It’s tempting to think that, with every new trendy social media platform, we need to get involved for fear that we’ll be left behind. Will we? It’s highly doubtful.
Unless your target audience is likely to be a key demographic using that particular new buzz-word in the social media family.
And therein lies the crux of the matter; where is your audience and how do they like to be engaged?
Do you know? Have you asked them?! Have you considered these questions in your marketing strategy? Wait, you do have a marketing strategy…don’t you?! Of course you do. But perhaps it’s time to revisit it. Because if you’re guilty of the ‘spray and pray’ approach – and let’s face it, most of us have been at some stage – you might be wasting valuable time, energy and most importantly money by neglecting to focus on where you can make the biggest gains.
Have a digital marketing strategy & plan…
Failing to strategically map out your company’s marketing objectives, audiences and approaches will contaminate – and seriously limit – all your marketing and PR activities. They’ll be rendered meaningless if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, or how you’ll benchmark and measure your success along the way.
Make your targets realistic and attainable, yet inspiring enough to motivate yourself and your team – who, as it happens, should be under no illusions as to their role in the delivery of the marketing strategy, if it is done well. In a climate of limited budget, and results-driven processes, there is no excuse for not having a plan in this day and age.
Research your target market online…
A key strand of strategising your marketing approach is to pinpoint exactly who your audience is. Who are they? What do they want? What can we offer them? And how do we reach them? These are just a few of the pertinent questions a company should ask themselves before they even begin to plan that flashy PR campaign or viral social media activity. Once you have a better understanding of your audience, it can inform virtually every other step in the planning process.
One of the best methods of understanding your stakeholders is through commissioning a market segmentation exercise. Invaluable data can be gathered based around the geographic, demographic, behavioural, and psychographic (or lifestyle) characteristics of your audience. If your budget affords, it’s a good idea to look at a mixture of these analyses to gain the most thorough insights. Once you have a clearer picture of your ideal customer, their habits, and how they like to receive your messaging then all you have to do is put that theory into practice.
Be direct in your digital messages!
Whereas media advertising addresses a broad cross-section of society, some of whom will fall into the bracket of your ‘ideal’ customer, it must be said that for the sums of investment involved the return on outlay can be variable at best. Advertisers can point to circulation numbers and projected readerships but how can you truly quantify how many people saw, and more importantly read and engaged, with your advert? It’s fraught with uncertainty.
Which is why direct marketing is a great means of wrestling back some control. It does exactly what is says on the tin; engages directly with your carefully managed database of clients, be that through direct mail, mailshots, leafleting, or telephone and email marketing.
“A direct marketing campaign with a clear call to action can help you boost your sales to existing customers, increase customer loyalty, recapture old customers and generate new business,” according to The Marketing Donut.
Track your online engagement…
It’s all too easy to skip along to every networking meeting under the sun and assume that because your face, and your company’s name, is out there that it’ll somehow drive more customers to your door or website. The same can be said for purchasing advertising space, sponsoring an event, or even firing out a press release to all and sundry. Whilst those methods might have had some semblance of impact the cardinal sin for any marketer is failing to track the efficacy of those approaches.
One of the simplest, and most effective, measures is to ask your customers how they heard about you. Be that in person, over the phone, or via your website – it’s quick, easy and gives you an instant insight. Don’t simply abandon your marketing avenues if sales begin to dry up. Though it seems counterintuitive, this is exactly the time to upscale your marketing activities – assuming you’ve tracked which ones are most likely to drive up your profits once more.
Socialise with purpose!
Make no bones about it, social media is a fantastic arena to disseminate your messaging. It’s global, instant and cost-effective. But it can also be time consuming, with hit-and-miss results without a clearcut strategy in place. By this point, with a defined marketing strategy and segmented audience data it should be relatively obvious which social media platforms should give you the best ROI. Saying that, knowing where to invest your efforts and taking decisive action are two different things.
According to Pew Research, 73% of online adults use social networking sites (as of September 2013). Their research insights into Twitter usage suggest that the dominant segments of tweeps are males (22%), aged 18-29 (35%). Let’s suggest, for the sake of interest, that your market segmentation has revealed a target audience weighted towards women aged between 30-49; is it then a sustainable strategy to persevere with Twitter? In isolation perhaps not. But when complemented with a female-friendly platform like Pinterest, which is four times more likely to be used by women than men (according to marketingcharts.com who report a gender divide of 33% versus 8%), there’s a balance to be struck.
What won’t work is merely jumping on the bandwagon with little more than a wing and a prayer. If you take the time to put in some research, planning and evaluation you can really make your marketing efforts count.