Digital marketing’s emphasis on data and campaign ROI means that it’s relatively easy for marketers to prioritize spend – at least, far easier than with traditional media, which left you relying on ringing phones and faulty memories about how people found your business. And digital marketing can be easily scaled up or even paused with a few keystrokes if you sell out of stock.
But all that agility comes with issues, one of which is that there are so many channels and tactics digital marketers can try that if you don’t have a clear direction and strategy, you can quickly burn through your budget without optimal ROI. There is a steep learning curve in digital marketing, and there a lot of pitfalls, but there are a lot of basic rules you can follow and plenty of great information online about how to do it better.
In this post, we’ll cover 7 factors key to any digital campaign. We’ll also go over consideration of social channels, local/geo search, user reviews, and paid campaigns.
7 Universal Factors
1. Make sure your efforts are measurable
Can you track the results? Always ensure you optimise your campaign! The first step in prioritization of marketing activities is to understand their performance. For that reason it’s mandatory that you set up web analytics on your website to track campaigns, creative or keywords. You can set up the basic version that measures visitors and where they came from, move up to conversion/goal points to improve your ROI, and finally tackle advanced options with ecommerce tracking and attribution modelling.
2. Aim for a high degree of relevance
Are you reaching the right audience? Make sure your targeting is set up to show your brand to people who most want to engage. Sure, it’s easy to just throw mud at a wall and see how much sticks, but it’s also lazy; you have tons of control over who you are targeting and can measure almost in real-time how that audience is engaging with your campaign. It’s also important that you segment your campaigns by geography, demographics, and/or psychographics to eliminate irrelevant clicks and impressions.
3. Track your management costs
What are your fixed and variable costs? Sure, running campaigns manually are a great way to get started, but to fine-tune ROI at scale, you need to look at using either a bid management tool like Acquisio, Marin Software, or Kenshoo; hire a specialist; or get an external agency to run the campaign for you. The key part about this is that each of these 3 solutions has a fixed or variable cost based on your marketing spend; you need to factor this in when planning your budgets.
4. Track your media spend
What’s the spend model of your ad campaigns – CPM, CPC, CPA, fixed fee? Platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Google generally offer CPM, CPC, and CPA campaigns. Often websites will offer fixed-rate campaigns where you pay a fixed amount per month or per week based on how many clicks/impressions they forecast they will get. This can be a gamble as the contracts are often not performance-based – so you have to do your research first, but you can get a lot of traffic out of these deals.
5. Understand how to measure effectiveness
How do you know when your campaigns have been effective? Some companies have increased awareness – brand or product searches, for example. Others have straight-up sales or conversions. Digital marketing has a huge leg up from traditional marketing: attribution modelling, which allows you to understand who saw your ads and whether they visited your website, phoned your call center, or purchased from your online store.
6. Estimate the reach of your campaigns
What is the total potential audience and traffic for your campaigns? Most paid tools give you a decent amount of insight into reach, expected costs to buy that traffic, and even conversion estimates. It’s important that you do your research and understand the total potential audience along with the maximum amount of traffic you could actually buy if you had the budget. Facebook and Twitter ads can give you great insight into potential audience, while Google will give you better insight into potential traffic.
7. Know your desired outcome
What is the end objective – branding, website visitors, page views, phone calls, emails, or sales? While digital can be great for covering the entire customer journey towards the purchase of your products or services, it can also allow you to focus on key stages. Digital marketing is great for reaching the research and short-list stage of the purchase funnel; you can target competitors and drive visitors to targeted content to establish familiarity. If you have a smaller budget, focus on the consideration (leads) or purchase (sales) and build up your revenues and expand your campaign to cover further up the purchase funnel.
Research the best social channels for your business
There are a ton of social channels (more every month, it seems). Focus on those most aligned to your business. To do this, it’s critical to understand your target audience – for instance, if you are trying to reach a key demographic in China, Qzone would be a better platform than Twitter, while in Germany, Xing would perform better than LinkedIn.The media you are producing will also dictate which platform will be more suitable. Once you have identified your target audience, some of the larger social media platforms you should consider utilizing are:
My advice would be to claim your business name or trademark across as many social networks as possible; there are even platforms like Knowem that make it a bit more scalable to register them all. The reason to claim them is to ensure you don’t let spammer or squatters take your username; you might want to use these social networks in the future, since you need to go where your audience is and make it easy for them to find you. You may be on Facebook and spend thousands on Facebook Ads, but that doesn’t mean your customer will spend time on Facebook.
