When I started working in digital marketing my approach reflected exactly of my manager’s. I knew what they wanted me to do and so I used a checklist to ensure everything I did was by the book, without understanding what we were doing and why. It took me a while to understand that the checklist wasn’t always effective and that if I wanted to see results I needed to understand what I was doing and why.
After a few not-so-successful campaigns, a ton of research, A/B testing and many conversations with industry peers I started to understand that digital marketing was still marketing which meant that to make it effective, I needed to obey the three most basic principles of marketing.
These three basic principles mean the difference between an engaging, ROI-focused digital marketing campaign and a campaign that disappears without a trace into the infinite digital marketing ether.
Today, a few years and many, many campaigns later I think that these marketing principles can be applied to all sorts of campaigns, including newspaper ads, Google Adwords, Social Media, Marketing Automation etc.
Let’s take a look at the first of these three principles today.
Finding Your Right Message
The key to getting your brand’s message right is focusing on a goal. All to often, brands leave out this crucial step. A lot of times brands, especially startups, think it difficult to set a goal, and more often than not it is left until the last minute and many just don’t really understand why this is so important.
It is very easy to create a Facebook page and start posting or create a Twitter profile and start Tweeting, but unless you create a road map and some attainable goals it is highly unlikely that your journey will end somewhere rewarding.
Don’t be afraid of changing direction of your goals or reassessing them once you are on the road to achieving them. But I strongly advise that you set goals before you start working on a marketing campaign.
With your goal in mind, focus on creating a message for your communication. Did you know that businesses who have a clear online message tend to receive more followers and have a higher engagement rate from their target audience? Think about it, as a consumer yourself, would you engage more with a brand that specifies its message clearly or one that sends out inconsistent and mixed messages?
This clarity of message is easiest to see at the extremities: really cheap companies who adopt a somewhat confrontational ‘us against the world in our crusade for low prices’ stance, and luxury brands that take an ‘only the finest will do’ stance. Each of these has its place and will appeal to a certain type of customer. Low budget customers who perceive the world in a grand conspiracy to rip them off and exploit them will identify with a budget airline crusading against anyone trying to increase charges against their customers, whether it’s a government increasing fuel taxes or an entire country increasing air taxes. Meanwhile, high-end customers might appreciate the smug confidence of Gucci’s profile which doesn’t talk about anything other than the brand and how fantastic their products are. The 3.6+ million Twitter followers don’t seem to mind reading about this every day because that’s what they expect from Gucci. It’s a message consistent with the brand, despite being a lot more focused on themselves and their brand than most companies can get away with on social media. What they understand is that their followers follow in order to buy into and experience the Gucci world. The value to their audience comes from association with Gucci as opposed to Gucci’s sharing of relevant and useful information. Gucci wouldn’t mock their competitors or tweet cat jokes, yet for a different business altogether these sort of strategies would work much more effectively than constantly talking about their own products.
Your marketing message doesn’t have to be as extreme as this, but elements from examples like these can be adopted and adapted to suit your audience. Overall, it is important that you decide your angle in advance and try to stick to it.
A consistent personality throughout your digital presence builds a sense of trust and familiarity in your audience. It’s this which, over time, will give you a competitive edge when they come to choose between you and your competitors. This is worth spending some time on and is the sort of thing some brands take many years to fine tune so don’t feel a pressure to get it 100% right immediately.