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ClickZ

Every year for the last four or five years we have been calling that year “The Year of Mobile.” But maybe this is finally the year that we start to adjust our budgets and plans to a new reality. It’s long past due, as evidenced by the undeniable consumer preference for mobile devices and the increasing reliance and time spent with mobile technology.

Gartner just released a new study that details the seventh consecutive quarter of declines in the worldwide shipments of PCs. In emerging markets, the only personal computing device is often a smartphone, while tablets and tablet/notebook combinations are now the hot item for consumers across markets. We are entering the era of one family PC or laptop augmented by individually claimed smartphones and tablets or tablet/notebook combos and maybe an e-reader thrown in to cover most of our connected needs. As the cloud becomes a mainstream consumer storage option, hardware relics edge even closer to irrelevancy.

PCs have not disappeared just yet, but they’re definitely fading into the background. As older business and family machines die off or their software becomes obsolete they will not be replaced on a one-for-one basis. This will be especially true for more affluent households who have rapidly adopted the sexier new technology and for younger generations who have never known a world without instant Internet access on the go. While that trusty old PC may be kept for backup or convenience, relegated to housing records or handling common everyday tasks, more and more of our time online is devoted to small-bite activities, social, and other connections better suited to personal and hand-held devices. Even routine household computing tasks will soon move to newer device platforms as support becomes available for those tasks in new device and usage modes and environments. Further, as smartphone and tablet usage patterns and preferences become ingrained, they will seep into business hardware choices helped by a growing availability of workplace and productivity software and apps.

It’s not just the PC manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that need to recognize and adjust for this significant and pervasive shift in buying and usage behavior patterns; it’s also the marketers who need to make a leap. Device choice has a significant impact on how a message is received and acted upon that should be reflected in the 2014 marketing plan.

Start with the compelling evidence in global stats and your own analytics. Show key decision makers the dominance of mobile buying from Holiday 2013 or the general rise in smartphone and tablet ownership and usage within your relevant audiences to set the stage for a general discussion of how your audience is using mobile in your space. Benchmark competitive activity in mobile channels and your current site conversions in mobile — but do so with care. Your current mobile results mean almost nothing unless you have already built a seamless mobile experience and marketing program. You don’t want to let what may look like poor results with the wrong approach drive future planning.

Assess your mobile readiness starting with your mobile destinations. Are those mobile experiences accessible and useful to your desired audiences? Do they support your goals? Can you track performance within those locations? Do you have commitment for the frequent updates required across platforms and devices? Don’t forget your social channels in mobile. Luckily, the social platform players have shouldered the technology burden for you in providing the mobile experience but you may need to adjust your content and approach to better match the needs of the on-the-go consumer.

Define the role of mobile within your broader marketing plan. Do you have an integrated marketing and content plan that connects the mobile user to your brand with consistency of message and purpose? Mobile-specific ads and messages should reach customers with info or content useful to their mobile state and needs and then take them to the mobile-optimized location. Mobile behaviors morph quickly, as new devices are delivered to the marketplace, as connectivity and infrastructure advancements are made, and as clever entrepreneurs and corporations feed and sometimes create the needs that drive consumers. It takes commitment to stay current and relevant in this channel.

Above all, whatever its future forms, remember that the mobile consumer is really just a consumer and ultimately, not defined by their device choice or channel. Marketers must meet customer expectations of a seamless experience regardless of the access point. Make 2014 the year to start treating consumers as a healthy whole — certainly with different responses and needs within certain environments and at certain times, but with just one brand relationship across time and touch points that should be protected and nourished.

Originally published on
ClickZ

Mark Twain famously remarked, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” This quote comes to mind for me whenever an organization proudly unveils a complex report filled with tons of data and very little actionable information. We can measure almost anything in digital – and often, unfortunately, marketers include every data point and every metric in monster reports that do not serve their organizations well. Reports tend to grow and proliferate in the absence of strategic and integrated planning and clear goals or when laziness ensues – it being much easier to drown users in data points (useful or not) than to think ahead about the information to collect and analyze based on unique goals and organizational needs.

