A 9-Step Guide to Making Digital Marketing Work for Your Business
Posted on February 28, 2019 by anstice communicationsMarketing has changed a lot throughout my 20-year career, and digital marketing is far and away leading the charge. Though digital marketing evolves quickly by its very nature, you don’t have to learn everything at once. Running a successful digital marketing campaign can be simple to understand if you follow these nine steps.Nine Steps to Understand Digital Marketing:1. Understand Your CustomerI intentionally put the customer first on this list since this is where the research and design of every campaign begins.To start, one of the best ways to evaluate how people think and behave is outlined in McKinsey’sCustomer Decision Journey (CDJ).My team and I use the CDJ as a set of instructions, framework, or mental model of thinking to build understanding of the market.The CDJ breaks down a person’s path to purchase in six components: Trigger, Initial Consideration Set, Active Evaluation, Moment of Purchase, Post-Purchase Experience, and the Loyalty Loop.
Though there are similarities between the stages of the CDJ and thepurchase funnel(the initial consideration set, active evaluation and moment of purchase are similar to the upper, mid, and lower positions of the purchase funnel), the advantage of the CDJ is that it’s more specific to mapping the key stages of new and existing customers in a digital world.Most companies have an incredible amount of data readily available to help map their customer’s journey both insideand outside of the business.Internal Insight Data Sources:Inside the business, you likely have access to a large volume of data, including:
- Demographic data of existing customers
- Some form of customer-service records
- Client emails
- Purchase histories (including type of payment)
- Website visitor data
- The number of sales your team closes from the number of leads provided
External Insight Data Sources:Outside the business, to help you understand the behaviours that lead to purchase and renewal, look to sources such as:
- Social comments
- Google Trends
- Google My Business location data
- Facebook Pixel Analytics
- Industry reports
Once you’ve got access to the data sets, you’ll need to review the information and draw actionable insights from it. Below is an example of the questions you can consider when evaluating a data set.CDJ StageSources of informationQuestions to askTriggerSurveysAsking new customersWhat was the reason you initiated your purchase?Active EvaluationSurveysGoogle TrendsWebsite dataIndustry reportsStore traffic dataWho is your customer?What brands did you consider as your first choice?Did the brand options change as you researched them?What process did you use to decide?How did you research the product or service?Which media channels does your target group spend their time with?How do they get their information?What are the top-10 questions asked?PurchaseSales dataSurveysPixel dataWhich products sell the most?Who buys them?Do they buy for themselves or others?Which customers buy most / least frequently?Are there any deal makers / breakers at the moment of purchase?Are the purchases made online or offline?Are there patterns when your sales peak and dip?What is your business close rate (# orders / # leads or traffic)?How long did it take your customer to complete the purchase from the time they first thought of it until they completed the purchase?Post Purchase ExperiencePhone calls & surveyService shop recordsMessage boards & online communitiesOnline reviewsHow was your experience shopping with us versus competitors?If there is one thing you could have changed, what would that be?What do you like or dislike about the product / service?Do you have questions about the product or service now that you purchased it?How long do you expect to own it?Would you consider upgrading or adding on?Loyalty LoopSurveysCustomer retention dataWhat triggered this renewal purchase?Did you consider other options or simply repurchase from the same location?2. Set an ObjectiveNow that we know more about the mindset of the market and behaviours of your potential customers, we can set up goals to measure success against. While an objective to “grow the business” is accurate, it’s not helpful since there are a lot of ways a business can grow. For most businesses, there are four specific growth levers you can use to focus your efforts.The Four Business Growth Levers:
- Increase the number of clients
- Decrease the customer churn
- Increase average purchase order
- Increase the purchase frequency
It’s important to first choose which lever you’re trying to influence so you can determine how to best spend your resources (time, people, money).Since every business has a finite number of resources, choosing where to allocate these resources forms the basis of your strategy. You can choose to act on more than one lever at a time, but each lever requires its own strategy and resource allocation.Once you set on your objective, you’ll want to create benchmarks on your customer’s journey and user experience.This benchmark document will allow you to start measuring progress, and it will be invaluable for reporting on improvements. The benchmark metrics you choose should help you identify where you can shorten the gaps between what your customers want and what you have to offer.3. Develop the Content ThemeIn general terms, content is the information packed inside any container.For example, a Facebook video ad proclaiming, “20% off shoes this week only” contains video and copy information that’s hosted on the Facebook channel inside their video ad container. At this stage, it’s not productive to build the final campaign assets for each channel, such as this 20% off example.However, it is useful to develop the creative territory and provide some examples of how it could come to life across various digital executions.The content theme is more about developingThe Big Idea. It’s an overarching creative playground for an entire campaign.The content theme should be rooted in insights from the first stage that gave you an understanding of your customer. It is expected to deliver results for your desired objective.In long-term campaigns, such as McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it,” the content theme will then be applied to a content marketing plan that is a systematic, long-term approach to creating and distributing information that gains a person’s attention because of its value.Questions to think about when developing a content theme:
- What message or information does your customer need?
