Why Drive Sales with Digital Marketing?
The world is changing rapidly. A recent example is that of Instagram. It has over taken Twitter and has now got 600 million users but still lagging behind Facebook with nearly 2 billion users (1/4 planet). LinkedIn has nearly 500 million users with Twitter lagging behind with just over 300 million.
Why does this matter? Well, depending on which definition you use, the oldest millennial is about 30. Millennials are digitally native and they spend a staggering 5.4 hours on social media according to the Entrepreneur
With the drive to integrate and automate our systems then larger companies will continue the drive to removing paper and making us do more of the work through digital. I have recently invested in a company that specialises in automating office admin work. In ten or more years’ time there will be a real problem that there will be a lot less jobs for humans to do.
This means that you have no choice but to embrace digital marketing in one form or another whether you are selling to consumers or other businesses because the likelihood is that you will be selling to a millennial.
So what do you need to do?
Businesses are those deliver whatever they do, right first time, every time for their customers. Customers these days have very high expectations and so you need very good processes in place to ensure that your team deliver on your promises.
So how does this apply to digital marketing where nothing seems to stay the same for more than 5 seconds?
You still need a process but one that is agile and embraces.
- Customer centric approach
- Rapid Learning
We need a way of working that helps you grow sales that can constantly adapt.
In this article I am going to take you through a process for that will help you use digital marketing to grow your sales.
Drive to Excellence
Customer expectations continue to rise. As our systems and processes become more integrated and automated then suppliers get better at meeting these heightened expectations. This means you need to embed processes that allow you to get better. It is a never ending journey and you need to adjust, adapt or change in order to not be disrupted.
Dealing with Complexity
The world we live in is becoming more complex and demanding. Digital marketing is part of the social changes that are going on around us. To achieve excellence we need to work with an ever growing army of specialists and we have to become the generalist project manager.
Today is all about developing an understanding and introducing a couple of simple tools that will help you move further to your goals.
Changing our Habits
In order to achieve change we need to look at how to change habits. Otherwise, it is very easy to slip back into our existing habits.
The three elements to changing a habit are:
- Having the desire to change – unless somebody wants to change, you can’t make them.
- Gaining new knowledge
- Using that knowledge to develop new skills
It takes time but once you have made the decision to change you then need to actively go out and find the knowledge that you need so that you can develop the required skills and embed them into daily habits.
You then need to regularly practice the new skills you have acquired.
So what do we need to learn?
One of the fundamental changes that has happened over the years is that we used to make products or services that we sold to people. Without the Internet you had to speak to sales people in order to get the information you needed and sometimes you had to speak to a number of sales people before you got the information you required. So sales people had an abundance of attention and could hold back vital information that you needed in the purchasing process. Now it is the complete reverse. For the majority of products and services there is an abundance of information and so we no longer need the sales person. If they do get introduced then it is usually later on in the buying cycle and they have little room to change the outcome of a particular purchase.
This means that now we really need to make products and services that people really need. If it doesn’t meet a desire or solve a problem then you are not going to sell anything.
Communicating Your Message
What is the most effective way to communicate information to another human?
Whether you like it or not humans are emotional creatures. We are hard wired to receive and remember important information through stories. In our busy world of today we need to look to the path of least resistance by conveying our messages through a story telling.
By telling and listening to stories, people confirmed their ideas about the world around them. Things that people found scary, infuriating or desirable all found their way into the stories and they were passed on, because people wanted to be assured that other people around them were thinking along the same lines.
Introduction to Growth Hacking
There is a phrase used in growing digitally based business such as those developing cloud based software called Growth Hacking. What this means in practice is the people who drive the growth of these businesses use a proven process using digital marketing techniques to drive sales and growth.
There are three cornerstones to the approach.
- Access to technical skills
- Ability to understand what all the measures are telling you and apply corrections
The key thing that business owners and those responsible for managing the marketing in a business is the ability to ask for the right metrics and then to know what to do with them once they have interpreted them.
Growth hacking is essentially a process of finding what works and doing it better next time. There is a phrase in digital called, “Fail Fast”. This means that if something isn’t working then stop it quickly rather than hoping it will improve.
You will probably have come across the continuous improvement process of Plan, Do, Check, Act.
This process also applies to growing sales digitally.
You need to look at:
- What are you looking to achieve and how you want to achieve it? Have a plan and record it in some way – even if it is only on a mind map or your to-do list.
- With everything, it’s all about making it happen. If you get stuck, find some small way that you can move the project forward, and then find the next and so on.
- You need to determine how you are going to measure what success looks like. Find some easy to measure key performance indicators that make sense.
- There is always room for improvement. What are you going to do next time?
The Challenges of Project Management
Being a project manager or digital coordinator tasked with getting digital marketing to work in a business can be a real challenge.
There are many priorities to manage, usually a limited budget and little time to complete everything. To be successful, you need to be good at managing:
- Your time
- Targets / Objectives
- Your internal customers
Managing the Resources: The Digital Marketing Mix
For those not involved in digital marketing, I think it is difficult to see how complex it is. Here are just some of the things that somebody tasked with looking after your digital marketing. The diagram below just gives you a feel for the basic building blocks that comprise digital marketing.
