Seven Digital Rules to Live by in 2013

By Brian Chee

Auto deal­ers hear a lot of noise out there.

And some­times that makes it hard to focus on what real­ly mat­ters. Whether it’s Apple flex­ing liti­gious mus­cles and debut­ing a newish iPhone, or the groan­ing moans of Facebook’s stock price, the dig­i­tal space is unlike any oth­er when it comes to the sheer vol­ume of news, rumor and con­jec­ture.

It was espe­cial­ly that way in 2012. Call it the Year of Tran­si­tion — from what we think worked to what real­ly did work, and how. As for next year, call it the Year of Inte­gra­tion — when “dig­i­tal” stops being what those peo­ple do in the cor­ner of the build­ing and becomes a ful­ly inte­grat­ed part of busi­ness mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, dri­ven by and account­able to clear busi­ness met­rics. From sell­ing to social­iz­ing, we now con­nect via dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy, and our work lives should be the same.

With that in mind, here are sev­en basic rules to remem­ber as 2013 nears:  

1. Com­mit Dol­lars to Con­tent Mar­ket­ing
Make sure you’re one of the crazy deal­er­ships that invests, because dig­i­tal is all about the stuff peo­ple watch, read and share. And here’s the thing: Hire a writer or a small local com­pa­ny, and gen­er­ate orig­i­nal con­tent to go along with the valu­able stuff you’re curat­ing. Don’t get sold dupli­cate con­tent.

2. Stink, Stank, Stunk: Make qual­i­ty the foun­da­tion of your dig­i­tal exe­cu­tion
Peo­ple make mis­takes all the time. The trick is to put in place a process for qual­i­ty con­trol that catch­es mis­takes and opti­mizes com­mu­ni­ca­tion — whether email, ad, social con­tent, video or blog. Make sure there’s a human check in place. Be sure the mes­sag­ing is on tar­get. Hold your ven­dors account­able for the way they rep­re­sent your brand. Yes, the speed of dig­i­tal is fast and furi­ous — but that will nev­er excuse slop­py work. Take the extra step to make sure every piece of dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion is on brand, error-free and aligns with adver­tis­ing rules as much as pos­si­ble.

3. Mea­sure twice, cut once
Estab­lish­ing clear objec­tives gives your team the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work for­ward in a sus­tained and method­i­cal way. Using met­rics to estab­lish and track those objec­tives puts sci­ence to your sys­tems and cre­ates an envi­ron­ment of per­pet­u­al opti­miza­tion. And that’s what dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is all about: set­ting sights, estab­lish­ing a rou­tine and relent­less­ly opti­miz­ing.

4. Will they talk to me, and what are they say­ing behind my back?
The two pil­lars of social media are engage­ment and rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment. Mea­sure your effec­tive­ness by progress made on these two met­rics: how often do you tru­ly engage with fans, and how effec­tive are you at solv­ing prob­lems and boost­ing rat­ings?

5. Diver­si­fy your traf­fic sources
Frankly, too much search means too much reliance on the whims of Matt Cutts and the Google Brain Trust — which can be haz­ardous to your busi­ness. Here’s an idea of what your traf­fic sources should look like, in order of vol­ume: Search, Direct, Feed, Social, PPC

6. Lunch and learn about dig­i­tal 
Dig­i­tal is more than a mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions tac­tic. It’s a shift in the way our cul­ture com­mu­ni­cates. So make learn­ing about dig­i­tal trends and inno­va­tion a part of your total organization’s mis­sion.

7. Design for mobile, write for social
By design­ing for mobile you cre­ate pri­or­i­ties that are tight­ly aligned with your dig­i­tal objec­tives, things like leads and phone calls. It forces your team to make tough deci­sions about what real­ly needs to be on your site, and where.

Click here to read the entire arti­cle by Bri­an Chee, edi­tor at DrivingSales.com.  Reach out to Bri­an via his blog.

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