The rapidly evolving digital landscape is both exciting and overwhelming with all the opportunities that advanced technology is making possible. As marketers, we’re susceptible to getting wrapped up in the latest trends and technologies — so much so, it can be easy to lose sight of the things that are the most important. Ultimately, marketing is all about reaching, connecting, and engaging with our customers. So, let’s step away from all of the shiny objects to go back to the basics in order to improve our marketing strategy and fuel business growth.
What exactly does going back to the basics mean?
Going back to the basics starts by putting your customer hat on and asking yourself what your target customer wants, needs, and expects. Every customer journey is unique and while made up of countless personalized paths, the end goal is the same: addressing the needs of your customers by providing value.
Whether I am working with a customer who is graduating from level one marketing (think batch and blast emails) to level two marketing (think multi-channel marketing automation) or a customer who is a level three adaptive marketing pro who is leveraging artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, the fundamental “back-to-basics” questions still apply. After all, a tool or technology in the absence of a clearly defined, customer-centric strategy is just a tool. And I say that as someone who is selling one of those powerful marketing technologies!
There are so many best practices and multi-channel techniques, that the idea of even creating a marketing strategy can put marketers in analysis paralysis. However, these strategies and their subsequent success rely on the roots of marketing and revisiting basic questions that continually make the customer top of mind.
Define your buyer persona(s)
It may seem like a given to know the answer to, “Who is your target customer?,” though it cannot be emphasized enough how much the built-out, detailed answer dictates your marketing strategy. Begin with high-level questions and work your way to the specifics that reflect your ideal buyer’s journey.
What do your target customers want, need, and expect from you? Where are they digitally, as well as geographically? For instance, which social media platforms are they likely to use, and which websites do they visit?
What are their pain points and what content do they find valuable? What user experiences will resonate with them and how do they digest information? Consider how they go about each day of their week and how they want to receive content. When are they most likely to check their email? And how much content, in what format and context, do they have time to read?
Offering value that feels customized to the buyer’s individual needs stands out from the noise and builds rapport. If your emails are salesy and self-promotional, your prospects probably won’t be as likely to open one from you than if it, say, invites you to an upcoming webinar on a hot topic within your industry.
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Reflect on what’s working and what’s not
Before figuring out where you want to go with your marketing strategy and what you want to accomplish, reflect on where you are now. Consider your current marketing strategy, campaigns, analytics, and previous goals (were they realistic?).
What’s working, what’s not, and why? It’s important for every business to have good visibility into marketing activities and investment, as well as leverage analytics to refine strategies based on both positive and negative results. Analytics provide an accurate picture of what’s actually working, which supply marketers with tangible measurements and patterns that can provide powerful guidance.
In an era where there’s so much available data and resources, how do we as marketers know when and how to use them efficiently to make informed decisions that steer our objectives? The evolution of the digital marketing industry is first and foremost driven by the volume of accessible data.
There is so much marketers are being asked to do, along with a multitude of tools and technology systems to track results that successful marketing is not defined by the availability of data, but rather how it is deciphered and turned into applied insights that drive future investments and strategic decisions by marketers — and drive profitable growth for the business.
At the end of the day, trust your gut
It’s safe to assume there are more best practices and how-to marketing articles than anyone knows what to do with. While there are many insightful and extremely useful guides to provide direction and strategy, keep in mind they are written by marketers because it worked for their customers and their business. You and your business know best specifically who your target customers are and how they want to experience their customized buyer’s journey, as well as what works and what doesn’t work with your own marketing practices.
The bottom line, honestly, is to trust your gut, because you and your business partners are ultimately the most knowledgeable judges on knowing how to apply your context to these best practices. Surgically leverage and apply those reputable resources to create a custom marketing strategy that serves your customers and helps you take your marketing to the next level.