For as long as I’ve been writing about marketing, I’ve talked about how critical a practical digital marketing strategy is to ensure the future health of your business. After all, marketing plays a huge role in determining the future demand for your offering. And when demand for your offering is low, so too are your sales and profit.
2023 is set to be a very ‘different’ year for thousands of businesses around Australia. COVID lockdowns are way behind us, but we now face different challenges. History has proven that those who market their businesses aggressively during tough times will reap the benefits during good times in the form of increased market share.
To those who were unable to maintain or increase their marketing spend over the past year, all is not lost. Now is the time to start chasing down those of your competitors who used marketing to break away from the pack in the past 12 months. It’s never too late to get moving.
I encourage you as a marketer or a business owner to continue learning from history. You need to keep your marketing efforts front and center while navigating your way through what has become a very unpredictable world.
All the best,
Surprisingly, the term ‘strategy’ is one of the most overused and misunderstood words in the marketing world. Simply running ads on Google or writing blog articles without any thought or clear objectives is not a strategy. It’s important to have a clear grasp of what digital strategy is and what steps you need to take in order to build an effective one for your business.
A digital marketing strategy involves a plan to achieve clear marketing objectives or business goals using clearly defined marketing channels within a set period of time. Typically, an effective end-to-end marketing strategy defines your target audience, positioning, messaging and includes channels like SEO, Google Ads, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, email etc, all of which will be discussed in depth in this guide.
For a business building their digital marekting strategy, the marketing goals and activities essentially need to be aligned to the overall business objective; which in most cases is to drive revenue. Whether you're a local FMCG company, or an international B2B SaaS business, you need a strong and clearly defined marketing strategy that will help you generate leads, sales, and customers.
A strategy shouldn’t be confused with the tactics themselves; though it commonly is. Think of ‘strategy’ as your overall goal or plan, and the tactics are the actions you take to bring your plan to life. For example, your strategy shouldn’t be to “do SEO”. Rather, a key goal in your strategy could be to increase organic traffic to your website, and optimising your website pages could be the SEO tactic that makes this actionable.
The 7 Ps in marketing, otherwise referred to as the ‘marketing mix’, are commonly used to identify the strengths, as well as the gaps and opportunities for improvement within a marketing strategy. What’s more, they help find ways for your business to remain competitive in the marketplace.
The 7 Ps include:
You cannot form an effective digital marketing strategy without having a clear understanding of your businesses’ 7 Ps.
There is no set template or cookie-cutter approach to creating a ‘successful’ digital marketing plan. However, there are key steps you can take to ensuring you are creating a strategy that speaks to your target audience, uses resources and budget wisely, and ultimately generates revenue.
Marketing thought-leader, Mark Ritson, explains how you can create an effective digital marketing plan in three key phases:
Start by reviewing your previous marketing plan; did you meet your previous goals and objectives? What performed well? What were the key challenges you faced? Your new marketing plan should not be built entirely from scratch. It’s important to analyse previous data and findings to determine your metrics for success.
You then need to conduct research - but you need to know what you’re researching. If your results from the previous period were not favourable and you are struggling to meet your key metrics, then in-depth market research should be your next step. On the other hand, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) can give a great indication of the position of the business and where to grow.
What should follow is market segmentation. These should be the 3-5 best audience segments that are perfect for your product or service. Remember, it’s not about your company, it’s about your audience.
From these segments, you can then determine your target audience. Will you target previous customers who have stopped purchasing from you? Current leads who have shown interest, but haven’t made a purchase yet? Or, will you target new customers who don’t even know that your brand/product/service exists yet? What level of the funnel will you be targeting?
Now you can start getting into the nitty gritty! What does your target audience look like? In what part of the marketing funnel do they sit? What behaviours do they exhibit? Why do they want to purchase your product? A buyer persona grid is a fantastic tool to collect this information in a logical, concise manner.
It’s now time to set SMART goals and objectives. This is the key part of your strategy! Your SMART goals should be; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
What tactics are going to help you achieve your SMART goals? This will look very different depending on your type of business; whether you are B2B or B2C, if you’re an eCommerce company, or if you see FMCGs v SaaS services.
Your budget is also going to significantly impact the tactics you should consider implementing. This should be thought out very carefully - what tactics are going to get you the best outcomes, and how much do you need to invest in order for the tactics to see tangible results?
Examples of tactics include implementing a certain bid-strategy for your search ads on Google, launching new webpages with relevant content to boost your organic traffic or running a webinar to engage your database.
The top qualities of a digital marketer include being able to problem solve, having a strong ability to communicate well with others, to think strategically and analytically, as well as work collaboratively with a fast-paced team.
Of course, how you exercise these qualities will change depending on your individual role. For example, if you work at an agency managing clients, then strong organisational and task management skills are imperative. If you are a digital marketing specialist, you might place more emphasis on analysing data and making critical decisions promptly on accounts. On the other hand, if you’re an in-house marketer, you need to be able to prioritise tasks effectively, and focus more on strategy and problem-solving.
The rise of digital brought with it a belief that all marketing activities could now be measured. Gone was the slogan, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half". With this came an obsession with hard metrics like cost per click, cost per lead and cost per sale. For some marketers, things have moved so far that they won’t invest in activities they cannot measure.
