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5 Key Questions to Answer Before Starting a Digital Marketing Program

A digital marketing program has become the foundation of most modern-day marketing plans. Yet, every week Olive & Company receives emails from organizations looking to start a digital marketing program for the first time. Some of these are new businesses, but many are existing organizations, finally moving into digital marketing. Still, others have been doing it for years but aren’t sure they are doing it right. 

Yet, as prevalent as digital marketing programs have become, they’re still not fully understood, even among those with experience. That’s because many people still don’t understand the depth of planning needed to create a successful digital marketing program. 

Olive & Company offers five key questions you should answer before beginning a digital marketing program to help your efforts get off on the right foot. 

One other thing. These questions aren’t just for first-time digital marketers. Many organizations with a well-established digital marketing ecosystem may struggle to answer these same questions. So, even if you are an experienced digital marketer, it’s a wise idea to take a minute, scan the questions, and assess how well you can answer each one.  

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1. What are your digital marketing goals and objectives? 

Think you have an answer? Hold on to it for a moment. The question goes much deeper than it seems. 

When asked about goals, clients often say they want to generate new sales. That’s a great outcome, but it’s not the complete answer. 

It’s important to understand how the goal of generating new sales is achieved. This knowledge, of course, becomes the real question we’re asking; what does it take to create that outcome?

These more in-depth answers often  include a combination of:

  • Generating quality leads
  • Increasing brand/product awareness
  • Supporting sales efforts
  • Educating audiences
  • Changing brand/product perceptions

When you know what you want to achieve and what it takes to complete it, your digital marketing program has a better chance of success.

Also, be sure to make your goals realistic. How? By balancing goals with investment. It’s unlikely that you will quadruple sales while spending $100. The desired outcome often requires a fair investment. 

2. Who are you targeting?

Digital marketing begins with audience knowledge. Simply put, you can’t reach your audience unless you know your audience. The better your audience intelligence, the more effective your digital results. 

Audience knowledge often starts by knowing who makes the purchase decisions. For example, is it a direct sale involving a single person, or is it an involved sales process involving multiple stakeholders? The answer to this question will significantly influence your digital marketing execution. 

Simply put, you can’t reach your audience unless you know your audience.

Knowing who makes the buying decisions and who to target is much easier to answer for organizations that have created audience personas. These are snapshots of key audience segments that describe their situation, needs, interests, and influences. 

Adding further depth to personas is customer journey maps. These are detailed descriptions of each persona’s path from awareness, to consideration, to purchase, to adoption and, finally, advocacy. The journey maps include psychological factors and critical influences at each stage of the process. 

Having both personas and journey maps will allow you to deploy a well-targeted digital marketing program and achieve maximum results. 

3. Where are you sending traffic?

Where a digital ad (or post, email, etc.) leads customers is crucial to the effectiveness of a digital marketing program. When in doubt, follow this advice: don’t surprise people. Send them to the page that makes the most sense in relation to the message in the communication. It should feel like a seamless migration from ad to your content. 

We should also point out that the best destination is rarely your homepage. If your ad is selling a specific product, the ad should lead them to that product page. If the ad is promoting your brand, lead them to a branding page. If your ad suggests a downloadable, such as a white paper, lead them to that page. 

What’s crucial is that the page you guide people to offers an opportunity for conversion. That conversion may be a purchase, a download, a request for a meeting, and so forth. 

The first impression is always critical, especially with digital marketing, where the bounce rate can make your head spin.

Sending people to a high-converting page is not always easy to do. Not all websites are built with conversion in mind. Some sites are purely informational (brochure-ware). That’s why we commonly suggest that new clients revise their existing site before implementing a digital marketing program. If they don’t have the budget to update their entire site, we still recommend adding unique landing pages built for targeted visitors and conversions. 