A good reporting plan limits the information presented to those points that illustrate actionable information or trends and provides insights within a timeframe that they can be used. That takes a lot of work and may involve the review and consideration of a great deal more data than is eventually included. All that background work leads to a good report that tells a clear story and gives the readers a roadmap for action. You can’t tell a clear story if the lead is buried in less relevant or less useful information.

While it is much more work to create an effective, concise reporting environment it returns handsomely for everyone who relies on that information. Reports are more likely to be reviewed, discussed, and acted upon if they are actually relevant and effective business tools. Often that means different formats or information provided in different depth depending on the user and her needs.

In order to avoid out of control and wasteful analytics practices in your organization follow these easy rules.

Stick to What Is Meaningful

KPIs should be limited. Track everything that is relevant to your business goals and decisions and scan or test regularly for trends or anomalies but only report on the couple of metrics that are truly key. This takes discipline and it would be smart to get consensus in advance.

Stick to What Will Be Used

Know in advance how the data will be used to make decisions. Provide users with the information in their language and paired with the appropriate context of timeframe, trending, budget, competitive, or other info that would be needed to make the data actionable. This requires an intimate knowledge of the audience needs.

Deliver Within a Timeframe That Is Useful

If it takes weeks to deliver insights needed to make regular optimizations or other decisions then that stale data may do more harm than good. It’s better to have timely insights on your true KPIs then a metric ton of metrics delivered long after they were needed.

Be Open to Change

In order to be relevant, analytics and reporting should morph with an organization’s approach and objectives. That means the analytics can’t be an afterthought. It needs to be elevated to the same importance as other critical strategic or campaign decisions.

Stick to What Is Reliable

Know and trust your data sources. If you see unexplained differences or behaviors from a source then validate it before you serve it up for others to make decisions. At the very least qualify the reporting with an explanatory note if questions are still out there.

Stick to What Is Reasonable in Effort and Cost to Collect

The cost, time, and effort to get some data points, even critical ones, can sometimes outweigh their benefit or usefulness. Look for other ways to explain what you need to as often there is a less perfect but more reasonable proxy that can still contribute to effective decision-making without creating an unreasonable burden.

I imagine that your internal audiences and Mark Twain both would be much happier to see a dashboard with some real info and insights than a bloated, complex report that takes tons of resources to develop and maintain and that nobody really uses. If your reports are not regularly referenced in meetings where decisions are made, if your reports are late and nobody notices, if reports are filed and forgotten, if reports are so complex that no one can challenge them or asks any questions, then it is clearly time to revamp your approach.

Mobile, Cloud, gaming, APPs, APIs, responsive, bats, SVG, modernize, JS (javascript for those of you who don’t know), HTML5, CSS3, Cloud computing, analytics, start ups, local brews, virtual cloud hosting, open source, touchscreens, these were the buzz words from the second day at SXSW.

The day started with a four hour hands on session on mobile apps and why they suck, but they don’t have too. With examples of how to make mobile apps with HTML5, CSS3, and JS libraries.

Learned about some web sites that are doing it correctly like twitter, tumblr, financial times, and GMAIL. Also learned some JS libraries to use to help make programming easier.

Also sat in on panel with Leap Motion https://www.leapmotion.com/ The remarkably accurate, incredibly natural way to interact with your computer.

“The Leap Motion Controller will change the way you work without changing what already works for you. So it doesn’t replace your keyboard, mouse, stylus, or trackpad. It works with them, and without special adapters. Just plug it into the USB on your Mac or PC, and you’re off.”

Tomorrow I hope to get to their tent to try out this technology. Using your hands instead of a keyboard or mouse have a lot of possibilities in the future, or just around the corner.

