Last year, I posted my take on the digital marketing strategy on the Rackspace blog while leading their digital marketing organization. This post is one of a two-part blog series, which extends the discussion further for 2014 and beyond.
Digital marketing has evolved and the purchase cycle has become more complex, as marketers struggle to find ways to get the maximum returns on investment. We have seen a similar trend in 2013 where social media and mobile became the mainstream digital channels, Content continues to be the primary fuel for digital marketing. Another trend that emerged in 2012-2013 was the increased focus on big data. Organizations are allocating a portion of their digital marketing budget towards big data type predictive analysis.
CMOs agree quantity, quality and analysis of data are top concerns for them. They want their marketing organizations to utilize digital data to make smart decisions. Marketers are eager to connect the dots between structured and unstructured data sources to complete the customer analytics story.
Adding to the complexity of the digital channel proliferation, buyers are becoming much more sophisticated. In a recent survey conducted by Forrester Research, 82% of buyers researched online before making a purchase. This crucial data point is a huge eye opener for marketers who are still hesitant to invest in online marketing.
With 2014 already in play, it is time to evaluate your digital marketing strategy and develop a solid plan to drive improved results. In this post, I will discuss the critical components of digital marketing strategies specifically for B2B, advertising, CPG, manufacturing, media/publisher sectors and how these components work with each other. I will also talk about how marketers can take advantage of new technologies and emerging trends to catapult their marketing efforts.
Digital Marketing Strategy
Digital Analytics Framework
#1 PAM (Persona, Audience and Messaging)
The first step in developing an effective digital marketing campaign is to develop a persona. A persona is a very important aspect of any marketing campaign, and it should not be overlooked. Your business must have its own distinct persona and voice. A persona is basically a personality for your business, which you convey in your communications with your customers. A persona is also useful for identifying and addressing your audience directly based on their demographics, psychographics and needs.
Your products or services could be perceived differently across your customer base. It is critical to understand the types of customers you serve and deliver your marketing message in accordance. As an example, if you sell mobile games, you need to cater for your persona to suit this particular audience. If your customers see they can relate to your company, you will gain their trust and get them to buy your product or use your services. Make sure that your company uses the same persona, and communicates with the same tone or voice in all of your messages.
#2 Digital Marketing Mediums
In your digital marketing strategy for 2013, you must be using as many different marketing mediums as you possibly can. Selection of the marketing mediums should be based on the attribution model and AB testing between multiple mediums.
Earned media in the digital world is a term used for generating traffic and customers through organic means instead of paid advertisement. Earned traffic can be gained through content marketing, search engine optimization, social media or editorial impact. Earned media does not involve advertising, and it is the complete opposite of paid media. It is a way of promoting your business without paid advertisements.
Using paid media is the fastest way for businesses to advertise their products and services. Paid advertisement comes in various flavors and forms. Paid search marketing involves paying for advertisements for your company to move high up in the search engine results page. Your company can also benefit from using display advertising in its digital marketing strategy. Display advertisements are ads that you pay to have placed on publishers’ websites. Forrestor Research forecasts interactive display media to triple from 2010 to 2017. The chart clearly shows how important paid media is for your overall online marketing strategy.
Online display growth forecast
Owned media is one of the best ways that your company can use to build relationships with its customers. Earned media and paid media may draw potential customers to your website, but owned media is what can help turn these potential customers into paying customers. Using owned media in your digital marketing strategy is essential. Owned media involves, for example, lead nurturing using email marketing. Email marketing is essential in order to build customer relations, and to turn potential customers into actual customers who purchase your company’s products or services.
Email marketing typically involves sending out a newsletter periodically, which is filled with useful information for customers. If your company doesn’t already have one, it must develop a newsletter. If a person goes to your website and signs up for your newsletter, but they don’t buy anything, using email re-marketing is a great way to turn that person into a paying customer. The content in your newsletter must be good, but this is discussed in more detail below.
Types of Content
Content plays an important part in all three media types. Content that your company produces must be of higher quality, authoritative and helpful to your customers, prospects and followers. There are essentially three main types of content:
Dedicated Content: This is the type of content that you use on your website and on any other websites that you use to promote your company. This content must be informative, SEO optimized for the right keywords, be relevant, and also be of use to the reader.
Supplemental Content: This content is used to supplement the main, dedicated content that appears on your website. Primary goal of supplemental content is to educate your target market about your products and services. It also helps you establish your company as the thought leader in the market.
This type of content includes blog posts, articles, and whitepapers, all of which must be well-written and valuable to customer. If content is poorly written, and does not contain useful information, it will reflect badly on your business. Supplemental content also includes slides and videos, which also must also be of high quality.
Social Content: Social content is designed for the purpose of increasing syndication on social media sites. Social content should be developed to spark conversations, attract comments and generate fan following. This type of content must not only be informative and useful, but it also must be engaging and relevant in order to attract potential customers.
#3 WAM (Web and mobile strategy)
Your website is an important foundational element of your digital marketing strategy. It is also one of the first major interaction points for your customers with your company. The key goals for the website should be to engage or convert or retain customers or all three in most cases. With a huge spike in the growth of Smartphones, it is extremely important to add a mobile component to your website strategy.
Your website strategy is critical to the growth of the customer base and revenue as it provides the framework for sales generation. Here are some of the key areas of focus for a robust WAM strategy.
a. Hosting infrastructure : Hosting could very well be the biggest investment component of your web strategy. It is extremely important for you to consider a hosting provider than understands your needs. Time and again, studies have shown when website performance goes down conversions go down as well making website hosting a key criterion of digital strategy. Some of the consideration points when choosing a hosting provider are uptime, scalability, redundancy, compliance and support.
b. Web dev/design and UX : Web design is another major element to achieve success online. Your customers deserve nothing but the best web experience and your job as a marketer is to recruit the best teams or vendor to design/develop your site. Customers will bounce away immediately from a low quality site and this could have a significant impact on your revenue.
Solutions such as IBM Tealeaf are used by leading businesses for digital customer experience management, e.g. to detect and quickly remedy customer struggle on the site. Meanwhile, solutions such as IBM Digital Experiences are used to place rich content creation capabilities in the hands of your team and create dynamic web and mobile applications that integrate with back office systems.
c. Mobile site : According to Google, mobile online usage will surpass PC usage in 2013. A mobile friendly site is not optional but a mandatory requirement, as your users expect a good mobile presence. You can either develop a separate mobile website for your company or use responsive design so your website is easily accessible from desktop, mobile and tablets.
d. Global presence : When you target global customers then two critical pieces to consider are site architecture and language translation. First, you have to select the right architecture for your international site. It is highly advisable to have a separate country specific top level domain (TLD) to host the international site while .com can serve US customers. TLD allows you to capture maximum rankings on international search engines and creates a virtual separation between country specific digital marketing efforts.
Global TLDs can create some web manageability issues, and in this case the use of a subdomain or subdirectory are preferable. The last step is to hire a language translation company to translate web content into local languages.
In the next post we will talk about key components of the digital analytics framework. We hope this has been helpful. Please share your comments or feedback below.