I’ve been practicing digital marketing for over thirty years, and I am here to tell you that what you don’t know definitely CAN hurt you in the case of digital marketing.
When I started in digital, I was pitching some of the most significant consumer packaged goods, tech, and media companies in New York on what was then the leading edge of digital media – CD-ROMs, Interactive Kiosks, Interactive Presentations delivered via Laptops, and course, the nascent World Wide Web. The toolset was limited, and for all those I didn’t get to work with, what they didn’t know wasn’t quite able to hurt them – yet.
Fast forward to today, and we have many digital media choices and digital marketing techniques. Websites and a social media presence of some kind are table stakes. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critically important to website success, but some businesses get more bang for their buck than others. Digital advertising on search engines, websites, e-newsletters, and social networks is valuable for different companies based on channel and audience. Email is still a highly relevant tool, but it is more important to some companies than others, not unlike advertising.
The digital channels I mentioned above are not an exhaustive list. For example, I used them to get you thinking about the complexity of the landscape and the need for a strategic approach to “going digital.”
Going digital means different things to different people. Regardless of a company’s size and breadth of resources, many companies are not as digitally savvy as they should – or could be. This brings me to you.
A digital capability and presence are table stakes and can be a differentiator as you compete for business. It can and should also be a primary means to create and maintain a healthy pipeline of prospects.
This raises the question that started this post – do you know what you are missing from your digital toolset? I’ve focused on a sub-set of the channels referenced above to begin your self-evaluation. These are three key channels (website, social media, and email) and supportive tools (CRM and Analytics) for practically every business.
Digital Marketing Channels
- Website – a website is one of the most visible representations of your brand, a “public face,” and a means to prospect, attract interest, and capture leads. A great place to evaluate your website is with the following questions:
- How clear is your brand story and differentiation?
- How easy is it for prospects to find the information THEY need to determine if they want to do business with your firm?
- When a prospect comes to your site, is it well equipped with a means to submit and capture contact information you can follow up on? This is not just a contact us form but lead-generating content such as blogs, whitepapers, etc.
- Social Media – your social media presence is a visible representation of your brand and a means to establish deeper relationships with prospects and customers. You can also use social media for advertising and even customer service, as I mentioned above. Let’s focus on the basics, though, messaging and prospecting.
- In social channels, your brand story and differentiation are not as static as what is presented on your website. So a good question to start with is, how often are you supporting your story and differentiation with engaging content?
- One of the most important yet least understood aspects of social networking is the level of engagement of your customers and prospects. So this question is about engagement and starts with data. Check your stats – how many views, likes, shares, and comments do you receive?
- If you’re like me, you follow numerous people and companies on social networks. So do your prospects and customers. The question here is, are you posting often enough to be noticed in their feeds?
- Email – Email is a somewhat misunderstood and misused medium. Firstly, let’s debunk the notion that email is dead. According to marketing automation platform/CRM HubSpot, email generates $42 for every $1 spent. So email, particularly for b2b, is an essential tool, but primarily for staying in front of prospects, nurturing them, and further qualifying them. Some questions to ask related to email marketing efforts include:
- When you get a lead, what do you do with it?
- Do you have one or more automated email campaigns that keep you in front of and connected to prospects until close?
- Do you have an opted-in list or lists?
- Do you have an email cross-selling program?
Digital Marketing Tools
- CRM – A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is as critical as a website. It helps you keep track and organize prospects, customers, conversations, and sales pipeline, and when connected to a marketing automation platform, enables you to send and track automated emails. An example of a well-known CRM is Salesforce.
- Do you have a CRM?
- What about a marketing automation platform like Pardot or Marketo?
- Are you using the CRM and/or Marketing Automation system efficiently and effectively to generate and track leads and sales?
- Analytics – last and certainly not least is your ability to track which digital channel leads are coming from and the effectiveness of each channel at generating sales. You can also track how each well each channel is “working” and optimize that channel to enhance results.
- Are you set up for campaign and channel tracking?
- How effective are your digital channels supporting and enabling your marketing and sales efforts?
Once you’ve considered your answers, you can now assess where you stand relative to what you are missing from your digital toolset. Indeed, there are more questions; however, what you can do from here with your staff or external resources is to determine the gaps and prioritize and budget for initiatives to improve your capabilities.
Did you find this to be helpful? At the very least I hope this got the wheels turning. Please share any questions or comments below.
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Hey Mark, or anyone at Loyalty Alliance – I’m curious about your opinion on using link pages instead of a website or just building a presence on social media? I believe that a website is best to have because it’s your own web real estate. However, launching, maintenance and development are time consuming and aren’t always an option for a solopreneur’s budget. Is a website absolutely necessary?
Hey Evelynn, great to hear from you and great question!
Websites are a price of entry for businesses, especially if you are in marketing, communications, or tech. Prospects expect businesses to have an up-to-date website and expect to be able to find it when they search.
At the very least, a website establishes credibility, enables a business to develop a brand, and provides more in-depth information about you and your offerings than link pages or social media sites can. At its best, look at Amazon.com, and you let your imagination run free as to the value and power of a website.
Given this, there are some excellent platforms for solopreneurs who do not have a lot of website experience. You can create professional-looking websites that provide a platform for expansion and that do not take a lot of financial investment or technical acumen to create and keep up. Three that come to mind are Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly..
Site linking platforms like Link Tree are great for promoting all your properties – website, social networks, and any other online presence you may have. But I don’t think they are a replacement for a website.
I hope this helps! Let me know what other questions you have!
Thank you for that insightful answer! I agree with you about the necessity of a website to establish credibility. And, speaking on the link pages, I came across a LinkedIn article that suggested adding an additional page to your website instead of using the third-party link pages.
I haven’t heard of Six before, but am familiar with Squarespace and Weebly. Which of the three would you recommend?
You’re welcome! Interesting idea about adding a third page to your website. That would have additional SEO value too. I like it!
Omg, Apologies, Six was meant to be Wix – I changed it. Design-wise, I like Squarespace best. You can probably get free trials from each. If you’re like me you’ll test them out and see which fits your needs best.
Good luck, let me know how it goes!