Dave Chaffey of SmartInsights.com provides a checklist to help maximise your digital marketing budget success.
At timesof budget cuts it’s easy to cut the investment in the quality of your research and planning. Yet this is so important since helps get management buy-in when it comes to retaining budget and showing value of marketing to the bottom line. It’s also vital to keep your communications customer-centric and beating the competitors. Otherwise the brutal truth is that marketing is quickly just a cost, a list of tactics and channels that can cut with little short term effect. Sounds familiar? So…
Plan for success
- Assess your relevance to the target market, are you working hard on targeting messaging to get cut-through, to speak to 'somebody'? At busy and pressured times it’s easy to get distracted with generic, product or feature orientated communications, over real people. This is a quick opportunity to improve effectiveness
- Are you close to your competitor set – what are they doing? Where are they investing, cutting, focussing and targeting their limited resources? Is there strategic opportunity here?
- Creative campaigns and promotion – are you getting cut-through, can you change, stop or start something that’s going to be more effective than accepting the states quo? It might be easier to save at this level than from the general day-to-day
- Is your brand effectively and consistently being communicated across all channels, or are some channels not getting the time and attention required?
Think social first
We know that social media offers the opportunity to interact with their target audience – and it’s much more than having a Facebook page or Twitter account, of course. Are your leveraging social media and supporting content marketing effectively to ensure it’s a central part of your marketing, you might be wise to re-visit this as it’s media spend where most cuts take place.
- Understand your brand’s current social media presence. Are you visible on therelevant social media networks? Are there vertical or niche platforms relevant to your target market where you could quickly build a meaningful presence?
- Are you managing your social presence across the existing platforms that you already use? It’s a lot more straight forward to build on the unoptimised that start a whole new presence with all the processes and content requirements that go along with that
- Ensure you’ve got appropriate team members (internally and/or externally) to create and react to opportunities in the market. You’re more likely to see it’s in budget lines than head-count, so getting the best out of your team in the social space could be a smart move.
- Consider targeted advertising to amplify the benefits social media activity. Do you need to enhance your social media presence with related paid advertising? Consider the use of social media ads.
- Are you integrating social effectively into other channels? Think about how you can overlay social across other channels and marketing initiatives in order to get better reach or engagement with your audience
Content is king, queen and castle
Content is the cart before the social media horse. It’s fundamental to success in digital marketing, and so a major area of focus. Ask:
- Is your content relevant? Does it work and engage people, does it meet the user’s needs and solve problems? If not (or you’re not sure) study their requirements and think across all content formats.
- Find existing content within your organisation. What content can you quickly get a hold a hold of from other departments, channels or in print maybe? Re-purpose whatever you can, it’s more cost-effective.
- Understand where you have content marketing opportunities to do more vs where you have gaps in your existing offering by thinking about the entire purchase process including the subtle touch-point such as social media interactions.
- Develop an editorial calendar that marries unmet needs, marketing opportunities, internal product launches or events and campaigns. It drives huge efficiencies. Determine where content is needed, consider the format and topic, the timing of and publishing across platforms and outposts.
- Don’t underestimate resources required for content creation. Whilst you can encourage internal and customer contribution, think about where you need inevitable professional input to do a great job. For example designers, photographers, animators, writers and techies.
- “Give your content wings,” Anne Handley says, enable content sharing with social sharing buttons and social commenting tools. With very short term targets amplify the effect of socially shared content with targeted advertising to help build an early audience.
- Make sure that your content solves problems and drives to the next step with relevant calls-to-action. Think about tailored landing pages, data capture at the right point and subsequent marketing automation (email largely) to help convert prospects to sales.
- Curate the best content alongside your originated work on a central hub to best drive the inbound effect, and enable volume. The Smart Insights site is an example of curated and originated blogs in this sense.
A mobile world
In my evaluation of the key points from the State of Marketing, mobile was a key worry for marketers. Mobile is a must to consider, and the basics aren’t so difficult. The wins are there at tough times since it’s less likely that your competitors are really taking it seriously.
- Build a streamlined mobile website focused on the information customers want on-the-go, think about editing a version of your site write down and developing a specific template set.
- Remember mobile search - it’s different to web search. Be visible.
- Email is the primary content consumed on mobile devices, with that in mind make email easy to read and interact with on a connected device.
- Do you need a mobile app? Mobile app usage has surged ahead of mobile web, this could represent opportunity for your brand.
Data fuels better decisions
- New channels, changing platforms, complex buying journeys and multiple touch-points require a good understanding of what’s going on in order budget spend can be properly attributed and spent to best effect – make sure you have access to the skills needed.
- Build a dashboard that makes the important data visible and accessible to the business, and in truth most marketers. Use Google Analytics custom reports or consider a real-time marketing dashboard that integrates different sources. It’s easy to get lost in analytics when the reality is that monitoring the right KPI set is enough on a week to week basis, with the detail shared monthly. It will enable better decisions to be made.
- Customer orientated. The biggest perceived challenge for marketers in the IBM State of Marketing Survey is the proliferation of new devices and channel choices. Mapping customer engagement is key to help ensure rigour in existing against new channel investment.
Dr Dave Chaffey is CEO at Smart Insights (Marketing Intelligence) Limited, a digital marketing portal and consultancy who provide advice and software to help businesses succeed online. He is author of five bestselling books on Ecommerce including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice and has been recognised as one of 50 marketing gurus worldwide who have shaped the future of marketing.