As September has begun, the weekend focus has shifted from beach trips and barbecues to football season. Water cooler talk inside offices sound more and more like NFL Network’s Fantasy Football Live, while everyone’s favorite team has a great chance of hoisting that Lombardi Trophy in February.

Whether you’re a football fan or not, millions of Americans are analyzing the results of their fantasy teams and waiting to see how the players they invested in will perform in 2016.

Unfortunately, not all fantasy owners will see positive outcomes with their lineup.

From fantasy to reality, how you manage your lineup can help shape your business strategy online.

Let’s look at digital marketing as a whole.

You know there are things you should be doing to maintain a competitive advantage in the digital landscape. As your fantasy football team relies on strong performances and touchdowns every week, your business requires a digital groundwork that leads to the end zone.

For business owners looking to understand how they can market their business, think about the different aspects of digital marketing as the players on your fantasy football team.

Quarterback = Website Design

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The driving force of the offense is the skill of your quarterback. You have to get the ball to your playmakers and drive your team into scoring position.

A good web design benefits both your SEO success and the experience of your potential consumer. The design and appeal of your website can drive visitors into loyal customers.

Think much more than the aesthetics. Providing a unique user experience that allows for easy navigation and features high-quality images will have visitors staying on your site for longer periods of time. This allows your message to be heard.

More so, think about all of your users. How are they finding you? Chances are they’re on their mobile device. If your website takes too long to load or for some reason isn’t mobile responsive in 2016, your first impression to visitors will be as much of a disaster as JaMarcus Russell’s NFL career.

Make your brand stand out. Boost credibility with a consistent design, ensuring prominent placement of your contact information and call to action, as well as easy access to your social media profiles. The design draws users in, gets them from one stage to the next, and uses the power of the playmakers to gain more business.

Think of it this way. The quarterback is your stud. Do you want a Tom Brady that gets you four Super Bowl rings or a Mark Sanchez that fumbles before he reaches the line of scrimmage? The answer is obvious.

Remember, to get the most of your web design, it has to be well-structured and provide a user experience that results in further interaction. Your design is the quarterback. It’s the piece of your strategy that delivers the ball to your playmakers and gets each visitor closer to the goal line.

Running Back = Content Marketing

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They say a running back’s value is dropping in fantasy football. It’s becoming a passing league, the role of the halfback isn’t what it used to be.

I say the value is still there, you just have to know where to look. Sure, a 2015 DeMarco Murray will be as big a bust as there is, but if you land a 2014 DeMarco Murray, users will be lining up to watch you play each week.

That’s what you want with your content. The internet is cluttered with similar pieces of content that peaks your interest, but say the same thing as 100 others. It doesn’t take long for you to become bored and navigate away from the page.

Content takes on multiple roles, just like your running back. One blog could explode for a huge gain that sets your quarterback up for a touchdown, while other pieces of content are merely blocking the defense to ensure your quarterback gets away unscathed.

Content comes in the form of:

  • Blogs
  • E-Books
  • Whitepapers
  • On-Site Content
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts and Webinars
  • Email Marketing

That versatility from your running back is just what you need with your content marketing. How does your content appeal to users? Your customers are present on many different platforms, consuming content in a variety of different ways.

How are you going to establish yourself and your company as a trusted source of content? The same way you put your fantasy knowledge on display with a workhorse running back, you must stand out with creative and unique content that shows you are experts on the topic at hand.

You want to run over the defense like Eddie Lacy has the capability of doing, or weave in and out of tackles like LeSean McCoy on your way to the end zone. Either way you look at it, you’re getting past the defense and garnering the attention of your audience.

Think of your running backs as the grinders on the team. Some pieces of content will leave you with a loss of a few yards, while others will result in a first down. Don’t expect everything you put out to go between the uprights. You need content to establish your voice just like you need a running back to solidify your team.

If you keep producing content, you’ll find the holes in the defense and run with the ferocity of Adrian Peterson to deliver your company with a big gain.

Wide Receiver = Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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The process of SEO takes a lot of planning, studying, and preparation. To be the best of the best for relevant queries to your business, it’s going to require skill and the ability to change the game.

  • Research
  • Analytics
  • Implementation
  • Optimizing Meta Information
  • On-Page & Off-Page Optimization
  • Image Optimization
  • Keyword Tracking

Your fantasy team has the star receiver, let’s say Odell Beckham Jr. If you’re smart, you’ll sprinkle in some other top receivers and mix in other contributors that receive a high amount of targets from their quarterbacks.

It’s the same with SEO. You want the big playmaker that can give you a touchdown or a big play when you need it, but others that are highly targeted. We’re talking about queries now. How are your users finding your website? Researching the competition is like watching film, and taking advantage of high volume queries that lead to conversions is how you succeed.

