4-layers-of-online-marketing

It’s easy to get stuck in the mental mud hole of names. For example, we market ourselves as Organic marketing and SEO copywriting, including SEO specialists. With that in mind, you might look at our blog categories and think, “Well, it makes sense that SEOs would share information about optimization. – But, what would they know about online brand marketing?”

We get stuck on names, don’t we? I’ve never been a fan of titles since they really mean zero when you run your own company. We could have called ourselves the Branding, Content Development, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Reputation Management Company, but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue. It has no flow. It’s hell to type… and can you image the business cards? Moving right along.

Well, today, we’re going to talk about how all this stuff ties together. After studying 4 years of communications and marketing I’m sure I can show what all these things have in common, and hopefully pass on some useful tips while we’re at it. Are you ready?

It’s All Marketing

Everything we talk about, including things like information architecture and site speed, has a part to play in marketing. Not only that, but your brand is the foundation – the starting point of it all.

The Base of the Marketing Pyramid – Your Brand

Think of it as a pyramid. Your brand is the base. It’s the base because, while all these things are what you do, your brand is what you are, in the business sense. It’s how your customers perceive your business. You can’t hire SEOs, copywriters, reputation managers, etc. and let them roam free without at least a little bit of guidance, because all these things affect your brand.

So the first layer of the marketing pyramid is your brand.

Second Layer of the Marketing Pyramid – Your Website

Your website is the second layer; a lot of things are involved in this:

Design
Structure
Content
SEO

All four can directly affect how your brand is perceived. They can directly influence the message your brand is sending out.

Alright, hold up. I was with you until the SEO. What does SEO have to do with branding?

Let’s look at all the places on page SEO touches your brand:

The Alt Attribute – To you, this may just be an SEO “trick” – a minor piece of code. For visitors with images turned off, however, this is an extra bit of information. How that information is shown -misspelled, repetitive, uninformative (for example) – can have a negative or positive impact on how people see your site, and thus, how they see your brand.

Page Titles and Descriptions – A real SEO, a hard core SEO, would know that page titles and descriptions have to be crafted. They aren’t written; they’re built. These two pieces have to:

  1. Carry enough relevance and key term weight to rank well
  2. Be written well enough to attract potential visitors’ eyes
  3. Entice the visitor to click through
  4. Carry through with the brand’s message

In short, you can’t have Key Term | Key Term | Key Term – Company Name. No matter how you write this formula, it all looks spammy. You need to incorporate other words, such as learn, read, find out – action words that cause them to act.

Anchor Text When you have several links on a page and they all say the same thing, this can have a negative impact on how your brand is perceived. Like titles and descriptions, anchor text has to be chosen for both optimization and visitor usefulness.

These are just a few of the places on page SEO touches your brand; an in depth SEO campaign has to be carefully configured to compliment the message your brand is trying to convey.

Third Layer of the Marketing Pyramid – Content Development and Off Page SEO

The third layer isn’t so much about your site as it is about your marketing, and it includes content development and off page SEO.

Now, off page SEO has a lot to do with link building – although LB isn’t the end-all-be-all of it. With link building and content development, you still have to take in brand consideration. It’s not how many places link to you, or how many sites accept your guest posts; it’s who.

As an extreme example, don’t you think you’d gain more authority and link juice from an article on Oprah Winfrey’s site. Compare that to the questionable returns from an article marketing directory like eHow or Associated Content. In other words, whether it’s building back links or creating content, it’s not so much quantity as it is quality.

A good SEO – a true optimization specialist – may use low quality links for a massive push, but the goal are the high-quality authoritative links. They’ll work with a strong content developer to create quality articles for a hand-picked set of guest posting sites, as well.

Ummm… How does this work with branding?

The more authority these articles and links give you, the more authoritative your brand is perceived – by visitors and search engines. A bunch of crap articles on crap sites with crap links… well, crap rubs off on brands just as it does on people.

Top Layer of the Marketing Pyramid – Social and Reputation Management

Reputation matters

If you aren’t involved in your social and reputation campaigns, shame on you. These two processes are almost synonymous, and can make or break a brand. This layer of the marketing pyramid is the absolutely public layer, where it all hangs out for the world to see.

Your social and reputation have to be managed with kid gloves. Your brand (not the SM firm or RM firm) will be interacting with the public.

Conclusion

At each point of the marketing pyramid, you should be there. This doesn’t mean watching every move; you have to trust your SEO providers, content developers, etc. to have your best interests in mind. However, you do need to check in.

It means asking, “Do you understand my brand’s message?” It means looking at the first few optimized pages and sending feedback, “Hey, I’d rather have that little arrow thing in the page title than the bar.” It means reading the articles provided by your content developer, because those articles will represent your brand. In short, it means being involved in your brand’s efforts – at least on the ground floor of each level.

If you have a small company, you’re probably doing most of this on your own. You can’t get more involved than that. So what it means for you is that, at each level, you have to check your campaigns and efforts to make sure you haven’t lost site of your brand’s message.

A company’s brand is one of the most important – if not the most – considerations, no matter what the campaign is. Once it’s tarnished, it’s really hard to get it to shine as brightly as it once did, with few exceptions. Treat yours with respect.

I’m sure some of you have ideas to share… is there something else you’d add to the marketing pyramid?