42 Experts Reveal the Most Important Ingredient for a Successful Digital Marketing Plan (That Often Gets Overlooked)
The digital marketing world is vast and complex with dozens of channels and strategies that can be employed to gain brand awareness, attract and nurture leads, and convert prospects to sales. Developing a successful digital marketing plan entails researching your target market, identifying the most effective channels and influencers, creating a solid distribution and outreach plan, and of course, setting clear goals and formulating processes for monitoring and measuring your KPIs.
When the most effective digital marketing plans involve so many elements and contributors to make them successful when those plans are put into action, it’s not surprising that many marketers overlook one or more of the key elements of successful marketing planning. To find out what elements are most critical for creating a digital marketing plan, but often get lost in the shuffle in the planning process (resulting in marketing plans that are less than effective when implemented), we asked a panel of digital marketing experts to answer the following question:
“What’s the single most important ingredient to a successful digital marketing plan (that often gets overlooked or ignored)?”
Find out what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Digital Marketing Experts:
As President and Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., Kent Lewis is responsible for ensuring the company is living its mission and vision by managing overall corporate strategy including operations, business development, sales, and marketing. Specializing in analytics, search engine, and social media marketing services, Anvil is an integrated marketing consultancy which provides measurable marketing that moves clients’ businesses forward.
“The key ingredient of a successful digital marketing plan that is often overlooked is…”
While digital marketing plans should have a variety of core components, including objectives, target audiences, key messages, competitive landscape, strategies, and tactics with supporting metrics and benchmarks, I believe there is one core media outlet that a majority of brands (big and small) most often overlook: video. Video consumption has grown exponentially on the desktop, tablet, and especially on mobile devices in the past few years. Brands are failing to create compelling and engaging video content, which can also be reformatted into audio, text, and images to be utilized in other channels. More importantly, video content can be created for every stage of the buying cycle and can be formatted and syndicated across multiple platforms, including website, blog, email, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter/Vine.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, an online document filing service. She is an attorney and business owner who ran the company under Intuit before spinning the business out to a privately held company.
“Creating a successful digital marketing plan involves…”
A focus on ROI (return on investment). While it’s not simple to measure every facet of a digital marketing plan, I find that it is critically important in the management of a business. For example, if you know your ROI, you are able to manage your SEM (search engine marketing) by making better decisions. If certain keywords are performing better, then by measuring ROI, you can invest more in those terms and eliminate keywords that are not effective. Understanding your ROI on SEO (search engine marketing) is also critically important. Knowing how much you make from social media, newsletter, blogging outlets, and keyword optimization is an important facet of a businesses’ SEO strategy.
Curtis Boyd is the CEO of a Los Angeles based Online Reputation Management company, Future Solutions Media. The company services over 900 customers nationwide.
“The single most important ingredient to a successful digital marketing plan is…”
Strategy. I say strategy because different business industry types require different strategies depending on the type of consumer or business they are trying to reach and convert. The strategy needs to be defined over a timeline with conclusive deadlines, achievable goals, and a process that helps increase sales.
Starting a marketing consultancy as a sophomore in college, Jason went door to door asking businesses to give him a chance. Taking a gritty, bootstrapping method of marketing that he developed as a poor college student, Jason has helped businesses utilize the best online marketing tools to accomplish marketing campaigns with a small business budget. Along with his partner Ron Arellano, Jason created Ron Wave Design, an ideation company, where they dream, design, and architect innovations that create custom phenomenal ideas.
“There is one key element that leads to a successful digital marketing campaign, but is often overlooked…”
Marketing thrives in the digital world. Business still lives in the physical world. Things like customer traffic, sales, and profits are all still physical things. You can create a beautiful digital plan, but with no physical dollars, there will be no digital plan. Many businesses get lost in creating an awesome digital marketing campaign that will revamp their business and its brand. The enthusiasm is always a welcome sight, but the excitement often hides an important part of marketing: the translation of digital efforts into reality or hard numbers.
There needs to be a way for the business to measure whether or not the plan is working. Teams need to do things like track how much they are spending on a certain medium and how much they can realistically attribute to these efforts. It can be as easy as comparing this year’s sales to last year’s sales, though that is pretty rudimentary.
There are some parts of digital marketing that (to keep the metaphor going) get lost in translation. For example, Facebook posts don’t translate perfectly into sales numbers. But the business needs to create some way to estimate their results. The main reason is because the excitement of marketing will ALWAYS wear off. Sales will slow, it is inevitable. If there is no way to track, you will associate lack of sales with your marketing plan not doing its job. Then marketing is cut and thrown out. That’s the worst mistake to make. Marketing works; the issue is that not every aspect of marketing is needed by every business. What you need to anticipate are areas that are not showing enough return and cutting or increasing budget where necessary. For example, if you can’t safely attribute sales to social ads, but your Google ads are bringing in a larger return, then you obviously will increase Google ad spend and will adjust social ads or cut them entirely. You can also focus more on social ads and making them more effective. Tracking gives you options to improve. Without it, you are playing a game of pass or fail.
