The Three Easy Pieces of Digital Marketing: Part Three

This post is the third in a series, in which I discuss the three basic elements of any digital marketing program: Landing Pages, Traffic Drivers, and Measuring the Results. The good news about digital marketing is that there is a wealth of data available for analysis. The bad news about digital marketing is that there is a wealth of data available for analysis. Where do you start?

Forgive me for stating the obvious: you start at the beginning. And the beginning of every marketing campaign, digital or otherwise, is the definition of objectives. What are you trying to accomplish, and  what are the business goals by which you will define success? Are you seeking to increase levels of brand awareness? A greater number of consumers engaging with your brand? Or maybe you happy with the number of consumers that are engaging with the brand, but you want to deepen the level of engagement to build their loyalty and advocacy? A clear definition of success is the first step in measuring results, because you need to set up the mechanisms to track the results that will answer your questions.

Measuring the results of traffic drivers is primarily a game of numbers: how many consumers saw the tactic, and how many did what you were seeking to accomplish with the tactic. Just because I’ve termed this group of tactics as “traffic drivers” doesn’t mean that the number of click-throughs to the landing page is always the primary objective. If a brand is seeking mass awareness, you may be more interested in the number of impressions, the reach and frequency delivered to your potential consumers. When that’s the objective, the bulk of marketing campaign dollars may be spent on online and offline broadcast vehicles. But if bringing traffic to your landing pages is the brand’s primary objective, measurements should focus on identifying the most efficient tactics that generate click-through from target consumers. When possible, marketers should seek to align offline and online measurements to get a true picture of campaign results; Microsoft has developed a white paper on this topic.

Measuring the results of landing pages focuses on consumer behavior once they arrive on the page: what they did, how long they stayed on the page, how they moved through the variety on content options provided to them. Did they come back later? Did they share links with others? Did they respond to an offer or download content? There are lots of things the marketer can measure, but the focus should be on only those actions that are relevant to the brand’s objectives. The most common tool used for measurement of web page activity is Google Analytics; Facebook applications (but not the brand’s Facebook wall) can also be monitored using this tool.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of data available. To tame the monster, identify the three most important questions that you need to answer about your campaign. Clearly stating those questions up front, before the campaign begins, allows you and your agency partners to build the tools that will allow you to answer those questions once the campaign is underway.

The Three Easy Pieces of Digital Marketing: Part Two

My last blog post introduced the idea that any digital marketing plan consists of three elements: a landing page, traffic drivers that bring visitors to the landing page, and measurement of the results. This second post in the series will describe the many ways that consumers can be attracted to a brand’s landing page; Part 3 will address how to measure the results from both.

By “traffic drivers”, I mean any of the multiple tactics that can be employed to bring a consumer to the brand’s landing page. These tactics are listed below, and a brand manager should discuss each with their agency partners to determine the right choices for your business case. For an individual campaign, or as part of an “always-on” marketing strategy, each of the tactics can be used individually or in combination. The choice of tactics will depend on the brand’s marketing objectives and strategies, and on the behavior of the brand’s consumers.

Traffic drivers are not limited to brand-initiated tactics; consumer and professional comments (in person and online) can also bring consumers to the brand landing pages. Some of the tactics below have been linked to articles or blogs that provide more advice on the tactic.

  • Search Engine Marketing, which uses key words to position your brand into search results
  • Social Conversation initiated by the brand
    • posts on the brand’s Facebook wall can include links to content within the brand’s Facebook page or to other digital properties
    • tweets on Twitter can include shortened links to web pages, photos, or videos (and be sure the landing page is mobile-optimized!)
    • brand photos or videos on all sorts of content curation sites  (Pinterest, flickr, YouTube, instagram, etc.) can link back to other brand content
  • Word of Mouth: comments on relevant third-party blogs and web sites can provide helpful information to current and potential consumers, and the brand can include links for more detail (but be careful not to be pushy: the brand’s purpose in commenting is to be helpful, not to give a sales pitch.) Think about how the brand can use
    • ratings and review sites
    • industry / product / lifestyle blogs
  • Email Marketing: consumers continue to subscribe to brand emails to receive offers and information. These consumers have already given the brand permission to engage, and are very likely to click-through to your landing page when given a relevant message.
  • Advertising
    • Traditional advertising (such as out-of-home, magazines, newspapers, broadcast TV) should include calls to action to encourage consumers to come to the landing page URL.
    • Digital advertising (digital display and rich media ads, social ads, search) can be narrowly targeted to reach the most relevant consumer target for the brand message.
  • Promotions: In-store materials can include a QR code and/or the URL of the landing page, along with a call to action to tell the reader why they should check it out. An SMS text call to action can invite consumers to request a link to be sent to them for later use. Be sure the landing page for these tactics is optimized for mobile devices in case the consumer decides to engage right away!
  • Other landing pages: when using multiple landing pages during a campaign, they should link to each other to allow the consumer to easily move from one to another. For example, a video on a brand’s web site might be accompanied by links to other videos on the brand’s YouTube channel. Landing pages created on third-party sites should also provide links back to brand-owned landing pages for deeper engagement.

