Reaching your ideal client with just the right information at just the right time is a perpetual challenge. Even with solid business objectives, a great team, and maybe a fancy new implementation of Adobe Experience Manager, understanding who to target, when, and how is pretty much the triumvirate of marketing challenges.
You likely have some well-conceived business goals and have assembled a great team to market to your clients on a daily basis. But what mechanisms have you created to translate those business goals into marketing goals and a related strategy? And with that, how are campaigns and tactical initiatives being formed from marketing strategy to ensure that every dollar spent and every marketing effort is directly connected to your business goals?
Those mechanisms are the machine that powers success. Without a properly built digital marketing strategy machine, tactics are implemented with only the loosest of connections to actually fulfill business goals and KPIs.
So why is it so hard to build a digital marketing machine?
The Typical Challenge of Building the Digital Marketing Strategy Machine
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We typically break down digital marketing strategy for our clients into a spectrum consisting of three separate sections:
- Business Goals and Strategy
- Marketing Strategy
- Cross/Omni-channel Tactical Initiatives and Measurement
On one end of the spectrum, most of our clients, as they well should, have established pretty solid business goals. These goals are derived from an understanding of their target market, various internal inputs/product lines/stakeholders, mission and vision, and objectives as an organization. Often, we’ll even see vision planning or KPI benchmarks for the organization over the next one or several years.
Most of these same clients also have a whole slew of intelligent, talented individuals on the opposite end of the spectrum. These smart folks are charged with implementing the tools and tactics to grow the business. This typically consists of various acquisition, engagement, and sometimes retention practices across whichever channels they have determined most successful.
What we don’t see from most of our clients is anything in the middle – any clearly defined marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is the machine that runs the entire spectrum. It’s the mechanism responsible for connecting each and every tactical initiative directly back to a specific business goal. In short, marketing strategy provides the reason and justification for any and all marketing efforts.
Unfortunately, the common approach to building the digital marketing strategy machine, while thorough and detailed, is one that involves taking a giant step backwards, evaluating every single variable throughout the entire spectrum, and painstakingly creating the perfect machine by which to execute tactical initiatives that perfectly fulfill business goals.
We’ve seen larger organizations take nine months to a year or more to build their digital marketing strategy.
And that’s the wrong approach.
Because as a delightful adaptation of a quote from Voltaire points out, “perfection is the enemy of done.”
An effort to understand every input and variable needed to create the ideal strategic machine, make connections between business goals and tactical initiatives, and get everything in place before executing, will result in a massive loss of growth opportunity. Too much time and effort will be used to connect all the dots, and, as a result, be taken from making prioritized, business-impactful, and iterative changes.
That’s Why Iterative Growth is So Powerful
Put simply, the power of iterative growth comes from using data-driven “loops” to prioritize and execute on quick wins.
First and foremost, iterative growth is data-driven. Using historical data to create a baseline and benchmarks, each iterative loop will focus channel efforts on maximizing lift to target personas which tie back to business goals. For example, if your annual revenue growth goal is 20%, that revenue dollar amount is broken down by quarter and month, and again by channel. Each channel can then be measured for attributed and assisted revenue, and adjusted quickly to meet milestones and maximize return.
Second, utilizing iterative loops means not missing out on quick wins or revenue and engagement opportunities. One of the most critical aspects of each iterative loop is prioritizing business goals and KPIs. This continuous prioritization balances each quick-win for greatest business impact with the least relative work and effort. This approach keeps the focus on maximizing effort and growth while spending the time and investment on the personas and respective channels that yield the greatest return.
Third, the strategy machine still gets built – and usually in less time. Each iterative loop informs and adds to the previous work, producing iterative growth to the entire spectrum. As each previous loop is implemented, more relevant, useful data emerges which allows for agile course correction along the way, and the ability to more accurately target acquisition, engagement, and retention efforts.
Additionally, each iteration focuses on additional elements of the overall marketing strategy. For example, on the business goal side, let’s assume the target market and perhaps even personas and customer journey mapping have been ascertained. By using the data from each iterative loop, those personas can not only be further refined, but the actual behaviors, revenue, acquisition costs, and lifetime values associated with each persona across channels could reveal that one persona might very well be outperforming what was previously considered to be the ideal customer. As such, focus can be kept on acquisition through those top-performing channels but to the new persona for greater returns.
The beauty of this iterative process is that each loop continues to inform marketing strategy for future targeted campaigns and initiatives. As we’re all well aware, customer experience and engagement is key to growth. Coupled with a continuous stream of data and success measured against benchmarked KPIs over time, a comprehensive marketing strategy machine begins to unfold.
It all comes back to how you build your machine. Which is the better way – with hundreds of parts laid out on the floor and a 1,000-page manual, or with an interactive guide handing you each up-to-date part in the order you need it? Working smarter with a focus on the big connected picture and iterative growth is going to save you the time and earn you the revenue you need to make your efforts worth it.