Investing time and energy in social media marketing without tying your efforts to a strategy is like participating in an archery contest with a blindfold on.
But, merely having a social media strategy is not the cure to all your marketing woes.
You need to ensure that your strategy is driven by data and not by whims. In sophisticated terms, you need to narrow down a social media strategy that is results-driven.
Several questions naturally stem from the above statement.
- What does results-driven even mean?
- Which results are we talking about?
- How are they measured?
- To what extent should the said results be measured?
And so on …
The answers to these questions will help us in uncovering what a results-driven digital marketing strategy looks like, and how you can build one.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
What does results-driven even mean?
Within the purview of our discussion, think of a results-driven strategy as one that engenders measurable progress by leveraging the insights provided by quantifiable metrics.
To make the most out of your results-driven action-plan, you should navigate your marketing efforts by:-
- Setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals.
- Delineating sensible metrics to track your progress on those goals.
- Being open to experimental ideas.
- Using your failures to discover room for improvement.
- Taking action based upon your learnings.
Brainstorm S.M.A.R.T. Goals
The full form of this acronym is not nearly as important as its essence. So, we’ll not entangle you with a letter-by-letter analysis of what S.M.A.R.T. goals are.
(However, here’s a brilliant resource if you want to want to approach the rest of this sub-heading with an increased sense of familiarity)
Instead, we’ll focus on the practical implications inherent to this goal-setting framework, as well as the data that you should leverage.
By thinking within the box of S.M.A.R.T. goals, you no longer have the option to swim in the waters of vagueness.
As per the S.M.A.R.T. framework, it isn’t enough to strive for more sales than before.
- You need to give a number to your ambition.
- You need a number that you can track.
- You need a number that you can realistically achieve.
- You need a number that justifies its pursuit.
- You need to tie that number to a well-defined timeline.
Here’s an example of a smart goal to eliminate any confusion: Since traffic originating from Instagram generates the most conversions for my website, I strive to cumulatively increase my followers every month till the end of this quarter. I will strive for 100 more followers in the first month, 110 more followers for the second month, 120 for the third month, and 140 for the last month
Note: For the sake of creating a results-driven digital marketing strategy, it is generally better to base your S.M.A.R.T. goals on conversions rather than impressions. However, we provided a contrasting example above to assert yet another important lesson. There is no universal approach to goal setting. You just need to know what the rules are so that you also know when to break them.
Some additional considerations:-
Industry Trends:- Don’t forget to account for industry trends like seasonality (how certain industries flourish during specific parts of the year and experience a slump in other months) while focusing on conversions. This will help you in keeping your S.M.A.R.T. goals relevant as well as realistic. Use tools like Statista and SimilarWeb to gather useful insights.
Historical Data:- Use Google Analytics to get an idea of your past performance so that you have some idea about what works and what doesn’t. Identify the correlations between website traffic and marketing channels. As exhibited in the S.M.A.R.T. goals example used above, insights gained from analytical data can help you in identifying channels that yield the best ROI.
Monitor the right KPIs
A pleasant after-effect of sticking with the S.M.A.R.T. framework for goal setting is that you automatically end up with the right key performance indicators.
However, given the myriad of insights provided by modern-day digital analytics tools, it is easy to get suckered into tracking unnecessary metrics.
For instance, tracking your unsubscribe rate isn’t always a fruitful endeavour. If you are meeting your conversion goals irrespective of a somewhat displeasing unsubscribe rate, you perhaps don’t need to lose sleep over it.
Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t try to know your customers/potential customers as much as you can.
All we’re saying is that make sure you don’t waste time tracking metrics that don’t offer any practical benefits.
Consider saving that time and spending it on gathering valuable information instead.
Don’t overlook small details while focusing on the bigger picture
Tracking your big-picture goals is imperative to growing your business in the digital age.
However, it is also pertinent to ensure smooth functioning of the internal machinery that ensures the propagation of your digital marketing efforts.
For instance, if you’re trying to increase the organic traffic on your website, thinking from an advertising-oriented standpoint isn’t enough.
You also need to ensure that the internal processes that increase the face-value of your website are all nicely oiled-up.
This includes optimising for SEO-centric aspects like keyword-research, site-speed, UX-design, backlinks, and more.
Simply put, don’t get so engrossed in tracking your progress that you forget to keep a check on the building blocks on your business’ digital presence.
At its core, marketing itself is nothing more than an experiment.
After all, it is a dynamic endeavour that caters to the shapeshifting yet ever-existing gap between consumers and products.
Thus, you sometimes need to be able to step away from time-tested pathways and take the road less travelled.
For instance, you can endlessly tweak your copy to check all the right boxes and end up with a grand total of zero conversions.
However, under the same circumstance, something as simple as changing the colour of the ‘call-to-action’ button on your website can yield the intended results.
Eloquently put, you need to strike a balance between staying within the box of S.M.A.R.T. goals and thinking outside of it.
Follow the Deming Wheel
In the 1950s, Dr. William Edwards Deming, a well-known management consultant, came up with something called the Deming Wheel or the PDCA cycle to help businesses continuously improve their products and services.
The acronym, PDCA, stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. This model can also be leveraged by digital marketing professionals to continuously improve their strategies.
- Plan:- As we’ve discussed above, start with creating S.M.A.R.T. goals to ground your progress in quantifiable terms.
- Do:- Execute your plan in multiple stages to ensure that you don’t get stuck with a strategy that isn’t doing you any good. In other words, design goals for quarters instead of for the entire year.
- Check:- Keep a track of the right KPIs to get reliable measurements of your progress. Periodically identify improvement avenues, and keep making relevant adjustments in your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- Act:- Now, once you perform the first three steps for a good number of times, you’ll most likely identify glaring errors in your digital marketing strategy, and stumble upon long-term solutions. Implement those solutions, and return to step one.
Well, the Deming Wheel is exactly like the circle of life. It never ends. But, just like the circle of life, it affords you many opportunities to make the right changes.
With data science and other novel developments in business analytics fostering large-scale customer research in a manner hitherto unimaginable, metrics have become an inseparable part of marketing strategies.
Thus, being results-driven is inarguably the sane choice for marketers in the digital era. However, it is also wise to address metrics with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Well, we’re not telling you to be sceptical of the figures themselves, but of the implications that they come with.
In a nutshell, be mindful of how you use data, and leverage it to improve your strategies.
However, at the same time, don’t stop listening to your gut, and dare to be experimental from time-to-time.