Developing and Executing a Strategy for Your eMarketing Efforts
Welcome to the third article in this series on eMarketing and Digital Media. In the first article, we defined strategy as “knowing where you want to go and figuring out how to go there”. When developing a strategy for your eMarketing efforts, first thing that you have to figure out is “where do you want your business to be?”. Only if you know where your business to reach in a specified future point of time; you can decide on what eMarketing strategies and tactics to adapt for helping your business reach the target.
I invented the DEMO Model as an effective way of managing your eMarketing planning efforts. When I say “I invented”, this simply means I put this into an understandable model. What is in this model are not originally invented by me; but rather are generic application in any kind of a planning process.
This is the critical first step of your eMarketing planning process. In this stage, you have to follow six sub steps.
- Define Product/Service
Having a clear understanding about what is your product/service, and what it can/cannot do to your customers is important. Trying to communicate too many benefits to your customers will result in confusion in the customer’s mind. Therefore, strategically selecting a package of benefits offered by your brand, as compared to the competitors is very important. In this process, you may have to sacrifice some of the fancy features that you want to add to your product or service.
- Profile the Target Customers
You may not be expecting to sell your product or service to everybody out there in the market. Identify who are your customers and who are not your customers. Make a clear definition of “who are not my customers?”. This becomes very important when it comes to solving customer problems down the way. If a person who is not within your definition of a “customer” raises a problem, you can ignore that to save much of your resources and effort. But be mindful that not only those who are willing to buy from you are your customers. Anybody who can influence your potential buyers in a big way, are your customer. Once you get a clear definition of your target customer, and then know where they are usually hanging around in the internet.
- Define Your eMarketing Goals
To begin with, first think critically if you are still going to need any eMarketing. What are you going to achieve with eMarketing? How would they link to the broader business goals? Some examples of eMarketing goals are creating brand awareness, generating sales leads, improving search engine process, generating ecommerce sales revenue etc. Are these goals adding value to your business? In some companies, people start eMarketing with the objective of building brand awareness. But when they don’t get enough sales from their eMarketing efforts, they abandon entire eMarketing plans, citing low ROI. In reality, if you define your eMarketing goal as building brand awareness, direct ROI is not the best measure of verifying whether you achieved your goal or not.
- Define Your eMarketing Message
To achieve your eMarketing goals in the selected target market, what message you are going to communicate to them? Your message should be consistent with your broader integrated marketing communication messages. It should not position your brand, differently to your preferred brand positioning communicated through other marketing channels.
- Identify Online Channels Options
Once you define your target customer, you can know where they are hanging around while surfing the internet and how frequently they are using the internet. Based on this information, now you can select from different options of online channels (Facebook, Youtube, Google etc) and eMarketing options (SEO, PPC, Community, Viral Marketing etc) to target them.
- Design Specific Action Plans
At this stage, you need to plan the specific action plans and activities to be carried out in each of the selected channels, in order for you to communicate your eMarketing messages to the target audience. Now you need to get into a little tactical level and think of specific promotions you are going to do on Twitter, specific link building tactics you are going to adapt if pursuing on SEO etc.
As you are going through the next three steps in the DEMO model, you will realize that the toughest part is the first one. That is to define your strategy. Once you take enough time to lay down a sound plan in the “Design” stage, the execution becomes much easier.
When planning the execution, think of time involved in implementing each action plan you drafted, resources required, who is going to do what etc. Properly laying down time plans and resource allocations will give you an idea on what difficulties to expect when implementing the plan.
After executing your new eMarketing strategy, how do you know whether you have achieved anything out of it or not? When you set your eMarketing goals, you should set specific measurement criteria to check whether you are achieving the goals. For example, if you set an eMarketing goal of building brand awareness, you should measure the number of brand mentions in online forum discussions, number of sales leads received by an online ad you place. There are various tools available out there, that you can use in tracking your results. If you run a website, it is very important to have an analytics tool (Eg: Google Analytics) to measure your results. You can use Google blog alerts, news alerts etc to track your brand mentioning on internet. You can use some free SEO tools (Webmaster Central) to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. With these type of tools and methods, you should be able to measure your eMarketing performance on a continuous basis. The objective of “measurement” is to justify the resources and effort you put into eMarketing.
Measuring your results will trigger an array of insights on different areas where you can fine-tune your eMarketing efforts. Take inputs from these insights, and go back to the designing process. See where you lose money, or on which channels you put lot of efforts without really gaining any valuable outcome. Continuously keep fine-tuning the eMarketing campaigns based on the goals and actual outcomes.
I hope the DEMO model will be very useful as a framework for initiating the very first eMarketing plan for a small business or a start-up. In the beginning, you will realize that design stage is the most important and toughest. Later when you go alone, you will start to realize that optimization is the most important area to focus. In the longer run, you will reach a point at which small incremental optimizations seize delivering attractive results. This is the point at which you may have to consider the option of a creative destruction. You may want to abandon the entire existing process, and start it all over from the design stage.
In the next issue of Digit Magazine, I will discuss about the importance of business web design. I will argue the point that a company’s website is not the job of their technical staff, but rather the job of the marketing department.