- Who is your target customer and what motivates them?
- What information can you provide to move them through their journey?
- How can content close the gap between what customers actuallythink about your business and how you wantthem to think about it?
- Does the theme have utility across multiple channels and containers?
- What type of content will work best?
Written – blogs, whitepapers, brochures, polls, surveys, case studiesAudio – podcasts, radio commercials, music, interviewsVideo – GIFs, commercials, shows, movies, webinars, vlogsImage – photos, infographics, presentations4. Choose the Right ChannelsThere are numerous digital channels available to run campaigns on. The obvious ones:
The less obvious—but also interesting:
- Digital billboards
- Gaming systems [Xbox]
- Messaging services [Messenger, LiveChat]
- Voice search channels [Amazon Echo, Google Home]
- Music streaming services [Spotify]
There are numerous ways to use all of these channels in your marketing campaign. However, all of them can be broadly broken down into three strategies:
- Paid Strategy
- Organic Strategy
- Dual Strategy
A paid media strategy refers to digital advertising on any channel that requires a financial investment to push your message in front of people in order to achieve a specific result. The results you pay for should be aligned to your business goals, depending on the stage of the consumer decision journey.If your goal is to create awareness, for example, then you can pay each channel for reach, impressions, or views.If your goal is customer retention, then your campaign can be optimized for sales from existing customers or sign-ups to a loyalty program.A paid channel strategy generally delivers results quickly but requires constant investment to make it work.An organic channel strategy requires no financial investment paid to the channel. Organic is a strategy whereby you publish content on a channel that is intended to deliver a business outcome without paying the channel provider for a result.Examples of organic channels include stories posted to your Instagram account, a search engine optimized (SEO) blog post blog post that naturally pulls traffic to your site, or your company’s “video of the week” published on LinkedIn.Organic strategies don’t require an investment in the channel, but they do require investment in content. This is closely related to an inbound content marketing strategy.How to determine the best channels for your goal(s):Each channel you add to your campaign will create a burn on your resources (time, people, money), which means that you’ll need to select channels that can be sustained over the duration of your campaign:
- Evaluate the information and insights you gained in the first three steps of this blog post.
- Weigh your decision based on your confidence in the channel’s ability to deliver results.
- Evaluate whether you’ll use a paid, organic, or dual strategy.