One of the scariest things we hear when speaking to clients is that they intend to make all of their decisions based on data.
One of the scariest things we hear when speaking to clients is that they intend to make all of their decisions based on data. That's because digital marketing has a dirty little secret: marketing data has serious issues and limitations and used poorly will deliver us far less than we think. Sometimes, it will do as much harm as good.
Even if you understand attribution models, I encourage you to read this short section. Getting this step right is critical to knowing how effective your marketing is. Even more importantly, it’s critical to understanding how to allocate your efforts and budgets.
Attribution is a critical part of making decisions, but you need to know what attribution means for you, keeping the full buyer journey in perspective.
Attribution, simply explained, is how you credit separate channels, or touchpoints within those channels, for the role they played in a prospect’s path to purchase or goal completion. If people visited your site a single time and then either converted or left for good, attribution would be simple. The channel that drove them to the site, let’s say Google Ads, would be correctly attributed the full value of the purchase or goal.
But what happens in the real world, where most paths to purchase are complex and involve multiple visits on possibly multiple devices? Which channel deserves credit? Is it the one that drove them to you in the first place (known as first-click attribution)? Or is it the channel that delivered them to you when they finally reached the goal (known as last-click attribution)? Alternatively, does it make more sense for you to equally value all the channels that drove a particular person to your site prior to them converting (this is called linear attribution)? These are only three of many ways to attribute credit to different marketing channels whenever a goal is reached.
Attribution is a critical part of making decisions but you need to know what attribution means for you, keeping the full buyer journey in perspective. Chances are that your analytics platform is defaulting to a lastclick attribution model.
Ask yourself: How complex is your buyer journey? How likely is it this model undervalues the earlier stages in the buyer journey and over-values the final stage? How is this affecting the way you judge the performance of each channel? What impact is this having on how you set budgets and select future channels?
As an industry, we've become better at recognising the complexity of the buyer journey, the multiple channels used to target buyers, the reality of multi-device usage and the greater sophistication of remarketing and retargeting.
There's no real silver bullet to developing and changing your digital strategy overnight, and any one tactic alone won't work. A winning strategy is going to include the main channels used by your prospects as part of their buyer journey. For many prospects this includes a combination of organic search, paid search, social, email marketing and display.
The complexity of the buyer journey, the use of different devices by individuals and the fluidity with which we move between channels means it is now virtually impossible to measure with certainty the impact of all digital marketing activities. Just because it's data, doesn’t mean it's right.
As a first step, take some time to sit down with your team and agree on a small number of metrics that will genuinely give you insight into how your marketing activities are contributing to company profits. Then work backwards to develop and improve campaigns to get those metrics moving in the right direction. But don’t forget, consistency is key, and to start with, keep it simple and sceptical.
Review the channels you're currently investing in and consider introducing smaller campaigns in new channels to support your overarching strategy. For example, check if there is scope to run a generic display retargeting campaign for your website visitors, introduce email marketing, or run a brand-based search campaign.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM technology like HubSpot, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics include tools used by sales, customer service and marketing teams and are constantly evolving.
While big companies have known the value of storing, analysing and drawing insights from customer data, it’s increasingly becoming a must-have for smaller businesses as well.
When COVID hit in 2020, it became clear very quickly that businesses which had an up-to-date, extensive and well-segmented database of their customers and prospects had a massive head start in kick-starting their sales compared to those businesses which had to generate new revenue from strangers.
Those who simply had a database were at a disadvantage when compared to businesses that had this contact data stored in a system that allowed them to send and track emails, understand who was doing what on their website, and have an up-to-date snapshot of a contact when they were talking to a salesperson.
A CRM became a powerful tool in assisting businesses to drive revenue quickly. It also allowed businesses to pivot into new revenue areas by taking the message quickly and cheaply to existing contacts.
Globally, well-deserved attention is being paid to protecting the privacy of individuals. Australia has passed privacy laws to protect consumers against data breaches. This, coupled with Apple’s updates to protect user information and Google sunsetting cookies means it’s become tricky for marketers to use old tactics to reach their audience.
Over time, the expectation is that it will become harder to collect the details of people who are potentially interested in your offering.
In this case, building up your database legitimately and keeping your CRM database clean will give you better marketing opportunities. This is because you can feed your first-party data into ad platforms like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to present your ads to warm audiences, and as a result, stay top-of-the buyer’s mind.
A well-maintained CRM will assist in future-proofing your business to some extent.
If you don’t have a database of customers and prospects, or you’re still using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to manage your database, then it’s high time for an upgrade.
At minimum, you’ll want to choose a tool that brings together your marketing campaigns and sales pipeline into one single customer view. We use HubSpot in our own marketing. If you’d like to chat to us about how HubSpot might work for you then get in touch. There are numerous other CRMs and marketing automation platforms and the most important thing is to find the one that best suits your needs. Bigger is not always better when it comes to CRMs.
