ClickZ-Live-Logo-NewIn early April I had a great experience at the ClickZ Live Digital Marketing Conference in New York. During the three-day event I was bombarded with glorious amounts of information, stats, “aha” moments, head scratchers and confirmation that what I’ve been reading hasn’t been a bunch of malarkey. It’s impossible to synthesize all the information I ingested into one blog post, but I hope this synopsis provides some high-level insight into and provokes thought about how brands and marketers currently utilize the digital environment.

The State of Digital Marketing

zettabyteThere is no magic marketing bullet: I’ve spoken about integrated marketing in past posts, but this conference really confirmed that success in the online world will rely on a multitude of tactics, strategies, devices and channels to ensure that marketers reach their target audience. In a landscape where 2.7 zettabytes of digital data exists, campaigns that solely focus on paid, earned or owned media will easily get lost in the noise created by this continual and exponential growth of digital data.

Ensuring Digital Success in 2014

To cut through those zettabytes of digital noise, great content needs to be the core of a brand’s digital strategy. I’m not just talking about pumping out a cool infographic every quarter and tweeting it. I’m talking about a search-friendly infographic that gets created based on persona data, intent and needs that then gets networked to top influencers. The initiative is further supported via paid search and remarketed with display ads. And all that traffic that gets driven back to the site? It’s easily segmented by audience, outreach, location, etc., and tied to goals so that website conversions can easily get attributed to a certain tactic. And did I mention this would all be mobile-friendly too? That’s how digital marketing in 2014 is shaping up and here are five tips to ensure success:

1.Start with data & research (Big Data):

Slicing and dicing data should be the new norm for a digital marketer and brands that properly utilize researched and integrated data across all channels and tactics will see success. Brands sometimes think they know their audience, but diving into the big data pool will provide much greater insight beyond demographics. Services like Experian, Nielsen and Survey Monkey Audience should be explored to fully understand audience personas so that brands can create content that helps build the user story. Research like this allows marketers to collect user needs and observe psychographic characteristics to ensure marketing efforts and content are in alignment with audience likes, dislikes, wants, needs, etc.

2. Invest in great content (Content Strategy):

strategyOnce a brand is dialed into their audience and they “know them” based on researched data, a key component to engaging with them will be the use of relevant and visual-based content. Creating a content strategy will fully outline who, what and where of content. During this phase it’s not just what type of content gets created and when it gets distributed – it’s an ongoing process of Audit > Strategy > Plan > Create > Monitor. With content clearly being the winner in the digital world, and according to a recent Brightedge survey, 84 percent of marketers plan on investing more money in content this year than they did last year.

3. Support content (Integrated Marketing):

processJust because a brand creates great content doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be successful in the digital world. In 2014 brands that can promote and support content across all channels and devices will be able to see the most lift. Gone are the days of solely relying on one tactic (SEO, blogger outreach, etc.) to gain exposure for your brand and content. Successful brands will be able to integrate content and data across paid, earned and owned channels in order to deliver targeted and relevant experiences to their audience.

4. Build relationships and influence (PR):

relationshipIn a world where social connections are becoming a form of currency, the power of influence and online relationships is a key component in how a brand interacts and promotes online. Without an audience or top influencer to share content with, digital marketing will be a big challenge for any brand. PR is often under-utilized, but as the competitive landscape tightens, and as more content is generated, the social relationships and influence that PR can build could have a long-lasting and positive effect on a brand’s awareness and reach.

5. Measure & attribute success (Analytics):

analysisGone are the days of solely measuring “likes” and “follows.” While important, those are relatively meaningless metrics unless a brand can tie a like or follow to meaningful and measureable action. In a world where marketing is attempting to sway a belief or draw an action, marketers must be able to measure and track the success of a brand’s digital goals. As multi-channel and multi-device marketing evolves marketers will need to be able to attribute a sale/conversion/lead, etc. to a particular channel, tactic or piece of content. It’s not just tracking what channel works; it’s being able to learn from what worked and apply those learnings to future campaigns.