4 Low to No Cost Ways to Improve Your Digital Marketing
As digital marketers, we are hypnotized by big ideas and we often overlook the smaller ones that could build up to be just as positive for our businesses. It's like the big budget action flick with the special effects and the Hollywood stars... we succumb to the hype and go see it. Meanwhile, there are a hundred or more films made every year with low-budgets and no-named actors... that WOW their audiences.
The basics of digital marketing are so very important to get right. When we scratch our heads after a new campaign or project has flopped, it's often the basics that were short-changed or forgotten all-together.
Here are the basics, as I see it: Metrics, Content, Site Usability, Test and Learn. There's a ton of detail that fall under those categories, for this post I want to call out one idea from each that all digital marketers need to pursue.
Four Low-to-No Cost Ways to Improve Your Digital Marketing
- Know Your Site Metrics: If you can access your website's traffic reports, there's no excuse to getting very familiar with how your consumers use your site. Pay special attention to how they get to your sales pages or other areas that convert leads or sales. Are those paths as easy to traverse as possible? Aside from the big data you will want to consume for the big projects, the every day functional side of your website is critical. Know your exit rates, bounce rates, seasonality measurements, and what pages you want to increase traffic to. Don't just leave this effort to the local data guy on your team. As a digital marketer, you need to be up-close-and-personal with the data, too, and be able to gain insights from what it's teaching you about your audiences. Then, you can market to them in a way that is based in data and not in "what's worked before" or pure hunches.
- Know Your Consumers: Your consumer of yesterday is not your consumer of day, no matter what industry you are in. Their needs and expectations change constantly, so, what is your mechanism for collecting consumer research and feedback? This can be a very informal endeavor, if your budget is tight. Simply gather a group of your customers who reflect varying demographics, buying habits, and so on. Find out what their offline process is for learning about and choosing the brands they interact with. A quick focus group, virtual or in-person can net you some very useful information, particularly if you have a website, app, or something else you are developing, on which you can get immediate customer reactions. Do your best to walk in their shoes and don't assume you know what they want from you.
- Optimize Your Website: With the information about your customers and the data on your website in-hand, you are now equipped to get started on optimizing your website. This does not have to be a large endeavor, either. By identifying the gaps in your site visitor journey, for example, you can make some relatively low-effort improvements to the pages that are causing the issues for visitors. Perhaps your call-to-action link is buried under a lot of copy, or maybe there is a technical issue with a page in the flow. The metrics data you have will bear that out. You can use your consumer research to know where they 2-3 key areas are that they want to spend their time, and then you will want to make sure those areas are easy to find, easy to read, and leads to some next steps they can take. Your site's content management system (CMS) probably allows for minor-to-moderate page editing, and that may be all you need to drastically improve your site performance, lead generation, and online sales.
- Test and Learn: In the old days, you'd put all your budget, time, and tears into a campaign or project, and then hope and pray the launch was successful because that was your one big budget marketing splash for the year. These days, digital marketers have so many more options. Release your project to a small portion of your audience, and gather quick learnings before launching to everyone. If you have a new set of webpages or a redesigned website, use multivariate testing to create an experiment where half of your site visitors see the new version and half see the old. That way, you can compare data from the two sets across the same date range and see what changes improved traffic, if any. Also, if you have new functionality you want to release to the world, stop yourself in your tracks and instead open it to a smaller segment of your audience to test it out in a limited release. You'll learn what is working and what is not, reduce the chance for negative business impacts should something not work, and get early and frequent feedback if you use this Agile model versus going all in with one major release (waterfall process).
In the end, what matters most is that you gain a deep understanding of your digital marketing impact on your consumers with everything you do. Tending to both the big and small pieces of your annual marketing plan and the basics that go along with it is what can turn a Fortune 100 company into a Fortune 50, or turn a small operation from barely surviving to solidly profitable. Small ideas, and focus you put on them, make a big difference if you give them the respect they deserve while you aim for the big ideas as well.