Web Nerds https://thewebnerds.net We Get You Found Online! Tue, 02 Jun 2020 09:15:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://thewebnerds.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg Web Nerds https://thewebnerds.net 32 32 98802099 7 Steps for creating a B2B Digital Marketing Plan [infographic] https://thewebnerds.net/2020/06/7-steps-for-creating-a-b2b-digital-marketing-plan-infographic/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/06/7-steps-for-creating-a-b2b-digital-marketing-plan-infographic/#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2020 09:15:13 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/06/7-steps-for-creating-a-b2b-digital-marketing-plan-infographic/

Don’t get left behind with your Digital Marketing Strategy, follow these 7 Steps to Brilliant B2B Marketing!

Many Business-to-business (B2B) companies are already successfully getting great results using digital marketing tactics like SEO, PPC, landing page creation, social media and email marketing linked to a CRM marketing automation system or a simple email autoresponse system.

But often, B2B organizations are not getting the most from today’s marketing since they don’t have a planned approach based on an integrated inbound marketing plan. To create an infographic showing the latest research on how companies are using inbound marketing, we’ve researched how B2B companies are using digital marketing. The results across different studies show that while many companies are delivering brilliant results,  many could do more.

Our updated infographic shows a planned approach based on our B2B digital marketing planning workbook.

We originally published this infographic back in 2012 when a longer guide was available, but we hope you still find the infographic useful; we’ve included advice on key issues to think through at each relevant step for all involved in inbound and content marketing.

https://www.smartinsights.com/

 



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Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner | Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle https://thewebnerds.net/2020/06/social-media-marketing-social-media-examiner-your-guide-to-the-social-media-jungle/ Tue, 02 Jun 2020 08:51:51 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/10/social-media-marketing-social-media-examiner-your-guide-to-the-social-media-jungle/ Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner | Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle
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]]> 123693 Improving banking customer experience: learning from the challenger banks #ChartOfTheWeek https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/improving-banking-customer-experience-learning-from-the-challenger-banks-chartoftheweek/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/improving-banking-customer-experience-learning-from-the-challenger-banks-chartoftheweek/#respond Fri, 29 May 2020 12:19:56 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/improving-banking-customer-experience-learning-from-the-challenger-banks-chartoftheweek/

New research comparing user customer experiences for banks

This study caught my attention since it highlights the digital disruption caused by challenger banks and how some industry incumbents have improved their performance, but others haven’t.

This painstaking usability research involved competitor benchmarking where Peter Ramsey of Built for Mars each click reviewed different activities like opening an account was logged and compared.

The findings are shocking… Look at the difference between the 10+ days for an account to be active from existing banks in comparison to the 2-3 days for an account to be active from challenger banks like Monzo, Starling and Metro.

https://www.smartinsights.com/

Kudos is due to the traditional banks like Barclays and Lloyds who have revised their back office process using STP (straight-through processing) so that they offer a 2-day turnaround process.

In terms of digital experiences, the challenger banks perform even better…

It took 5x as many clicks to open an account with First Direct, than it did with Revolut.

https://www.smartinsights.com/

The research also considers offline interactions so postal interactions are also considered making this a good study for benchmarking integrated communications as part of onboarding.

Research source

 



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4 case studies show impact of Google’s latest core update https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/4-case-studies-show-impact-of-googles-latest-core-update/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/4-case-studies-show-impact-of-googles-latest-core-update/#respond Thu, 28 May 2020 17:23:13 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/4-case-studies-show-impact-of-googles-latest-core-update/

The May 2020 core update highlights how different types of businesses are affected.

In the past, Google created and publicized named algorithm updates like ‘Panda’, ‘Penguin’ and ‘Hummingbird’ focused on introducing a major change to improve results quality. Google was fairly open about the goal of an update and the impact it could have.

Today, named updates are less common, instead you will probably have noticed that Google makes several ‘Core updates’ each year that it may announce through its Search liaison Twitter channel or its Webmaster Tools blog.

In May we have seen a core update notified as usual via the Google Search Liaison Twitter channel that we recommend you follow:

Google Update Message

Source: https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1257376879172038656

In their post What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates Google explains these like this:

Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our search results. Most aren’t noticeable but help us incrementally continue to improve.

Sometimes, an update may be more noticeable. We aim to confirm such updates when we feel there is actionable information that webmasters, content producers or others might take in relation to them.

Several times a year, we make significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems. We refer to these as “core updates.”

In the Webmaster tools blog post, Google notes that usually there is nothing wrong with pages that perform less well after a core update. Instead, the changes are about improving Google’s systems assess content overall.

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Actions for businesses to take?

Given that the core updates could make a significant difference to your traffic and business you should ensure you routinely track the impact of these through monthly or weekly reviews.

We recommend you either use Google Analytics or Google Search Console to track changes each month or you could implement a dedicated change monitoring dashboard like this created by Google Analytics consultant Aleyda Solis.

Google core update dashboard

https://www.aleydasolis.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/google-data-studio-search-console-update-rankings-analysis-report-1624×2048.png

Google also advises site owners and editors to ‘Get to know the quality rater guidelines & E-A-T’ which we have referenced previously. Remember that EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.  

4 case studies to provide further insight into how google core updates affect businesses in different ways

This really useful article https://www.gsqi.com/marketing-blog/may-2020-google-core-update-case-studies/ by Glen McCabe also has four interesting case studies that shows how core updates affect businesses in different ways. 

Here are some of the insights from Glen McCabe’s review that identified key areas to be addressed:

Case 1 – Recovery From The March 2019 Core Update

The first case study is how a site recovered from the March 2019 core update. which experienced a 40% drop in traffic.

User Experience
The site had several key UX issues, including having giant calls to action pushing down the main content throughout the site.

Content Quality and Structure
The site also combined some important content on one page that should have been on multiple pages.

YMYL & Authority
As the site specialized in the health/medical sector it’s categorized as “Your money or your life” (YMYL). This means, any site that can “impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety” is held to a higher standard. So, it’s important to make sure that content is written by expert-level authors to maintain this level of standard.

Technical SEO
Several technical SEO problems were discovered. For example, the site’s internal linking structure was effecting key pages throughout the site from linking directly to other key pages.

Case 2 – From Medieval Panda to Core Updates and Beyond

The second case study is an example of how a large-scale, complex site in the news sector addressed overall site improvements and introduced a continuous audit process to help manage core updates.

