The Most Important Digital Marketing Goals and Tactics for 2018

As we’re putting a bright holiday bow on the year that was, most marketers have put some thought into what they need to do in 2018. Here’s what some see as the most important digital marketing goals, challenges, tactics and more for the year ahead.

As we’re putting a bright holiday bow on the year that was, most marketers have put some thought into what they need to do in 2018. Here’s what some see as the most important digital marketing goals, challenges, tactics and more for the year ahead.

This data comes from Ascend2’s “2018 Digital Marketing Plans” survey summary report based on responses from 271 marketers in November 2017.

93% Increasing Digital Budgets

One key finding of the Ascend2 research is that digital marketing budgets are overwhelmingly going up. A combined 93 percent of respondents are seeing budget increasing at least marginally, and 41 percent are seeing significant increases.2018 Digital Marketing Budget Movement

And that’s not so surprising when you see that 94 percent of respondents also feel that digital marketing has become increasingly effective.

2018 Digital Marketing Effectiveness

Digital Marketing Goals

With those changing budgets, though, marketers goals have remained pretty similar.

The Ascend2 survey pool skews a little bit toward B2B, with 43 percent of respondents saying they’re primarily B2B marketers, 35 percent B2C and 22 percent marketing to both equally. That breakdown is important as we look at responses to the “most important marketing objectives,” which put lead gen and sales revenue at the top of the priorities list.

2018 Most Important Digital Marketing Goals

Many of those objectives are also on the list of greatest challenges to these marketers in 2018.

2018 Digital Marketing Challenges

Here’s how those goals and challenges compare:2018 Digital Marketing Objectives vs. Challenges

Most Effective Digital Marketing Tactics

With those objective and challenges in mind, what tactics do marketers expect will be most effective for them in 2018? Social media, content marketing and marketing tech lead the list.2018 Most Effective Digital Marketing Tactics

Some of those also show up on the list of most challenging tactics:2018 Most Difficult Digital Marketing Tactics

And here’s how those compare:2018 Most Effective Digital Marketing Tactics vs. Most Difficult

3 Takeaways

That’s a lot of raw data, and there is more available in the Ascend2 research. What does it tell us?

For starters, I do worry when I see so much more emphasis put on lead generation as an objective than customer experience. CX is on the list, but it’s clearly a lower priority.

Maybe that has to do with the B2B bias, but in 2018, I think it’s going to be critical for both B2C and B2B marketers to emphasize customer experience. We’re seeing experience as a more important indicator of customer success, and repeat business, than simple conversion metrics like lead gen.

When we look at the tactics, we have to recognize social media as a tactic that is seen as both effective and not too difficult to pull off. It jumps right out of that last chart, and is a powerful argument for getting into this tactic if you haven’t already. Compare that to data management, which is seen as less effective and more difficult. (Although I don’t see how you’re doing most of the rest of what’s on that list if you don’t have the data capabilities … Unless marketers are thinking of the data as something the provider handles, which is somewhat the case with social media advertising.)

And finally, I see marketing technology coming in as less effective than it is difficult, although only by a few percentages. To me, the tech is essential, much like data, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to get too much further in digital marketing without real mastery of the tech space.

Have you started looking ahead to 2018? If so, how do these results compare to your own analysis? What goals and tactics and more important to you for the year ahead, and most challenging? Let me know in the comments.

Don’t Stand There With Your Mouth Open

Let’s pretend you’re a bear. No, wait, stick with me here. Okay. You’re a hungry bear. You want to eat something, maybe some fish. So you walk down to the river bank, because fish live in the river (still with me?)

Let’s pretend you’re a bear.

No, wait, stick with me here.

Okay. You’re a hungry bear. You want to eat something, maybe some fish. So you walk down to the river bank, because fish live in the river. (Still with me?)

Now, you have a few options here. You can try to catch the fish with your big bear paws. Maybe there’s a couple dead fish floating on top of the water … that’s a possibility, too, albeit a not very fresh one. Or, better yet, maybe you’re a bear who lives in an area where sockeye salmon live, and if you stand in the river and wait, fish will literally jump into your open mouth.

