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Digital marketing fundamentals: How to align your marketing team

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Consider that 37% of CMOs believe digital marketing spend will exceed 75% of their total marketing budgets within the next five years. Clearly, digital marketing is the long game for marketers.

For most businesses, though, there is simply not enough knowledge about whether digital marketing campaigns are actually working. Shockingly, only 9% of marketers know their digital marketing is working. There is also a continual concern about a skills gap in digital marketing.

Going forward, a better understanding of digital marketing is essential for marketing campaigns to have the success companies anticipate. Businesses need to focus on digital marketing fundamentals and how all their various channels work synergistically.

1. Assess the digital IQ of your organization

While many may say they “know” social media, email marketing, automation, and other aspects of digital marketing work, they may not understand it deeply enough or grasp how one aspect of the strategy fits into a larger campaign with multiple moving parts. In fact, 91% of all marketers believe their company needs to improve in at least some digital marketing areas.

Jay Baer, a renowned marketing consultant and the founder of Convince & Convert, insightfully explains why this skills gap in digital marketing exists:

“The technology is outpacing marketers’ ability to understand how to use it — and the confusion about what’s out there, how do I deploy it, how does it work with customers is a real problem. We have more power than we have knowledge.”

The good news is that, if your team can catch up with this technology, there is much to be gained. As Baer says, the technology available gives marketers incredible capabilities. It’s just a matter of learning how to utilize the right resources.

Increasing your team’s digital marketing IQ starts with an assessment of each team member. An understanding of where your team is can be achieved through tests, conversations, practice projects, and more. Then, once you understand where weaknesses are, benchmarks can be set and goals agreed upon.

2. Set goals and start working to improve

During the assessment, your goal is to find out if there is a digital marketing skills gap. Don’t panic if missing skills are obvious. Nearly every company deals with this issue, and it’s been covered in countless publications, from The Atlantic to the Harvard Business Review. Set goals and actively strive for them, and those skills gaps will be closed.

For instance, you may find that, while your team may excel at creating content and generating engagement on social media, you require more knowledge on how to run a paid search campaign. Your next step is to create a plan to get your team up to speed on the fundamentals of paid search, such as launching a practice campaign, establishing key performance metrics, doing competitive keyword research, and rewriting copy.

Additionally, there must be awareness about why and how different digital marketing tactics should be integrated. If understanding this is difficult, make an actionable strategy to address it.

For example, 90% of marketing leaders make a point to integrate content marketing and SEO, as the two continue to heavily impact each other. Your team must understand how to employ SEO tactics in relation to content marketing. But maybe they don’t get how to incorporate SEO with social media, which is just as important. After all, social media sites like Twitter handle more searches than Bing and Yahoo, and are search engines themselves.

3. Go deeper into the topics

Even if prior strategies have been successful, you can always improve. That means diving deeper into the marketing fundamentals your team is least comfortable with.

Also, since the digital landscape is constantly evolving, marketers must continually learn new skills and tactics to keep up with the game. There is no time to be complacent.

For instance, SEO’s rules change with every new update to Google search. From the arrival of voice search to implementing schema markup, there are plenty of SEO trends for marketers to watch. To help marketers stay ahead, Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, regularly writes about these changes, like the need to change how keyword research is done.

Aligning your marketing department

To win with any digital marketing strategy, you must first assess your team’s digital marketing IQ. Then, once you determine your skills gap, it’s time to set goals and explore ways to improve. As you get closer to nailing down the fundamentals, don’t be afraid to dive deeper into skills that are important to scaling your marketing strategy, like cross-channel integration.

Never forget: the digital marketing landscape is always changing. At this rate, there will always be more tools and more powerful technology at your disposal than you’ll ever need.

The key to clear and straightforward success with measurable ROI is to not be afraid to learn and embrace new skills. Lifelong learning is the lifeblood of any marketer in the 21st century. If you’re not learning a new strategy, a new concept, or a new technology, someone else is and they’re that much more hirable than you are. So never stop learning—this is how marketers can enjoy sustained success.

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About Victoria Feder

Victoria Feder is CEO of The Online Marketing Institute (OMI), a leading educator for digital marketing. OMI's mission is to help professionals and companies bridge the digital marketing knowledge gap so they can better execute, drive ROI and build competitive advantage. Victoria has over twenty years of marketing and operational experience. She was a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and held senior roles in a number of technology, education and marketing startups.

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