6 Simple Tips for Digital Marketing Success
Wanna jump on the Next Big Thing? Then you have probably already failed.
The problem with new media marketing channels is that most of them don’t work very well. Compared to traditional media, there is a lack of experience, established best practices and standard operational interfaces. In short, we’re just not that good at it.
However, as the old saying goes, “You don’t need to outrun a bear, just the guy running next to you.” In that same spirit, here are 6 simple tips that will help you achieve well above average performance.
Think about the House You Want to Build Before the Tools You Want to Use
Many people start their digital strategy by saying, “I want to do social media,” or “Let’s do some microsites and flash games.” That’s the completely wrong way to go about things. You wouldn’t bring a contractor to work on your house and say. “I want you to use one of those cool new wrenches,” would you?
As the Ad Contrarian puts it, “There’s no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer who’s convinced he’s missing a trend.” No words could ring more true.
Digital strategy, just like any other kind of strategy, should start with the problem you want to solve. Maybe you want to inform people about your products, or drive transactions or build a community. Whatever it is, you need the right tool for the right job and that means the job needs to come first.
Whatever you’re doing online, your success will depend on consumers being able to use it. If it’s complicated or frustrating or they just can’t see any clear benefit to engaging with it on a regular basis, your message won’t get through to users. They’ll be somewhere else.
The whole point of the “great digital revolution| is that it’s interactive – it puts consumers at the center. If you’re trying to build a web site that looks “different” for difference’s sake, or build an “innovative” social media strategy, you’re not thinking about the user, but about impressing your colleagues (who are probably no brighter than you are).
Luckily, there are two excellent authorities who can help you get started: Steve Krug and Jacob Nielsen. Click on respective links, receive their wisdom and start on your path to becoming a usability Olympian!
Start Small and Iterate to Scale
Despite the acrimony that often divides them, web developers and marketers do have one thing in common: big dreams. My first few years running development were plagued by enormous projects that never seemed to end. Often, they never actually did.
Eventually, I got smart and started demanding that we launch new projects as modestly as possible. We often would plan later phases at the same time as the earlier ones, but would keep the first version as bare bones as possible.
The results were outstanding. Our performance against deadlines improved immensely and the quality of our projects advanced as well. Moreover, when we did run into problems, they were much smaller and easier to solve. Finally, the user feedback we received on the earlier stages made further development much more informed.
So instead of launching a massive six month or year long project, you are almost always better off breaking it into smaller pieces (a few months at most) and then building it out in iterations.
Be Transparent and Understandable to Stakeholders
Like any other kind of activity, digital strategy needs to be understood by the people who are supposed to benefit from it. If they don’t get it, then either you are not meeting their needs or your organization isn’t ready to do whatever it is you’re planning on doing.
Again, you need to start with objectives. If you are planning to drive transactions, your sales team needs to be on board. If you want to interact with the consumer, the brand manager should be the #1 cheerleader. If the major stakeholders aren’t completely enthusiastic about what you’re doing, you will most probably fail.
Good digital strategy starts and ends with good sense.
I spent a few weeks in Silicon Valley a while back and got hooked on a term they seem to love to use out there: Perpetual Beta. The beta phase, for those who speak only colloquial English, is when software is launched but still being tested and improved. Therefore, a product “in beta” considered unfinished.
Perpetual Beta, therefore, is a product that will continue to be considered unfinished for years after it has been launched. Gmail, for instance, was still in beta five years after it appeared. It had already become the most successful e-mail service in the world and was still considered unfinished.
Compare that to the typical brand manager who considers her digital project complete after a few months. Is it any wonder that most digital marketing isn’t very effective?
Get a Sense of Perspective
Although you might feel like your falling behind, you’re probably not doing as bad as you think. Just because there are a bunch of weirdoes running around speaking in tongues doesn’t mean that everything that has a neologism attached is really important.
The truth is that we are still in the beginning of it all. We’re on the ground floor. Digital marketing, in effect, is still “in beta.” It’s okay to mess up, as long as you manage to do it cheaply and quickly. The only real sin is to value “knowing” over thinking and learning.
We all still have a long time to learn and there are still a lot of exciting things to come.