Maintaining Strong Quality Indexation
This case study highlights the importance of identifying important to surface those lower-quality urls that can affect performance.

Technical SEO issues that can cause quality problems
When managing with complex sites, more technical SEO issues can occur. So, the lesson from the case study is to continually analyze the site to surface those and fix them as quickly as possible. For example, canonical problems, render problems, meta robots tag issues, robots.txt issues, performance problems and some technical issues to review.

Authority – The importance of A in E-A-T
In line with the E-AT acronym, it is important to recognize the strengths of your content and site performance. In this context, the Authority was a strength for this new organization, so the action taken was critiquing content that is published to be consistently positioned in this way.

Case 3 – The Ghost of Fred And A Reminder To Continually Analyze

The third case study is an example of a site that has experienced challenges from major algorithm updates and how they have recover from these updates. This is common when sites are operating in a competitive niche where there is very similar content to the competition.

Tough Niche and The Need To Clearly Differentiate Your Site

Through google organic traffic dropping by 40% since the May update, an audit on the site identified that too many similarities in content were being featured on the site. Which in means sites need to differentiate as much as possible from competitors in the market, as it becomes very hard for Google to determine which site should rank well over the others.

Aggressive and Disruptive Advertising
A common tactic with drops in traffic is to increase advertising or promotional activity on sites. This action can prove effective when planned in the right way. However, continuous aggressive and disruptive advertising situation affects the user experience across both desktop and mobile.

Quality Indexation
The depth of content across the site, specific to the niche sector was identified as a factor affecting performance. When this occurs it is important to review and update these low-quality index pages, to support the improvement of the overall quality indexation of the site.

Case 4 – Recovery From A Non-Core Update During The May 2020 Core Update

The final case study is of an affiliate site that experienced a 44% drop in traffic, pretty much overnight.

Cutting (Redirect) Ties and Killing Mutual Links
I can’t explain too much on this front, but there is another site they own that covers a different vertical. There were thousands of links from that sister site to this one and many were followed. There were also redirects set up from a number of older urls on that site to the one I’m covering here. Also, both sites were hit on 4/2/19. Yep, it was an interesting case for this company.

Nuked Comments
A site that is not moderating comments and increasing high-quality comments can experience performance issues as they form part of the overall page content and can drag quality down. In this case study, the site owners decided to remove all comment from the site as they had not been properly monitored to help minimise further drops in page quality.

Summary

Based on the insights from the above case studies. Google core updates can make a significant impact to a site performance and these drops in traffic can be instant. As for many marketers, this would be quite an alarming position to be stuck in, if you started work one morning and experienced these drops.

Although learning, planning, optimizing and implementing interventions to manage these updates is not always clear for marketers to achieve and requires a lot of trial and error. The case studies do promote the importance of marketers regularly monitoring their site performance, page quality, depth of content and it’s relevancy within the sites specialised field. From a user experience, many sites want to achieve a high level of engagement, however, heavily used advertising techniques can impact the performance of sites, when these tactics are compromising the positioning of content.

Following the guidelines, regular monitoring of the SEO technical performance of a site and committing to high quality and relevant content across the site appears to be a good start point, to help manage the lastest google core update.

Additional Resources and tools to help marketers monitor the latest google core update

Aleyda Solis: Analyzing A Recent Google Update Impact via Search Console Data w/ a Segmented Google Data Studio Report

Google Webmaster tools blog: What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates





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Introducing RACE: a practical framework to improve your digital marketing https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/#respond Wed, 27 May 2020 14:53:46 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/

The RACE Digital Marketing Planning Framework

We created RACE to help digital marketers plan and manage their digital marketing activities in a more structured way since we found that many don’t have a well-formed digital marketing strategy. In this post, first published in July 2010 and since updated with a new infographic and summary of the digital marketing KPIs you should track, we show how you can simplify your measurement and reporting of digital marketing through RACE Planning.

You can find more details about applying RACE for digital marketing planning in our FREE RACE digital marketing planning template download.

To explain and fully define ‘What Is Digital Marketing?’ we created this popular infographic structured around RACE in 2012 and updated in 2020 as shown below. It shows the key measures to set targets for and evaluate at each stage of the funnel.

https://www.smartinsights.com/

Within our Digital marketing E-learning course and Digital marketing strategy toolkit for premium members we break each part of RACE down into 5 essential activities to give 5X5 = 25 activities that must be planed for successfully managing continuous always-on integrated marketing across the customer lifecycle.

What does RACE Planning stand for?

The RACE mnemonic summarizes the key online and multichannel marketing activities that need to be managed as part of digital marketing. RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from:

(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage

There is an initial phase of PLAN, which involves creating the overall digital strategy, objective setting and plan, so sometimes members call it PRACE, but we prefer RACE Planning for simplicity.

We have defined four steps of engagement across the customer lifecycle, since in online marketing there is a major challenge in gaining interaction, participation with prospects and creating those all-important Leads after the initial customer touchpoint.

These interactions, covered in the Act step can take place over several channels and touchpoints such as web, mobile, social media and email contacts, so these leads need separate management from final conversion to online or offline sale through techniques like retargeting and assisted selling.

RACE consists of these four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

Sign up for Free membership

  • 1. REACH. Reach involves building awareness of a brand, its products, and services on other websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web presences like your main site, microsites or social media pages. It involves maximizing reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints.
  • 2 ACT. Act is short for Interact. It’s a separate stage since encouraging interactions on websites and in social media to generate leads is a big challenge for online marketers.  It’s about persuading site visitors or prospects take the next step, the next Action on their journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. For many types of businesses, especially, Business-to-Business, this means generating leads, but it may mean finding out more about a company or its products, searching to find a product or reading a blog post. You should define these actions as top-level goals of the funnel in analytics. Google Analytics Goals can include “Viewed product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as a member” or “Signed up for an enewsletter. Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be sharing of content via social media or customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage). The specific goals and dashboards need to be defined for each business as explained in our Delivering results from digital marketing guide.  It’s about engaging the audience through relevant, compelling content and clear navigation pathways so that they don’t hit the back button. The bounce rates on many sites is greater than 50%, so getting the audience to act or participate is a major challenge which is why we have identified it separately.
  • 3. CONVERT. This is conversion to sale – occurring either online or offline. It involves getting your audience to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers whether the payment is taken through online Ecommerce transactions or offline channels.
  • 4. ENGAGE. This is long-term engagement that is, developing a long-term relationship with first-time buyers to build customer loyalty as repeat purchases using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value. It can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sale and sharing content through social media. We also need to measure the percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems.

