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2014 Digital Marketing Winners & Losers

  |  January 13, 2014   |  Comments

These 5 key factors will separate those that make big gains in their digital & social media marketing efforts from those that will not in the pivotal year ahead.

shutterstock-133449011Like most things in life, the answers are ever so clear and simple when we can pull back a bit and see the trees from the forest. It's no different for all us in digital, marketing, HR or a running small business. We all need digital to drive sales, brand awareness and market share gains - and to separate us from the pack, outwitting our competitors.

After the last year of traveling the world spending time with thought leaders, business of all sizes and thousands of digital marketing brethren from Dubai to Shanghai; Delhi to Paris; Rio to Sydney and more, the fundamental drivers are even clearer. As we look forward, reflecting back at 2013 learnings help give us some much-needed perspective for 2014.

Invest.

It all starts here. How you invest your time and budget, where you invest proportionally and what you invest in really is the key. With some perspective and proper priorities, I think you can see a world of difference. It goes without saying that if you are a business not willing or in a position to "invest," then of course you'll need to start on the path of getting to a point of investment. For the rest of us, here's how it breaks down.

a. Marketing Spend

b. People Improvement

c. Content Engagement

d. Learning Programs

I will apply this to each major business type in subsequent posts for the small business, global enterprise, agency, job seeker/career builder and my friends on the B2B side of marketing.

Digital Marketing Spend & Priorities

shutterstock-149842271Although second to the next item of People Improvement, I will start with Digital Priorities, as it's the most fun for all of us looking to make some decisions. Overall, funneling your time and budget into the activities that will make the greatest impact on your brand and customer acquisition will lead to the greatest results. Or as Charlie Sheen once said ‘Winning!" Allow me to get a little into the grind.

First, let me just demonstrate what it looks to be "Winning" v. a Loser. Then I'll pull back out to go after the bigger picture elements.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself (or your team):

 Winning!Loser
Social Media: Are you integrated, or siloed?

Are you measuring alone or as amplifier?

Integrate

Integrating into all digital efforts boss. Email has some great social share calls to action. Got our tweets lined up for that next big press release. Facebook contest will be great way for folks to watch that new product demo.

Amplify

Twitter improved our response rate to that ad by 20 percent. The average Facebook user seeing our ad purchased 2x more.

Silos

We have Tweets Scheduled. Got the Facebook updates set. And that viral video campaign is ready to rock. Hey who’s going to blog about this?

Solo

Facebook got us 100 new visitors and we got 2000 RTs! Wish we could figure how we can get more “likes.”

Content Marketing Structure

The blog marketing calendar needs to adjust next quarter to reflect more of our new product release.

Shareable

Man, this infographic is going to get reused a million times. I can already see the smile on their faces when they see this. Can’t help but share it.

Ad-hoc

Can someone please get that blog post out this week? We need more traffic. That was a cool story... let’s blog about it.

Promotional

Hey, can we tweet about this latest product release? Really want folks to purchase this new one to hit our numbers for end of Q1. How many leads will this drive?

UX – User Experience & Mobile Customer Centric

How will the customers react?

Mobile Responsive

Ok, how can we get our site, landing page and emails to be mobile friendly when we detect they are on a mobile device?

Seller Centric

How will this drive folks to buy from us?

Mobile What?

We have to build a site for mobile phones… folks don’t look at us on their iPads.

Analytics Attribution

How can we assign value to all touch points folks see us?

Testing

Got to carve out some time to test new offers, different ways of engaging customers and compare results.

Last Click

Wow, SEO is great. Look at all these conversions that Google Analytics shows.

HIPPO

I really think our customer will like this new offer. Let’s just get it out there.

Email/Demand Gen Targeted & Segmented

What segment of our list are we going to push this to? What’s the message that will best resonate with that target audience?

Unconventional

We are doing that Sunday at 5pm campaign to hit the owner we know that catches up on email then.

Nurturing

Ok, what email campaigns can we set up to send to these folks based on the links/forms they clicked on relevant to that info?

The List

What’s the open rate average on our email list? How do we grow the list? What else can we do with the list?

Same Old

What’s our Tuesday (at 10am) newsletter look like this week?

Blast

Let’s send the email out to the list. Gotta get something interest brewing.

SEO

&

Display

Sweet

This Google Hummingbird thing is great. We just have to crank out great content and focus on the basics.

Retarget

How soon can we start collecting data of folks visiting our site, competitors and certain vertical pubs so we can retarget to those folks all over Google and Facebook!

Shiznit

All those links and tricks aren’t going to work any more... better start ramping up paid search.

