Standing out online can be tough, but the ability to do it well can make a huge difference to your brand. Whether it’s Content Marketing or CRM, social media or SEO, your digital marketing is a powerful tool – but how can you harness it to the best of your ability? Paul Slee, our Head of Digital and Transformation, shares his thoughts on the topic, and how to turn your problems into agile, effective digital marketing solutions.
Digital marketing is a process. The right approach for you will be unique to your brand, however, there some guiding principles that can point you in the right direction. While you’re unlikely to get it right first time, every time, the lessons you learn are as valuable as the outcomes. On its own, it can make a difference. As part of a scalable, cohesive, business and marketing strategy, it can be game-changing.
- There are 1.5 billion social media users across the globe. (McKinsey and Company)
- 76% of buyers are ready to have sales conversations on social media. (HubSpot)
- 63% of marketers say their biggest content challenge is driving traffic and generating leads. (Omnicore)
- 45% say they’re using their mobile phone more as a shopping channel since the COVID-19 outbreak. (PWC)
- 85% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts, which is up from 84% in 2016. (Bright Local)
Finding your focus
Let’s start with the obvious. Everything within your digital marketing programs and activities should ladder up to your overall strategy – and alignment with this should be the starting point of your process to define your digital marketing strategies, goals, objectives, and KPIs.
What you don’t do is as important as what you do. There’s almost always more that you could add to your marketing plan, but there’s only so much time in the day. More often than not, focusing on running your key initiatives well will deliver better results than spreading yourself too thin.
How do you decide what to focus on? Ask yourself the question – does this initiative, activity or even item on my Task List help me deliver my KPIs, objectives and goals? If the answer is no; park it, deprioritise it, or if you can, delegate it.
Benchmarking against yourself
Once you are clear on your digital marketing goals, objectives, and KPIs, your next job is to find a way to hit them. Measuring your progress will allow you to see what is working and become more effective. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Adopting a test and learn approach is a sure-fire way to achieve continuous improvement.
Your KPIs should be considered, and quantifiable, from the outset. What are you measuring? How are you measuring success? And how will you target where to make improvements? If you can’t track it, you can’t see whether it’s working – and what needs to change. By being future-focused in your outlook, you can take pragmatic steps in planning how to get there, using your KPIs as your guide at every stage. Implementing your online marketing plan is, after all, only the start of what should be a rewarding journey. Ongoing optimisation is paramount in realising the full potential of your digital marketing.
Experience is the new brand
73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. (PWC)
Customer experience (CX) is your customers’ perception of your brand, built through direct and indirect exposure to it. Every online and offline touch point, as wide-ranging as a tweet, in-store visit, product trial, and your company’s purpose, shapes what a brand means to customers and how they engage with it. Customer experience is everything. And if you get it right, can become a powerful differentiation from your competitors.
Your customer experience should be a reflection of your brand, so consider how each element of your digital marketing plan can contribute towards improve it.
To start with, you’ll need to know your customers inside-out. Do your research, identify your archetypes, and use data to really get under the skin of who you’re aiming to target. What is important to them? What are they most likely to buy into? And where are they likely to want to find you? Be obsessed. Know everything about them.
Understanding your customers is crucial part of your CX strategy – but it is only one element. To get customer experience right, you need to start with a clear vision. In the same way you have brand values to guide you, define your CX values or principles so they deliver your brand vision and exemplify the experience you want your customers to have. For example, that could be authentic and human, or perhaps seamless and effortless. Embed them across all aspects of your customer journey, so they can be used as standards to deliver against.
An essential part of any CX strategy should be collecting customer feedback. And ideally, that needs to happen in real time. Follow-up emails and surveys can help you gauge where you’re winning (and where you need to up your game). Live chat tools can also help. However you get feedback, the key part is to listen and take action if necessary.
So, you’re doing everything you can to get your customer experience right. The final piece of the puzzle is measurement: are you getting ROI? Business results will tell if your CX is paying off, but another popular option is Net Promoter Score (NPS). This asks customers if they would recommend your brand to other people – an excellent way of assessing brand awareness and what they really think. The higher score, the better you’re doing. But that’s no excuse to slack off.
Customer experience is an ongoing challenge and you’ll need to adapt continuously. After all, what customers want now may not be what they want next month. Keep listening and improving to stay on top of changing needs. Just one poor customer experience can push 89% of consumers to do business with a competitor. (Oracle)
Go beyond the data
Data can be a powerful tool, but it doesn’t guarantee understanding of why customers act the way they do. Relying on data alone is essentially using the ‘well it worked last time’ approach.
This is where behavioural science comes in. Simply put, behavioural science is the study of the conscious and unconscious factors behind human actions and decision-making. Combining data with behavioural science enables you to discover the truth behind why people do what they do, and then apply these insights to predict and influence what they’ll do next.
If there’s one thing the vast amount of behavioural research conducted since the seventies has shown, it’s that people rarely do what they say they will, or intend to. Numerous hidden and often counterintuitive factors shape their decision, without them realising it.