Why RACE Planning?

We created the RACE Planning system to help give a simple framework to help small and large businesses alike take the best advantage of the opportunities available from digital marketing.

In our research, we have found that, shockingly, many businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy. When creating a digital marketing strategy, knowing how to structure it and where to start is sometimes the biggest challenge!

There are so many tools and tactics available that it’s difficult to know where to start. We hope RACE gives a structure to help you review and prioritize when there are so many options, but some options work better than others.

RACE is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. It covers always-on digital marketing activities across the customer lifecycle which are sometimes neglected in favour of campaign-based activities for launching new products and promotions. Investing time and budget in planning always-on activities is vital for many businesses to connect with customers who are researching new products by searching or asking via social media.

Ultimately, it’s about using best practice web analytics techniques to get more commercial value from investments in digital marketing. We hope it will help simplify your approach to reviewing the performance of your online marketing and taking actions to improve its effectiveness.

Using KPIs to manage RACE

In our Marketing manifesto we explained that we believe that data-driven marketing is the best approach to growing business through digital marketing. Priorities and improvements should be based on a sound evaluation and optimization process using digital analytics showing which marketing activities are effective and which aren’t. This diagram shows relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be used at each stage.

RACE framework KPIs

Here’s an example of our recommended measures in a simpler summary of RACE KPIs which could form a dashboard – the best dashboards show not only volume and how they change through time, but also the quality of visits and the value generated.

RACE KPIs

Many of these KPIs be created from Google Analytics although it needs to be customized for each business to record goal value or revenue per visit. For some other measures such as social mentions, you need to pull in from other tools.

For premium members, we offer an interactive monthly reporting dashboard based on RACE using the Google Analytics API to rapidly create monthly reports using Google Docs Sheets.

The dashboard makes it easy to compare digital marketing performance through time with a focus on the key digital marketing measures across the customer lifecycle or marketing funnel defined across the Smart Insights RACE planning framework. For example, you can compare year-on-year or compared to the previous reporting period both overall and for each of the digital marketing channels such as organic, paid search, email and social media marketing.

race-digital-marketing-dashboard

Marketing activities to manage within RACE

All of our guidance on Smart Insights from our blog posts to detailed guides and templates are structured according to RACE. This is a summary of some of the main activities which our guides, templates and free blog guidance cover.

https://www.smartinsights.com/

Of course, there are many more online marketing activities which are covered in our e-learning.

RACE KPIs

Google Analytics has over 60 reports displaying many more metrics and that’s before you start segmenting your audience… Other web analytics tools have more… This makes it difficult to know what to report; you have to identify your “critical few” Key Performance Indicators which you report on regularly to review performance and identify problems. Here we have suggested just 3 KPIs for each area which applies to a retail site. We’ll have more on these and related performance drive measures in later posts.

RACE is Social! Digital marketing is not just about your website

Digital marketing today is not just about your website, and in fact it never has been, partnering with other sites and “swimming with the fishes” has always been important.

But today, the popularity of participation in social media with web users means that how to reach, interact, convert and maintain ongoing engagement of customers through social networks is vital to the success of a brand. At each step in RACE you need to think how social media can help achieve your goals and how you can measure the effectiveness of social media.

RACE is integrated

Digital channels always work best when they’re integrated with other channels, so remember that where appropriate, digital channels should be combined with the traditional offline media and channels.  The most important aspects of integration are first using traditional media to raise awareness of the value of the online presences and drive visitors to the website(s) at the Reach and Engage stages. Second, at the Convert and Engage steps stage customers may prefer to interact with customer representatives as part of the buying or customer service process.

So that’s an introduction to the Smart Insight RACE framework. We hope you find it useful when you’re planning and managing digital marketing!

Credits

I also like to credit the REAN (Reach > Engage > Activate > Nurture) framework for web analysts which influenced my thinking back in 2010. It was originally developed by Xavier Blanc and popularised by Steve Jackson in his book Cult of Analytics of which I’m a big fan.

We devised RACE since we wanted to develop our own approach for improving digital marketing and we feel Step 2 is more about initial interactions with a brand and in step 4, customer engagement is a longer-term process.

Through 15 years of advising marketers through my books and training I’ve found that, after time has passed, all that often remains from the course as a takeaway is a framework on which to hang future actions. C’est la vie! But busy people seem to like frameworks and mnemonics to structure their actions. To help digital marketers structure their thoughts, over the years I’ve created or been involved with these frameworks too – I hope you find they’re useful – that’s what we aim for – to make marketing life simpler and more profitable.

And finally, it’s why we’re called SMART Insights – we believe the best marketers compete and win by a data-driven or insight-driven approach to marketing.



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6 non-traditional marketing tactics to grow your community https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/6-non-traditional-marketing-tactics-to-grow-your-community/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/6-non-traditional-marketing-tactics-to-grow-your-community/#respond Tue, 26 May 2020 15:18:44 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/6-non-traditional-marketing-tactics-to-grow-your-community/

As more competitors on the landscape compete for keywords and “airspace”, it’s now more important than ever to explore new ways to engage and communicate with your target demographic and community

Marketing has come a long way since those smoky days in the Mad Men-style advertising board rooms. It has, at one point or another, revolved around each medium that has engaged us as humans, from newspapers and radio to television, and now, the internet and social media.

What we used to call “traditional marketing” (the direct mail and radio/TV advertising) has now morphed into “digital marketing,” a way to reach people where they are: online. Digital marketing these days covers a wide swath of channels: search engines, social media, and email, among others.

As the marketing experts at HubSpot say: marketing is about answering this fundamental question: “Where, when, and how does our consumer want to communicate with our business?”

As more competitors on the landscape compete for keywords and “airspace”, it’s now more important than ever to explore new ways to engage and communicate with your target demographic and community.

What is non-traditional marketing?

Non-traditional marketing means going beyond the regular marketing strategy to engage with real people, actual humans, who are looking for the same answers, same everyday inspiration as you. It’s about knowing who your client is, what would make their life easier, and where you can engage with them, and – this is important – without the sales pitch.

Inbound marketing has played a huge role in defining the “new” world of marketing that speaks to this sentiment. It’s about creating content that people want to read. Content that educates and engages, without being overly stuffed with a checklist of keywords.

This content allows people to explore and learn about topics that interest them, cultivating a trustworthy relationship while they’re at the top of the funnel, perhaps before they even realize they need your product or solution.