Gert is the CTO and head of digital marketing at a Cape Town-based agency, Oneclickhere. When he’s not grafting in the office, he likes to compete in the online gaming world.
“To classify anything as successful, you need some sort of proof or data, and that’s why I believe the most important element of a successful digital marketing plan would be to…”
Plan goal tracking. Goal tracking should be done for each and every proactive action. Every headline, every ad, and every piece of content should be tracked and measured against the rest to ensure that the digital marketing campaign is a success. At Oneclickhere, we make sure to include the setup of all our tracking methods and requirements within our initial digital marketing plan.
Eyal Katz heads marketing operations for AdNgin, an SaaS startup based out of Israel.
“Many would probably say that gathering data is the single most important element that generates success for a digital marketing strategy. However, it’s the step before and the step after that are the most important…”
First, digital marketers need to understand who they want to gather data on, when do they want to gather it (specific time frame), and how they will do it.
Second, the fun part comes after the data is gathered. Data analysis needs to be done strategically, and that means that there needs to be a qualified analyst that has been provided with guidelines and hypotheses.
Finally, the data needs to be translated into actionable items that can be tested, analyzed, and round again we go.
Tim Ohlrich, Content Marketing Manager for Straight North, is responsible for managing and building the agency’s content marketing team, improving content marketing effectiveness for client campaigns, guiding outreach communication to bloggers and authors, and managing content creation for campaigns.
A graduate of Winona State University, Tim holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Winona State University and was a member of the school’s football team.
“The most overlooked element of a successful digital marketing plan is…”
A strategic outreach plan. For most companies, the “build it/share it on social media” plan will not work when trying to get people to see the content you have created. So the best way to get your content in front of people is email outreach. When approaching websites/publishers, you need to give them a reason why they need to look at what you’re showing them. Sometimes a simple, “Hey, look at this video we made,” works, but more often that not, that email gets ignored.
To be successful, you need to identify what problem/issue your content asset solves and make sure the publisher knows their target audience is struggling with some issue and your digital asset solves/helps with that problem. Just a mention of it gives them a reason to look at your piece, because at the end of the day, they are trying to help readers so they keep coming back to their site. They win because they are helping their readers, and you win because your content asset is being showcased to a whole new group of people.
For that reason, it is essential to any digital marketing campaign to develop a strategic outreach plan that emphasizes the value your piece of content adds to the readers of that publisher’s website.
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and Content Marketing. Michael helps small business owners and large companies plan, produce, and promote content that drives traffic, generates more qualified leads, and increases business for your brand.
“The single most important element to create a successful digital marketing plan…”
Choosing the right channel. We know that it begins and ends with attracting the right audience for your product. What are her problems, and how can your service provide a solution? From there, it’s about sharing your message through the right medium. The mistake many digital marketers make is casting too wide a net. Instead of targeting every blog, social network, and website, find out the top two locations where your customer hangs out online and start the conversation.
Richard is the C.E.O of Siteforbiz.com, a web development shop specializing in building wordpress and e-commerce websites focused on usability and conversion psychology. Siteforbiz builds websites that collect leads automatically through their proprietary marketing automation system, Vbout.com. Vbout is a marketing automation platform for small businesses as well as marketing managers who are looking to automate all their marketing tasks including email workflow, social media, and website behavioral targeting. The system creates master user profiles and generate leads based on a complicated lead scoring system that runs in the background like a team of sales and marketing associates.
“The single most important element to a successful digital marketing plan is…”
Knowing your KPIs(key performance metrics). If you execute a marketing plan without having at least two KPIs (i.e., traffic, signup conversion), then you are doing something wrong. Knowing what you want to achieve through your digital marketing plan will help you organize your channels accordingly; for example, focus on increasing traffic to your website by working with influencer referrals from YouTube. Then create a funnel for those new referrals to lead them to signup for your product. Metrics should be setup to track those KPIs so you can measure if your plan is working or should be re-planned.
David Schneider is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an all in one Prospecting and Outreach tool which was created to streamline the process of connecting with influencers. He can also be found @ninjaoutreach and his business blog SelfMadeBusinessman.
“The most often overlooked, yet important, element of a successful digital marketing plan is…”
I think it has to do with the channels. A lot of people are not clear on what channels they should be marketing through. Should they be sending direct emails? Content marketing? Paid advertising? It really depends on factors such as the value of the potential customer, where that customer does their shopping, budget, time, etc. It all starts with the channel.
John Turner is CEO/Founder of UsersThink — a tool that delivers user feedback on demand for website landing pages, helping to increase conversions and improve usability and UX.
