Rule #1: Use a Diversified Multi-channel Approach
Whether you decide or can afford to use two, three, four or more channels, the more diversified your marketing is, the better. Just like investing in stocks, you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Especially, when you DON’T control the basket. So don’t just rely on Google ranks, or Facebook algorithms or programmatic banners, etc. Divide and conquer. Diversify and win.
Rule #2: Boost Your Best Performing Channels
While being diversified is the right approach, you also want to take advantage of the channel or channels that are providing you with the best ROI. If you are enjoying a ‘winning streak’ with Google Ads, keep it going until you start seeing diminishing results. At that point, it’s time to ‘sell’ some of your Google ad spend and invest it in another channel. Every channel that works well, eventually gets too popular and the higher demand (and CPC) causes a decrease in your ROI. Learn to read those signals and you will always get the most out of each dollar invested.
Rule #3: Digital Marketing is Not for Amateurs
Let’s be honest. Everyone has a friend of a friend who’s read the latest edition of “Marketing for Dummies” and instantly becomes an overnight marketing expert. If it only were that easy… Would you let your gym buddy manage your retirement account or 401K? Or your neighbor “Grey’s Anatomy” fan perform surgery on you? Obviously not!
Your marketing campaigns are the lifeblood of your company. Make a silly mistake and it will cost you a lot of money at best. At worst, well, Google may end up blacklisting your company and you will no longer be able to play the ‘marketing game.’ Act as if your business depended on it.. because it does.
Rule #4: Think Long Term
It always amazes me how many marketing directors and CMOs only think in 30-60 day terms. Might as well spend an hour each day looking at your 401K investment and see how you feel. If you’re an established company, any marketing plan should at least have a 12 month outlook for results. If you’re a start-up, you will probably be looking at a 2-3 year outlook at the very minimum. Launching a new marketing campaign -of any type- and ask for results after just 30-60-90 days is not only short-sighted but also a clear sign of not understanding how marketing works.
Yes, you will want to look at the numbers and analyze trends, but if you’re truly investing in the long term, you need to ignore the short term setbacks and instead focus on your long term rewards.
Rule #5: Build Your Brand First
This may seem like an obvious statement, but I frequently find myself convincing some of our clients that investing in their brand is not only beneficial but necessary. Even is you already have a recognizable brand name, you still need to keep promoting it and protecting it, so that other competitors don’t take advantage and steal clients away from you.
Yes, it’s a (marketing) war out there and pretty much, everything goes. You already know that people connect with brands. It’s very easy for your competitors to bid on your own brand name and steal a prospect from you. Don’t take your fans or customers for granted. They still need to be targeted (and romanced) by your branded terms because if you don’t do it, somebody else will.
Remember, your brand is your true equity. All else is up for bids. When other marketing channels fail to generate ROI, a well established brand, always will.
Rule #6: Focus on Your Unfair Advantage
You don’t want to market your product or services by highlighting the same features that everybody else is also highlighting. If you truly have an edge, you will want to make sure that your audience is aware of it. Perhaps your hotel offers a unique spa treatment, or your restaurant includes custom tasting menus, or your real estate business specializes in sustainable living or home automation. Whatever it is you edge, use it to separate yourself from your competitors. In other words, make their barrier of entry in to ‘your edge’ a bit more expensive so they leave you alone.
Rule #7: Voice is the Future
We are living in a world where -over everything else- TIME is what people value the most. That’s why voice is going to win. Because it saves you time throughout your day that you are fighting for desperately. But just as important, voice allows you to multitask, or do several things at the same time! For real! So if it saves you just 2 seconds instead of pulling your phone out of your pocket and typing something in to just say “Hey Alexa, or Google, or Cortana, or Siri, or whatever, What’s the Capital of Zimbabwe?” then you’re going to do that instead. And if you’re driving or cooking or have your hands dirty while you use your voice commands or call up your favorite podcast, or order products online, book your next hotel or flight for you without even touching a computer, now you’re saving real time!
It’s adapt or die time again, only in the digital marketing arena, you must adapt quickly if you don’t want to fall far behind. If ComScore is right and 50% of the searches will be voice searches by 2020; will you be ready for it?
Rule #8: Have a Flexible Marketing Budget
I can’t tell you how many of our clients are literally leaving revenue on the table simply because their marketing budget was set months ago and it can’t be adjusted until a new budget is approved. Online marketing is a moving target and when you find yourself riding a profitable wave, you must have a flexible budget to get the most out of that period.
Marketing tends to get more expensive over time but your ultimate focus should be on ROI and not on monthly spend. If your monthly ad spend is $2,000 and your ROI is 8:1, that means, you’re getting $8 for each dollar spent. If your campaign is performing well, you should be able to increase your monthly spend to say $3,000 and see if you continue to get the same 8:1 ROI. If your budget is not flexible, you can rest assured that will be losing that additional revenue to your competitors. Be flexible my friend!
Rule #9: Master Your Data and Your Numbers
Digital marketing is based on data, not opinions or theories. Again, conversions and ROI should be your ultimate goals. Yes, you may sacrifice conversions in the short term if your initial goal is to increase your branding and not so much selling. But at the end of the day, you will want to find the right combination of Branding Vs Selling to make sure your campaigns are profitable.
Interpreting your data is key. For example, if a campaign CTR is down 50% one month and then up 50% the following month, you’re not even. You’re still down 25% from the previous month. That’s a basic fact that most marketers still get wrong.
It’s also important to understand the difference between absolute and relative numbers. Let’s say an email marketing campaign sent out to 1,000 recipients, gets a 10% open rate (100 opens). Your agency modifies the message, sends it out again and now you get 150 opens. Your marketing agency may tell you that your campaign response increased by 50% (absolute number) when in reality, it only increased by 5% (relative number) from the original total of 1,000 recipients. Both interpretations are correct, yet, relative numbers are usually the ones that tell the full (and honest) story.
Rule #10: Focus on the Metrics that Really Matter
At MGR, I always say that we need to “BE” good rather than “LOOK” good, and we need to “GET IT” right rather than “BE” right. In other words, we really like to focus on results, which in most cases means increased revenues.
Looking at monthly website traffic reports with lots of monthly visitors, page views, etc. may look great, but if that doesn’t translate into revenues, you’re focusing on the wrong metrics. If our goal was just to “look” good, it would be very easy to create campaigns that generate a lot of website traffic but very few conversions. The hard part is to generate *qualified* traffic that will also have a higher conversion ratio.
When reviewing your sales funnel, it’s also important to consider a number of conversions that will happen even after the first purchase. These includes analyzing your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), upsells, referrals, recurring purchases, etc. Only that way, you can truly determine your Customer Acquisition Cost in relation to overall revenue per customer.
Marketing and more specifically, digital marketing, has changed dramatically in the past 3-4 years. The growth of Social Media Marketing has added even more competition for the online ad space and therefore, impacted the way other more established channels sell ad space to advertisers. The above rules are not meant to be channel-specific, but rather, universal rules that you can apply to any type of marketing plan.
As always, if you need assistance mapping out your marketing strategy, our MGR Team offers custom consulting sessions that will allow you to discuss one-on-one your particular needs.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)