How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 5

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Wow – we’re almost at the end of our journey…. I do hope you have used my tools / tips and are well on the way to having a strong digital strategy.

Now is the time to put it into action!

The last step in any marketing plan is the execution of the tactics.

The best way to get results is to do more of the things that work and less of the things that don’t.

The first step in execution is thinking about how you can test & measure ideas.

Test, Measure & Improve

The great thing about digital marketing is that things are infinitely measurable and easily changed.

So, if something is not working, you can test something different and see if you get improved results. You can even often test things side by side – called A/B testing or multivariate testing.

If something is working, then keep doing more of it, until doing more of it makes no difference or starts to cost too much.

Which brings me to my next point.

What do you measure?

This will be very dependant on your digital marketing goals.

However, do think carefully about what you are measuring and why?

For example:

TIME ON SITE / PAGES VIEWED

Does people spending a long time on your website & visiting lots of pages mean that they are engaged with your brand? Or does it mean that they can’t find what they are looking for?

EXIT PAGES

Does tracking the pages where more website visitors exit the site tell you the pages are naff? Or that they were perfect and the customer found what they were looking for?

FACEBOOK LIKES

Do these mean anything unless they’re engaged? Did they just enter because you offered them a prize for entering but have no interest in your product or service? What is the value of these likes?

CLICK THROUGH RATES

Are these important if you’re looking for brand awareness? Or is it the number of people who have seen the advert? And how many sales did they lead to? What is your conversion rate from click through to sale?

CONVERSION RATES

35% of people in New Zealand purchase items online. 34% of these researched online and then bought offline…. So where do they feature in your conversion rate? Do you have a unique 0800 number for your website so that you can track people who research online and then call and purchase? Or do your staff ask how what prompted them to buy from you?

There are so many things to measure in the digital marketing environment, and it’s difficult to cover them all in this article – just make sure you’re measuring things that lead towards your ultimate business goal.

To finish off talking about measurement, there’s a great quote that I love to use:

“Only a truly capable manager is willing to measure their results as it quantifies both their successes and failures.” Anonymous

Nothing is really a failure though – it’s just an opportunity to revise your thinking and try again!

There’s a great article on testing –

http://lukethomas.com/running-marketing-experiments-with-purpose/

Social Media Listening

Social Media Listening is one of the terms that has appeared over the last few years.

What is really means is having your eyes & ears open to see what customers are saying about you in the online environment – and monitoring the trends.

  • Are they saying more good things than bad?
  • Is there an increase in people talking about your product or service?

There are many different tools that you can use to do this but the key thing is, what can you do with it?

  • What can you do when they say bad things?
  • Can you do something to turn a negative situation into a positive situation?
  • Can you amplify the good experiences?
  • Can you surprise & delight your customers?

One thing about social media, is that you can’t control the environment and if you start to block or hide ‘negative’ comments then it will come back to bite you.

There is never a right & a wrong in a situation…. Just 2 different viewpoints J

The best thing you can do is try to put yourself in the customers shoes and see what you can do to make things right in their perception of the world.

Try to never have a disagreement online or in the digital space… these very quickly become viral!

If you’re not keen to engage in social media as a business then you don’t have to broadcast but don’t stop listening. You need to understand when customers are saying things about your business and product / service.

At a very minimum, have a way to jump in and take the conversation offline to see if you can help them.

If you can continue to do more of the things that get good results and do less of the things that don’t appear to work then you will have a digital marketing strategy that works.

However, just with any other form of marketing or channels, customers & the marketplace change over time…. What worked last week may not work next week.

So, continually review your objectives, strategies & tactics and make sure that you are still getting the result that you need!

That’s all for now folks… Please don’t forget to celebrate success & have some fun with it!

If there is anything in my articles that you don’t understand, you disagree with or you’d just like to have a chat to me about, then please feel free to contact me – d.chantry@theicehouse.co.nz.

How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 4

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Welcome back!

You’re now well on your way to developing a digital strategy. You know what you need to achieve…. Now it’s time to think in more detail about how, what, who, where, when & why?

Decide on your strategy & tactics

Your strategy and your tactics will very much depend on your digital objectives, which fall out of your business objectives.

People often get them confused, so I love to use this example that I found online:

 

Goal:                 Win the war.

Strategy:         “Divide and conquer.”