This is where aPlaying to Winstrategy becomes very important. It’s at this point when you’ll have to make the choice to use some channels and not others.Choosing to exclude a channel from your campaign can be difficult, but it’s much better to use a few channels really well rather than many channels poorly.How you make these choices has to be rooted in what you’ve learned about your customers, the objectives you want to achieve, and how the content can be brought to life on each.5. Execute the PlanAt this stage of the digital campaign process, you’re shifting from strategy to project management.The brevity of this section is in no way a reflection of its importance. The success of your digital campaign depends equally on yourstrategy and execution—you can’t have one without the other.Campaign executions typically start with a team brief to ensure alignment between stakeholders.The team brief is useful to ensure that everyone involved in the execution phase is up to speed on everything that the design team has been working on.Confirm the campaign launch date during this brief so the project management team can develop a workback schedule.The master execution plan should be created by the project director in collaboration with the team leads so they can manage their resources appropriately and report on deliverables to the campaign director.6. Monitor the ResultsUnlike traditional campaigns, digital campaigns start to generate data from the moment they launch—how quickly your budget spend is pacing, cost for delivering results, and so on.On its own, data is dumb. Set up a daily, weekly, or biweekly review at the start of the data collection so your team can mine the data for insights.It’s easy to fall into the trap of building dashboards ofcustom data pukesthat merely regurgitate and rearrange the metrics reported from Facebook Ads Manager, Google Ads, or Google Analytics.Data and their dashboards only have value when they can help identify the actions to take in your campaign that will improve the efficiency or effectiveness of a business result.7. Optimize your CampaignThere are two things your team can implement to optimize your digital campaigns:
- Understand the relationship between metrics—i.e. Engagement, reach, or views, as well as Key Performance Indicators (KPI). A KPI is a business outcome such as sales, average transaction value, and sales per square foot.
- Think about efficiency vs. effectiveness
Let’s say you want to increase the number of reservations to your restaurant:The KPI is the number of reservations by day, week, or month.The actions that people have to take to make a reservation are the metrics that relate to that KPI.The leading indicator metrics you’ll want to keep an eye on are the number of phone calls you get, the number of visitors to the reservation page, and the number of visitors to your OpenTable page. The lagging indicators are the number of reservations. In digital campaigns you are able to optimize for either.I’ll use the same restaurant example above to explain this concept:The KPI is the number of reservations per day, week, or month. The restaurant spends $20 per day on digital campaigns, on average, which delivers 20 reservations per day. This makes the cost of a reservation $1.In this scenario, there are two values that are really important when it comes to managing a campaign:
- The effectiveness value, which determines how healthy our business is (the 20 reservations per day).
- The efficiency value, which is a measure of the waste between the ad intention and the outcome (the $1 cost per reservation).
These are both important because they show that there are two levers you can pull to improve your KPIs.On the effectiveness side of the equation, you’ll get an additional reservation for every $1 you add to your campaign.On the efficiency side, you can adjust factors such the copy or call to action, the button colour, image in the creative, the media targeting, etc. to reduce the cost to acquire a reservation. If you were able to reduce the cost / reservation to $0.50, then you would double the total number of reservations.8. Analyze and learnYou’ll have a mountain of data by the time your campaign ends, which can make it difficult to find a place to start and complete your analysis. However, there are a couple of tricks that can help you move forward:
- Give your future-self a gift by taking the time to record your insights and key learnings in a wrap report immediately after a campaign ends.
- Consider presenting a thorough, yet brief, wrap report to your boss, client, or a team of executives.
Your memory and perspective about a campaign’s performance will never be better than it is immediately following the completion of a campaign. When you pull out the wrap report later to prepare for the next campaign, you’ll know that your future campaign will apply the learnings from the past using the most relevant information available.Spending the time to do a post-campaign wrap report might seem like a nuisance, but viewing it as a gift that you’re going to give yourself can make it become a labour of love.It’s been my experience that senior leaders and clients expect results and progress almost equally. It’s obvious why they expect results for any campaign, and your report will contain that information.However, it’s interesting that even when campaigns don’t deliver results, you can still reinforce confidence by assuring that you’re learning from the experience and have a series of next steps to improve on future actions.Making the executive summary page will help you zero in on only the most important details and insights.9. Repeat the processThis process will allow you to identify, review, and learn from all of the campaign’s big successes and failures. Every time you replay this process, you’ll build on the momentum required to start aFlywheel Effectthat will convert data into knowledge, experimentation into performance, and uncertainty into confidence.This nine-stage process acknowledges that there is always more to learn about your digital interactions with customers.Marc Binkley is Director, Digital & Strategy at Anstice Communications,Canada’s leading boutique agency specializing in meaningful growth strategiesand FX.Follow Anstice Communications on Facebook, Instagram,Twitter and LinkedIn.