Six Tips to Make Your Digital Marketing Project Succeed
I recently provided five cynically humorous ways to make your digital project fail, and now I’d like to flip the coin and discuss some strategies that will help you to succeed with flying colors.
Have a plan
Know yourself. Know your audience. Know why you are the best for your audience. Know what your users are looking for, and marry that with what you’d like them to do — making the project a win-win for both parties. This is easy on product-based, e-commerce websites where you show products and hope someone buys something. For many of us in the B2B space, our goal is still to sell something, but our sales paths can be really complex! Determine and document how that’s going to happen.
It’s likely that you will have to demonstrate the success of the project. Your plan should define what constitutes a successful conversion, and it should also define the specific metrics that will be used to track these engagements. This can be tricky, since some things aren’t tangible in nature. Sometimes it takes some creativity, but it’s important to have a means to monitor what is working and what isn’t.
Assign a taskforce
Select a uniquely specialized group of individuals who can represent all the key functional areas of your organization. Digital projects typically require a lot of stuff to be gathered and polished. They are complex, usually impact several business units and take time. You don’t want to miss a deadline because someone was overwhelmed and couldn’t gather everything that was on their plate.
The “too many cooks in the kitchen” saying also applies here. You should expect several review periods and some on-the-fly decisions that must be made. Smaller teams are generally more agile and able to address these kinds of things in a timely manner.
Also, be sure someone has veto power to quickly resolve any gridlocks that might occur.
Focus on your users
Define user stories to simulate the path different segments of your audience might take. For example, a product engineer might want to go directly to spec sheets to see which product(s) you offer that would fit their needs, but a business owner might want to see your credentials and experience to determine how trustworthy you are. Are both quickly able to find what they are seeking? Are you telling them the story they both need?
Once you have laid out the paths, architect the project accordingly. Make your content, writing style, images, calls to action and navigation speak to them. They are busy; they won’t poke around a confusing tool for very long.
Keep it simple
It’s perfectly fine to push the limits and be modern, but don’t go overboard with it. Do you remember the annoying websites of the 90s where we all got accustomed to 2,000-word web pages with bright, flickering images scattered throughout? Please, don’t do that! There’s a fine line between too much and not enough when it comes to content, images and functionality. If it doesn’t serve a genuine purpose, you’re probably best without any additional distractions. If it’s not important enough to put in the limelight but you can’t live without it, bury it behind the scenes a little bit so the important stuff gets the attention it deserves.
Oh, don’t forget that there’s a very good chance your project may need to be built for mobile optimization!
Have a lenient deadline and budget
The planning phase is absolutely a key to everything in the business world, and it was my #1 on this list — with good reason. This is not to undermine the importance of that step, but your plan should allow for some flexibility when it comes to time and cost. Due to the complex and oftentimes “unchartered” nature of digital projects, there are plenty of potential hurdles you’ll have to cross. Sometimes it’s as simple as things not going as smoothly as expected when programming, writing, or gathering information and assets. The digital world is complicated, and a lot goes into it. It’s important to respect this caveat in any digital project.
Other times the scope creeps. Many project managers and developers view this as a flaw in the planning phase. I vehemently disagree much of the time. Scope creep is oftentimes the result of really good idea that came a little late. Other times, someone on the task force or development team will find a better way to organize or associate data once they get into it. It happens, and a lot of the time that’s a good thing to everything except an unaccommodating plan.
Don’t plan to prevent these things; plan to take it in stride and be better for it. My advice is to have an ideal target date with one or two backup dates, just in case.
Have an ongoing update and management plan
The digital landscape is constantly changing, and that’s not going to stop. You might have just released a best-in-class project yesterday, but it probably won’t be for long unless you commit to keeping it that way. A client might have just one-upped you with something new, Google might have changed their search algorithm, or maybe your organization made some changes that should be reflected in an app. Anything can happen, and you should have a plan — and an assigned task force — to make sure you protect your investment and keep legs under it for as long as possible.