Ep 179 | How to Begin with Marketing Your Organization Online with Thomas Gibbons

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Digital marketing may seem like a mysterious thing, but like all things in business, its really just like how you do all things. Take it one step at a time and don't feel like you have to do it all at once. Then its about testing and seeing what works for you. 

What you'll learn:

→ where to get started.
→ ways to integrate SEO into your marketing.
→ why you don't need to be on ALL the social networks..

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[5:19] Keep It Simple If you are just getting started, avoid trying to do too many things right away. Create a simple website that gets the most important information out there. Focus on using one platform in the beginning, rather than trying to reach out on all social media platforms right away.
[12:41] Analytics Use analytics to see what is working on your website. Focus on the top of the page, putting the most important information there, as most consumers don’t scroll through the entire website.
[17:03] SEO Use SEO to run your website more efficiently. Track what keywords will drive traffic to your site, and what areas of your site aren’t gaining enough attention. Use news outlets and other businesses to help get your message out to the public.
[23:07] Be Social Avoid using all social media platforms. Choose the one or two platforms that will earn you the most attention and focus on those. Connect with other businesses and interact with your audience to keep their attention.


Digital Marketing Insights Podcast

Thomas Gibbons

Thomas Gibbons

Founder, Brightside Digital

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, welcome to another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. And today I am joined by Tom Gibbons. He is an amazing Digital Marketer based in Ireland. And we're talking today about when you start your business, kind of things to think about. So how to get started in the digital space, how to build and grow. And what I love about this episode is, so many of the things he touches on are things that I teach about all the time. And it's really just about being authentic and real. And building a brand that is truly you. A lot of times when we start our businesses and our organizations, we started with a passion, and we don't know necessarily where to go to actually get things online, get things moving, and get it in front of people. So he's gonna give you a few really great things that can kind of build that foundation for you. Now, there's a lot of tools that are mentioned in this episode, there's a lot of technical things in some areas. So you may need to come back to this episode a couple of times, and that's A-okay. And you'll want to head over to the show notes at thefirstclick.net/179, we will have all of the resources linked up there for you. So you don't have to go and try to Google them and figure out what they are. But he shares tools that are all for keyword research, for building your business, for tracking your website for all of the things and I think almost all of them are free. So we really wanted to make sure that it's not a whole lot of software sets that you need in order to kick this off. So I hope that you'll take a listen to this episode. And even if you're not thinking about starting an organization, or even if you maybe started it a year or two ago, still a good lesson to maybe go back and rebuild some of those foundational elements. Never too late. Okay. But before we get into this episode, it is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy sessions. So head on over to thefirstclick.net/officehours, book your time. These are great if you want support from the digital marketing consultant, like me, but don't want to put somebody on retainer. These are great 30 minute sessions where we can walk through things like a website audit, we can walk through your software to see if it's all integrating together, we can talk through a problem you're having and figure out how we can kind of streamline that and automate that system in your business. Whatever it is that you need, I am here for you. So again, thefirstclick.net/officehours. Let's get into the episode. 

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming Tom Gibbons to the podcast. Tom, thanks for joining me today.

[Thomas Gibbons] Thank you for having me, Sami, this is an absolute pleasure.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I'm really excited about this topic. Because, you know, a lot of times we have this brilliant idea, or we know that we can, you know, start this organization to help and support a certain subset of the community or the environment or whatever. And then things just kind of go haywire. And you get into like massive information overload. So why, before we even get into some of the ins and outs of kind of starting a business, Why is this something that you are so passionate about?

