Can you believe 2017 is already more than halfway over? While summer is a great excuse to get outdoors and crack open your favorite beverage by the grill, it’s also an important time of year for your digital marketing strategy.
As we launch full-speed into the second half of the year, it’s necessary to take the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t from the previous six months and adjust our plans accordingly for the remainder of the year.

Digital marketing moves at the speed of … summer

Similar to how the summer months seem to fly right before our eyes, so too does the world of digital marketing. While there was a time when marketers could assess performance and develop new strategies once a year, those days are long gone. Just like how we make a conscious effort to do regular, seasonal tune-ups on our vehicle, we also need to assess our digital strategy on an ongoing basis.

As a marketer, you are probably familiar with the almost-daily feeling of uneasiness that comes with needing to know and prove that your digital marketing activity is not simply achieving something, but it is also making a difference for the organization as a whole. With the ever-changing tools, trends and algorithms that come with the industry, it can be challenging to make sense of it all, let alone figure out what’s working, what’s not and how to get back on track. In this digital strategy tune-up guide, we’ve outlined six questions to help you evaluate if your digital marketing strategy is doing what you need it to:

1. Are you gaining a deeper understanding of your target markets and what influences each group?

For many B2B companies, the answer, unfortunately, is no. The gap in knowledge goes beyond understanding the end customer’s basic needs; it extends on how consumers evaluate brands, what and who influences their decisions, what makes them tick as a person and what triggers ultimately drive their purchasing behavior. To maximize performance, companies must leverage data and research to build a holistic approach to understanding their customer experience at every stage of their journey.

2. Is the organization enabling marketing?

Many organizations believe their strategy is a combination of being marketing and customer-driven. In reality, however, that isn’t always the case. When different internal departments have varied goals, disproportionate resources and dissimilar perspectives, these dynamics could result in a lack of focus. If key stakeholders do not fully embrace the concept of integrated marketing communications and what’s needed to do it successfully, it will be difficult to be effective in consistently increasing awareness, deepening relationships and converting loyal customers.

3. Are the tools you’re using adequately supporting publishing, discovery, and analytics needs from a technical integration standpoint?

Most digital marketers have a solid understanding of the technical elements to review in a social, SEO, and website audit. The goal of reviewing these factors is to ensure all the time spent building creative campaigns, conducting keyword research, and researching benchmarks is time well-spent. While you should certainly evaluate these factors, there’s value in looking into existing tools and methods and assessing whether there are more effective tools available. Digital marketing is driven by customer data and actions, so it is vital that the data be complete, clear, and helpful in being able to quickly develop actionable insights.

4. Is your current CRM strategy helping you engage with the right people at the right time?

If there was a “Darwin test” of digital marketing evolution, email marketing would pass with flying colors. The Radicati Group, Inc., a technology market research firm based out of Palo Alto, California, reported that in 2017 the total number of emails sent and received per day will reach 269 billion. This trend shows no sign of slowing down, either.
Email marketing has proven to be an excellent communication channel when developed strategically as part of a larger campaign. However, the success of each email campaign is only as effective as your list. As part of an evaluation of your existing tools and list management process, you will want to take into account the following considerations:

● How often are the lists being reviewed, cleaned, and merged?

● Are the key marketing and sales tools integrating effectively and engaging your customer quickly with relevant information?

● What metrics are you failing to capture, and how can they be integrated?

● What integrations are available through your CRM software, and are they being fully leveraged?

5. Are you reaching new audiences and converting existing customers?

Now that we’re halfway into 2017, it’s evident search engine optimization (SEO) still remains a priority, and marketers will continue to evaluate the best ways to measure its effectiveness. There are many tools, metrics and approaches to determine the health of your current SEO efforts –- we recommend using the guidelines below as a starting point:

● Your search engine traffic has been trending upward over time

● Conversion rate goals are met or exceeded

● You’ve tested various optimization methods for Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, and you are identifying and focusing on the tactics that are successful across each search engine

● You’ve identified the keyword phrases with the highest ROI for your organization and are actively working on improving rankings for those terms

● You’ve analyzed the most heavily-visited landing pages that users see before converting, in order to focus efforts on how to improve your website user experience on those pages

RELATED: Harnessing on-site search

6. Are your digital testing and optimization efforts proving to be strategic and effective?

Digital marketing should be a repetitive series of strategizing, developing, executing, analyzing, and optimizing efforts. Because the end goal is to improve the correlation between sales leads and marketing efforts, it’s important to continue to measure the success of your efforts and make changes to your strategy as needed. Whether it’s in the form of experimenting with more interactive content, conducting an A/B test of a different call-to-action design flow, or trying out influencer marketing – as long as you’re strategically testing different approaches and tracking results, this will only help drive direct insights into what has the greatest impact.

So, there you have it. No effective digital marketing strategy plan operates on a “set it and forget it” basis. As marketers, we know the mid-year point makes for an opportune time to take stock of which digital marketing strategies have produced results in the first half of the year and which need to be tweaked for an even better last half of the year. Taking the time to reflect and refresh on your plans will give your teams a better understanding of what’s to come.

What steps are you taking to evaluate your digital marketing strategy this year? We’d love to hear your ideas!

About Erin Varcoe

Erin Varcoe, integrated project manager at Two Rivers Marketing, is used to thinking beyond limitations. From the age of two, she’s been wandering from the known into unchartered territories. That craving for exploration continues on a daily basis, searching for the best solutions for our clients and their customers, even if that means venturing outside of the norm. Erin enjoys yoga, running, traveling, brewery/winery tours, cooking, and spending time with friends and family in the area. If you want to talk digital, email her at erinv@2rm.com.