After that session headed to the Expo, learned about all the new technology, hosting options and startups. Companies like http://www.static.com Cloud hosting with their Static Cloud and Virtual Open Cloud Web Hosting Technology. Or http://www.treeswing.com/ Tree swing and their investing set free app, which makes investing easy on your mobile device coming out late this year. WordPress  http://wordpress.com/, LightCMS http://www.lightcms.com/ were also there making web publishing easy for everyday users. Also talked to the guys from You Commentate http://www.youcommentate.com/ where you commentate a sporting event and your friend can listen to you instead of the sports announcers,  because who wants to listen Tim McCarver announce a baseball game.

Also checked out some US Airways social board. You can get your picture taken and have it posted to the huge social screen. Since I was a little tired I took the following picture.

One of the coolest companies Ghostery http://www.ghostery.com/. Ghostery tracks over 1,200 trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity. So you can watch who is watching you and disable those cookies.

After the interactive Expo headed over to the Gaming Expo, learning about all the new games coming out. Lots of first person shooting games, but also games which are played on the cloud. These cloud based games make their money on add-on and in game buying features.

It was a very productive day with lots of walking and checking out the downtown Austin. My first stop was in then middle of the University of Texas. So I got a good look of the campus and the capital building on the walk back.

Stay tuned for my last day at SXSW…

Some of the most prevalent questions I come across in Paid Search marketing are, What are the factors that go into Quality Score and What can I do to improve my keyword Quality Score. This question is asked by clients, brand managers, co-workers, and Paid Search marketers themselves. But to understand how to improve Quality Score, you first need to understand what it is.

Quality Score as defined by Google, is a measurement of a keyword’s relevance to its ad text and to a given search query – this influences the keyword’s eligibility to display an ad and the position of that ad. The reason this metric is so important is because this helps ensure that users find what they are looking for through the use of Google AdWords ads, which will provide a better chance for your advertising success. Continue reading

Originally published on
ClickZ

CEOs (and CMOs) need to ask certain high-level but tough questions of their digital marketing team and agency. This can be a hard task when new digital programs involve something they may not have direct experience with or when the language employed is often a tangle of acronyms and terms for which they have no context. So, on behalf of all the CEOs out there – here is a starting primer on what you might ask your teams responsible for digital strategy and execution: Continue reading

Last week, Google announced that their asynchronous tracking tag went out of beta. While it’s been available for six months now, some organizations chose to wait until it was out of beta.

What’s the big deal?

You might be thinking “My old tracking seems to be working fine – I’m not seeing load issues and it feels like I’m getting reliable data. Why switch?”

Even if you’re getting good results, switching to the asynchronous tag can only improve things. Here’s how:

  • You can place the tag higher on the page. This means the web page doesn’t need to wait until it’s completely loaded to activate tracking. (see image below)
  • The tag loads more quickly.
  • Tracking code errors are reduced by eliminating conflicts caused by JavaScript dependencies and lag time. Even if you’re not seeing conflicts now you could experience them at a later date.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous

Get the new tag

The Google interface provides the new tag by default. To get the new tag, go to:

  1. Account Overview, and click ‘Edit’ on the appropriate profile.
  2. In the upper right, click on ‘Check Status’,
  3. Select the tracking mode you need and copy the tag.

Paste the tag in the desired location. Since it’s asynchronous it no longer needs to be at the bottom of the page – the page load won’t be impacted if the tag loads slowly. And while you’re in there making edits be sure to remove the old tag.

After you’re done placing the new tag, go back and Check Status again to confirm tracking is still working.

If you’re having problems, the old tag is still available.

Over the next few weeks we’re planning to update all our clients’ tags to the new one (and even our own site too). It’s just a few minutes of time but there’s a lot of value in making the switch.

