The Digital Marketing Secret Sauce

Nicole Williamson

A As a digital marketer, I’m frequently asked, “what’s the secret sauce?” The truth is, the secret sauce isn’t a secret at all and is quite simple. Strong campaign performance starts with understanding your audience's needs and campaign goals, which will help you formulate the right mix of platforms.

Sure, there are a bunch of fancy tools and tricks that can help you achieve top campaign performance, but at the end of the day, strong campaigns start with data-driven strategies built on understanding your audience’s needs.

1. Understanding your audience

In agriculture, we often want campaigns to reach multiple personas, and these people will likely consume information very differently. Identifying how we will reach and engage all these audiences can be a point of concern. How do we know if we are successful or if we’ve reached the full audience? This is often where the “secret sauce” question comes into play.

No customer is the same, and we all have different preferences for receiving information. Some people are data-driven, others follow in the footsteps of people they admire (influencers), and some convert quickly with limited information. The first step to building a strong digital strategy starts with understanding how your customers engage and what their needs are.

Developing audience personas is the first step to understanding your audiences’ needs and channel preferences. Tools like Spark Toro make this easy by doing a deep dive into your audience’s habits. It can help answer questions like who is your audience following on social media? What channels are they using most? What trends are they following?

Laying the groundwork by developing personas and customer segmentation can be daunting, but it’s arguably the most important ingredient in the “secret sauce”. Following the audience segmentation, it’s easier to identify which platforms will help meet our audience’s needs. And often, it’s more than one platform. After all, digital marketing isn’t one size fits all.

2. Understanding your campaign goals

Once audience segmentation is completed it’s easier to identify campaign goals based on what we know the audience is looking for. While goals are determined, it’s important to know what platforms will help you engage your audience and reach your goals.

There are lots of programmatic (the use of automated technology for media buying) media tools to choose from. Just because a tactic might be trending doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your audience's needs. For example, with TikTok, we might see great reach at a low cost but limited quality site traffic. As such, it might not be the best platform for a campaign where the goal is to drive users to the website or an audience that we know likes to have all the details before they convert.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular programmatic media tools and their traditional intents:

  • Display: Display ads are visually engaging and help you reach your target audience as they browse websites and apps. Display ads are typically targeted through interests, browsing intents and remarketing, making these ads the perfect awareness tactic.
  • Video: Video ads use movement and sound to quickly catch users' attention. Video has taken off over the past several years, and everything from YouTube pre-roll to Connected TV has allowed digital marketers to focus on high engagement. Typical KPIs for this platform are reach, video views and video completions.
  • Search: Search ads are used to catch users with high intent while they’re searching for products like yours. So naturally, users are more likely to convert.
  • Native: Native ads are like display ads because they help you target your audience while browsing websites and apps. Native ads discreetly appear in articles with static images or videos and are a great awareness tool.
  • Social: Social advertising is hands down one of the most popular tools to engage your audience. The wide range of platforms uniquely engages users and allows for any campaign goals, from attracting new followers or job applicants to purchasing a product.

3. Choosing the right platforms

This is the fun part. We know what your audience needs and we’ve identified your campaign goals and tactics that align with those goals; all that’s left is deciding on the right platforms. Choosing the right platforms takes research and time to create the right mix of 1. engaging your audience and 2. reaching your goals.

While we are researching the right platforms, there are a few key things we look for:

  • Audience sizes: How much reach and/or how many conversions can we expect to see?
  • Budget: How much will it cost to reach this audience?
  • Targeting options: Can we effectively reach our target audience on this platform?
  • Past campaign performance: Has it worked before? Could we do something differently?

Once the right information is gathered, we can put forward a data-focused digital strategy that has our campaign and audience needs top-of-mind. The “secret sauce” that brands are searching for is quite simple and starts with having a solid understanding of your audience’s needs, paired with multi-channel marketing. Digital marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. While the groundwork can be tiresome, your future self (and campaign performance) will thank you.

About the Writer

Nicole Williamson – Digital Strategist

As a digital strategist at Think Shift, Nicole works with clients to develop impactful digital strategies and campaigns that reach and exceed their goals. Learn more about Nicole.

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