The Only Digital Marketing Survival Guide You'll Need

Well, it's that time of year again.

The holiday season rush can be an exciting (and stressful) time for businesses, but eventually, we all have to get back to business as usual. 

But this year, you've decided that "good enough" just isn't good enough. You want to dominate your industry when it comes to influence, attention, and profits. Because why be just another coffee shop when you can be Starbucks?

If you want to be as successful as the biggest brands in the world, you have to think the way they do.

So, how are the biggest brands in the world using these first few weeks of the new year? They're reinventing their marketing strategies.

Why? Because they understand the truth about digital marketing. If you want to stay relevant, you can't afford to rely on the same marketing gimmicks, year after year.

That's why we've put together this survival guide, to help you navigate the chaotic digital marketing landscape.

But don't let the title fool you. By the time we're done here, you won't just know how to survive — you'll be ready to thrive in the 2019 digital marketing ecosystem.

Excited?

So are we. Let's dive in with the pillar of any good marketing strategy: the planning phase.

Rethink how you create marketing strategies/measure goals

For whatever reason, most brands and businesses tend to gloss over this process. 

Would you believe that 46% of brands don't have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy? We couldn't believe it either.

From what we can tell, it's not that they aren't setting up any objectives at all. It's just that the focus tends to be on operating based on assumptions instead of facts.

Data is (and always will be) the most important piece of the digital marketing puzzle. Which means that if you expect both long-term and short-term growth, you need to have a well-established marketing strategy in place.

So, let's talk about what it means to create and implement a digital marketing strategy.

Let's start small: you need to clearly establish what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve it.

That last part is especially important because plenty of businesses stop once they've established some vague goal like:

  • "We need to increase traffic!" 
  • "We should focus on increasing conversions!"
  • "We want to increase our social media presence!" 

These are all red flags, and a clear sign that the planning phase isn't exactly finished.

The problem with setting vague goals is two-fold. Without a clear timeline, there's no easy way to determine whether or not your marketing efforts have been successful. 

If you were measuring website traffic over a 3-month period, you'd quickly be able to tell whether or not traffic had increased and at what rate.

Without that, you're stuck guessing at randomly, and hoping that your assumption actually matches with the data.

But that the obvious issue. The deeper, underlying issue is the fact that setting vague goals for your marketing strategy makes collecting data an absolute disaster.

Why? Because even if you have all the information in the world, your ability to measure the data means nothing in the face of an unclear marketing focus.

Confused? Alright, think of it this way.

Let's imagine that there are two businesses, Company A and Company B.

At the beginning of 2019, Company A decides that they're going to focus on increasing traffic. And by the time 2020 rolls around, they've succeeded. Traffic has risen significantly, and they're looking forward to the New Year.

But Company B takes a different route. Company B also wants to increase traffic, but it's more focused on determining which marketing channels are going to offer the best ROI when it comes to driving traffic to their site.

But Company B doesn't stop there. They decide to track the kind of content that's related to these spikes in traffic, and they even track the kind of traffic that leads to conversions. 

And when Company B's traffic increases, they don't just know why it rose — they know how to duplicate those results.

By now, you can see the difference. Both businesses experienced an increase in traffic, but only one of them is properly equipped to spur long-term growth with their optimized marketing campaigns.

This is at the core of smart strategy building: the precise measurement of metrics that matter and the increased investment in tactics and strategies that are proven to work.

So, how do you actually do all this?

Let's start with the basics. Focus on clearly defining your business mission statement. We need to determine exactly how your marketing strategy is going to fit into your business plan.

Once you've done that, it's time to establish and measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

Keep in mind that KPIs aren't 'one-size-fits-all'. Your particular KPIs are going to be determined by your specific goals. 

But don't just take our word for it. Here's a look at Neil Patel's quick go-to checklist for KPIs:

The importance of KPIs

You'll want to use a tool like Social Report to measure each of your KPIs. Digital marketing analytics can be confusing enough, even for veteran marketers.

That's why your best bet is to have an all-in-one management platform that makes both measurement and analysis as simple (and painless) as possible. 

If you're struggling with the idea of creating clear goals, just think of it this way.

Instead of saying you want to "increase conversions", just say you want to "increase your conversion rate by 15% over the next 3 months".

You don't want to "increase traffic", you want to "increase traffic to product page X by 20% over the next 6 months".

