Effectively managing investments in digital marketing activities is rarely a true core competency for businesses.
In some instances, owning all digital marketing competencies is crucial to the company’s business model. (For instance, online retailers that compete solely on price or marketers where unbranded SEM drives a majority of their revenue.) In contrast, many other organizations are actively considering outsourcing some or all elements digital marketing – perhaps in the same fashion with which they outsource certain information technology functions.
Realizing this, executives often ask me: “How much of this should we learn to do ourselves?” vs. “How much of this should we have others actively manage for us?” I don’t honestly know what each business should do – but I do know what needs to get done.
In that spirit, Three Ships offers a checklist to help senior executives assess the quality of their internal efforts against the urgent demands of their business, its customers, and the marketplace:
Managing Investments in Targeted Advertising
- Use Demand Side Platforms to combine behavioral data, including unique touchpoints per user that incorporate demographic data, browsing history, time of visit, frequency, and recency, thereby purchasing audience more efficiently than traditional display networks.
- Segment the performance of all keywords by geography, seasonality, time, browser, and device, and optimize bids accordingly.
- Cull negative keywords multiple times per week to improve Quality Score, improve Click Through Rate and lower Cost Per Click.
- Evaluate arbitrage opportunities for high-value branded competitor keywords across different search platforms on a daily or weekly basis.
- Keep a dashboard of spend, CPC, CTR, and conversion data.
Fully Capturing the Value of Web Traffic
- Align all elements of each landing page – including copy, call-to-action, page structure, social proof, and creative – with the advertisement itself and the targeted audience, using normative benchmarks to gauge performance.
- Have the creative ability to spin up landing pages, infographics, graphics, and video for use in display advertisements and landing pages – aligning this work with brand positioning and brand guidelines to improve user experience and conversion rates.
- Employ multivariate testing on the conversion pages including imagery, headline, structure, CTA, etc.
- Assess page load time, internal linking structure, and regularly track the domain and page authority of the website making improvements to increase UX and conversion.
Generate Traffic Through Search Engines and Non-Paid Channels
- Have market-sized the universe of relevant keywords for which demand can be generated, and evaluate the competitiveness and value of keywords to identify a target list for SEO and SEM.
- Keep a dashboard of SEO standing for prioritized keywords.
- Regularly do offpage link generation from relevant discrete linking domains identified through monitoring of competitors’ link profiles.
Effectively Manage Diverse Activity Sets and Continuously Improve
- Have formally documented a process for undertaking internal and competitive audits of Search Engine Performance, PPC and Rich Media Investments, Conversion Pages, and Website Performance.
- Have a well-established cadence of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly operational and strategic reviews to ensure a tight linkage between strategy and execution.
- Review key performance indicators relating to traffic acquisition and conversion on a daily basis.
- Conduct original research internally to identify new tactics for increasing rank in search engines.
- Understand the difference between the major research services, software tools, and use such data and tools for ongoing analysis as well as improving efficiency of all repeatable workflow processes.
- Attend, at minimum, Search Engine Strategies, AdTech, and LeadsCon. Subscribe to competitive research databases and industry publications.
This list describes important and needed capabilities, but not over-the-top ones. Notably absent are references to predictive modeling, data mining, and advanced customer segmentation. For some large enterprises or pure-play online businesses, these are necessary tools.
Technologies, markets, customer and consumer demands are shifting and evolving at a rapid pace, creating ever more complex challenges for the new breed of CEO’s/CMO’s/CTO’s.
At Three Ships, we are preparing to launch a research initiative focused on the Digital Marketing Department of 2015. We’ll conduct qualitative and quantitative research focused on helping all marketers think through these types of internal vs. external core competency decisions. While all of the capabilities are necessary for competitive differentiation in a crowded online marketplace, our research will help firms consider the “build” vs. “buy” decision.