“The value of focus is not only overlooked, it’s deeply under-appreciated…”
Focus isn’t just about saying yes to good things, it’s about saying no. And not just saying no to things that obviously won’t work. Frankly, that’s really easy.
What’s hard about focus is saying no to things that would be helpful, but you shouldn’t spend your time, money, and effort on right now.
Doubling down on things that work is hard, because it’s so easy to dream about another tactic or approach that might be even better. That uncertainty is what makes staying focused so hard, and why focus matters so much.
As Director of PR and Client Relations, Katie Foley is currently responsible for managing lotus823’s integrated marketing initiatives for the agency’s tech and lifestyle clients. Katie specializes in developing and executing strategic marketing and PR programs, and interactive social media campaigns. She also has an excellent track record landing significant placements in print and broadcast media.
“The most important element of a successful digital marketing plan that should never be overlooked is…”
It is so easy for digital marketers to get stuck in silos. When developing a strategy, silos can be killer. You have to think what’s best for the client overall, not just where your strength lies. Integration is the key to success. Obviously, budget will dictate how much you can do, but you should be including both paid and organic options across all mediums — social media, bloggers/influencers, media, etc. Your client’s audience is varied; your plan needs to be as well.
Catherine works as a Content Strategist for Sheffield based internet marketing agency, Ignition Search.
“The most important elements in a successful digital marketing plan are…”
Two things. Cohesion between all the different elements (i.e., PR, social media, paid search) and clear goals. People talk about a digital marketing plan as if it takes on some magical, unknowable property just because it’s online. The truth is, the principles of marketing online and offline are the same. You need to have a reason for everything that you are doing.
Often we come across clients who will be working with a myriad of different agencies just because. You’ve got to have social media, you must be doing PR, you really should be looking after your SEO. Of course, generally you will need a mix of different strategies to achieve your goals, but you should understand exactly what you are hoping to get out of each different type of marketing. There are some industries where social media really won’t deliver ROI, or where there’s no point using Facebook, but to neglect LinkedIn would be criminal.
Underpinning all of this is understanding how these different approaches will mesh together. Some of our clients are working with lots of other agencies, which is great when the client understand how our work might overlap and who should be taking the lead on each element. For example, we do content-led SEO, and that means using social media in a very specific way (to get exposure for our work, but also to build relationships, get inspiration for content, etc.). If a client has a social media agency, we need to be working with them closely, and it helps when they get it and are willing to work in combination with us to get good results. If it goes well, it should also aid their work, too. Too many marketing departments put together a plan that ticks the boxes including all the “must-have” digital marketing avenues without actually understanding how they rub up against each other.
Mohita Nagpal is a digital marketer at Visual Website Optimizer. She writes about conversion optimization and website usability.
“One important element of a successful digital marketing plan which is often overlooked by marketers is…”
Referral marketing, which requires quality engagement with your existing customers/subscribers. Most digital marketers are focussed on optimizing the important channels to boost acquisition. All the marketing efforts are focused primarily on broadcasting and acquisition. However, the nature of digital marketing is very different from traditional marketing, and one gets the chance to have a conversation with the target market. Instead of looking at acquiring 100 new customers, maybe marketers should focus on engaging with the 10 best customers. The objective should be to delight these customers and engage with them at a personal level. A happy customer would be more than happy to refer you to other clients. Nothing beats word-of-mouth publicity.
Chris Klinefelter is the Marketing Manager at TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company based in Nashville, Tenn.
“The most important ingredients I see marketers often overlooking when creating a successful digital marketing plan is…”
Creating a strategy that is truly aligned with ROI. Far too many digital marketing plans ask, “What will this campaign cost?” instead of, “How much ROI will this campaign generate?” Often, marketing teams have excellent team members doing great work, but don’t end up seeing the results they had hoped for on a campaign. This is because many marketing campaigns today may align toward lead generation, or even demand generation, but fail to optimally align with revenue. While the number of marketing campaigns with a high level of planning and investment do generate brand awareness and traffic, a much smaller number of campaigns actually generate a high revenue return.
Diane Domeyer is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations professionals. In this position, she manages operations for the firm’s locations in major markets throughout the United States and Canada.
“The single most important contributor to a successful marketing campaign which often goes overlooked is…”
Ongoing collaboration between creative and IT teams is essential for developing and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy. Companies are increasingly relying on data and analytics from customer touch points to guide business decisions. Creative and IT colleagues must be in sync to maximize this information to improve internal processes and end users’ experiences.
Yet, there’s a good chance cross-departmental collaboration is not happening as often as it should be. While more than half (55 percent) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed by The Creative Group said they are collaborating more closely with tech leaders in their company compared to three years ago, only one-third (33 percent) of CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology said the same of their marketing counterparts. When asked to name the number-one challenge for creative and IT teams when collaborating, the top response among advertising and marketing executives and CIOs was communication.