Tactics:

  • CIA spies gather intelligence.
  • Navy Seals knock out enemy communications.
  • Paratroopers secure the airports.
  • Armored Divisions race in and divide the opposing army’s forces.
  • Drone attacks take out the enemy leadership.
  • An overwhelming force of infantry invade.
  • Hand-to-hand combat

But how does that translate into digital marketing?

The strategy is the what and the tactics are the how & who…

Examples:

(Note – these goals need to be defined properly as SMART objectives)

 

Goal / Objective Strategies Examples of tactics
Increase leads for the sales team / sales from the site Increase awareness of digital channelsDrive on-line customer acquisition – Keyword strategy- Affiliate marketing- Search Engine optimisation- Drive traffic to website in off-line advertising- Online classifieds- Social media- Micro-site- On-going email communication- Mobile Application- Existing customer database

– SMS to customer base

– Referral programme

– On-line tutorial

– Welcome emails

– Community Leader endorsement

Focus on search engine marketing to drive traffic to the site – Run google adwords campaign on xyz product / service- Banners on key sites
Improve the conversion rate of traffic to the site – Run A/B testing for different processes- Engage a conversion rate specialist
Improve Customer Service to reduce calls to the call centre Develop the website to answer 90% of customer enquiries – Review the website- Research with call centre to see what the enquiries are about- Develop materials to answer questions online – video tutorials, search engines, Online chat with customer service reps
Improve customer retention Improve user experience and site optimisation – Website redesign- Website content- Improve readability of the website- Provide top customers with the ability to feedback / participate in the enhancement- Straight through transaction processing- Increase payment options online- Launch Mobile Phone Application- Email engagement programme- Abandon cart messaging – to encourage them back- Improve current email programme

– Facebook page / Google Plus

– Leverage off-line sponsorships

– Community Consultant

– Customer Ideas Centre

Extend the service and channel portfolio
Drive customer engagement

These are just some examples of digital strategies and tactics.

In most businesses, the key digital asset is the website and so can logically be a starting point.

Website

Take a good hard look at your website.

If you are looking for increased leads or increased sales, explore how well your website performs in terms of people searching on Google.

If you are looking to offer customer service to reduce in bound phone calls then think about how easy it is for people to find the answers to their questions… And do you have on-line customer service or a prominent phone number so that they can call you if they get stuck?

Generally people are looking for increased brand awareness and increased leads / sales, so the first place to start is to think about the keywords that people will use to search for the product or service that you offer.

You can find this out in a number of ways

  1. If you have some website analytics software (like Google Analytics), then take a look at what keywords people are using to get to your website.
  2. Use a tool such as Google trends (http://www.google.com/trends/) or the keyword tool within Google Adwords to see what your potential customers are searching on.
  3. Work with a reputable SEO firm who will help you better understand the market and come up with a keyword strategy.

Next you need to build your website around these keywords. Your page titles, your page descriptions, your heading and your copy all need to reflect what people are looking for.

In many cases you can do this yourself, but I would recommend working with an SEO expert. They can usually immediately help you increase traffic to your site.

There are so many digital marketing things to think about:

  • Your website
  • Search Engine Optimisation & keyword strategies
  • Search Engine Marketing – banners & Google Adwords campaigns
  • Your customer database & CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Email marketing
  • Mobile websites
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google +
  • Places / Geomarketing
  • Directories
  • Competitions

I can’t possibly cover all of them and how you can use them for your business in one article, but remember that they are all just marketing channels.

So, here are some tips / pointers around how you decide what is relevant.

Tips / Pointers

  • What channels are best for your target audience?
  • Which ones can work for the objectives you need to achieve?
  • WIIFM? – Ask yourself the question – What Is In It For Me? Not literally you, but from your customer’s perspective ie: Why will they come to your social media site? What will they get out of it?
  • What can you afford to spend? Both in money & in time to maintain it.
  • Don’t forget the humble email. If there’s a WIIFM then you will get results.
  • Make sure that you have the resources to execute on your plan and that there aren’t any bottlenecks in your environment.
  • Use a timeline & resource management (or fancy project management software if you have it) to make sure you can deliver all that you need to.
  • Have a social media diary that outlines what you will write & post and when.
  • Don’t post the same thing to every social media site – they attract different audiences so customise your message.
  • Don’t forget the off-line environment! – Ensure that your offline tactics support & reflect your online tactics. Have your website & social media addresses on all of your offline materials.