PPC Blues

Hey, can’t we get any more out of those PPC ads on Google? Maybe spend a little more.

Customer. Brand. Strategy. Tactics.

In that order. The winners, when looking at what to do (and where) with the multitude of options and channels today, come back to these fundamentals time and time again.

You're got to start thinking about the customer first. Just really start to think like the customer. Start to ask them questions. Understand what they want and the all-important but elusive "why" they buy. Going through persona building and using case exercises every year is critical, especially with all that has changed on the digital front.

Then Brand. I know for many, having a brand strategy might sound like a luxury you can't afford, but it's critical. Reworking simple things like, "What do you stand for," and, "How is your product different," and even, "What do you want be known for (say top 2 -3 adjectives)," needs to happen. Match those brand ideals to efforts and budget is the tricky part.

Now Strategy. Get thoughtful about the "how." Map what your customer wants to how your brand promise can deliver that, then why your potential customer would care about the marketing you put in front of them. I talk about content in the next section, but a content marketing plan and framework for such serves as a great way to think this through and have a great road map to execute on.

Finally, Tactics. These are the tactics and channels you use and spend money on. Focus energy in and ensuring resource placement for the greatest ROI is critical. With the customer first and a solid strategy, the tactical decisions get a lot easier.

People Improvement

I can almost always predict the success or trajectory of a company at any given time, when I ask the exec, "What are you doing to improve your people?"

If the enthusiastic, thoughtful reply is one of what is being already done and mapped out, I buy stock. Hedging and talking about needing to get to that doesn't fly. It's just fundamental to business, let alone digital marketing execution excellence.

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Typically, this falls into the Human Resources category. If you're lucky or big enough to have an HR team or professional on staff, this is what they/we think about all day. As the owner of a small business, this creeps up from time to time. But let me at tell all of you, this needs to be everyone's #1 priority.

If you manage a team of marketing or digital professionals: Priority.

If you are a marketer or member of a team, it's on your own shoulders to make this part of your routine.

As the owner or HR driver, this is a company wide element that really needs attention (not just lip service).

As one who actually falls in all those categories, let me comment a bit further. Personal development is keeps folks happy at their job, research tells us. I don't care if you are making matches by the millions or consulting one-on-one, the folks you have running the business are more valuable than any other part of your business. Invest in them and see the return in spades. Skip the investment or pay little attention and feel the pain day in and day out, with talent oozing out the door.

I'm not talking about the fun, team-building events that end up with good water cooler stories. I'm talking about truly helping your employees grow and develop. And in something they want... not just what's best for your business.

To the digital marketing aspect, let me remind you... all the tactics, best practices and "epic" strategies in the world won't make a difference if you don't have competent, enthused folks executing these for you day in and day out. It's the bedrock of making digital work... even if that person is you! You must invest in personal improvement or suffer burn out, anxiety and general malaise of unproductivity.

One great example of a personal development program I found reinforced in a recent Inc. magazine article that talked about building in "personal dev." line item(s) in each individual's goals. These become objectives you review annually or quarterly; you let them know this is part of how they are being measured in order to excel (promotion/raise) in the organization. Simply document it to start. It will force you to find the answers to what "a program" or investing budget for personal dev. means.

In the next post, I will talk about the last 2 items.

In the final post of the series, I will speak specifically to the audience application of all this for small business, agency, global brand, job seekers/career builders and of course, a bonus post for my B2B brethren .

For now, I will leave you with the idea of looking at learning programs (particularly scalable and affordable ones) to start the improvement process. For crying out loud, now that you know better (above chart), don't be such a loser any more!

Happy Learning!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Kahlow

After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - the leading eLearning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.

Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. As a speaker, Kahlow is known for his inspirational style and plain-spoken nature where audiences always walk away feeling both motivated and educated. Aaron is a leading educator translating online marketing technology jargon into simple marketing and business terms. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.

Named Metropolitan Magazine's "Top 40 Entrepreneurs under the Age of 40" Kahlow is also well known for his endless energy as an entrepreneur. Having built Business Online from three guys and a brother in a dentist office to BtoB Digital Agency of the Year; founding and selling the industry's premier digital marketing event, the Online Marketing Summit, and now on his third successful start-up, Online Marketing Institute, Kahlow is synonymous with building successful digital companies. Kahlow also has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Board to many digital associations and media companies like the International Business Marketers Association, Search Engine Strategies/ClickZ, Microsoft/ BING Prof. Accreditation, Social Media Examiner, as well as many digital technology start-ups.

Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his eLearning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.

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