With all the new possibilities constantly emerging in digital (online, mobile, gaming…) marketing and advertising, it’s easy for marketers to get a little lost, distracted and even focus on what’s really important, what should come first, and next and so on…
This is my effort to weed through everything and to put it in an order which I believe makes sense and is logical. Should you have additions or other ideas, please do not hesitate to share them with me in the comment box below. This may be the first edition of my “Digital Marketing Priorities” on this blog, but I’ve published two prior versions (additionally to this one) on my French blog (http://fr.titaninteractif.com) over the past couple years.
#1- Strategic Plan
Seems obvious enough, but it really is important to revisit your strategic plan and consider it from a digital standpoint relative to your business. When revising your plan, do not forget to also perform a SWOT analysis. The important thing here is you’ll need to mentally take a giant step back from your day to day and consider your business as an independent consultant would – objectively. You know your business very well in the traditional / brick & mortar world and possibly thing you know it online as well, but you need to look wider at every player in your sector that’s vying for your customers in your market. Some may be well outside your normal region of business yet still do good business here. Others may at first glance not look worthy of a second glance, but that second glance may well highlight a threatening competitor you’ll need to watch out for – or could highlight a potential new opportunity for business if you are better set up to develop it then they are.
Is your online business objective going to be identical to your traditional one? What about your mobile business objective?
#2- Your Web Site
You absolutely need to have an online base of operations, as well as a mobile version – the same as you have a head office in the physical world. Your website, like your flagship store or service location, need to first and foremost service your client’s needs, possibly your business partners’ as well, much more than it needs to serve yourself. Not all information and contents you find important to your business are also important to your clients and business partners.
If your website is only a digital brochure about your business, it is not a website. An annual report digitalized into a website is not what your website should look like. It should much more resemble a digital version of your client services, your storefront and your product complete with all relevant specifications a customer might like to obtain.
Your website will also need to highlight all of your other online presences. As mentioned above, you’ll then need to consider the mobile version of your website which should not be just adjusted to fit a mobile screen, but service your customers’ needs when they are out and about, as opposed to sitting in front of their computer at home or work.
#3- Email Newsletter
Regardless of what you may have heard, email is not dead yet, nor is it likely to anytime soon. It is true some newsletters have seen slight to important declines in subscribers, as well as email open rates. Some people (like me) have chosen not to receive any brand content or news content via email. That does not mean they are not interested in you – rather they will connect with you via RSS, social media or directly through your website whenever they get curious. Regardless of this, many people still prefer to hear from brands via email and you need to answer that call. Your newsletter will need to inform your interested prospects about what’s new with your business, your deals and most importantly give them reason to visit your website or store – make them act towards generating a sale. Ensure your newsletter is mobile friendly.
#4- Social Media
This was a must back in 2010; it is countlessly more important today. Your company, your store locations / franchisees, your brands, must all be present and active on multiple social networks where your customers and prospects in large numbers spend a lot of time (still over an hour daily on Facebook, to name just that one). In Canada, over 70% of the entire population aged 2 and over regularly use Facebook – that’s more than the number of Canadians aged 2+ who read daily printed newspapers. Other networks like YouTube and Twitter also reach a lot of Canadians and are now unavoidable. You need to explore the entire social media landscape to identify all social networks and platforms that your clients and potential prospects might use on a regular basis. You’ll then need to establish how best to setup your presence and capture their interest.
#5- Base Campaigns – solicit direct responses to collect on « easy sales »
Before launching image or brand building campaigns, it is necessary to capture all possible easy sale you can online and via mobile. By “easy sale” I mean those consumers who have decided to proceed in buying something you have to sell – whether it is from your specifically, from one of your competitors or the vendor is not yet decided upon. You must then be there where and when they are in research mode or in the moments (hours & days) before they actually pass at the cash register to influence where they actually go to spend their money. To be crystal clear, your brand needs to be on every possible online and mobile directory that’s relevant to your sector. You need to exploit the power of online classified ads if you find what your sell available there (even if you are selling something new and not used), or seek out specialty classifieds sites like Etsy.com. This includes also a base search pay per click campaign where you’ll buy keywords and phrases in line with what consumers about to buy might search for. And finally there are 2 display advertising base campaigns that all brands should engage in: A- retargeting your own website’s visitors after they have exhibited a behavior fitting a potential sale on the horizon, retargeting them when they are out and about on the web elsewhere than on your website through direct publishers and ad networks or through real time bidding; B- targeting online users across ad networks and real time bidding who’s data indicates they have an “intent to buy” or “in-market.” Where these last two are concerned I would encourage you to keep abreast of new online behavioral advertising (OBA) industry-wide self-regulation that is being put in place here in Canada (IAB Canada, ACA, ICA, AAPQ, ASC, CMA, CMDC and CDMQ) or in the US where it is already in effect through the DAA.
#6- Brand building and maintenance campaigns
Regardless of which media you use (although I recommend you include interactive media platforms in all your plans), it is all-important for every brand from the biggest to the smallest to engage in regular brand building campaigns where the end goal is not to make a sale in the short term (that’s been dealt with in point #5), but in the longer term. Building a reputation for your brand as being trustworthy and of quality, establishing your brands credibility and positioning compared to other offerings in the market, increasing intent to buy and tweaking brand attribute perceptions among consumers are all important elements – elements that will place your brand in a consumers brand-set when eventually considering purchasing something you have to sell. Online display advertising acts similarly to most traditional media in the sense that people notice those ads that represent something they have an interest in (even the slightest interest) and they remember the information they deem important to a future purchase for whenever that happens. Not everyone is interested in what you have to offer at all times – this is why brand campaigns must also strive to be omnipresent and to be there when consumers are finally in a favorable mind-set to pay you some attention.
Any significant investment of time and money (in all types of business and personal activities) is worth being evaluated, reviewed, learned from and optimized as it happens or the next time around. This is also the case where digital marketing and advertising is concerned (points #2 through #6) as you have real time access to data which can tell you how you are performing in as much detail as you care to spend time sifting through. Since you have all this performance data available to you, there is no reason all your campaign should not perform better at their end that they did at their start.
#8- Monitor and test
As this (digital) area of marketing evolves very rapidly, it is imperative that you pay attention to any and all new development, any and all new entrants, new possibilities and technologies that could potentially carry your business further and faster than ever before. Consumer behavior is also fast evolving where media and digital technologies are concerned – who had heard or tablets two years ago and even considered them potentially game changing? There are new targeting possibilities being developed and fine-tuned all the time where online and mobile advertising is concerned, new social networks and services are popping up left, right and center all the time. Any new possibility which today may seem useless or negligible at first glance should be further looked at with naïve eye to see the potential it may represent 6 months or 2 years from now. Early entrants in all new fields usually become their leaders. Of course many of the new things being developed won’t pan out, but that is also further learning opportunity (crucially important) which will help your company learn faster when the next thing comes around. You’ll be in a better position to place new possibilities in perspective with others.
Please share your comments and suggestions with me in the box below. Did I forget something? Is my order wrong?
In the coming weeks I will publish a separate post for each of these 8 points to further explain my thinking about them.