There are tons of channels out there for your brand to be a part of. So it's no surprise that many brands choose the "less is more" approach and stay within one or two specific digital marketing realms. However, now that we have essentially lost what once constituted the "conversion funnel," it is imperative that companies reevaluate where their brand messaging is located online. The new consumer journey is anything but linear, as they scour the Internet asking friends and strangers for advice, finding coupons and pricing your competitors' options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what channels in which your brand should invest:
1. Where are your customers?
This might seem like an obvious question, but the truth is that most companies do not bother to look into it. Brands might think Instagram or Pinterest is the best platform for them because it's a rising star, but that may not be where your product or service is best communicated. Finding your target demographic, and then locating them online, is imperative to being present when they need you and keeping your brand top-of-mind. For example, in Levelwing's experience in the automotive industry, we have seen that auto enthusiasts are big into forums. Individuals give each other advice about pricing, value, technology and more. It's important to reach these people, so we cater our solutions to creating a conversation with them. It's just that easy.
2. What is your marketing investment?
Let's face it; your budget is probably not endless. Therefore, you need to assess what channel can get you the most bang for your buck. This, however, does not always mean conducting paid search campaigns or investing in display media. Holding your budgets accountable means that you should be testing different options and placements and measuring their impact on your business. What are your goals? Raising awareness? Then Facebook ads could be great. Increasing sales? Perhaps paid search or email marketing is the right fit. Providing your audience with unbiased information? Perhaps starting a blog and promoting it is best. In short, there are a lot of paths you can go down, but you must be cautious to test the waters before committing a big budget to any initiative.
3. Is my content compelling?
Content marketing is transforming at a very fast rate, especially with the onslaught of social networking. Not only do you have the option to remarket to your consumers on Facebook, but you can promote tweets, run ads on YouTube videos and promote webinars on LinkedIn. Don't get pigeon-holed into creating one type of content (say, blog posts) and putting it on one channel. Consumers are searching and finding thousands of website pages each day, which means there is a lot of room to forget about your brand's product or service. They are inundated with marketing messages. Therefore, you need to not only be present—but engaging. Creating content that causes a disruption to their user experience (meaning, they actually pay attention to it) is the first key to getting them to remember your brand name and what you do.
4. Can people access information about my business on-the-go?
The truth is that if you are not already mobile-friendly, you are behind. It's time to catch up. You don't need to create an app, either. You can simply create a mobile-friendly website experience with the help of responsive design, place call extensions in your mobile paid search ads, or run in-app video ads. No matter what you decide is the best fit for your company, it's important that you hop aboard this train now. Pretty soon, desktops as we know it will cease to exist and everyone will be on tablets, laptops and smartphones (look around, it's already happening).
After you've answered these questions, you are better equipped to find out where your brand needs to be and how to create staying power across those channels. It's a loud world out there; you better get your megaphone.
Steve Parker, Jr. is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Levelwing, a digital advertising agency that provides data-driven marketing solutions. Steve can be reached at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter at @sparkerjr.
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