As a digital strategist I’m often asked for my perspective on new tools and technology. Fortunately I’m always on the lookout. Here’s a rundown of the litany of snazzy “solutions” that have crossed my desk in recent months: machine learning for media optimization. Marketing automation tools of every color, shape and size. Many multitudes of ways to use data. It’s kind of amazing actually, the amount of shiny, new objects out there designed to snag the attention of marketers and magically cure all their woes. More often, I surprise clients and colleagues when I refocus the conversation rather than give them my top 5 picks. I would much rather talk about something more valuable: the basics.
Boring, right? Yeah, but no. What you might think of as the “table stakes” of digital marketing and strategy are completely necessary and so often overlooked. It comes down to this: When any aspect of your brand experience is broken, it’s game over with the consumer. All the effort and money and blinking lights used to acquire that customer or automate every second of their interaction with you can be wasted because of something as simple as a poorly designed form field.
Simply put, the boring stuff is so much more of a bummer if you don’t get it right.
If you ask, this is my vital top 4 list: a handful of basic things you’ve got to do right to keep your brand digitally healthy:
- Perfect the digital fundamentals. Essentially, get your web game in order. Your site is your home base—the hub in the wheel of your digital communications. And a well-designed website that works across devices and provides a clearly articulated brand story is foundational, yet so many companies fall down here. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to work on a phone and a tablet, tell a good story about who you are and what you sell, and be usable to your customers.
- Place a lot of small bets. There are an endless amount of data solutions, MarTech, and AdTech products to try out. And there’s nothing wrong with playing the field a bit. See what works for you, double down, but by no means go all in at the expense of getting the fundamentals correct.
- Test. There are probably a million ways to bring the voice of the consumer into the story and marketing of the thing you’re selling. And lest you think that voice isn’t important, there’s probably a million more articles, TED talks and soliloquies by star CMOs proving it’s vital to your success. Read a few. Then try something like usertesting.com or HotJar to do a little snooping on your users—they’re two sites that record interaction on your sites in easy to use and understand ways, and they’re two of my favorites. Test early and often, and you can prevent honest errors and bad decisions from becoming giant, costly mistakes.
- Measure with an eye for insights. Are your analytics setup correctly? Good. Now what are you doing with all that data? Nothing, really? Yeah, you’re not alone. So many companies drown in a sea of reporting that offers no real insight. If you have stacks of reports with data like impressions and CTRs but no real insight to show for it, then you’re likely wasting your time with all that info. Reporting data does not equal rendering insight from it. Know the difference.
Digital marketing shifts so quickly. It can be overwhelming. Analysis paralysis inspiring. But, it can also be exciting. Just take a deep breath, focus on the basics, and then allow yourself to be dazzled just one or two shiny digital marketing solutions at a time.