Recently, I shared my approach for developing a well-thought-out digital marketing strategy. Now, let’s take things a step further and focus on the key considerations for determining where to invest your marketing dollars.
As you know, there are several elements that go into creating a successful digital marketing strategy. Once you’ve determined your goals and allocated a budget — no small feat in and of itself — it’s time to take that information and apply it to your channel analysis.
A number of digital channels are vying for a piece of your budget and it’s easy to lose sight of how each can relate to your goals. Luckily, marketing has become much more data-driven and therefore, more easily measurable. If leveraged correctly, data, and the right analysis, will be your North Star for making smart investment decisions.
While not exhaustive, our team at Rise typically looks at the following information when analyzing digital marketing channels:
- ROI Goals: Regardless of whether your goals are related to direct response, engagement, awareness or something else altogether, there needs to be a set of quantifiable KPIs. Once your KPIs are set, you must validate that they are attainable based on both your goals and given budget. In many cases, the budget you are allocated may be based simply on historic spend levels; although ideally, you are using a bottom-up approach. Regardless, you must validate that you can hit your goals with the established budget. My preferred method is to use a simple ROI calculator to determine if the available funds will drive the right amount of traffic, impressions, clicks, etc. to map to my end goal. In this method, if your goals are related to click through or conversion rates, you should be able to use historical data from your own brand's campaigns or use industry best practice metrics (with caution) to approximate results. I also like to add an extra layer of analysis, specifically on conversion rate, and assume a low, medium and high rate of conversion within an acceptable range. This will help aid your efforts in setting expectations. Even if you can drive a certain amount of traffic and engagement, you also need to invest in testing and optimizing conversion rates.
- Campaign Timeline: Every type of campaign and channel requires a specific amount of time to prepare, scale, generate impact and deliver statistically relevant results. If your timeline is short, say one month, then an SEO campaign will likely not have an impact as it may require site changes, content development and/or efforts to drive links and authority. In this case, a paid channel may be more appropriate. Other channels that take time to develop, especially for brands going through a digital transformation, include affiliate and email, as the goal should be to acquire as large of a database as possible while also focusing on quality. It is important to plan for the ramp up time to grow these channels and forecast results accordingly.
- Historical Data: While this sounds like a bit of a catchall, specifically look for historical campaign performance for similar spend, channels, budget and messaging. Going back to my earlier point on validation, does your historical data set indicate areas of success or weakness? Areas to scale? Problem spots?
- Budget: The key to budget is determining if you have enough money to make an impact in a given channel or group of channels. In most cases, we see brands trying to spread their dollars too thin. They want to test too many channels in too many markets in too short of a time period (see the point on campaign timelines, above). There’s seldom enough room to do all of this, let alone test messaging, targeting or other factors. Additionally, even if you can meet all of these requirements, you will still need assets, my next point below.
- Assets: It is important to understand what creative, technical and human capital assets are (or can be) available to you when launching a campaign. Assets can be a multitude of things, from content and landing pages to an email or CRM platform. This also includes in-house staff or an agency partner that can man the helm, especially with consideration to managing an ad technology platform. Do an inventory of these key areas and determine what investment is needed to acquire, re-purpose, or scale the assets required.
- Market Factors: There is a wealth of data available in the marketplace that can be used to inform key decisions, especially competitive intelligence. I will not reveal all of the tricks of our trade, but here are a few that I believe are incredibly valuable:
- Competitor spend by channel
- Competitor creative and website messaging
- Search trends (seasonal, by keyword, by volume, etc.)
- Analyst trends (Forrester, eMarketer, etc.) including customer segment behavior, media and product consumption, etc.
By analyzing the areas above, you’ll be able to develop a more informed strategy for your digital marketing mix. While this is a quick, initial checklist, it will help set the right expectations and provide areas to test and validate along the way. Starting here will create a much stronger foundation for your digital marketing strategy and help you make smarter marketing investments.