One way to bring creative and IT professionals together and help them build stronger relationships is to form cross-functional teams around a specific business goal. Creating one work group to tackle a particular project, like a website redesign or new mobile app, can help eliminate an ‘us versus them’ mentality and ensure more frequent interaction.
Laura Reese is the Director, Media & Digital at Church’s Chicken.
“The most important ingredient to a successful digital marketing plan is…”
To remember that it’s not about you (the brand), it’s about your customer or your guest. We are marketing in a digital world, where consumers voluntarily choose to interact (or not) with your brand. By knowing your guests well, you will be able to understand how they use digital, what type of content is important to them, and what compels them to engage. Additionally, in order to keep the guest/customer at the core of your plan at all times, content must always feel organic and authentic.
Chuck Sharpsteen has been a digital marketer for over four years, the head of SEO and Technology for a leading Online Marketing company, and now founder of his own business, Whiskey Neat. Chuck’s strengths and passions in the digital marketing field include SEO, content marketing, and outreach.
“The most important thing for marketers to consider in creating a successful digital marketing plan would be to…”
REALLY know who your client/customer is. I think a lot of companies just start throwing out information and adding it to their site without really thinking about who they are talking to and how they process and act on information. Especially if your digital marketing efforts are heavily reliant on content marketing. Who is your ideal client and where are they getting this information? Is it an RSS feed, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest? Who is an authority my potential client follows who can amplify my message? Where do they hang out? How can I make it worth their while?
John Leo Weber
John Leo Weber is the Director of Search for Geek Powered Studios in Austin TX. John crafts the SEO strategy for Geek Powered clients and writes about digital marketing for a variety of publications across the web.
“When putting together a digital marketing plan, many companies start to look outward to find new lead generation sources, but sometimes the most powerful lead gen tool has been right under their noses…”
Their website! I’ve seen so many companies that have built a website, then done nothing to improve it and use it as a lead-gen weapon. We’ve seen some cases where a client had a website for five years but never worked on it. They hand it off to us to optimize with content and SEO, and within a few weeks, their site jumps up into the top of Google’s rankings and begins to generate leads. We call this the “hockey stick effect” (the graph of traffic looks like a hockey stick when the site begins to perform better). Working on your current web assets can be cheaper and more effective then generating new lead sources, since you’ve already done lots of the legwork by building a website.
Curtis Peterson is the Digital Marketing Manager for SmartFile. He’s responsible for strategy and execution of SmartFile’s content, email, search, and social strategies. SmartFile helps enterprise organizations securely connect, scale, share, and manage all of their files and network assets with the people inside and outside their company through on-premise and cloud technologies.
“When formulating effective digital marketing plans, marketers often overlook…”
Optimization efforts. You should put your optimization goals into your spreadsheet. For instance, if you expect a 5% lift in leads by the end of six months due to conversion rate testing, then put that into your spreadsheet. This will also make sure testing is a priority going forward.
Josh King, CEO of Tinderbox Consulting, has an exciting and diverse background which has led him to natural expertise in the emerging media space. Working in the fast-paced radio and television news environment, as a news producer and on-air reporter, Josh built a foundation for quick emerging media evolution. In corporate marketing leadership, Josh has both pioneered multi-media branding strategies and led business development initiatives. Josh’s expertise and passion for emerging media has lead him to become one of the up and coming voices in the new media sphere.
“The single most important success factor in a digital marketing plan, particularly related to social media, is…”
To not put your social channels on an island. Social media should play an integral role in the overall marketing plan of an organization. Your social channels should help support the goals and initiatives of the company marketing strategy, and in some cases, the sales strategy. Treat them as pieces of the overall machine.
Bert Martinez is a best selling author and a sales and marketing consultant who works with thousands of entrepreneurs. He’s best known for his marketing strategies where he cuts years of testing and development out of his client’s lives, and delivers digital marketing campaigns that are both proven and profitable.
“The single most important element that is commonly overlooked with a successful digital marketing program is…”
Most marketers just focus what to do with the buyers. Really successful campaigns also focus on the non-buyers. Remember that 80% of the people who interact with your marketing campaign will not buy right away. So always set up multiple contingency campaigns for your non-buyers.
Amber Whiteside is the Digital Communications Manager at Main Path Marketing. Her mission is to solidify lasting strategic partnerships with top publishers, brands, and influencers across all business sectors. The talented team of professionals at Main Path Marketing are heralded across the web as thought-leaders and producers of some of the highest quality content found online.
