Welcome to Craig Johnson’s Blog

I am a digital marketing consultant with 16 years experience. I have been at the heart of the the digital revolution since 1995. I have worked with hundreds of clients on digital projects. I have in depth experience of all aspects of digital marketing including:

  • website design
  • website development
  • mobile marketing
  • search engine optimisation
  • pay per click advertising
  • web analytics
  • social media
  • e-mail marketing

Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy

The old adage says that “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail” yet 90% of businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place. Few organisations have this 18 month road map and without a solid digital plan opportunities are missed. The need for this strategic approach grows every day as digital disciplines like SEO, social media, paid-search, content marketing and analytics become more intertwined.

Digital Marketing Strategy15 years ago it was common for an organisations website and email marketing to be controlled by a few enthusiasts who decided development in a piecemeal way with little regard for planning.

5 years ago it was normal for clients to use different agencies in isolation, each conducting different tasks that did not overlap. Results were reported separately by agency partners who did not tread on each other’s turf. This cosy approach suited specialist agencies and did not require cohesive planning.

Digital marketing is now at the core of communications for many firms and is often crucial to the business performance so this slap dash attitude needs to be replaced with the rigger, rigidity and robustness associated with planning finance, HR or traditional marketing.

Here are 11 reasons why every organisation should have a rolling 18 month digital marketing strategy:

1. Your strategy should mirror your business plan and marketing plan

All businesses should have a business plan summarising activity over the next 12 months. It galvanises an organisation around a series of activities and co-ordinates the organisation around common goals. Likewise a marketing plan will outline campaigns and investments required for the year ahead. Given this organisation in other areas it would be strange to leave digital marketing strategy without this concise view on the months ahead.

2. Goals for need to be joined up

Conversions, sign ups and enquiries generated through digital marketing tend to be the result of many strands, tactics, campaigns and often agencies working together. One simple transaction may be the result of several visits triggered by different activities like organic search, social media referral, email marketing or paid for advertising activity. To ensure that attribution is accurate and that all activities work to common goals it is essential that the goals are identified and agreed across tactics and often agency relationships.

2. Reporting needs to be coordinated across devices, channels, marketing disciplines and agencies

Measuring goal performance requires considered setup of reporting, campaign tracking and other tools to provide an accurate view of the contribution of different elements.
Likewise, if you monitor your competitors then it makes sense to monitor the entire SEO, paid search, social media, email marketing, content marketing, website changes and other emerging strands of activity within a central dashboard.

3. A great strategy requires on going funding so you need to budget for it

Successful digital marketing isn’t free. Successful digital marketing requires ongoing investment in a range of different area including:
• Website development
• Visual asset design
• Content production
• Reporting and tools
• Media, advertising and sponsorship
• Software licensing
• App design and development
If you want your finance director to support these initiatives and you need to justify the return n investment to your organisation then it is essential to wrap these investments in to a business plan. This business plan is the basis of an 18 month strategy.

4. Outreach needs to be joined up

SEO, social media and content marketing may all require a degree of outreach as organisations make relationships to amplify the results of great work. Traditionally this may have been done separately to different organisations be different agencies working to achieve different goals.
A contemporary approach requires more holistic thinking. A single influencer or thought leader may have a blog, social media following and email audience who can assist multiple strands

5. Content marketing, email newsletters, SEO and social media need to share the same message and require careful timing

Sending out messages across different channels that complement each other with perfect timing can create an ‘Always On’ presence for a brand across all of the channels used by a target audience. Get this timing wrong and valuable opportunities are missed, messaging can appear disjointed and elements of your audience will see conflicting promotions.

6. Delivery timescales vary across digital disciplines

When planning a new digital marketing strategy it is essential to realise that different elements will have different delivery timescales. A new app, for example, is likely to take months in planning, design, development and testing. Likewise a promotional video for YouTube will take months of meticulous planning and post production before it is ready for broadcast. In contrast ideas generation, drafting press releases and arranging photography and writing content marketing material have shorter timescales. To maximise effectiveness these elements should be planned well in advance.

7. Training, staff development and recruitment need to be planned in advance

The speed of digital innovation is so rapid that all organisations should have an eye on training and staff development. As the impact of digital on every business grows it is essential to plan for expansion and recruitment of new members of staff to meet the needs of the business plan. Recruiting, training and developing staff takes time and this needs to be done in advance of executing digital marketing strategy.

In summary – why you need a digital marketing strategy

Digital marketing, social media and website development are now at the core of marketing activity for many organisations. Traditional marketing investments like TV, press, direct mail and radio merely amplify the digital marketing effort. The website is now at the centre of this activity as opposed to being a mere bolt on.

This requires the alignment of goals, investment, reporting, staff development, content planning and cross departmental cooperation. This is why you need a strategy for your business.

If you need help with digital marketing strategy or want to find out how we have helped other organisations to make an investment case for long term innovation and see the rewards this has generated for my clients please contact me.

Your first steps in planning a digital marketing strategy

The first stage in planning this road map is to conduct a thorough audit of existing activity. A digital marketing strategy audit includes a number of elements including:

• Market research
• SEO
• PPC
• Social Media
• Content Planning
• Content Marketing
• The authority of your digital presence
• Google Analytics
• Google Webmaster Tools
• Seeding and opportunities for links and citations from elsewhere
• Development insights
• Page speed analysis
• Usability analysis
• Other insights

I also compare many of these metrics against 3 similar businesses to benchmark your relative performance and can conduct some of the research in multiple territories. If you would like to know more please get in touch.

Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester

Since 2001 I have been a Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester based. I advise agencies and clients on how best to get the best possible returns from digital and social marketing.

Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester

I work as an extension of client or agency teams to improve the effectiveness of websites, email marketing, SEO, social media and online advertising activity. I have worked with many organisations as a Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester based on a variety of projects including:

  • Digital ‘MOT’ testing and evaluation of your current digital activity compared to competitors
  • Digital and social media strategy to provide a framework for activity for the next 2 years
  • Information architecture and website planning to establish requirements and ensure targets are achieved
  • Website design and usability analysis to provide the best possible service to customers
  • Website development and technology selection to achieve objectives within your budget
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) through Google and other search engines to grow audiences
  • Social Media marketing and publishing via social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube that will engage your customers
  • Online PR and seeding of activity through third party sites to increase brand exposure
  • Outreach to blogs, forums, websites and other channels to gain inbound links that aid SEO and social media activity

Why You Need a Manchester based Digital Marketing Consultant

For smaller agencies I often fill the role of ‘Head of Digital’ on a temporary or part-time basis to complement the existing teams. My skills and experience often complement existing staff. I can assist with business development, processes and staff training and development. I have worked with a number of large agencies including JWT, Rippleffect and CheethamBellJWT plus smaller independent regional agencies like Monitor Creative and Photolink Creative Group.

I often take part in meetings with clients working as part of the agency team to provide a strategic voice on activity.

Digital Marketing Consultant For Manchester Based Clients

Many clients success in digital and social marketing is dependent upon the performance of their digital agency. I can provide my skills and experience to work with clients to evaluate the performance of their current agency and strategy. I also help to produce short-list of potential partners and work with clients to select new digital marketing agency partners.

I have had the pleasure have working alongside hundreds of organisations, in different sectors, to produce digital marketing strategies. These include international clients such as Arsenal FC and Celtic FC and regional smaller firms such as John Norris of Penrith and Brill Energy.

Digital Marketing Strategy Training

I am an established trainer and coach in digital marketing and often work with in-house teams to improve knowledge, performance and results. This can improve skills and reduce dependency on external agency partners, save money and help clients make informed decisions.

I have conducted general training on topics such as search marketing and affiliate advertising for the Institute of Direct Marketing. I have ran workshop interactive digital sessions sessions for organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I regularly lecture to postgraduate Msc and MBA students on all aspects of digital marketing, search marketing and social media marketing as part of structured learning through the Manchester Metropolitan University.

Do You Need A Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester?

If you need a Digital Marketing Consultant Manchester based please give me a call or get in touch for a jargon free, straight talking, no obligation chat.

How to get a career in digital

Moving from traditional media in to digital is the best career decision I have ever made. In 1996, when I made the leap, digital was called the ‘Information Super Highway’ by politicians and many of my colleagues regarded this to be a foolish step in to the unknown.
Contrary to what may believe, making the leap requires no technical knowledge just a bag full of enthusiasm, a logical mind and a desire to learn today something that contradicts what you learned yesterday.

Read moreHow to get a career in digital

Acer Aspire ICONIA A500 Tablet Reviews

The Acer Aspire ICONIA A500 Tablet is great value and is more than a match for the original iPad. If you are looking for a great Android tablet at a great price this is the one to go for.

After using an Apple iPad for over a year, and in the process becoming the number one advocate for tablets, I was keen to compare the experience with an Android Tablet. Great though the Apple product is I found the lack of FLASH frustrating and the need to pay for mediocre Apps upsetting.

I needed a low cost Android Tablet with 32Gb of hard disk space and child friendly construction to deal with everything a three year old can do it. After much shopping around I decided on the Acer Aspire ICONIA A500 Tablet.

The Future for Creativity In Digital Is Bright

I had a great day at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School this week. After reading the article in NMA by Michael Nutley about how Creativity in digital goes way beyond advertising I was keen to learn how the next crop of leaders in the digital sector may take on the challenge.

My brief was to give the students an insight in to how a digital agency approaches a pitch and enable the team to gain some experience pitching an idea to a prospective client. I worked with the students studying a range of MSc and MBA courses.The scenario we worked on involved a small independent high street cycle shop with a modest online presence. The outcome is essential reading for any small retailer wishing to get the best out of online trading or any prospective digital employer looking to recruit exceptional talent to lead their online strategy.

The students divided in to teams of four. Each team assumed the role of a digital agency.

All of the teams were given the same brief and were asked to present their recommendations in only three hours. The resulting presentations were first class. A downloadable PDF shows the diverse range of ideas and suggestions that the team produced. This is a model any independent business with an ecommerce presence should follow.

Read moreThe Future for Creativity In Digital Is Bright

Cheap Domain Names

Buying cheap domain names at the cheapest prices can be a time consuming task.

Most catchy valuable domains are already registered so it is a hard task thinking up great ideas for domain names in the first place. Once you have identified a domain name that is not registered it is then a task trying to find the best deals on cheap domain names.

As any experienced domain name owner will tell you the price you pay can vary significantly from one provider to another. Different extensions have different prices and not all websites provide the best rates for every extension – To get cheap domain names it is recommended that different extensions are registered with different providers.

To make this process easier here are my suggestions for locating cheap domain names.

Read moreCheap Domain Names

Reciprocal Links Can Be Good For Your Site

SEO professionals appear to be united in their condemnation of reciprocal links as a worthwhile  SEO tactic. It is alleged that search engines are seeking to penalize the rankings of sites that engage in the oldest traffic generating toll in the tool box.

I think that this opinion is way off the mark and that  reciprocal links can be good for your site.

Read moreReciprocal Links Can Be Good For Your Site