Marketers are overwhelmed by their jobs, and it’s easy to see why. The flood of data you’re expected to handle keeps getting bigger, not least because marketers cover as many as 13 different channels, with big data having reached tsunami-like proportions.
Markets, trends, and consumer expectations are fluctuating like mad. Marketing campaigns have to stay relevant to general economic and social conditions, but those keep changing too, as the pandemic keeps evolving.
Meanwhile, the competition keeps growing, making it harder and harder for brands to attract eyeballs, let alone intent. “Many marketers struggle with finding and establishing a credible and authoritative voice for their brands, and cutting through the noise to capture their target audience’s attention.” says Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group.
Just to add to the general tumult, digital marketing conditions are in a constant state of flux. Apple is changing its tracking policies, Google has killed the cookie, and Meta keeps changing what ads are allowed. Suspicions are rising around data privacy issues, and there’s growing concern about diversity and sustainability, requiring marketers to keep track of market sensibilities too.
Amidst all this uncertainty, only 23% of marketers are confident they’re tracking the right KPIs, and 46% admit that they struggle to prove RoI.
It doesn’t help that the remit of digital marketing keeps growing, encompassing numerous sub-disciplines like social media marketing, content marketing, marketing analytics, SEO, conversion optimization, PPC, multimedia production and lead nurture. It’s not unreasonable to need an expert for each area, but the average small to medium enterprise doesn’t have the budget for a team of that many specialists.
“Ten years ago, a three-person marketing team coordinated advertising, direct mail, and managed a simple, ‘read-only’ website,” points out Jen Illiff, a VP at the WunderLand Group marketing agency. “Today, this same-sized team is asked to produce videos and animated graphics, manage interactive websites and company apps, design infographics, produce webinars and organize other events, and create organic content for audiences on various social media platforms and other online publications.”
With so much to contend with, marketers could do with some hacks to help you punch above your weight. Let’s get right to it, then.
Make the most of advanced attribution analytics
Today’s buyer journeys are becoming increasingly complex, so if you’re only paying attention to the channels and assets that people touched immediately before converting, then you’re not only missing out on key aspects of the journey – you’re also overlooking useful data on where your marketing efforts are most impactful.
Davis Mastin, associate product manager at HubSpot, recommends that you save yourself a headache by automating multi-touch attribution reports. “Multi-touch attribution reports are valuable because they allow marketers to pinpoint the exact marketing and sales effort that led to a conversion in your flywheel,” he says. “By using this information, you can make better-informed decisions about where to invest your time and resources.”
It makes sense, then, that the percentage of companies using complex attribution models has been steadily rising in recent years.
Indeed, making sense of more sophisticated attribution signals is one of the key advantages of using Google Analytics 4. You can also try integrating Nielsen Attribution, which applies machine learning (ML) to model customer journeys on a granular level. The platform displays person-level attribution drawn from keyword analysis, display creatives, paid social ads, and data taken from all platforms, channels, and devices.
Armed with this information, you can identify more complex patterns and prioritize your own efforts accordingly.
Adopt a cloud customer data platform (CDP)
Along similar lines, prioritizing your activities likewise gets easier when you can merge insights on pre-conversion touches with what happens to customers after they make a purchase. “Merging critical data such as user feedback, campaign metrics and customer service data will only empower your digital marketing strategy” says Erin Gilliam Haije, a content marketer at Mopinion.
Consider moving your marketing data to a cloud CDP to speed up processing for advanced marketing analytics tools, ensure you can connect your preferred predictive analytics tool, and make it faster to refresh data, so your insights are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
As a result, your buyer personas will become richer and more based on actual behavior, empowering you to make those tough decisions on the channels and creatives that move the needle most.
Choose a cloud data platform that integrates with your preferred marketing analytics tools and has an intuitive interface that all the marketers in your team can use independently, to prevent data science turning into data gatekeepers. Some top choices include Lytics, Redpoint, Segment, and Tealium.
Automate, automate, automate
Automation is a marketer’s best friend, rescuing you from tasks like manually posting on social media, managing email lists, curating content, optimizing PPC ads, and much more besides.
To get started, list all the tasks you wish to automate; often one tool can address a number of them, but you won’t know what to look for unless you have all your issues in front of you. Think about tasks that are repetitive and don’t involve too much nuanced logic.
Make sure you choose a marketing automation tool that can scale with you, or you’ll waste time onboarding a new one six months down the line. Zapier is one of the first tools people turn to for marketing automation, largely because of how many platforms it integrates with – 4000 at time of writing.
As Databox’s Jessica Malnik points out, some of the most popular marketing zaps include posting links to new blog articles on social media, sending personalized notes to new leads, and notifying teams when a lead requests a free trial.
Align with sales and support
Marketing-sales-support is a continuum, rather than three siloed departments, so if you aren’t working together, you’re working against each other.
Improving alignment makes you all more productive, as it allows you to stop wasting time attracting an audience of people who don’t convert – or who do convert but eventually make unhappy customers. Getting on the same page with these other teams ensures that you all agree on the attributes that identify an ideal customer, which only helps you to attract and nurture those people more efficiently.
Some steps to better alignment include:
- Sharing data and insights about what customers need and how best to address them.
- Opening up communication channels with other teams to coordinate messaging.
- Scheduling regular meetings to review CRM and CDP reports and keep you all on the same page.
Block your time
Time blocking is an excellent productivity hack for everyone, but overstretched digital marketers need it more than most.
Chances are that you need to monitor your email campaigns, respond to reviews, update PPC settings, check social media DMs, and prepare the next set of blog posts, all at the same time. By compartmentalizing your time, you’ll be able to give each task your full attention, so as to complete it faster and better.
When your must-do tasks are blocked in, it gets easier to say no to other tasks that will only distract you from your core responsibilities. Maybe that new microsite side project needs to wait until next month – hard to tell unless you’re aware of how available you are to attend to it.
Tools like Sunsama and Planyway help you block out certain times of the day, week, or month to focus on each aspect of your digital marketing strategy. For example, perhaps you check social media stats every day, set aside time once a week for checking reviews, and block off a few days each month for content prep.
Reclaim your marketing productivity
Sometimes, digital marketing can feel like running up the down escalator, but the right hacks can restore the joy to your work. By adopting marketing automation, cloud CDPs, attribution tools, and time blocking, and working together with sales and support, you can streamline your marketing work and make it better for everyone.