Finding new ways to reach your community should never be sneaky and doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here are six creative ways to engage with your community.

1. Create a course

Your team has expertise in your industry. So why not use that to create a space where consumers can learn and interact with your resident experts through an online class or course?

You can make it free or paid and, upon completion, provide certificates they can post on LinkedIn and across social media.

This is a great way to claim your space as a leader in your industry, and, at the same time, provide useful information and education for your target demographic.

It’s a way to build trust, grow your brand recognition, and build an engaged community around your product or service.

Tips

The setup of the course doesn’t have to be complicated, and the potential for content is limitless: videos, presentations, blogs, and more all make great course material.

Get inspiration

Check out these two organizations that do an amazing job with their educational opportunities.

2. Build an awards program

Recognition of excellence in a community is a fantastic way to celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams, increase energy to the sector, and raise the standards of an organization or industry.

Sample awards program

The awards industry is growing fast. Why? Awards programs can generate revenue and deliver a strong ROI. They can add value and build engagement in your community and industry.

In terms of your marketing strategy, they can provide a big brand boost, attracting high profile judges and sponsors and generating content for marketing and communications.

Tips

Ask yourself some questions to get started, such as:

  • What do you want to recognize?
  • What will be the prize?
  • Who will judge? Will you invite experts in your community or open it to the public?
  • What will be the scoring criteria?
  • How will you celebrate the winners? An awards event or gala?

An awards program can get complex, but with the right platform, all the hard work is done for you. Check out Award Force, an awards management software that helps you with every step of the awards process.

Get inspiration

Check out the British Podcast Awards or the Ocean Conservancy’s photo submission contest.

3. Partner with a micro-influencer

Influencer marketing is becoming a very popular strategy with marketing teams big and small. According to a recent study of diverse marketers, 94% said influencer marketing was an effective campaign strategy.

What is influencer marketing? It’s a form of marketing where influential people are paid to advocate for a company. You’ve probably seen them on Instagram.  Their posts will state #Ad, letting you know this is for a brand, but that they are standing behind this product or service.

An article in Marketing Weekly recently reported that General Mills is investing a third of its digital spend in influencer marketers for its new organic business.

Instagram influencer marketing

“Industries like beauty are going to lead the way but we’re going to see it across every brand and touchpoint. People don’t just buy products, they buy benefits, values, and passion points,” said Arjoon Bose from General Mills.

You don’t have to have deep pockets to hire influencers for your marketing campaigns. Many experts believe that influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers offer the best engagement. Known as “micro-influencers,” these accounts are typically more affordable partners.

Tips

Working with an influencer doesn’t have to involve a lot of money or any at all. Reach out to micro-influencers who fit your brand and messaging. Then, offer trades or free services in exchange for a promoted post.

Get inspiration

Open up Instagram and start scrolling, looking out for those #Ads. Watch how the influencers incorporate the product or service in their photo, how their authenticity lends credibility to the brand, and how many people comment or interact with each post.

4. Provide webinars

Webinars are a great way to offer useful, actionable tips to your current or prospective customers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, webinar platforms remain in the top five technologies B2B organizations use to manage their content marketing efforts.

A webinar is a scheduled and marketed group chat or presentation, led by experts in your industry, to provide education on a subject. Webinars are typically free and offer people a chance to learn more about a topic that interests them.

Tips

Use a service like Zoom to host and record your webinar, which allows for easy content sharing and chat services during the event. This application also makes it easy for question and answer sessions. Be sure to record the webinar and then you can offer it “on-demand” afterward for those who couldn’t make it or for others who are interested at a later date. You can connect the webinar to a sign-up form, perfect for lead generation marketing campaigns.

Get inspiration

Check out this webinar from Search Engine Journal: Six ways to increase the life of your content with Kelsey Jones. Note that the landing page offers a quick recap of the webinar, a full recording, and a way to sign up for the next one.

Sign up for Free membership

5. Develop a podcast

With more than 1,000,000 podcasts now available, audio is a fast-growing segment in many marketing content strategies, and for good reason. Podcasts provide a unique voice for your brand and product or service in a convenient way.

Podcast Stats

They can be short or long, feature guest speakers and/or your team, and provide an authentic feel to your brand.

Tips

Pre-record your podcasts so you have each “season” of audio ready to go, on-demand. Your listeners can then listen when they have a moment, or even “binge” and listen to many of them in one sitting (or morning jog or commute to work).

Get inspiration

Give a listen to one of these popular marketing and business podcasts:

  • Mixergy, hosted by Andrew Warner, which features a different successful entrepreneur on each episode.
  • Marketing Over Coffee, hosted by John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn in a local coffee shop. Each episode is 20 minutes and features tips on all facets of marketing.

6. Have conversations on social

This is an oft-overlooked part of social media in a content strategy and can take as few as five minutes a day. What’s the best way to do it?

On the channels where you’re active, follow, and engage with other accounts. These could be your followers, others in your industry, or accounts that your target demographic might follow.

Spend time in the comments of a relevant post, and contribute to the conversation. Provide your opinion or simply engage on the topic the user has addressed in their post.

Take it from marketing pro Gary Vaynerchuk, who believes empathy is the key component of building a community on social, and who comments on 15-20 “heartfelt comments” per day.

Tips

Be personable and friendly. Be sure to offer more than a vague emoji, which comes across as automated spam. Be authentic, and have conversations.

Get inspiration

Follow @garyvee on Instagram to see how he gets social with his six million followers, plus loads of ideas to keep you on your best social marketing game.

In conclusion, it’s about community

Marketing is about building and engaging your community. In the end, it’s about the people – and how you can provide a helpful service or product to them in a place they can receive it, whether that’s through an audio podcast, an awards program for recognition, or on social media.

 





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Writing a brilliant design brief https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/writing-a-brilliant-design-brief/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/writing-a-brilliant-design-brief/#respond Tue, 26 May 2020 13:48:33 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/writing-a-brilliant-design-brief/

How to write briefs that deliver great design work

In an increasingly crowded world, design work is key for businesses as they fight for mental availability through distinctiveness and clear branding. As businesses put design at the heart of their processes, there is a growing need to deliver great design briefs that work. In over fifteen years of writing design briefs, great ones, average ones, and bad ones, I can unilaterally state that if a design brief is rubbish, packed full of non-essential information, with gaps in critical parts and devoid of emotional hooks, even the best designers are going to struggle to do great work.

