How to Build a Digital Marketing Learning Plan for Your Organization

How-to-build-a-dm-learning-plan

Many agencies and marketing teams know that they need to improve the digital marketing skills and knowledge levels of their organization. To continue to be effective they must have a stronger understanding of exactly how digital marketing tools work, how and when to use them (strategy), how to measure success and sometimes how to implement.
When it comes to growing the digital marketing capabilities of your organization it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are 7 steps to get you started increasing the digital capabilities of your marketing team or agency.

1) Survey the Organization

    Start by discovering where the organization is currently at. What are the current knowledge levels? What are the perceived risks and opportunities? What topics/competencies do people need to do their jobs more effectively?

2) Determine Your Desired State

    Where do you want the organization to be? When do you want to get there? Identify the goals for your organization at a high level (more digitally savvy) and at a lower level (sales reps can adequately explain SEO to a client). Identifying where you want to be across roles, topics and skills in an organization will help you to see where you need to go.

3) Determine Your Resources

    Determine the resources that you have available to you. This includes time, budget, people, tools, etc. While you may not know what type of budget is reasonable, start with a ball-park of what the organization may be willing to invest. It is easier to build a house when you know if you are looking to spend $100,000 vs. $1,000,000. Start with some knowledge about resources.

4) Build a Road Map

    Create a road-map or a plan to increase capabilities. This should match up your desired state with your budget, resources and time. What will you do when? Who will do it? Too many companies start out with “we want a workshop” and do one-off executions vs. comprehensively addressing the issue. The plan probably involves a combination of live training, online training, internal experts, learning communities and more.

5) Implement

    Implement your plan. Start rolling out – possibly with a test group or pilot and working into something bigger.

7) Measure

    Measure your results. You won’t know what is and isn’t working if you don’t measure. Every organization is different – what worked for one may not work for you measure, measure, measure.

8) Repeat

    Growing a skill-base isn’t a one-time thing. Continue steps 1 – 6 periodically to determine if the needs of the organization have changed, and how your training plan level-sets new people in the organization.

Too many organizations start with the solution “We need a workshop or we need online training” and fail to really address the problem that they want to solve.

If you are serious about growing skills in your organization a comprehensive plan will get you better results faster. If you don’t have the budget/time for a large organizational initiative consider creating a pilot to test your ideas, or choose to tackle one specific area first and then show results.

Digital Marketing 101: Get Your Foundations in Order

101-Foundations-In-Order

I work with thousands of businesses each year and answer thousands of questions about digital marketing and strategy. One of the things that most often strikes me is that businesses of all sizes (from national brands to smaller startups) want to try something fun before they even have the foundations of digital marketing in order.

Before jumping in to the hottest new social network, get your foundations in order. Many businesses want to focus on traffic driving strategies before they even have a good website.

Focus on the fundamentals of digital marketing.

Your Website

If you don’t have a good website nothing else matters. Create a great website so that the rest of your digital marketing works. This should always come first.

Conversion Strategy

Have a clear conversion plan for your website. When someone visits your site, what do you want them to do? Have a clear plan to turn website visitors into customers. Do you have a sales process that quickly follows up with leads and prospects?

Email

Email remains one of the most effective marketing tools. Create a solid email marketing strategy to connect and convert customers over time.

SEO

Optimize your site for search engines. Getting results from this may take time, but many businesses are missing out on good traffic because their site is not optimized.

Advertising

Online advertising, especially adwords is a great opportunity for any business. Spend a little bit of money to get qualified people to your site.

Social Media

Social media can build loyalty, drive word-of-mouth and bring new customers to your business. There are lots of opportunities, so spend your time here wisely.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a big bucket that means a lot of things – content marketing is about creating valuable content that connects with consumers in a meaningful way. Content marketing involves creating content, converting leads and driving traffic to your site. This is especially powerful in B-to-B marketing.

Get the foundations in order before you start experimenting with new and unproven methods. Start with your website – the home base of all of your online marketing and grow from there.