[Thomas Gibbons] It's at this stage, Sami, it's all I know, really. I've been in digital since 14-15 years of age, when I first started to get into it. I used to buy and sell domains. So before Google, before Google, used to type in just URLs of what used to look for. So as a young kids, I knew IT enough that I used to buy domains, and usually like either video games or albums that were coming out. And people used to type in the URL, and you'd go to parking websites. And it used to be that they're still out there in some places. But you just click the links, and you'd go to the appropriate sites. So I used to buy like things like Pro Evolution, soccer games and stuff and used to buy the domains of like, Pro Evolution five was when I owned, and you could click off and go to the sites and you'd earn a little bit of commission from the clicks basically, PPC, before Google kind of took over that kind of space. But yeah, that's how long I've been in this space, I suppose.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So you've always kind of had that knack for maybe finding a solution or figuring out a way to kind of think outside the box in kind of creating new revenue streams and new business ideas.

[Thomas Gibbons] Exactly that and I think you have to be to be a good digital marketer nowadays. You have to understand the system, which is, I think what A lot of what we're talking about today, but then the really good ones are trying to understand how to hack it, how to evolve and what's happened in the space to either innovate in or using new software's, or where the algorithms and stuff are going, you have to kind of look at the enhancements and almost predict predict it sometimes.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Right? It's almost like taking chances and hoping that one little thing will work. And, and keep going. Keep building. Okay, so where do we start? If we are, we've got this idea. We're going for it and we're moving forward, like how do we not just implode or, you know, become one of those statistics of organizations that don't make it past the first few years?

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah, I think when you're starting a business or a charity or anything, you have to be very conscious of the bottom line number, and you kind of want to start everything off. With the minimum amount of cost possible, I suppose. It depends on your budgets. But fundamentally, you should start by just building a website, something simple. And you need to understand where your audience are and what keywords you're going to do, which we'll discuss. But fundamentally, I suppose recommendations, you can have a Shopify or WordPress site, build templates, try and find a nice demo site that you like. And you can integrate that and they've done it really well nowadays, where your domain provider, let's say, GoDaddy or something, I'm dropping in names left, right and center, but feel providers, and you'll set up your site. And that side of things is fairly straightforward. You kind of want to look at, obviously, your domain, what you want to call your brand or your site. There are some benefits if you know your keywords before that decision. But fundamentally, you come up with your brand, you buy your domain, hosting is what you pay for your site to appear. And then on from that, I suppose is where you build out your different marketing strategy and how you promote your business.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, obviously, because we build websites, we agree that you should have a website. But I do like that you said, just keep it simple. How do we kind of, because I think especially now with like, all of the software systems that are out there, like, you know, once you start to do your research, and you start to look at ways that you can get more visibility for your brand online, it can be overwhelming. And we feel like we have to do all the things. So how can we kind of take a step back, because I agree with you, a one page website that just helps you start to build that presence is better than nothing, but people tend to get stuck on, Well, it has to be perfect. And I have to have this and I need to have all these things. And then I have to have all these integrations. And so it kind of stalls that forward progress.

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah. So I suppose the main thing is you want to get to a to b as soon as possible. So if you're an ecommerce store, and you're selling a product, for example, you don't want to go too mad on creating loads of explainer pages or knowledge base pages. Those kinds of things come, it's first and foremost, you want to build your site, whether it's a payment, or its lead gen letter, you want to get contacts, it's donations or something like that. You want to first of all build a simple site. And then you want to, there's a couple of areas. So you want to identify your audience. And I understand for a lot of people, especially if you're coming up with a new product that might not have a market, you want to identify what your target audience is, and what potential search would lead to your site. So there is a good couple of ways of doing this. There's loads of free methods. But I personally, in my stages of career, I use A H refs, which is a really good platform for keyword planner. And you can kind of put in compare sites and URLs and a site search. But even just signing up to your kind of Google ads platform, you have a keyword planner, which can generate keywords for you. There's sem rush, there's all these wonderful tools there. And what I suppose I'm trying to explain right now is you're generating what you're trying to predict as search, what people will land on your website. And once you have a list of those kinds of keyword searches, that's what you would call your organic search. If you go into the areas of social media, if you're a new business straightaway, just pick one social media. It breaks my heart seeing companies start and then they'll have your Facebook's, your Twitter's, your Instagrams and they'll post once a week or something. There's no point. This day and age. The two best social media platforms to create an organically again, I'm trying to be cost effective here is your tick tock or your LinkedIn. They're by far the best two algorithms for what you post and what your followers have to what you get. Unfortunately, the Facebook and Instagram algorithms, they're very much based on putting spin behind campaigns.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well here is one thing I want to add to that because I, I do agree. And I think it goes back to what you said with understanding who your ideal customer is, will also help you pick that one platform. I agree, double down on one platform. But the one thing that I would add to that is still claim all of your handles on all of the platforms so that you know, you have consistency, so that even though you're not necessarily using them, you don't need to publish them anywhere. You don't need to put that information out. But then at least you know, if and when you do decide to expand into another platform, you at least still can have that consistency with your branding.