Originally published on
ClickZ

Lately I’ve become fascinated with behavioral economics and related fields of study that examine and challenge our assumptions about how people make both simple and complex decisions. Of course, in interactive marketing we sometimes use tons of data as a proxy for true guidance and rely heavily on predictive models that primarily use past behavior and the behavior of those similar to you to present you with advertising vehicles, marketing offers, and messages. Is this the best we can do?

Relevance signals are clearly present in our behavior when we search using specific language cues or visit and return to specific pages with precise content. But to motivate or influence decisions we need to better understand the real influencing factors, which may not be as simple or linear as our current models imply.

Behavioral data models in use to serve relevant ads and purchase opportunities online can capture at least part of the decision process, but we might be able to craft a more ideal approach or decision environment on e-commerce sites and in shopping situations online. To do that, we must challenge the assumption that people make rational decisions based on the directly relevant factors weighed at the time of choice.

Consider the decision to buy a new electronic gadget. In your rational mind, you would search out the best deal based on its feature set, price, availability, etc., and weigh the options against your needs and budget. Of course you will take the best deal presented to you – won’t you?

Maybe, but maybe not. It depends on the mindset you’re in when presented with the options, earlier choices you may have made, the path you took to arrive at the option set, the complexity of the decision task, how the options are bundled, what else you are comparing it to, the size of the investment and the risk inherent in the decision, the mechanics of the choice, the way the information is presented, the timetable of the expected return, and a billion other factors.

Presumably, you would be moving toward the best deal for you, at that moment and space in time given a set of personal variables. Some of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the product, price, or offer and many of which you have no idea are influencing your decision.

Marketers of the new electronic gadget would be looking for patterns of behavior that suggest product interest to serve you ads and present purchase opportunities. They might pair that information with demographic data that implies that you can afford this gadget – maybe even the deluxe version.

They might segment the ads or opportunities based on their assessment of whether you’re doing serious research, just kicking the tires, or if you’re close to a purchase. They might use specific language, colors, or presentations based on regional preferences or other more granular distinctions, but still our data models describe what people should do given a neutral set of influences and a rational decision process.

More sophisticated e-commerce players adjust the research and shopping environments with dynamic content and personalization that help to move consumers through a conversion process to sale. The bundling and pricing options are carefully crafted to maximize profits and collaborative filtering (nearly a household word now) is used to upsell in the ubiquitous “if you like this product you may like that other thing” presentation.

Now commonplace features like product ratings and reviews are one clear approach to attempt to influence product and value perceptions. Subtleties found on sites like Amazon that emphasize when you could expect to receive the shipment of your gadget (making it almost yours already), or showing both positive and negative reviews to validate thinking are strong signals that these smart marketers understand and will continue to test other influences on our decision process.

Direct marketers, both traditional and online, have long used constant testing across multiple variables to help achieve optimal results. Are they the right variables?

We’ve made great strides in the sophisticated analysis of campaign insights and site-side results with ever increasing data sets, but if most of the underlying models are built on the assumptions of consumers making rational decisions, we could be repeating old style marketing – just doing it more efficiently and faster. Now we may have more insights and a new way of understanding, predicting, and maybe even influencing how consumer decisions are being made.

I don’t have any academic training, experience, or credibility in these fields of study, but indulge myself in reading the works of Gladwell, Ariely, Brafman, Taleb, and others whose theories and questions about how people make decisions should be central for marketers and make for fascinating explorations. I wonder how their insights can be applied to our field of online marketing.

Behavioral targeting and e-commerce leaders keep their algorithms to themselves. Perhaps some of the irrational effect is already captured in the sheer volume of data used to feed their models. Perhaps their secret sauce already includes a proxy for frame of mind and oddball, seemingly unexpected influences. I wouldn’t know how to capture that, which is why I defer to the experts in this area and urge them to broaden their thinking, recast their models with a set of new assumptions on the influences that matter, and the actual human decision calculus – which appears to be anything but rational.

