The most common requests that an agency who works in the digital space gets these days typically look something like this:

We want to be the (Uber, Everlane, Zappos, Birch Box) of our space, all that we need is for you to whip us up a (Dollar Shave Club Video, Ice Bucket Challenge, Wendy’s Tweet).

Our job as marketing professionals, regardless of our roles, is to take a step back and ask ourselves: Why were those things possible? How did they achieve such ridiculous, amazing success? Was it the campaign?

So what, right? So I’m telling you to go back and fix your business rather than your Instagram account? If that’s what’s broken, then absolutely. There’s no point in holding up that amplifier to a tone deaf band — no amount of promotion is going to fill the arena.

But that’s not why this post exists. I prefer to operate under the assumption that you are phenomenal — that there’s something magical about the business & brand that you’re working on, otherwise why would you bother spending all of your time on it?

So here we are. You’re responsible for building and promoting this amazing thing that the world is going to run down the streets telling their friends about, and I’m the guy telling you that your answer is not to set out to make the next viral video. So what is the answer?

Plan for digital success, and build for it

Let’s assume that you are going to get 100 million views/likes/shares, that’s going to create a whole lot of demand, and when that happens, you’d better have your digital house in order, or else there are going to be a lot of disappointed searchers.

I’ve seen it first hand (and sometimes been guilty of it): The product/campaign/offer launches, the response is fantastic, and suddenly you realize that Google Maps shows the wrong location, and the email auto-responder has dead links, and when people are Google-ing your name, you’re nowhere to be found.

It may sound like a great problem to have, but it’s definitely not. We each get one shot at a first impression, and if it’s a negative experience, every ad, influencer campaign, and piece of social content that we run in the future will be met with: “Yeah, tried it, hated it, ignore”.

That’s why I put this together for you — it’s a rundown of the most valuable fundamentals that every organization, digital or not, B2B or B2C, large or small, should have at a 10 out of 10.

I’m serious about that, too. Content is subjective, posting frequency gets missed, those things get messy, but if we’re being responsible to our businesses and giving them the best possible chance to be successful, each one of the following items is at 100%.

Well written bios

If you’re going to be there, make a statement with your bio. It’s the one permanent element of our social media channels, and it says more about who we are and how we operate than any single piece of content.

But how?

It’s not a mission statement — that’s for you. This is for your community, but it follows a similar model:

Social Media Bio Example

Google My Business

Maybe the most simple, and most valuable thing that you can do is to set up and claim your Google My Business account. It controls your Google Map location, your Google reviews, and the card that appears on the right side of search results.


To control yours, go to:

Claim & moderate review sites

For pretty much every decision that we make, there’s a review site, and their impact on people’s decisions to make a purchase is significantly greater than any claim, guarantee, or testimonial that we can offer.

For most sites, the process is simple: Go the business section (usually a link in the footer, or Google “sitename + business”), then either set up a review page or claim an existing one. Here are the big 4, depending on your industry:

Once you’ve claimed the page, go back and reply to any reviews that are there — both good and bad. Reply the same way that you would if the person was standing right in front of you and there was a line of people behind her eavesdropping. Keep that in mind, and you’re off to a great start for moderating those less-than-fun ones.

Listing in industry sites & directories

Getting exposure, links, and impressions requires time, effort, and money, except in the case of these sites. They’re the ones that explicitly exist to help you out, and they exist in nearly every industry.

A lot of times, all that you have to do is reach out, or fill out a contact form, but other times it pays to create a direct relationship. They are actively trying to help you, and I personally know many people who run these organizations would love more stories to tell, social media content to post, or businesses to list.

Here are a few places to start looking:

Go beyond the simple listing — reach out with an interesting story. Remember, we’re assuming that your business is remarkable, so tell them about it and why they/their audiences should care. You’ll be surprised how often they’ll be grateful to have heard from you.

Create a website that captures leads, or converts well

Why bother doing any of this stuff if you don’t have a website that can turn interested people into customers/leads/donors?