Gone are the days where a database was simply used to send bulk emails. An up-to-date database, powered by appropriate technology, can see you doing the following:
Review your databse of prospects and contacts. How extensive is it? Do you currently invest money in maintaining and growing this list? How eaily can you send segmented emails? Or see, at a glance, every interaction a contact as had with your marketing campaigns and salespeople? If your CRM technology does not allow you to take the actions outlined in this section, it's time to investigate the right options for your business.
In addition to the need for marketing beyond performance-based campaigns, there is also a strong reason for running brand-focused campaigns. Brand awareness has traditionally been a core goal for marketers with a view to generating positive associations for customers towards their products and services.
There is an argument that marketers need to increase the time and effort spent on activities that introduce people to their brand and supporting them in the early and middle stages of the buyer journey rather than obsessing over strict ROI at the bottom of the funnel. Essentially, aligning marketing efforts (and measurement) with the real-world buyer journey.
Consider the results from a survey of marketers from 2019. 37% said that increasing brand awareness and brand health was the primary goal of their digital marketing strategy. This was followed by an increase in the number of leads. What's not clear to many is that both these goals are highly interrelated. It is significantly easier to generate new leads if your brand is strong.
In the words of American author and public speaker Donald Miller, brands need to stop playing the hero in the story and instead invite customers into the story.
With social media now an indispensable pillar of digital marketing, Miller’s StoryBrand Framework (and variations thereof) has become pivotal in explaining a business’s value and bringing customers along for the journey with interactive and personalised content.
There remains in 2023 a significant advantage for businesses which re-imagine their message in a way that better explains their value as it is perceived by their prospects. There should be less focus on the brand itself. Instead, communication should tap into the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators driving not only purchasing decisions but also brand-to-customer relationships.
You don’t need to overhaul your entire brand to make a profitable change to your digital marketing strategy. One could argue that there is scope to include a range of relatively low-budget, high-return 'brand-based' campaigns that are ’always-on’.
Examples include a brand-focused, value-based display retargeting campaign, via the Google Display Network, targeted towards website visitors. Another one is a brand-focused Google Ads display campaign.
The question about whether it’s worth paying for people searching for your brand via paid ads is a long-standing one. At Rocket we are big fans of these brand campaigns and time and again we’ve seen them deliver strong results. The advantages of such campaigns are:
Anecdotally, as well as in tests we have run, when branded search has been turned off, the uplift in organic results plus the savings in the cost of branded search does not equate to the revenue that has been lost.
Review your marketing budget for 2023 with fresh eyes. Separate media budget you spend on brand campaigns vs other bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns. Remember, brand campaigns will always be cheaper and generate a stronger ROI than regular campaigns. This is OK though; the regular campaigns are valuable in introducing new people to your offering and these are the people who in the future will possibly be running brand searches. Ideally, you should be running both types of campaigns.
Marketing automation platforms have been around for over a decade and adoption levels are now very high. If you are in a competitive space, not having a marketing automation platform effectively running significant parts of your business will mean that you won't be able to compete when it comes to marketing, sales and maximising value from your customers. In the long run, this may mean needing to invest a higher percentage of your revenue into your sales and marketing efforts. Bottom line, you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table compared to your competitors.
Whether it’s large platforms like Marketo, Eloqua and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, or platforms suited for smaller and mid-market businesses like HubSpot, Autopilot and Infusionsoft, you need to assess the right platform for your business and commit to it. Don’t choose a marketing automation platform which is too big or too small for your needs.
Automation is not just limited to your sales and marketing platform. All the channels we play in are continuously toying with machine learning and artificial intelligence - another change you need to assess seriously depending on your needs.
Automation and machine learning is now the norm when it comes to Google Ads. Each year has seen exponential improvements in Google’s algorithms. One area they are pushing hard on is what they call responsive ads, which have become the default Search ad format as of 2022.
Google Ads responsive search ads (RSAs) allows advertisers to create multiple variations of their ad copy, including headlines and descriptions, and display them to users in different combinations. Google's algorithms will automatically test different combinations of the ad copy to determine which ones perform best. This is different from traditional search ads, which are limited to a single headline and description. Given the power of this search giant and its monopoly in the search engine world, it a no-brainer to include these ad variations for your campaigns.
Many marketers are already increasing email performance by including personalisation based on data collected via intelligent platforms and with the incredible targeting abilities of the already available ad-tech.
This opens unexplored opportunities to be more meaningful and persuasive with email nurture campaigns. It's important to note that simple personalisation, focusing on things like first names, is not going to generate the best results.
Contextual targeting, conversational tones and active segmentation are a must to succeed with high engagement rates and responses on email. Most marketers do a reasonable job of segmenting based on demographic data (e.g. send Email A to Job Title X, Industry Y and Lifecycle Stage Z). This is a great first step but far from what is possible (and expected by prospects).
It's time to get smart. Your prospects know when emails are automated and when they are personally sent. If you're proactive in your email nurture series, you'll be able to blur the former to seem like the latter and drive more leads and sales to your business.
The big players like Google and Facebook will continue to push marketers into using their suite of automation options when running paid campaigns. The challenge will be to determine when this works in your business' interest and when it doesn't. There is no doubt that over the long term, automation will bring many benefits to the lives of marketers, but the question in the short term is when this will be the case and when it won't.
