In the course of the last year or so, I have been discussing the topic of digital marketing resources and learning platforms at different levels with several friends and peers. It seems that pretty much most marketers tend to use similar online resources. I am listing in this post the ones I use the most in my role as an inhouse marketer and those that I have been sharing and recommending the most.
These resources have helped day to day with a variety of inhouse tasks and processes while working on international projects, so the post is kind of focussed on ‘International’ and of course with a ‘Search’ flavour. Also, one of the key criteria used to build this list of resources has been ‘market research information’. Some of the sites I recommend below are great stop shops for marketing strategy (some free), to support campaign project work and also to help you in your consultant role withing the organisation that you work.
The first one and for me one of the most important is Smart Insights :
This one has to be one of the main resource or reference sites that I use most often. Smart Insights often helps me find a quick way to kick off a specific process and or establish a roadmap to carry out tasks, as well as it does help me ensure I follow best practice with insights-driven decisions.
The entire site is purpose-built to help today’s digital marketers get better at what they do. From an SEO standpoint, and considering today’s post-panda and penguin search engine world, there is an increased need to tackle SEO strategies from an integrated marketing and communications approach, as opposed to adhoc SEO. This is one of the reasons why this should be one of the main marketing resources to turn to for help.
These are some of the resources that you can find on Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights website that I feel add great value to every marketer:
Guides and E-books
- Guides & Ebooks: from comprehensive beginners guides about SEO, analytics or Content Marketing to more detailed and practical ones about specific task-based approaches, eg.: 7 Step Guide to Content Marketing, the Mobile Strategy guide , or the guide to Google Analytics
- Templates: these range greatly from plan frameworks onto specialized spreadsheet docs. There are times when you are in a rush and do not want to get tangled up with having to figure out a particular layout for a audit of this or that project. Smart Insights offers a range of practical templates easy to customise from the traditional excel Email marketing campaign template one onto more selected ones like the Editorial calendar spreadsheet or the spreadsheet to help you plan a mobile marketing audit or the template for Google Analytics for Ecommerce or the ready-made templates for marketing role job descriptions . The latter has been used at the British Council to put together a framework of marketing capabilities for digital marketing jobs.
- Framework project docs: Similarly if you run your own business or plan your own start-up, resources like the ‘framework for defining online business models‘ is a simple doc and a great time-saver, and you get the reassurance that you are on the right track with you marketing planning. or the Primer info for Managing Website redesign projects:
- Advice : you can get guidance and advice to go through the process of either strategising a global marketing plan or setting up a tactical campaign on one specific channel. These are sometimes free guides, like the ‘Free guide to creating a social media marketing plan‘ As advice you also get access to asking questions (technical or strategy-based), here’s an example of a user question about tracking carousel banners on Homepages
- Video Training Material: these range from practical short video tutorials or training courses onto actual webinars given by known marketing practitioners and conference speakers. The overall approach to digital marketing on Smart Insights is making things clear for you if you are serious about learning online marketing. From basic Google Analytics video tutorials for beginners onto social media marketing how-to videos. As part of this offer, Smart Insights regularly joins up with top marketers to run webcasts about digital marketing. For example a few months ago the creator of the SOSTAC system, PR Smith ran a Webcast about strategy development.
- Infographics: the site is not short of interactive and creative material to help marketers learn more visually. For example look at the Content Marketing Model infographic. It’s brilliant if you need something visual to help teams or inhouse colleagues understand the whole idea behind Content Marketing. These regularly produced infographics support some of the educational blog posts, tutorials or guides on the site.
- Case studies: the site is not short of inspiring case studies worth reading about.
When you first land on the site you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of content to your disposal and the many different areas to access that content. It may help you get started if decide and establish what you need : perhaps a base excel template to help you create a dashboard for one of your in-house supported web projects, information about running a marketing health check…
Whether you are interested on learning the basis of PR Smith’s SOSTAC marketing, the RACE marketing management system or market place analysis, this little gem will help you with it. The site has something for both global marketing managers in the large enterprise, site owners, or affiliate professionals. So whether you are solely interested in Search Marketing or simply learning SEO there will be something for you here.
Cost: €29/month on annual contract. This gives you access to the entire collection of resources on the site. I do recommend you go for the pay subscription directly if you want to save time and delve straight into getting guidance and ideas and improve overall your digital marketing skills, including search marketing. Smart Insights saves me time, effort and energy. If you want more reasons for subscribing to this site, then visit this page. But of course if you are just starting in digital marketing and not convinced yet of where to put your many for a paid subscription, then you may want to register as a free member and visit the free downloads section for a flavour of marketing goodies.