Originally published on
ClickZ

Do a search on a search engine or in your favorite social media sites and you will find many links to valuable advice on how to measure the impact of social media. Articles, columns, blog posts, and books all lay out the strategy and offer blow-by-blow detail of setting goals, defining key engagement metrics, optimizing analytics software packages, developing monitoring programs, building reputation management dashboards, crafting social media workflow solutions, and creating customized reports. There is a growing list of free or cost effective tools to measure social media, but how do you manage company expectations and report on results when what you are measuring is a first trial, you are working with a small budget, or don’t have analysts to lean on? Even free tools require expertise and time to learn that may not make sense when you are budget or resource constrained.

Real World Testing

Clearly, there is a chicken-and-egg problem inherent in tracking results in the test case scenario. In order for a test to yield actionable insights, you need to somehow gather those insights. At the end of the test you need to be able to determine whether the effort was beneficial to your business goals and should be funded and continued. But sometimes the scale of the test or the available budget rule out the resources needed to track, analyze, and report on the results. Sometimes you just can’t afford to do analytics full out, meeting all the best practices that we rattle off like it makes sense in every case. Sometimes it just doesn’t.

Real World Framework and Time Frames

Social media results often take time to build. Any good test needs to gather enough participation and cover enough calendar to allow for reliable trending data. It can’t be significantly influenced by seasonality, outside promotions, or other factors that would skew results, unless of course you are testing campaign response or other very specific situations. Expected results and the metrics you track will be heavily influenced by your starting point in social media, your goals, the type of program or campaign you envision, your market scale, your brand strength, and your intended audience demographics.

Once you are confident that the timeframe and other test specifics will yield readable results, then you can safely use your existing analytics frameworks and a little ingenuity to answer the most important questions about the impact of your test. At this point, you want to focus on the highest level indicators – no more or less information than you need to make a go or no go decision on the test.

Test Results Should Be Directional

If you finally get approval for a social media test but don’t want to dilute the impact by burdening the budget with lots of tools or analyst consulting fees, there are places you can skimp:

  • Skimp on paid subscriptions to social media monitoring tools. While these are cost effective and beneficial for long-term programs, you don’t have that level of commitment yet. Start by ensuring that the goals of your program are well defined, then look in your current analytics program for relevant metrics. Set baselines before you start your test and measure on a regular basis during and after.
  • Skimp on consulting fees. Develop a simple Excel spreadsheet to track metrics relevant to your goals using the simple analytics available in the admin sections of each platform. For instance, the “insights” tab on Facebook Fan Pages provides good information about who’s visiting your page, their geography, activity, etc. See if there is a shift in people visiting during specific campaigns; a shift might indicate an opportunity with a new audience segment. Take this information and cross check it with Google Analytics or another free analytics tool like Quantcast, which provides terrific audience information about who is visiting your site, including geography, demographics, “audience also likes,” and more.
  • Skimp on daily or even weekly reporting unless the mechanics of your test direct otherwise. A beginning, middle, and end picture should tell you what you need to know without overburdening a simple test.
  • Skimp on shades of grey. You don’t need to test multiple messaging points or creative versions. You don’t need to describe multiple levels of tonality to get a feel for audience response. Possibly the best measure of social media impact during a test is to poll your customer front line personnel like customer service or call centers to see if they notice any differences.

If it sounds simple, it should. I’m a huge believer in the power of effective analytics. Sophisticated programs require sophisticated data collection, analysis, and optimization, but I’m also comfortable with a few indicators when that makes sense and encourages smart testing. The best you are going to get from a short-term social media test is directional information. If the metrics are also directional, that is appropriate and enough information to allow for decision making. Of course, all interactive marketing, including social media, is an ongoing test, optimized regularly against the appropriate level of data. If this is truly a test, then treat it as such and match the right effort level to its measurement.

How many programs have you seen stalled or diminished by an overreaching analytics burden?

