Most businesses want to grow or increase profits year over year. There are many avenues toward growth, such as increased sales, decreased expenses, an influx of capital, enhanced productivity or a combination of all the above. In our line of work, businesses come to us looking to increase sales or grow the business in some way. This typically means more traffic, increased engagement and leads generated through digital marketing.
However, one thing to consider before delving into a full strategy is the strength of your marketing foundation. In order for a digital strategy to be successful, you first need a strong foundation in place.
For example, an agency begins working with a client on their digital strategy. However, what looks like a decent website from the front-end, ends up having technical issues and is extremely difficult to manage on the back-end. On top of that, someone who left the company is the only one with access to their Google Analytics account and the email contact lists are spread across five Excel spreadsheets dating back to 2006.
This can quickly devolve into weeks or even months of work to stabilize the website and build a better foundation. Of course, this work is still necessary but it does change the outlook of your digital marketing efforts.
So what does a strong marketing foundation look like?
To answer this question, here is a list of the many aspects of a strong marketing foundation:
A mobile-friendly website that includes all relevant business information and a contact page.
The website also has a content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) and blog type functionality so you can keep add and update content without needing a developer.
A strong technical foundation behind the website — resolve things like bugs, outdated plug-ins, speed issues, hacked website, no SSL certificate, etc.
Audience persona profiles for each of your key target audiences.
A brand guideline document that includes logo files, colors, fonts, brand voice, and key messaging.
Google Analytics is installed and your team is using an alias to access all relevant marketing accounts.
A basic email template designed within a broadcast email system like HubSpot, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.
A clean contact list or spreadsheet that includes both prospects and customers. Ideally, this is also segmented by lead type, industry, source, etc.
Branded social profiles on any relevant platforms for your audience.
A baseline of content that could be repurposed or leveraged for marketing such as old blog posts, sales brochures, or presentations.
How many of the above foundational marketing pieces does your organization have in place today?
Whatever your answer is, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in digital marketing, but it should temper your expectations for the first few months. In order to execute on a strategy, you often need many of the elements above in place. For example, without a solid website with a CMS, you can’t optimize your website copy or execute a content strategy. Without audience personas, you can’t determine potential content topics and relevant online channels.
For us and our clients, the items above are typically what we tackle in the first few months. That doesn’t always mean that marketing growth tactics can't be executed in the meantime, but building up a foundation over time is vital for success in the long term.