No one starts to do a bad job but the process is time-consuming and requires a lot of thinking. It raises difficult strategic choices, which teams find uncomfortable to make. All too often the process is basic and just ticks the same boxes, which inevitably leads to less than inspiring work coming back.

How to write briefs that deliver great design work (1)

A great brief condenses key information, insights, and customer understandings into an inspiring brief. Talk articulately, knowledgeably, and passionately about your business, brand, and target customers. Bring to life the challenges your products and services are facing, or the opportunity you have identified in the market. Do that and you can inspire your designers to do some outstanding work. So how do you create a brilliant design brief that does just that?

Getting clear on objectives

Before looking at the contents and structure of a brief, it’s useful to understand the objectives. There are two when it comes to design briefs. The design work has an objective, which we’ll come to later, but the brief itself also has a very specific objective, one which is often forgotten.

The key objective of a design brief is to fuel the creativity of the designer who will use it to deliver great work.

They need to be inspired to find solutions to the challenge you have. Marketers and designers are often kept apart by account management teams. It’s not surprising that this point gets lost as the brief gets ‘translated’ from marketing-speak into designer-speak, via the accounts team, who’ve got their own ‘speak’ too. I’m pretty sure this is how Chinese whispers works and we all know how well that turns out. Keeping this objective in mind should minimize how much is lost in translation during the design process.

Delivering the brief

Ideally, the briefing will happen face-to-face. That way you can iron out any confusion, discuss any challenges, and answer any outstanding questions. However, you’ll still need to get the brief down on paper, even if you brief face to face. The agency or designer needs it to be able to price up the job and allocate resources, and they’ll use it as a guide to work to once they start. You need it to formulate your thinking, align your internal stakeholders, if you have any, and evaluate the work when it comes back.

Design brief building blocks

There are hundreds of templates available for writing design briefs. They vary massively in style and language but they mostly use a core set of building blocks. They can be broken down into:

  • Background
  • Objectives
  • The challenge
  • Design inspiration
  • Mandatories
  • Deliverables
  • Timings
  • Budget
  • Team

You need to make sure it’s all in there but the quality of a brief is less about the structure and more about the thinking that goes into each section.

Background information

To fuel and guide the designers’ thinking, some background information is invaluable.

Company – This is useful as it provides context to the brief. If this is the first time you’ve worked with a designer it’s worth making sure they understand the business and it’s overall aims and strategies so that they can understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. 

Market – The design work will likely be answering a challenge or opportunity in the market, so share the topline market information, successful new product launches, and any emerging trends or new entrants. Identify key competitors. Outline their performance and any share any significant successes and failures. 

Brand – Introduce your brand. Tell your brand’s story.

  • Who are you?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What is your brand essence?
  • What makes you successful?
  • What are your key brand truths and insights?
  • What are your challenges (e.g. health/environment/value perceptions)?
  • How do your core customers/heavy users feel about you (evangelical or guilty pleasure)?
  • Where are you sold (shops/online/both)? If sold in stores, who do you sit next to on the shelf? Where do you sit on the shelf?
  • In what kind of environments (own website/marketplaces/drugstores/department stores)?
  • Is most of your online traffic viewing on mobile?
  • How are you priced?
  • Do you do offers?
  • Who do your customers buy when you’re not available?

You won’t need to answer all these questions, just those relevant to the brief. One element that often gets left out for product packaging is the in-store environment. It leads to great 2D design work that doesn’t work in the end environment. Don’t skip sharing information on the location the design has to ultimately work in.

Project objective

State the objective of the design work as concisely and specifically as possible. It may contribute on many levels to broader marketing objectives but getting one clear objective for the brief is powerful. Objectives tend to be about change, so make the language dynamic. Is it about changing perception, or behavior, from X to Y? Is it to attract a new target consumer? Be realistic about the potential outcomes of design work. Increasing sales or market share are the jobs of the whole marketing plan, not design work.

Target audience

Bring to life the target audience for the designers. Use visuals if that helps. What should the customer think, feel, and perhaps do as a result of the design work? Share key insights about their lives, their habits, and perceptions of the brand today. What role does the category play in their lives? What are their unmet needs or conflicts for them with the category of products?

The design challenge

This part is where most discussions will be had before and during the briefing, and where the most energy will go once the work has started. You will have talked about some of the broader challenges for the brand and target customer already but this is the single challenge the design work will answer this challenge, so it should be clear and compelling.

Think about getting the conflict and emotion of the challenge into the statement. The mental imagery you create with the language you use is important. It might be the articulation of a negative customer perception or an exciting opportunity to take the market by storm.

Design inspiration

Sharing visuals to bring the brand and design challenge to life is also useful to give the designer a feel for the style, tonality, and visual handwriting you are trying to capture. Provide images of things that will be present alongside the new design work, existing visuals, or campaigns. Share images or colors you like, or you think might work for the project. Show images of taking an idea too far to give some boundaries.

Don’t try to crack the problem, you’re paying the professionals for that but if you have an idea of which direction you’d like it to go in, it’s much better to share it upfront. Be prepared for the designers to challenge it if they think another direction would be stronger in meeting your brief.

Mandatories

Share anything that is a must. If there are brand or logo guidelines, with fonts and color palette to use, that needs to be shared and noted here. If the brief involves packaging be clear up front how many colors you are going to have available for the final print. There is nothing worse than painstakingly creating a design to have it ruined because it can’t be realized within the print parameters.

Deliverables

You must outline exactly what you expect the design/agency to deliver. Is the brief for 2D work or also 3D. How many initial concepts do you want to see? How many finished design iterations will there be? Do you want design files or print-ready artworks on handover? If you’re doing a rebrand do you need new visual brand guidelines developing?

Timings

Break down the key dates for the project and be realistic about internal sign off time required. You’ll need to agree on the full-timing plan with the agency/designer but providing launch deadlines and dates of any critical points for the design work will help with resource planning and budgeting.

Budget

Good design work costs money. A full brand redesign is going to need a significant budget, versus a design extension or adaptation. To come to a suitable budget consider: the brief; deliverables; timings; and the impact on your brand of the design work.

Project team

It’s worth providing names and contact details of the project team and any senior stakeholders who are sponsoring the project.

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A brief note on format

What format you make your brief is really up to you and your brand style. Some briefs look very corporate and those that look more like pieces of design work themselves. I’ve included Apple and Quaker examples below to show an example of both styles, however, you can also turn it into a presentation or write it up in Word. Again, it’s about the content, discussions, and thinking that the brief fuels, rather than the way it looks.

