Digital Marketing 101

When I first started this blog, I was determined to make something of it. But I was unsure about where I wanted it to go. Thanks to my digital marketing class this past semester, I have had the chance to share my thoughts on topics relating to what I work on and what I am studying. As our last assignment this semester, we were asked to list the top five key points that would help a person who is not so well-versed in digital marketing. While there are many intricacies to digital marketing, the following five points provide a good big picture.

1. Know your audience. Knowing who your audience is and what they like helps guide the direction of your digital marketing plan or campaign. Ask yourself who is buying your? Why are they buying it? What websites do they frequent? The more insights you can get, the better picture you can paint of your consumer.

2. Have a strategy. Just like you would with traditional marketing, you need to have a strategy. You can just start using social media willy-nilly or advertising all over the internet. Know what the plan is and use it as the guiding force for your campaign or overall digital branding endeavor.

3. Set goals. Measure. Think about what you are looking to get out of your digital marketing strategy. Do you want to increase overall brand awareness or number of shares for a specific campaign? In marketing, we call these key performance indicators (KPIs). Having these in mind, you can measure your progress and identify areas for improvement, which can lead to better planning for future goals.

4. Make it relevant. This goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t talk about things that wouldn’t interest your audience. Also, don’t start a conversation or advertise about a topic if it doesn’t somehow tie back to your product or service.

5. Social media and digital marketing are not synonymous. This is where people get thrown off. Yes, social media is a part of digital marketing, but digital marketing is not just knowing how to use social media. Digital marketing includes online advertising  (i.e. Adwords and AdSense), website optimization, and email marketing among others. Use the array of tools available to you and don’t just think you’re covered with social media.

What are some key takeaways you recommend? Is there anything you have come across that works or doesn’t work for you?

The Human Touch

I recently, I read a Forbes article about Publix.  The article discussed the Publix business model and, to put it in layman’s terms, why it is such an awesome company. The key point the article makes is that Publix’s success can be attributed to it’s culture of putting “people-first”. By “people” I don’t just mean customers. They also have put their employees first, which makes them happy, and ultimately makes for happy customers.

You may recall from one of my earlier posts that I briefly mentioned missing Publix. Well, I meant it. So when I saw this article, I couldn’t help but share it with the world and let others know how much I love and miss Publix. One of the first places I shared it was as a status update on Facebook. This led me to the Publix Facebook page (because I wanted to see their latest posts) where I shared the link.  Almost immediately, Publix commented on the shared link. What I loved most about the comment is that it was personalized. It read: Thanks, Alejandra! We miss you. 🙂 Hope you can come back and visit soon. ~ Abby

From here.

From here.

They ACTUALLY read what I posted, and cared enough to comment on it. And just like that, I love Publix even more. How is that possible?

Social media is such a large component of marketing these days, and it’s nice to see that some companies are using it correctly. Many companies use automatic replies or autobots, as I call them, to respond to their online followers. They forget that social media is a way of directly communicating with customers. Using robots can really fray relationships you may be trying to build or maintain.  One company recently made headlines for its insensitive automatic responses to its twitter followers. By automating its tweets, the company validated exactly what it has been trying to negate: the perception that it is “too big” and doesn’t care about its customers. Even without automated responses, companies tend to fall into the trap of assigning one person to reply with generic messages rather than with ones that will make the customer feel unique or cared for.

In today’s digital world of dog eat dog, it’s important for companies to keep strong ties to their customers and potential customers. What easier and cheaper way to do this than through social media?

Simple is Better

When I like something, I tend to stick to it for a while. Sometimes it’s a color, sometimes it’s a song, and sometimes it’s a brand.

I recently read an article about the demise of HMV. After 92 years in the music business, the brick and mortar store went out of business. It kept assuming that its customers would stay loyal forever because they had always bought CDs. Instead, online music streaming came into the picture. HMV failed to keep an open dialogue with its customers to learn what they really wanted/needed. One thing that stuck out to me in the article was about the big marketing mistake companies fall trap to: “they stick to tried and tested marketing methods and add a digital marketing strategy as an extra.” Like it or not, digital marketing is not just an “add-on” these days. It is marketing plain and simple. And in the case of HMV, it was the difference between staying relevant and crashing and burning.

Found here

However, going digital does not guarantee success. So many brands today assume that digital marketing is the key to success. It isn’t. The key to success is about understanding your customers and their needs, and then applying marketing strategies that address their needs and provide them with useful information. In today’s world, that means including digital as part of the bigger picture, not just an add-on. But it means including it correctly – not just pushing out irrelevant messages that annoy people.

I get tons and tons of daily emails from retailers who are trying to push me into buying their clothes. Sometimes there’s a discount. Sometimes there’s some kind of perk like free shipping.  But none of these really matter to me. I mostly get annoyed that I am getting so many emails. Very rarely do any of these emails catch my eye. Instead, almost 100% of the time, these emails get deleted. The same goes for brands I follow on Facebook. Some of them post every few minutes and don’t actually provide me anything useful. Sure, they include an image with their post, but I don’t feel like they are making an impact on my shopping habits. It’s annoying to get bombarded with so many messages all the time. I often end up “unliking” a brand when they start to get annoying.

Companies should really learn to talk to their customers and provide them with information that is useful and makes their shopping experience easy. If this were an in-person scenario, you wouldn’t want to be that annoying friend who doesn’t understand personal space. Or that used-car salesman who is desperate to get you to buy a car. As this appropriately titled Harvard Business Review article puts it: To Keep Your Customers, Keep it Simple. Companies need to really figure out what is driving their customers to search certain keywords. They need to become stewards for information so that consumers can stay informed about products so that when they are ready to purchase something they will remember what they learned and very likely purchase a product from that company. Its okay to send emails alerting customers about sales or offering perks, but just keep it simple.

What are some companies you like that you feel keep it simple?