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah, that does really help. I suppose. Yeah, you're right to do that. The one thing, with Tik Tok especially now, and I think the way social media is going, is a lot of the platforms are following suit, Tik Tok and trying to get that addictiveness and trying to keep you on the platform for as much as possible. But now tick tock, if you sign an account today, whoever you are and you post your first video on Tiktok, you'll get close to 1000 views, just from your first video. And considering you have no followers or anything, that's a pretty good initial reach for your account. Now, what's interesting is you immediately, once you create a tic tock account, you're going downhill unless you're posting. So tick tock nowadays to be really successful, you have to post three times a day. So you have to almost, you need to understand your, I know that sounds mad, it really does. But you have to almost plan for how you're going to post it and keep up with the algorithm. Otherwise, your posts on Tik Tok, your posts the next week after you'll have, let's say 1000 views and your first video and you're down to 20 views and your seconds. And you'll just be slugging away 20-20, 30-40, working your way up. So it's understanding those little things. And with the handle point you made, I can imagine some of these accounts because they're inactive will punish you. That's to say it's not good. It's still great advice. It's just if we're talking small, you probably won't have the budget unless you really explode in your first year. Starting a new business, you want to just survive the first year anyway. I would double down on a platform and regularly kind of create content for that one and see how you interact and what spaces you can go in.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Okay, so we've got our website, we're focusing on one social media channel. Um, can you talk a little bit about the importance in a new business of kind of testing a few things because I think we tend to, in the digital space, I think, throw something out there, it doesn't work. So we try to pivot right away again. And then we try to pivot right away again, because we're just trying to get that like immediate gratification, but kind of what is the power of testing? And why as a new brand do you kind of have more ease and flow with that? Because you're not, quote unquote, established? Like, how can we use that to our advantage to really figure out how to move our business forward.

[Thomas Gibbons] It's a really good point. So with your website, I would immediately, whoever you are out there, do the five foundations for a new site. So that's, again, your Google Analytics tracking, which is free, go on to Search Console, make sure you're registered on search console via domain or other sources, make sure you're verified. And you're, you're actually submitting your website to Google. Hot Jar is my go to Sami for operating on websites, I'd recommend installing hot jar again, absolutely free. And the best thing about hot jar is it basically records sessions on your site who accept cookies, so they can navigate through, you can see consumers I suppose, going through your site and how to, now again over my career, it's amazing the amount of times Hotjar has solved a UX issue. Early doors especially, I can remember one time we had Java scripts, and this is maybe seven years ago, Sami, so new websites wouldn't have this issue. But just to give everyone an example, JavaScript was on the buttons for on the ecommerce store, which meant if users had not enabled Java scripts, when they were clicking the purchase button, it was becoming inactive. That was noticed on hot jar first of all, and the conversion rate because you could split on Google, the previous Google Analytics not necessarily GA4, but you could search between Java enabled and non Java and you could see the conversion rate was nothing compared to, it was like a 2% conversion rate. So as soon as we just made those simple changes for the Java scripts, all of a sudden conversion started going up quite a lot, just from that one change. So I would definitely recommend, always look at softwares like Hotjar, and understand the user journeys of your site. And you can always tweak. But unfortunately, your website is forever. And it's always ever changing. There's always new changes. So if you're starting up a business, because of this podcast, Sami, I can imagine you do get the types that are using you for inspiration before sign up, I would, I would definitely recommend you're in it for a slog, you have to expect there's always going to be changes. There's no such thing as website complete.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Right. And what I love about the hot jar Google Analytics combination, too, is it's also just like, if you're not like everybody processes data in different ways. And so I love the heat map of hot jar where like you can really clearly visually see where people are engaging, like we've had clients that we've looked at theirs, and there's a ton of clicks on a picture, but there's no link there, right? So it like immediately tells you, okay, people think they're supposed to click here and go somewhere, let's add a button, right. But like, it's a really great visual for people that need that, which most of our, if you're starting a business, if you're an entrepreneur, you're probably a creative mind. And so sometimes looking at numbers, and all that stuff can be really hard. It's hard for me to process.