Originally published on
ClickZ

Think back to a couple of years ago or even as far back as the mid ’90s. You may recall some commonly espoused good advice on starting a digital marketing effort. Often, we counseled brands against reaching out with interactive marketing efforts and dollars until they got their online house in order. In earlier days that meant setting your foundation in your Web site, but now has grown to be a much more dispersed and complex task.

Original foundation-setting activities typically included a short checklist that looked something like this:

  • Build or update your Web site.
  • Use SEO (define) best practices.
  • Ensure you have a content strategy in place.
  • Assess your customer or prospect lists and permissions for e-mail communications.
  • Assign responsibility across relevant internal stake holders for various Web-related activities.
  • Cross market your URL on traditional print, packaging, and other offline communication vehicles.
  • Enable some kind of Web analytics and set benchmarks.
  • Market using third party tracking technology to optimize post click activities.
  • Regularly monitor competitive activity including site changes and online marketing spend.

In the earlier days, new online marketers often relied heavily on the expertise of digital agency partners to help them complete this list of activities. They simply did not have the right experience or resources internally. Marketers had to fight for new budget to build and support all this new activity. Remember when marketers and information technology departments battled for control of Web-related budgets and efforts?

While new to many, this short list seemed simple enough for the time and often took the push paradigm of marketing and simply transferred it to new channels. Now, largely because of the advent and growth of new channels and of social media, we have much more work to do to ensure we are ready to put a public face online. Today’s online marketers need to add the following activities, among many, to their preparation phase:

  • Broader competitive reviews including social media, e-mail, mobile, video, and other efforts — some of which are not captured by current tracking technologies.
  • Social media monitoring — a regular review of what others are saying about you in what tone and how often, with what credibility and influence.
  • Complete review of all company practices in anticipation of their coming to light in this age of transparency.
  • Building a social media platform so you have the format to engage and respond to the marketplace and training the personnel to do this.
  • Customer service training for multiple channels.
  • Advise or train all personnel on their corporate responsibility in their personal but public personas.
  • Proactive link building.
  • Video distribution.
  • WAP site optimization.
  • Smartphone applications.

The preparation list could be endless and will vary based on circumstance. But this phase is now much less of a build-and-deploy effort and more an effort that requires monitoring, analyzing, training and response. Why? More online activity around your brand is happening independent of corporate efforts. They started without you. Participating in business online today demands attention to channels you control and build but even more so to those areas you have no control over. The mind shift to this reality is daunting.

Times have changed. It is rare at this point that any marketer, save a new business, is starting her online efforts from scratch. New businesses face an expanded checklist before they even get started, but even existing businesses have to continually examine and refit their Web assets and efforts to keep pace with the changes in the marketplace and their audiences. While this cost of entry continues to rise, businesses will be forced to make choices. Can they dedicate staff? Can they afford to be present in a comprehensive way? The operative question might be can they afford not to be?

The commitment to online for businesses now is no longer one of a small group of people in the organization operating in an independent mode. In this age of transparency, because more customers are online or conducting business online, because more critical activities occur online — the commitment has to span the entire organization. It has to be core. It requires the organization to build flexibility into its budgets, training, messaging, and other key functions. It requires constant preparedness as opposed to the old paradigm of a start up preparation phase.

Originally published on
ClickZ

With the exception of 2009, every research report since the beginning of digital marketing has been touting the growth of digital spending as a portion of total marketing spend. The year-over-year percentage rise has been dramatic, as is fitting when you’re starting with small numbers. But the percentage of spend still doesn’t approach the percent of time consumers spend with digital content.

Marketers have responded to try and close that gap. The trend to spend more on digital and less on traditional channels has been rewarded with new levels of consumer engagement and with performance data that helps to justify even larger digital spends in the next budget cycle. Forrester’s recent U.S. interactive marketing forecast reported that 60 percent of marketers intend to increase their interactive marketing budgets. They will do this by reducing their spends in other, more traditional, channels like direct mail, print, and TV. But there are still numerous obstacles to finding confidence in your marketing mix and achieving the right balance that optimizes results.