Marketers need to be smart in determining when machines can do things more effectively and at a better level than humans. Most importantly, you need to use your judgement to identify the moments when technology won't understand the intricacies of a campaign and the nuances of your audience. This is where that human touch will still be needed.
Regardless, the truth of the matter remains - businesses, even small ones, can no longer succeed without a highly tailored approach to audience segmentation as prospects now expect more than generic correspondence. This can only be achieved at scale with automation.
Our prediction - businesses without marketing automation won't compete.
Take a moment to review your nurture flows. Find gaps in how you nurture based on behavioural data. Has the prospect opened the last email? Has the prospect attended the last two webinars? Did the prospect download the whitepaper on ‘Topic X’ that is related to the webinar you're trying to promote now? Has the prospect visited your pricing page?
Create smarter, better emails (mostly plain-text ones) based on these findings.
Listen to the Smarter Marketer podcast for guidance on building B2B email marketing strategies including the best way to nurture leads, five ways to segment your database, and the best email/ automation software to achieve your email goals.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes time-consuming, repetitive tasks and works to find patterns more effectively than a single person can to produce solid solutions. However, while it has proven itself in many areas of ad management, it has in no way dispatched the need for a digital marketing specialist to be managing ad campaigns.
The trick to using AI effectively is to treat it as a helpful guide vs accepting it’s output as the final product or solution.
ChatGPT has taken leaps and shaken up the world with surprisingly accurate and conversational text. Like most AI software, CHatCPT accesses extensive databases to answer simple or complex questions by generating clear, conversational copy.
When used efficiently, the software can be great for providing a foundation for copywriting tasks including blog posts, landing pages, FAQs, social media captions or even meta descriptions for your website pages. It’s breadth of knowledge - while not being able to cover niche and brand-related topics - is extensive enough to offer fantastic copywriting support.
Teams should be using AI to boost productivity and in some areas increase effectiveness. However, marketers should never forget that standing out from your competitor is the key to success, and this will not be achieved if you just use AI. It should never be as simple as copy and paste.
AI-driven design is opening up new opportunities for designers and businesses alike, to spark creativity and complete design tasks quicker and more efficiently. Design automation can reduce time on tedious and often repetitive tasks by automating image classification, colour palette selection and layout generation, meaning that the designer can spend more time on the creative/strategic aspects of their work rather than the technical details.
Design algorithms are also fantastic tools to spark inspiration by providing a template/sample of creative concepts. There are multiple tools/software platforms online that can generate logos, website layouts, social posts, slide decks or other creative designs. This is a convenient and often time-efficient solution for completing basic designs where you don’t want to put too much energy/focus, or you are trying to minimise a lengthy concept creation process.
If mobile users have been the poor cousins of your digital strategy then it's time to shake things up.
Mobile searches account for more than half of web traffic worldwide in 2021. Responsive websites are a no-brainer and most businesses have got that covered. Now, marketers need to give mobile the attention and respect it deserves.
Log in to Google Analytics and see what percentage of your traffic comes from mobile devices. Do you dedicate this much of your thinking, design, testing, and optimisation to these valuable users? Can you honestly say your mobile experience is equal to your desktop experience?
Prospects rely heavily on mobile as their primary device to research, share, and make purchases. All assets in your digital marketing toolkit need to account for this tremendous growth and shift in buyer behaviour.
Here are some ideas around mobile and what you need to be aware of in 2023:
Mobile-optimised email marketing is a must. Mobile accounted for 46% of all email opens in 2022 (HubSpot). If you aren’t tailoring your emails for mobile users, some might argue, why bother sending it? With an increase in mobile adoption (especially wearables), email marketing needs to adapt as well. This means possibly smaller-sized emails, adopting a layout that works across devices, minimal content length, and more.
The trend with mobile shows an increased activity within the body of the email itself. So, marketers need to start including buy buttons, full catalogues, and full menus within the body of the email with the goal to cut down the path of conversion, particularly for time-sensitive mobile users.
Marketers need to future-proof their digital strategy by optimising their site for searches on mobile. Mobile searches have exceeded desktop searches each year since 2018. Plus, Google has switched to a mobile-first index. So, if you've ignored mobile SEO previously, it’s time for a change.
The best ways to optimise your site is to review and improve the speed of your site, implement designs that focus on the content that shows ‘above the fold’ of the page, introduce the site search feature and display your call-to-action higher up on the page.
Run your site through Google's mobile-friendly test and review the results. Make a decision around investing time and energy into the mobile version of your site. Another reliable way of checking your site's capability is using SEMrush.com to generate a report on your site's performance. Finally, don’t forget to simply browse your site on a mobile device as if you were a new visitor. What needs to change?
Not everyone is ready to buy. This is as true in your industry as it is everywhere else. We see too many marketing campaigns that assume the person reading the message is ready to buy today when it’s simply not the case.
Estimates suggest that only 3% of people in any market are in a position to make a buying decision at a specific point in time.
What are you doing at the moment to find and nurture the 97% of people who are not ready to buy today? Most of these people are probably not aware you exist or possibly not even aware that solutions like yours could add value to them now or in the future. These people won’t be interested in your search ads and are highly unlikely to see the value in your paid social ads or your display ads.
