By their own admission the suite of videos are best used in conjunction with a good think about what your business stands for and what you want to achieve.