If you need any help with developing your digital marketing strategy then The Icehouse has digital strategy workshops, where you can work with an experienced digital strategist to come up with the framework for your plan. Feel free to contact me if you are interested – d.chantry@theicehouse.co.nz .

Next week we’ll look at testing, measuring & rewarding success… French Champagne or Central Otago Pinot here we come J

How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 3

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Last week we spent a lot of time understanding the marketplace, our competitors and developing our SWOT and key areas to work on.

This week it’s time to start developing digital objectives.

Let’s not forget that digital marketing is just a series of digital channels that you can use to achieve your marketing objectives, so your digital marketing objectives are going to fall out of your marketing objectives.

So, how do you go about defining your digital marketing objectives?

Step 1 – Define success

I am a huge fan of having fun in business and this includes celebrating success… particularly with a fine Central Otago Pinot Noir or a bottle of French Champagne!

To do this you need to know what success looks like.

Having an objective of increasing sales from the website is great but it’s not a true success measure… Is one more sale enough to be cracking the champagne? Or do you need 150 new sales? And within what time frame?

The key to making sure that you are celebrating the right things is to set SMART objectives.

Definition Description
Specific Objectives should address the five Ws… Who, What, When, Where, and Why.Use action verbs… create, design, develop, implement, produce, etc.
Measurable Objectives should include numeric or descriptive measures that define quantity, quality, cost, etc.How will you and your team know when the goal has been successfully met?  What do you need to measure and can it be easily measured?
Achievable Objectives should be within the teams control and influence – a goal may be a “stretch” but still feasible.Is it achievable with the available resources?Is it achievable within the timeframe originally outlined?Can it be done at all?
Relevant / Realistic Is it possible for your team to perform the objective using Digital Channels?How sensible is the objective in the current business context?
Timely / Time-bound Objectives should identify a definite target date for completion and/or frequencies for specific action steps that are important for achieving the goal.Incorporate specific dates, calendar milestones, or timeframes that are relative to the achievement of another result (i.e., dependencies and linkages to other projects).

Your digital objectives stem from your business & marketing objectives, so look at your business and check if you have SMART objectives for:

  • – Sales forecast – sales figures, number of new customers wanted?
  • – Customer service – how can you improve the service to customers?
  • – Communication – providing information to customers?
  • – Reducing Costs – saving time & increasing your business efficiency?
  • – The wow factor!  – adding sizzle to make your business stand out from the crowd?

 

Now take a look at your digital SWOT from earlier and establish SMART digital objectives to help you achieve your overall business goals.

The key thing in developing digital objectives is that they are RELEVANT. Can they actually be delivered through the digital channels?

Many businesses fail to achieve their digital marketing objectives because they have not been realistic about what can be achieved in the online environment.

Examples:

Overall Business Objective Digital Marketing Objective
Increase sales Achieve an increase of 150% in direct sales from the website within 12 months.
Increase leads for the sales team Gain an additional 25 leads per month from the website by May 2013.Gain 20,000 database registrations by January 2014.
Improve customer retention Increase retention rates of customers online from 35% to 40%, by the end of 2013.
Improve brand awareness Increase visitor numbers to the website from 2,000 to 10,000 by August 2013.Achieve number 1 listing in google natural search for the key search term ‘Digital Marketing’ by September 2013.
Reduce costs Reduce number of customers calling for a brochure from 800 to 500 by end of May 2013.Reduce phone calls to the customer service team by 500 per month by June 2013.

 Step 2 – Benchmarking

At the time of developing your digital objectives, it is also time to look at what you already have and how it is performing:

  • – How many visitors come to your site?
  • – How many people buy from the site?
  • – How many people visit the site to get information that means that they don’t need to call your business?
  • – How many emails do you send? And how many people click through?
  • – How do you rank for the key search terms on google?

 

There are many, many metrics in digital marketing and not all of them are useful.

Think about what is important for you as a business in terms of achieving your goals.

Take stock of how you are performing right now and use this as the baseline that you can measure increased performance against.

Next, think carefully about how you will measure your journey towards your gaols. What will you need to do / implement to measure your progress?

One thing to think about is how much detail do you need to report on?

