Digital marketing is in the midst of a revolution. New tools, exponential increases in customer data, and a dizzying array of online and offline channels make it difficult to determine the best way to interact with customers.
If you’re like most companies, it’s important to diversify your marketing mix to ensure you have a presence wherever your customers go to identify, evaluate, and try potential solutions. But, unless you’re one of the lucky few with a massive marketing budget and team, you need to prioritize carefully to make sure you’re reaching your target audiences in the right place at the right time.
As marketing teams shoulder more responsibility for lead generation and become more integrated with sales teams, they also need to be more responsive to the sales pipeline. An agile marketing model—where activities are prioritized based on business needs and pipeline status—is the ideal approach in today’s fast-moving, competitive marketplace.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to develop a Dynamic Digital Marketing Strategy (DDMS). This approach will not only provide you with a flexible framework for prioritizing your marketing investments over time, but also a way to align your message and company with your business priorities and sales pipeline.
Start with the customer, end with the customer
The good news is that one thing in marketing hasn’t changed: it’s important to focus on your customer. The foundation for a DDMS begins by having a very clear understanding of your target customer segments.
A DDMS requires that you take this understanding a level deeper by identifying what the customer is trying to accomplish at each step of their journey and where they go to look for the answer. For example, in the evaluation phase, most customers try to understand the range of options that meet their needs. They might start with a Google or Bing search and check out company websites. They’ll also probably evaluate customer reviews and get input through social media or by word of mouth.
If your company is new to a market or looking to grow your market share, a good starting point is how competitors are positioning themselves, and where. Still, many competitors are trying to figure out what works—just like you are. So, keep your eyes open for options that leverage the “one-to-many” influence of social media, communities, associations, and key influencers such as independent experts.
Once you have mapped the customer journey for each of your primary target segments, organize your marketing strategies into workstreams and determine where they have the greatest impact on the customer journey. This will allow you to focus on what levers to pull, and when—and adapt dynamically to business and market needs based on pipeline metrics.
Finally, determine where your company currently interacts with customers and identify any key gaps. You don’t have to fill all of these gaps immediately—start by filling the priority areas and measuring impact as you go. A true dynamic strategy allows you to focus on a small number of strategies at a time, as your business priorities and sales pipeline dictate.
Focus on innovation and thought leadership
Once you understand what your customers are trying to do at each phase of their journey and where they go to do it, the next step is to determine what to say to them, so you can engage them in conversation and establish your relevance as a trusted partner. Instead of just entertaining your customers with broad content marketing topics, focus your messaging on content that helps them solve their specific problem for each phase in the journey. Instead of a broad marketing strategy that relies on hope and air cover, get specific about what strategies and activities are most effective at getting you in front of the customer and communicating the right message at the right time.
Scale through marketing automation
Marketing automation can be a very effective tool for driving a customer journey at scale and measuring the effectiveness of a broad range of strategies and tactics at each step of the customer journey. The beautiful thing about this technology is that it can follow the customer on their individual journey, sending valuable content, tools, and calls to action when the customer needs it. It can also enable you to get very sophisticated with customer segmentation, message testing, measurement, and incentives—tailoring your interaction to the customer’s specific needs.
Once you have done all the hard work to attract your customer, the worst thing you can do is to abandon them once they have their hands on your product or service. If you have a marketing automation system in place, you can quantify each of the attrition points along the customer journey and focus your efforts on mitigating the worst points first. The ability to quantify changes in attrition over time is crucial here in order to gauge where you are getting the best return on marketing investment (ROMI) and prioritize future investments and strategies. Don’t be afraid to test numerous strategies at the same time, in small batches. As long as you tag each campaign, you can measure them individually.
Stay close to your customers and partners
If you don’t have marketing automation, focus groups and surveys are good ways to understand why you lose customers (make sure you make it worth your ex-customer’s time). You can also monitor online sites and forums to gauge why customers are dissatisfied and engage directly with customers to rectify the situation. In most of the research projects we’ve done, we see most of the challenges—and their solutions—within the first ten customer interviews.
Above all, the worst thing you can do is think you have the answers and disconnect from your customers. Engage your customers, partners, and industry experts to understand how customers are buying, which products and services they are using, and why. You’ll be surprised how often this changes in today’s digital world.
In addition to mitigating attrition points, another key component of a DDMS is driving customers to the next stage in their journey, based on your immediate business needs. For example, let’s say your sales team is telling you that a large portion of their pipeline is stuck in the evaluation phase of their journey. This indicates that you either need to change the strategies you are utilizing to move prospects through the evaluation phase, increase the volume of your investment in these strategies, or both. The good news is that you can fix what’s broken, measure it, and evaluate a number of options at the same time.
Ready, set, go
Once you’ve developed a Dynamic Digital Marketing Strategy, present it to the key stakeholders in your company and get their commitment to follow the model. If they see that you’ve taken a data-driven approach that truly meets the needs of your customers, they’ll be more likely to buy in and stay the course as you test and optimize your campaigns.
To maintain their support, make sure you review the results of your DDMS monthly, and adjust your focus on specific phases of the customer journey—and your business—that need the most attention. This will allow you to accommodate change without changing your plan and losing momentum.