[Thomas Gibbons] Completely and to see visually, the emails, I think the main rule of thumb there is top of page is key as well. People don't like scrolling. So if you have a call to action top to the bottom of your page, maybe it's a really nice piece around something but you want the call to action to be at the bottom, consider putting it at the top of the page as well, because people don't scroll. But yeah, heat maps is, again, just one of these wonderful free tools. We've been cost effective here, Sami, where I would thoroughly recommend it's a great platform to just apply to your site.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Okay, so I want to backtrack a little bit. Because I know keywords is something we talk about a ton. And we've had several episodes recently on SEO. But if I am like a small, if I'm living in a small market, I'm a smaller organization. We're just targeting kind of our local area right now. Is that something that I need to stress myself out over? Or should I just maybe move past that stage just to keep things moving forward? Like, you know, if I know, I'm not like in a competitive market, with a lot of like, with a lot with a large geographical area, for example?

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah, so you're kind of going down the local SEO side of things. So even if you just have a shop, and you don't necessarily have a site, using what was previously Google My Business, but now just Google, the Google platform itself, register your business, register your location, put your contact details, and use their posting section reviews. At the time of recording. Yesterday, the 12th of September, Google announced the latest core update. They're obviously focusing on reviews as one area, it will be the next two weeks before everyone kind of realizes what that is. But I think SEO is, it sounds way more complicated than it is. There's three areas to SEO, there's on page, off page, and technical. You're on page is your content on your site, obviously, copy there is platform. So I'm using a platform called Frase, it's frase.io. It's an AI kind of platform. And it kind of what it does is it does a search of the top 20 websites out there for your keywords. And you can see what is ranking in the area. And then it suggests what kind of copy, what kind of percentages you need to rank for. Now we're kind of going into advanced SEO, but that is on pages, identifying new keywords and having appropriate content or imagery on that page. And the reality is Google just wants the best most comprehensive pages to rank well. So if you have your own page on from a new business, that's probably all you need. Technical, if you want to go into that area, I use sitebulb. And for some of my clients who they might have, there's one that has a view JavaScript website. So it's nothing like WordPress, nothing like Shopify, where it's all straightforward. It's very complicated for no reason whatsoever, just the developers they got in at the time. And sitebulb helped me navigate a couple of technical errors, but just running sitebulb on your site again for you guys. I'm trying to be, sitebulb was a really good one for identifying missing H ones, missing H twos, imagery in broken links, yada, yada, that's the obvious stuff. But then that's your on page and technical, and you're off pages, kind of the dark arts and link building and PR coverage and stuff like that. But I suppose for a small business, there's no harm in looking at Harrow, Help a Reporter Out, and just having that on your browser's the whole time just looking for stories, trying to do trying to land pieces for your website, your business, and then LinkedIn, just trying to connect with local journalists and stuff. And you, it doesn't matter what business you are nowadays, there's a lot of benefits in being covered in media, driving traffic to your site, it doesn't matter if you're just a physical store, it's really important to have an online presence.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and that's the beauty too, I think of the age we're in now is it's so much easier, I think, to in some ways to get stories on your business when you're just starting out, because I think we tend to think that we're bothering people. But with as much content as these news agencies need to push out. I mean, when you said earlier, three Tik Toks a day if you want to get visibility, right, so they're probably needing to produce Tik Toks, just like they're needing to produce, how many new stories and all of these things, so you're actually doing them. If you can pitch the story correctly, right, just put a little bit of thought into how you want to, how you can provide value to their readers, it's a great way to get that extra visibility and that extra trustworthiness from potential customers and donors,