This site is surely known to most readers. The majority of people though only know the site because of its great blogging activity. Some of the top SEOs and digital marketers are posting on this site. Apart from the blog section, the site is packed with resources from A to Z: market research, guides and training on digital marketing, advice on internet marketing strategy and best practice and a jobs board with strong focus on digital and marketing though mainly geared towards the UK market.
If you are serious about digital marketing then having a subscription on this site will give you access to invaluable material that results from 14 years of industry expertise.
Market Research Data
This section boasts great research and statistics compendiums and surveys on a variety of disciplines. For example the Email Marketing Industry Census 2013 is out and could be really valuable to help you proceed with the process of procuring the right Email marketing tool for internal use in your organisation. Equally useful and interesting is the Adobe infographic on key Digital Trends for 2013 and the more comprehensive Intelligence report: Digital Trends for 2013 as they help you stay tuned with the direction digital marketing is taken overall and how marketers respond to the new digital channels. Or the State of Digital in the MENA region that’s great reading material for those marketers working for organisations that may be penetrating in that region.
Best Practice Guides
This one is one of the main USPs of the paid level offer by Econsultancy. If you work in-house and need additional insight on something specific like SEO and have ended up with the task to draft an SEO strategy for the organization, the Econsultancy SEO Best practice Guide can help you greatly, even though considering that the current one is outdated (2012) some of the main areas or enterprise SEO are still valid in today’s Post Panda/Penguin world. You may be thinking why not just use the SEOmoz beginners guide, and the reason is that the Econsultancy SEO Guide will give you more structural inspiration if you are working at large enterprise where SEO tends to depend more on processes. Another good Guide is the Paid Search Marketing (PPC) Guide which provides solid guidance on Marketing campaign integration and is quite up to date (March 2013).
I also couldn’t finish this section without mentioning the new Digital Marketing Guide by Neil Perking that has just gone out, and which I am reading at this very moment.
Web Project Templates
Cost: the entry-level ‘individual’ subscription has considerably gone up recently from €345 to €595 but if you happen to be the only one responsible for marketing at your workplace, I highly recommend you get your boss to put the funds aside for this. This individual subscription already gives you unlimited access to all reports, research guides and academic papers on the site. If you run a small team you can get 3 subscriptions access for €1195… and if you work in-house in a large enterprise then it’s best to contact Econsultancy to request a custom price depending on number of users in your organisation.
To be truthful, I have to admit that when it comes to keeping all their material up to date, the site has seen better days. Some of their guides do need an update and/or facelift, but it is definitely still worth subscribing due to the depth and usefulness of their resources.
I have not yet tried or accessed the ‘paid subscription’ online resources on Marketing Sherpa, but sometimes I find myself downloading their free stuff and read their blog and have always had a good impression about the work. Many friends in the industry use this resource and recommend it. Reknowned marketers like Lee Odden do recommend Marketing Sherpa too.
The onsite training, case study handbooks and most of the the paid downloadable material is done via Meclabs, which seems to be the name for Marketing Sherpa’s publications centre. Although it is not the first resource I would go to for spacialised marketing areas like SEO, if you are interested in getting better at marketing, Marketing Sherpa runs thier own workshops, online courses and other training all marketing-focussed.
With regards to free goodies, I have downloaded some of the free reports on the Free resources section like the e-books ‘Tactical approach to Content Marketing’ or the ‘Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report’ and they seem good material… the full comprehensive study is usually at a cost. Once you pay for one single full report, you may find that it is worth paying for the membership instead and get access to many more resources.
Cost: $397/year, which allows you to download 10 or more special report per year, plus a few other perks. This price is probably worth paying even if only want to have access to one of their practical guides or kits, like their ‘Email Marketing Survival kit‘.
WebCertain is a UK-based International Search Marketing agency. They help organisations that want to penetrate into international markets with their search marketing efforts. Web Certain runs the International Search Summit conference alongside Search Engine Expo. I recommend you to attend this conference if you into Interanational marketing. They have also recently just launched the International Digital Hub where you can download some great whitepapers such as like :
- The Global Mobile Report 2013, which provides great intelligence around mobile usage in different international markets
- the Essential Guide to Rel-alternate Href
- International PPC Comparison of the World’s major search engines
WebCertain also runs the Multilingual Search Blog which boasts great articles mostly focussed on International Search. And lastly but no least, if you become a WebCertain’s client, you will get access to their international project tool, which also boasts whitepapers, slidedecks from conferences and other useful resources.