“One of the most important aspects of digital marketing that often gets ignored in digital marketing planning is…”
Distribution of content. With third party placements of blogs and articles, you have the ability to expand the reach of your client’s audience as well as create credibility and exposure for them. In the digital world of social media influencers and YouTube sensations, it’s more important to become a recognized thought leader and be seen as an expert in your industry. By creating authorship opportunities, the client is now able to voice their expertise, but also become a face of the company. People like personalized experiences and having a recognizable name.
Dan Grech is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at OfferCraft, which creates software to make marketing offers and employee incentives far more effective. He is a digital marketing, strategic communications, and storytelling specialist who works with startups, nonprofits, and universities to tell their stories for maximum impact and effectiveness. He founded the MarketHack digital marketing training program at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest college.
“The key element often overlooked in the creation of digital marketing plans is…”
The power of a clear value proposition.
It all starts with a clear Value Proposition: the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. It focuses and stresses the value of your offering to your customers.
The goal of any business should be to achieve a fit between its Value Proposition and what its customers expect. This is called a product-market fit or problem-solution fit. The Value Proposition Canvas, a tool developed by Strategyzer, is the most valuable tool I’ve ever encountered to develop a Value Proposition. The tool helps you discover who your customers are (“Customer Assumptions”) and what would create value for them (the “Value Proposition”). A business can then capture that value of the product through our pricing structure. The stronger the Value Proposition and the more intimate the product-customer fit, the more the business can charge.
A deep understanding, then, of human psychology and what drives changes in behavior is critical to crafting a powerful Value Proposition. Understanding your customer means not just knowing their demographics or
behaviors, but recognizing their psychographics — their unstated wants and unconscious needs — and leveraging that complex understanding of human motivation to maximize the value (psychic and real) that you’re bringing your customers.
Chad Reid serves as the Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular online form builder. He loves all things related to cats, and never turns down free food.
“The single most important aspect of a successful digital marketing plan is…”
Audience identification and segmentation. A lot of time and money can be wasted applying all of your efforts in wrong directions, so it’s important to do your segmenting, and know where your segments exist, before you begin any type of campaign. Otherwise, your paid ads, your social posts, your contributed content, and your SEO won’t make much of a difference.
It seems intuitive enough, but it’s not always very well executed. Platforms like Facebook give you the option to be very granular in determining which audiences see your paid posts, so it’s good to take advantage of that. And when you know who your customers are, find the publications that are interesting to them when you make a pitch to contribute content. Either way, everything needs to start with thoughtful audience selection.
Geoff Hoesch is the owner of Dragonfly Digital Marketing, a Baltimore-based digital marketing firm focused on ethical practices.
“Believe it or not, many people overlook the fact that…”
Their website itself is the core of a successful digital marketing plan. Many business owners believe that the creation of their website is one thing, and marketing that website is an entirely separate thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no point in running any marketing campaign if the site is not properly prepared to convert. Before any external digital marketing plan begins, the following elements should be considered for the site itself:
1. Speed. Develop both desktop and mobile versions of the site to load quickly. Search engines care primarily about user experience, and slow sites create a terrible user experience.
2. Calls to action found throughout the site that stand out from the color scheme and are located in key areas. Ensure that it takes the least amount of clicks possible for a visitor to get to a conversion (sign up, contact, etc.).
3. Proper tracking mechanisms. Before any campaign begins, ensure that conversions from all sources — pay per click, organic, phone, etc. — can be tracked using analytics software. Measuring marketing efforts and demonstrating accountablilty are incredibly important for any campaign.
4. Develop a brand message and use it consistently throughout the site. Well-written content on your current site is important, and it’s possible search engines consider readability of content as a ranking factor.
Once these elements are incorporated on site, then you’re ready for a digital marketing campaign.
Alon Rajic is the Managing Director of Finofin LTD.
“To me, the single most important (and often overlooked) contributor towards a digital marketing plan’s success is…”
A holistic, multi-channel approach.
Especially with new businesses, there’s a huge focus on the immediate ROI, leading to growth in specific channels and negligence of others. Many marketeers and business owners maintain the same SME mentality when the business becomes more established. Without reaching potential clients through a multitude of channels (or them being able to reach you), the individual marketing efforts will not be as effective as they could have been.
Elliot Simmonds has more than 8 years’ experience working at the intersection of marketing, market insight, and consumer psychology. Boutique consultancy, Rippleout Marketing, works with clients from a range of sectors to develop digital marketing plans which take account the psychology of digital consumers. He judged the UK Blog Awards in 2014 and is featured in numerous media outlets, including the Guardian Small Business and Research Live.
“The most commonly overlooked element of a digital marketing plan I see is…”
An actual ‘goal’ or ‘target’ and relevant segmentation to support that. Most companies I work with know they should be involved in digital marketing, and they tend to join Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, write a blog, create videos etc., in a very ad hoc way and without really setting any goals. I regularly get told by new clients that they were simply aiming to ‘grow their followers’. This is, of course, not the case. Digital marketing is a means to an end, not an end in itself. For most clients, that means generating more qualified leads, and hopefully converting them (for charities it could alternatively mean getting more volunteers, but the concept is much the same).