Goal Strategy Tactic
This slide is courtesy of Kristina Halvorson’s “Content vs. the Customer” presentation at Content Marketing World 2015.

Goal: Eat some fish
Strategy: Walk down to the river where fish are swimming upstream
Tactic: Wait for the fish to jump into your mouth

But what happens when you forget the strategy?

Patient BearYou’re just a bear, sitting around, hungry, maybe with your mouth open. And to be honest, you look pretty dumb.

This is just one of the genius — and amusing — things that Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, discussed during her keynote presentation, “Content vs. the Customer,” at Content Marketing World 2015 that has continued to stick with me, nearly a month later. And she wasn’t just there to talk about bears and fish … her point was that marketers often define their goals, decide on a tactic, and then completely forget to map out strategy, especially when it comes to content marketing.

According to Halvorson, core content strategy can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Diagnosis: Understand what you’re trying to do and what’s already being done.
    Here you align business outcomes and customer needs, and identify opportunities, challenges, assumptions and risks.
  2. Guiding Principles: Why are you doing what you’re doing?
    Ask yourself: What are your success metrics and are they meaningful? Who is your audience? What are your brand values? Is there a purpose to the channels, formats and frequency you’re using?
  3. Coherent Set of Actions: Acquire. Establish. Redesign. Shut down. Upgrade. Choose one and do, but make sure you’re removing “increase” from your goals.

“You’re everywhere … but you don’t have to be,” Halvorson reminded the crowd. “When we say yes to all the things, it becomes too much. There is power in saying no.” There’s also power in asking why, and taking a long hard look at what you’re doing, defining a strategy for how you want to get there, and executing it.

Because no one wants to sit alone with their mouths open, waiting for fish or customers.

Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Recap: Mobile Strategy

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, you missed out. Lucky for you, I wanted to quickly recap my session on creating a successful mobile strategy.

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, you missed out. Lucky for you, I wanted to quickly recap my session on creating a successful mobile strategy.

When looking at businesses that are truly successful in mobile, you’ll find everything they do is based off of the Mobile Success Pyramid. This is based off of Bruce Hershey’s “4 Pillars of Mobile Marketing” in that with a pyramid, each section can only be supported by the piece beneath it, making the foundational elements more important.

Let’s look at the pyramid from the bottom up:

At the foundation, you have Strategy.

Strategy is made up of a handful of things:

  • Who is your customer? If you haven’t already created customer avatars, you should do so in order to have a target marketing message.
  • What are you trying to accomplish? This is where you identify your business objectives and goals and assess your current marketing strategy.
  • Why are you in business? What is your mission, unique selling proposition or value proposition?
  • When do you need to reach the goal? All good strategies have a time associated with them. Give yourself a deadline to reach your goal and create a roadmap to get there.

As you define your objectives, make sure:

  1. They are measurable and quantifiable. Example: Increase sales by 15 percent.
  2. A timeframe is associated to the goal. Example: Increase sales by 15 percent in six months vs. the same six months last year.
  3. Your goal is realistic. Can you really increase sales by 15 percent? If your goal doesn’t mesh with your historical performance or competition, then adjust.

When you put these three together you may have a goal such as: “Increase sales by 5 percent in six months vs. the same 6-month period last year.”

The next piece of they pyramid is Tactics.

Because you’ve already defined your customer persona, you want to understand how they use their mobile devices. Knowing how each persona uses their mobile devices will lead you to your tactics.

These new mobile personas will offer you the right mix of tactics to generate the most reach and engagement with your customers.

Making our way up the pyramid, we have Integration.

Ultimately, you need to promote your mobile initiatives via other marketing channels. Mobile is the most dependent channel that exists.

Review your media channels and promotional calendars and make sure you have mobile call to actions throughout your media.

Lastly, you need to consider CRM.

This is the most difficult part for marketers today, as most use separate systems. But your goal is to combine all your data from all media channels and create highly targeted messaging campaigns.

Collecting this data throughout the customer journey means you can learn what areas convert the best for each and every customer.

This ends up with you being able to send the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Now it’s on you.

If you are just getting started with mobile, you should complete the pyramid for your own business. Don’t jump right into the tactics as, although it may work in the short-term, you will likely fail in the long run.

So how are you getting started?