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2013 Digital Strategy Best Practices for Your Business

jon-schepke
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Investment in digital continues to soar! When the IAB released the IAB Internet Advertising Report for the full-year 2011, it demonstrated impressive 22 percent year-over-year growth for digital marketing and offered further excitement for digital marketers operating in just about every marketing channel out there.

According to the IAB report, investments increased across the board:

  • Investments in mobile, the fastest growing of all categories, increased 149 percent
  • Digital video grew 29 percent, up to $1.8 billion in 2011 revenue
  • Search revenues increased 27 percent to $14.8 billion in 2011
  • Display retargeting grew 15 percent

The problem with these soaring investments is that they hint at a potentially huge problem in the marketing departments of brands across the globe. While spend grows fast within channels, most brands still fail to take a holistic approach to managing digital marketing, and that causes gaping inefficiencies.

According to “Integrate to Accelerate Digital Marketing Effectiveness,” a study released May 29, 2012 by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, just 9 percent of the global marketers surveyed say they have a highly evolved digital marketing model with a proven and clear path of evolution. Simultaneously, 36 percent report a random embrace of marketing point solutions that aren't well integrated or unified.

Marketers focus a great deal of importance on scalability. When they select a bid management technology for their paid search efforts, for example, most marketers understand that solution will likely need to manage larger campaigns next year than it will be managing right out of the gate. What marketers often overlook is a technology’s ability to adapt.

Making Information Available

It’s what we all do. We make sure people can find the data and information they need wherever they seek it.

We use paid search ads to make data available about the products and services we offer. We leverage search engine optimization and local tactics to ensure consumers near our locations can find our stores, offices and businesses. We deliver local deals and promotions to the palms of nearby consumers’ hands via mobile.

The examples are endless, but they all accomplish the same basic task of connecting consumers with the information, data, products, directions or other resources they seek.

All sorts of problems arise, however, when each marketing channel manages data in its own silo. Duplicate information about store locations, products and countless other types of critical business information turns into misinformation. Maintaining data accuracy and integrity takes four times as long when four different channels manage information independently.

Unifying a Single Data Source

Eventually, marketers will want every piece of data housed in a single location. They’ll keep that data clean, versatile and accurate, and it will fuel everything from local search to display to voice search to paid search to SEO. Someday it may even power digital billboard advertising, neurological advertising or any other futuristic marketing application you can dream up. We’re not there yet, but marketers shouldn’t wait for the holy grail.

Marketing automation tools already help brands maintain unified, clean sets of data that can be shared through many marketing channels. Huge strides have been made in recent years, particularly in the areas of SEO and local search.

Some of the world’s top brands are adopting marketing automation technologies that leverage one clean, unified data set to accomplish amazing things with simple and drastically reduced workloads. Take location information, for example. CMOs are tapping marketing automation technology to empower hundreds or thousands of local dealers, agents, franchises and retail stores to simply and effectively run promotions and keep their location and contact information visible and accurate.

The systems house data in one spot for simple and effective updates to be made, and they turn these updates over to website location pages, mobile pages, Google+ Local pages, Facebook pages, Bing Local pages, directories, ratings and review sites, and more.

A unified data source can go a long way to ensure consistent branded experiences for consumers across all digital touch points. With the right automation technology, organizations can leverage adaptive models to enable quick testing and adoption of new marketing channels as they emerge. As new applications for data emerge, some of these tools will evolve right along with the industry, plugging marketers in quickly and effectively. The benefits are both numerous and substantial.

Advocating for Change

Maybe this all sounds well and good but seems like it might be someone else’s problem to solve. After all, what’s a search marketer supposed to do about all these holistic technology and data management issues?

For starters, care about making a difference and start in your own silo. You can play an active role in tearing down some of those walls. If you work in paid search, for example, start collaborating more with SEO and vice versa.

After you’ve torn down some of your own silo walls, consider going further by encouraging:

  • Investment in technologies that evolve with consumer behavior and cater to emerging technologies, gadgets and resources
  • Moving ever closer to a single source of unified location, inventory, product and other critical data
  • Adoption of content management and distribution systems that save time while boosting accuracy and visibility
  • Cross-channel optimization and analysis to improve effectiveness and accountability

Remembering Tomorrow as You Plan for Today

Clearly, we all need resources that help us accomplish this year’s goals most effectively, but today’s great performance and tomorrow’s growing success don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The more we can unify efforts and technologies across marketing channels the more effective we can all become and the more success we can help our brands achieve.


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