Digital Marketing
4 min

6 Digital Marketing Strategies That Worked In 2019 (And 6 That Didn’t)

Elizabeth McCumber Senior Writer & Content Strategist

While we’re already focused on driving results for 2020, we always want to take time to reflect on past performance from a high-level perspective. It’s easy to get deep in the Google Analytics weeds, but what’s happening on a larger scale?

We asked our experts from the Vail Web Designer and they provided their biggest takeaways for digital marketing strategies, drawing from a wide mix of channels, industries, and clients.

What Digital Strategies Worked Really Well?

  1. Super-personalized and data-based content grew audiences organically.
  2. Black Friday and Cyber Week Sales that began incredibly early accounting for the shortened holiday period continued strong all week.
  3. Content pruning projects helped brands boost organic sessions and keyword rankings by trimming the fat.
  4. Pure broad match with Smart Bidding performed well for both ecommerce and lead gen clients.
  5. Targeting a very narrow audience (using layered industry, company size, income, and education demographics plus custom intent/affinity audiences and any relevant in-market audiences) with broader keyword sets drove a higher volume of quality leads at a lower CPA for B2B.
  6. Smart Shopping improved volume and efficiency for Shopping.

And Which Ones Didn’t?

  1. “Optimizing” for BERT… it doesn’t work…. just create quality content.
  2. Settling for strategies that worked 1-3 years ago because some still regard them as “best practice.” Also, lead gen forms embedded in search ads did not work so well.
  3. Saving your best deal for Cyber Monday. Shoppers have finite holiday budgets so chances are if your best deal isn’t until Monday, your consumers may have already made their purchases and spent their money.
  4. Creating/posting content just to keep up with your cadence/desired publishing schedule. Unless you’re a media company, nobody’s coming to your site daily to see your newest post. (Stop contributing to the void of useless/not-worth-while content and instead, see above, focus on quality.)
  5. Creating content JUST for SEO/organic search. Cross-channel amplification is necessary for any piece of content to be successful… When creating new content consider how can this post be shared on social, in emails, repurposed for infographics, etc… If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? The same goes for content… if you write a piece of content and nobody knows it exists, does it make an impact?
  6. Gallery ads from Google didn’t succeed in driving higher conversion rates for some brands even with strong image assets.

Any Surprises?

  1. Smart Bidding is driving higher lead/sales volume at a more efficient rate each and every day and is worth exploring for the majority of brands who value performance and profits.
  2. Voice search remains an unexplored opportunity. There’s not a lot of information on how to crack it, yet (such as a definitive correlation between page 1 results and the result provided in voice search).
  3. Video has been working really well even for unexpected industries, like transportation and logistics.
  4. People don’t recognize that Google’s shift to automation requires more thought and management than they think. It’s not set it and forget it. Account managers need to be mindful of the many nuances.

What to Take Into 2020 (And a Caveat)

Many of these takeaways reflect a common theme: do what’s best for the user. Whether that’s providing a better ad experience or designing content that prioritizes their needs over your own, focusing on your audience is in fact good for both sides.

And while we always find these kinds of nuggets interesting, we know there’s only one way to find out what works and what doesn’t for your brand. So start testing, learning, and creating your own takeaways today.

Content Marketing Digital Marketing Display & Remarketing Holiday Paid Search SEO

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