You’re the head honcho of a business who’s finally realized that your business won’t be relevant without a cohesive, professional presence online.
As the owner, you realized that with everything going online during this pandemic, your business barely has any online footprint to show for as you’ve always done well with just offline presence but nowadays, you now see “digital marketing” in every piece of business article you read and you decide to finally take a peek at your own businesses’ online presence.
You or one of your staff probably created a Facebook business page and Instagram account years ago and you realize that apart from the cover photo, logo, and basic About Us information, all your posts date back when Gangnam Style was still all the rage.
“Better late than never!”, you thought and your digital marketing journey begins.
Where to Start!?
It’s Q4 of 2020, and you sat down with your team and say “the boss wants us to be online and gave us a budget for digital marketing for 2021, Yey!”
The team’s excited, some of your younger members of your team finally exclaimed “Finally! We’re crawling out of the stone age!”
After settling everyone down, you asked a basic question to the team:
“Where should we start?”
Your small conference room of 10 suddenly turned into a Wall Street trading floor frenzy with suggestions flying everywhere.
“Facebook and IG!”
“We need an app!”
“Tiktok would be awesome!”
“We should run Google ads!”
“We don’t even have a website!”
Your eyebrows raise and it just dawned on you, “we don’t know what we want!”
Before Identifying Solutions, Figure Out the Needs
Your enthusiastic staff members were not wrong, you probably should be doing all those things, but all of those suggestions need:
- Skilled specialists
- Lengthy planning
- Baseline resources like assets and creatives
Your CFO will squash the budget like a bug in an instant – Unless…
There’s a business rationale to invest in.
1. Primary Business Objective
Are you trying to tell the world about your brand?
Getting leads for a new product line?
Reaching out to existing customers?
As the boss, you need to know which one of these you want to do first that moves the needle for the business so you can have the momentum to keep the engine chugging.
Too many ambitious managers want to do everything in one go, and that’s a guaranteed recipe for disaster for a newbie.
Imagine a random stranger walks up to you all of a sudden in the middle of the street and starts telling you about their life background, their name, what they do, their credentials, their dreams, the product they’re trying to sell you, plus the offer that’s only available RIGHT NOW!
You’ll probably make a 180-degree, military-like turn to run away from that person and you’ll not remember a single thing they mentioned in that 30-second span.
It’s the same thing with digital marketing, but you only have 3 seconds, on average.
Pick one objective that you think will make the business better objectively and stick to that.
2. Know How Deep Your Pockets Are
Related to the objective, your budget plays a big role on your digitization goal’s success rate. Understand that the budget must not just be for the actual launch phase for the project but you most likely have to do a lot of pre-requisite investments and changes such as fixing your website content, collating your digital assets, synchronizing your offline marketing, and other tasks that cost time and money before anything can start with your digital project.
In addition, once you finish your project, it’s only the start of your journey. Your first campaign and project will likely be a baseline data learning phase and nothing more. You still need a budget for optimization, new tests, and scaling up what worked over time, so don’t overlook the entire lifecycle.
3. Understand Your Customer and their Journey
What’s the most important aspect of any marketing endeavor? Before you say “sales”, you need to realize that a person need has to say “yes” to complete that purchase, and before that purchase occurs, the person needs to know you exist and felt compelled to engage with you at a certain touchpoint.
Understanding where your customer is within their shopping journey is vital. Some may already know your brand and products but have forgotten you; some might not know you even exist; while others really need what you offer and have heard of you but your competitors already took them from you. Each one of these customers need a different approach that you need to plan for.
The standard “customer journey mapping” exercise that splits your marketing to AWARENESS, CONSIDERATION, ACTION, and LOYALTY should guide you accordingly and prevent you from veering off path.
Because your budget, resources, and experience are limited, you may need to choose which customer type you want to focus first, relating to your business objective. You can see how significantly narrower your focus and objectives get after figuring out your key customer and business goal, that will allow your team to move onto the next point…
4. Identify Key, High-Impact, High-Relevance Channels
Now that you know which customer group to speak to, what their needs are, and how everything benefits your business goals, it’s time to decide where to market.