Devote some time to local and geographic search
Consider whether local marketing is a relevant channel and ensure you have claimed your business listing. It’s a fairly simple test: if you have a physical location local and geo-based marketing is probably important. Regardless, you should always claim your business listing so you can respond to reviews, view performance analytics, update details (which are often wrong), include additional information, link to your social accounts, and add media (photos,video,360 degree tours) including:
Cultivate good user reviews
Are reviews important in your industry? Focus on the dominant websites in your industry or region, and don’t be afraid to do competitive research on how many reviews you might need to be on top. If you are running a B&B or a restaurant, visitor reviews can make or break your business, but if you are running a web shop you might just need a platform like Trust Pilot.
It’s important to understand that these platforms are not all global. If you are in Vietnam, for instance, Yelp would give you no advantage as they don’t operate there; Trip Advisor and Trust Pilot are the two leading platforms for gathering reviews and ratings. Foursquare has stumbled over the past few years since making the horrible decision to split into two apps, but they still have an active user base, so don’t discount getting some great reviews on there also.
As noted above, claiming your local business listing will enable you to view statistics and respond to visitor & customer reviews.
Prioritize the right paid channels
Paid channels are a great supporting channel for other core digital marketing channels including SEO, social media, and email, but paid marketing done badly with no focus or objectives can be the easiest way to fail.
There are hundreds of paid channels you can use, but your focus should be on a few of the bigger ones. Start with considering the best paid channels you can use – but spend some time defining why you are running the campaign. To help you prioritiae the right channel, confirm what your core objectives are: direct response, promotion, building an audience, or amplification?
It’s also important to think of what part of the purchase cycle you are trying to capture. There are several large platforms that each have an advertising product suitable for each core objective, but each has its own unique advantage.
-Google AdWords Search – Controls 90% of search market in many countries; mainly suitable for direct response but useful for branding
-Google AdWords Display Network – AdSense is the dominant mechanism for monetisation of content and best suited for branding, though retargeting can lead to direct response
-YouTube Ads – The second-largest search engine and largest video platform; suitable for branding and amplification of your content
-Bing Ads – Can be cheaper than Google and offers similar options; mainly suitable for direct response
-Facebook Ads – Over 1.39 billion users with user-focused targeting options; suitable for building an audience and amplification
-Twitter Ads – Over 300 million users; cheaper than Facebook and suitable for direct response, building an audience and amplification
What will your campaigns cost overall?
As with any marketing campaign, it’s key that you understand or forecast the total investment required. It can be smart to prioritize channels with the lowest required investment and ramp up the investment as revenue/profits increase. Some considerations to take when calculating your investment:
-Are there additional staffing costs required (often you might need to hire a specialist)? Specialists can be great investments as they can run campaigns more effectively, but they can command high costs as they have unique knowledge not always easily picked up by existing staff without training.
-How are the advertising costs calculated? Are media costs included? Also consider if there are costs incurred for using an agency or big management platform for your campaigns; you may find that spending more money on media drastically reduces your campaign costs as digital usually allows for scalability.
-Is there a cost for production of content (articles, images, and video)? Some agencies include these costs as part of the management fees, but if the campaign needs to be expanded or refreshed, consider whether there will be additional charges.
-What training and education will be required if you are not outsourcing the marketing? It’s likely that you will need to train your staff on a new platform, system or procedure in order to run your campaigns effectively.
Key considerations for effective digital marketing
-Measure and track everything you can
-Test, learn, and don’t be afraid to fail
-There is an 80/20 rule in everything; just accept it
-Focus on what you want from your campaign
-Similar to share trading, establish some stop limits on maximum spend
-Don’t be afraid to pause campaigns, ad copy, or keywords that don’t perform