Last night was the final class time for the DGM4 cohort of General Assembly’s Digital Marketing class. Next week we’re doing not one, but two “demo nights“, during which time each student will present their digital strategy for a real world project that they adopted during the 10-week class. So, in our last night of actual class time, we did a full-scale review of everything we’ve covered since August 18th. The best part of this session? No powerpoint slides. We simply walked through the chalk-talk below. Below the image is a high-level summary of current digital marketing concepts and best practices.


Brand: Start with “why” and identify your core values. Get to know your customers so well you can create personas with actual names. Develop your business model based on where your customers are – geographically, socially, digitally – and set up marketing channels accordingly. Plan your sales distribution from those marketing channels, study your sales cycle carefully (that’ll come up again in the funnel and calendar), and calculate the lifetime value of your customers. Finally, understand and plan for what it will take to properly support your product. This particular decision is derived directly from your core values.

Measuring/Metrics: What are your goals and how will you reach them? Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T., supported by specific tactics and strategies, and progress towards goals must be tracked via KPIs. How do you track everything? Analytics! The joy of digital marketing is that we always have all the data at our fingertips, starting with Google Analytics for your website and using the (usually) free analytics tools that come with every social channel. From Google Analytics, discover segments and tribes among your audience, and customize your targeted marketing for each segment. Learn what works by conducting small, inexpensive experiments, OODA Loop style, and make forward decisions based on the data gained during experimentation.

The Marketing Funnel: Understanding the marketing funnel is critical to any marketer’s success. The time and money (or elbow grease / sweat equity) you put in the top will flow out the bottom. You learn how by tracking every single campaign individually. With each campaign, you’ll have a certain reach (number of prospects who see your message). Reach is multiplied by social and digital engagement (someone retweets you). Some small percentage of those reached will click and visit your website. That percentage is your CTR (click through rate), and those individuals are visitors. They’re at your landing page (which you create for every campaign), so now what will you do with them? You have a goal for every landing page: conversion, either to a transaction or a lead. Those who take your specified action become leads or customers. The percentage is your conversion rate if leads and your close rate if sales. What’s your average order (or contract) amount?  The rest is just math. Reach x CTR x Conv Rate x Close Rate x Avg Sale = revenue. The key is learning your funnel so well that you can predict results confidently. Then you win.

Owned Marketing Content: every word, image, infographic, video, podcast, picture, blog post, social post, press release, and forum contribution is your owned content. You own it because you created (or paid someone to create) it, and each one is a direct reflection of your brand. Every word on your website matters and every page should have a goal. If you don’t have a blog, you’re doing it wrong. Every business has a story. Share it via blog, video, audio (podcast), and social. Your social networking “personality” or voice IS your brand these days, so set boundaries for every employee because every employee is an ambassador for your brand. Engage in every channel in which you push content, because on the other end of that post – every post – is another human being. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it on social media. Email is still the killer marketing app for startups and small businesses. You must have a newsletter, and you must initiate transactional emails (subscription/order confirmations, etc.). If you have the budget, marketing automation (behavioral email) can shrink your funnel significantly. Brand your personal email signature. Anyone can win at SEO with time, care, and content, which requires some formula like 60/20/20 for Educate, Engage, Exchange.

Paid Content Marketing: Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Instagram offer very affordable, powerful, highly targeted advertising. Even if you have the smallest of budgets, it’s worth an experiment to see what kind of return you can get. Start with establishing your monthly budget. Set very specific goals for each channel you try. Make sure you know your audience, because you can hyper-target them on any of these channels. Your message and content will reflect your brand. Have a strong call to action (CTA). Understand what each of these channels can and cannot do before you fully engage. Simple version: you can either win at SEO or buy the top spot. You can either be great at social or buy people’s attention. Not an exact tradeoff, but close.

Marketing Calendar: Nothing hurts like a date, except waking up each day wondering what you’re gonna blog, tweet, post, or share. Don’t do that. Start with a Google Spreadsheet and create a basic calendar with campaign name & date, owner, and status. Build it out from there to suit your needs. Plan your content – paid or owned – based on your business’ seasonality, sales cycle, major events, or the actual calendar. Working by a marketing/content calendar gives you the freedom to execute properly and not under daily pressure, and the freedom to actually engage in social and digital events as they occur.

That’s it. DGM in 471 words one blog post. Wanna go deeper? Here’s the official “Digital Marketing 101” series, or you can attend the Digital Marketing Bootcamp at GA on Saturday, or you can go all out and enroll in the next Digital Marketing cohort at GA, which starts November 9.


What do you think about that?