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Back-to-Basics Digital Marketing

  |  February 6, 2013   |  Comments

To make our dollars count in 2013 and beyond, we'll need to make sure we've designed them to succeed.

In my upcoming columns I'll be discussing marketing and media trends and offering actionable tips and insights for readers to take advantage of them. Let's start this week by looking at the marketing techniques we saw during the Super Bowl.

Watching the Super Bowl this past weekend, I was struck by how many spots included URLs or calls-to-action to follow, like, or tweet about their brands. According to USA Today, it was the majority, and has been for two years now. As digital marketers, we could pat ourselves on the back and say, "We've come a long way, baby," but I found myself having the opposite reaction. Nearly 10 years after the launch of YouTube, is the power of digital really still just a URL or the ability to crowdsource fan photos or (albeit funny) commercial scripts?

In a crowded ad environment like the Super Bowl, the goal is to break through however you can - with humor, surprise, sheer magnitude of consumer participation, or the old standby of going for the heartstrings. But for the rest of us, our campaigns don't hinge on a single television ad or a single night; they're crafted in an ecosystem of search, display, social media, PR, mobile, video, and more. And even our traditional media counterparts are onto this, previewing their spots online in the weeks leading up to the big game to generate buzz and maximize the impact of that $3.8 million spend. After all, they did include those handles and URLs.

Still, today, it seems like a good time to regroup and get back to basics. One month into the year, our budgets are blessed (we hope) and our campaigns are getting up and running. To make our dollars count in 2013 and beyond, we'll need to make sure we've designed them to succeed. Below are a few tried-and-true techniques to ensure your success, too.

Have a Goal and Make It Known

It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised by how many conversations I have with clients that begin like this:

"We need to grow our Facebook likes."
Deer-in-the-headlights look.

Your goal should be simple and tied to your business. Growing revenue is a goal; growing your follower count on Twitter is not. Once you have your goal, write it down. On paper. Post it on your wall and have your teams do the same. Then make it public: meet with your sales, product, and executive teams to walk them through your campaign's goal, strategy, and tactics. Preview the creative with them. It will help get everyone on the same page and behind what you're doing. And when your ads do run, your fellow employees will be your on-the-ground support team, amplifying the message through client meetings, customer interactions, and socially with their friends and family.

Don't Confuse Strategies With Tactics

Your campaign's business goals and strategy should dictate the channels you use; not the other way around. Strategies help position, grow, and change your brand. Tactics are the tools you use to get there.

Looking to drive registrations for a webinar? A Facebook contest or full-page ad in Ad Age may get you there, but you'll probably have more success doing a small campaign on LinkedIn targeted by Job Title, or running display ads on sites like this one, where users are already here looking to learn. Social, mobile, video, and content marketing (which we'll demystify in my next column) have their place in your marketing plan - but they are tools in the toolbox to be used in service of your larger goals.

Build Testing Into Your Campaign - and Use What You Find

How many of you are actually doing real-time optimization in your campaigns? We all have the best intentions when we start campaigns ("I will optimize! I will take advantage of all the data my partners have to offer!"), and then, well, work gets in the way.

This year, up the ante. Run at least four different creative executions for each campaign (different copy and layout while maintaining overall campaign feel) across multiple standard IAB sizes. Look at the results two weeks in (five to seven days in for flight times shorter than a month.) You'll know which copy (cheeky, straightforward, intriguing) drives your desired outcome, which product benefits resonate with which user segmentations, or which pricing plan drives the best leads. This is valuable information - before you change a single thing about your campaign! It's a gold mine for your salespeople, critical feedback for the engineers building your products, and great insight for your CEO.

But of course, I do recommend you use what you find. Switch out the creative that's a dog. Develop a few new executions that combine the best copy, layout, and design. Share the early results with your ad network or publisher partners and let them know if they're underperforming - ahead of time. Remember, they want your campaign to succeed and get your future business. Of course, there are products like Pictela that can do all this for you, but it's a lot simpler than you think.

Develop and Evolve Your Nurture Funnel to Grow Revenue

Your campaign's over and you drove lots of new visits, downloads, whatever. Now the question becomes: what will you do with them? Too many of us treat each lead or customer the same, or forget about them entirely.

Instead, think about your "Nurture Funnel" (special shout-out to @MylesBristowe for this one) and segment your new users to help move them through the digital funnel, which we all know isn't linear. Start simple and segment your folks into groups that make sense (existing clients, event attendees, social followers, etc.). Then develop a communication plan for each, noting the overlap of segments (easy to do if you have SFDC). Then note when one user jumps groups from one segment to another, and shift messaging accordingly. Smarter funnel management means stronger business results.

What are your back-to-basics marketing techniques? Do you agree with mine?

Back to Basics image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Kristin Kovner

Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.

Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.

Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.

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