If you believe that you don’t need any of the above then you need to revisit your digital marketing strategy as they are all key components of the modern marketing environment.
Translating Your Ideas into Action
The key to any successful business is that you take your goals, translate them into ideas you can turn into action and then create a focused marketing strategy that you plan and then implement.
- Objectives – What do you want and by when?
- Process – How are we going to do it?
- Action – When and Who is going to do it?
- Results – What does success look like?
Turning Objectives into Action through Agility
Having a plan is one thing. Making it happen is another. Having worked with numerous companies over the years I have learnt to break objectives down into “baby steps”. So I start with the overall 3 year objectives and from that identify the first 12 month objectives. These then break down into quarterly objectives. These then are broken down into monthly targets so that during a year you get in at least 12 projects (assuming you do one project at a time) which will move you to your 12 month goals. If you involve more people then that translates to many projects being completed over a short period of time.
By breaking tasks down and getting small wins you then make progress through marginal gains.
This means that our digital marketing growth hacking process needs to include quarterly objectives.
Digital Growth Process or Growth Hacking Project Outline
So what does a typical 4 week or 3 month project look like? Given the diversity of the projects this is where a process comes in. One of the key things about digital is if you get in place the right resources you try out ideas quickly, generally cheaply and measure the effect. The process below shows a simple process that you apply to every digital project you will make progress.
The underlying premise is that what gets measured gets done. So before setting out on a project you need to decide what you want to achieve and ensure you can measure the results so that you can analyse them and learn on how to do it better next time. This applies to web sites, social media and email campaigns. Figure out what you want to achieve and make sure you identify what success looks like before you start.
Sprints | 30/90 day Projects – Making It Happen through Iteration
The key to success is that you need to design for flexibility so that things can be easily changed.
Getting Things Done
Growing your sales through digital marketing is about getting things done. Sometimes it can feel like “groundhog day” but if you keep chipping away and measuring results you will make progress. The point is not to procrastinate and to fail fast any projects that are not going to make it.
There is a book called the “The Efficiency Program” by Kerry Gleeson has a phrase in it called Do It Now! With digital, there are so many small jobs to do then you do need to get on with the next job as there are hundreds more queuing up behind it.
The key is to do what you can, where you need help, find a way to get it. If you can’t afford it then do a skills swap. Any steps are better than none.
Explosion in Routes to Market
I remember when the fax machine was a marketing tool and a mailshot took 2 weeks before you knew whether it had worked or not. Now even with a mailshot to many thousand prospects it’s all over in 2 hours.
The image below shows the explosion in digital channels to market and that is only really a sample.
The Customer Journey – Link to Growing Sales
You may have heard of marketing funnels and you probably have the concept of suspects, qualified leads, prospects, etc. Digital marketing takes this a step further. There isn’t room to describe the detail and it will depend on who are you talking to as to what the different stages are called but generally somebody who is interested in buying what you do will go through various stages.
Initially, they will become aware of what you do. Then they will start to review in more detail what you do in order to rule in or out whether you are a contender. If you are then they will hopefully start to engage with questions or by watching a video or downloading detailed information about your product or service. Hopefully be now you have at least captured their email address and if you are lucky more contact details like a phone call and some personal details. At that point, depending on your product or service you should be able to intervene and close the sale with the personal touch.
The concept of the funnel is important if you want somebody who lands on your web site to result in an action that will ultimately result in a sale.
Stages of the Marketing Funnel
Okay you ask, how do I get a suspect to being a customer? Different stages require different types of information and so your digital marketing needs to reflect this.
Different Approaches for Each Stage
Initially your visitors to your web site or social media will be looking for ideas on how to solve their problem or satisfy their desire. They won’t be interested in whether your product will solve it or not but merely in whether they can solve it for the budget that they have in mind. So white papers, ebooks, check lists and increasingly videos (especially the younger generation) are the key to attracting people to your brand and getting you onto the short-list.
Once you are on their short list of potential suppliers then they will want to know more. This can be through spec sheets, webinars, case studies, FAQs and increasingly video FAQs.
Growth Hacking Process in Summary
From the discussion above there are some clear principles that you need to take on board and make part of your everyday activities.
- Quarterly objectives
- Monthly mini-projects
- Marketing activity at all stages of the funnel
- Simple measures at each stage
- Project management skills
- Learn to manage the specialists
- Do It Now! approach
- Daily stand up meetings to prioritise work
- Recognise change is the only constant
- Iterate – no big plans – chunk them down
- Fail fast – don’t hope things will get better
- Drive for excellence
- Embed new habits
Most of all listen to the customer!
Making It Happen: Activity Plan for your Digital Marketing
I identified earlier on that setting quarterly objectives are a great way to make progress with your digital marketing. I have broken down the key aspects of digital marketing that need to be covered and then for the example company created the sort of quarterly actions that typically get done in small and medium sized business.
You need to work on the following areas:
- Web site
- Social Media
- Lead Generation
- Email Marketing
- Automated Marketing
The following sections go into more detail.
