Having a digital marketing strategy for your business has grown in importance over the years as consumer behavior has changed and technology has advanced.
Now, more than ever, business owners face unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath are going to continue to cause major disruptions for businesses across the country and change consumer buying behavior indefinitely.
Managing your business in the face of rapid change can be tough, but it’s not impossible. It’s all about what you do and how you do them. The ultimate goal is to achieve more by doing less, but this may seem impossible without the right components, effort, and techniques.
It doesn’t matter what type or size of the company – There is a common denominator. These can be seen clearly across the board from the one-person home-based businesses to corporates with hundreds of employees across multiple locations. This common denominator is the framework for the evaluation of their digital efforts.
Without a framework, digital marketing can seem confusing at best. A lot of tech cliché out there directed at small businesses is about the ease of applying tech to achieve all – “It’s never been easier to start a small business” – “tech makes it so simple nowadays, anyone can do it” – Not to even talk about the encroachment of artificial intelligence into the human space. Yes, things are much easier, small businesses are definitely at a great advantage, but how can you separate seeds from Chaff?
Despite all these confusions, you can always pull the trick if you read in between the lines. Also, when the core concept of digital marketing matters, you will be able to actually help yourself. You want to know how to properly measure your efforts, so you know what might work and what will not.
A simple plan
The following can set you on the path to your desired growth – Let’s move on
- Set your goal
- Determine your KPI
- Measure (before)
- Take the Leap
- Measure (after)
- Learn more
Set Your Goal
You need to have goals – it doesn’t matter if you’re a startup up or you’ve been operating for several years. Goals help you understand where you are today and where you would like to be in the future. Plus, they’re one of the best ways to make sure your small business is able to grow. What do you want to achieve, at a high level? “Make more money” is an obvious goal that most businesses have. You need to be a bit more specific, for example, something “make more money by selling a new product to our past customers” is a great business goal. Another good one “make more money by increasing the number of client projects we take on this year.” The best goals are specific, measurable, and actionable. If you can clearly state what you’re trying to do, in detail, then it can likely be achieved with the help of digital marketing.
Determine your KPI
Once you have your goal, you need to plan for how you’ll measure it. This step is very IMPORTANT! It is so important to set your plan for measurement now, not after you’ve tried some digital marketing activities. That’s because it’s easier to identify what you’ll be looking for before you’ve started. After you’ve started, you can get distracted and it’s too tempting to change your mind.
When it comes to digital marketing, there are all kinds of metrics and values you can use to measure your success. It can be totally confusing, heart-wrenching, overwhelming, and paralyzing. That’s why it’s essential to focus on just one metric, I mean the one that tells you whether you’re getting any closer to your goal. That one metric is your key performance indicator (KPI).
Try to pick something quantifiable for your key performance indicator. If your business goal is to increase sales, that’s a great KPI. You will focus on the number of sales you receive, which is definitely measurable. Other quantifiable metrics that make for strong key performance indicators include, percentage of new clients versus returning (if your goal is to drum up a new business); the number of website visitors (if your goal is to drive traffic to your site); and number of clicks on a Google Ad (if your goal is to attract new customers who may be searching for a business like yours).
Remember that not all metrics are digital. Your key performance indicator could be something in the offline world, like the number of visitors to your store (if you have a brick-and-mortar one).
Everyone’s KPI will be different because everyone has different goals. The important thing is to pick one that corresponds with your goal.
Take a measurement of where you currently stand, using your KPI as your yardstick. How many sales do you presently have? What’s the current percentage of new clients versus returning? How many website visitors do you have now? How many clicks are you receiving on your Google Ads (if any at all)? What are the engagement numbers (e.g., of comments, shares, likes, or follows) on your social media channels?
The purpose of this measurement isn’t to inflate or deflate your current position – it’s to be honest. Don’t be embarrassed. Just be honest! You can’t know how far you’ll go if you don’t declare a starting point. This doesn’t need to be complex. You’ve already identified the key performance indicator that will tell you if you get closer to your business goal. Take that KPI, check it against your current position, and write down the result. Be sure to save it – you’ll refer back to it later to see how far you’ve come.
Take the Leap
The next step is to leap. Why “leap” and not “plan”? Because when you are first getting started with digital marketing or trying a new digital marketing channel, there are a lot of unknowns. Yes, you should try to figure out as much as you can before you get started, (the reason for this discussion), but there will be a certain amount of throwing banana at the wall to see what sticks. You won’t yet have any experience to draw from, so you just have to jump in and start your marketing campaign. But it’s not a total shot in the dark – you’re making a calculated first step.
I recommend not making a giant leap. Don’t spend a lot of money or time at this stage; you’re trying something out to see if it works. Start small and get the results. If your measurement shows some success, great! Double down. If your measurement shows you didn’t hit a home run right out of the gate (much more likely), then you can adjust your strategy in the next cycle.
Measure properly. What does this mean by “properly”? I mean you should look at the KPI you laid out for yourself when you set your goal. This is the step that requires the most discipline and honesty. You will be tempted to look at other metrics. You might even feel confused and doubt that you picked the right metric as your KPI in the first place. Don’t get distracted by the other things you could be tracking. You set your key performance indicator already, so only look at that. The emphasis here is on the word “key.” Looking at other metrics is a distraction at best, and a lie at worst. Don’t start looking at another metric because the value is higher, or it makes you feel better because it seems more successful than your KPI. The only purpose of looking at metrics is to learn, so you can improve. It’s not to make yourself feel good.
After completing these steps, you’ve probably learned a lot. Take your KPI measurement and compare it to the measurement you had before you started your digital marketing campaign. How did you do? Are you any closer to your business goal? If you were to do the steps again (spoiler alert: you will), what would you do differently? What would you do the same?