Ever find yourself reminiscing about the good old days of traditional marketing?
When businesses appeared in a big book with yellow pages and the only means of locating them was a scruffy A-Z?
These days, it’s so easy to become exasperated with the do’s and don’ts of digital marketing advice.
We frequently switch on our computers to doomsday warnings about mobileggedon, spend valuable time trying to locate the ‘unsubscribe’ option on emails and contemplate if keeping up with constant updates and technology is an actual fulltime job we could apply for.
So it’s really no surprise that the extent of digital marketing for many businesses is to set-up a website, post some information on social media and hope for the best.
Don’t get me wrong– there is no denying that digital marketing does work.
But with the overload of advice and a vast array of tactics available, many businesses decide that the best approach is to just get promoting.
What are those popular idioms again? Get a project off the ground? Get stuck in? Jump in the deep end?
Well that may work well for a while, but eventually you’re going to wonder when it’s possible to put down the project because you’ve got struck treading water… and now you’ve got stitch.
So let’s for a minute ignore the noise of digital marketing and focus on the fundamentals. The ground rules.
Yes, promotion is very important, but if you stick to the following aspects, no matter what changes, you can be successful in digital marketing:
It sounds pretty obvious. You want to boost your profits and build brand awareness, right?
But how much better is it to have a tangible outcome to work towards. Something you can point to and say, this is the result of our digital marketing efforts. A clear measurable marketing goal.
Each goal will be different for every business, but it needs to be measurable. Think about why you want to promote your business online; what do you really want to achieve? Do you want more contact forms completed? More visits to your website? A website redesign?
Think about specific objectives and then make them SMART (join in if you know it) specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-related. Doing this you will find that making plans to reach them suddenly becomes a whole lot easier.
Examples could be ‘generating 1000 visits from social media sources to your website by January 1st’ or ‘acquire 100 leads using search engine marketing by the end of the financial year’.
Whatever goals you set, it makes sense for them to be related to your overall business objectives. Obviously there’s no point aiming to have a goal of completed online purchases if you do all your business using quotes and tenders.
Setting specific goals with deadlines will keep you focused and is oh so satisfying when you finally reach them.
Wait! Don’t skip this bit.
Yes I’m well aware that the the word strategy is like triggering an allergic reaction, but unless you’re happy wasting money – you’ll need to put some serious consideration into this aspect.
Strategy is deciding how you are going to get from where you are now, to where you want to be (hopefully somewhere around your SMART goal).
If you did a search for digital marketing strategies right now, you would be faced with a barrage of advice; yet it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that 50% of organisations are doing digital marketing without a defined strategy*.
So why use a strategy and how do you get one?
An important reason for a digital marketing strategy is simply because those that follow them have higher success rates.
Creating a strategy helps you decide which tactics to use and which tools (such as pay-per-click advertising or search engine optimisation) you should invest in. You can also use a strategy to decide how and where to position your product or service by answering questions such as
There are also other aspects you can include in your strategic plan, such as how much budget you want to allocate and how much time you can spend on each action.
Using a framework to put together a strategy can help, such as the RACE model available at SmartInsights.com. However if you use a good digital marketing agency they should be happy to create an achievable and realistic strategy with you, hold regular meetings and work to deliver the objectives of that strategy.
This is the part we all enjoy; actively implementing our strategy.
Excitedly we write, invent, post and hire services to create regular, timely content for an online presence we can be proud of.
However if we neglect the other aspects of digital marketing (especially measuring marketing activities) we could end up stagnating quickly and making mistakes that cost us money and even customers.
So let’s not linger on the aspect we’re all familiar with, instead let’s learn how to judge if we are wasting money on inadequate endeavours with the next, very important aspect of digital marketing.
This is where things get personal.
And by personal, I mean specific to your business and no one else’s.
So when you’re busy promoting your business online, stop and think, is this right. For example, just because you’ve read that you should send marketing tweets on a Tuesday doesn’t mean that Tuesdays will be the most effective day for you.
Test it. Monitor it. Adjust it.
It may be that for some bizarre reason, Sunday afternoons are the best time to generate leads on social media. Who knows!? Well, you will… if you monitor the results.
These days, most promotional activity can be monitored using tools available online, sometimes free, sometimes paid for; either way, if you have some means to monitor your activities you’ll be able to tell if they are actually working or just wasting resources.
For effective monitoring you’ll need to decide on what metrics are important to you; maybe it’s the number of visitors to a certain page on your site, it could be the number of clicks on a paid advert or even the amount of times your content was shared.
Whatever you decide to monitor, don’t forget one important feature.
Some businesses make the mistake of thinking that simply having a website developed is sufficient; they often forget to audit it.
Auditing your website will highlight any areas that need improvement and can be done using analytic tools. It’s not the most straightforward task I’ll admit, but if you do have (or hire) the skills to identify problem areas, then the next step is making necessary adjustments.
These adjustments have huge benefits, such as boosting the number of people who visit the site, helping you rank high in search results and increasing conversions of visitors into leads and sales.
It may help to select the most appropriate monitoring tool with a good old fashioned Google search; of course continuous improvement through monitoring will be automatically included with services from professional digital marketing agencies that already have access to expert analytical tools.
Next is the aspect we all love to see; the evidence of success.
By comparing our starting place (our baseline) against our final goals, we can measure the impact of our efforts and determine if we were able to obtain a decent return on our investment.
There are a number of ways we could determine success, one is simply considering profit after we’ve spent an appropriate amount of time conducting online promotions. Gaining more profit from digital marketing then spending on digital marketing = good ROI and a happy business.
If you’re a new business, you may not find the answer you wanted with the previous question; however you can measure success in brand awareness.
Perhaps this time last year you were completely unknown, but now you have hundreds of followers, sharing your content, visiting your website and enjoying your advice. So you may not have made much profit this year, but you can clearly see the growth and potential for future success.
Every time you evaluate your activities and check your ROI you will always find a little gem, a lesson learnt or some important information that you can use for future plans.
You may find that you would like to spend less on trying to gain new customers and more on retaining existing customers or maybe you have identified new partnerships that have opened the way for exciting opportunities for next year’s marketing objectives.
And more importantly, don’t forget to measure your customer satisfaction. Any information you can gather that tells you more about what your customers want, prefer, use and like can only work to improve your service.
This can all be accomplished by measuring your marketing activity.
So no matter what the data you have gathered, it can be used to continuously improve not just your marketing online, but offline too.
Yes I’ll agree, it takes time and effort to implement each of these aspects but no matter what trends, advice, hints or tips that circulate about the best way to conduct digital marketing; if you stick to a structured plan with clear goals – you will find success.
There’s even more good news; you don’t even have to take all this on alone.
There are services out there that cover every aspect listed above as well as create content for you, provide you with monitoring data and even show you if you are receiving a good return on investment.
The Partnership Programme is a perfect example of this. It’s a complete measureable marketing solution based around individual business needs. You just pay a set monthly-fee and they take care of everything from content to monitoring so that you never have to overlook an important strategy again