Most people would agree that when it comes to investing money in marketing endeavours, it’s necessary to ensure that we will have the best possible return on our investment. The first and most important step to any winning digital marketing communications plan is researching and subsequently selecting the digital marketing channels that are bound to yield the most optimal results and create the biggest long-term impact for our business.
Ubiquitous Information And Ever-Increasing Complexity
We live in a world of ever-increasing complexity, and it’s undeniable that the things we once took for granted are now either outdated or have ceased to exist altogether. As with everything, the digital marketing landscape too is drastically being moulded by the advancement of technology, the availability of higher processing power in all devices and also shaped by progress on a collective, societal level. Marshall McLuhan, the famous Canadian communications philosopher famously wrote all about how “The medium is the message”. This essentially means that the type of medium embeds itself in a given message, thereby creating a symbiotic relationship where the medium impacts upon how the message is perceived. In this case, the medium is the internet, the devices we use to access it and last but not least the respective channels that our brand message is being transmitted through. Modern media or digital marketing channels if you will, directly influence how our brand’s message is perceived by the end receiver, in other words our customers.
All the above factors come together to form new threats and opportunities, when it comes to investing our hard-earned money in order to advance our business interests. It is not so much about the how though, but about the why of each given digital marketing channel. Even though the methods available are often quite separate and each offers its own distinct set of advantages and drawbacks, everything boils down to why we should focus our efforts on each one. (Hint: More often than not, a combination of digital marketing channels yields most optimal results) Choosing wisely among them is sure to help us cut through complexity.
What Do We Need To Take Into Consideration Before We Invest
As we go along, and prior to channel selection per se, we always need to take into consideration a plethora of other factors that allow us to better understand our customers and segment them in identifiable categories. We need to look at the demographic and psychographic of our target audience. The former refers to things like age, locality, income, gender, religion etc. while the latter pertains to the target market’s feelings toward consumer goods. Such type of information is also called IAO, which stands for interests, activities and opinions. These are mostly qualitative and not quantitative. When the above are taken together, they will help us determine the ways through which our potential customers are going to search for our help with relative precision – be it products or services.
As you might have already guessed, determining the best possible combination of digital marketing channels is not the easiest of tasks. The huge availability of tools only makes business owners more perplexed as to what would be appropriate for their specific circumstances. Before we delve into the available marketing channels and examine the purpose of each, we shall first take a brief look at the possible overarching aims of your campaign. This is an important step since it will immediately help us eliminate channels that are not fit for purpose.
So, What Are You Trying To Achieve?
Most businesses, both online and offline, have a variety of needs on a consistent basis. When taken care of, these needs serve to propel the business to new heights and ensure its success for the long run. The list below is not exhaustive but certainly addresses the most important points.
1. Traffic Generation
It goes without saying that the backbone of any online business starts and ends with enough amounts of traffic. This element is the foremost growth enabler since it marks the start of the digital marketing funnel. A potential customer needs to first be exposed to our products and services. Right after that, they will need to discover them for themselves by consuming valuable content (this relates to the brand recognition point explained below), consider them (make a mental connection between their problem and the proposed by the brand solution) and ultimately convert. Adding to this very important fact, some websites operate de facto on high amounts of inbound traffic. These, more often than not, generate revenue from ads and do not sell products or services per se.
2. Generation of New Leads
Most online businesses (which pretty much refers to 85-90% of brick and mortar businesses as well these days) utilize appropriate digital marketing channels in order to generate leads. The goal here is to get in touch with new people by offering value and making them interested enough to the point where we are able to classify them as potential customers. This should be the first step to any sane digital marketing funnel set-up. As we dive deeper into our marketing funnel, our aim is to engage with the aforementioned warm leads, make them hot (i.e. increase interest), make them trust us and ultimately convert them into tangible sales.
3. Brand Recognition and Value Creation
As we already mentioned, we live in an era during which too much noise is the norm. This refers to a surplus of information, and brand communications – among other things. An average human brain is bombarded with ads on a daily basis. The number ranges from a conservative 76 to a staggering 560 advertisements per day (defined as a 16-hour period). Amidst this chaos and competition for target customers’ brain processing power (the human brain makes the ultimate decision to get the debit card out of the wallet and pay the price), brand awareness becomes increasingly important. Thus, it makes sense for every brand to first spark up and then strive to maintain familiarity. Developing brand recognition means that customers will remember our brand, and not the competition. I am sure you understand how important this is when they reach the respective point of sale. If you want to maximise this attribute then you need to choose your digital marketing channels wisely.
Human Capital Requirements, Resources and Costs
Arguably, the most important asset of a company is its personnel, whether in-house or located in another locality (outsourcing becomes increasingly popular mainly due to cost savings, and time efficiencies). The combined skills and knowledge of your very own digital marketing experts don’t come cheap. These people are going to be responsible for the influx (or not) of new sales that would elevate your business to a different level. Hence, as soon as you know what needs to be done, find people who are experts in the field (if you haven’t already). Usually, these experts need to have a combination of social, quantitative, qualitative, creative and development skills in order to successfully address all your needs.
Identifying and Maximising Return on Investment (ROI)
Once you have come to terms with the overarching goal(s) of your campaign and have also identified your human capital needs, you then want to determine your budget and calculate the expected return on your investment (ROI). This will clarify whether it’s worth it and if you can materialise your marketing plan. The elements that will go into this list include the following:
• The precise selection of the channels that you will decide to use and the costs associated with each
• Salaries and fees for digital marketing experts and their teams (we can break this down further to a paid advertising budget, dynamic content creation (video), static content creation (text, photographs etc), software subscriptions, freelancers and others)