10 Keys to Successful Digital Marketing
The following was contributed by our guest, Russ Danner, VP of Products @ Crafter Software
With the ubiquity of Internet connectivity and mobile devices, your customers are online more than ever – and this is driving digital marketing to the foreground for marketing teams and business executives. Digital marketing can be difficult to define simply because the space spans a wide range of disciplines and technologies. In this article, I’ll give you 10 keys to successful digital marketing that you can apply regardless of whether you’re just getting started or you’re a long time veteran in the space.
Establish a Firm Understanding of Your Audience and Your Goals
Successful digital marketing begins with basics that are critical regardless of your medium. You need to identify your target audience, the subgroups into which your audience breaks down, and how your product or service addresses their individual needs. You also need a clear understanding of what outcomes you hope to achieve through your digital marketing efforts. Setting specific, realistic goals and tracking your performance is the only way to know whether actions and investment are effective.
Map the Customer Experience
Today’s customer experience is a journey that spans many touch-points ranging from online ads and emails – to an array of digital screens – to physical media and face-to-face interactions. Take the time to map out and understand your customer experience: the mediums and processes that are involved as well as what data is generated and how it flows from one end of your business to the other. By developing a clear picture of the entire experience you give yourself much better odds of putting your attention and investments where they will matter most. Here are some of the elements you want to call out when you create your mapping:
- Where the customer touch-points exist
- Where customer data originates and where it flows
- What customer-oriented processes exist, and whether they contain bottlenecks
- Where opportunities to build customer loyalty exist
- Where branding impressions and potential inconsistencies exist
Measure, Don't Fly Blind
Many of us have been working with our customers so long that it’s tempting to think we know exactly what they want. Put your pre-conceived notions aside. Technology, usage patterns and trends are changing so fast today that it’s difficult to keep up and to truly stay ahead of what customers want and need. Don’t fly blind by guessing. Measure instead. Establish a baseline and track how your changes and updates impact your results. Design, implement and execute experiments to hone in on optimal messaging, configurations, and content. The hardest part of measuring is getting started. Start simple, learn, iterate and grow in sophistication over time.
Make It Engaging
Effective marketing is about connecting and engaging your audience. People engage with conversations and organizations that they feel are authentic, genuine and that make a real difference or “make meaning” in their experience.
If you want to succeed, make a meaningful difference. You don’t have to have a grand vision or a world changing product to make meaning in the world; you simply need to connect in a very deep sense with your audience around a problem with a given solution or point of view.
Another way to encourage engagement is to listen. As marketers we’re really good at telling. If we want to engage with our market we need to make it about them; we need to open a dialog and the best way start is to be a good listener. Make sure you consider your audience and the type conversation you are having. What is the nature of the conversation? Is it an intimate, private conversation or something better suited for a group? Know and respect your audience and their needs by providing the right digital medium for the different types of conversations you are having.
When appropriate, make the conversation social. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to build the strength of your brand and a customer loyalty. You are going to make mistakes, so own up to them and be transparent. Your customers will appreciate your willingness, transparency and candor. Some find opening up to difficult to implement if these principals are not already a part of your corporate culture. Keep working to open up. It’s not always easy to be fully transparent or hear from an unhappy customer but by listening and responding you create an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer around and make your organization better.
Finally, if you want to your audience to engage with you the most important thing you can do is walk the talk. Integrity is one of the most valuable currencies in today’s interconnected world.
Meet the Audience Where They Are
It’s a well know fact of human psychology that we identify easily and most closely with those who we perceive to be like us. In today’s global marketplace we have customers spanning every time zone, every language, and every profession with different personal preferences and cultural norms. Meet your customers where they are. Serve them on their schedule, in their language and in the format, medium and context that they prefer or require. Leverage technology to provide your content across channels. Break down schedules with video and other types of content that are available around the clock, translate content and adapt your design and collateral for cultural norms. There are technical solutions available today that make multi-channel publishing, translation and content targeting affordable and much easier than ever before.
Almost everyone is carrying a smart phone wherever they go. As marketers we have an opportunity to create entirely new experiences by leveraging these mobile devices. Combine experiences to create more engaging, immersive interactions for your customers. For example, augment your physical store experience with a mobile application that allows your customers to access additional services and information through their own device as they shop. Another example is what has become known as second screen – the augmentation of one digital experience with another. Use combined experiences to enrich and gamify customer interactions to make their experiences richer, more useful, fun and engaging.
The Channel Impacts the Messaging But Not the Message
Today we’re engaging our audiences on a wide variety of channels from traditional and mobile-based websites to social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Each channel has its own unique capabilities and constraints and in some cases its own culture. It’s important to remember that our message needs to remain consistent. The message represents our brand. However, our messaging, the style and articulation of our message needs to be targeted for the channel. You need to communicate in a different style if you are connecting to your audience through your blog than you would communicate if you were connecting through LinkedIn or through Pinterest.
Integration is the Key
Effective digital marketing requires a lot of technology. There are many vendors that will try to provide a single platform for the wide range of use cases from content and experience management, publishing, monitoring, lead generation, CRM and other digital marketing activities. In most cases, all-in-one solutions are insufficient for our needs as they tend to provide mediocre functionality due to a lack of product focus on the part of the vendor. Further, the increasing pace at which new channels, touch-points and data sources emerge makes it difficult for all-in-one providers to keep up with new and relevant functionality. Most organizations quickly recognize these failings and instead use a best-of-breed approach to technology and tooling that provide with laser-focused solutions that are best in their class. However, best-of-breed solutions alone are not a silver bullet. If you want the technical approach behind your digital marketing strategy to succeed you need to plan for integration. In order to be efficient and maintain an understanding of our customers, the systems and data needs to be integrated. The right technical approach will allow you to use best-of-breed components and to quickly and easily integrate them together.
Single Source of Content: Content Hub
Consistency of message and the ability to quickly publish targeted messaging across all of your channels is critical for successful digital marketing operations. The most effective way to acquire this capability is to source and manage your content from a single repository. By sourcing your content from a single system you reduce any inefficiencies inherent when you have many repositories, and you’ll be able to quickly search across and repurpose content. It’s also important to remember to keep your content and the presentation of your content separate. This has been a best practice for many years but has become increasingly important in recent times as the number of digital channels continues to grow.
Our last key is to iterate. Digital marketing is a huge space that takes time to cover fully. Start small, simple and grow in scope and sophistication as you mature and progress. Remember that change for the sake of change or change without metrics can waste time and money. As you iterate measure the effectiveness by tracking your results relative to your goals.
About Crafter Software
Crafter Software (Reston, Va.) enables the creation of rich and engaging websites, mobile applications, and multi-channel digital experiences. The company’s software solutions are based on the award-winning Crafter CMS open source project, which was built from the ground up as a modern platform for creating more relevant web experiences through targeted delivery of personalized content. Serving as the lynchpin between enterprise systems and end users, Crafter’s solutions enable marketing, sales and support teams to author and manage content while harvesting analytics and data-driven insights to deliver engaging experiences across all digital channels—the web, mobile, social, and more. For more information, visit craftersoftware.com and craftercms.org.
Crafter Software Corp.
Krystel Winiker, 703-646-0610