Once the brief is ready, get it fully aligned with any internal stakeholders to avoid changes as the work comes back. Then you are finally ready to brief your design project.

I hope this post has helped challenge your thinking about what makes a great design brief and given you a few ideas to increase the effectiveness of your design briefs going forward. Designers, this is my way of saying sorry for the briefs I wish my name wasn’t on, and thank you for your amazing work on the ones I’m proud to have written. Brands, good luck!



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7 agile marketing techniques to help you deliver projects I Smart Insights https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/7-agile-marketing-techniques-to-help-you-deliver-projects-i-smart-insights/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/7-agile-marketing-techniques-to-help-you-deliver-projects-i-smart-insights/#respond Fri, 22 May 2020 19:36:08 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/7-agile-marketing-techniques-to-help-you-deliver-projects-i-smart-insights/

It may have originated in the world of software development, but agile ways of working can significantly benefit marketing teams to perform more effectively.

What is ‘agile’, I hear you ask?

Focused on collaboration, communication, and iteration, agile methodologies have long been used by development teams to speed up time-to-market, reduce waste and risk, and rapidly respond to new trends and opportunities. Its popularity is such that 94% of software organizations and teams now practice agile, according to VersionOne’s latest State of Agile report.

Today though it’s not just those involved with software development that can benefit from an agile approach. Indeed, I’ve personally delivered coaching for organizations across a range of industries – from an events management company through logistics and automotive firms to universities and membership institutions – to support their successful transition to agile ways of working.

Here are seven elements of agile you can apply to your projects – along with advice on how to tailor these to suit your specific requirements – to ensure you remain ahead of the curve and extract the maximum value from the methodology.

1. Iterative planning

The key to agile’s increased flexibility is an iterative approach to planning. Essentially, this means that instead of creating a comprehensive blueprint at the outset of a project (when understanding is at its lowest), planning happens continuously, through a process of on-going inspection and adaptation. This enables the direction of the project to change and evolve as understanding grows and further details of requirements emerge, as well as in response to current market conditions, stakeholder input, and user feedback.

In a marketing context, there are several initiatives that benefit from iterative planning. By incorporating regular reviews into an on-going promotional campaign, for example, you’ll be able to quickly drop activities that aren’t yielding results and instead re-invest in more productive areas. You could also apply an agile approach to an upcoming product launch; reviewing the priority of associated tasks as new requirements come to light.

For a practical demonstration of iterative planning, check out this version of the popular game of battleships, which shows how the approach works and the benefits it offers.

2. Iterative delivery

As with planning, agile’s approach to delivery is also iterative and focuses on the completion of individual features and tasks so that projects can go live at virtually any point as a lightweight deliverable or Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Different agile frameworks manage iterative delivery in different ways though, and the one that best suits you will depend on the specific requirements of your organization and industry.

You may, for example, want to adopt a Scrum approach, where work is completed in short, contained stages known as ‘sprints’. Typically lasting two weeks, working features are delivered and demonstrated to stakeholders at the end of every sprint, to speed up feedback loops, minimize wasted investment, and provide greater control over budgets.

In the Kanban framework by contrast, a prioritized list of tasks (or ‘backlog’) is used to manage activity, with limits placed on work in progress to ensure that the most valuable items are delivered first, and that bottlenecks are identified and resolved at an early stage.

Of course, you could also adopt a hybrid model that combines these two approaches – choosing specific aspects from each to create something that’s uniquely tailored to your needs.

3. User stories

While not exclusive to the approach, user stories do align closely with agile’s core principles and can help maximize the value being delivered through your projects.

User stories take the form “As [user], I want to [task], so that [motivation]”, which ensures that requirements are expressed with direct reference to the user needs that are being fulfilled, and also makes them ideal for communicating these requirements to all relevant project stakeholders in a format that’s clear and easy-to-understand.

If this specific format doesn’t work for you though, what matters is that you communicate requirements in a way that maintains the qualities of a good user story. The INVEST mnemonic can prove useful here:

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable
  • Estimable
  • Small
  • Testable

Tasks may, therefore, be “draft a blog post”, “identify valuable PPC terms”, or “present the business case for a new strategic investment” – but there’s no limit to their potential diversity.

4. Estimation and prioritization

Breaking your requirements down into clear, contained user stories (or similar tasks) will make it much easier to assess the effort needed to complete each unit of work; supporting and streamlining any subsequent estimation activities. Additionally, agile promotes a range of techniques to help safeguard the accuracy of estimates, such as planning poker and affinity estimation.

Once estimated, you’ll also want to prioritize your stories according to business value, although of course exactly how this value is defined will depend on your specific goals and objectives. However you choose to prioritize though, it’s important that – in line with agile’s iterative process – you regularly review your prioritized list as your project progresses.

This will deliver you a backlog of tasks that are always up-to-date so that you can be confident the most valuable features are being worked on at all times. It also enables you to amend your backlog in response to any feedback received – which leads me nicely on to…

5. Demonstrations, retrospectives, and stand-ups

Providing team members and the wider stakeholder group with the chance to regularly assess project progress, demonstrations, retrospectives, and stand-ups are all key features of the Scrum framework. Let’s look at each of these in turn:

  • These occur at the end of every sprint and involve both the core project team and those stakeholders that may not be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the project. As such, they offer the chance to capture feedback that can then be used to inform subsequent prioritization and delivery activities, as well as acting as a valuable project check-point.
  • These also take place following the completion of each sprint, but rather than focusing on the project deliverables instead allow the project team to reflect on their performance – identifying what is working well alongside any areas for improvement.
  • Stand-ups. Augmenting the more formal demonstrations and retrospectives, stand-ups occur daily throughout the sprint and allow team members to share what they achieved the previous day, what they’re going to work on next and any blockers they may be facing, to help maintain project momentum and foster high levels of visibility.

6. Communication and collaboration

While the techniques listed so far all undoubtedly offer value to organizations both within and beyond the software development industry, truly unlocking the power of agile requires a cultural shift right across your team or teams. Fostering effective collaboration, in particular, is key, as this will provide you with the insight needed to keep activity aligned with your strategic goals and ensure you’re addressing real-world requirements and use contexts.

It’s important therefore to look at how well your team communicates and works together currently, and put in place any training activities to ensure they have both the understanding and skills needed to manage these activities. Additionally, tools such as instant messaging systems and project management solutions can also support productive communication (although face-to-face will always be one of the most effective channels!), and you may wish to consider introducing testing activities into your processes, to give you end-user feedback at an early stage.