You need to work on a variety of content and these include:
- Web site
- Static Pages
- Product Descriptions
- Category Descriptions
- News / Case Studies / Expert Articles / Blogs
- Web site
- Social Media
- How to / Explanation / Demonstration
Video is becoming far more prevalent but it can be one of the hardest to produce.
Keywords – Getting to the Top of Google
Keyword phrases and long tail keywords can be a difficult concept for most people to understand and how by selecting the rights ones the products and services that they are selling can be displayed at the top of the search engines results in Google.
You need to find three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling.
The phrase long tail keyword relates to the longer highly specific search phrase that a customer might use when they are looking for exactly what they are actually going to buy.
Examples might include:
- Part-time Xero bookkeeping Preston
- WordPress web design Blackburn
- Divorce solicitor Burnley
Typical Ongoing Tasks on a Web Site
Your web site needs to be dynamic and constantly being updated with the latest information, news and updated whenever your products or services change.
Tasks might include:
- Pages are optimised for being found on Google
- All the content has good readability – see Mike Ward for more information
- Check that there are no errors or links that don’t work
- Does every page have a call to action – i.e. is it clear what you want the visitor to do next?
- Is it easy for the customer to get the information they need to make a buying decision?
- How well does the site work on mobile?
- And lots more!
Develop a good working relationship with your web developer as you can do some things yourself but you will need technical help.
Social Media Tasks
With ¼ of the planet registered on Facebook then whether you like it or not social media is here to stay and it will become increasingly important whether you are selling to consumers or businesses.
To make progress, you need to:
- Send out regular, relevant posts
- Do what you can, but do it regularly
- Think about using scheduling software like Hootsuite or Buffer
- Share your posts across multiple platforms
- Spend a couple of hours a week to send out a week’s worth
- Look at the analytics that are available
- Look at what works and what doesn’t and adjust what you do
Most importantly, set yourself weekly tasks so that you do something
Lead Generation Tasks
For some, creating something that you can easily give to a prospect in exchange for their email address can be a challenge. The technical phrase you will hear in marketing for this device is a lead magnet. It must be something of value that a visitor will want to receive in exchange for their email address.
- Discount Coupon
- eBook – “How to Guide”
- Cheat sheet/checklist
- Problem solving tools or concepts
- Video / learning materials
- Templates (Word / Powerpoint)
- Free software
Email Marketing Tasks
Email Marketing System – A cloud based system that lets you store email addresses and send newsletters etc to them. Usually, comes with a mechanism to subscribe / unsubscribe. Essential now, critical when the new General Data Protection Regulation Act (GDPR) comes in May 2018.
- Constant Contact
- Drip Marketing
- Wired Marketing – if you need local support
With the new regulations, there will be pressure to market only to opted-in email lists and you can’t do that with Outlook.
Marketing Automation Tasks
As time goes on, we will be spending more time talking and dealing with systems or “bots” as they are known in the industry. The basic idea is that once you have somebody’s email address, then depending on what they selected they are sent a series of emails. More sophisticated marketing automation tools will then change the email chain depending on how they react. The idea being is that if they click on a particular link they one email will be sent but if they don’t then another. These systems are becoming increasing sophisticated and I suspect we are all on a journey of discovery as new processes and systems will need to be integrated into your businesses.
In marketing automation, a chain of emails are developed and then sent out depending on what the prospective customer is interested in. Principally in the “Like”, “Trust” and “Try” phases.
The Importance of KPIs
What gets measured gets done is the famous quotation and it is very much true for digital marketing. As you can imagine there are a huge number available to you and the tools to record and report on them vary in complexity.
With good KPIs in place that measure the activity and the results means that if the results take some time in coming then you can assess whether there has been sufficient activity to bring about the desired results.
There is a concept in agile working of failing projects fast that appear to be failing. The idea is not to kill projects before they have proven themselves but to get good at spotting the winning projects and staying with them and to stop doing things that don’t take you to your desired goal.
Key Marketing Funnel Metrics
Earlier we looked at the type of content you needed for each stage of the marketing funnel.
The diagram shows you the sort of metrics or KPIs that you need to put in place at each stage. There are numerous software tools out there which will track all this automatically and so it is relatively easy to collect the statistics. The challenge then comes down to what it then means in practice to make the necessary changes to improve the performance.
Key Performance Indicators Template
There are various ways you can establish the key performance indicators for your business. I prefer the approach where we have metrics for each stage of the customer journey so that we can check conversion rates as well as how well each stage is working. For example it’s no good getting a lot of visitors to the web site if we don’t then get them to down load our latest eBook or take up a trial. Equally, it’s no good have a good quality email list if nobody opens it to read it.
The table below shows what KPIs you could potentially put in place:
The Next Stage
Clearly, there is a lot to managing digital marketing and this article can only scratch the surface. Both templates are available as spreadsheets which you can fill in yourself.
For more information on our services, go to: KUB Digital Marketing
If you would like a free training on the process for an hour then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org If you are in the North West then I can call in at your premises or we can meet over Skype or Zoom.US.