By Warren Griffith
President and CEO, FUEL Digital Marketing
Perhaps the one question I hear more than any other is, “Dad, what are we doing this weekend?” The second is: “Does my business really need digital marketing?”
While the answer to the former question varies, the latter does not — it is always, “Yes, you definitely need digital marketing.” The reason for that is simple: Digital marketing has changed the way people consume information.
Advancements in technology, particularly mobile, have enabled people to look for and access the information they seek in entirely different ways. They’re doing their own research and forming their own opinions about your company before you or your sales team is even aware. As a result, the sales cycle is no longer linear — it has shifted or flipped sideways or been turned upside-down altogether. Prospects and leads are entering the funnel at different points, in different ways, for different reasons. The key to success today for every business — both B2Cs and B2Bs — is reaching these prospects, your potential customers, where they live.
It takes a team to make digital marketing work
The days of hiring one person or “promoting” an underperforming sales associate to oversee your in-house marketing are over. When it comes to executing and sustaining a successful digital marketing strategy, no one person can do it all. There are too many silos of specialized knowledge that have to be leveraged and integrated in order to be effective. It takes a team that not only understands digital marketing, but can integrate both digital and traditional services to give you the precise mix of solutions to build awareness, drive new leads, establish loyalty, gain market share, increase sales, and so on. Success today depends on having a talent arsenal in a variety of areas.
Truth be told, few companies can afford to hire in-house marketing experts in every area. It’s much more feasible for a company to find an outside resource that has all the necessary pieces of the puzzle in place. Either way, it’s crucial that all of these pieces work together.
Digital marketing can help you untangle the knot
Digital marketing, when done right, will put you on the fast track to success. It’s all about getting the right message to the right audience(s) in the right way. The following are three specific ways digital marketing can help your business.
Digital marketing helps you find “quality” leads
All leads are not created equal. Just because you are driving hundreds of new “prospects” to your site does not mean they are qualified. Just because you have a zillion “Likes” on Facebook doesn’t mean these people are engaged or have any intention of doing business with you. It is imperative to target and track the right mix of prospects — only those who are identified as qualified prospects based on established criteria. And once you have attracted these potential customers, make sure they “stick” by 1) providing content to engage them, 2) designing strategic landing pages to get them to take a desired action, and 3) turning them into loyal customers for the long haul.
Digital marketing will help you engage your audience
Digital marketing, especially when combined with effective traditional marketing, presents many options for engaging your target audience(s). That’s the good news. The bad news is that unless you have a high level of expertise in data analysis, content marketing, AdWords, and SEO/SEM, then it will be next to impossible to ensure that you are driving qualified prospects, converting more leads, or building long-term relationships. The first step is identifying your target segments and truly understanding their needs/wants/desires. Once that has been established, a sound digital strategy will enable you to implement and track specific initiatives that will allow you to see what’s working, what’s not, and how to adapt. Remember, successful digital marketing is always getting more efficient and effective.
Digital marketing will help you sustain ongoing success
Marketing today should be an ongoing dialog with customers. Customers don’t think in terms of “seasons” or “quarters” or start-and-stop campaigns. Their lives are fluid and crammed with continual activity. They don’t want to be preached to or sold. When they go online to conduct a search, they are looking for help of some sort — whether it’s a product, service, or simply information. Brands can no longer stand on high shouting about how great they are. It’s no longer about them. It’s about the customer. Why? Because customers, not brands, control the message. They want dialog, two-way communication that they control. And they want real answers and solutions. To accomplish that you must be ever-present — you must understand their ongoing needs and provide them with ongoing solutions. Otherwise, they will find what they are looking for elsewhere.