8 Digital marketing best practices for 2018

2018 digital marketing is represented as a wall to break through with a hammer

2018 will be a banner year for digital marketing. Between search engine marketing, Facebook advertising and display advertising, budgets will reach all-time highs. The coming storm of voice search, augmented reality and virtual reality marketing will only add to that.

If your business is going to stand a chance of getting positive ROI from its digital spend, there’s a few best practices you’ll want to consider. Those include:

1) Have Defined Campaign Goals

The very first thing you do when building your digital marketing plan is define the goals. In order to measure the success of your campaigns you’ll need to set clear goals. Goals might be traffic acquisition, total leads generated, or even just impressions to a key demographic. Whatever it is, make sure you build out your strategy with clear and concise goals to measure against.

Once you have clear goals, you can then decide the best way to them. Digital marketing best practices revolve around meeting goals, and what tactics help to ensure they’re met. For example, if one of your goals is to generate new leads, then focusing on the UX of your website and the top of it’s funnel is where to start. If it’s converting more leads to sales, then looking at your content marketing and remarketing tactics is likely where you’ll start. Either way, the goal defines the tactics. Make sure you start here.

That doesn’t mean you won’t pivot. If you end up finding out you want to go a different direction you can always change your goals later – but the tactics to meet them will change as well. Regardless, starting with goals instead of a tactic or “overall strategy” will serve you well.

2) Have Clean Data (And Trust It)

All digital marketing best practices involve using data to your advantage. Modern marketing is more of a numbers game than it is big creative ideas being turned into omni-channel campaigns.

Most of your data will come from Google Analytics, your CRM platform, your email marketing platform and your display or affiliate partners. It’s imperative that you can trust the data you’re seeing – and if you can’t, spend the time needed to clean it up before doing anything else.

Spend the time to leverage Google Tag Manager, Facebook’s pixel, Google Search Console and any back-end conversion data that your ESP or CRM will provide. If you can’t trust your numbers, you can’t make good business decisions. Bad data costs the United States $3 trillion per year. Aside from settling on your goals, this is the most important area that businesses need to focus on.

3) Know Your Company, Your Customer

This one might seem obvious, but if you don’t really understand your company and its value to the customer, there’s a problem. Marketing teams that don’t know their value proposition, their market, and their customers don’t need to bother with digital marketing best practices. Those don’t matter if you don’t know your company (and your customer).

Always focus on thinking like your customers. Every time you build an ad or a piece of content think about what you would want to see if you were a customer. Think how you’ll measure this and how it fits your goals also. But most importantly, know why it matters to the people that matter most.

It never hurts to get customers involved. Get their feedback on their experiences and your products. This might even turn into a chance to get positive reviews online. Picking your customers brains about their industry can help tremendously when it comes to building your digital marketing strategy. The better you understand your customers, the easier it will be to find success.

4) Make Sure Mobile Matters Most To Your Team

Put your messages where your audience is…that’s paramount to any successful marcom strategy. In today’s phone-first world, most of your messages will be seen on mobile. So this is where you are going to want to focus your time. Have you explored all the native ad options for use on mobile? Are you using multiple sizes on display ads to really suit your audience and their specific devices? Is your Facebook ad strategy on-point for mobile first video and images? All key questions to consider.

Making everything mobile first is one of the digital marketing best practices that will stand the test of time. There’s always more you can do to incorporate mobile into your digital marketing strategy. Make sure this is at the foreground of your work, not an afterthought. This includes your website (if you haven’t embraced responsive design yet, go ahead and do that).

5) But Don’t Forget About Desktop & Tablet Users

Nothing like talking out of both sides of your mouth, right? : ) A great marketing plan is nothing without a great website behind it. Phone first – yes, but don’t ignore desktop and mobile users. Having a poor landing page experience, slow load times, unclear buyer journeys, etc all defeat the purpose of your other digital marketing best practices.

Any ad campaigns should be cut into desktop, tablet and mobile. Separate creative, ad sizes and goals depending on the different people using each device. Desktop users still play a role, a key role (albeit one that is diminishing over time). Just remember, mobile first…but not mobile only.

6) Tap The Power Of Paid Social

Guess what? Lots of brands fail at social media. And even more fail at paid social. The value of paid social lies in the ability to laser-target your audience, by interests and locations, titles and buying habits (and many other interesting options). If you don’t have this skill set in house, go ahead and find the right outsourced digital marketing partner to help.

There’s an important note here…we personally believe that there is one role that’s best served in-house. And that’s the role of social media manager. This role won’t have much to do with paid social. Often times non-paid social isn’t really a driver for sales. It humanizes your brand. It provides a connection to a community. It gives you a constant voice. All important things…just don’t expect them to generate revenue from them (directly).

7) Get Personal In Everything You Do

Personalization is a growing trend within digital marketing. There are many levels of personalization and we believe it’s best to do it whenever possible. Many automation platforms are moving in this direction. Ads aren’t far behind.

To the extent you can personalize your digital marketing (emails, landing pages, event pages, etc), make that investment. Early studies show that the extra effort can capture customers that otherwise would never buy, would never turn into leads, and would never interact with your brand.

8) Outsource To Fill Skill & Knowledge Gaps

Digital marketing best practices are subjective. One person’s “must do” is another person’s “no way”. However, we have seen the power of outsourcing digital marketing and how it can impact the bottom line. Talented people are expensive. And if they are really “deep” in one area, you need several of them to to really operate in an effective manner. That can cripple a budget. When you spend more on salaries than on your actual marketing budget, it just doesn’t make sense. Filling key skill gaps with shared our outsourced professionals serves many roles. We’ve written about it extensively. Here’s a great example.

In closing, 2018 will be a big year, and making sure that you’re following digital marketing best practices adopted by other high achieving marketers will keep you on the fast track to success.

Onward and upward!!!

Author Jason Keeler

Jason is a Digital Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. He's spent more than a decade working in Ad Agencies on businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies like General Electric and U.S. Bancorp.

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