The defacto option for most is to jump on the largest audience channel – Facebook (or Meta, if you’re reading this after October 2021), while it is a smart move to jump into a large pool and test, you might not get the results you need based on the smaller budget and shorter timeframe you’re working with.
Understanding your customer and your objective should guide you to the channel(s) you should start your marketing message distribution.
For example, if you’re selling industrial grade chemicals used for manufacturing, you’re most likely targeting purchasers and engineer types of audiences looking for better sourcing partners. If that’s the case, spending resources on Tiktok, where majority of users are under 25 years old doing dance challenges and video editing projects will be an awful move even though Tiktok is the fastest growing channel in 2021.
On the flip side, if you want to introduce your trendy street wear sneakers to the under 25 crowd, putting energy marketing on LinkedIn or Quora might not be your best options.
The probability of being distracted with the next shiny object is very high when it comes to choosing your marketing channel, don’t fall for that until you’ve mastered one channel. Don’t worry, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to tap into adjacent channel in the future.
5. Know WHAT to Say and HOW to Say It
Related to point #3 and 4, be clear on what you want to say and try your best not to say everything in one go.
If your objective is in the AWARENESS journey, don’t tell people to buy or share your content. They don’t even know you yet!
If your objective is converting to purchase, stop telling them about your company history or watch an equity video, you’re just causing more resistance to your objective and their desire to complete a purchasing decision.
You get the drift
6. Be SMART
Ah, the cliche SMART goal is back. But to be fair, it’s super important, especially if you’re a newbie on any endeavor. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, no, I’m not insulting your intelligence, it’s an acronym to make sure whatever goal you’re setting is:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
They’re pretty self-explanatory, in a nutshell, your goal should not be wishy-washy that you have objective metrics to compare against a baseline that isn’t psychotically impossible to meet, and there’s a deadline to when you should attain that goal.
7. Determine Clear Goals, KPIs, and Metrics
Goals, KPIs, and Metrics are three different things that organizations often use interchangeably. The most common outcome results to projects that lead nowhere near the business objectives mentioned at the start of this article while wasting a lot of time and resource looking at numbers that don’t matter.
For example, your business objective identified in point #1 is “Determine the most efficient channel to increase our webstore incremental visit by 15% each month for a full quarter”
Your goals are general destination statements you want to achieve to hit your objectives, the “what“, in this case, finding out which channels you’ve selected will drive the >15% of visit increments the best.
Your KPIs will probably consist of multiple indicators such as, they’re usually the “how” part to reach your goals:
- Visitors per Source
- Visitors from Social (if you’re running social campaigns)
- Visitors from Organic (if your website already ranks in search)
- Visitors from Paid Search (if you’re doing paid search)
- Visitors from email list (if you’re running email marketing)
Your metrics are a subset, analytical data that relates to those KPIs you’ve selected. Let’s say you’re tracking organic web visits, then your KPIs might be search ranking, bounce rates, click through rates by keywords, etc. The metrics tell you where to optimize to get better KPIs to hit your goals.
8. Analyze the Metrics that Matter vs. KPIs and Goals
Once you’ve identified your goals, KPIs, and metrics, now it’s time to go backwards and see if you’re making progress. Start with your metrics, see if the identified metrics are inching you towards your KPIs.
Using the previous example of increasing web traffic by 15%, assuming your starting point was your website’s already getting 100K visits, on average before you started the campaign, then M+1 should result to 115K visits total as your goal.
You take a look at your KPIs and realize that the 3 new keyword and articles you’ve published brought in 70% of the traffic increase but your metrics show they’re also high bounce rate pages. Now you know that those keyword groups and topics are very relevant to your customers and you should improve or make more content about those keywords while improving the landing pages’ content to reduce bounce rate.
Now you can double-down on your efforts to hit that objective consistently moving forward.