Often the best way to deal with these top-and-middle of funnel audiences is via a content marketing strategy.
Simply explained, content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain an audience. It can take the form of videos, blog articles, eBooks, webinars, emails and more. Ultimately, it has the express purpose of providing value to specific personas so that when they are ready to consider a purchase, the company who has been creating so much value for them is top of mind.
There are a number of important points to consider:
A common failure we see is marketers putting all their efforts into creating content and very little effort into its promotion. A piece of content is only as good as the number of valuable prospects who see it and value it.
You need to put at least as much time and money into promoting the content as you did into creating it. In fact, creating the content should be no more than 25% of the total effort on a piece of content. For successful pieces of content, the amount of time and money promoting the content will eventually dwarf the resources invested into creating it.
Gone are the days when average content will drive great results in content marketing. Our advice to you is to focus your resources on creating great and valuable content for your audience.
Even SEO, which has historically rewarded average content created regularly, is nowadays rewarding quality over quantity.
Welcome the Hollywood vs journalist approach to content creation.
Your job, when it comes to content marketing, is to create things people want to engage with. The aim is to influence them to think a certain way or take a certain action. An article you personally thought was original and brilliant will probably be less popular with your client or boss than something less interesting which drove genuine revenue over the previous 12 months.
Taking previously successful and high-performing content pieces, updating them for today and re-publishing them is the basis of creating evergreen content. This sort of content should be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy.
Before you start creating content make sure you understand your audience. The first and most critical step in this is to create accurate buyer personas. Use our template to get started. Only once you have done this will you be able to start working out the content that is most likely to deliver the most value. Once you’ve got this done, it’s time to map out their buyer journey.
Google Ads is a platform that is constantly evolving. New ad types are being rolled out. Previously effective strategies are becoming less useful. Extra levels of automation mean less work, but they often go hand-in-hand with less transparency.
Here are the key points to watch out for while designing your Google Ads campaign in 2023:
Google has been subject to new privacy standards as more users demand greater transparency and control of their data. As a result, they have announced plans to transition away from Similar Audiences.
Much like Facebook’s ‘Lookalike Audiences’, Google’s Similar Audiences are a targeting option that allows ads to reach users who present similar interests and behaviours to your existing customers. While this may not have a dire impact on many businesses using Google Ads, if you depended on Similar Audiences to drive most of your online traffic, you will definitely feel the impact. It’s now time to seek alternative targeting methods including Custom Intent, Custom Affinity or In-Market audience targeting.
While Similar Audiences will soon no longer exist, the tech giant has hinted towards releasing more powerful and durable tools this coming year - definitely something to keep your eyes peeled for.
Google has granted marketers more visibility to their competitors by giving them access to Google Ads run over the past 30 days. Similar to Facebook’s Ad Library, Google has released their own version called ‘My Ads Centre’, and includes all ad types including both search and display.
The free tool - offering similar competitor insights to Semrush’s software - isn’t currently available to all businesses, but this will become more accessible over the course of the year.
Circa November 2021, Google Ads launched Performance Max (PMax) campaigns as a new ad type. These campaigns combine machine learning and Google’s vast ad network (including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps) to reach 90% of global internet users with an aim to deliver on a single ad goal.
Essentially, Performance Max campaigns allow you to set a goal (e.g. target ROAS), set your budget and bidding strategy, select your target location and languages and eventually feed Google with a range of ad assets. Assets include images, logos, videos, headlines, descriptions and the like. Google will then “mix-and-match” these assets in a way that will deliver the best outcome.
As of mid-2022, all eCommerce Smart Shopping campaigns and Local campaigns were upgraded to PMax campaigns by Google.
While these campaigns are designed to ‘simplify’ campaign management, their novelty and complexity are best managed by Google Ads specialists.
Privacy issues and control over one’s data are becoming greater concerns for internet users. Consequently, Google is now encouraging businesses to use first-party data (i.e. data that users voluntarily provide) in order to run better ads.
This data can include names, phone numbers, and email addresses that you can export from your CRM and upload to Google Ads to build more relevant and targeted audiences.
In September 2021, Google introduced a new Offline Conversions Import (OCI) helper tool. The aim of the tool is to provide a clearer picture of the customer journey from search to sale. This will ultimately help to bridge the gap between ads and offline data such as inbound calls to the business, contact lifecycle stage and deals closed won. This is a massive win for B2B marketers who deal with long sales cycles.
Why reinvent the wheel when you can take inspiration from your competitors? When it comes to Google Ads, treat your competitors less as rivals and more as friends or even mentors. Use tools like SEMRush and SpyFu to identify the keywords your top competitors are using as the basis of their search campaigns. You should also review the ad copy they’re using to narrow down on the pain points of your prospects. Plus, it’s a good idea to compare your landing pages and promotions with your competitor’s and identify opportunities for improvement.
Tying things back to the earlier point on brand awareness and messaging, your Google Ads campaign is only as good as its ability to convert visitors into prospects. The buck stops at your landing page. It doesn't matter how well you choose your keywords, how clever your ad copy is, or how effectively you optimise your campaigns - if your landing pages are not providing a great, relevant, buyer-centric message and user experience, your campaigns will sink.