7. Team structures and roles

To ensure projects are delivered as efficiently as possible, many agile frameworks recommend limiting core team size to between three and six; a model that can help numerous industries to maintain focus and velocity. Traditionally, of course, this ‘core team’ referred to developers producing web and software solutions, but can be applied to anything from salespeople making calls through to content strategists defining and producing copy.

There are also typically several additional functions surrounding this core team that it may be beneficial to introduce (you can even assign these roles to existing team members, provided they’re informed of the scope of and reasons behind their responsibilities):

  • Product Owner. Representing the voice of the user, the Product Owner is responsible for making sure that the work being completed delivers the greatest possible value to the end-users, and maintaining this user focus throughout the project.
  • Scrum Master. This is a particularly relevant role for sprint-based approaches, as Scrum Masters help optimize team performance by removing those blockers identified in the daily stand-up, alongside working with other stakeholders to ensure the core team are properly supported.

The presence of these two roles does not mean, however, that the team should be micro-managed. Indeed, the goal should be to build teams that are empowered to take ownership of tasks and make decisions, while maintaining on-going communication and collaboration to keep the project aligned with your strategic goals.

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Next steps to achieve a highly effective agile marketing team

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to explore further some of the agile techniques introduced in this post. Before you begin your agile transformation journey, however, you must underpin it with a clearly-defined strategy, and the following tasks can help you to achieve this:

  • Conduct an ‘as-is’ audit
  • Identify the most appropriate approach for you
  • Create a training plan
  • Implement a trial project/period
  • Roll out across your organization

Not forgetting, of course, to keep inspecting and adapting as you go!



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3 keys to embracing the omnichannel customer revolution https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/3-keys-to-embracing-the-omnichannel-customer-revolution-2/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/3-keys-to-embracing-the-omnichannel-customer-revolution-2/#respond Fri, 22 May 2020 16:23:40 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/3-keys-to-embracing-the-omnichannel-customer-revolution-2/

How companies communicate with customers has always been important, and the introduction of new technologies only makes the process more complex

The pace of innovation continues to drive new options for reaching customers, and savvy business leaders know that to thrive in this market, they must be ready to adapt. How companies communicate with customers has always been important, and the introduction of new technologies only makes the process more complex.

For instance, a business can use live chat or chatbots to interact with customers on its website, customer portal, or app. It can also use chatbots to interact on social media messaging apps. And now, live chat and chatbots are available on platforms like WhatsApp Business, a business-focused leg of WhatsApp that launched in 2018.

Twenty years ago, when digital channels didn’t have the diversity and importance they do now, the choice of which channel to use and how best to connect with customers didn’t influence customer service outcomes so heavily. Today, however, customers have an astounding number of options for communicating with companies — and businesses need to meet them where they are.

So what should businesses consider when deciding which digital channels to use to connect with customers, and how should they use those channels to see the best results? The first and most important thing to consider is what your customers want.

WhatsApp.Altitude

Where customers lead, businesses should follow

Customers should be the biggest driving factor in the adoption of customer interaction channels.

Just look at WhatsApp Business. Approximately 1.5 billion people around the world already use WhatsApp; its ubiquity means customers are comfortable with the platform. When businesses adopt the standalone WhatsApp Business app, then, customers will be able to communicate with ease.

Facebook isn’t stopping with WhatsApp, either. Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he’d also be focusing on building out more functionalities for businesses on apps like Instagram and Facebook Messenger over the next few years.

3 tips for keeping customers happy with digital channels

The ultimate goal of integrating digital customer interaction channels should always be to create happier customers.

Consider the development of software-as-a-service vendors: By the mid-2000s, many had focused on customer acquisition and landed a lot of sales. But in adding new, flashy functionalities to products to attract more customers, the software itself became much too complex and confusing for the average customer. This led to low adoption and user rates.

Some of these companies then decided to turn their attention toward helping customers better understand their products and ultimately gain more value from them. This was the jumping-off point for a greater focus on customer satisfaction in the software industry overall. Now, the most profitable SaaS vendors invest more in customer-success initiatives than the less profitable ones.

Businesses in every industry can learn something from the SaaS industry — most importantly, that happy customers drive business. The way you communicate with those customers is one of the main determinants of their happiness.

To provide your customers with the most satisfactory experience, follow these three steps:

Eliminate silos and craft a truly integrated environment

When companies rely on legacy-based infrastructure — usually acquired by the different company departments individually without any consideration for things such as open APIs — they inevitably face silos. Each department has its information, and the technology does not support the flow of that information between all departments.

In 2019 and beyond, it should be embarrassing any time an agent needs to jot something down on a scrap of paper to move it from one system to another. All of that should be able to be done seamlessly and instantly. When it’s not, customers will notice.

How often have you, as a customer, been asked to repeat information you’ve already given to another agent — or even the same one — when reaching out to a technology contact center? It feels like an absurd waste of time and reflects poorly on the company.

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An omnichannel customer support approach that is supported by the right contact center technology can not only resolve these issues but also add new value to the customer-agent interaction because such systems can create new customer insights and allow those insights to be collated and documented easily.

It can also detect and drive opportunities for delighting customers. Nike is now capitalizing on this trend — using its app to seamlessly connect with in-store technology and customer loyalty rewards programs.

Use omnichannel customer support to decrease turnaround time

When it comes to customer support, turnaround time is crucial, especially when you consider modern consumers’ heightened expectations. When Edison Research surveyed individuals who’ve tried to contact a brand, product, or company through social media, it found that 32% expect brands to respond within half an hour, while 42% expect a response within an hour.

Conversely, when companies support an omnichannel approach, customer retention soars. That’s because this type of approach not only supports all channels a customer may be using, but also the transference between those channels in the same interaction and others.

WHATSAPP_example

In other words, it allows agents to have a 360-degree view of a customer’s full journey. When agents are better able to see all the details, turnaround times are quicker because agents can address questions and concerns more efficiently. 

Empower your agents to take control with a unified agent desktop

If you’re not setting your agents up for success with the right tools to help customers, then you can’t expect high customer satisfaction. When your agents have everything they need to succeed, they will feel more empowered to help customers. And happy customers create happy agents.

An omnichannel customer support approach allows agents to see a customer’s full history with the business without having to jump from platform to platform or look for bits of information in various places. It all starts with a user-friendly unified agent desktop.