VIDEO: How to Future-Proof Your Facebook Business Strategy

Facebook announced ANOTHER update to their algorithm (sometimes called edgerank) that changes what people see in their newsfeed. Want to know how to future-proof your Facebook Strategy from this change and future changes????? Watch this video!

Here is the bottom line. Facebook changes the algorithm all the time, and the algorithm is customized to each person – so you can’t exactly crack it.

What can you do?

There are two things that will future-proof your Facebook business strategy and get you results in the long-term.

1) Create Great Content

The point of edgerank is to show people the content that they are most interested in. Strategies that focus on creating great content that their fans love do best in the long-run.

When you hear optimization tips like:

  • Short posts perform best
  • Images do well
  • Ask questions
  • Be fun (or funny)
  • Use videos

They are all getting at the same thing – create content that people on Facebook have shown that they want to consume.

When you step back it is pretty simple.

2) Be Prepared to Pay

Seriously. Be prepared to pay. Not a lot, but supporting your strategy with some paid boosts will help you gain the exposure you need to generate long-term value.

Some businesses can still do well organically – I worked with a client who saw a 10X increase in organic reach JUST BY OPTIMIZING THEIR CONTENT. So, great content matters most (see #1).

That being said, social media marketing (LIKE ALL OTHER MARKETING) won’t be free forever. Be prepared to spend a little cash.

Facebook strategy video with Krista Neher

Social Media Strategy: Optimization vs. Growth Opportunities

Social-Media-Strategy

When it comes to social media many marketers want to focus on adding new social networks and trying new things. Once we have one social network up and running we want to add more… and why not? There are articles about how businesses can use EVERY social network – including those that people don’t even use.

The reality is that we have limited time and resources and need to make smart choices.

We can’t do everything – at least we can’t do everything well.

Before jumping in to the next new social network, as yourself a few questions:

1) Have I fully optimized the networks I am currently using?

Many marketers want to jump in to the next new network before they’ve even really mastered what they are currently doing. Don’t start something new until you have optimized your current investments.

2) What is the time investment for the new network?

How much time will I need to spend on the new network? How often will I need to update? How will I grow the audience? Consider the resources required to create a presence and build an audience.

3) What do I expect to get out of it? Are my customers there yet?

When evaluating a new social network be sure to articulate the results that you hope to get. Are your customers even using it yet? What is your anticipated return? How many people do you expect to reach?

Compare the opportunity of optimizing vs. new networks:

  • What is the upside of getting more effective with your current networks? If you have already invested time and effort in building a presence on a social network, what is the benefit of continuing to improve and optimize? Could you be more effective? What is the upside of doing it better?
  • What is the upside of investing in something new? How big is the network? Are brands successful on it yet? What would success look like for you? Does the network seem to be growing?

The Big Question: What is the BEST use of your Time?

Your time and resources are finite. It is important to determine the best way to invest them. While it is fun and exciting to jump on a new social network, often times there is a bigger opportunity to invest in doing existing executions better vs. doing something new.

Carefully evaluate the pros and cons before jumping in.

How to Make ROI Based Decisions in Digital Marketing (or any marketing)

ROI-Based-Decisions

I gave a “Social Media for Customer Service” training recently, and was asked an interesting question. The question was about ROI; I was asked what the ROI was on investing in customer service. How can they justify the spending? Without more information I couldn’t really give a definitive answer, but I could provide a framework to simply answer the question, or any investment question in marketing.

ROI = Return on Investment

We need to weigh the expected return against the investment.

While we don’t have the specific answers, we can do “back of the envelope” math to determine if the investment is likely to payout or have positive ROI.