Of course, don’t just look at conversion capability when assessing if your site is ready to support a digital marketing program. Evaluate your brand’s presentation. Ideally, a digital marketing program will deliver a lot of new opportunities to your site. Does it present your brand well? Does it position you well against competitors? Are the offerings up to date? The first impression is always critical, especially with digital marketing, where the bounce rate can make your head spin. 

4. How do you measure digital marketing performance? 

In question one, we talked about the importance of setting goals. Now we’ll look at how your goals should be measured. It’s essential to establish objectives and methods of quantifying progress. These are often referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs). 

There is no shortage of collected data to use when measuring your digital marketing program. Where should you begin? Frankly, we advise working with a digital marketing partner that can suggest the best metrics to evaluate performance and explain why they offer those options. As we said, there are just too many variables and options to be addressed in this blog.

Ultimately, the reasons to measure KPIs come down to a straightforward idea: return on investment. Without goals and measurements, it’s impossible to track the performance of your digital marketing program. Just as important, it’s impossible to make ongoing improvements and move toward an agile marketing approach that can reap even greater returns in the years to come. Unfortunately, proving ROI is more complicated than you might expect. On paper, calculating ROI appears to be a somewhat linear proposition, but organizations are challenged to connect their data to actual ROI performance when put into the real world. This is a key area where having a knowledgeable digital marketing partner can help. The topic of ROI is too important to leave to guesswork. You’ll want to align with a partner who understands the interplay of micro and macro-level details to determine your ROI accurately. 

5. What are you willing to invest in the program?

Budget is the biggest—and often hardest—question to answer. Especially if this will be your first attempt at a digital marketing program. Do you go all in and give it the best chance to succeed? Should you hedge your bets and go slow and steady to prove performance? The truth is there is no single answer. 

So much of this depends on your industry, cost to compete online, quality of your current site, other marketing efforts, total marketing message, percentage of your audience that’s active online, and more. You should also ask yourself the current cost of your leads and the lifetime revenue from a new client. Both of those will give you some general starting points for the discussion. 

Ultimately, the budget is where the art and science of a digital marketing program intersect. Like establishing the KPIs, determining a budget is best arrived at by working with a trusted expert in digital marketing. They can make recommendations on what you’ll need to invest to meet the stated objectives. Their suggestions won’t be promises of performance—no one can deliver that—but the investment guidance can be considered a well-informed prediction. 

It’s important to know that investing a little is not always better than investing nothing. 

There will always be a baseline cost at which spending less is money wasted. Surprisingly, it’s also easy to overspend. Not all audiences or keyword searches have the scale to warrant massive dollars. 

So the answer is not to spend a little or spend a lot. The key is finding out the right amount to match your goals, metrics, and website conversion capabilities. The right number might be more than you were expecting—and more expensive than some agencies propose. Here’s an important note to understand: not all digital agencies approach your dollars the same way. Not every agency goes all in to optimize campaign performance. Some are okay with good-enough results. But in our opinion, good-enough is selling your marketing dollar short. 

Digital marketing is a complex puzzle that requires a significant amount of time to untangle and understand. It’s easy to cut corners, but doing so cuts results. Optimizing your campaign performance takes analysis, energy, insights, and ongoing refinement. Fail to invest in those things, and you fail to properly manage the digital marketing investment. 

A Digital Marketing Program Takes a Digital Marketing Partner

It’s time to get to work. Knowing the five key questions will only get you halfway to a better digital marketing program. Now you need to create some answers if you hope to cross the finish line successfully. As mentioned, some of these answers may require outside help. That’s where Olive & Company is happy to lend a hand. 

If you’d like to discuss more ways to refine, improve, and optimize your digital marketing program, reach out to Olive & Company. We’re here to help, answer questions, save you time, and save you money.

We exist to help clients achieve more and be better using analysis, strategy, and creative work. Let’s connect and do great things with your digital marketing program.

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Dave Hruby
Dave Hruby
Dave Hruby is brand strategist, writer, thinker, maker, and doer that challenges the status quo, shares wisdom freely, and happily asks tough questions to arrive at better than expected outcomes.