Best Practices for Maximizing Your Digital Presence
Digital presence is mandatory
An online presence is mandatory in today’s world, even for a business as face-to-face as mediation. Your practice’s online presence speaks for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you need to invest time and effort maximizing this asset.
This article outlines best practices for using your online presence to:
Connect with prospective hiring parties.
Connect with prospective referral sources.
Not only prove your credibility, but enhance it.
Demonstrate your skills, trustworthiness, and knowledge.
Increase your visibility.
Demonstrate your active interest and involvement in the mediation professional world.
You need to create, promote, and build your online presence. Fortunately, there are also many resources and tools to help you learn how.
Digital marketing plan
Parties considering mediation are very likely to head to the internet to research mediators – and why not? The internet is where we go to research most of our big decisions, to get the information we need before taking our next big step. This is why your overall marketing plan should include specific strategies for digital marketing.
Determine exactly what your target markets are (prospective clients, prospective referral sources, etc.) and create a buyer persona to represent each one. The digital channels used by those buyer personas are where you want to focus your digital marketing efforts. Where are you most likely to connect with them? Consider:
Conversational forums on mediation association websites
Dispute resolution blogs
Other social media platforms where you can communicate with your buyer personas
Wherever you communicate online, include a link back to your website where appropriate (signature lines are great). Think of your website as an impressive digital brochure that answers most questions, establishes rapport, and leaves no doubt in your clients’ minds that you are the mediator they need.
Of course, details of your plan will be tailored to you and your practice because your location, specialization, budget, and vision are unique.
Don’t get discouraged – there are a lot of marketing resources online that will assist you in formulating and implementing a digital marketing plan. Hubspot is one that is especially effective and easy to use, but there are many others. Get started and do your best, and if one effort doesn’t work, try again (see “Monitor and Measure” below).
Remember, even success takes a while to notice – patience and tenacity are key.
Publish and share
If you think “digital marketing” equals “digital advertising” you will need to adjust your thinking quickly.
In today’s world, digital marketing is content marketing – but what does that mean? It means that, instead of pitching your service, you need to publish and share content that demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and authority in your field.
On your website and on the channels you identified above, publish and share articles, videos, presentations, and conversations. To be clear, by “publish” we mean produce your own content, and by “share” we mean sharing content with others via links to your own and to others’ information.
The keys here are quality and consistency, not quantity. Good content, published and shared regularly, establishes you as a mediation expert and differentiates you from others.
Sharing other people’s good information will, obviously, be easier than writing your own, but producing your own high-quality content is miles more effective. Here are some pointers for getting the most out of your efforts:
What should I post? To establish yourself as a mediation expert, post information that meets two criteria:
You thoroughly understand it. Write within your specialty, do research… whatever it takes for you to write with authority that will come through every word.
The topic fulfills a need. What do people – particularly your buyer personas – need or want to know?
Informational content that meets these criteria will be read and it will be shared with others.
Where should I post it? After you’ve identified the channels used by your buyer personas, post your content there in the appropriate format.
For example, when you write a blog post, you would promote it by:
Referring to it in detail in online conversations, with a link to the full post.
Start an online conversation by asking a question that requires reading the post – not as a reading comprehension test but as a thought-provoking conversation starter.
Post a short teaser line on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, with a link to the original post.
Remember, there are no sales pitches – the idea is to communicate and start conversations.
When should I post? This is an important question with an answer that only comes through trial and error. Post your content, conversations, and comments at a time of day you think they are most likely to be seen on that channel or platform… then confirm your data.
What about search engines? Isn’t there a special way to write to get the best ranking? Of course you want your content to be found when people search online for information. The “special way to write” is exactly what you’ve already learned: high-quality information, published with authority and consistency.
Quality + Authority = Ranking
Information that is well-written and fulfills a need will be found by the search engines and ranked well, resulting in even more shares, resulting in even better rankings, resulting in even MORE shares, etc.
Do not worry about “keyword frequency” or any of that – if your information is authoritatively written, it will naturally have all the keywords it needs. Write well, write regularly, and the trust and high rankings will eventually follow.
Marketing guru Dan S. Kennedy advocates this “publish and share” philosophy, using an academic axiom to demonstrate its importance: Publish or perish!
Monitor and Measure
How do you know when these efforts are paying off? It takes a while – weeks, months – before marketing efforts turn into clients, but there are ways to monitor and measure progress in the meantime.
Key performance indicators will vary according to the online channel or platform, but you should get to know the tools for each one. Here are a few things to look for:
Blog comments. Don’t just count the number of comments, as they might be expressing confusion or just be bot-posts. Look at the quality of the comments and you will be able to tell whether the post achieved its objective.
Shares. Are people sharing your blog posts, newsletters, and other content? Most blog software has built-in tools for telling you how many shares or references (“pingbacks”) each post received. If you promote your post on Twitter, you can easily track shares (“retweets”) there, too.
Email subscriptions. A sudden increase in email subscriptions is probably a good thing, but do the research to figure out why. Did you just publish an especially popular piece of content? If so, that’s likely to be your source – and now you know that a) that information is important to people, b) the distribution method was effective, and c) people want more!
Overall increase in website traffic. The easiest tool for tracking your website traffic is Google Analytics. The basic installation of this tool will provide valuable information about your website visitors, including how they found you, what pages they visit, and how long they stay there.
Use the key performance indicators for each channel to learn whether you are getting an acceptable return on your investment in that channel. If you are surprised that a channel doesn’t perform as well as you expected, you must decide whether your tactics need adjusting or whether that channel just isn’t where your buyer personas are.
Get started right now
Utilizing – and repeating – these best practices will ensure that your 24/7/365 face to the world, your digital presence, is maximized to its fullest potential. Don’t be afraid to get started right now.
Even if you don’t have a website yet, you can practice blogging at Facebook and LinkedIn until you do. Sometimes it’s easiest to begin by talking about something you know well – yourself! Your mediator profile is an essential part of your digital presence, too – create one right now at MediatorSelect.com.