SEMPO is a non-profit organization that looks to bring best practice, regulation and recognition to the Search Marketing Industry. Although they are struggling with their business model and resourcing methods, I think it is a great organisation that all search marketers should support. I am a subscriber to their services and often download their material and watch their webinars given by popular marketers.
Anyone can join SEMPO to help influence the future growth of the Search Marketing industry.
On a resources side of things, The SEMPO Learning Centre packs amongst others the following:
- Resource Library: containing
- articles -white papers
- case studies
- webinars: great marketers and speakers like Eric Enge from Stone Temple Consulting, and Michael King from iAquire run interesting online marketing webinars for SEMPO
We use it all the time to keep up on industry trends and best practices, as they do tend to offer coverage around international search marketing too. As am member you can benefit from a range of discounts to conferences, industry events, online training courses and you will not have to pay to attend the regular webinars which cost about $15 if you are not a member.
Digital Marketing Depot
Digital Marketing Depot is the new evolution of the former ‘Search Marketing Now’, and is part of the Third Door Media network of sites. They have a resource centerfor digital marketing worth looking at if you are after learning new digital marketing strategies and tactics.
Their resources can be search by topic or by type. You could search by topic for any kind of ‘mobile marketing’ resources and the site would bring you onto this section: http://digitalmarketingdepot.com/library/mobile, or you could search ‘by type’ about research information like for example: Social media Enterprise management tools, so you would then choose ‘by type – research’: http://digitalmarketingdepot.com/library/research
Their white papers and e-books, research papers, and webcasts on digital marketing topics may give you a ton of ideas and inspiration…. if — from advertising to analytics, SEO and PPC campaign management tools to social media management software, e-commerce to e-mail marketing. I have often saved a ton of time using this site both as a reference to research info, experts opinions and insights but also lists of software suppliers. My only criticism is that for any piece of material you download you are requested to fill out a form and leave info. that may lead to you being pitched by either the company behind the webcast or whitepaper or a business partner, but given that all resources are free, it is understandable.
Cost: Free (providing you give your email)
Hubpot is an Inbound Marketing commercial software tool that brings in a unique approach to doing online marketing. As opposed to working on certain digital marketing channels in adhoc basis, Hubspot promotes integration, leads-generation and conversion-driven functionality with their tool.
I am not here to promote their tool on this post, but their marketing resources, ebooks, guides, research data, free PPT templates are all great material for anyone starting out in online marketing. Go and check out their newly branded online marketing resources: http://www.hubspot.com/free-marketing-resources
Cost: Free (I mean their marketing resources)
Google’s Think Insights Portal
Think Insights is still an unknown source of information to many marketers as the resource has only been live only since March 2013. It seems that Google wants to create its one-stop shop for marketing expertise within their own network. Not only you can get information about the various different advertising possibilities, options and tools to plan or strategize an International Ad Campaign across your network, but also case studies: and lots of educational and inspirational video material :
The sort of information you can get on the site ranges greatly:
- industry-standard response rate
- multiple case studies from different industries and sectors
- comprehensive information around the various different types of advertising available in the Google network
- tools to help you visualise the potential of your investment in specific channels
Visit the Google Advertising Platforms section to get an quick idea of the multiple range of advertising options to your disposal, or the Planning Tool area to get information about consumer surveys, research tools and tools to help you estimate values. For example, if you are leading on a Mobile marketing project and need a tool to help you build the case for more investment in that specific channel, then you will like Google’s Calculator for potential of mobile marketing. Equally useful is the Media Planning Toolkit that helps you find out which Google marketing tool can be relevant at each stage of your project planning process.
If you need inspiration, check out the Creative Sandbox too for a showcase of successful and innovative marketing campaigns that spark creativity. One of the sections I visit the most in my role is Education which is well sourced with interviews, campaign showcases and infographics, but Google has been working on adding rich resources to the other sections covering other industries too.
Other Google Resources
I will not cover here an exhaustive list of sites to visit to learn about the various advertising possibilites within the Google Network but a few I use often and which I recommend you take a look are:
- The DoubleClick Portal: if you are responsible for managing global and cross-channel paid advertising campaigns using Doubleclick’s resources may help you organise it all better.
- InsideSearch: do you constantly get colleagues in your organisation asking the same questions about how search works? bookmarking this site may help you deal with those enquiries more efficiently. It is the official Google site on how search works. If you’ve heard of the Knowledge graph, you can get full information here.
