March 1, 2021 8 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
When it comes to marketing, far too many entrepreneurs have settled in a comfortable situation of doing the same thing and getting increasingly declining returns. This leads to less engagement and declining revenue. Often times, this happens slowly over time, until it reaches a crisis point where they finally realize they need to take massive action to get back on track.
Marketing is a constantly and rapidly evolving field. As entrepreneurs, we have to keep pace to stay competitive and profitable.
We have to adapt if we are to not only survive but also thrive.
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The decentralization of Facebook creates uncertainty
Facebook was once a dream come true for marketers, but if you ask the same people today, you get a very different answer.
Shortly after Facebook launched Pages for Brands, marketers jumped on board and learned they could quickly build an audience of highly engaged fans who would see almost everything they posted. It wasn’t long before the social media juggernaut started shrinking organic reach.
Nowadays, marketers are fortunate enough to have 1% of their target audience ever seeing their posts, forcing them to rely on paid ads to reach the audience they already deserve.
However, Facebook’s problems don’t end with the death of organic reach. Even their advertising platform is increasingly plagued by problems. The company has decided to replace most of its customer service reps with artificial intelligence, but the AI isn’t quite ready for that just yet.
In this case there is no one to speak to and usually no way to appeal the decision. This has resulted in many marketers – even some who were once the loudest supporters of Facebook – completely changing their minds about a viable marketing platform.
When you factor all of this in, along with Apple’s not-so-quiet war on Facebook, Clubhouse’s rocket-like growth path, and recent Justice Department lawsuits, it’s easy to see why Facebook’s once-dominant position is rapidly slipping away. It’s just no longer the utopia it once was.
From a practical point of view, we should never have relied so heavily on Facebook. Or any single channel. As someone with deep roots in the search industry, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation caused by being over-reliant on a single channel every time Google released a major update to its algorithm. We’ll discuss this in more detail shortly, however.
Customer data and relationships are critical
The arbitrary bans on pages, groups, and ad accounts on Facebook made it clear to marketers, and this is this: It’s stupid not to have your customer information. This is important because it is how you maintain those relationships no matter what else is happening to a particular channel. This has underscored the importance of email marketing as not only can you literally communicate with your customers at any time, but you can also export your data and transfer it to another platform.
Email marketing creates a different relationship with your customers than ads, because if done right, it can help build a more personal relationship. The key here is that at least some of the emails are from someone (or people) in your company, not just the company name. It is also important that these emails are written in a natural and engaging style.
Podcasts have continued to grow rapidly for the same reason. Steve Olsher, founder of Podcast Magazine, stated, “As recently as 2006, only 22% of Americans had heard of podcasting. Today that number has risen to 75%, and based on the latest developments in the industry, data shows that the number of podcast listeners will reach 160 million people by 2023. Despite the growing number of podcasters, I still see tremendous opportunities for marketers to use podcasts to grow their business. “
There is something unique about the human voice that creates a much stronger connection when we hear someone speak than when we just read their words. Podcasting giants like Joe Rogan, Pat Flynn and Tim Ferris have built empires around this concept, but hundreds of thousands of other people have used podcasts to grow their businesses as well.
On top of that, most podcasts are scriptless, so you can get the true, authentic self of the host and guest and easily see how podcasts help build strong relationships with your audience.
But Clubhouse has taken this concept to a new level. The app emerged at the height of the pandemic, when people everywhere were demanding human connection, and has seen massive and steady growth since its inception. This drop-in audio social media platform gives users the ability to have real-time group conversations on a variety of topics, quickly building close relationships with industry colleagues, media contacts, partners, and most importantly, customers.
But the point is not that we have to use podcasts and clubhouse when we do. The point is that regardless of the channel, we need to focus on building and maintaining authentic relationships with our audiences, both because people expect it and because these platforms allow it.
Diversification of marketing is no longer optional
In 2012, I watched Google release their penguin update regardless of collateral damage, wiping out hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the process. While some marketers had admittedly used questionable link building tactics, very many were simply picked up as false positives in an overzealous attempt to combat what the search giant viewed as unacceptable marketing practices.
As a result, these companies were instantly made invisible because users couldn’t find them on Google, which at the time controlled a massive 66.2% share of the U.S. search market. To put this in perspective, I don’t mean that they simply lost their ranking for certain keywords. I mean they were completely removed from the google index so you couldn’t find them even if you searched for the company name!
Countless companies had to scrap their domains and start over, lost years of hard work and marketing dollars, and countless more companies were completely put out of business as a result of Google’s actions. And we’ve already talked about how Facebook has been playing the same kind of games with companies over the past few years. However, this problem is bigger than with Facebook or Google.
Many companies have struggled to escape a bleak and desperate situation when their primary, or in some cases just marketing, channel was suddenly ripped out from among them, forcing them to start all over again.
I don’t want you to misinterpret my intention here. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be using Facebook or Google. Both of these, if used properly, can still play an important role in your marketing. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t be overly reliant on a single channel.
Ideally, you should be sharing a number of marketing channels to maintain a greater presence and, more importantly, protect you from the damage that can be caused if a platform goes down or goes down.
These channels can include:
The key is to use at least three channels to not only increase your company’s awareness, branding, and sales, but also to use those channels to create force multipliers. Once you’ve built a solid position, start implementing additional channels.
In other words, let’s say you decide to implement organic search, paid social media, and email marketing. You can encourage your website visitors to subscribe to your email list, run paid ads on Facebook to drive traffic to your website, and use your email marketing to increase engagement on your social channels promote and search for your business on Google.
These actions together will help grow your email list while at the same time increased social media engagement increases social proof and organic reach, and increased branding improves your overall organic search ranking.
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By diversifying your marketing in this way, you reduce or eliminate the impact you might feel with major changes in a channel, but you also make your marketing exponentially more effective. This creates a powerful snowball effect where the results become progressively compounded over time. And the results are the bottom line, after all.