The Digital Marketing List: 56 Things You Should Be Doing But Probably Aren’t
Ian Lurie Dec 19 2017
My list of digital marketing tactics. I wrote it in March 2008 and last updated it December 2017. This is a really old post. I wrote it jammed into a narrow seat on a plane in 2008. I’m trying to keep it somewhat up to date, but I can only do so much, so it’s now down to 56. I did laugh when I saw the mentions of MySpace and Yahoo! Answers.
Digital marketing is about lots of little things, not one big one. This list is half-list, half-procedure. If you go down these items in order it might give you a decent internet marketing plan for the next few months. If you have others, post ’em as comments:
- If you have one of those nifty rotating preload things on your site, delete it. If you don’t agree, try this: Shove your head into a bucket of water. Stay in there, not breathing, for 5 seconds longer than is comfortable. That’s what you’re doing to your customers. Delete it, please.
- If that’s impossible, make sure it shows for no more than 1-2 seconds.
- Check the load speed of every page on your site. If any load in more than 3 seconds, fix it (1 second is far better). If your developer says they can’t, and they can’t point to another problem, fire them.
- Check your site for broken links. You can use a tool like Screaming Frog. Fix those links. Do not pass this step until you’re done. If it takes your developer more than a week to do this step, again with the firing thing.
- Make sure you have a user-friendly 404 error page, not the generically nasty PAGE NOT FOUND message.
- Make sure you have a user-friendly 500 error page, too. A 500 error happens when some bit of database code you wrote late at night decides it’s had enough with this world, and takes your web site with it. That usually leads to something terribly informative like “500 Error Connection Timed Out”. Maybe you can do something better?
- Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. You’ll see your site from the search engine’s viewpoint, what folks use to find you, and whether there are any problems that might be hurting you in the search engines.
- Set up an XML sitemap, too. Check out Sitemaps.org for an overview.
- If you’re running an e-commerce site, hire a really good writer to rewrite all your product descriptions. Those descriptions matter more than you think.
- Get analytics set up on your site. You can’t do internet marketing without it. Actually, you can, but you’ll suck at it. I recommend Google Analytics. Also, understand that “set up” means conversion tracking, attribution modeling, onsite search tracking, etc. If your developer says they can’t install anything, well, you know…
- Review the onsite search tracking data you are now collecting. Make sure you provide clear answers to the top searches/questions on your home page. It’s an instant win.
- Put your full address and phone number on each page. Use Schema markup to indicate this is your organization’s contact data.
- Use one of many nifty keyword discovery tools to find the top keywords that folks use to find your products or services.
- Now find the top ranking sites for those phrases.
- Who links to them? Use Majestic or Moz’s Open Site Explorer to find links they have but you don’t. Now go out and get those links!
- If five years ago some SEO hack advised you to put “SEO links” at the bottom of your pages, delete them. They’re not helping you, and they may be hurting you.
- If five years ago that same SEO hack advised you to write title tags that read like this – “Wedding stuff and wedding things and weddings stuffs and weddings things with more wedding items and this is your place for weddings” – delete those too and write something that doesn’t sound like Elmer Fudd suffering a mental breakdown.
- Delete the keywords tag.
- Stop using nofollow in an attempt to “sculpt pagerank.” It never worked. It sure as hell doesn’t work now.
- Write a high-quality meta description tag for each page of your site. That may not affect ranking but it’ll get more folks to click on your search listing.
- Make sure your site uses correct structured markup. Your developer had better understand what that means. Don’t make me come over there…
- Get your site totally standards compliant according to the W3C code validator. Well, maybe not totally, but as close as you can.
- At the same time, make sure your site isn’t hideously ugly.
- Run Google’s mobile friendly test
on your site. Do what it recommends.
- Learn to use Feedly. Subscribe to the top internet marketing blogs. Read them a lot.
For a hint you can look at the AdAge 150 list.
- Go to Google News search. Search for your own brand name. Then subscribe to that search result in Feedly (you’ll find a little RSS link on the search results page). That gives you a quick look at what folks are saying about your company.
- Do the same thing for your own name.
- Go to local directories like Yelp! and make sure you’re listed, with correct information.
- Be sure your company information is up to date in Google and Bing’s local listings tools, too.
- If you’re a local business, ask your customers to review you on one of the local sites: Either on the search engines or on the other sites. This will boost your ranking in local search results. And don’t worry if you get a few negative reviews, either.
- Start doing Google My Business Posts! They’re almost certainly a local search ranking factor.
- Invite people to subscribe to your house e-mail list. If you don’t have one, start one. This continues to be one of the most neglected facets of internet marketing.
- Make sure there’s an easy way for folks to sign up for that list.
- Remove any extra fields from your subscription form. All you need is their e-mail address.
- If you require registration during checkout, get rid of it.
- If you’re automatically opting folks in to your e-mail list, stop.
- When you receive customer requests via e-mail, answer them. Fast.
- Remember that house e-mail list I got you to start building? Start sending out a quality offer to that list, once a month. See how it works. Keep testing different types of subject lines, creative, offers and such. Always strive to beat your last best performance.
- Now you’re ready for some real online marketing (yes, all this was a warm up). Create a landing page for the best offer you’ve got. Follow best practices.
- Create 2-3 headlines for that page.
- Write a few different versions of body text for the landing page.
- And finally use a couple of different images.
- Use that email list to do lookalike audiences on Adwords, Facebook, and other networks that allow it.
- Then use a multivariate testing tool like Optimizely or Unbounce to test all those headlines, copy versions and images and find the best ‘recipe’.
- Create 2-3 pay-per-click ads on Google Adwords and/or Bing. Point those ads at the landing page. Be sure to use whatever tagging mechanism your analytics software requires, so you’ll know which ad generates which clicks.
- Now start that test!
- Pick the 3 things you learned from that test, and apply them to the rest of your site. Did one call to action work best? Create a button to put everywhere on the site. One type of photography? Use that, too. You get the idea.
- Did conversion rates go up? Cool! Now make sure you’re earning a good return on those PPC ads. Increase your spend and broaden your campaign, always watching out for ROI.
- Now you can create landing pages for all those house e-mails you’re sending out. Since you already know which subjects work best, and which kinds of offers, you can start with a good foundation and find the best possible landing page.
- Grab your smartphone. Put it on a tripod. Film yourself talking about one of your products, or explaining how to use one of them. Post it on YouTube and then embed it on your site. No, you’re not Scorcese. But it’s more exposure for you, in another venue.
- Do the same thing on Facebook.
- Learn a web typography.
- Learn psychographic targeting on Facebook and Twitter.
- Take all the cool stuff you’ve learned by testing offers, and newsletters, and keywords, and ads, and landing pages, and revamp your site. Then announce your new, improved site to all your customers, and subscribers, and
MySpace friends, etc..
- Whew! You’re done. Congrats! Now, go back to step 1, and repeat the process. Because let’s face it: Digital marketing is never “done.”
I wrote a book about Technical SEO. More recently than 2008. Have a look.
CEO & Founder
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More