- and some of the main learning platforms : GoogleAds Webinars, GoogleAnalytics Training
- Youtube CreatorAcademy: to learn everything about marketing your business in Youtube, including Channel Analytics in 6 lessons containing 3-4 videos each.
- Plus your Business: This is not a resource owned by Google but it is about learning Google+ for Business. It’s a great one stop shop for all things Google+ and is authored by Martin Shervington
Koozai’s Online marketing whitepapers
Koozai is a Digital Marketing agency based in office in Southampton and London.
Their website boasts rich and useful online marketing whitepapers: From Brand Monitoring to Google Analytics practical guides, you will find great, practical hands-on whitepapers that you can leverage to make your in-house SEO work easier. Take a look at the ‘how to perform a technical audit guide’. It does a good job at getting you started at performing technical audits for your company.
Cost: free (in exchange for your email)
Content Marketing Institute
Visit their ‘Resources‘ section and download interesting whitepapers mainly from product vendors. Many of the papers cover useful research or article about streamlining marketing techniques, such as this one from SpringCM about Streamlining Content Marketing. Their research and articles sections are also worth following. If you are moving into Content Marketing or want to learn more about it, this should be one of your online resources.
I use the Social Baker’s Free statistics data for the big picture of what’s happening on some of the biggest social networks and the brands that dominate that sphere. For example, say you are starting to research penetration potential for your company or that of a client, in India, and you’d want to check the brands that dominate social media in this country, you can search by Social network: Google+ and then choose ‘Brands’ .
Another example of how this could be useful if if you are working on building links for your client via Outreach and Content Marketing, you can find the top Media companies with the highest number of Twitter follower in Czeska by just going to Twitter – Media – Czech Republic or the most popular individuals on Twitter going to: Twitter – Profiles – Czech Republic.
Cost: access to their statistics dbase is free of charge
Blogs that I consider pools of resources
Do you wonder sometimes if you are actually reading the right industry blogs to keep abreast of developments in Search, Social or general industry trends? Some blogs can be a good marketing resource. I am not mentioning here all the cutting edge SEO or tactical-based blogs I read, but those I think of as a good resource for enterprise marketers, particularly those with an international flaveur.
Many of them on the list are too strategy and enterprise driven and typically cover things like strategic planning approaches to large sites SEO, international search programmes or multilingual aspects of large sites. Those are the ones I have focused on, although I may have deviated a little bit with two of them.
Search Engine Land : If your interest is specifically about Search Marketing, then Search Engine Land is always a good source of information. I recommend you sign up for the feeds of the following columnists:
- Andy Atkins Kruger, from WebCertain: the majority of his posts are about International search, so to all International search marketers this should be a must.
- Chris Liversidge, from QueryClick: multinational, multilingual and International SEO are often some of his topics. All his posts are great read.
- Bill Hunt, from Back Azimuth Consulting writes about global search marketing planning and programmes, structures and processes.
- Shari Thurow, from Omni Marketing Interactive, specializes in Website Architecture and Usability as well as SEO. Although her focus is not specificaly about International SEO, all her work and what she lobbies for applies to International SEO structures. I highly recommend you read her column in SEL too.
- How to section: Also the how To section on Search Engine Lands offers great guides and papers ranging from beginners to more advance, from PPC to Analytics
- Although the above are my main preferred columnist, it is worth subscribing to the Multinational Search feed in case any other writers posts with a topic around International, multilingual or international marketing. Search Engine Land used to have a pro membership subscription but they are now phasing it out and at the time of writing the site informs that their conferences videos, and other material will still be available on the site.
State of Digital (former ‘State of Search’):This blog and online portal of information to Digital marketing is run by Bas van Der Beld. Bas tends to provide great coverage of some of the top industry conferences not only in the Uk but throughout Europe, so check the Events section to find out also about the less fancy but good conferences like SASCon and Brighton SEO. The section on Strategy is worth a look from time to time, and if you are constantly o the look out for new tools, check out the Tools section
SEMPO’s blog This is blog about Search engine marketing sometimes covering International search and run by SEMPO. http://blog.sempo.org/
AJPR: This blog is run by Motoko Hunt, an international marketer specialised in the Japanese market. Her blog is mainly about Search in Japan: http://www.ajpr.com/wordpress/ but also on the Asian market. Judging from her speeches in conferences and her contributions on other forums, you can see that Motoko has a wealth of experience in the Asian market. It is therefore a pity that she doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time on her blog (most of the posts are very concise), but I still keep in in my feeds in case she may write something worth not missing.
