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There is a lot of complex concepts in digital marketing, at least there’s a lot of ways complexity can move in. As a business owner or marketing manager it can be difficult to know when that complexity is necessary and when it’s not really helping your goals. The job of the marketing agency should be the same as the design agency, to make life simple for you. Simple digital marketing is achievable if everyone has the right goals in mind.

Design isn’t art it’s communication. Simple digital marketing is communication as well. Simple design is hard, so too is simple digital marketing. So let’s break down the places where complexity can come in and how we can simplify them.

Simple SEO

Search Engine Optimization, it’s the blanketed term that so many companies use when trying to describe digital marketing. SEO isn’t digital marketing, however it’s a part of digital marketing that should be considered. Many SEO’s look at complex data sets and analytics to create measurable results. But simple SEO is looking for one thing: did the activities that that were done help reach the goals set out by the client?

If your goal is increased sales leads, did the metrics of time on page and increased traffic achieve those goals? If they didn’t then what are the point of those metrics? Are you given options on what could be done on the website to help in conversions? Like I said SEO is only part of the holistic simple digital marketing strategy. If there’s no opinions given on how to convert, then an SEO manager isn’t looking for the simple answer.

There are a lot of SEO activities that can help in traffic increases. While Google doesn’t give us access to what those exactly are, they give us some indication to what they do like. They like clean code, mobile websites, good content, and natural backlinks. Those are the simplest things that we can do as SEO managers to help our clients achieve their search engine rankings.

Natural backlinks aren’t always easy. They require a lot of communication between the SEO manager and the companies they’re trying to get a link from. It requires communicating with their clients about what groups or memberships they have. It requires clients to educate them on the partnerships they’ve made over the years. These are simple ways to create natural backlinks and help with organic rankings. Harder, more time consuming? Yes. But more effective and simple.

Simple Email Marketing

Simple email marketing is hard, damn hard. Sending appropriate content to the appropriate viewer at the right time takes a lot of work. But it has to be simple. The easy way is to create a huge list and blast out a lot of different messages. Casting a wide net means a complex and difficult to quantify email marketing campaign.

Disruptive marketing like this is not only bad communication it’s bad for your brand. It will cause people to unsubscribe to your emails, or worse mark it as SPAM.

Building segmented lists based on interests that a person has shown should be the primary focus of any email marketing campaign. One list with a thousand people will always be less effective than ten lists of one hundred that are broken down by category. It’s harder, more time consuming, but in the end is simpler.

Simple Social Media

There are so many social media platforms out there. Sometimes I swear a good portion of a social media expert’s job is keeping track of them. Even if you don’t use 99% of them as a business how do you get your brand in front of people and get them to engage? The answer continues to be, simplicity.

The first step you can take in simplifying your social media is creating brand cohesion. Make sure what you look like on Twitter is the same for other social media outlets. This is also the easiest part.

The next part is very similar to email marketing. Divide your content based on the audience. What is shareable on LinkedIn is not the same as what is shareable on Facebook. If you don’t have a portion of your company that is B2B, why not skip LinkedIn altogether?

Finally, and the hardest part, instead of buying likes and shares, having employees engage will go just as far to spread your word as $10 a post. This part is the hardest because employees are busy and they’re using social media for their own purposes. But if you create content that they actually would engage with, chances are so would the people they know outside of work. Put those two things together and that is the hardest part of simple social media.

Simple Content

Which would you rather read, a technical manual about a product or what you can do with that product? If you answered a technical manual that’s totally fine, but your simple is not most people’s simple and you are your own target audience.

Most people want to know what they can do with a product and how a service will make their life better. Simple content marketing should do just that. It should evoke emotion about what your company does by answering the WHY question. Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “Start With Why” is a good starting block for your content strategy.

In each are of the sales and marketing funnel there’s always the question, “why should I work with you?” If you can’t answer why, then it’s time to start simplifying your message and perhaps the reason you’re in business. As with everything else, it’s hard. This may be the hardest part of simple digital marketing. It’s the building block for everything else.

Content is at the core of your SEO, email marketing, and social media. If your content strategy is complex, then everything that it’s built on will be as well. Because content is communication in its most basic form. Communicate simply and effectively, answer the question of why, and the rest falls into place.

Communication is an Art

The title “The Art of Simple Digital Marketing” quickly followed by design and marketing aren’t art, was done with a certain amount of irony. It’s not art in the sense of creativity and a free flow of ideas. It is an art in that it must be practiced, refined, and honed to the point where it comes naturally. Simple isn’t natural way to produce something. Simple is a natural way to consume something. To have simple digital marketing requires the empathy to produce work for your consumer.

Simple is work, simple is hard, and simple is what everyone expects today. Pick up any electronic device or open any software and you just expect it to work intuitively.

Companies and managers, agencies and clients can’t afford not to be simple.

Agencies can’t afford to be complex in the way they present their reports and show their work. Because some other agency will do it better and win for their client and not you.

Companies can’t afford complexity on a website or in their messaging. There’s too much competition and the world is moving too fast for it. We expect everything to work like our iPads now. And if you’re not thinking simply, then the next company to succeed will.

Published 11/01/16 by Eric Lynch