1/16/2012 8:08 AM
A new year is upon us and for many companies that means new marketing budgets and initiatives. And while 2011 saw many exciting new digital marketing opportunities, a few old-school marketing best-practices still apply when it comes to planning and executing your digital strategy.
Whether it’s direct mail with supporting online landing pages, email marketing or search engine advertising, ensuring that all of your marketing initiatives are working together towards a unified goal is critical to digital success.
A sound digital strategy also takes into account how one channel, plan or tactic impacts others and vice-versa. As you analyze past or present click and conversion data, you’ll likely find that you have to adjust things along the way. And the beauty of digital marketing is that campaigns can almost always be adjusted at any time.
Measure What Matters Most
Digital marketing brings with it a multitude of available data: who’s doing what, when, where, how, and why. The thought of analyzing all of this information is enough to drive many companies not to measure anything at all beyond actual sales. But, if you have no idea where those sales came from or why, it will be very difficult to know which marketing efforts to expand or scale-back.
It is important to understand what data is available, which pieces matter most in support of your company’s goals, and how to best manage, analyze and act upon the story such data conveys.
Here are some of the more important digital data points to both monitor consistently and analyze thoroughly:
· Unique website visitors
· New vs. returning visitors
· Time-on-website / webpage
· Page and link popularity
· Inbound referrals (specific URLs)
· Traffic by keyword / phrase
· Winning creative (paid search and display)
· Landing pages / Site Click Path
Measuring the conversion rates of all of the metrics above is one of the most important things you can do to ensure digital success. For example, when you know where people are landing on your website from a particular search engine and which keywords they searched for to get there, then you know how to better optimize that page for search. In turn, you will rank higher in the search engines for that keyword; thus increasing traffic, leads, conversions, and ultimately ROI for that single keyword.
The practice of measuring individual data points versus overall traffic to determine the ROI of that specific data point also applies to other digital initiatives, such as paid search. For example, if you were to simply move the call-to-action on a paid search landing page, the data will tell you how that change impacted the time it required for someone to convert when compared to the old layout.
Monitoring and acting upon analytics and data in real-time can make your digital marketing efforts run amazingly efficient. And when your campaigns are running efficiently, you’re saving valuable marketing dollars.
Ignore the Rest
It is also important to understand that not all available data matters. For example, many companies worry so much about how “influential” their social media efforts are, that they scramble to gain more points with those who measure influence by pushing messages that have zero relevance to their business objectives… much less their audience.
Similarly, many companies rush to entice people to follow or “like” them by offering freebies that they then sign-up for, don’t win and ultimately bail. This is as far from brand loyalty as it gets.
Again, it’s best to focus on the metrics that matter most to your business. In this example, social media means different things to different companies. For most, however, measuring the level of real engagement and the number of qualified leads that come from social networking far outweigh the need simply to be “followed.”
Focus on ROI
It can be exciting to try new things. And new digital marketing opportunities present themselves just about every day. Running pilot programs to test new ideas is a great way to determine if the new initiative is worth integrating into the overall digital marketing mix.
Such pilot programs should have their own budgets too, so that if they fail to deliver, the existing plan remains unaffected for the most part. Again, if you campaigns are running efficiently, as mentioned above, you’ll have that extra money to test new opportunities.
The key to meeting or exceeding ROI expectations lays in the data. When careful and thorough digital discovery and analysis is conducted before any plans are inked, teams will know what to expect. Digital marketing shouldn’t be ad hoc either—even pilot programs should be planned with pre-defined expectations. Regardless of all of the new and exciting opportunities that arise each day, sticking to old-school planning and analysis principles will always result in a more successful outcome.
As mentioned earlier, the digital landscape is constantly evolving. Last year brought many changes to how we should be marketing online: Google released major algorithm updates which impacted businesses both large and small, mobile access reached critical mass, and social media finally solidified itself as a credible platform for qualified lead generation directly on the heels of paid search.
Now, more than ever, it is important to understand how these changes impact your business. In fact, ensuring that your digital strategy is ready for the challenges of 2012 and beyond is so important that KBM Group is hosting a free 60-minute webinar on February 9th
to help you prepare. Click here for details on how to participate
Here’s to a successful new year! And remember: research, analyze, test, measure, and integrate.