Blogs to keep up with Search Marketing in Asia : There are three main blogs I follow and recommend. They keep me well up to date with insights about Search in Asia from the perspective of bloggers who actually live search and Internet marketing life in that continent:
http://www.searchblog.asia/ for overall search marketing news in East Asia
http://www.nanjingmarketinggroup.com/blog blog focusing mainly on the nuances of Baidu and on the China market
Distilled Training resources:I do not intend that Distilled may be a comprehensive source of information for international SEO but it does boasts great resources for marketers. You can get a vast amount of free information from this website around online marketing training resources or guides such as SEO for Facebook, the mobile-friendly site build guide, their online video marketing material, and what I also like about Distilled is that they sell the video material of their conferences so you can store it on your ipad and watch the conference sessions while on commuting or travelling. If you happen to be too busy to go to conferences lately, this is a great way to keep up to date.
Search Engine Watch:columns written by the following authors provide value in International business models: but also follow the topic you may be interested in. For example I follow: http://searchenginewatch.com/topic/naver & Daum http://searchenginewatch.com/topic/daum for Korea’s news and http://searchenginewatch.com/topic/japan for news on Japan Search or for South Easta Asia news: http://searchenginewatch.com/topic/southeastasia
Some of the podcast producers I mention below often cover international marketing topics or topics that have to do with multilingual or multinational issues, particularly around search. There are so many people in the industry that do no listen to podcasts, which surprises me as I think they are a great way to keep abreast of developments in the marketing industry, discover new products, get opinions and recommendations from top marketers and expand your knowledge. The bonus is that you don’t need to be dependent of a small or large screen. You just need a smartphone where you can subscribe to them and hook up in your travelling time or while you are taking the usual stroll:
- StrikePoint, by Mikkel deMib. After more than a year lapse, it is great to see that we have StrikePoint podcasts again, and with two big names from the industry: Atkins-Krueger and Kristjian Mar Hauksson as co-hosts
- Internet Marketing from the guys at Site visibility: Kelvin Newman. This podcast from those starting in Internet Marketing but also often insteresting to experienced marketers as they are starting to add speaking conference marketing sessions to their weekly broadcasting.
- Online Marketing & Communications Podcast from Jon Buscall from Jontus Media
- Digital Marketing Podcast from Daniel rowels and Ciaran Rogers
- Webcology which is run by Jim Hedger and Dave Davies
There is a podcast shows that I would have liked to recommend as an international Marketing show worth listening to: ex-State of Search, which used to be run by bas Ban del Veld and Roy Huskin, but it hit an end about a year ago and they are not broadcasting at the moment.
Another good source of information around Marketing podcasts is Webmaster Radio which does a good job at at categorising podcasts into digestible categories: International Marketing, SEO, Affiliate. What I don’t like is that they still list those podcasters which have not done any production for even a year. It’d be great if they could organise their material by ‘Active, Non-active, etc’…
Here’s some great books which I consider a good resource or worth using as reference:
- eMarketing excellence (by Dave Chaffey and PR Smith): this is a must-have ‘bible-like’ book about Digital Marketing for in-house marketers… it’ll help you have a top-view perspective of the marketing paradigm in your organisation and how to plan campaigns using the SOSTAC system. I have been reading and consulting this book for guidance and as reference for years since the first edition.
- Global Search Engine Marketing by A. kennedy and Kristjan Mar Hauksson: a very easy to read reference book which contains useful tips about different international markets and audiences. Again if you work in International Search you will like it, though it will make you want more, as if there was a second edition with more comprehensive coverage and detailed insights for every country section. You can read my review about the book in amazon under David C:
- Optimize by Lee Odden: this is my latest read. The book’s subtitle is : How to Attract and engage more customers by integrating SEO, Social media and content marketing. Placing customer engagement at the heart, the book takes a deep look into how search and social media can work together to leverage a greater output for companies. Highly inspiring and engaging book!
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott. This was is quite old ( 2007) so I was hesitating whether to recommend it, but it made such impact on my marketing education when I read it that I had to recommend it. All the great principles discussed around online PR are still very valid if. The good news is that the author, David Meerman Scott, has published a new edition in july 2013. I have not read the new edition yet, but I intent to.
- The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the web: this book is my latest acquisition. It probably deviates from the focus of this blog post but it’s so inspiring I cannot finish the post without recommending it to all search marketers that want to improve their Content Marketing knowledge and master the skill.
and that’s it, I hope that you found something interesting in my recommended marketing resources. There are surely many more that I may be missing. Do you have a secret marketing learning resources that you would like to recommend? feel free to add it on the comments.