With that goal in mind, we can then begin to actually put a strategy in place — utilize targeted Twitter ads based on the profile of potential buyers, for example. We can also then measure the effectiveness of the plan. Are we generating more qualified leads? Which channels are these coming from? Is this a good ROI? We then review and refine the strategy to reflect this.
In short, the most overlooked element is often the most important: how does our digital marketing plan relate back to our overall business goals?
Kari DePhillips is the owner of The Content Factory, a digital PR agency.
“One of the most critical — and frequently overlooked — elements of a successful digital marketing plan is…”
SEO. Huge SEM campaigns can be overshadowed by organic search rankings, and content has some of the highest ROI out of all digital marketing tactics — but most marketers and small businesses overlook SEO entirely when building out their digital strategy. Ranking well for keywords can bring continuous traffic to your website, and if you target the right keywords, that traffic will convert. In addition to having amazing ROI, solid SEO work has staying power — it makes the most sense to focus on for the long term.
For instance, contentfac.com ranks #1 for search queries like ‘website content writer’ and ‘cost of social media marketing’ — if we were to pay for this traffic via AdWords, we’d be spending over $300k per year. Instead, we get all of this traffic (and the leads, conversions, etc.) for free as a result of our content strategy. We do the same for our clients, ranging from tech startups to Astroglide.
Jan Roos runs Expert Engines, a boutique lead generation agency focusing on helping attorneys build their practice quickly, reliably, and profitably using digital advertising. He has a track record of success in some of the most competitive markets in the country, including his hometown of New York City.
“The most often overlooked, yet important, element of a digital marketing plan is…”
In one word: focus. To quote Confucius, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.” I am constantly shocked to see how many clients (some of whom are spending tens of thousands and working with top agencies) miss out on this.
You need to decide the ONE action you want your prospect to take. This applies to every web page you make, ad you write, and campaign you set up. And remember, not making a decision is a decision on this as well. If you’re suffering from mediocre engagement, murky ROI, and that aching feeling of telling your boss to hold out for results when you doubt it will get better, it’s time to take a look at whether each step in your funnel is driving towards a rock-solid objective.
It’s scary to set your goals sometimes, but what happens to your budget will be a lot scarier.
Rob Watson is an experienced Digital Marketing Consultant. He helps businesses — mainly in the UK — to generate leads and sales from their websites.
“The most important element of a digital marketing plan is…”
Customer focus. Too many companies rush this, because they find the latter stages of the process more interesting and perceive them to be more important.
In recent years, we’ve seen personas become more popular with digital marketers, and I’m a big advocate. Focusing on a particular trade sector or type of customer is at least some form of segmentation, but it still gives too narrow a picture of them.
There are many variations on the persona-building process out there, but most include questions about the specifics of their situation, such as what their biggest challenges are, what their daily routine is, and who they report to.
No two customers are the same, so many people think that the persona process goes into too many specifics. But in my experience, it has helped unearth useful insights and defy some of the assumptions that businesses have had about their customers.
If you use personas and get your customer focus right from the start, you have far more chance of the rest of the planning process being executed effectively.
Johnson Emmanuel is a digital marketing consultant. His clients say he’s ‘notorious’ for driving consistent profitable traffic and revenue for business owners and entrepreneurs. He’s the founder & CEO of KorieFusion, a leading digital marketing agency.
“The single most important element that is frequently ignored is…”
The inability to identify your target market. If you don’t know who you are trying to sell to, you will be wasting your marketing budget because you won’t see any ROI, and that is detrimental to your business. Many people make this mistake, and I am sorry to say that even many marketing experts ignore this. Everyone is not your customer. You have to identify who you are trying to reach. After doing so, having them do what you want will become very easy. This is a key element in any successful marketing campaign. Don’t assume you know your market; conduct market research on your target audience and market. Assumptions are not facts.
Mirna Bard is a world-renowned social business and digital strategy consultant, author, and keynote speaker, as well as instructor of Social Media courses at the University of California, Irvine. Mirna is also the Founder of DigitalMarketersToolBox.com, a business portal listing the Webs’ Best Tools, all in one place.
“The single most important element in a digital marketing plan that is often ignored by many companies is…”
Market research. Companies starting out with digital marketing make the mistake of jumping on multiple platforms too fast without taking the time to learn about trends, industry, and audience. Companies should be spending some time listening, observing, and learning about is going on with their industry online, what competition is doing, and most importantly, researching their audience: where they are hanging out, their online activity and behavior, which brands they are engaging with, and how they are engaging, as well as learning about their interests, likes, dislikes, etc.