When agents can use this single interface to access all the information they need about a customer, they are operating at full awareness and can provide customers with quicker, more accurate information. Customer retention and enthusiasm is more critical than ever, but companies that fail to recognize the benefits of live chat, multichannel support, and the need for different ways to communicate with customers can’t expect to stick around for long.

Fortunately, integrated platforms are making it easier than ever to provide customers with efficient customer interaction channels for digital communications. Those businesses that recognize the benefits of unified communication platforms and provide the best omnichannel customer support approaches will reap big rewards in the years to come.

 



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Marketing strategy vs tactics – why the difference matters https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/marketing-strategy-vs-tactics-why-the-difference-matters/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/marketing-strategy-vs-tactics-why-the-difference-matters/#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 16:53:54 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/05/marketing-strategy-vs-tactics-why-the-difference-matters/

10 key differences between strategy and tactics

What is the difference between a strategy and tactics?’ is one of the most common questions that ‘crops up’ when I’m running training workshops or discussing creating marketing plans with businesses.

It’s no surprise since the difference between these two activities often isn’t distinct. Yet, it’s an important question to answer since our research shows that so many businesses don’t have a clear marketing strategy or plan. Without a clear strategy it’s likely some of your tactics may be poorly directed, so may not be propelling the business in the direction needed.

10 key features that distinguish marketing strategy and tactics.

In this article, I will show the difference between strategy and tactics by looking at the characteristics of marketing strategy, which distinguish it from tactics. I’ll give examples that help show the difference between the two based on essential strategic activities.

1. Strategy defines future direction detailed activities don’t

All businesses use tactics to run their marketing because these happen organically, but a marketing strategy doesn’t, instead it requires a proactive effort to define it and communicate it to inform tactics. It’s vital to define a strategy since ultimately this is what will make your business successful by differentiating it from your competitors.

PR Smith’s excellent SOSTAC® framework clearly shows the difference between strategy and tactics. This visual shows how strategy answers the question ‘How do we get there?’ while the tactics are ‘the detail of strategy’:

How-to-use-SOSTAC-for-online-marketing-plans

In our members’ guide, Paul Smith gives different examples of tactics.  These include The marketing mix of the 4Ps of product, promotion, place, and price.

Just to show that the distinction between strategy and tactics isn’t always clear, Paul and I have had many discussions throughout writing our books about the differences. I will concede that the details of the 4Ps are tactical, but as will see prioritizing processes are clear.

Where we do agree is that the trifecta of STP – Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning ARE a key part of the strategy as we’ll see in these following points.

2. Strategy defines competitive advantage

Looking at strategy through the lens of how precisely you can compete against competitors is a good way of distinguishing between strategy and tactics. If it fits your mindset, you can think of it as your ‘rules of engagement’ in a battle or war.

Sun-Tsu was certainly  the first to write about this and Sun-Tsu’s strategic thinking can be readily applied to marketing strategy, his well-known, but likely apocryphal quote illustrates this well:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

3. Strategy defines top-level resource allocation

Every business has limited resources of budget, people, and time at their disposal in the same way a general does. So an essential part of the strategy is deploying these resources to drive the biggest impact.

I like the technique of informing strategy by deciding what you WON’T invest in addition to deciding where you will focus. In this classic Harvard Business Review paper it’s suggested that many strategies fail because they are not strategies at all, instead, they are simply aspirations…

“One major reason for the lack of action is that “new strategies” are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do”.

4. Strategy sets a specific long-term vision

WIthin SOSTAC®, the O stands for objectives and vision.  You need specific targets to work towards and review performance against. Lack of specific targets to be delivered by communications is a common problem when there is no strategy and people in a business are focusing on tactics only.

As well as these hard numbers, having a softer idea of future vision is important so you can communicate your direction with the people inside a business and beyond to partners and other stakeholders. Your strategy should define the linkage between vision, goals, objectives and how to achieve them through resource allocation.

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5. Strategy sets specific long-term objectives

Collectively, tactics should support the overall direction of a business. They should contribute to the overall aims of the business. The best way to ensure that the tactics are contributing to overall strategic objectives is to LINK align objectives against strategies.

We also recommend building forecasts based on conversion models to ensure that strategic investments are going to give us the returns we need.

6. Marketing strategy defines priority markets, audiences and products

This is where Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning fits. Tactics will involve devising the best way to communicate these to audiences but typically won’t involve a strategic review of which are the best audiences or product/market fit.

In a larger business, using the BCG Matrix to review your portfolio of products and set future priorities for growth is a key technique.

Another key part of STP is defining key audiences and marketing personas which will inform the tactics of how you reach and communicate to these audiences.

7. Strategy defines brand positioning

Once our target audience characteristics, preferences and behaviors are defined through personas, the strategy involves defining how we want our brand to be perceived relative to competitors. This involves considering the generic strategy factors that Michael Porter identified based on market pricing and differentiation.

8. Strategy defines how to engage the audience through branding

Branding can be considered at a tactical level, for example which brand idents and color-ways to use. But branding should also be thought through at a strategic level, to consider how a business can appeal to audiences through key messaging including message architecture and tone-of-voice, again part of positioning relative to competitors.

9. Strategy defines a long-term roadmap for investment in technology and other major investments

In today’s marketing, we also need to exploit data and technologies to get a better response from our tactics, that’s why our strapline is ‘Plan, Manage and Optimize’. We should techniques like AB testing available through conversion optimization tools to get the best results from the tactics we use. But to do this modern marketing strategy requires a marketing technology stack to be defined to achieve this

In this era of digital transformation, many organizations are running change initiatives to use marketing technology to improve their processes and use of customer insight and data.  The investments in digital experiences, marketing automation and, in future, artificial intelligence and E-learning will be significant. So often, it won’t be practical in terms of the cost of technology or the complexity of investment to implement everything required in one year. So longer-term roadmaps of martech to build an integrated martech stack need to be defined to support marketing goals.

10. Strategy helps steer activities through governance

Finally, a marketing strategy should link through to give businesses an overarching control of the tactics. This involves the Action and Control parts of PR Smith’s SOSTAC® framework. As part of strategic planning, we need to make sure we have the best tactical process to ensure tactics are aligned with a strategy to make sure they are kept on track.

Member resources we have to support these control activities include:

So, that’s our summary of why businesses will benefit from setting out a marketing strategy in addition to using the tactics that everyone else uses. I hope you use a business strategy too!



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