The world of alcohol has changed, and so has the way we market and sell it. Before the pandemic, people were drinking in bars and restaurants, sporting events, and parties. Wellness seekers were heading to AA meetings, and marketing campaigns focused on getting women to drink more often. In the last year, we have seen the alcohol sphere grow more online and the ‘in-person’ aspects of socialising and drinking decrease. The ways in which we consume alcohol as well as the contexts in which we consume it have shifted, and so has the way we market and sell it. The Google Marketing Challenge has put a spin on the traditional approach to customer discovery by having participants build websites that sell alcohol. The websites must adhere to the guidelines established by Google, and the winner will be determined by an audience vote.
The Basics Of The Challenge
The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a free challenge put on by Google in partnership with BizEaze. BizEaze helps businesses create websites and online presences, and the partnership aims to provide small businesses with the digital marketing skills they need to compete effectively in the online sphere. The partnership makes the challenge uniquely accessible to those outside of the traditional alcohol industry as well as providing industry veterans the skills they need to navigate the ever-changing world of online marketing.
The challenge is open to anyone in the world, and you can sign up at any time. The only requirement is that you must have a business or brand in the alcohol or health space. That being said, the more established you are in the alcohol industry, the more you stand to benefit from the knowledge gained through the challenge. Most businesses, even those that are quite new, will already have a website or online presence, so all you need to do is sign up and register your business. You will then receive a confirmation email from Google.
The Specifics Of The Challenge
The first step to entering the competition is to complete the Google Digital Marketing Challenge registration. This should only take a few minutes and will bring you to a page where you can create a unique website for the purposes of the competition. On this page, you will have the option of choosing a pre-made template or using the example content provided.
While not required, it is advisable to sign up with a hosting provider that offers businesses the ability to install a professional-looking WordPress site. This is the generally accepted standard for creating and maintaining websites, and it provides you with the ability to update the site with your own content if you so desire. If you are not technologically savvy or do not have access to a computer programmer, opting for a pre-made template will still give you a relatively professional looking site. Even if you do not end up using a template, going with a pre-made option is certainly easier and faster than building a website from scratch.
Now that you have a basic website up and running, you can take the time to familiarise yourself with the various functions of WordPress. If you opt for the unique design of the challenge, you will have the option of deciding what you want your site to look like. However, we recommend going with one of the many free templates that come with WordPress. These templates are already optimised for SEO and equipped with all the necessary functions you will need to get your site up and running. In addition to this, you can always take the time to learn the basics of SEO if you are not quite sure what this means.
The Learning Curve
Now that you have a functional, if basic, website, it’s time to start investing in your future. One of the most useful things you can do for your site is to learn SEO. This is the process of optimising your content so that it reaches the top of the search results when someone searches for a particular term or phrase. If you want your site to achieve the greatest number of views and be found online, you need to learn and implement SEO into your content creation strategies. There are free SEO tools available online that you can use to test and learn how well your content is performing. For instance, you can use Google’s Search Console to track your keywords and see how many monthly searches you’re getting for each key term.
SEO can seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to see significant improvements to your website’s search rankings, driving more qualified traffic to your site and helping you to gain a larger audience. Above all else, SEO is a long-term game that requires patience and continuous effort to see the results you’re looking for. Fortunately, implementing SEO into your strategy doesn’t have to be hard. The process is made much simpler with the use of tools like Yoast SEO and Jetpack, both of which are extensions for WordPress itself. With these two tools, you can fully optimise your content with a few clicks of the mouse. To get started, simply create a free account on either website and begin importing your content. If you need additional help, there’s a wealth of free online material available to learn SEO and implement it onto your content strategy.
The Ongoing Needs
Nowadays, the mainstay of any internet marketing campaign is social media. Fortunately, the same rule applies to the alcohol industry, and many brands and businesses have shifted to become social media-savvy.
With many options available to connect with potential customers, taking the time to create a social media strategy is essential if you want to be successful in the digital sphere. It is well-established that the majority of internet users now use one or more social media platforms to stay connected with friends and familiars. In the same way, you can grow your website via the SEO efforts you’ve already put in, you can grow your presence on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to attain more followers, engage with your audiences, and grow your brand.
When creating your social media strategy, you must bear in mind that different platforms have different requirements. If you want to target millennials on Instagram, for example, you need to create content that will keep their attention. When creating your content strategy, make sure you identify the various platforms your brand/business is present on and the demographic you’re trying to reach.
While digital marketing and the use of websites in general are certainly applicable to the alcohol industry, it is not solely focused on digital marketing. For instance, if you run a bar or a restaurant, you will still need to spend time on the phone ordering and taking food orders as well as cleaning the establishment. Thankfully, with the use of online marketplaces like Uber Eats, you can now have food delivery boys (or girls) coming to your house to take your order. As for advertising, you might want to look at online platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads to reach your target audience. In addition to this, depending on the size of your restaurant, you might want to consider hiring a public relations firm to help build your brand image amongst the general public. Even if you don’t have a physical presence in the form of a restaurant, bar, or hotel, you can still advertise online.
As we mentioned above, SEO and social media have altered the face of online marketing, and these platforms have given birth to a brand new age of marketing. One of the major changes that can be attributed to SEO and social media is the change in consumer behaviour. Before the pandemic, people were getting together in groups, going to bars and restaurants, and meeting new people. Now, with many people working remotely and socialising more digitally, getting out and about to meet new people has become harder. This is a key consideration for those in marketing, especially those in the alcohol industry.
The Final Takeaway
Marketing campaigns can be implemented and altered to fit the times we live in. The pandemic changed everything, and while many aspects of our lives have returned to ‘normal’, the way we do business is still adapting to fit the new reality. With this in mind, those in the alcohol industry should ensure they continue to evolve and stay relevant with an eye to the future.
As the world of alcohol shifts to the online sphere, marketing and advertising through traditional and digital channels will continue to evolve and change to fit new opportunities and customer needs. As with any other industry, those in the alcoholic beverage world must stay abreast of new technological developments and continue to harness the power of the internet and social media to grow their business.