CEOs love them. CFOs adore them. Even CMOs are falling head over heals for them.
What am I talking about? You guessed it – numbers!
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. This age old management adage holds true more than ever, especially in the digital era of measurable marketing.
However, numbers alone isn’t enough. You need to combine intuition and creativity to transform that data into impactful content. You also need to consider the power of social networks to amplify and magnify your marketing.
Combining these insights, I have created what I call the five As of digital marketing. Let us go through each in turn.
The first A in digital marketing is what I call the algorithms. These are the processes or set of rules used in calculations or problem-solving, usually by machines like computers.
Love it or loathe it, every outcome of our search and social media activities are ruled by the algorithms put in place by IT juggernauts like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and others. Also called the Filter Bubble, they influence what we see online more than we imagine.
Beyond the algorithms which regulate our online behaviours, we need to also understand the algorithms of human behaviour. These are insights gleaned from behavioral economics, consumer psychology and neuro-marketing which help us to understand how people would behave online.
When we combine human behaviours with machine language, we have digital marketing tools like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Programmatic Buying, Remarketing as well as Retargeting.
Understanding how social web works isn’t enough if you don’t interpret the data. This is where analytics – the systematic and computational analysis of data or statistics – comes in.
Both big data and small data analytics are important in helping us to understand how our world ticks. They allow you to analyse how your customers, competitors and brand fit in the broader digital landscape.
In all the branches of digital marketing – social media marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing and search marketing – analytics provides a basis for mining customer insights and measuring performance.
Tools like Google Analytics helps us to discern where our web traffic comes from, while Facebook Insights assist social media advertisers to determine which campaigns work better than others.
Beyond these basic tools, the plethora of Marketing Automation software and services like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua and Infusionsoft helps marketers to better understand what works and what doesn’t in their digital marketing funnel.
Now that we understand how the social and digital web works (algorithms), and have a clearer understanding of what our customer prefers (analytics), we need to transform insights into action. This is where the art of content marketing comes in.
While there are numerous online tools available to help you write (20 here to consider) and design (eg Canva), you still need to put in your personal human touch. Creating contagious content isn’t a tried-and-tested formula. It requires lots of experimentation, imagination and creative insight to do well.
To get you started on this, read my tips on effective writing (eg The 8 Secrets to Great Writing, and Artistotle’s Secret to Great Content), as well as the 10 principles of great design here. You may also wish to get some insights on creativity from business cartoonist Hugh MacLeod here.
Ticking off the first three boxes of algorithms, analytics and artistry isn’t enough. The power of the web lies in the forming of social networks. This is where social media marketing comes in.
In order to “go social”, you need to create and grow an online community to support your brand. If content is king, then community is queen. Who better to demonstrate the power of community that the queen of monster loyalty Lady Gaga herself who empowered her millions of fans to act on behalf of her brand.
Beyond growing your community, you also need to work with influencers in order to benefit from the multiplier effects of their vast networks. Here, you can consider applying the principles of influencer marketing to jump start your digital marketing efforts and expand your reach beyond your usual brand advocates and fans.
The final piece in the digital marketing puzzle is what I call agility. This is the ability of digital marketers to use data, consumer insight, and marketing outcomes to improve their craft.
By embracing the behaviours of growth hackers (see The Lean Startup), digital marketing allows us to adopt a cyclical and calibrated approach to marketing. Beyond improving the way we tweak our marketing content and channels, being agile also means being responsive to our customers across all platforms (see my posts on customer experience management).
Here, social listening tools like Buzz Sumo, Radian6, and Google Alerts comes in useful. These allow us to determine what people are interested in, as well as what they are saying about our brand online. Through social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and processes, we can also improve how we respond to online customer feedback to enhance our service and product delivery processes and customer touch points.
Integrated and Iterative
The Five As of digital marketing provides a useful way for you to think about your own digital marketing efforts. Evaluate your current methods and consider the following questions:
- Are you using the right technologies and mining available algorithms to enhance the way you reach out to prospects and customers online?
- Have you considered the various customer and competitor data available online and how these can be crunched via analytics to provide meaning and insight?
- Do you have the right blend of artistry in the way you create, curate and share content to your online audiences?
- What about your current communities and advocates? Are you forging the right alliances with partners who can add value to your brand?
- Finally, how do you respond to the outcomes of your efforts? Have you baked agility into your marketing systems and processes?
The power of digital marketing lies in combining the magic of metrics and methods with the chemistry of creative content and communities. By adopting an integrated and iterative approach, you can reduce the chances of failures and hone your expertise in digital marketing.