Digital transformation has shown us that continuing business as usual isn’t going to cut it anymore — and the same applies to marketing and public relations. Mobile technology, cloud computing and social media have dramatically transformed business models, consumer expectations, communication channels and, consequently, what it takes to be successful in PR and marketing today.
How has digital transformation reinvented PR and marketing strategy? What are the tactics necessary to ensure that the new realities of digital business align with a company’s communications?
Social, mobile and cloud
Social media has reinvented how companies can reach, connect and learn from customers and the general public. In fact, it is one of the best ways to help marketers share their content and drive web traffic today.
With a majority of users accessing social media from mobile apps and over half the visitors to most sites — 62 percent and growing — coming from mobile devices, organizations must optimize content flows easily between desktop and mobile devices to effectively engage audiences.
Optimization strategies include:
- Shorter content – Mobile devices have small screens, and users are often mobile themselves. Lengthy content and chunky paragraphs might turn them away.
- Readability and compatibility – Nearly any type of content you develop might be viewed on mobile. Creating a strong user experience requires making sure all content is mobile-ready — this includes adjusting pages to fit on smaller screens and font sizes large enough to be read on a small device. Along those lines, only images and videos compatible with mobile devices should appear on your site.
Cloud computing has leveled the playing field between small and large companies by providing affordable infrastructure options and new opportunities for business transformation. The technology enables companies of all sizes to integrate and analyze their data to make better decisions across each department, including marketing. Additionally, the cloud provides companies with greater accessibility to marketing software, helping them to streamline activities and access valuable insights.
Integrated efforts between PR, marketing and other groups
Just as digital transformation has broken down siloes between business and IT, the same holds true for PR and marketing. Communications professionals create and nurture relationships on behalf of their clients – that’s still true – but digital transformation enables them to go further than before. They can leverage huge data sets, as well as new technologies and media, to create new strategies for cross-channel engagement.
At the same time, business leaders are seeing what’s possible and asking for more complex marketing initiatives that require specialized expertise, including integrated social media, market research and customer referral programs.
By increasing the sharing of data and its analysis across PR, marketing and other relevant departments, campaigns can be more collaborative, drive better results and reduce duplicated effort. Brands will find success by integrating effort across PR and marketing to use earned, owned and paid media to drive greater business outcomes.
Data-driven – A shift away from vanity metrics to actionable metrics
Vanity metrics are those that look good on paper but don’t actually mean much for the business. This include number of subscribers, page views, social media followers and other analytics.
On the other hand, actionable metrics empower marketing pros to take actions that lead to business growth. They include click-through rate, sessions, pages per session, engagement, competitive share of voice and sentiment. These metrics enable you to link certain activities to conversions that it would not be possible with vanity metrics.
Multi-media – omni-channel content
As technology has proliferated, the number of channels for communication have expanded — there’s online and offline advertising, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media, content sites, influencer marketing, mobile app marketing and your own website. The traditional channels remain, too: PR, direct response, online and offline events, and much more.
In this new landscape, the buyer’s journey has become more intricate but also presents new opportunities to drive engagement and brand recall. Whereas a multichannel strategy relies on releasing content and examining consumer experience across multiple channels, omni-channel means extending those activities across all channels.
An omni-channel strategy involves understanding which types of content will resonate on which channels and with which audiences. So, one long-form content piece, like a white paper, can be re-imagined as infographics, articles, blog posts and social posts.
Search engine optimization (SEO) must be part of your strategy to lead customers to your business. Google Analytics continually changes its ranking algorithms as searchers’ online behavior changes, making SEO an always-evolving set of practices. That’s why you need to constantly review and optimize your content according to the latest best practices.
Back-links remain valuable, for instance, but the quality of the site linking to yours determines whether the link results in a boost in your site’s ranking. So, a few links from high-quality, high-traffic sites will help with your ranking much more than dozens of links from poor-quality sites.
An imperative focus on SEO also applies to the media, as well. Ad revenue for the media has moved to clicks and eyeballs, with greater dependence on Google search page rankings, meaning communications professionals can increase their success by presenting story angles that are in line with their SEO strategies. This includes evergreen stories with long-lasting relevance to an industry.
On target for transformation
Rather than rendering marketing and PR efforts irrelevant, the explosion of technologies and information-sharing platforms makes these services essential for organizations to create and disseminate consistent messages. Digital transformation has significantly changed how and when organizations engage their audiences, and PR and marketing strategies and tactics have stayed in steps with those changes. Use the strategies above to find, attract and retain the attention of your target audiences.
Cara Sloman, Nadelphan