If you run your own business or work in marketing there is pressure to have your products and services talked about online everywhere. It feels like there are new digital marketing channels to review every week. How do you prioritize channels? It’s not easy, but a good start is to go back to your marketing plan and look at your marketing objectives.
By the end of this article you will:
- Have knowledge of the most popular digital marketing channels
- Be able to identify which channels will help your business
- Be able to analyze the performance of each channel
- Be in a position to update your plan
Your Marketing Plan
Step 1 : Know your business
Before you can begin the process of choosing which marketing channel to work with you need to know your business goals, your budget and what you are prepared to do yourself.
Driving sales leads is normally the primary objective. All other goals are usually building up to this objective. Typical goals are:
- X of e-commerce sales
- X email sign ups
- X on-site video views
- X social media followers
It’s a good idea to have key goals and then some individual goals for each marketing activity.
How quickly do you need to see results?
How quickly you need results will decide what marketing channels you use.
Who is your target audience?
It’s always tempting to give a broad brush answer to this, but if you take a little time to describe your target audience you will find yourself going back to this document to direct your marketing. To help you define your audience answer the following:
- What are my target customer demographics?
- What pain points do my customers have that my product or service resolves?
- Where are my customers spending time online?
- How receptive are my customers to advertising?
- What types of offers are my customers most likely to respond to?
What’s your budget?
If you’re planning a PPC campaign across several countries or looking at building a complex web tool then you will need to allocate a significant budget. If you’re thinking of some targeted content marketing then it is time rather than external spend. If you have a small budget then it is better to do a few channels well than trying to spread yourself across every place your target audience goes online.
Do you have any relevant expertise?
Are you a good networker? Are you good at writing web copy? Do you know anything about SEO? If you have the time and can commit to the work then you could make significant savings to your marketing budget.
Step 2 : Current Channel Performance
Skip over this if you’re a brand new business…
So, for each of your channels have a look at:
- Your inbound visitor sources – use Google Analytics to track where people are coming from when they land on your site. In Google Analytics you can look at how many visitors are coming from Organic Search, Direct, Social Media and Referrals.
- Create a channel tracking spreadsheet so you can compare channels. Typically, people compare unique visitors, sign-ups, conversions to active users, conversions to paying customers and campaign spend.
And then of course, analyze to work out which channels attract the most successful customers for the least amount of money.
Step 3 : Create a Channel Plan
If you’re new to digital marketing start with 1 to 3 channels and do them well. If it’s not obvious which channel to work with then do a simple rating for each channel by:
- Impact – the size of the opportunity, based on audience reach, search volume and other factors
- Confidence – how confident you are in your ability to capture and convert that audience
- Effort – how much effort you anticipate each channel will take to execute
So, let’s assume I am selling Vegan Baby Food online in the UK and having already made some progress through Google Adwords I need to up my sales. Perhaps you’re trying to decide between 2 channels – paid Facebook Ads and SEO.
Facebook – millions of users, although not all of them will be interested in vegan baby food, it is a safe assumption that most people with babies are between 20 and 45 and will be using Facebook. Potentially Facebook has an impact.
SEO – The potential impact is limited by the number of people actively searching for vegan baby food online. Google Keyword Planner can help with giving you some ideas on how many people are searching on specific keywords and if you are already using Google Adwords you can obtain even more detailed information.
And of course, you will need to take into account budget. Initially, selection of a channel is part data, part gut feel. At some point, you have to take the plunge.
So, in this instance, Facebook should get a higher impact score than SEO.
To allocate a confidence score you need to think about how likely it is that traffic driven to the site will convert into sales. Traffic from paid search is far more likely to convert into a sale because the visitor has been actively searching whereas with Facebook you are effectively looking to catch someone off guard who will make a purchase. SEO won’t convert as highly as paid search as you will often rank for long-tail keywords. SEO will beat Facebook.
This is referring to how much effort (time and money) to make the channel work.
Facebook ads are fairly low effort, especially if you’ve done them before. They are relatively quick to set up and you may already have a suitable landing page from a PPC campaign. If you haven’t, you’ll need to put a relevant landing page up and don’t forget you will need to pay for each click so there is an investment of money as well as time required.
With SEO, there is an enormous amount of time to optimize pages, get together content and instigate backlinks. To get on the first page of Google for any popular keywords is going to be a challenge and take a lot of effort.
So, there you have it. From that, you can work out a rating for each one and then work out where you should spend your time and money.
Before you implement it is worth noting how you are going to measure success.
I would give any new channel at least 3 months so your analysis of results can have some validity.
Step 4: Implement, Analyze and Adapt
Gather your chosen performance data and work through the results.
If things aren’t as expected are they because of the channel or how you are using the channel?
Are there any channels significantly outperforming the others?
Have the current channels thrown out ideas for other channels to explore?
Learn from mistakes and don’t be scared to pull out of a channel.