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If your company is like ours, you've probably had your share of annual marketing planning meetings. You know what you need to do, but the how isn't always clear—or it's continually changing.

Our team at UpCity surveyed 600 respondents from small businesses across the United States and Canada to gather more insight on where they stand with their marketing strategies and how they feel about current digital marketing trends.

Two-thirds of businesses surveyed said they believe that their current digital marketing strategies are effective in achieving their 2022 goals. Which raises the question: Why is the remaining one-third lacking confidence in their digital marketing?

Well, the answer isn't exactly black and white; it's a combination of several reasons. As a marketer yourself, you might relate to the pains of constantly changing algorithms, the need for a bigger budget to keep up with ever-increasing digital demands, and of course the numerous challenges brought on by the pandemic.

It's worth noting that defining marketing success can be subjective. Success can vary considerably from business to business, depending on its overarching goals. So, although our respondents may have improved their brand, achieved higher SEO rankings, or received more engagement on social media, for our survey we defined marketing success as directly related to market expansion.

What's Hindering Businesses' Faith in Their Marketing Strategies?

Most survey respondents reported that they believe their current marketing strategies work, so overall confidence is high. And though the remaining one-third may be only somewhat confident in their marketing approaches, the doubt comes from not hitting all of their goals.

Fully 59% of marketers said they feel they do not have the data they need to feel confident about which marketing campaigns are working, research published by the American Marketing Association has found. What's more, 37% said one of their top issues is lead generation.

Increased sales may be a goal of marketing, but the marketing and sales departments aren't always aligned, so it can be tough to measure success in dollars.

Digital Marketing Lead Gen Tactics to Use

Lead generation is a beast in and of itself, intersecting Marketing and Sales. If increasing leads and expanding your reach are among your primary business goals, here are four tried-and-true methods to continue investing in, no matter your industry.

1. Organic Search

The rise of paid search makes it understandable why some would question whether organic search still has value.

It does. An organic search strategy may take more time and patience to deliver desired results; however, it's more likely to generate high-quality leads and revenue because it's a nondisruptive form of delivering content, according to HubSpot.

Think about it: People don't like being sold to. Although paid search certainly has its benefits and pays off in its own way, most Internet users don't want to be bombarded with ads.

Organic search helps, but that alone won't accomplish all your business objectives. You can't forget about SEO and content production.

2. SEO

Your organic traffic won't find your content without implementing SEO best-practices. Pay attention to search intent for target keywords, optimize your on- and off-site content, and keep boosting your online reputation by getting verified on third-party sites.

At UpCity, we emphasize visibility by having an incredibly strong SEO presence; as a result, our lead generation team is fortunate to have a great deal of inbound traffic, which has helped us expand outside of the North American market.

If you're looking for more specific advice, Ahrefs recommends tips such as converting images and graphics into backlinks, repurposing blog posts as videos, and prioritizing an annual content audit—which we've also seen work.

3. Content Writing

High-quality content is what's going to bring in your organic traffic.

If market expansion is the goal of your content marketing strategy, create multiple content pieces, such as how-to videos, product demos, long-form blog posts, case studies, and podcasts.

Positive results won't happen overnight, but those who are engaging with your content will move closer to your brand and become potential leads.

Don't create content for its own sake. You'll often hear that posting consistently is important (which is true!), but what's most important is understanding your target audience.

For lead generation, the best content will educate audience members on topics that interest them. Putting less emphasis on your products and services can help you focus more on how your expertise will help them reach their goals.

4. Artificial Intelligence

Nearly half of marketers are struggling to meet their goals because of a lack of resources, whether time, staff, or budget, according to the previously mentioned American Marketing Association survey. Understanding and accepting that we can't do it all is actually a giant step toward achieving our goals. That's why more businesses are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and support marketers who have a full plate.

Forbes identifies marketing as one of the top three functions where AI can realize its full potential. Marketers are looking to AI to target and optimize the impact of their investments in media, content, and digital channels.

Starting off on the right foot with AI can be tricky. You'll need to ensure proper training is conducted for full adoption; if team members don't completely understand the product they're using, it will lead to more challenges instead of growth.

AI can increase ROI by speeding up marketing campaigns, reducing costs, and improving efficiency—but only if it's set up correctly.

Keep Pushing Forward

It takes a lot of work to be successful in marketing these days. It pulls us in many directions, and you may wonder whether your strategies are worth the effort.

They are. Every business is different, and it may just require that you shift more of your focus to SEO rather than AI, or direct more resources to content creation before you worry about organic search.

Trusting in current digital marketing best-practices and making measured adjustments along the way will ultimately drive the positive outcomes you're looking for.

More Resources on Digital Marketing Strategy

The Five Pillars of a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy That Endures

Storytelling, Digital Transformation, Customer Experience... and You: Contently's Joe Lazauskas on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

How to Maximize Your Digital B2B Marketing Strategy With PIM

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Four Digital Marketing Lead Gen Tactics Not to Give Up On

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image of Dan Olson

Dan Olson is a co-founder and the CEO of UpCity, a resource that connects millions of businesses with over 100,000 B2B service providers they can trust. He has spent his career building technologies that enable businesses to gain visibility, build reputation, and grow revenue.

LinkedIn: Dan Olson