Ideas lead to thoughts, thoughts lead to action and results, and that’s a cyclical process.
James Banks is Founder and Owner of Jamesbanks.co, a consulting firm teaching business owners and marketing managers how to improve and refine their digital marketing and organic search strategies. Over the past decade, Banks has consulted with more than 1,000 companies and creates independent marketing software reviews and business guides.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Banks shares his insights into the future of WordPress, search engine optimization, industry gaps and the Covid effect.
A Day in the Life (1:45)
Ultimately the objective is very simple: to help first-time online business owners who are thinking of transitioning or entering the online business space.
Over 91% of small businesses owners say that they will engage in digital marketing this year. However, that’s different than engaging in digital marketing that gets results. Jamesbanks.co works with new business owners to help them make the jump to digital in a seamless way through successful marketing. Banks believes that there’s a “big disconnect between theoretical lessons and what actually works in the trenches in real life day-to-day companies.”
For small businesses, the website remains the most popular digital marketing strategy due in part to industry gaps concerning social channels, the use of various platforms, and SEO.
Covid-19 hit small businesses especially hard, with over 100,000 businesses closing their doors for good in 2020. The importance of shifting business models, such as fully embracing the digital experience and online sales, has become paramount to small business success.
The Future is WordPress (2:24)
It’s in a phenomenally good usable state where anyone can use these native solutions to create an amazing site.
The enterprise world has increasingly transitioned from proprietary software to open-source content management systems such as WordPress. As Banks notes, proprietary software comes at an exorbitant rate coupled with an exorbitant maintenance cost. WordPress’s initial success was driven in part by competing with other platforms and DIY website builders. That said, the introduction of Gutenberg (aka block editor) as a native solution has further boosted the WordPress interface.
A recent WP Engine study projects that by the end of 2025, WordPress will power half the internet. Because of its built-in scalability and increased speed-to-market, WordPress has become the go-to CMS for small businesses to enterprise alike.
Search vs. Social (3:57)
The core of the successful social media campaign is content, which is also the core of a successful SEO campaign. You’ve got two marketing channels both built around silos of content.
Many businesses struggle with whether to invest more in social media campaigns, or in SEO campaigns. However, the broader perspective is that social and search are two sides of the same coin. Both are used to attract new customers, and retain existing ones, to the brand.
“Typically businesses operate in a state of dichotomy, either this or that, red versus blue, or SEO versus social,” says Banks. He examined the pros and cons of both approaches in a podcast with his former partner at Web3.
“We need to be able to be firing on all cylinders, such as content marketing,” Banks said. “Honestly, we don’t see it as a debate, SEO versus social media marketing. We actually believe they’re two in the same thing.”
As far as search engine rankings, it’s important to note that 46% of Google searches are for local information. In a blog post, Banks discussed how to leverage local SEO for small businesses, including recommendations on Google analytics, keywords, and website audits.
Changing Channels (6:04)
Where it typically becomes disconnected is going from the bottom up or from the channel up. When you try to open a marketing message to another channel, there can be a disconnect.
The rise of omnichannel—a more comprehensive form of multichannel—marketing is only as successful as the channels and platforms you’re working with, whether that’s desktop, mobile or tablet. The need to create individual and consistent messaging for your target audience is critical to to any social media campaign. A seamless digital experience, coupled with customer personalization, will help your strategy deliver longevity.
Make sure you know where you can find your audience. For example, there are more than 90 million small business pages on Facebook, which continues to be the primary social channel for brands.
The Covid Effect (7:41)
Consumer behavior is not going to go back to what it was pre-pandemic. It’s been around long enough to build in the consumer behavior patterns to make online the first and, in a lot of cases, the only channel.
The pandemic changed (and continues to change) everything: how we communicate, how we work and how we shop. Consumers now have much higher expectations of digital and online brands. That said, Banks feels that a long-term digital strategy and infrastructure plan is the best way to move forward in an uncertain time.
According to new data from McKinsey, 77% of Americans changed how they shopped during the pandemic, from new shopping behaviors to exploring alternate brands. In addition, 42% of consumers say they’ll fundamentally change the way they shop due to Covid-19. In other words, there’s no going back.
Mind the Industry Gaps (8:47)
There’s a big gap in the digital marketing industry around the actual insights and understanding of the data to turn into meaningful actions that lead to results.
Digital marketing changes at warp speed. In order to keep up, businesses need to know their data to proceed with a comprehensive marketing strategy. For instance, data-driven personalization can lead to a more intuitive shopping experience.
Research conducted by Forbes found that a company’s personalization strategy is inextricably tied to its data strategy. Creating the right personalized experience depends heavily on reliable data, especially in the age of industry gaps in marketing.
The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard
There’s a reason or meaning behind every single thing that happens. There is no such thing as a coincidence…Once you understand that if you can change your ideas and your thoughts, you can almost dictate your actions and results.