Testing is also a commonly overlooked element that is critically important to a digital marketing plan. Again, by making the mistake of jumping on too many digital platforms at once, companies are not taking the time to test, which is one of the single most important factors in any successful digital marketing strategy. There needs to be a strategy in place for A/B testing websites, digital ads, and landing pages, as well as any marketing emails. In addition, companies must test which digital platforms are working and not working, and be ready to make adjustments. The steps should be execute, test, adjust, repeat.
Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London for ResponseTap, who, as well as managing content marketing campaigns, writes extensively about CX and trends in the search market industry.
“The single most important element to a successful digital marketing plan that often gets overlooked is…”
Making sure the campaign is search engine optimized. This is especially critical if the content is targeted towards a very niche audience. So many companies are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon that in order to make your content visible, you need a strategy in place that makes it search-friendly. PR guarantees lots of immediate eyeballs on your brand, but SEO ensures the content has longevity.
The way to optimize your content is to first identify the most relevant keywords and place these within the title, the content copy, and the meta tags. These keywords then also need to appear in each piece of promotional content that surrounds the main content page, including press releases, shares on social, and blog posts. On top of this, a good tip is to build a list of keyword synonyms based on the content and to weave these naturally into the additional promotional material. If, for example, you produce an accompanying series of blog posts, use keyword synonyms in each post to ensure you get full coverage across the search funnel. In addition, if your market is very niche or is a topic with a low search volume, adding synonyms ensures that you can educate and attract leads that may be searching for more generic content in your field.
Helen C. Holt
Helen is founder and sole proprietor at Thewritingpreneur.com, using her talents as a researcher and marketing copywriter to create brand consistency solutions for businesses with Key Message Copy Platforms.
“One success element in digital marketing plans that often gets overlooked and undervalued is…”
Brand consistency means that in order for people to focus on your message, your message MUST stay focused. If a company makes up a product-benefits message each time they create a new digital marketing piece, they risk their message becoming weak and inconsistent. Developing a behind-the-scenes master document ensures marketing messages stay consistent and persuasive. It also allows you to make your brand actionable throughout various digital platforms — for example, taking your brand principles, voice, tone, and personality and applying them to both a contest you’re offering on Facebook and to the landing page on your website.
Alessio is Head of SEO and ASO at online start-up Helpling. Over the last five years, he’s worked in digital marketing for companies around the world. He’s passionate about online marketing, vinyl records, and creative “out of office” emails.
“One of the most important, yet often overlooked and ignored, elements of a successful digital marketing plan is…”
Time. Coordination is never simple, especially when more than one party is involved. Even if the marketing plan is done 100% in-house, all the channels need to be involved, and usually the person who initiated the plan doesn’t realize that other channels have their own priorities and time frames. If you want to have a successful digital marketing plan, plan it in advance so there’s plenty of time to adjust it to fit with the objectives of all stakeholders.
Along with time, setting out how the success of the plan will be measured is another important factor. Too often, there’s a great idea behind a plan, but no idea how to measure its success (or lack thereof). Define clear KPIs (reach, conversions, backlinks etc., whatever’s relevant), and you’re good to go. I’d give the same level of importance to time and KPIs — they’re both indispensable when it comes to a successful online marketing plan.
Beth Bridges is the Vice President of Digital Identity for J – I.T. Outsource and ARTCO by J. She is Google AdWords-certified and is a published business author. She created the social media identity for the Clovis Chamber, which was named a Top 100 Most Social Media Friendly Chamber in the U.S.
“When developing digital marketing plans, marketers often overlook one important element…”
Content Strategy: Content marketers often ignore the idea of co-creation as an element of our digital marketing strategies. Co-creation is the strategy of reaching out to customers or brand fans for ideas or improvements to existing products or allowing them to modify existing products. But our product is our content, and our readers and viewers are often more than happy to tell us what they want to learn or read about next.
It can be a formal process (“Tell us what you think!”) or a more informal process (reading blog comments, talking with clients who have questions, or soliciting testimonials), but it can be a lot of work and a bit like pulling teeth if you have a small audience or one that isn’t used to being involved in the conversation.
Either way, it’s extremely valuable to co-create your content by asking your audience what content they want, whether you have a formal process or are just a very good listener.
Sean Gallahar is a social media guy at i7Marketing.com.
“One of the most overlooked part of digital marketing plan is…”
Giving up too soon and only setting short-term goals. There are only a few exceptions when a marketing plan should be short-term, such as when a brand new business is marketing during a holiday season, or some other popular season or events after the business has just been started. However, any business needs to look for long-term goals in order to be successful and measure their success correctly. I’ve seen a lot of businesses give up way too soon or after only a month or two after they hired an agency to help them update a website and get better rankings. When this happens, all the work the marketer or agency put into the business or project can easily backfire and make matters worse eventually. Setting a long-term goal allows the marketer to do a better job, and it allows the business to fully explore who their audience is, who visits the website, where the most traffic is coming from, where the least amount of traffic is coming from, and focus on seasons, events, and holidays to capture their audience on time, in the right way, and on the right platform for the best possible return on investment. Additionally, this provides measurable data which will allow the business to continue to improve its marketing efforts as well as its product or service.