Here is the simple math to calculate the ROI of anything:

  • Cost to have an employee respond to customer service requests: $50/day (2 hours of time)
  • Number of questions responded to: 12 (10 minutes per question)
  • Value of a new customer (or keeping a customer): $100 lifetime value
  • Number of new customers required to payout: $100 per customer/$50 cost = .5 new customers /day

Then we step back and apply logic and common sense:

  • For every 12 questions I answer, how many people do I expect to become new customers or stay customers? 1 in 12? 2 in 12?
  • How does that compare to my break-even cost of 0.5 new customers/day?
  • What is the probability that this has a positive ROI?

Once you start implementing you can measure over time – the customer service employee can track the number of customers gained or retained and we can measure the actual impact.

This math can be used in many scenarios to understand the potential ROI or probability of positive ROI from digital marketing spending. Over time when you have results you can probably measure the specific ROI.

Facebook ad ROI:

  • Cost of ad $100
  • CPM: $5
  • Reach of ad: 20,000
  • Value of a new customer: $50
  • Number of customers needed for breakeven: 2 customers
  • Conversion rate to break even: 2/20,000 = 0.01%

While this doesn’t give you the exact ROI it does give you an idea of what is needed to payout. You can also use this to compare vs. other investment choices. For example, if you need a 1% conversion rate to payout social media ads but a 2% conversion rate to payout television ads you can now compare the two options. Is it likely that television converts at double the rate? Is it a much more impactful medium?

Rather than trying to get to a specific ROI number, use this to determine the minimum return needed and compare and benchmark across mediums.

Digital Marketing Analytics: How to Analyze Your Digital Marketing

Digital-Marketing-Analytics

Analytics is one of the most popular topics in digital marketing. We want to know what is working so we can optimize our spending. The problem is that most digital marketing reporting simply vomits numbers at people. There is no real analysis that is required to make better decisions.

It isn’t about the numbers it is about what they tell you.

Smart marketers don’t rely just on numbers but on analysis.

Here is an example of why:

You measure your Facebook advertising efficiency by looking at CPM – the cost you pay to reach 1,000 people with your ads. Seems reasonable enough – a cheaper cost to reach people is better, right? Well it depends. If you reach a more targeted audience you may pay more, but the views are theoretically worth more. A rising CPM may be a result of more effective targeting and may not be bad.

I talked to a Facebook advertising company recently after giving training to a brand team. The training talked a lot about targeting. The advertising agency said that they usually don’t target much because they are measured on CPM and while targeting makes more sense strategically, the brand holds them accountable to reduce CPM, so they don’t do detailed targeting.

Numbers without analysis leads to bad decision-making. 

So how should you analyze your digital marketing?

For every number, chart or data point answer 3 simple questions.

What

What is the data telling you?

So What

What does it actually MEAN? Is it good or bad? What drove the change? What is behind it?

Now What

What should we do as a result of this information? What action is indicated?

Data without analysis isn’t helpful.

Dig deeper. Determine the cause and analyze what it actually means. This is how you start making better decisions.

Social Media Round Up

Social media news monthly round up

Check out our round-up of the biggest changes in social media and digital marketing from the last month. Let us do the work for you, we gather the updates, you reap the benefit of having all of them in one place!

We read all of the latest social media news so you don’t have to.

As a value add for our All Access Pass Members, we provide a monthly call where in 30 minutes we share the biggest changes in social media and importantly how they impact your social media strategy and 30 minutes of open Q&A where we answer questions from our members!

The top news in social media that we covered this month includes:

Facebook

  • Facebook launches new video ad tools – Each day on average 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook and it’s estimated that mobile video will account for 75% of total mobile data traffic by 2020. Facebook shares best practices for mobile video based on testing.
  • Facebook enhances ad features – On both Facebook and Instagram Facebook announced a variety of ad improvements. These are probably mostly relevant to advanced advertisers.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn launches new student app – The app is mobile only and is geared towards college students. This shows LinkedIn is looking at really connecting with college students who don’t currently heavily use the site.

