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February 26, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Over the past year, businesses have been repeatedly forced to pivot in reaction to market dynamics, and those who couldn't were hit hardest of all. My company's entire business revolves around digital marketing, and not even we could have predicted how important it would be heading into 2021. But it is clearly here to stay, and needs to continue being a top priority for businesses that want to compete — no matter the industry.
But where to begin? Digital marketing is a huge umbrella and can represent so many different things to different people. Where should you prioritize your dollars in the coming months? Here is where to start for smart spending.
Get your house in order
You can spend all of your money on the hottest, latest tactics, but it won’t mean anything if your foundation isn’t solid. What does this mean in marketing? Take a look at your teams and processes. Successful marketing is as much about the actions taken as it is the people taking the actions; having the right talent steering your ship is beyond essential.
This means both internally and externally. Your internal marketing team has to be up to the task, as do any agencies, vendors and technologies with which you work. It might mean you need to allocate budget for more, or even more specialized, hires. But without them, you’re building a house of cards. Make no mistake: This can be a big lift, but it’s crucial to spend money on the right talent now to reap the benefits of success later.
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Once you have your team and processes in place, make sure time is being used efficiently by leaning into as much marketing automation as you can.
Automation is a key component of productivity on an assembly line, and that idea is as beneficial for marketing as it is for manufacturing. Marketing automation can support a number of marketing functions, especially outbound prospecting and brand awareness. It allows your team to spend less time on manual processes that can slow them down and spend more time on advancing your business in a strategic, thoughtful way. It saves time, it saves money, and it gives you a more complete picture of what’s working and what’s not. It also helps your sales team out by strengthening the lead generation to routing process.
Get the content right
If there was a marketing buzzword of the 2010s, it was “content.” Content marketing became something everyone was after, and it took many forms: company blogs, social media feeds, rich imagery/video content and authored articles et al. And while we may be into the next decade, content marketing is only becoming more important.
The way that consumers, and your customers, interact with brands has shifted dramatically over the last 10 years. Things like video content are no longer nice-to-haves but must-haves. Your brand’s story needs to be told through a variety of rich digital content if you’re going to thrive, and oftentimes that means a significant investment in this arena. Develop a broad range of content in multiple forms (written, audio, video) that best represents your business in a way your customers want to consume. How do you know what your customers want to consume? This brings us to our final point….
Personalization is a never-ending thing to improve upon. As it relates to building a better relationship with your customers online, there can never be too much. The more personalized the experience you make for each of your customers, the more likely they are to have a great experience and stick with you.
If you’re going to get personal with your customers, you need to know your customers, and knowing your customers starts with having a comprehensive dataset to tell you everything you could need to know about them. Do you have a solid CRM solution in place that helps paint a comprehensive picture? Do you have the right data to help make informed decisions about personalization? Spend the time and resources to know your ideal customer profile. Survey data, market research data, sales data; all of these data points can help in painting the full, precise picture of your customer that you need to truly personalize their experience.