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Advice for more effective digital marketing

June 16, 2019 8:56PM

Marketers who have gathered insight to better understand their customers and improve the customer experience may find themselves a little stuck and asking “What now?” For Matt Dittbenner, the Marketing Director at Plaudit Design, this question is all too common. We asked Matt to share a little bit about what he shared at his recent AMA Minnesota presentation, “Aligning Digital Marketing with the Customer Journey.” Here's what he had to say.

Why do organizations often struggle to create truly effective digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a relatively new way for brands to reach their customers. While marketing and advertising has been around for thousands of years, digital marketing is only about 30 years old. The sheer breakneck speed of innovation is forcing marketers to move quickly as they adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

This puts many organizations in the uncomfortable position of trying to keep up with the changing tools and trends without an overarching strategy to guide them. We all see the success stories from other organizations, and it’s easy to latch on to the basics without seeing the whole picture. We’ve all been a part of a conversation where someone says something like “We need to do more on social!” Many heads nod in agreement, but it can be challenging to decide what to post or how these social efforts will support existing marketing initiatives.

Organizations need to approach digital marketing from the customer’s perspective and find out how they can provide real value.  That value doesn’t come from Facebook or Twitter or Google – digital channels are merely a means of distributing a message and that message needs to align with the needs of the customer.

What are the main components of effective digital marketing?

Effective digital marketing, or really ANY marketing, is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Digital marketing is great, because we have access to tools that give us the power and the control to tweak each and every part of our digital touchpoints to find just the right fit. We can build dynamic audiences filled with the “right people” based on customer behaviors, and we can deliver messages that resonate with that unique audience. We can build web experiences that account for each individual visitor’s preferences.

Digital marketing gives us the ability to customize and individualize messaging in ways we haven’t been able to in the past. But having the ability and actually doing it effectively are two different things. Experienced digital marketing professionals have practice with this ability, but lots of marketers are still figuring out where these tools and platforms fit within their marketing efforts.

What is the most common question you get from your clients related to using digital marketing to improve their customers' experience? What advice do you give them?

The entire digital marketing ecosystem is so big and overwhelming that people often don’t even know where to start. Most don’t even know what’s possible, let alone what will work best. While I can’t really pin down a most common question, there are two common approaches or mindsets that really shape the questions that clients ask, and they are both rooted in “How can I do more?”

Approach 1: The New Hotness

Some organizations are quick to jump to new channels or tactics in an effort to expand their reach. For these organizations, “more” means increasing the variety of marketing activities and touchpoints. Tons of organizations look at the various digital marketing channels or tactics as a checklist. As they see what their competitors are doing, or when they hear about the next big thing, they add it to the checklist. Does our site work on mobile? Check. Do we have a blog? Check. Are we running paid search campaigns? Check. Do we have a strong presence on social? Nope. Are we leveraging video content? Nope.

However, most people understand that it’s possible to use any one channel or medium with varying degrees of effort, and they can experience varying degrees of success. A mobile website can deliver an amazing and satisfying experience, it can be downright painful to use, or anywhere in between. When confronted with the overwhelming options in digital, organizations can begin to simplify this spectrum to just two options: “we’re missing out” and “we’re doing good enough.” This can lead to allocating resources to “the new hotness” instead of improving their use of potentially more effective channels.

Approach 2: The Classic Hits

Other organizations can get stuck in a pattern, and continue running the same plays from the same playbook. For these organizations, “more” means increasing the volume of marketing touchpoints. Some common approaches that these organizations take include things like increasing budgets on existing paid search campaigns, increasing the frequency of email blasts, or posting more articles in a blog.

While these efforts usually continue to deliver results, they will often come face-to-face with the law of diminishing returns. The increased resources that are dedicated to these efforts do NOT deliver comparable results. Overall, the cost-per-acquisition goes up, and the organization misses out on valuable opportunities to make a bigger impact.

The Advice

While both of these scenarios might seem like polar opposites, they share the same root cause. Both approaches are focused on considering the expansion of their efforts without considering the improvement of their efforts. Creating a mediocre experience across many channels won’t yield the results that creating a great experience across just a few will. Before organizations expand their digital efforts, they should consider what improvements could be made to their existing efforts. Take the time to align your digital marketing touchpoints with the customer journey and do BETTER before you do MORE.