You may notice: not all of these tactics are digital tactics. At every consumer touch point, the brand should provide the consumer with an opportunity for deeper engagement by publicizing the URL of the landing page. For example, say I’m marketing a new line of cookie mixes. A campaign-appropriate “vanity” URL  (in this case, it might be something like “YouLoveCookies.com”) could be created and integrated into offline tactics: the URL is shown at the end of my TV commercial, in the magazine ad copy, on the shelf-talker or sign at the store. The URL can help deliver part of the campaign message, and by placing it on every consumer communication, consumer awareness can be increased. You can check on the availability of a URL at sites such as www.whois.com.

When using any of the digital traffic drivers, work with your agency partners to be sure they are including unique tags on each traffic driver. This will allow you to identify what sources drive the most traffic. The tags can follow a consumer’s activity through their engagement session, and therefore can identify which drivers resulted in the behaviors you are seeking to deliver on the landing page. Which leads to the third and last part of this series: Measuring Results.

The Three Easy Pieces of Digital Marketing: Part One

With the galaxy of digital channels, platforms, devices and scary-sounding jargon, it no surprise that digital marketing can seem daunting. So many options, with new options added seemingly every day. How does a brand manager make sense of it all? How do you decide what digital elements to include in your marketing plan?

All these options boil down into three elements, and you need at least one of each as part of your marketing plan:

1. The Landing Page: the digital presence where the most robust and deep interactions between the brand and the consumer take place.

2. The Traffic Drivers: the tactics that bring the consumer to the Landing Page.

3. The Results: the measurements and analysis that tells you what happened.

Sounds simple, right? It is! This post and the next two will talk more about the Three Easy Pieces. Let’s start with

The Landing Page

This is the digital “place” to which you are trying to attract your consumers: it could be a web site, the brand’s Facebook wall or a Facebook application, a mobile site, a game, or sponsored content on a third-party web site. The Landing Page is designed for depth of engagement: it is the place where consumers can learn more about a brand or a promotion, view (and perhaps download) audio or video content, redeem an offer, read what other folks are saying and interact with like-minded people, register to win something or to receive future brand communications, play a game. This is the place when the consumer has the chance to really engage with the brand and the message, and the quality of engagement is what counts, not just the number of people who land on the page.

Think about the experience you want your consumer to have on this page, and what the consumer will be expecting when they arrive there. Most consumers will arrive at your page because of a traffic driver, and the messaging delivered by the landing page should be consistent with the tactic that brought them to the page. They should be able to immediately see “the rest of the story” that sparked their interest in the first place. Marketers sometimes want to say everything as soon as they are “introduced”, but it’s better to meet the consumer’s expectations consistently over time, build trust, and then – perhaps – the consumer will be ready to listen to other things you would like to say.

Think about this: Have you ever clicked on a digital ad and then landed on the home page of the brand’s website? How frustrating! You clicked on the ad because you were interested in the offer – and if you just land on the brand’s home page, you will now have to look for the offer. Chances are, you will say “forget it” – and move on to something else. An ad inviting a consumer to register for a contest should land on a registration page. A QR inviting a consumer to get a coupon should land on a digital coupon that is accessible with on a mobile device. A Facebook post inviting folks to view a certain video should link directly to that video, not a gallery of choices. It’s even possible to deliver differing landing pages based on specific key word searches. A brand may need to create multiple landing pages to deliver the best experience to the consumer.

