The digital evolution of marketing has gotten much of the ad industry pretty hot and bothered over the last decade. Everyone wants to be an expert, a ninja, a maven, a guru - but are we really digging in and working to understand digital marketing in its ever changing state? One of the common critiques we hear in this business is that some people just don’t “get digital”. Understandably so, this broad and constantly evolving industry is tough to wrap our heads around.
Here are five rules of thumb to ensure that you understand digital and are able to showcase this competency in the marketplace.
1. Understand how your target audience uses digital channels
The first step to success with digital marketing is knowing your audience. Just like any marketing campaign, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’re not talking to anyone. Does your target user communicate via e-mail, social media or text messaging? Do they surf the web on their phones, tablets or laptops? What time of day are they online and what are they doing there?
By uncovering this type of information, you’ll be able to communicate with your audience in the most effective way possible. You’ll also be able to identify metrics and communication objectives for the project you’re working on.
2. Simplicity over complexity
The opportunities are endless when it comes to digital marketing - there are so many cool, innovative options that we, as marketers, can get excited about. Although new approaches to digital marketing might be cutting edge, we need to always keep in mind the goal of the campaign we are working on and create something that will be the most effective solution. A great user experience needs to be top of mind throughout the design, development and implementation of any digital marketing project. Keeping things clean and simple is a winning strategy in digital every time. Creating a simple user interface that will seamlessly transfer users from page to page with ease and win the users attention.
Creating a simple, focused marketing site, e-commerce site or e-mail marketing campaign might sound pretty basic but in reality it’s often much more difficult to build something conveying a simple message than a complicated one. The key here is in the details and planning. Mapping out a clear cut strategy to expose the user to the intended information and executing that strategy in a streamlined fashion will prove to any audience that you know your stuff!
3. Responsiveness is vital
Stepping into the user’s shoes (as we all do after hours); we know that the most frustrating thing as a user is when you go to look at a website on your mobile device - and it’s an absolute disaster. Responsive web design has become a necessity in today’s digital marketplace. Building an awesome site that’s non-responsive, frankly - just doesn't’t cut it. As marketers, we need to challenge ourselves to make sure that the product we deliver is ideally displayed on any device.
The key to success here is to test test test! Testing on a variety of different screen sizes and browsers will ensure that your users are viewing your digital content in the way its intended, every time.
4. Content is King
There is a reason why this notion is so popular. Creating actionable, concise, easy-to-read content is another one of the most important aspects of exceptional digital marketing. Many users today are constantly online, being exposed to a huge influx of content day in and day out. Implementing unique, sharable content will help grow your business and help you stand out against competitors. Keep content focused on customers’ needs, and leave the sales-ey schmooze at home. Your content should emit the same tone as your target consumer is familiar with in their everyday life. When they are reading through the content you’ve produced, the user should feel as though a friend is speaking directly to them.
5. Don’t be paralyzed by the unknown
A recent study showed that 82% of digital marketers today don’t have formal training, many of us learn on the job. The most exciting part about working in this industry is that no day at the office is ever the same as the last because of the way technology is constantly progressing. Yes, it can be scary - but it's the reality of our industry. To be a true digital prophet, jedi or whichever one of these titles is currently trending - you can never stop learning. Staying on top of current trends and keeping our fingers on the pulse of innovation are drivers in the future success of digital marketing.
These points only scratch the surface of all there is to know about digital marketing, but are all extremely relevant in today’s competitive marketing landscape. Focusing on these five rules of thumb will help point you in the right direction to understanding the beast that is digital marketing.