Robert Brill is the CEO of BrillMedia.co, an Inc 500 advertising agency, and host of the LA Podcast.
Digital marketing is an incredible value add for anyone who knows how to make the practice work for them, and a big mystery for those who don’t have the skills or technical knowledge.
So today we are going to discuss the six key elements that are necessary for digital marketing in 2020. This is the framework we use to drive leads, sales, and foot traffic for our clients.
Some strategists charge thousands of dollars to create 50+ page marketing strategy documents.
These are good, and these people are incredibly valuable for companies that can afford that cost. But, without spending that money, here is how you develop a workable strategy.
A strategy is a navigation plan for your business. It defines what you sell, who you are selling to, details about your customers, and actions to take to measure both successes and failures. Think of a strategy like a map. If you want to travel from LA to NYC, you have some options, and the strategy is the framework to get you across the U.S. You can take a train, a plane, or a car. Each option has different costs, time horizons, benefits, and drawbacks. Knowing which is right for you depends on what you want to accomplish.
In marketing, this is your key performance indicator (KPI). You really want to have a strong viewpoint of what that is. What is success for your business? A strategy defines your customers by interests, motivations, media consumed, and preferences. The more granularly you know your customer, the better you can speak to them.
Finally, your strategy will help you know when you’ve succeeded, when you’ve failed, and how to make your campaign better. Important to setting a good strategy is to actually draw a line in the sand. Identify time- and action-based markers that help you determine if you are doing well.
Don’t worry too much about failing. Instead, it’s better to know whether you’ve succeeded or failed so that you can use that information and become better on the next round.
Now that you know what you want to achieve and who your customers are, it’s time to build creativity. The best advice I have at this moment is to build images and written messages that reflect your customer. Don’t market to everyone or even large parts of your customer base.
Market to key groups of people. Your customer wants to be the hero of their story. To start the process, make the images and written messages look and sound like your customer. If your customers are parents, show images of parents. Develop stories in your creative that allow your product to solve your customers’ challenges. Create messages that reflect narrow use cases. For example, if you sell popcorn, show people at home watching a movie eating your popcorn. Show a mom in the grocery story buying your popcorn because her child is asking for it.
Depending on who you talk to, email marketing is either the most reliable and underrated tool for marketing success, or completely antiquated because no one is reading email marketing messages.
The truth is that a connection to the consumer via email or (or other direct contact info like phone number) is incredibly valuable. There are two big reasons for this. The first is that marketers don’t need to spend money on advertising to reach existing prospects by email.
Second, if reach on social platforms plummets as it did on Facebook in the 2010s, you still can reach these people without paying a fee to an intermediary, which makes email addresses much more valuable than social followers for this use. So while email open rates will range from 10% to 50%, the reality remains that email marketing is a fantastic and inexpensive way to build a relationship with people. The goal for email marketing is to get potential buyers to get to know you, your name, and your message. By doing this over time, you build trust if your content is strong and value-driven.
I probably should have led with social media, because so many people think that simply posting on social media is the way to get new business. And it is for some companies, but usually those are companies with an incredibly differentiated product or a creative ability to produce highly entertaining videos that go viral. Like lightening, virality isn’t controllable, and the timing is fleeting. The people who see viral content aren’t always the ones who are buying.
Instead, social media should be used as a forum for potential customers to get to know your business, similar to email marketing. Social media content posting is an opportunity to provide social proof, which is a demonstration that other customers are buying your product or service.
Post content that speaks to your customers with images and written posts. If you’re not sure what to post, ensure that your posts further your business purposes and are within your strategy. To not get caught up in endless design cycles and maximize your value you get from your time, post nine times a month, and repurpose content across up to two platforms to start. Certainly, experiment, and do more, but your best return on investment by time and money will be the next tactic: paid media.
This is the most precise tool you have. If you take the audiences you addressed in your strategy, create a unique message for each one of them, and then run ads targeting just that unique audience, that’s a winning combination. There are endless ways of organizing your paid media.
For example, if you are a location-based business, and people will drive at most five miles to your location, then your ads should not target people farther than five miles out. There are a variety of ways to make paid media work. The most direct way is to run ads to drive customers to your site, and then ask them to take your desired business action.
Sometimes that doesn’t work, and a better consumer journey is to ask them to like your page first, which effectively asks the consumer to raise their hand if they are marginally interested in your business. Then, reach these people with follow-up ads, typically called remarketing ads.
The key to paid media is focus your time early on to find the right custom recipe that gets the most return for your business. The goal for paid media is to get them to take that one business action, and most of the time that happens on your website landing page.
Many business owners think that getting people to your homepage is the right place to drive new users. However, your homepage is not set up to properly communicate to these new people.
Usually, your homepage is a brochure, a way to give a person a variety of information points about your business. By comparison, the landing page should have a single idea that’s communicated—it should be simply the action you want the user to take. Maybe you want the user to share their contact information in exchange for a download or a coupon. Or, you want them to buy. Make the landing page an easy-to-consume point of information for these new consumers. The users who don’t take your desired business action are still valuable. They’ll go into your paid media bucket of users who visited the site but didn’t convert.
Remember, marketing is a practice because we all do just that: practice it. In the 17 years, I’ve been in digital marketing, I can tell you that three things are consistent:
Change happens very fast.