The digital marketing industry is not like it once was. In 2010, it was straightforward: you built a website, you invested in some SEO, you posted to Facebook and it all ticked along. You could play it safe and act like a robot and the leads would come in.
It isn’t like that anymore.
You, the business owner (or marketing manager), are pouring more and more money into content and advertising and not really seeing a return. You are doing all the ‘right’ things: you have a professional (and responsive) website, invested in SEO, are paying for Adwords, have looked at your User Experience, are posting regularly on social media, paying for Instagram & Facebook ads. You are sending emails. You are making videos.
You might even be buying radio spots and newspaper ads and trying, desperately to understand what the effing deal is with Snapchat, and mourning the loss of your youth (like me).
But something isn’t quite right: you just aren’t getting the leads or engagement that you used to. There are many, many reasons why campaigns don’t convert (and only a consult/audit can tell you the precise reason), but here are 5 potential reasons why your digital strategy is failing:
You don’t (really) know your audience.
I am going to burst your bubble: there is no such thing as “everybody with money” being your customer. Nowhere. Even the largest, most generic consumer products have a clearly defined target customer. Even essential products like milk, bread and nappies differentiate themselves somehow from the competition. Some compete on price alone. Some on quality and ethics. What do you stand for? What do your customers stand for? It is absolutely critical that you understand this before you start looking for images and writing content and chasing your tail.
This needs to be made 100% clear and bolded and underlined: I am not talking about demographics. I am not talking about “Mums between the ages of 23 & 48 in the North Shore” here. I am talking about knowing your ideal customers intimately: what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, what makes them click, what makes them tick. And will they really buy your stuff? Who else might?
Without having a clear idea of what gets their attention, you will waste money on ineffective ads, generic content and pointless platforms. So many businesses (and even Agencies) produce work that gets a lame result because they do not clearly define their niche from the beginning.
Your website is broken.
When I say your website is broken, I do not just mean it is down, or giving errors. I mean… it doesn’t work. It might be out of date, not work on mobile, have a non-intuitive design, or be difficult to find information. It might be the wrong colour scheme for your demographic. It might not accurately reflect who you are offline. And, it might also be broken.
No landing page in the world is going to fix a crappy design. You get one chance (and 3 seconds after that) to make a good impression.
There has been a trend with business owners and companies who go to Wix.com and sign up for a pretty, and well-designed website. I actually direct many people to Wix and it is perfectly adequate for their needs. These sites will absolutely look pretty, and definitely do an okay job at an interim website if you don’t have the money to invest. But they are not comparable to a solution that is tailored to your audience and your business needs.
With everything, there is a trade-off. Especially if you are trying to stand out from competitors.
You use multiple agencies (and even play them off each other).
It is not uncommon for a business to have a web designer, an SEO company, an Adwords consultant, a social media strategist, a photographer, a copywriter, an IT guy, your brother-in-law-who-knows-everything, for what should be a fairly simple digital presence. Larger businesses even have multiple agencies, who provide identical services, for different aspects of their online media.
Multiple providers, and additional stakeholders, specifically for small business, make the execution of a successful digital strategy 100x more difficult, and 9 times out of 10, ineffective. How can you possibly have a cohesive, well performing digital strategy if there is one agency doing email, one doing display ads, one doing Adwords, one doing content, one doing the website…? It is impossible and it is a waste of money.
I have sat across many a desk with other providers who only have their own interests at heart, and not the interests of the client. I have watched SEO providers sell elaborate SEO packages when one isn’t needed. I have seen social media strategists recommend 5 posts a day to a Facebook Page that shouldn’t even exist. I have seen web designers sell complex website functionality when a one-page site is enough. I have even been involved with one Agency who actively tried to sabotage our Agency’s relationship with a client.
Look, business is business, and of course I do not begrudge salespeople being salespeople, but if you are using multiple providers for your digital strategy, it is inevitable that they will be trying to win business from each other (and sometimes even flat out undermine them!) rather than being focused on you and your outcomes.
This is why I say that I am completely platform and solution agnostic — because I am only interested in getting you the best result. This is why I tend to work more on a retainer basis and give you what you need. And be mindful that the more stakeholders you have, the more complex a project becomes to manage (usually at additional cost).
You are investing too much in the wrong areas, and not enough in the right ones
How much are you spending on Adwords per year? If you are spending $5 for every $1 sale, what is the point? Would this be better spent on Facebook Ads? Would it be better spent on a billboard? Or an employee that is writing content on your behalf on LinkedIn, or even a sales employee that is going offline to networking events and trade shows?
It is critical that you constantly review where your spend is — where your effort is -and optimise, optimise, optimise to your market. Don’t stick with a provider or platform just because you are afraid of hurting feelings or have invested time in it. You have to put money where it makes money. Unless you are a large business with budget for “brand awareness” — don’t bother. Focus on the money.
If people aren’t Googling for any of your industry search terms (eg billionaires don’t usually Google where to get a Ferrari — they rely on word of mouth), then there is no point wasting money on irrelevant ads. If your target audience is on LinkedIn, there is no point spending on the maintenance and advertising on a Facebook Page. Similarly, if there is an offline solution, then you might not even need digital at all (I know… controversial…! Outside!).
It is absolutely critical that you look at your spending and ROI holistically and try different things frequently.
You are playing it safe.
I have written a lot on being boring and how it is fool’s gold. If you have limited resources, and a story to tell, you need to get it out there. Stop being boring. Stop with the Steve Jobs and stupid quotes and stock photos of women in yoga pants eating yoghurt and salad whilst balancing a laptop and baby in her arms. It is cliché. It is boring. And it is a fact: it does not convert in anywhere close to the numbers that being yourself does.
You need to learn how to cleverly polarise and take a stand for things you believe in, and use it in your marketing. I run 1 on 1 coaching on this (contact me if you are interested), but marketing is going to be far more effective when you get comfortable with authenticity and vulnerability in your marketing.
These are a few of the key areas that I look at when I audit someone’s digital presence to see if it is performing correctly. There are many other reasons why it may not be performing and I offer consults on this. I will happily audit your marketing activity — I report on your current presence, make some recommendations and help give you some focus for your digital strategy. Get in touch with me if you would like to learn more.