Look across your digital tactics and channels…do your buyers go there? Is their engagement worth the challenges involved in creating these? How do you know?
Let’s first define Digital Planning (or Digital Marketing) – Leveraging digital channels to reach customers and promote your brand. Digital marketing can enhance your reach to a larger, more targeted audience, which leads to increased brand awareness, lead generation and lead conversion. The best digital strategies are developed with inputs from brand research and a deep understanding of buyer expectations. Integration across all channels is critical and improves campaign conversion metrics.
Digital Planning requires you to:
- Know your customers and strategically align with how they like to engage.
- Differentiate yourself in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
- Provide a consistent experience across channels.
Strategic Buyer Alignment
Generally, understanding the customer is the biggest challenge facing B2B companies and their appetite for growth. Bringing customers or prospects from recognizing their problematic status quo to their opportunity-filled future made possible by your products requires differentiation. This differentiation can be achieved by leveraging data, understanding the marketplace and engaging your audience on a deeper level.
Questions to ask yourself regarding your current alignment:
- You have a strategic plan for messaging and communicating with your prospects and customers across digital channels and devices?
- Your channels and segments are clearly defined based on customer behaviors and expectations?
- You have sufficient resources to develop, launch and analyze your marketing campaigns?
- You leverage real-time analytics to proactively adjust campaign performance?
As you understand your customers and prospects, you can evolve your digital engagement plans to align with how, when and where buyers like to communicate. This understanding is based on knowing the process your customers like to follow when interacting with your brand, including the moments of truth that are most important to them. This approach is outward-in focused, and should mirror marketing resource alignment; meaning budget, people, etc. are invested in areas with the greatest growth potential per your corporate strategy. And lastly, you’re able to track and measure campaign performance based on how customers and prospects are engaging – they zig, you zag – following the data.
You can dive deeper into Marketing (and Sales) resource allocations based on revenue generation from markets, accounts, and buyers in this article: Prioritize Markets, Accounts and Buyers.
Digital channels and tactics continue to evolve as more and more marketers regularly leverage them. More than likely, your message is being diluted, as CPN or Clickbait value for example, continue to have diminishing returns. Why? Because your competitors are doing the exact same thing, diluting the power of your digital presence. To ensure your message and tactics are being seen, you need to understand how your buyers like to engage (see Strategic Buyer Alignment) and leverage Digital Planning to differentiate.
“Customer Experience is the ultimate strategic differentiator. You can replicate just about anything. You can replicate a product. You can replicate a technology. You can replicate a service. But you can’t replicate an experience.” – Mike McCalley, VP of Strategy and Marketing at CECO Environmental
Roughly half of B2B companies can personalize and contextualize the experience of their customers through basic measures, e.g. via location, user interface, purchase history, etc. But as Customer Experience (or CX) is adopted more and more – beyond buzzword status – does a seamless customer experience become the new norm? How can you create a sustainable competitive advantage?
Questions to ask regarding your customer experience:
- Your content is contextualized for each channel and buyer?
- You can identify and track your customer’s digital touchpoints?
- You have an integrated digital marketing technology architecture?
- Your digital performance needs dictate your digital budget?
- Your digital insights and analytics strategy is supported by the executive team?
- You have integrated your digital marketing initiatives with complimentary marketing and sales strategies?
As Forbes recently declared, Customer Experience is the New Brand. The article highlights the disconnect between 89% companies believing they compete by delivering “super experiences”, while only 8% of customers agree. Content contextualization should be outward-in focused, based on data. A lot of companies struggle with sorting through big data to apply the right digital touchpoints at the right time throughout the organization (i.e. Marketing, Sales, Customer Support), but recognizing what data you have available to begin your Digital Planning journey is the first step.
Why Digital Planning Is Absolutely Necessary
Two words: Lead generation.
Today, SBI’s marketing clients say increasing brand awareness and buyer engagement are their biggest objectives in the digital space. Digital marketing is faster, cheaper and often more effective than traditional marketing. You can curate marketing messages to a hand-selected subset of buyers via social media campaigns or emails for a fraction of the cost. Cheaper tactics paired with richer data create a win-win scenario for better brand awareness and engagement.
This richer data also makes it easier to prove how digital lead generation feeds not just ROI but also Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI). Leveraging cheaper channels to stretch your marketing budget to drive sales is why Digital Planning is absolutely necessary. Read more about The CMO’s Key to Return on Marketing Investment: Persona Driven Lead Generation to connect strategic buyer alignment with the real value of digital marketing – ROMI.
We have discussed the different facets of Digital Planning; now it’s time for you to dive in. SBI’s RGM framework provides a comprehensive set of questions to validate that your digital planning is on track and contains exercises designed to bring the digital marketing operating plan into strategic alignment with corporate, marketing, and sales functions.
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