If you want to conduct research, refine your marketing activities, or design a new product, applying behavioural science methods to the process can help ensure that you are successful. Enlist the help of an expert to understand your customers’ psychology – and how best to use it to shape your digital marketing solutions.
Leverage the power of social media marketing
Social is a HUGE opportunity for most brands. However, there’s a HUGE difference in doing it well, and performing poorly. There’s no point in ploughing your energy into perfectly produced tweets if you haven’t got the fans to read them – you need to be where your customers (and potential customers) are if you want to up the engagement.
First up, if you want to improve your social channels, you need to do an audit. What’s performed well? Where has been most lucrative for likes? Do people engage with your words, or the images supporting them? Is video a good medium for you? And has anything really missed the mark? Now, of course, you could do this all yourself – but there are plenty of tools out there that can do it quicker, including some solid free options. Here are some of the best. As always, try them out to see which is right for you.
This AI-powered social media marketing platform can tell you where you sit in your social media landscape. It also offers a thorough performance quadrant report to evaluate your strategy.
Borrowing some smart algorithms from their paid product, Union Metrics have come up with some highly regarded social intelligence tools. Make them work to improve your cost per click.
If you’re more interested in auditing multiple platforms, Klear might be the solution. With analytics and monitoring for Instagram, Twitter and more, it’s a favourite with many social media managers.
It’s important to monitor what your competitors are up to on social and see what the rest of your industry is saying. By identifying what’s working for them, and what’s making fans switch off, you can better position yourself to find the gaps in the market, and steal market share. However, don’t be afraid to look further afield for inspiration. Keep an eye on what’s trending to see if it’s something that makes sense for your brand to get involved with. Google Trends is a great tool to help do this. Always ask yourself – is this consistent with my brand, and reflective of the personality and professionalism I wish to portray?
Brands that have fun on social media can reap enormous rewards, gaining free exposure and accessing new customers. The recent ‘beans on Weetabix’ thread went wildly viral, with all kinds of companies wading into the fray. Similarly, this thread where museums competed to showcase their #CreepiestObject attracted great attention. But there are also plenty of instances where companies get it horribly wrong. Take the Snapchat ad that asked followers whether they’d rather ‘slap Rhianna’ or ‘punch Chris Brown’. Definitely not cool. The public agreed. Result? An $800 million drop in Snapchat’s share price.
It’s worth remembering that it’s your product, not your puns, that should be your focus. It can be good to be fun, but it’s more important to be genuine. If you want to make people listen, you need to speak to (and from) the heart. Research from the Harvard Business Review shows emotional connections carry enormous power. When customers are engaged, they’re three times more likely to purchase and less likely to shop around.
It’s important to listen more than you post. Pay attention to what your customers are saying on social and factor that context into what and when you post.
Finally, remember that social media is a two-way street. Encourage interaction and turn followers into ambassadors.
Content is king…
Once you’ve found what works, and what makes you stand out from the crowd, harness it. Your content marketing strategy, in whatever form it comes in, can be the boost your business needs when it comes to attracting and maintaining customers. Make it relevant, compelling and valuable to your target audience. This is how long-term relationships develop and where you can really impact your customer lifetime value (CLV).
Creating great content is an art in itself. You need to define your goals/KPIs, know your tone of voice, understand your audience and perform Search Engine Optimization analysis before you even think about ideas. Again, being authentic to your brand is key. Is your brand a credible author for the topic? And do your customers want to get this type of content from you?
Eliciting an emotional response is one of the best ways to build engagement – it can even allow you to go viral. Surprise, delight and even disgust can all be powerful tools when used wisely.
You also need to consider how you want to present your content. What would be most effective? A podcast, infographic, video or a trusty blog post? Which platforms should it live on and how does it need to be optimised for each channel? Do your research, then map out a repeatable process with the necessary checks and balances, factoring in multiple platform specific variations to be as effective and efficient as possible.
Getting your content in front of your audience is another challenge. Do you use email marketing and link from an emailed newsletter? Try Google Ads? Use social media advertising? In short, you need to have a test and learn plan to increase conversion rate optimization and determine what works best for your brand.
…but SEO’s key (words)
Google is responsible for 94% of total organic traffic.
Let that sink in, then consider this.
The first result on a Google search has a 34.36% click-through rate for desktop, and 35% for mobile.
Worth prioritising your SEO and Search Engine Marketing? We certainly would recommend it.
Getting your keywords right can make the difference between a first page search engine ranking and being lost in search oblivion. But finding the magic terms doesn’t have to be difficult or see you resort to eye-wateringly expensive SEO services. Free keyword tools plus Google Analytics can help you refine your choice and reduce the guesswork. Though it may sound obvious, check the keywords that competitors use and make sure they’re sprinkled liberally through your current content.
And let’s not forget about link building. Getting quality links back to your website also pays an important role in search results ranking. Reach out to brands, websites, blogs, social accounts, etc. that are complimentary or relevant to your brand. Ensure your website has an RSS feed. And experiment with guest bloggings/influencer social channel takeovers. Have fun and explore different tactics until you find a strategy that works for you.