Always aim for realistic figures, but go above and beyond when it comes to achieving those goals. The last thing you want is to be unsure of whether or not you and your team put enough effort into a particular marketing tactic.

The beauty of making an objective so easy to measure is that it helps put you and your marketing team in a win-win scenario. 

If the goal is achieved, then you'll have a clear idea of what made that marketing campaign so successful. With that in mind, you'll be able to double down on the factors that led to your success and continue to increase your campaign's effectiveness.

And if the goal isn't achieved? You still get to walk away with an understanding of what doesn't work, and you can revise your marketing strategy to reflect that. Being able to clearly determine that a marketing tactic is clearly a waste of time and money is worth its weight in gold. 

Competitor analysis and industry-leading content

If you want to excel in the 2019 digital marketing world, it's important to keep in mind that your business is one of many.

You're not just competing with yourself, you're competing with plenty of other businesses that are just as competent as you are.

But don't let that discourage you. In fact, you should be happy that they're all as hungry to lead the pack as you are.

After all, they're about to do all the heavy lifting for you.

Now, let's get one thing clear: stealing another brand's content is an easy way to become irrelevant in your industry.

If you're trying to become an online authority, the last thing you want is to be known as the business that just recycles other people's content.

When we talk about competitor analysis and mention that they're doing the heavy lifting, we're talking about the fact that most of your competitors have already established what's working and what isn't working.

Let's say there are 5 other brands in your industry that you're competing with. If all of them have produced infographics and (for whatever reason) they haven't performed well, is there a good chance that your infographic is going to be the exception?

Of course not. Your audience has spoken and they just don't like infographics. It would just be a waste of time and money on your part.

On the other hand, if your top competitor released a series of statistics that your audience cares about, that's probably a good place to start.

'Start' being the key word here. While every other competitor is scrambling to find their own industry-relevant statistics, you're going to go one step beyond.

You can use those statistics and create a video or blog post that offers your audience insight into how they can make the most of those statistics.

Your goal when creating content is always to offer the most value possible. And what's more valuable than your insights? Your years of experience and obsession with the industry can turn a boring stats sheet into a guide for the future of your industry.

This year, if you're ever unsure of what kind of content to create, look at what your competitors are doing and ask yourself, "how can I make this infinitely more unique and valuable?"

AI: the future of marketing

Listen, we get it.

People have been saying that AI and chatbots are the 'future of marketing' for years now.

But this isn't another "VR" situation, where the technology is stuck in a state of 'promising but not ready'. 

AI and chatbots are already among us, and they're actually doing a pretty good job so far.

And it's not just in a few places, either. AI that can quickly and accurately measure consumer behavior and search patterns has become more prevalent than ever before, and with good reason.

The ideal marketing interaction is built around a deep understanding of what your consumer wants. And when you're able to track the data from both social platforms and blog posts to paint a clear picture of what your users want, you're one step closer to turning that 'maybe' into a 'yes'.

Chatbots aren't about cutting human interaction out of the social media marketing experience. It's about supplementing the experience you've already created. 

Sometimes customers want to chat with a real person. And sometimes, they just want a quick and easy way to interact with your brand.

Plus, as an added bonus, businesses that adopt AI tend to save costs over time. After all, now you can hire someone to focus on the bigger social media marketing issues instead of just answering basic questions.

By the way, if you're serious about leading the pack when it comes to digital marketing, you're going to need Social Report to help you track all that data.

We live and breathe social listening, and believe that a business that understands their analytics is one step closer to optimizing their marketing strategy. Take a look at our plans and start your free trial in just a few minutes.

Conclusion

There's really no getting around it: the new year can be a stressful time for business owners.

You want your business to excel in 2019, and you want to make sure you're arming your team with the tools and knowledge they'll need to make 2019 your best year yet.

So, when you're planning out your digital marketing strategy this year, keep these principles in mind. 

Start by heavily focusing on what your objectives are, and how you plan to measure them regularly.

Learn to outshine your competitors by simply offering more value than they do. Use their successful strategies to create industry-leading content that's both uniquely you and uniquely valuable.

And understand what automation should look like in marketing. The goal isn't to remove the human element—it's to make the user experience as smooth and simple as humanly possible.

Track your KPIs, offer tons of value and focus on the customer experience. If you're able to do all that, and do it well, then 2019 should be a pretty incredible year.

Thanks for reading! Question of the day: what do you think your biggest marketing will be in 2019? Let us know in the comments below!

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