There are a few typical reactions we get when we tell people what we do. The most common is “Oh, we’ve tried digital marketing and it doesn’t work for us.” This is usually an indication that someone has attempted to take a DIY approach, worked with a “bulk account” service provider, or had a newspaper or tv channel sell them on an add-on package with little thought put into it. Essentially, it comes down to having a poor experience with little insight as to why, leaving them to wonder if digital marketing was ever worth it.
To be honest, we used to believe that emphasizing that we provide strategic digital marketing services was too obvious or overstated. All digital marketing should be strategic, so why should we need to explicitly say it? It turns out though, after onboarding hundreds of clients, that not all agencies are approaching digital marketing in this way.
So let’s dig into what we mean.
The elements of strategic digital marketing:
- Maximizing the digital marketing budget
- Defining business goals and outcomes
- Understanding audience demographics and targeting
- Acknowledging seasonality and selling cycles
- Open communication and collaboration
- Utilizing detailed analytics
Maximizing the Digital Marketing Budget
We ask for a budget during our sales discovery calls because we need to know where to best spend a marketing budget to get the desired results. If we didn’t, everyone that reaches out to us would get a 6-service all-in package at top dollar.
Before we even recommend any digital marketing services, we determine if it’s even the right time to be spending money in that way yet. Is the website an adequate conversion tool? Are there proof cases or reviews that will help convert prospects? Is the business model proven? This is our first opportunity to help you avoid wasting budget before you’re ready.
If we determine that a company or organization has the foundation to maximize the impact of a digital marketing push, we’ll help determine which services and channels match their goals. By prioritizing the services and channels, we can offer options for how to approach the market in effective ways.
Defining Business Goals and Outcomes
When it comes to recommending channels and tactics, simply knowing what the goals are for the business improves our initial suggestions. A goal is not to “run digital ads,” but rather “grow traffic 50%” or “Increase online sales” etc., as well as how quickly you want to accomplish it.
Sales goals will lean towards paid advertising with the intent to grow revenue. Awareness goals need high impression channels with the intent to get in front of a lot of eyes. A goal to build authority in an industry would use professional and search channels to deliver expertly positioned content.
Short-term vs long-term goals also affect which services are most appropriate. SEO is an amazing digital marketing tactic, but takes a good amount of time to spin up and return value. In contrast, you can be running search or social media ads within days and start getting traffic and sales. In a perfect world you would have a balance, but depending on budget, prioritization would come into play.
Understanding Audience Demographics and Targeting
It seems fairly straightforward to assume that knowing the basic demographics of your target audience would benefit your digital marketing campaigns, but there is another level of insight that can help make campaigns even more effective.
Knowing your audience profiles allows you to write ads and develop assets that speak to the viewer in a more effective way, motivating them to take action. It allows a team like ours to specifically write for their goals.
Audience age groups can fairly easily dictate which channels are most appropriate to be active in, especially for social media tactics. Furthermore, having knowledge of your audience’s interests and locations allows for advanced targeting and bid management in paid advertising channels. This allows for ad dollars to be spent more efficiently.
Acknowledging Seasonality & Selling Cycles
So many digital marketing contracts are 12-24 month contracts based on servicing a channel, but that’s not always appropriate. There are a number of seasonal industries like landscaping, hospitality, tourism, etc. that all have seasonal relevance and constantly spending ad dollars every month of the year doesn’t make sense for them.
Selling cycles also play a role in which channels and how many can be effective for a business. Short selling cycles may only need one ad, article, or keyword ranking to convert someone. Longer selling cycles may require multiple channels to nurture a lead over time and be top of mind when their need arises.
We look at digital marketing strategies on a yearly basis to see how we can shift services, channels, and ad spend based on both seasonality and selling cycles. Our recommendations are based on working towards your business goals, not just to fulfill months in a contract.
Open Communication and Collaboration
This may seem like common sense, but having open communication goes a long way in building and maintaining successful digital marketing campaigns.
By communicating regularly with our clients, we’re able to adjust campaigns based on their needs. If a certain service or product is not available, we’ll pause ads and shift dollars in the same way as if a new service or product is being introduced.
We’re often asking our clients for feedback from their sales and accounts teams to see what their closing rates are and long-term customer value is. It helps us understand what channels and campaigns are providing the best return.
Strategic digital marketing is a process that requires both sides to work openly and frequently together to stay on the same page and ensure positive outcomes.
Utilizing Detailed Analytics
Analytics and reporting are key to any strategic digital marketing initiative. Any activity digital marketing touches provides an abundance of data for campaign performance, whether it’s based on hard conversions or audience engagement.
That data can be used to make constant improvements in ad targeting, content writing, budget spending, channel selection, and more. It’s important to know when something isn’t working so it can be fixed.
Most importantly, reporting on this data provides a record of performance history and progress – simply, knowing what your digital marketing is doing to meet your goals. We can’t tell you how often we take over digital marketing accounts and our new clients have no past reporting to share with us, because they were never sent reports.
All Digital Marketing Needs To Be Strategic
Too often we onboard new clients that have never been guided through strategic digital marketing planning and execution in this way.
Digital marketing as a service has a stigma that it’s an empty promise with a low-cost / long-term monthly service rate and an unknown ROI. Not to mention that some organizations experience little-to-no communication in general with their agencies, not even reporting.
To correctly implement strategic digital marketing all of these factors need to be included in the process. If they aren’t, you’ll be left wondering “why” yourself.