Build a community
Your customers are unique, but share at least one thing in common – your brand. If they’re passionate about it, they’re likely to want to indulge that passion with other, like-minded people. If you can facilitate this, you’re one step closer to your goals.
If you’re keen to get a loyal and buzzing community started, here’s a few tips that can help.
- Define your brand and make sure it’s got a strong identity. Don’t try to appeal to everyone or your message will get diluted. Be brave. Be you.
- Make sure you know why you’re starting this community. What’s your goal? And how will you measure your progress? Don’t be tempted to do just because other brands are doing it. It has to make sense for your brand and your customers.
- Choose your platform. A basic Facebook page or forum might good if you’re just starting out. Once membership starts to grow, you might want to think about a more professional solution. Khoros, Adobe, and Salesforce all offer top performing solutions.
- Make sure members get something out of your community and a reason to stay. Interact with them, raise discussion points and encourage conversations. Make them feel like ‘insiders’; part of a special club.
- This last tip is perhaps the most important: make members feel safe. Enforce moderation standards and take a zero-tolerance stance towards bullies, trolls and disrespectful behaviour.
Do your research on how other companies do it well, and start small if you’ve never done it before – the last thing you want to do it make a fatal error that undoes all your good work elsewhere!
Technology’s only part of the equation
The advancements we’ve seen in marketing technology in the last decade have enabled new ways to connect with customers and create richer experiences that build deeper brand connections. The ability to exploit the vast amount of data that is now available from old and new touchpoints, allows for a much greater understanding of customer behaviour and the impact of marketing programs and activities.
Even with these advancements, technology is only part of the equation. To fully realise your digital marketing potential, it requires the right people and processes. A combination of these three forces will enable modern marketers to reap the full benefits that digital marketing transformation can deliver.
The most effective digital marketing teams are full of curious, versatile people. They love to explore new ways of working and find ways of doing things better. Natural change agents, they’re also analytical, agile and eager to learn new skills. In a field that never stops moving, this approach is essential.
Processes need to be just as flexible and open to evolution. The customer journey is increasingly complex and touches multiple areas of an organisation. That means businesses need to be fluid and highly collaborative to ensure that their digital marketing strategy can be implemented successfully and adapt responsively. Marketing, IT, Finance, Sales, Product Management – they all need to work together.
Don’t be afraid of cutting-edge tech
There are many ways to deliver on your digital marketing KPIs, and sometimes, the best course of action will be to use something you’ve never tried before. There is, as they say, a first time for everything, but the key is to pick your moment. Any new advancement that is the right fit for your brand, such as AI, voice, or augmented reality can provide a competitive edge. If your research suggests that new tech will be the most effective way of delivering value to your customers, then find a way to try it out. As always, start small: test, assess and learn.
A word of warning, however. New isn’t always better. If you’re jumping on a new method of delivery because others are, rather than because it’s the right thing for your business, you need to weigh up customer benefit against required investment. Your guide should be your KPIs – will a sophisticated digital marketing solution bring you closer to them? If innovation’s the answer, advance and lead the way!
The making of your MarTech
With a sea of marketing tools and platforms, designing a MarTech stack is no simple feat. It’s a scientific process that should begin with your current Technology Plan and any upcoming tech projects. It should also include a Process Re-engineering Plan and a Resources Plan that will ensure a smooth transition to any new tech. And of course, you need experts who understand what you want to achieve and assess tools to find the best fit.
To deliver your stack, we go through a series of stages with you, including Discovery, Scoping, Development, Launch, and Optimisation. Maverick’s MarTech design process ensures a lean, automated and intelligent solution that delivers ROI, valuable insights, and the optimal customer experience.
- Define business objectives, stakeholder requirements, and KPIs/key measurement criteria.
- Outline customer experience vision, lifecycle model and data requirements.
- Audit existing products, data sources and architecture.
- Perform gap analysis and confirm technology and data needs or overlaps.
- Define priority roadmap and implementation/ transition plan.
- Begin test and learn rollout in line with agreed strategy.
Stick to the principles
Remember, this is a process, there are tried and tested rules of thumb to follow. When designing and building your MarTech stack, we have three sets of recommendations…
It should be:
- Fast-paced and agile at the front-end
- Flexible in the middle
- Safe at the back-end
- Build what’s special (user interfaces)
- Buy what’s proven (services)
- Own what’s important (data)
And, finally, focus on:
- Performance at the front-end
- Being scalable at every step
- Ensuring you’re secure everywhere
For next time…
Paid media, website design and your website/app are complex topics that we will be covering in upcoming articles. If you can’t wait, feel free to get in touch. We’ll give you the lowdown and help you develop winning strategies to take to market.
Data, social media management, content, communities: we hope this blog has built on your knowledge of digital marketing services and left you more confident in your planning. As you can see it’s a vast and ever-evolving area, which is why you might want a hand.
At Maverick, we believe that digital marketing doesn’t have to be complicated (or dull). We’re here to remove the pain (and even make the process fun). You and your goals are the priority from start to finish. Get the ball rolling: get in touch with Hive our digital marketing agency.