Obstacles to Smart Online Marketing Planning for 2010

  1. No one knows what makes the optimal mix of digital versus traditional spending (or even within digital channels) until you do a lot of testing around the specifics of your brand and audience, while keeping some variables constant. Because almost nothing is constant in digital marketing, trending is moot and only split tests in the same moment are valid. This limits some research opportunities and can layer additional cost.
  2. Year-over-year comparisons often offer little guidance for the same reason. The ground is simply shifting too fast to allow for an apples-to-apples comparison in any recent year. 2009, in particular, was a year of anomalies, including a crashing economy, broad adoption of smartphones in the U.S., and the dramatic influence of social media.
  3. As many have suggested, the significant investments in content and social media development and support are clearly investments in digital marketing, but don’t readily show in digital ad spend reporting. We’re left without a clear definition of what constitutes digital marketing spending and no way to track a significant portion of that spend. We’re certain however that more consumers are online, pursuing a broader range of activities online than ever before, through more devices across more channels for a greater percentage of their day.
  4. That newest opportunity (whatever that may be) is unproven, but sexy. The chairwoman wants to know about it, it’s all over the news. There will be pressure to include it in the mix just because of the noise and because your competitors will succumb as well.
  5. We’re still playing catch up with metrics. Attribution tracking among online channels is getting better, but most people still don’t have this puzzle solved. Add to this the confusion of all the content creation and social media expenditures, and where and how to count them.
  6. The future is uncertain. Although that’s always the case, this year feels even more so than usual. Unemployment in the U.S. will still be high in 2010, and consumers are spending less and saving more. We don’t know what long-term impact that will have. Many businesses are still at risk. They have less marketing budget to spend and may have to be conservative in their planning. They may even have to plan in quarters still and show results on a short term basis. This can put long-terms planning on the back burner and long-term goals at risk.

Recommendations to Overcome Obstacles in Your Digital Approach

  1. Create a separate plan to leverage existing customer relationships for up sell, cross sell, recommendations, and advocacy. This is probably the most important thing you can do and is often overlooked in the pursuit of new customers.
  2. Shore up your fundamentals: Is your site in shape? Are your metrics available, meaningful, and actionable? Is your content relevant and engaging? Have you reached beyond the borders of your site to engage your audience where they’re spending time? (Hint: that is not likely on your site, at least not in majority.)
  3. Pick a time horizon for planning that makes sense for your business, based on what you know today, but re-evaluate on a regular basis, based on results.
  4. Have both short-term and long-term goals and baseline metrics in place, even though the emphasis might shift.
  5. Follow your consumers’ patterns, not your competitors. This isn’t the time to “keep up with the Joneses,” especially if they’re slightly different or better funded than you are. Amend that recommendation a bit in channels like paid search, where you may be bidding against each other and have to factor that into your strategy.
  6. Don’t change everything at once or put all your eggs in one basket. That’s a big dice roll that can backfire.
  7. View your marketing as one big work. Not every channel or campaign has the same weight or purpose. Some feed other programs, so evaluate results in that light.
  8. Take advantage of all the great free, but immensely valuable information in tools like Google Analytics, to help you set baselines and track results.
  9. Regardless of the digital spending trends, don’t overlook the impact of traditional spend on your digital results. We’ve seen time and time again how important a broad set of touch points is to a successful digital effort. On a related note, offline research can uncover good insights to apply to both digital and traditional efforts. Make sure all that info is shared in the team.
  10. Lastly, remember that your audience doesn’t choose or avoid activities based on your advertising plans. You’re just not that important to them. Consumer surfing habits maximize their own perceived benefits. Continually ask yourself what your site content, mobile app, Facebook page, Twitter updates, or ads offer consumers in the way of educational, entertainment , problem solving, connection, monetary, or other benefits?

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