Budgets, Branding & Better Online Marketing: Part Three

Creating your digital marketing channel strategy

Devising a digital marketing strategy is no easy task. Facebook, AdWords, email, SEO, content marketing… Which channels are right for your business? That’s why núcleo has written this four-part guide to help you learn about online marketing and choose the channels that are best suited to your brand, industry and customers.

In Part One: Understanding Your Marketing Channel Options, we helped you to understand the pros, cons and costs of some popular channels, including SEO, email-direct marketing, PPC advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing.

In Part Two: Understanding Your Business’s Needs, we showed you how defining the goals, budget and expertise of your company can allow you to make more informed decisions about your digital marketing options.

Now we have three final tips to ensure your choice in channels leads to an effective digital marketing strategy.

Creating your channel strategy

With an understanding of your business, your audience, and the different digital marketing channels, you can begin to devise a solid channel strategy for your brand.

But which channels should you invest in?

Review your past digital marketing strategies

Exploring your current or previous online marketing strategies can provide a solid foundation for your new plans. Even if you’re just starting out, you can take inventory of your business and identify any online presences your currently have. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What social media profiles do you have? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Do you have a YouTube channel? Do you have any videos to post online?
  • Which channels have you invested in previously?
  • What worked? What didn’t work? What could you do differently?

If you have minimal experience to look back on, try analysing your competitors’ strategies. Can you identify what channels they use? You may be able to find useful data about the success and failure of businesses similar to your own.

Perhaps you now have some idea about what will work best for your company, based on what you’ve learned about the channel descriptions, your business needs, and your previous strategies.

But if you’re still unsure about where and how you should invest in digital marketing, you may find the RICE system useful.


The RICE System

The RICE System is a prioritisation tool devised by Sean McBride. Originally made with the intention of helping product developers to prioritise a product roadmap, it nonetheless can provide a helpful framework to assess, score, and evaluate the digital marketing channels and their investment potential.

RICE is an acronym for four important criteria:

  • Reach — The approximate number of people your campaign will access and affect.
  • Impact — The size of the opportunity, based on reach, search volume and other factors.
  • Confidence — Your level of certainty in your ability to engage with and convert the audience.
  • Effort — The amount of time and effort you expect will be required to achieve success with this channel.

These four variables can then be brought together to produce a RICE score for each marketing channel, using this equation:

So let’s say you’re tossing up between SEO and paid social media ads to promote a new product for your business.

SEO, you determine, will reach approximately 800 people per month, and the content will provide a positive impact for 12 months (thus your reach is 800 x 12 = 9600); you give it an impact score of 2 out of 3 (reaching people searching for a solution to a problem is a great opportunity to sell more products); you give it a confidence score of 2 out of 3 (SEO converts well); and you assign an effort score of 3 out of 3 (because you know how much work is required to optimise your content).

Your paid social media ads, meanwhile, may reach around 1000 people; you award an impact score of 3 (you identify a lot of people on Facebook who could benefit from your product); confidence score of 1 (people don’t typically use social media with a mindset of making a purchase); and an effort score of 2 (quick to set up, but time will be required to find the perfect audience).

So our current scores are:

For SEO: (9600 x 2 x 2) ÷ 3 = 12,800

For social media: (1000 x 3 x 1) ÷ 2 = 1500

However, to use the RICE System in the context of digital marketing, we should adjust the score by cost. For the SEO impact above, you are allocating a $500 budget; this means $1 for a 25.6 RICE score (12,800 ÷ 500 = 25.6). For social media, you can boost an existing post for an extra $50; this means $1 for a 30 RICE score (1500 ÷ 50 = 30).

According to these scores, it would be more effective for you to invest in and prioritise paid social media marketing over SEO. However, if you assume the SEO benefit will have an impact in the 2nd, 3rd and subsequent years, its RICE score improves very quickly. Comparatively, the social media advertising will stop having an impact as soon as you stop advertising.

In other words, the RICE system should be used as a guideline, not a strict rule. Use it simply as a contributing factor in the decision-making process. If you do use the RICE system, be sure to acquire adequate data and justify your scores — this will provide you with a more accurate representation of the channel’s potential.


Remember who you’re talking to

There’s a lot of planning to do, but don’t lose sight of what’s important — your customers! We spoke about this previously but it’s worth mentioning again, as it can be easy to forget about your audience in the midst of setting goals, setting budgets, and selecting channels.

Many business owners find that fleshing out a thorough persona for their audience is useful in keeping them at the heart of the digital marketing strategy.

Here are a few tips to help you develop well-thought out personas:

  • Start with the basics. Note down the general demographic information about your target audience, like age, gender and location.
  • For more accurate key characteristics about your users, try using the Audience Reports in your Google Analytics account. This can determine age, gender, geographic location, career, interests, and what technology they’re using to interact with your content.
  • Identify the problems your customers have. How can your products or services solve them? What solutions can your business provide?
  • Identify what your audience is doing online. Where can you most effectively engage them? Are your customers more likely to interact with an email or a SnapChat?

Forming a full-fledged persona for your audience will allow you to more accurately cater to their emotional needs, satisfy their inherent wants, and decide upon the channels that suit your brand and budget.

To sum up: Choosing the right digital marketing channels will come down to a combination of proven data and gut instinct. You might prefer to use the RICE system to estimate the channel potential, learn from your previous digital marketing experiences, observe the strategies of competitors in your industry, or acquire information elsewhere.

Regardless, you will want to focus your efforts on a limited number of channels, monitor their effectiveness, and make improvements where necessary.

In Part Four, we will conclude our guide with an exploration of how and when you should making changes and improvements to your digital marketing strategy.

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