Rob is one of the Founding Partners at Power Digital Marketing and an entrepreneur at heart. Born into an entrepreneurial family, he has lifelong experience growing products, services, market share, sales volume, and profits. His passion for creating and building out new businesses has led him to several different entrepreneurial ventures, including a multimillion-dollar SaaS startup, for which he was responsible for growing the merchant side from zero to over 500 paying customers (businesses) in only four months. Robert’s combined passions for business, inventing, and the Internet, alongside his experience working in technology and digital media, has been key to his businesses continued growth. Aside from his own ventures, Robert has shadowed CEOs and CFOs of multimillion-dollar national companies, including Fox Sports Grill. Robert received his B.S. from the Eller School of Business at the University of Arizona in Entrepreneurship and Business Management.
“The single most important element of a successful digital marketing plan that is often overlooked differs based on the type of platform you’re planning for…”
Mobile Focus – Mobile is currently not the main focus for many sites, but it needs to be a much larger focus with the shift in eCommerce shopping trends going so mobile heavy. eCommerce is more easily subject to conversion issues on mobile than content/lead gen sites, making it a priority to ensure that all opportunities are capitalized on. Also, sites that are not mobile-friendly are not only subject to conversion issues, but also ranking issues with Google’s recent shift to mobile-friendliness.
Lead Gen Sites
Lead Nurturing – Lead gen sites typically have a lower close ratio on web leads, so nurturing those leads is essential to having them actually impact the bottom line of the business. It doesn’t matter how many leads you generate if they never close and will not make the impact on the business that is set out as a goal of digital marketing. This can be done through a variety of channels, but most notably, display, social, and email often are overlooked by these types of sites.
All sites can always benefit from CRO, and it will always make the most of the traffic you generate, ultimately making significant impacts on the bottom line of the business. It’s very versatile, can be applied to any site, and can always be improved upon based on a series of testing. Many digital marketing plans will focus on generating traffic, but best capitalizing on that traffic will make an even bigger impact than the typical increases in traffic from these channels (5-15% per month).
Shreyans Parekh is currently the Market Manager of Digital Commerce at Apttus, managing the company’s digital commerce product go-to-market strategy, marketing, and product positioning. Apttus is a venture-backed SaaS company based in Silicon Valley with over $180 million in investment capital. He has worked in Tech, E-Commerce, Retail and Consumer Products over the past five years and obtained his MBA in Strategy and Marketing from Wharton.
“The key elements of a successful digital marketing plan are…”
1. Original Content: fresh and relevant content is absolutely crucial to a successful digital marketing plan.
2. Mobile-First Approach: mobile considerations are very important, as nearly 90% of consumer transactions are started on one device and completed on another.
3. Web Optimization: aid search engine optimization and natural search to help users find your site and ensure that the content relates to what the user is searching for.
4. Web Traffic Nurturing: ensure your digital marketing strategy is driving qualified traffic to your website.
5. Social Media: build and increase your social presence across the web.
6. Email Marketing: develop a well-planned email campaign for your users to be able to access the products and services that they need on your site.
Heather McDaniel is the Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist of Get Together Media, a marketing services company that specializes in creating marketing strategies for small and mid-sized businesses.
“The most important element in a successful digital marketing plan is…”
A strategy that’s aligned with the company’s mission and values.
All too often, I see organizations create digital marketing plans that focus on tactics and short-term objectives, rather than developing a long-term approach to connecting with their audience. With this approach, it’s very easy to forget about the big picture and focus on tactics and content that might work right now, or has nothing to do with what the company stands for.
When an organization takes into account who they are and what they value as an organization, it’s easier to develop a story and content that is aligned with the core of the company.
As the Digital Marketing Manager at TeamSnap, Sam is responsible for growing subscriber base through digital channels such as email, search engine optimization, and website marketing. Through technical analysis and a whole lot of testing, optimizing the TeamSnap message to show up to the right people at the right time is his bread and butter.
“The most important but often overlooked element in a successful marketing plan is…”
Outreach. Content marketing has taken off in a big way — people are creating some truly awesome things. The trouble is, especially at smaller companies, doing actual outreach to tell the right individuals/outlets about new content is often forgotten. It’s all well and good creating content, but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point? Any kind of digital marketing plan should include proactive (high-quality) outreach to influencers, on social or otherwise, because more shares can equal more backlinks, which will lead to better SERP performance. Shout from the rooftops; tell everyone, but don’t become annoying!
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