Organic SEO is one of the most important aspects of your digital marketing strategy. You need your business to be in the top positions on the search engines to generate traffic and let your quarterback lead you to the final sale.

Put in the research, understand which players will have the highest impact in their offense, and make sure that you select one that you can rely on to convert when you need a first down.

You want to have at least one top tier performer, whether the highest searched term for your industry, comparable to a player with the value of Julio Jones or Antonio Brown.

SEO is a complex process that requires continuous shifts in strategy and efforts to get the success you desire. Setting your lineup each week and adjusting the players based on recent trends and performance will help you drive converting traffic.

Remember, it’s a marathon that requires regular attention. Think of a young wide receiver like Amari Cooper that could be your keeper for the future. That’s like landing on the front page for “best national SEO firm,” a phrase that we’ve worked hard to achieve its top position in the SERPs.

Just keep your focus, and don’t drop the ball too early, or you’ll find yourself out of the league.

Tight End = Social Media Marketing

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Take a line (or a book) from Gary Vaynerchuk, and you’ll know that the best strategy for your social media is to hit your followers with jabs. “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” outlines the strategy of providing value, value, and more value to establish trust before hitting your customers with a converting sales pitch.

You want your posts to earn engagement and enhance your social presence. While some plays are drawn up for social media, others require an outlet pass when you need that extra push. That’s the tight end.

Your crutch, the person that you rely on to reach your audience where they are. A place for you to speak directly to them in content that is easily absorbed. You need steady and consistent production, establishing a presence like Rob Gronkowski whenever he steps onto the field. Whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube, give your audience content they can resonate with.

The role of your social media marketing campaign should not be to generate sales, but to assist in sales by establishing authority and driving traffic to your website. That’s how you should look at your tight end in fantasy football.

We’re not all going to get Gronk. We’re not all going to have the largest following on social media.

It’s about the right post at the right time that leads to consistent production and a little growth.

One post can be the breakout player you’ve waited for, like a Gary Barnidge. But think of your posts as a value add, not the workhorse or superstar who’s going to deliver a touchdown every week.

Flex = PPC

When you have a flex player, you choose the best option of your available running backs, wide receivers, or tight ends. Combining SEO, content, and social media is your flex.

The flex gives you flexibility. Common sense, right?

Pay per click provides you with flexibility. You can run your ads when you want to, at the frequency you want, and set a cap to avoid overspending. PPC delivers a high return on investment, when planned properly, and can take your business to the next level.

Differing from organic SEO, paid advertising allows you to see results right away. With the right strategy in place, your conversions will soar.

PPC involves search marketing, display marketing on Google’s display network, retargeting to show your ads to users who have previously visited your site, and social media advertising to target users of certain platforms. AdWords search network displays ads in the search results, while the Display Network is the biggest digital ad network in the world. It will display your ads on websites, mobile apps, YouTube, and more.

You have complete control of how you deliver your ads. If you draft right, your flex player can be Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Hill, Matt Forte, or Doug Martin. That can lead your team to victory and is a great asset to your overall digital strategy.

Expand your reach, drive converting traffic, and watch your business grow. Your flex player complements the superstars on your team, and can be a standalone superstar with the right strategy. Your PPC campaign operates the same way. Increasing exposure, you can see tremendous results and clicks that lead directly to conversions, or results that provide brand recognition which leads to assisted conversions.

Either way, you’re relying on your flex player each week to generate some success that gives you a better chance of winning.

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Putting Together a Winning Digital Marketing Strategy

No player wins on draft day. You’re faced with many obstacles and hurdles, dealing with injuries and poor performances that force you to drop and adjust.

You’re always on your toes, watching, analyzing, and waiting for what’s next. You can have the best strategy and the highest performing key phrase in the industry, but then all of a sudden it stops being searched. Long-lasting results aren’t an overnight success.

It takes pride in your work, and a thought out strategy. Study the trends and the sleepers to see who or what phrase is up and coming.

If done correctly, digital marketing will bolster your success and drive in more traffic and revenue than you’ve ever had. You have to play the game. You need a team of players that work together to bring you the best results.

Inbound marketing requires a commitment to each position of your lineup. Taking this approach, you’ll rise to the top of your industry or your league. Think in football terms to drive converting traffic and use your quarterback (web design) to turn visitors into customers.

If you play fantasy football, you have undoubtedly read advice columns and boom or bust articles from Matthew Berry. If you own a business or are the marketing manager of your company, you should be listening to expert advice and staying up to date on the latest changes to Google while watching fluctuations in your online traffic.

As Michael K. Williams famously said as Omar on The Wire, “It’s all in the game, yo.” Put in the time and effort and you’re well on your way to hoisting that Lombardi Trophy.