9. Get Feedback from Customers
Data, tables, analytics and dashboards are wonderful. They’re fast, relatively accurate, and summarizes how our actions lead to results very well. However, digital marketing transformation can quickly get very technical and forget about the most important piece of marketing – our customers.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of marketers have the habit of thinking they know more about what the customers want than what the customers are explicitly telling the company. How many times have you witnessed your marketing team brush off field sales or customer service reps suggestions and customer feedback and say “that’s not what our brand messaging is”? If it’s frustrating to sales and customer service teams, imagine how annoying this is to actual customers?
As you get traction towards your objective, never forget to learn from your customers as they’re the ones making your business thrive. When you analyze metrics, don’t forget to ask “why” these numbers are appearing.
For example, bounce rate typically means the page content has low relevance, as marketers, we need to ask deeper questions like “why is it low relevance if they found the page through search anyway?”.
Taking a step back to imagine and visualize your customer’s journey and intent on why they clicked the search engine link may tell you that while they’re simply looking for information at first, your content may be good enough but they want more and your landing page failed to give them a clear “what should I do next?” incentive.
If you’re lucky enough to have a sizable social following or your own customer database, don’t miss the chance to use polls, surveys, and feedback communication to know exactly what matters to your customers.
10. Iterate and Hypothesize New Tests
As you can see from the User Overlap graphic table above, your customers are rarely just using one channel to interact online. Odds are high that they’re using at least three (3) in this day and age.
There are a lot of opportunities to iterate the same marketing campaign on new channels that are very similar with minor changes (such as image format, longer/shorter form copy, etc) without needing a full re-do on your successful campaigns.
While it’s a great exercise to have a narrowed down ideal customer persona, you need to be aware that no two people are alike, in fact, not even the same person may act the same during different periods, so you must always test new hypothesis.
Just because your text-based blog posts work really well in the past does not mean your audience won’t prefer videos or podcasts. You have your blog post content already anyway, why not try summarizing it to an entertaining YouTube video and see if new segments of your customers enjoy that form better?
Always test before making conclusions.
11. Improve Efficiency to Scale What Works
Once you’ve identified what works, you need to always find ways to do successful campaigns faster and cheaper so you can use your savings to scale.
Oftentimes, when digital marketers find what worked, they move on to ramping up targeting and reach that shoots up the budget exponentially without getting the proportional returns. That’s a huge waste of opportunity!
Make sure that your team learns how to optimize production costs, targeting and segmentation efficiency, and knowing how much is too much.
12. Get Everyone Involved
Marketing is not just a marketing department’s job.
Oftentimes, we get tunnel visioned with horse blinders after a project gets the green light and everyone else in the team feels left out. The success of your digital marketing transformation involves everyone in the organization.
If you’re promising a big product launch, better get supply chain involved to make sure you have inventory.
Don’t forget to that the sales team has to know what was promised in the marketing and advertising message to make sure they don’t offer the wrong promo message.
Are your warehousing and delivery team equipped to pack the free bonus gifts you promised in the campaign?
Don’t forget to ask your finance team if your campaign’s buy 3 get 1 offer can be recorded in the sales system clearly and not cause tons of additional reconciation work for them a month later.
Going back to point #1, your entire team needs to be aligned and included.
12. Don’t Conclude, Always Improve
Finally, remember this is a loop, and it should never end. Your digital marketing transformation will always – well, transform. If you’ve discovered any wins, continue testing and improving your efficiency and efficacy.
If you’ve hit a point of diminishing return on one strategy, expand to more adjacency but always test new ideas as technology, algorithm, and user behavior change frequently
Don’t Treat Digital Marketing Transformation as a Threat, It’s Your Ally
Change is always scary and risky. The thought of alienating partners, internal stakeholders, or even customers will always be present, but if you have a north star to guide your team on clear business objectives that center around your customers’ benefit, your digital marketing transformation decision will result to greater connection with your target audience, reduce costs, and drive higher revenue for your company.