The point of the landing page is to be of service to the consumer: solve their problem, deliver the information they are seeking, give them what they are expecting or looking for. When planning the content of the landing page, put yourself in the consumer’s mindset: what will they have seen before arriving at the page? What will they want to do when they land on the page? Deliver that to them, and they will appreciate the brand that provided them a good experience.

If your brand uses an “always on” marketing strategy, the brand will want to use the same URL over and over. As messaging needs change, the brand will want to change the content that is delivered when the consumer comes to that URL – not create a new URL. The consistent use of  BRANDX.com in all channels of consumer communication will make measurement easier and will improve search engine results for the brand.

Part Two of this series discusses traffic drivers: the wide variety of online and offline tactics that can be used to attract consumers to the brand’s landing page, and Part Three provides an overview of the measurement of the results for both.

Facebook Brand Pages 101

Facebook has become a critical component of most brand marketing plans, and brand managers are using Facebook brand pages to meet a variety of brand communication objectives. Brands have “pages”, while people have “profiles” – both function in many of the same ways. Site administrators can post content and make comments on behalf of the brand, view the Facebook Insights for the page; all brand pages should have at least 2 site administrators. Here’s an overview of the architecture of a brand page.

Common elements of all brand pages. A brand manager can’t change these components; they are part of the standard Facebook platform. Each section within the page is called a “tab”.

1. The “table of contents” for a brand page is on the left side of the screen; each tab within a brand’s Facebook page is listed here. The site administrator can adjust the order in which each tab is displayed, but the Wall and Info pages are always at the top of the list.

2. The “Wall“. This is similar to a person’s News Feed; it displays the brand’s posts/status updates, along with the posts added by others. People visiting the page can choose to see everyone’s posts or just the brand’s posts; the site administrator can specify the default view for page visitors.

  • In addition to a text-based “status” post, brands can share photos, links to other URLs, videos, polls, or questions.

  • All page visitors are able to see the number of people who have “liked” the post, and can read the comments and shares of page visitors.

3. The “Info” tab. Much as a person defines their interests in their profile, a brand adds copy to Info sections that are defined by the Facebook template; sections include Founded, About, Company Overview, Description, Mission, Products and Website. Most brands use this page to tell people that they have found the official Facebook page for the brand, and to provide contact information.

4. The Friend Activity tab allows page visitors to see the interactions of their own network of friends with the brand’s page. Site administrators have no control over this page.

5. The Insights tab is seen only by site administrators; this page summarizes activity on the brand’s page.

6. Other standard (and self-explanatory) tabs are Photos, Videos, Notes, Polls, Links, Events and Questions. These tabs will automatically populate whenever the brand creates a status update using one of these types of posts.

Applications and Custom Tabs. The standard Facebook tabs described above are the same for all brands, and offer limited opportunity for brand imagery and customization. Many brands develop custom tabs and applications for their Facebook brand page; a custom tab allows for a more obviously branded experience for the page visitor, and these tabs often serve as a landing page for promotional or advertising campaigns. Brands can add as many tabs as they wish.

Welcome / Home tab. Some brands choose to create a custom tab on which first time visitors to the brand’s Facebook page will land. (Once a consumer “likes” a brand, they will automatically land on the “wall” tab when they come to the brand’s Facebook page.) Some brands use this page to encourage consumers to “like” the brand to allow the brand’s status updates to be included in the visitor’s news feed.  Here’s an example of Red Bull’s home page.

Page Tabs can be used to help page visitors find other brand content, such as videos on YouTube, brand stories on a web site, and community conversation on Twitter. Tabs can operate much like a web site, allowing consumers to download ring tones or screensavers.

Applications allow brands to integrate Facebook functionality into a branded experience within a Facebook page tab. By developing an application with Facebook Social PlugIns, the brand make it easy for page visitors to share brand interactions with their own social network. To be most effective, these applications must provide something of value to the visitor and their network. Applications require that a user “allow access” to their profile, so the visitor must think it’s worth it.

Brands can add an unlimited number of tabs to their pages; the brand’s strategy must include tactics that drive traffic to each tab.