Digital Marketing Is A Journey

If your company has not (fully) embraced the web yet and decided to do so today, it isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. Nor should it be. Digital marketing is a journey, one in which both team members and organizations should embark on rather than simply taking a “check the box” mentality.

Rushing is a mistake, sets the wrong expectations

It is naive of any consultant, agency or client-side marketer to think you can simply throw money at digital marketing and achieve success. Just the opposite, it’s not really about your pocketbook. It’s actually more about philosophy, devotion of time and, well, passion. All balanced with a culture of analytics and holistic thinking. And an embrace and comprehension of intersections. Not all of those things happen at once. In any organization.

But we need something social, now

No, you don’t. Relax. You’re not first. Not even close. In fact you’re late, and that’s okay. The ship on being an early adopter in social media has sailed so far ahead you can’t be a part of it anymore. But that shouldn’t stop you from finding your own path. Maybe in time you’ll be the best. But you’ve lost the race to be first – so develop a strategy and focus on being great. Nurture a culture of experimenting and you’ll be better than an early adopter, you’ll discover what delivers returns.

Create a long-term roadmap and follow it

If you are thinking about the web in short term spurts, you’re doing it wrong. You need to build your community before you need them. Only then can you activate them for directed outcomes: whether that is to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy (CwF + RtB), build a megaphone for your company, or attract inbound leads. Experienced digital marketing pros have enough projects under their belt by now to have confidence in long term planning.

Once you’ve got a strategy, structure your team around execution

Likely you have teams with pockets of expertise in different areas of digital marketing and all at different levels of fluency. Get them talking and working together so they can share skills in all directions. Further, structure the whole team around execution. After the planning phase is done trust your plans and don’t overthink it or you’ll forever be lapped by agile competitors.

Don’t measure everything, measure the critical few (but learn what everything means)

I like what Avinash says when he encourages us to focus on the critical few. Indeed, smart marketers aren’t thrown off track simply because someone put a new influence measurement tool together. How silly. Question why when every new metric gets thrown your way just because someone read a story in a marketing trade. Think critically about how it is meaningful in a results dashboard and how it even helps you make better decisions. Relentlessly kill the fluff. With that said, become savvy about digital measurement so you actually know when a new social media measurement or web analytics company is trying to sell you noise (or pretty graphs) vs. meaningful tools. There’s a huge difference.

Learn where to be consistent with content, create efficiencies elsewhere

After you’ve got a strategy and are executing on it, commit to the long haul. Especially in terms of content creation – it is analogous to writing a book (actually, a library of books). But most still think in terms of an article or two. Wrong. Content marketing is not a one time event, so manage expectation so you actually have the time necessary to move the needle.

Project your returns after you’ve got some historic data and an understanding of what content impacts your outcome metrics and how. Focus on the channels and tactics that contribute to a steady trend up. Syndicate elsewhere and create funnels, hooks and viral loops where they makes sense.

There’s so much you could do with content it’s actually what you don’t create or the networks you don’t actively participate on that defines success. It forces you to be remarkable when you do execute and build a hub. Unless you truly do have the resources to be everywhere, focus opt in at the source.

…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg

A lot, right? And this is just off the top of my head. Digital marketing is a journey and sophistication by every individual and company happens incrementally. As a consultant I see organizations and marketers take strides forward every day. I am too. And that’s half the point (and half the fun). A constant of the web is change, so no matter where you are in your journey it doesn’t stop.

Don’t like change? Marketing, media or PR are not for you. It’s probably time to try something else. Enjoy it? You’ll thrive, but patience is the secret ingredient while the world (and budgets) play catch-up to the reality of how modern communication takes place.

You should be the one to lead them forward on their journey.

image credit: Vladitto from Shutterstock