Instagram

Twitter

  • Twitter adds connections to mobile app – In an attempt to make it easier to find people and accounts you are interested in, Twitter has added a connections feature that connects you with things you may be interested in.
  • Twitter announces Omnisearch – Twitter is looking to make searching even better, and this is where they are investing their time and effort.

SnapChat

  • SnapChat stories drive 10 Billion daily video views – Snapchat is becoming a bigger and bigger player in social media (although it remains elusive to most businesses). Stories show videos or photos for 24 hours, making them more permanent then regular snaps. This also emphasizes the importance of video.
  • SnapChat lets you FaceSwap from the camera roll – SnapChat is building its features to make it more fun to customize pictures and really express yourself with snaps. The new FaceSwap feature builds upon this.

Periscope

  • Periscope ads viewer stats – Giving broadcasters more information about performance.
  • Periscope launches sketch while you scope – This feature allows broadcasters the ability to draw on the screen while scoping. This functionality is similar to SnapChat – where people love drawing on photos. It will be interesting to see how heavily this feature is used and if people can actually draw and record at the same time…
  • Periscope experiments with archived streams – Periscope is experimenting with a feature that will archive streams forever.

Pinterest

  • Pinterest allows affiliate links – Pinterest has announced that they will now allow affiliate links in pins. They were previously removed as Pinterest tried to reduce spam. Pinterest now feels that they have a great spam control program so they will not allow affiliate links.

YouTube

  • Video Bumper 6 Second Ads – YouTube knows that mobile first is the key to marketing – their new video ads build on this strategy with short 6 second ads to drive ads on short mobile video views.
  • Amazon allows video uploads – Amazon launched a service to compete with YouTube – you can now upload a video and earn money from ads. This puts Amazon in direct competition to YouTube.

Google

Interesting Research

  • User Generated Content Sells – BazaarVoice released a study that shows the impact of user generated content – both in driving sales and social media. Check it out if you still aren’t convinced that UGC must be on your menu.

 

Get these updates right in your inbox:

Looking for a Job? How to Upgrade your Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing Skills

Looking-for-a-Job

More and more jobs are looking for marketers who understand digital marketing. Digital marketing skills including social media, content marketing, analysis, SEO and digital advertising are among the most in-demand skills for most marketing roles.

Yet many experienced marketers don’t have these skills.

They started and advanced in their careers before digital marketing and now struggle with how to upgrade their skills.

If you want to keep your skills relevant you can’t afford not to learn social media and digital marketing. Over 90% of businesses use social media and almost every business has a digital presence.

While you may never be directly implementing a digital marketing campaign, you need the digital marketing foundations to be successful as a marketer.

Here are 3 ways to upgrade your skills:

1) Invest in Digital Marketing Training

Start by learning the basics. Conferences are great for advanced strategies, tactics, tips & tricks and tools but don’t really cover a topic from start to finish. They especially lack the basics.

You need comprehensive training to level-set your knowledge and get you the base that you can continue to grow on.

2) Volunteer or Get Some Experience

The second thing you’ll need is some experience to put that you learn into practice, even on a small scale. You may be able to find opportunities at your current workplace. Look to add some digital work to your job scope – even if it is only limited. This will help you to see how it really works.

If your current company isn’t an option for getting some experience consider volunteering somewhere or helping a non-profit. This can be a great way to get real-world experience to support your training.

3) Read, learn and grow

Build a personal development plan for yourself – that includes reading some books for comprehensive and researched coverage of a topic as well as subscribing to blogs or websites that share relevant content.

Stay up-to-date on changes and industry news so that you can have educated discussions about the state of digital marketing. You don’t need to be an expert, or an expert implementer who understands every best practice, just know enough to make smart choices.

 

How to Achieve Digital Transformation for Your Organization

Digital-Transformation

 

Many companies want digital transformation – they want to transform their organization from traditional marketers to stealthy digital marketers – who know the latest tools, are quick to act and think of digital as a part of marketing.

The challenge is how do we transform an organization to make digital a part of the DNA?

