2018 Marketing Strategy Guide
A Digital Ecosystem That Works
In an age where millions of marketing channels & tools exist I’ll be the first to admit that the strategy process can seem both daunting and complicated to companies looking to make a significant impact in 2018. With so many options to choose from companies often ask themselves “Where do we even start?” The first step is educating yourself on how digital marketing works.
Understand that online marketing is a delicate ecosystem where the channels you choose have an impact on each other. Your website is the center of this ecosystem, and all channels should point to this medium. Websites are your first line of offense when roping in potential customers. Your website should not be an informational graveyard; rather this should be an extension of your brand experience with consistent messaging tailored to each segment of your audience. I always suggest that clients build “better website experiences” that not only add value to the user but also provide increased operational efficiencies for the company itself. This may include marketing automation, user portals or advanced e-commerce tools.
Your website is vital from an online advertising standpoint because channels such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads read your websites to see how relevant the content within site is to the user. Based on landing page experience (content, functionality, mobile friendliness), Ad copy and expected click-through rate (ratio of people who click on your ads) will lead to an overall quality score of your advertisements. You see search advertisement systems are designed to serve their customer ads with the most relevant information to their user. If your site has robust content that relates to their search, the lower the cost your advertising costs are and the higher your ad ranks within their system. Get what I’m saying by digital being a delicate ecosystem now?
Self-Evaluation Is Key
Before writing your whole marketing strategy, it’s best to put time into self-evaluating your company, customer and overall business efforts. Marketers who correctly identify matches in their company’s value proposition and target audience start off with a solid foundation that can dictate overall strategy.
When Self-Evaluating ask yourself :
- What are the core values of our company?
- Do our customers value the same thing? (And how do you know)
- Who are our customers? (Core Demographics)
- How do our products benefit our customers lives?
- WHO ARE OUR CUSTOMERS? Again, what makes them tick, what are their passions, hobbies, work, etc
Answering these simple but effective questions is a critical first step in the strategic process. Tools like SurveyMonkey & Google Surveys are helpful in gathering market research, but beware of the questions you ask, it’s often easy to create survey bias if you allude to the goal of your survey. Survey bias can detrimental to the rest of the strategic process, forcing you to focus in on the wrong details.
Overall, your strategy document needs to have a project mission statement with clear company goals and defined objectives. Ensure your team and partners understand these goals & objectives by writing them in a shared Google Doc. Besides these basics, the strategy should be robust taking into consideration industry competitors, strengths and weaknesses, creative concepts of your new campaign, the channels you’ll use and how they complete your objectives as well as developing a timeline for the execution of each facet of your campaign.
With a well-documented strategy and a renewed understanding of your customer, it’s time to choose a channel that will be most effective for you. Facebook & Google are easily the two largest players in the space and provide a variety of ad formats to complete your goals. Each can achieve your goals, and often we find Facebook & Google allow for more controlled spending. Budget is another important factor in selecting media channels. You want to make sure you put aside an adequate budget aside based on the number of people you want to reach or take action on your campaign. Online advertising is flexible in that it allows you to choose the way you spend, from the traditional “cost-per-click” model to even cost per acquisition enabling you to closely hit your return on investment goals.
Setting the Stage For Your Audience
In this example will use the Google Display Network for marketing to customers. Not only does each level of the funnel represent different targeting but also represents a customers stage in the buying process. At the top of the funnel we set up our campaign for demographic
targeting, which is not only the least expensive but also the broadest, this is meant to foster brand awareness of your company and peak interest of your products in consumers. The next level of targeting is affinity audiences (based on interests/hobbies) allowing us to place banner/video/search ads on niche websites that our potential customers visit. This is a great way to pair your product or service with a website that has authority within specific interest groups. In-Market audiences are particularly useful when targeting customers who are actively looking to purchase the product/service you offer and can drive traffic to a relevant landing page on your site. Keep in mind that most customers online do extensive research before making a purchase, so engaging your audience is paramount. That’s where remarketing comes in. With this targeting method, you can send ads to users who have already engaged in content on your site.
***Pro-tip: Offering incentives to return to your shop as well as creating specific ads for products they visited increases your chance of getting the sale. Finally, customer match provides a powerful way to target users that mimic attributes of those who historically have converted on your website & other targeting parameters. It uses Google Machine Learning algorithms to match each user interest and behavior based off of email & google property activity.
Digital marketing channels provide an array of targeting options that allow you to serve your ads to users based on the intent, interest, behaviors, topics, and placement on select websites. You should understand that these channels have different ad formats that work together to help complete your marketing goals. The best way to explain this is by showing you an example of a marketing funnel.
Embody Your Brand
We’ve created our strategy document and choose our digital channels; now it’s time to plan our creative. As good as your strategy and channel choices may be, no campaign can be effective without head turning creative. Your campaign needs to embody your core brand values but relate to your audience in a way that they’ll want to find out more about your product or better yet share it with a friend. Remember your creative should also have a centralized theme, completing various objectives set in your strategy brand. Finding the right creative format is something your team should consider in 2018 here’s a few advertising media formats you should be thinking of:
- Youtube 6 Second Pre-Roll Ads (Before video begins)
- Linkedin Sponsored Lead Gen Ads (Great for B2B
- Facebook – Full-Screen Canvas Ad (show customers your offerings!)
- Sponsored Content (written & filmed produced in collaboration with social media influencers)
With strategy, media channels & creative set your almost ready to launch your campaign, but not without one last crucial task, developing a measurement plan. Your team should set clear metrics for success, with different metrics measured depending on your marketing strategy goals. One of the most popular ways to measure success is by implementing conversion tracking. Simply put conversions are the action we want users to take as marketers. This includes purchases, form fill outs & phone calls. I recommend tracking “micro conversions” as well, which can help you understand the broader impact of advertising in your sales cycle. A variety of conversions can be tracked using tools like “Google Tag Manager,” which integrates with a variety of third-party media providers to inject tracking code into your site. Along with a measurement plan our team usually pairs it with advanced analytic software to learn more about our client’s users.
For example, we use programs like Hotjar to measure the effectiveness of our website design, monitoring users clicks and scroll activity with heat maps and screen recordings. This software is incredibly powerful, and when paired with programs like Google Optimize, we can test different variables on users to help us understand the most effective experience for our conversion rates. Implementing these programs allows any company to become data-driven in process.
Remaining competitive in today’s world requires the right investment on behalf of your company. In 2018, digital isn’t a luxury rather a necessity. By implementing the latest best practices and using leading technology your business can still get ahead of competition, as we stated it comes down to a clear strategy, great execution and a measurement plan that allow for you to make adjustments on the fly, being there for your customers in their need and maximizing the lifetime value of your company.