Review your Google Ads campaigns. Is there scope to include automated bidding for your prospecting search campaigns based on maximising conversions? Do you want to hit a target Cost Per Acquisition for your brand campaigns? At a minimum, discuss these options with your campaign manager.
Open your landing page and test what you see on these four key parameters, putting yourself in the searcher’s shoes:
Social media was the #1 marketing channel in 2022. With over 21.45 million social media users in Australia (and this number is projected to only increase), you should definitely consider how best to include social media advertising in your marketing strategy (Statista, 2022).
TikTok was the fastest growing social media platform in 2022, with over 1 billion monthly active users (Tiktok, 2022). Many businesses are now turning to TikTok advertising to drive top-of-funnel results, aiming to increase website clicks, impressions and promote engagement with their brand.
However, campaigns won’t work if the approach is, ‘let’s take what worked on Facebook and YouTube and repurpose this for TikTok’. The content that users are engaging with on TikTok is vastly different to the content traditionally engaged with on other platforms. Short form, trending and easily digestible video content is what will thrive.
Jahan Kalantar, Sydney based Partner at Executive Legal, grew his TikTok to 302K followers and 9.9m likes within a year. He featured on the Smarter Marketer podcast where he shares how to build likes, views and follows on TikTok, and how to create successful content that will get your ideal audience engaging with your brand.
Increasing data restrictions coupled with Apple’s iOS 14 update has severely hindered Meta’s in-depth targeting capabilities. This has left a number of businesses confused and struggling to adapt to the change, with results fluctuating and ad costs steadily rising. As a result, brands should consider where Facebook sits in the funnel and if they should pivot their strategy based on this review, remembering the platform’s initial intention - to generate brand awareness.
Meta has launched its new Performance 5 Framework that includes tactics to improve ad performance including broad targeting - many businesses are reaping the benefits of broader targeting compared to detailed targeting, with many lowering CTA’s by 12%. Broad targeting means you’re using Meta’s capabilities and machine learning to deliver your ads to those most likely to resonate with your content based, rather than just delivering to audiences who match your interest targeting. An advantage of this is that you're able to reach audiences you may have missed previously!
From food to fashion, travel guides to home decor… Pinterest is the platform your audience turns to for inspiration and new ideas (depending on your industry). With nearly all top searches being unbranded (source), Pinterest offers a fantastic opportunity to reach new audiences by sharing engaging, inspiring and relevant content.
In fact, 46% of weekly Pinterest users have discovered a new brand or product on the platform.
Pinned content is great for growing reach and building brand awareness, and it can eventually drive website traffic and contribute to online sales!
As a visual search engine, your creative is more important than your copy. Staying up to date with trending content and publishing visually compelling creative is imperative. Best practice includes uploading vertical, high-quality images, optimising your content with keywords and trending hashtags in the content description, and add your logo subtly into every image (you should also avoid placing it in the lower right corner as it will be hidden behind a pin).
Despite its clunky ad interface and questionable user experience for marketers, LinkedIn stands strong as the obvious channel for B2B marketers. This is especially true for prospecting campaigns focused on lead generation.
Year on year, we’ve seen a huge growth in LinkedIn, a network that now boasts over 10 million Australian members. It's likely that your prospects turn to LinkedIn to stay up to date with industry news, share information and job updates and follow thought leaders and companies that resonate.
In LinkedIn, prospects are attuned to learning something new and native sponsored content can successfully drive targeted traffic to your site. With sponsored Messaging (previously: sponsored InMails), you get twice the opportunity to catch the attention of your audience - one on the LinkedIn platform itself and again in your prospect's email inbox. Plus, there are notifications to support the InMail being sent.
Lastly, there's also scope to send out InMails with inbuilt Lead Forms within LinkedIn. These can integrate with many popular CRMs that can pull in more data fields like city, postcode, job title and the like directly from LinkedIn. One key benefit of using Lead Forms is that the ‘Company’ field is pre-populated, unlike Facebook. So, even if you end up with the user’s personal email address, you’ll be able to trace back the business they are associated with. Bear in mind that with Lead Forms, prospects don’t visit your site and may not be retargeted as a result.
All these factors make LinkedIn an attractive option for lead generation and it’s an area we’ve seen clients enjoy incredible results in. But capturing leads is one thing - nurturing leads is another. Make sure that you have an email nurturing strategy in place for the leads you’re capturing, in order to lead them down the funnel.
To learn more about how to succeed in B2B Marketing, have a read of our Essential B2B Australian Marketing Strategy Guide.
In the digital landscape, SEO stands strong as a veteran - the old but reliable way of driving quality traffic to your website. However, with the changing nature of the industry, your SEO strategy needs to keep up to remain a valid part of your digital marketing strategy. With Google’s continued dominance of this space, adapting to its changes is absolutely worth the effort.
Crafting copy based on search intent has always been the norm for SEO-specific content. Now, it's become essential. Marketers need to create and publish shorter and smarter copy that answers their target audience's most pressing questions promptly.
