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Smart Digital Marketing Starts With This One Thing


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The world of digital marketing and advertising can seem like a Rubics cube to those who don’t work in it day in and day out. Like a game of poker with a cheap buy-in, the barrier to entry appears low at first. But it can be easy to spend money quick and have nothing to show for it if you don’t know the rules of the game, have the right strategy in place or have key insights on the people you’re sitting at the table with.

How do you avoid the all-too-common mistakes in digital marketing? It starts with knowing who you’re after. And not just things like where they live or their age –– the key is to go one layer deeper.

“It’s great we have a lot of different advertising tools and services nowadays, but the key problem I see is that people are trying to invest in all of those efforts,” said Adrian Vender, director of analytics at IMI. “Where some of those things are going to work out for you, some of them are not. There is a little bit of trial and error…you have to try something in order to know if it’s going to work out for you, but there are ways to be a little more preemptive in planning for it.”

Adrian recommends starting with some investigation of your target customers and building personas to understand not only who is interested in your product or service, but what kinds of activities they’re into, what social networks or corners of the internet they’re a part of, and the list goes on.

“Once you identify where they are, you can at least start to prune which networks you should invest in, and take advantage of any targeting options that are available in those advertising services,” he said.

“The magic we have nowadays is the ability to be very specific with our targeting, and of all networks, Facebook has a lot of specific details that advertisers can choose to target by,” he said. “If you can be more specific with your targeting and selective with which advertising you’re investing in, you’re going to have more opportunities of seeing great returns on the dollars you’re spending.”

Strategies for the budget conscious

When budgets are limited or you’re just starting to test the waters, Adrian recommends opting for platforms that allow for the greatest amount of control over the audience you target. Again, this is where knowing your audience in detail will help guide your efforts.

“Facebook, if in fact it fits with the target audiences that you’re going for, can be a really great platform, because in terms of how much you’re spending you have a lot of controls,” he said. “I think another definitely worthwhile platform to use is Google AdWords.”

There are, however, a few precautions to take before diving in. Understanding your audience, business model and overall goals, as well as some basics of digital marketing can help save you money in the long run.

“Google AdWords works very well for end of the funnel. People are ready to either buy or submit their information via a lead form. It’s very direct response. But the thing to watch out for, with AdWords especially, is that it’s so easy to lose a lot of money very quickly if you don’t know how to put your money in the best campaigns, or in the right optimization methods. As a platform, it’s wonderful, but it can be very dangerous if you go in there unskilled. Same thing with other networks like Facebook.”

Expanding your digital marketing IQ

It’s always a good idea to have a good baseline knowledge of digital marketing, even if you are hiring someone to implement your strategy. With an understanding of some of the basics, you’ll at least be better equipped to avoid common pitfalls, or if you are hiring someone, you’ll know which skillsets to look for.

“When you, yourself, are unskilled in something, it definitely is a very hard thing to assess,” Adrian said. “One thing I do recommend is to definitely do what you can to learn enough of the basics yourself, just so you have an understanding of how digital marketing works.”

There are several free resources out there like “The Beginners Guide to SEO” by Moz, HubSpot Academy, or AdWords Academy. Beyond gaining a digital marketing know-how, there is one other core component Adrian recommends.

“I when it comes to trying to learn the different digital marketing tools and services out there, I recommend getting familiar with a web analytics tool like Google Analytics, because every business owner has to make decisions, and we make those decisions based off the data and information we see,” he said. “What’s important, though, is that you learn how to look at data. How to look at information and then pose the right questions to yourself and others about how to make those decisions. It’s how to be an analyst.”

For more, check out this episode of the SuccessLab Podcast: