From major corporations to the smallest of mom-and-pop shops, every business is on board with digital marketing to some degree. Here’s the cold truth: unless your digital marketing strategy is exceptional, you’re at risk of falling behind. In this article, we’ll review some of the fundamental steps marketers and businesses should take to craft successful digital marketing campaigns.
Get to know your customers
For many marketing professionals, “the customers” are a nebulous, sometimes unknown and an unpredictable entity. There’s a fundamental disconnect here: digital marketers understand that customers are essential to the success of their campaigns, yet they so often fail to understand who they are and what they want beyond surface-level assumptions. If you’re going to create a better strategy, that needs to change.
Talk to your customers
Don’t overcomplicate things: you need to talk to your customers. You can gain some insight by talking to your business’ owner or employees, but you really won’t access good data or feedback until you run surveys, interview customers, and get into the details about why they’ve decided to work with your business.
For instance, you might find that people like your business for its brand, and that price is not a strong motivator for them. This may influence the way you structure your website, write your content, or even what paid ads you run.
Once you have a solid set of surveys, start creating personas. You do this by turning a set of real people into fictional characters who have the same motivations, wants, and needs as the people you surveyed. If you do marketing for a stroller company, for instance, you’ll probably want to look at the product from the eyes of these personas:
- An active mother who needs a stroller that she can jog with in the mornings.
- A stay-at-home dad who is looking for a stroller that folds easily into the car for trips to the park.
Find out who your customers are, and then delve into what they’re looking for and what they need.
Watch out for blind spots
You may have already spotted the problem with surveying current customers. You’re missing an entire cohort of people who didn’t choose your business, for one reason or another. Surveying these people can be more difficult, but it’s certainly do-able if you put the time and effort into it. At the very least, build a few personas for these people to include in your deliberations.
Build an ecosystem centred around your website
A decade ago, most businesses could scrape by and find success by doing the bare minimum: setting up a basic website and running one or two social media pages. That’s all changed. Without a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, you’re going to fall far, far behind your competition.
It’s all about the ecosystem. This term refers to the digital marketing tools and services that feed into one another and lift campaigns to new heights.
Your website is the keystone
To draw a connection to real-world, natural ecosystems, your website is the keystone species on which the success of everything else depends. After all, you could build the best and most-thoroughly crafted paid ads around, and they’d mean nothing if there was nowhere good to direct clicks.
Without the right design, content, and performance, your website is going to be an anchor on the rest of your marketing campaigns, dragging them down more-and-more with each passing month.
At a fundamental level, build your business’ website for mobile users. Many marketers fall into this trap: they build (and view) their websites on large-screen desktop computers, not understanding that a majority of users are going to view them on their phones.
“Mobile-friendly” is great, but it’s honestly not enough. To meet the needs of an increasing majority of your users—and match Google’s guidelines for mobile-first design and performance—you should pivot to “mobile-first.” From the ground-up, build your website for phones. Then, worry about what it looks like on the desktop. It requires an entirely new way of thinking, but it’s what is needed.
Only automation can save you
If you could take a step back and objectively look at everything that’s changed in digital marketing since 2011, you’d notice a trend: more. There’s more data than ever. There are more platforms, tools, and campaign nuances than ever. There’s more to do and more to monitor. It’s more than any single person—or even a team of people—can keep up with on their own. Unless you embrace automation and pivot to working smarter, you will fall behind.
The first thing to automate is data. This includes things like data collection, reporting, and analysis. Take a week to thoroughly run through your software—Google Analytics, Google Ads, etc.—and set up dashboards and automated reporting tools. Your time and brain are needed for far more important things.
Next, streamline and automate communication. If you’ve been manually sending a report to your client or the business’ owner every month, scrap that entire process and instead build a dashboard for them that automatically refreshes with up-to-the-minute data. They’ll appreciate the transparency, and you’ll have one less thing on your plate.
Test, refine, and improve
So far, we’ve discussed several ways to either improve or start building an effective marketing strategy. A final piece of advice: you’re not going to nail this on the first try. You’ll have setbacks. You’ll fall into bad habits and revert to old ways of thinking. That’s okay—so long as you dedicate time every month to identifying where things went wrong and committing to changing them. There’s never been a new strategy that survived its first battles completely intact or without revisions.
Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into putting together a winning digital marketing strategy. Ready for a deeper dive? Check out this infographic. It breaks down exactly what digital marketers should be doing to build stronger campaigns.