Digital Marketing in Rural America
Emerging Marketing Technologies
OUTdrive Episode 15 with Kyle Meek
In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Kyle Meek, Digital Marketing Manager at Callis. Cliff and Kyle discuss emerging technologies and digital marketing methods including social media, SEO, data and automation and the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). They also dive into the importance of remaining curious, looking at data in creative ways and key insights into reaching a rural American audience through digital marketing. Read more for some great insights from their conversation.
Digital Marketing Trends and Technology
Kyle and some of the other members of the Callis team recently attended a digital summit hosted by Agency Management Institute (AMI). AMI is a management consulting firm that specializes in helping marketing agencies like us take their performance to the next level—and keep improving. The digital summit is an interactive workshop where digital teams come together to learn about new digital marketing trends and tools and share strategies and best practices.
According to Kyle, “AMI is a great opportunity to go and network with our peers. We get to meet with people who are working in very similar roles as us and are doing a lot of the same things we’re doing, but maybe with some different angles.”
He continues, “It really gives us a great opportunity to bounce some ideas off of them and they bounce ideas off us. We really learn a lot about what’s working for others, share what’s working for us and we gain a lot of knowledge into best practices right now and the digital trends that are emerging.”
“I think one of the biggest takeaways is that things continue to change and there’s so many things to try out all the time,” said Kyle. If you want to read more about some specific emerging digital trends from the digital summit and why they should be on your radar, check out this article.
SEO was one of the hot topics at the digital summit. As web technology continues to advance, there are continual optimizations that should be made to your website to keep it performing as it should. “I think one of the most important things that you can do right now is look at your website and make sure it’s well built,” said Kyle. “How does it look and feel? Is it dated and not very fast? Does the mobile view work? On most devices, all those things are going to cause you to not show up as high or not at all.”
Reaching Rural America with Digital
Effectively reaching and communicating with a rural American audience with digital marketing can be a challenge in rural areas with limited access to broadband. Kyle noted, “In those situations, if they don’t have good broadband access, you’re not as likely to reach them at home. But you can target people who are frequently in different areas too. So you can target this audience when they’re at a business, or when they’re at work, and with a good mix of some of the more traditional methods. There’s many traditional methods that still work, especially when you’re integrating them with digital.”
Cliff added, “That is one of the great things about what we do. When we started out in the agency world, all we had were the traditional methods–TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, and personal selling. And then when the internet came along, really what it did for us was just opened up a whole lot of new opportunities for communicating with people where they are.” Cliff went on to say, “Now you have all these online vehicles at your disposal, and for us, it gave us so many more tools to work with.”
Experimenting with New Methods
While there are tried and true methods and strategies that continue to prove effective, it is important to continue trying new techniques and adapt your marketing program as new technologies emerge. Integrating new approaches into a proven marketing strategy can help you continue to gain traction and boost results.
Kyle discusses the importance of trying different strategies and platforms as they emerge. He notes, “I think you have to be very curious with a willingness to learn and try new things. For example, video is one that’s really been developing over the last few years.”
When trying new platforms and strategies, it is important to keep in mind how they will integrate with your other efforts and make the most impact. Kyle adds, “I think you have to be willing to try out different platforms where audiences can be reached. But it’s not just the tool, it’s the creative too. It’s really integrating everything together and trying to test it, and then optimize it to accomplish your business goals.”
Are you incorporating new technologies into your strategy? Are you encouraging your team to experiment with new methods? A common question is, can you afford the time and resources to do so? Maybe a better question though is, can you afford not to?
The Value of a Diverse Skill Set
Another key insight from this episode of OUTdrive is the importance of a diverse skill set and cross training team members to be able to navigate constant changes. Cliff points out that Kyle’s diverse background makes him a great member of our team, saying, “I think we all liked the fact that you could do so many different things because you became very valuable to us to sort of fill the gaps where we had them at the time.”
Whether it was desktoping an ad or developing new websites, Kyle adapted to any challenge that came his way. Cliff expands on the importance of this from a business perspective. “I really see that as a bonus today for employees to be able to wear multiple hats. They can be cross-trained in different things, so that as a business ebbs and flows and projects change and new things come on, that they’re able to adapt and move from one thing to another.”
In fact, one of the things we hear from our clients frequently is that they value the diverse skill set that we offer as an agency. It can be a challenge to find an employee that excels in all the areas of marketing they need to be active in. Engaging an agency like ours allows them to tap into many different skill sets ranging from creative to digital marketing to public relations efficiently and cost-effectively.
No matter the industry, approaching projects with curiosity and being eager to solve problems is beneficial. For example, Kyle uses his critical thinking and problem solving skills to meet client needs. He notes, “I think one of the traits that’s very important for a web developer is really enjoying problem solving, and having a bit of a puzzle to figure out. That’s what we’re really doing in the digital spaces. People have a problem or something that they’re trying to solve. How do I drive more business? How do I reach these types of people? Our challenge as a digital agency is to look for the best solution, or the most cost effective solution to complete those goals.”
Kyle explains that he has always been curious about how things work, something that has greatly benefited him in his position as a web developer. Like many curious kids, Kyle was known for taking apart his computers to discover how they worked.
This interest grew into a passion after a teacher encouraged him to continue learning and developing his skills. He explains the impact it had on him, “I remember in high school, I was working on a website. A teacher came up to me after class and said ‘You’re pretty good at this. You should consider looking at a career in website development. It never really hit me that I was doing special things there. It helped grow my interest in the web space and then I went to college and found the path around exactly what I wanted to do.”
Whether it is in a high school education setting or a career development meeting, it is important to encourage curiosity. Allow yourself and team members to ask questions, provide positive feedback and experiment with new strategies and tactics.
Hear more about emerging technologies and digital marketing methods including social media, SEO, data and automation and the future of AI, in addition to more about the importance of remaining curious, looking at data in creative ways and key insights into reaching a rural American audience through digital marketing from Cliff Callis and Kyle Meek in this episode of OUTdrive.