Now, I’m not going to fill this page with information about blowing up and rebuilding your site, so here are two things that any of us can implement this week to improve our ability to convert:

  1. Use landing pages. It’s possible to do that within your existing site, but I recommend (in a lot of cases) using software to make that process much easier and more cost efficient. We use Vancouver’s own Unbounce – here’s a resource that they put together called What is a Landing Page?.
  2. Landing Page Example
  3. Interstitials
    For good reason, Pop-Ups have gotten a bad name. Like just about everything else, marketers saw something that worked, and then smashed it until they ruined it. Interstitials are really just a polite way of saying Pop-ups, but they can be used in a way that adds value to the user and the brand. These are used primarily in the B2B context, and the recipe goes something like this: Attract visitor to the site by creating valuable content, visitor enjoys what he/she is reading, you show that person how she can get even more value by signing up for your email/ebook/webinar. When it’s done in a non-obnoxious way, it all works, but we only remember the ones that suck and that’s why we think that we hate all of them.
  4. Interstitial

    Want to go deeper? Conversion Rate Optimization is the name of this field of work, and it’s easy to dive deep into the rabbit hole. Here are a couple of places to get started — it’s fascinating stuff, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you:

Have an email capture plan

Regular, valuable emails are one of the highest ROI marketing activities that you can get up to (that’s why it’s the cornerstone of my strategy), and it starts with growing a list. To get started is simple:

  1. Have a compelling reason why someone might want to sign up (this is also your content plan)
  2. Make it easy to sign up by embedding the sign-up form on your site
  3. “Use your other channels, or advertising resources, to drive attention to that sign-up form

The crew over at Mailchimp are the kings of this stuff, so I’ll let them go into more detail: Grow your list in 3 easy steps.

Have a consistent flow of high quality content

Whichever channels you chose when you built your strategy, make sure that it never runs dry. Even if that means just one Facebook post per week, or a blog post per month — dormant account can actually do more harm than good.

The keys to regular, high-quality content that doesn’t tap your resources are:

Build email responders

Now that you’ve got people signing up for your email — awesome — what’s their first impression? Are they glad that they signed up? Just about every email software platform makes it easy to automate the first email that someone receives, so deliver value right off the bat. Here’s an example of the whole thing done simply, and very well:

Kevin Rose’s The Journal

Run a solid “Drip” campaign

Last note on email: A drip campaign is like a salesperson who costs nothing and works silently in the background. A drip campaign is a series of emails that get sent out to people who have opted in, based on timing and triggers.

It takes some work to set something up that people will get value from, but once that’s done, you set it and forget it.

Here’s a diagram of how the process works:

Source: For the full infographic, read their blog post.
Source: For the full infographic, read their blog post.

Target few key terms for the site’s SEO

SEO is a massive subject that whole departments dedicate themselves to, but to make sure that our site is ready and able to receive inbound interest, there are just a few things to make sure are in place:

  1. Decrease page load time. Reduce image sizes, remove unnecessary JavaScript or plugins, and generally make sure that the page loads as quickly as possible for visitors.
  2. Make it mobile responsive. If your site isn’t, close your browser tab, run as quickly as you can to anyone who can help you, or set up a simple version of your site using Squarespace. At least 40% of your visitors are coming to your site on their phones, so nothing that you can do will have more impact.
  3. Target one high-value search term per page. Find a search term that would be extremely valuable for your site to appear at the top of, make sure that its competition is low enough that you have a shot at winning, and put that term into a few places on the page without hurting the visitors’ reading experience.

To dive down the SEO rabbit hole, here’s a fantastic starting point: Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO

If I’ve done my job well here, you’ve bookmarked this post, shared it with a few friends, and are already auditing your digital presence to shore up any gaps that this post brought up. If you feel like you could use some professional help, that’s what we’re here for. Shoot me an email: and we can get you set up with an audit, strategy, training, and/or ongoing consulting.

I’ll share that this post is a living, breathing example of us practicing what we preach. It’s valuable content that attracts visitors. It’s also content for our email that goes out every week, and it’s our opportunity to introduce you to that email and ask you to sign up. Every email includes insights and opinions like these, as well as links to relevant industry updates and why you should (or shouldn’t) care.

Full disclosure: We’re working through the list as we speak, and the next items on our to-do list are the auto-responder and the interstitials — we’re all in this together.