However, the goal is to not publish content for the sake of it. All blogs, short guides, and FAQs should be purpose lead and answer the key problems your target audience is facing. Many of the problems and questions your consumers are asking now, are the same from five years ago. Republishing evergreen content with new key words, updated trends, and relevant data is just as important, if not more valuable, than writing and publishing new content all the time.
For more insights on creating valuable short form content, listen to this episode with Marcus Sheridan on the Smarter Marketer Podcast. He shares how his world-renowned blog, "how much does a fiberglass pool cost?" directly contributed to 25 million dollars in sales!
In the past, there was a push to publish short pieces of content frequently. However, over time and with Google's changing algorithm, it is now considered better for SEO to publish long-form content. Such webpages have the potential to become content pillars of your site from an SEO point of view, ranking for multiple semantic keywords in one shot, increasing the time a person spends on your site, reducing bounce rates and, most importantly, providing your target market everything there is to know about the one thing your business is an expert at.
Marketers can take one step further in the content-creation process and introduce interactive elements to the webpages to make the piece more attractive. Think polls, calculators, and quizzes. These items make pages more shareable, thus expanding reach and, as a result, quality traffic.
The days of dubious site owners cramming keywords into their content and hiding it from viewers to trick search engines is long gone. These days what works best for search engines is what works best for humans. This means a website that is fast and secure, works well on mobile devices, and presents information in a sensible and logical way.
In 2021, Google updated its algorithm to incorporate Core Web Vitals - metrics that look at how the page's elements actually shift and render, how much time it takes for the browser to respond to the page versus how long it takes for the user to interact with it, and how long it takes for the biggest image or block on the page to load. As a result, the team here at Rocket rebuilt our website from the ground up to ensure it was as light and quick as possible. Site speed affects not only how search engines rank content, but is strongly correlated to user engagement and conversion rates.
But user experience is more than just how fast your website is. You should ask yourself how easy it is for your target audiences to find the content they are looking for. If a page requires ten clicks to get to, you can be sure that search engines will not consider it to be premium content. By mapping out the desired user journey for your target audiences, you can structure your site accordingly.
SEO demands an investment in time and resources, but consider this: more or less every other marketing channel you care to name involves an ongoing cost for the leads or sales generated. This includes Google Ads, TV, radio, print, trade shows and even referrals. When a business has momentum through organic search, leads and enquiries don't have a hard cost per acquisition in terms of buying media.
In a longer, more drawn-out sales process, SEO is the 'net' that captures prospects during the stages of awareness and consideration and hence fuels the fire for nurturing and re-engagement through remarketing and retargeting. But it’s also one of the best channels for capturing bottom-of-funnel users too, leading to actual purchases and conversions.
Unlike other performance channels, SEO isn’t one which will drive marketing results as you switch-on and switch-off campaign work. Consistent effort is necessary to gain long-term results and a strong ROI. This is why working with an SEO agency gives better bang for buck for most marketers.
Speak to your sales team and brainstorm a list of the most common questions prospects ask during their first meeting. Note all of these down and publish the questions and answers as long-form content on your site. Make sure to include the keywords you’re trying to rank for in the process.
Hubspot’s 2022 report on the State of Marketing in Australia revealed video to be the top content marketing media format for the third year in a row. This doesn’t just include your typical landscape framed videos for YouTube anymore… short-form portrait videos are truly dominating! In fact, Instagram reels are the most effective type of social media content.
One thing is clear; the types of videos that worked back in 2019 aren’t necessarily the types of videos that will be gaining traction in 2023.
The great thing about creating effective video content is that it doesn’t need to be hugely expensive. Viewers are not expecting Steven Spielberg quality. The video needs to be relatable, engaging and deliver value to the viewer. This is most definitely the case for Tiktok, Instagram reels and YouTube shorts.
The point being, depending on your industry, you might not have to invest heavily in equipment, location and the like, as you would if you were creating an ad for TV. Well-executed, low-cost production with a smartphone, good quality microphone and, most importantly, great quality content will do the trick in most instances. Think less bells and whistles and more value-delivery and personalisation.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do on Instagram and TikTok, it’s chop up your existing YouTube Ads and TVCs and share them as short-form video content - audiences are just going to skip them! Any content that isn’t purpose-led or feels unnatural is just a waste of time, energy and dollars.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating short-form video content:
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine with over 34.6 billion monthly visits (Source). In Australia, it’s currently the second-most visited website (Source). Millions of Australians watch YouTube on their TV screens each and every day.
The great thing about YouTube is that you don’t have to be a big brand capable of spending millions creating an ad and buying media to promote it. We’ve seen lots of awesome examples of YouTube ads shot on an iPhone with someone talking directly to the camera. The bottom line - if that person is giving genuine value to the audience then the right people will engage with it.
Year-on-year, industry stats reveal that marketers are investing less in the Google Display Network for prospecting while increasing their investment in YouTube. An important thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t approach YouTube with a pure cost-per-lead mindset. Video on this channel is often most suited to driving engagement with viewership, engagement and retention. This eventually contributes to brand awareness and sales in the digital marketing ecosystem. That said, we’ve also run successful prospecting and lead generation campaigns. As always, it depends on the offering and its audience.
