A recent article on Entrepreneur.com laid out four steps to digital marketing success.
Developing a successful digital marketing strategy is as simple as:
Identifying your target audience.
Developing your business goals.
Designing and implementing a strategy for meeting those goals.
Monitoring your chosen strategy.
I agree with all of the above, excepting the use of the word “simple.” In reality, even savvy business leaders struggle with identifying the target audience and developing business goals. And if those two pieces aren’t sorted out in detail, the resulting strategy and execution will be, at best, just OK. With that in mind, I’m sharing some of the pitfalls I see when it comes to defining a target audience and developing business goals. Let’s get started.
Target audience pitfalls
Assuming your audience is just like you.
No marketer is going to argue with this statement, but living up to it is a bit harder than you’d think. We naturally think we know best about communicating to our customers. And so we make decisions about website design, marketing messaging and even product design that is based on our preferences. Admittedly, it’s impossible to test everything. But you should make it a habit to consider testing everything that’s going to consume a lot of resources. And remember that “testing” could mean turning on a campaign and then being ready to pause and make quick changes if it doesn’t produce the right results.
Unwillingness to be precise.
The more detailed you can get about your customer “sweet spot,” the more effective your digital marketing will be. But too many times, marketers shy away from being too targeted for fear of alienating someone. Another contributing factor may be a lack of respect for the competitive environment.
Whatever the reason, when you try to produce marketing that’s interesting for everyone, you usually end up with marketing that’s boring for everyone. Boring doesn’t capture attention or influence perceptions. If you have multiple target groups, develop separate personas and marketing strategies for each.
Business goal pitfalls
The weakest link in the leadership chain.
In a perfect world, the top-level business goals come from the organization’s strategic leaders. Those leaders then communicate the goals to their direct reports, who use their individual expertise to determine how they will support those goals.
These managers may develop more precise business goals specifically for their division. They’ll also task their people to participate in strategy development and/or execution. And so it goes down the chain.
Like a game of soccer, the magic happens when everyone shares an understanding and dedication to the game plan. But if there’s one teammate who’s trying to do something for himself, for whatever reason, the end result suffers. Even in small organizations, there are usually several failure points in this chain of communicating and acting upon business goals.
As a digital marketing leader, it’s your responsibility to: Make sure you understand the top-level goals clearly Make sure you are developing your own digital marketing goals that directly support the organization’s top-level goals Make sure you are implementing your strategies effectively and tracking your own success
Inability to prioritize.
When you have multiple digital marketing goals, they must be prioritized. This is because there will always come a time when two goals are at odds with each other. Website homepages commonly demonstrate this problem in action. Visit the website of a car dealer and you’ll be confronted with so many options, you won’t know what to do. Search the inventory, use the live chat, look at the deals page?
This call-to-action clutter happens because no one prioritized the objectives for the homepage. If you don’t prioritize, all of your marketing could end up like the homepage of a dealer’s websites — cluttered, fragmented and confusing.
Chasing short-term at the expense of long-term.
This is a tough one. Short-term financial goals are sometimes met at the expense of the long-term. You build your own website from WordPress and a handful of free plugins to save cash, but then you spend way too much time managing it. You cut back on your marketing budget temporarily, only to find that you’ve lost touch with your audience.
You’d unfortunately need a crystal ball to predict all the long-term impacts of your short-term decisions. The next best option is to take a longer outlook on business goal and financial goal planning. And then recast often.
If you are consistently missing financial goals, figure out why. Also make it a habit to think about the long-term impact, even as you are managing to the short-term. Ask yourself what would happen if you made the same decision every six months for five years.
The trick to avoiding these pitfalls lies in discipline and precision, in both strategy and execution. I won’t call it simple, but it is do-able. And there’s no time like the present to get started.