In the world of brand experience, the technology that helps us to advance our narratives is evolving at breakneck speed. We also like to believe that all there is to digital marketing is to do some search engine optimization, send out an email blast every once in a while, get our agency to create a bulky “brand experience” website, or slap together a mobile app in Google Play store or Apple App store. A small bang here, a big sizzle there, one big paid search campaign and … VICTORY!
Reality, however is much more complex. Yes, some of these things can help. But a robust digital marketing strategy for medium- or large-sized businesses encompasses so much more. It is not just what you do to attract traffic (what most people think of as marketing and advertising), but also what types of experiences you create and how good you are at delivering for where you should be in 2022.
How can a company know if it is staged for complete and glorious success when it comes to digital marketing? What is a good way to self-identify gaps in strategy, to discover the mistakes that might be making your strategy sub-optimal?
In my numerous meetings with brands and in some digital brand strategy discussions I’ve witnessed, the conversations tend to be centered around winning on social, and that’s all but a rented audience as opposed to a wholesome digital strategy. I’ll explain.
In this article I want to share 3 bird’s eye view “are you ready to be magnificent at digital?” approach with you
Here are the questions that need answering:
- Do you have both an “own” and a “rent” existence for your brand?
When all you have is a presence on Google or social media, you are renting an audience. Sure, people may follow/like you on those platforms. But everything there is controlled by the platform owner.
Google/social media determine who will see your posts (EdgeRank). They determine what you can do on the platform today, what you can do today that you can’t do tomorrow, and the pace at which they innovate. For the most part, they also own the data about your followers/likers, and in many ways the relationship too.
You do get to engage. You get to bring your creativity within the confines of the newsfeed system on either platform. You get to determine if you want to reply to comments, or allow x or y or z.
But you are simply renting.
No modern company will have a complete digital marketing strategy without a robust presence on social media. But to have only a rented digital existence is a profoundly sub-optimal and short-sighted decision.
Rent vs own-social vs site
You need to have an owned existence as well. For almost all brands, that means a website on your domain and where you set the rules of engagement, own the content (and whether it can be deleted/kept/blacklisted), and determine the sophistication of the creativity; a destination where you send all the “clicks” you collect from your multi-channel inbound marketing strategy, the outcomes you can deliver for your customers, the data you collect (with permission), what you do with it, and so much more.
For brands that are a bit more advanced, an owned existence is increasingly a conversation- or solution-centric mobile website and mobile application. Again, same set of rules.
Having an owned existence means being in control of your destiny, the type of relationship you create and the value you’ll deliver to your audience when you attract them via Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Display Advertising, and, yes, social media.
So, what do you have? Do you rent or own?
You want to have both.
- Are you adding Value?
On your “rent” existence, are you shouting or adding value to the audience’s life?
Whether it’s Sephora’s ColorIQ scanning customers’ skin to determine the best foundation and concealer matches, or Domino’s Pizza giving customers to-the-minute status updates on their pizza creation and delivery, The goal is adding value and creating efficiencies for consumers in their everyday lives whether they realize it or not.
Another thing to consider is whether your online presence, strategies and content are actually solving the problems your target audience deals with. Once you know what their biggest pain points are, you can create and share content that addresses it. This is so important if you want to add value through your social media presence.
FanYogo Ghana does excellently well churning out content that excites and keeps their audience always engaged.
No: BUY ME! BUY ME NOW! DID YOU FORGET I COME IN A SACHET?
And here’s the test to apply to your brand: Would you want your brand’s posts in your own newsfeed every day? Multiple times a day? Day after day after day? If the answer is no, shut down your social media existence. You may be posting, but you are certainly not adding value to your business.
Same for YouTube brand channels. Do you have yet another lame brand channel full of just your TV ads, or does yours rock like LEGO’s?
LEGO has 11million subscribers and over 13billion video views from both children and adult fans of the brand. The brand shares tons of original content designed to keep fans engaged. However, they don’t just stop there. LEGO regularly runs campaigns encouraging their followers to share their own content, leveraging user-generated content as the greatest example of social proof. Fans love seeing their own content show up on their favorite brands’ social media platforms and it’s a great way to draw new and existing fans closer.
Another test to apply: How are you doing in terms of Conversation Rate, Amplification Rate, Applause Rate? Use those metrics to optimize your social existence.
If you are going to rent an existence, make sure it is an existence in which you can build a loyal, repeatedly reachable, truly connected-to-your-brand audience. On your “own” existence: Are you solving one outcome or are you solving for a cluster of macro and micro-outcomes?
On an owned existence, you can deliver a cluster of macro and micro-outcomes to your direct site visitors as well as to the people you invite via your digital campaigns (search, social, email, display). The first reason to have a website is the credibility it can give to your company or your business.
Today, without a website, people can question your own legitimacy as an entrepreneur. Once your website is online and well optimized for SEO chances for it to appear for specific searches and keywords are very high. This means that when certain people do searches related to your goods or services and your site appears in the Google results, it can give you the opportunity to drastically increase your customer base in an organic and freeway.
If all you have is one conversion, say a buy now process or lead gen, then you are making a very poor use of the web. You can of course do ecommerce/lead gen. But what is amazing about the web, unlike TV or Radio or even your physical store, is that you can deliver against multiple customer expectations at a very low cost.
So … is your digital outcomes strategy this robust?
- What’s your mobile strategy?
If you have a mobile-friendly version of your desktop website, congratulations! You are ready for the year 2009! If you are leveraging all the amazing ad formats and extensions to monetize the massive explosion of the opportunity in mobile search (via Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.), congratulations! You have negotiated the curve. If you are truly executing utility marketing via mobile platforms, then congratulations! You are playing to win.
Does your mobile strategy bridge the online and offline worlds? Mobile is now a key part of most companies’ marketing efforts. If you aren’t reaching consumers through their smartphones and tablets, you aren’t maximizing your outreach capabilities. An effective mobile campaign can make the difference between marketing success and failure.
While many business leaders understand the importance of personalized marketing efforts, relatively few put this into practice when it comes to mobile campaigns. There are a number of ways that you can make the mobile experience personal for your intended audience. For example, you can tailor offerings based on the user’s actual location, offering information or offers that apply only to that specific area – Glovo is a perfect example of an excellent mobile experience.
The bottom line with any digital marketing campaign or tactic is to stay aligned with your core purpose, not just your product. Focus on benefits, address customer’s real needs, and understand what makes them tick. As well, stay on top of which social trends are affecting various demographics. Remember that it’s really your job to “follow” the customer and not the other way around.
Cheers to a wholesome 2022 digital strategy!
>>> the writer is the Group Head of Digital Media and Innovation at Global Media Alliance. He’s also the team lead of Ghana’s first Influencer Marketing Platform – Whoopro. He’s a digital media professional, whose expertise includes developing and executing digital media strategies for brands from diverse industries, digital transformation leadership, developing content strategies, training and driving business growth through digital.
Eli has certification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK; Graduate Master in Digital Leadership, at Nobel International Business School; Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG Ghana); and Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Statistics from University of Ghana.
With close to 8 years experience in the industry, he’s led teams to manage and execute campaigns for both local and international brands such as UNDP, USAID, Huawei, Herbalife, Kasapreko, Samsung, Tullow, Ecobank, Japan Motors, Consolidated Bank, Pizza Inn, Miniso Ghana, Accra Mall, etc. In January 2020, he was awarded a BBC Media Leader training Award for work done with YFM Ghana. Whoopro also bagged an honorary award for Industry Innovation in Influencer Marketing at the Pulse Influencer Awards in 2021.