We’ve worked with a number of companies on this – and it is no easy feat. But it isn’t as simple as a workshop here or there. It involves a cultural shift in the organization that takes time and investment to manage.

Here is how to begin the steps towards digital transformation for your organization:

1) Organizational Audit

    You can’t fix a problem or build a plan until you know what you are working with. Start with an organization audit to understand where you are now – what are the current knowledge levels, barriers and opportunities?

2) Desired Future State

    Once you know where you stand, the next step is to determine your desired future state – where do you want to be and when? Setting out a clear road-map is vital to your success. It will allow you to build a program that bridges your current state to where you want to be. This often involves setting objectives by job-type or department and identifying competencies required for current and future performance.

3) Executive Digital Training

    It starts at the top. If the executive team doesn’t have the knowledge they can’t manage the organization. Most executives aren’t experts on digital marketing and struggle to understand even the basics.
    Start by training your executive team so that they understand the power and importance of digital.

4) Executive Championing

    Executives should champion digital and set the example internally. It isn’t enough for executives to have the knowledge; they must be internal champions demonstrating that digital is a priority, sharing news and other articles and asking tough questions.

5) Comprehensive Organizational Training

    Organization training should involve multiple touch points through the year. Many businesses want to “transform” their organization with only a single digital marketing workshop or one-time training. A comprehensive training program with multiple live and online touch points is required to really generate success.

6) Internal Champions

    To drive success there should be a number of internal champions and experts throughout the organization. While the entire organization is seeking to grow their knowledge and skills, experts provide deep knowledge and can keep the organization accountable while providing a resource.
    Some large companies bring a small group of champions through an intensive internal training program to empower them to return to their organization and truly be a catalyst for change.

6) Learning Culture

    There should be a culture around constant learning and development. For example creating internal, informal knowledge sharing, providing regular digital updates/digests, etc. The culture should be curious and eager to learn and share ideas.

7) Reward Structure

    The reward structure must be consistent with the desired outcomes. In addition to recognizing digital achievements in the formal reward structure, informal recognition is key. Highlight or feature individuals or teams modeling the desired behavior.

8) Resources

    Perhaps this should be first, but in order to effectively initiate change in an organization you’ll need the resources to do it. Identify resources – people, budget, champions, time and be sure that you truly have the resources to make this a priority.

6 Social Media Trends to Take Advantage of NOW

6-Social-Media-Trends

Social Media continues to grow and evolve, and many marketers read articles about trends to watch or predictions on the next big thing.

Stop wasting your time on the next big thing and take advantage of what is trending now.

1) Video

    All of the big social platforms are making significant video plays now. Our latest and greatest monthly call almost always has updates about how the big networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) are enhancing video features.

Get video into your strategy now.

2) Social Media Advertising

    Advertising is growing in importance across social networks. All major networks have ad platforms and for the most part they are cheap ways to reach your target audience. Invest in getting results from social ads now – you’ll reap the rewards now and in the future.

3) Cheap & Quick

    Figure out how to do things quickly and cheaply. Waiting for a big budget or following traditional creative processes is time consuming. Find quick ways to prove your concept and then invest more. Try things fast. Be nimble. Experimentation and quick iteration is key to your success.

4) Visuals & Images

    Visuals and images also drive every social network. Other than copywriting this is the top thing that can make or break your success online. Get good at creating great visuals to accompany your content and social network strategies.

5) The Right Content Strategy

    Many businesses still lack a coherent content strategy. You need a well thought out strategic content plan. Invest in creating great stuff that people are actually interested in and link your content strategy to your website to your SEO to your lead generation to your social media. Integrated content planning is vital to online marketing success today.

6) Get Out of the Silo

    If you are a social media manager you can’t afford to sit in a silo and think ONLY about social media. Social should support digital which should support traditional which ultimately should all support achieving a marketing goal. If you manage social media as a stand-alone you will miss out on big picture opportunities that connect the consumer journey and drive real results.