[Thomas Gibbons] You're spot on. And like, just break down your own data. Because there's a couple of things that journalists look for. You can't just make something up and say, you know, you're the world's best coffee and to go with this thing around coffee. But if you can supply some kind of data, whether it's your business data, whether it's your analytics and stuff, there is ways you can break out campaigns and create good quality content that journalists want. But journalists want a nice summary, a nice hook. But then they want the foundations there, they want good backing, they want the truth there. So if you can, and provide it with a couple of nice creatives as well, something that's grabbing, that's all the better. I think we're in an age now, especially with kind of web three coming into play a little bit more. The idea of strong video and visual content imagery, you know, every other person is a photographer at the moment. And we all should be because we have fantastic smartphones. So it's all about bringing that next level of quality, yeah, and full coverage for your business. Just think about it. Like you would think about your own profile, have you got headshots, have you got great imagery of your business, because if you land that big story, you might lose it because you don't have the assets that are required for print or for whatever.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I feel like, Tom, we could probably talk about this all day long, because it sounds like these are some of our favorite topics. So just to kind of do a quick recap. And of course, all of these show notes, all of these resources that Tom was mentioning, are in the show notes. And if you've listened to this podcast for any period of time, then you've heard a lot of these tools referenced many times. So I love that we kind of use the same tech stack. But um, so you know, we want to start with a good brand, understanding who our audience is, building that website, even if it's simple, getting on a social media platform that we can really do well and start to go out and get some more visibility and placements digitally. Kind of what other last thing would you kind of lump into this beginning stage? Kind of a two part question. And what would you say to people that have maybe started their businesses like six months ago, and they're like, Oh, crap, I didn't do any of this stuff that he's talking about in this way, am I still gonna be okay?

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah. So to answer the second question, first to reassure everyone, there is no right or wrong answer. You can, you can have the worst website in the world and you can turn it around fairly quickly. And you're not punished for that. Back to my Tik Tok example, I said earlier, obviously, if the content is good, and the awareness is there, it will, you can explode it. It's not just lost. I suppose what I do is I saw our obviously from a marketing background, I do a 12 month marketing calendar, top level, so January, February, March, and keep it simple 12 months, and I'll have my hero messages for each month, and then a second and third hero message throughout the campaign. And I try not to overload because I work with some, and I have had experience working for big corporates. But usually, I'm all for the kind of independence, you know, one, one or two members of staff. And it's tough because there's so many things to do. And you can't, you don't want to get overwhelmed. But you just have to stick to your foundations and what you believe is right. So if you have a 12 month calendar, and you have ambitions to focus on each area, from a content point of view that can tie into your social media and everything else, you're like we said, our PR and things like that. You have your hero campaigns, and you build out. So for example, for social media, I have pillars. And so I always try and keep the content the same, but in the pillars. So let me give you an example. So I'll create a load of assets in Canva. And I'll have, let's say, your informational piece. So this might be something related to a blog piece or something. Or it would just be a nice infographic, but it'll be a steal, which you can flip in and out new imagery and update the text. And it's quick and easy to produce. Because as I know, Sami, it's all about efficiency and time in our game. You don’t want to spend a whole day producing just one social media post when a couple of minutes ago, I said you should be doing three Tik Toks a day.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think people stopped listening after that. They are like, I’m out.

