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If you’re just getting started with digital marketing and you’re planning your first campaign, you may be overwhelmed. There are a lot of critical aspects to digital marketing, but the most important thing might surprise you.

For this week’s article, we interviewed Quinton Smithwick, the Digital Media Manager for MDR to get his take on what a good digital marketing campaign should include. He writes:

Great digital marketing includes testing and iteration. One of the greatest benefits to running digital campaigns is the flexibility to quickly pivot based on analytics and campaign performance. You can’t take full advantage of digital marketing without monitoring and optimizing your campaigns based on the constant flow of insights and data that digital campaigns produce.

First Step: Collect and Analyze Your Data

The most important piece of your digital marketing strategy is your data. If you know who your customers are and how they use your website or app, you’ll be able to target your digital marketing campaigns based on that data—providing a better experience that will be more likely to convert. Before you can decide what channels and mediums you want to target, you need to know which ones are likely to have the most chance for success, and analytics can provide that answer.

How do you collect good data? Ideally, you will want to install software on the backend of your website that tracks your site’s activity. You’ll want to know what your customers do when they visit and how they got there. Software like Google Analytics was designed for this exact purpose. It’s free to use, and easy to install. Once Google Analytics is installed, it runs in the background, silently collecting information you can then use to plan your campaign.

You’ll want to get at least a full fiscal quarter’s worth of information before you start planning your campaign. Three months is a good barometer, because you’ll be able to see patterns and get a bird’s-eye view of how people interact with you online. If you only had a week’s worth of data, the information could be skewed or there could be an outlier that you would miss by having such a short sample. For this reason, hold off until you collect enough information to make an informed decision.

Second Step: Consider Your Goals

Now that you’ve pored over your digital data, the next thing you need to do is assess your goals. What do you want to get out of your next digital campaign? Purchases? Sign-ups? Leads? What action should your customers take after interacting with your campaign? Your answer to this question is going to guide your choices when it comes to picking what services you’ll need to execute your campaign, which is why you need to be clear about it before you start.

Third Step: Assess Your Options

Here are some of the most common services that are part of a good digital marketing campaign. We’ll explain what these are, and what each service is good for.

Email Marketing
Good For: Purchases, Brand Engagement

Email marketing is more than sending a mass hand-typed email to everyone in your Gmail address book. If done right, the kind of email you would send to your subscribers would be designed with HTML and images and provide a short, focused, message designed to make the reader take immediate action. Generally, email marketing is a bottom-of-the-funnel activity—you’re trying to reach people who are ready to convert. The best use-case of email marketing is for advertising a sale or launching a new product. Some companies use email marketing for brand engagement. This involves sharing company news or updates, and it provides a convenient way for people to stay connected to your brand.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing
Good For: Purchases, Leads

Pay-Per-Click Marketing involves creating a simple add that is shown on a search engine or social media site. If someone clicks on your ad, you will be billed a small amount, (this can be as high as a few dollars or as small as 50 cents in some cases), and the visitor will be taken to your website or landing page. This is a great way to market products or bring increased visibility to your service. This is also a bottom-of-the-funnel activity, you’re reaching people when they’re searching for something specific and you’re trying to be the first to earn the potential customer’s business.

Content Marketing
Good For: Brand Awareness

Content marketing involves writing carefully engineered blog articles that are designed to be picked up by search engines, ranking highly so that your customers will find them. Most of the time, customers that are reading a blog post are trying to gather information. If during this process, a potential customer finds your article, they may be introduced to your company, when they wouldn’t have discovered it otherwise. Content marketing is great for brand awareness and developing brand loyalty. Best of all, blog posts don’t have a recurring cost. If an article ranks well, it will likely rank well for months or even years!

Social Media
Good for: Brand Awareness, Brand Engagement

Social Media management is how your brand connects with its audience. In today’s interconnected world, social media is how your customers decide how they feel about your brand. Social Media is a great way for your brand’s personality to shine, and it’s an important way to reach your customers where they spend most of their online time. When combined with social media advertising, you can reach far more people for far less than you’d expect. Because the medium is so personal, it’s critical that you have a solid presence on the most popular social networks. When combined with content marketing, you’ll have a great introduction to your business that you’ll need to cultivate to find new customers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Good for: Purchases, Leads, Brand Awareness, Brand Engagement

If you’re looking for a “free” way to connect with customers across mediums, you need to be looking at Search Engine Optimization. It’s a way of optimizing your website so it will rank higher for searches where customers are looking for your business. Like content marketing, once you make the investment in SEO it will pay dividends for months or years down the road. Every business can benefit from SEO, and companies that excel in this area can see their profits soar. Partnering with the right provider is key, so you’ll make sure you do your homework before picking the provider for your company.

Starting your first digital marketing campaign can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! The folks at MDR are here to help! Drop us a line to see how we can help you optimize your next digital campaign.