The future of digital marketing remains strong with an annual compound growth rate in the double digits. Most marketers are increasingly moving into digital because that’s where their targets are spending their media consumption time. Here are some tips for better, more successful digital marketing based on our experience.
1. Set goals, monitor and adjust.
Historically, the link between traditional marketing efforts and business results has been a bit indirect, and measuring the ROI of marketing efforts was tenuous at best. Digital marketing activities are more easily measured, often in real time. Marketers need to take advantage of that capability in order to procure bigger budgets in the future, which will undoubtedly be important as more and more marketing messages are “going digital.”
Consider goals all along the sales funnel, from awareness to engagement, nurturing qualified leads to sales. Moreover, many interim behavioral goals are highly measurable in digital marketing and should be tracked, analyzed and acted upon, including form completions, calls, sign-ups, etc.
Digital marketing is as much about a mindset as it is about behavior: Successful digital marketers think of digital marketing as a conversation with targets where the ultimate goal is not just to create a one-time sale but a long-term brand loyalist and advocate.
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2. Target carefully.
All digital channels are getting more and more saturated with content. Assuming you are producing high-quality content (see No. 3), it is all for naught if you are not also ensuring that you promote that content to the right audience at the right time. Defining your target audience on demographics and psychographics alone is not enough. You should be using the innate ability of digital to identify and manage your target audience by its actual online behaviors.
Clever copy may or may not appeal to a given target audience. Only by engaging with your targets will you be able to understand how best to talk to them in a way that creates interest and motivation to act. Get to know your audience well. Understand its pain points, what it is looking for and how it likes to be communicated with using the digital tools at your disposal. There is no longer any reason why you should be sending out impersonal email messages or automated direct messages on social media channels. Personalization and customization are key to digital marketing success.
3. Develop high-quality content.
Knowing your target audience well will enable you to produce high-quality content; content that is relevant, interesting and motivating. With the prevalence of digital content – much of it generic or redundant – being in a position to offer content that actually resonates with your target audience is a giant advantage on your path to engaging with your targets and achieving your digital marketing goals. The more carefully and fully you articulate your goals under No. 1, the more direction you will have around specific goals for which you need content.
Also, strongly consider developing more video content. Video is the most effective way to communicate your content as it is processed 60 times faster than verbal messages, creates 40 percent more click-throughs and increases site visits by up to 300 percent. As our attention spans continue to approach that of the average goldfish, video helps you engage your targets where other content might get lost in the content blizzard. Not surprisingly, spending on video is up more than 100 percent since 2014 alone. There is no reason to believe that this will decline any time soon.
4. Practice channel focus and discipline.
Many newbies to digital marketing have the misguided goal of being on as many digital channels as they can and “jump on” trendy channels because of their active user growth. But the reality is, you can only manage a few channels well, so selecting which channels to be on is critical. First, consider the channels where your target audience tends to hang out. Then, understand the type of content that works best for that channel and develop your content strategy for that channel within the context of your overall goals and marketing strategy.
The primary risks to ward against here are (a) spreading yourself too thin across too many channels, and (b) using content inappropriately or ineffectively for a given channel. For social media channels, emphasize conversation and engagement over explicit selling. Also, be very careful about delegating your content and engagement on any given channel to external partners. And please don’t succumb to purchasing followers on social media. Just as quantity of content is less important than quality of content, so it goes with your followers. Take the time to build and nurture a quality following!
5. Focus on mobile.
Sixty-two percent of all digital media consumption now occurs on mobile platforms, and that figure is projected to keep growing. Make sure you are working from a “mobile first” perspective. Look at how your targets are engaging with your brand on mobile and ideate how you can take that engagement to the next level. Consider whether a dedicated app may be a good solution for your target audience or even a critical subset of it. Finally, ensure that your website is compatible with all major mobile platforms.
Coming back around to No. 1, digital marketing affords you the opportunity to test the effectiveness of alternative messages, videos, images and so forth. To get the most from your digital marketing investment, you should be in a constant testing mode to find the communications that maximize your impact. Often, running an A/B test on a small sample to determine the most effective headline, subject line, image or video before finalizing your campaign will ensure that you are getting the most from your digital marketing efforts. Your mindset should be that of an experimental digital marketer.