Often companies report on very minute detail when a general understanding of the trend is enough to understand whether you are moving towards achieving your goals.

Think about how much time it takes to do the measurements and does it justify the means to the end?

There are also many tools out there to automate the measurement process – don’t recreate the wheel!

Feel free to contact me – debra@ventell.co.nz for a list of tools that you can use to measure your success.

Next week we’ll be moving onto the exciting stuff – the strategies & the tactics 🙂

How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 2

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Last week we talked about your target audience and understanding them. The next step in developing your digital marketing strategy is to look at where you are currently at.

Analyse your current situation

– Are you currently operating in the digital marketing space?

– What are your current marketing assets / marketing channels?

Your digital marketing assets include:

  • – Website – desktop & mobile sites
  • – Social media sites – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc.
  • – Email campaigns & email systems
  • – Blogs
  • – Webinars
  • – Videos & Podcasts
  • – CRM or Customer Relationship Management systems
  • – Affiliate programmes

NOTE: Think about your target audience and which digital marketing mediums they are using – if you don’t know, then grab the nearest person who meets your target audience criteria and ask them. Repeat this process 10 times and you’ll start to get an understanding of what they use J

STEP 1 – Take a look at your current situation and do a SWOT analysis:

  • – Strengths
  • – Weaknesses
  • – Opportunities
  • – Threats

Don’t forget to compare them to your competitors and the marketplace.

Online tools to help:

You can use some great online tools to review the basics of your website and social media – try http://marketing.grader.com/ as a starting point.

Hubspot also have a range of other free marketing resources – http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-resources/.

STEP 2 – Competitor Review

As part of your digital marketing asset review, take a good look at your competitors websites, social media sites & digital marketing assets and looking at their strengths and weaknesses:

  • – What’s strong?
  • – What’s weak?
  • – What are they doing well?

Look for companies that are listed and have to put out annual reports to glean information about the marketplace. This can be a great way to understand what they are spending on marketing, employees etc. and to monitor their growth over time.

Step 3 – Key Focus Areas

Revisit your business objectives from last week & from the Digital Marketing SWOT, choose 3 or 4 key areas to focus on that will help you achieve your business goals.

Examples:

Looking for an increase in sales leads for your team?

Is your company easily found on google for the keywords that people use – either naturally or through google adwords? Have you set up ways for people to easily contact you & for you to gather customer details? Do you cross-sell and up-sell using tools such as email?

Looking for an improvement in customer service?

What tools do you have on your website to easily answer their questions or customer service issues? Q&A sections? Virtual assistants? On-line chat? Videos? An 0800 number?

Looking for increased engagement from your customers?

Do you have interesting & useful information on your website or blog that they will return to on a regular basis? Do you have social media sites that your customers use? Can customers generate their own content? Can they have community conversations? WIIFM?

If you are a start-up then think carefully about your key (and hopefully niche) opportunities.

A quick note about viral marketing:

Most people think that they can use the digital space to generate huge brand awareness with little or no cost. I hear the term ‘viral campaign’ bandied about as a cheap way to get customers to websites or social media sites.

Reality is that true viral marketing (digital or otherwise) is still very unusual and rarely at little / no cost. Often there is a lot of time and resources spent in both creating and seeding a viral campaign and there is absolutely no guarantee of success.

For each successful viral campaign there is bound to have been millions that have failed… Take a look on YouTube at the number of videos posted with just a handful of hits!

The key thing for a viral marketing campaign is that it has to grab people’s attention, usually through the unexpected, and then be worthy of passing it on / sharing, either through humour or interesting / useful information.

This means that it can’t be a blatant advertisement for your business – your branding has to be subtle and indirect. The issue with this is that it may fail to deliver your overall objective.

So, be prepared be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses and don’t see ‘viral digital marketing’ as an inexpensive opportunity.

NEXT WEEK…

Now you have evaluated your current situation and identified your key areas to work it’s time to develop your SMART digital marketing objectives, which we’ll cover off next week… See you then!

How to develop a digital marketing strategy that gets results – Part 1

Written for The Icehouse by Debra Chantry and published here.

Clients often ask me, “What is a good digital marketing strategy for my business?” and the answer I always give is “It depends”.

It doesn’t feel like a helpful answer, however after reading this article you will hopefully understand why this is the best answer to this question.