[Thomas Gibbons] I'm out. And obviously, it's more than fine to do one a day and you'll find your audience. But what I'll do is I'll create these pillars. So I've kind of mentioned the information on one, maybe have like a Meet the team where it'd be a little bio of the team members or it might be a, I think probably one of the biggest underplay in social media at the moment, is the collaboration with businesses in similar industries that you want to work with. So you want to, social media, people forget, you have to be social, you can't just put your business out there, post all your stuff and think everyone's going to come in and say, Oh, that's great, you're wonderful and stuff, you actually have to work hard on that, you have to be social. So find the brands and stuff or the businesses, local businesses with you, team up, say well done, give them a fire emoji, just actually interact with them. And number one, interact with anyone that's gone to the effort of interacting in your business, whether that's emails, little posts, in DMs, whatever it is, these are your communities, work hard in your communities and keep them close. Imagine if you have, you love this bloke that's on a tourism site, and you're reading it every time and you think, do you know what, I'm gonna say to this writer that I really liked the work, nothing from them. And you go, Okay, that was weird. You read on and you love their posts, you write and again, saying this was my favorite one. Yeah, nothing from them. Eventually, we're social creatures, we want that person to get back and say, Listen, I really appreciate you reading these, and so many times in this industry, people forget that there's other people on the other side of these promotions, trying to market to and just make sure you keep that interactive. And if you do that, win or lose, you're going to build a great community, which I always think is a win.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I love everything that you've shared in this episode, because it's really foundational, it's really authentic. And it might not like shoot you from zero to 100. Right away, it probably won't. But what it will do is build that foundation for sustainable growth and for real growth. So it's not like all of a sudden one of the algorithms or something changes. And now you're like, flipped on your head, right? You're talking about being a real human and making real connections in the way that you show up digitally. And I think, you know, we talk about that a lot. So I really, I really, really appreciate you saying all of those things, because I think it's really real. And I think if you do that it will set you apart from the other brands and organizations that are doing similar work. Because it's not a lot of people aren't doing it this way. Which seems odd.

[Thomas Gibbons] It does, doesn't it? Yeah, that's the secret. So guys, check it out. This is the secret to winning.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. Well, Tom. So many good things. I think people are gonna have to listen to this episode multiple times, come back to it, pick out the pieces of where you're at in that moment. Again, the tools will be in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/179. That might be wrong. I'll have to double check that but I think that's right. We're just running this real here. But Tom, while I double check that out. That is correct. 179. How do people find out more about you, learn from you and check you out?

[Thomas Gibbons] Yeah. So well, obviously LinkedIn, Thomas Gibbons, I actually run the digital marketing insights podcast. It's number one in Ireland. So I'm trying to get the Irish people involved. And we're, we're grown as a community. But check out the show, Sami, I'd love to have you on soon as well. And yeah, just I was honestly just reach out to me, I'm always here to help. And anyone that's into this space. I love you, because I'm obsessed with it. So thank you.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So good. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Tom. This has been great.

[Thomas Gibbons] Thank you Sami. Thank you guys.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that was a lot of information. And I'm sure you're feeling slightly overwhelmed. So what I want you to do is really think about where you're at in your business and take one of the steps or one of the projects that Tom mentioned in this episode, start there and build and grow from there. We don't need to do it all at once. We don't need to have everything done. But really just take the time to review one, one area, whether it be are you doing too much or too little on social media? Should you just whittle it down to one platform? Are you focusing enough energy and work into your website to make sure that it's clearly talking to the audience you serve? Or maybe it's time to start reaching out and getting some more visibility for your organization? Whatever it is, pick that one thing and don't forget to head over to the show notes to get all of the resources. But for now, thanks for listening. I look forward to coming to you every Tuesday with a brand new episode, so make sure you subscribe so you don't miss an episode and leave us a five star review while you're there. For now, I'll see you in the next one.

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