Want to learn more about advertising on YouTube? We’ve written a guide to using YouTube Ads for Australian businesses!
Consider how you can use ‘the 8 second window’ to create your short form video content. What can you do with colours, bold fonts, and audio to make your message stand out from the crowd? Whether your video is interviewing a team member, focusing on customer reviews, or showcasing the unique selling points of your core product/service… relatable and authentic content will go a long way.
Will email marketing continue to deliver results in 2023? Yes. Positively. Definitely.
Email marketing is the strongest owned channel, giving you direct access to your prospects.
If implemented well, with the right segmentation, timing, content relevance and design, emails will certainly help move your buyers further down the marketing funnel. It’s arguably the best channel to deliver the “right message at the right time to the right person”.
Adopt social proof within your email content by including case studies, testimonials and reviews of your products and services within emails, where it makes sense.
As you share positive experiences of your customers, you’ll ultimately increase your business’ authenticity and credibility while reducing any uncertainty your audience has about your products and services.
Optimising your email design for mobile is standard practice over the past few years. In 2023, you need to take things one step further by ensuring your emails maintain their quality across dark and light modes.
The most common mistake marketers make is using png images with transparent backgrounds that render oddly on wither of these modes. Be mindful of your choice of font colour and font size and more recently, font weight so prospects reading your emails on mobile are not having a poor experience.
Hot Tip: Make sure your email size is limited to 102kb. GMail clips all content that appears after that limit is reached, prompting users to ‘View entire message’. Keeping this in mind, make sure the most important part of your message (including your CTA) is included at the beginning of your email vs the end.
Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue (Source). Marketers are moving away from sending blanket emails to their database. Instead, the trend is moving towards creating better segments based on demographic data like location and buying role along with behavioural data like page views, past email clicks and the like. Better segmentation will also enable strong personalisation opportunities.
The same email message can be easily duplicated and slightly tailored to different segments to make a bigger impact - a better open rate, click rate and read rate. You can find some detailed tips on segmentation tips in this blog article on boosting email marketing campaigns
Apple’s privacy protection features for Apple Mail that were released with iOS 15 stop marketers from tracking IP addresses, email opens and forwards, time stamps, geolocation, device type and browsers.
With 46% Australians using iPhones (Source), we can assume close to 50% of your email marketing stats will be inaccurate. Essentially, any email campaigns relying solely on open rates may become unreliable. A/B tests based on open rates will also stand statistically insignificant. Automations based on email opens will become trickier to design.
As it is with any content, well-designed, dynamic, interactive emails are increasingly gaining attention from marketers who want to get cut-through in their prospect’s mail-filled inboxes.
Interactive emails can include multiple features like GIFs, embedded surveys, slide-shows, roll-over effects on images or CTA buttons. Interactive emails don’t require the recipient to open a link a new tab to take action and thus, reduce the number of clicks required to get the result.
Such emails are bound to gain higher engagement rates. 2023 and beyond, we are bound to see email marketing platforms making it easier for marketers to build and send interactive emails.
Review your email stats to check ‘Opens by Email Client’ which breakdown your ‘opens’ by Gmail, Chrome, Office, Yahoo Mail and the like. Accept that the opens from Apple Mail will be unreliable. Work with metrics other than open rate such as click rate, reply rate and unsubscribe rate. Adjust your automated email scripts so they make sense even if someone has not opened prior emails.
There are two things we’re sure of in 2023. Firstly, change will be ever-present. Secondly, for all this change a lot of things will remain the same. This is particularly true of the core elements of good marketing. These will not change. Right message, right place, and right time will continue to be critical to your marketing success.
Marketing is more competitive and, in many ways, more democratised than ever before. For most businesses, future success requires a strong and effective digital marketing presence.
In 2023, well-executed email marketing and nurturing will continue to drive sales and engagement. Search efforts, both paid and organic, will be crucial to siphoning off the traffic of the highest intent. Social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and TikTok will continue to allow you to build targeted audiences and prospects for high-quality traffic.
A winning strategy is more than ever going to require multiple channels and highly effective messaging targeted at your key personas. Empowering decision-makers with the right message at the right time will drive your strategy further per dollar, capturing the attention of your prospects while they are researching or looking to buy.
If there is anything the team at Rocket can do to help, or any question we can answer to give you clarity, don’t hesitate to be in touch at rocketagency.com.au/contact or 1300 059 620.
Good luck in 2023 and beyond!
James is co-founder of multi-award-winning Australian digital marketing agency Rocket, keynote speaker, host of Apple’s #1 Marketing Podcast, Smarter Marketer, and co-author of the 2019 Amazon Australia’s #1 best-selling marketing book of the same name. He was also a finalist in 2019 and 2020 B&T Marketer of the Year.
James’ 15-year marketing career working with more than 500 in-house marketing teams inspired the 2019 release of Smarter Marketer. It has been endorsed by marketers at some of Australia’s leading brands, including Hubspot and KPMG.
In 2022, James launched the Smarter Marketer podcast, the definitive podcast for Australian marketers. Released fortnightly, James sits down with local experts and global authorities to discuss how Australian marketers can become more successful in their careers.