They almost always continue, “But, I need to have a facebook and a twitter account don’t I?”

And the answer remains exactly the same – “It depends”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of digital and social media, but one size does not fit all!

Your digital marketing strategy will very much depend on your target audience and what you are trying to achieve as a business.

Digital marketing is without a doubt a growing part of any business. It enables you to reach a huge audience and to take your business global.

However, digital marketing is no different to any other marketing – it just uses different channels. Rather than TV, radio, print, Direct Marketing & other traditional media, you are using the newer channels of web, email, blogs, social media, videos, webinars. mobile marketing, proximity marketing, affiliate programmes and all those wonderful acronyms – SEO, SEM & CRO (Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing or Paid Advertising and Conversion Rate Optimisation).

The same principles apply when you are developing a digital strategy as when you are writing a marketing strategy.

What is different with digital marketing is that you are often reliant on the customer to come to you and there is an expectation that what you offer will be more targeted and relevant to them…. And of course, the digital space is about 2-way conversations and user-generated content – this doesn’t happen with traditional media, which tends to be more one to many marketing and you get to do all the talking.
As such, the digital space is a great place to truly engage with your customers and drive the business results that you want… But you have to think carefully about how you use it.

Over the next 5 weeks, I am going to share with you the 5 steps that I think every company should go through, whether they are a start-up or an established owner-managed business, to develop an awesome digital strategy that will get results.

Before you start!

Before you start working on your digital strategy, it is essential that you have clearly defined your business goals.

Digital marketing is just another set of channels to reach your customers and so your digital objectives & strategy will fall out of your business objectives and will support and reflect your marketing objectives.

For example, if your business objective is to increase sales then your digital objective is likely to be about increasing awareness, increasing leads for the sales team or enabling / increasing online purchasing.

If your business objective is to reduce costs then your digital strategy may be around delivering customer service in the online environment.

There are generally 5 main digital objectives:

  • – Awareness
  • – Engagement
  • – Lead generation
  • – Revenue
  • – Customer Service

So, let’s get started…

Step 1 – Work out who your customers are & how they behave

Before you can start working on your digital strategy, you need to start by defining your target audience, in as much detail as you possibly can:

  • – What do you know about them? Age, sex, income, where they live, what they do, how they behave etc.
  • – What would you like to know about them? Are there any gaps in your knowledge of your customers?
  • – What sort of technology/ channels do they use & how often?

How do you know who your target audience is?

If you are an existing company, then take a look at your own database and see who is buying from you currently. If there is a really broad range, then take a look at who buys more or most often. Or decided on a niche that you would like to target.

If you are a start-up then take a look at your competitors or again, define a niche that you would like to target.

Once you understand your niche, then personally I like defining the audience demographically and then writing personas.

For example, if you were after males 25-35 years old, who lived in city centres and who earned $60,000 – $80,000 per annum, then you’d perhaps describe a typical day in the life of one of these customers like this…

“Jack is 26 years old and lives with flatmates in a house in Herne Bay. He wakes up at 6.30am and the first thing he does is check his iPhone for emails. He then heads to the gym, where he watches the news on his iPad while he runs on the treadmill. When he gets into work he briefly checks facebook, LinkedIn updates & emails on his work computer (a PC) and again before he heads home. When he gets home he eats his dinner in front of the TV, whilst browsing on his iPad. Jack has MySky so he will watch some programmes that he has recorded, before heading to bed. Jack regularly purchases items from the internet and has no concerns with online payments, although often he will research online and buy in-store.”

If there are any big gaps in your knowledge of your customers, then undertake some research to find out more about them….This doesn’t have to be expensive and it’s something that can reap huge benefits.

How do you do this?

Well, if you have some money, then you can employ an external research company. However, as a start-up or owner-managed business, you might not have the funds.

So, once you have defined your niche, then go out and talk to 3 or 4 of them (through friends & family or through existing customers if you are an established business) and ask them about their typical day, their behaviours, their technology and the sites or digital channels that they use.

Alternatively, use statistics New Zealand or google to find out more… you’d be surprised what you can find out from google J

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is assuming that they know their audience.

I am not a 26 year old male and I live in suburbia, so what do I know about them and their behaviours?

I wouldn’t dare to think that my tastes and behaviours are anything like theirs and I’d definitely be talking to some people who fit into this category to get a better understanding from the target audience.