9 Steps to Master Digital Marketing by Unleashing Your Left and Right Brain

 

Whether you’re new to digital marketing or a long-time veteran, we all likely share one common challenge: how to serve the right content to the right audience and accelerate influencers and decision makers through the customer journey. And this is especially true as digital takes center stage and buyers are behaving in new ways. The tried and true sentiment that the B2B buyer’s journey is ‘complex’ has only gotten more true since the start of 2020.  

 
That’s where digital marketing comes in, providing an avenue to reach different buyers in an account at different stages of their journey—presenting them with just the right touch or offer at the right time.
 
The way I’ve always seen my role as a digital marketer is to rely on a combination of art and science. While data is instrumental to campaign success, designing an effective campaign to drive optimal results also requires creativity. Some may call it tapping into your left and right brain to bring campaigns to life. Any time I talk to a fellow digital marketer, I suggest they start to plan their digital marketing strategy without overlooking these fundamental guidelines:
 

1. Objectives and goals:

Depending on your go-to-market (GTM) strategy, you need to have clear alignment on what this means for your digital programs. For us, that means looking at everything through an account-based lens versus a ‘lead only’ lens. That’s why we make sure we are clear about what ABM means for our organization, and you need to all rally around the same definition and goals. If that’s your GTM strategy, work closely with your sales and exec team to build a shared ABM vision and business goals.  Develop strategies to support goals and drive alignment  across functional teams for execution.

Pro tip: Clearly defining roles and responsibilities across functional teams is important to avoid overlap in execution and channel conflicts. You need to know who pulls which lever and when.

2. Marketing channel mix: 

Identify the right channels, platforms, and tools to reach the right audience within target accounts. Leverage your owned channels (website, blog), earned (social communities, PR) and paid channels (paid social, display, content syndication) to drive awareness, educate and nurture your target audience through their customer journey. Make sure you define unique KPIs for each channel, as they often work together rather than in silos.

Pro tip: Drive awareness  to your website for educational content, retarget highly engaged visitors with next step lead gen offers, and build Look-alike segments of your top engagers on paid channels to expand audience reach.   

3. ICP and TALs:

Get hyper-clear of your ideal customer and use similar attributes to build your target account list.  Leverage advertising platform’s tools and technology to help you reach your target personas within the accounts.   Incorporate digital behavior and intent signals wherever possible to further segment your target audience. 

Pro tip: Leverage platforms that have ABM capability to drive engagement for your key accounts.  Share list of accounts that engaged most with the sales team for account follow up prioritization.

4. Content: 

Create content and offers that address your customer pain points.  Focus primarily on how your product and solution can solve customer’s problems.  Be thoughtful and avoid tone-deaf statements or marketing fluff.  Aligning campaign creative and tone to the mindset of the buyer and where they may be in the customer journey is crucial to campaign success.

Pro tip: When using customer reference videos or third-party content, make sure they are relevant in the country or market you are targeting.    

5. Channel and platform:

When designing a campaign, it’s important to have a deep understanding of your marketing channel capabilities.  You need to know which platform your audience is most active.  Then, understand how to leverage it to communicate with your audience most effectively.  Each platform has its own unique strengths and continuously evolves.  Explore new platforms or tactics with pilots then if successful, add it to your marketing channel mix strategy.

Additionally, get a clear understanding of your own technology stack and how it can support your campaigns.  System integration capability plays an important role in driving campaign efficiency.

Pro tip: Having the ability to push your audience segments to advertising platforms directly can speed up GTM timeline and improve data integrity.  Having the ability to transfer data back to your CRM in real time can improve cost efficacy. 

6. Agility:

Delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time is key. Always be ready to pivot or reposition content quickly based on market conditions, channel sentiment and engagement levels.

Pro tip: Always A/B test your creatives and messaging to improve conversion.  Social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn have A/B test functionalities you can use to run tests for creatives and CTA conversions.

7. KPIs: 

Define success metrics clearly for each goal and stage of the campaign during the planning phase.  People value different metrics so be sure to be transparent, set clear expectations and get alignment across functional teams and stakeholders.   Use appropriate metrics to monitor performance of each campaign component: ad creatives, messaging, target audience, landing page content, content quality, lead quality.

Pro tip: If your goal is lead acquisition, paying higher cost per lead up front for quality is expected.  Set clear expectations with your stakeholders and monitor funnel conversions.  Analyze different data points to tell your story.   

8. Baseline and benchmarks:

If you run a campaign for the first time or are testing a new platform/targeting strategy, use industry benchmarks to set your targets.  Once you start to collect more data, utilize it to reset your internal baseline for future campaigns.

Pro tip: Keep track of industry benchmarks for each channel and build internal baseline as you go.  Set your targets to beat your internal baseline metrics to show improvements. 
  

9. Optimization: 

Optimization is important throughout the campaign to ensure campaign success.   After a campaign is launched, monitor it for 1 week then start your optimization.  Evaluate performance against your set KPIs to make sure they are in range.   Combine platform data and your own to ensure the campaign truly drives the results you expect.

Pro tip: As a digital marketer, it’s important to showcase your effectiveness by 1) leveraging all data sources, 2) actively optimizing campaign performance, and 3) carefully measuring success to ensure marketing ROI.   This helps to build trust and credibility from stakeholders and secure continuous investment.

At the end of the day, looking at all programs through an account-based lens allows not just one department to succeed, but brings us all together in one forward GTM approach. 

About Cindy

As a Sr Manager, Global Digital Strategy, Cindy defines Digital Go-to-Market strategies and creates execution plans to support VMware’s high priority products and solutions. Her day-to-day responsibilities include orchestrating digital campaigns across VMware’s owned, earned, and paid channels to drive growth in the marketing pipeline.

About the Author

Cindy Phan, Sr. Manager, Global Digital Strategy

As a Sr Manager, Global Digital Strategy, Cindy defines Digital Go-to-Market strategies and creates execution plans to support VMware’s high priority products and solutions. Her day-to-day responsibilities include orchestrating digital campaigns across VMware’s owned, earned, and paid channels to drive growth in the marketing pipeline.

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