Flying Through the Top 5 Barriers to Digital Marketing Success

There’s a big disconnect right now in the world of digital marketing. Most marketers are still in the early stages of digital maturity even though their customers expect an experience based on sophisticated, integrated cross-channel marketing with personalized messages.

In my view there are five main barriers that prevent organizations from improving their digital marketing, none of which are technical. These barriers are actually more complicated because they involve people and process—areas that, in many organizations, are far more ingrained than even the most stalwart of enterprise systems. They are:

  1. Lack of a model or process for change
  2. Restricted budget
  3. Pressure for short-term gains
  4. Lack of resources
  5. Ability to manage change

The flying trapeze

Overcoming these barriers may be difficult, but there is a way to ensure success. When it comes to improving digital maturity, by moving from “old think” to “new think,” the most successful model, in my experience, is “The Trapeze Model of Change.”

Imagine a novice trapeze artist comfortably stationed on the “old” platform, high above the crowd. You want this flyer to jump out and swing over to the “new” platform at the opposite end of the arena. The best way to do this is to build a safety net between the old and new platforms and have the artist practice with a mentor. When the time comes for the final flight to the new platform, you set fire to the old platform and have an experienced catcher on the opposing trapeze to catch the flyer as she soars toward the new platform. Then, after a safe landing, you reward the flyer to keep her on the new platform.

Keep the Trapeze Model in mind as you and your organization navigates the top five challenges to digital marketing success:

1. Lacking a model or process for change

This point pertains to the way your organization does its digital marketing. If you lack a model or process for changing it, don’t try to be a pioneer.  Use a proven approach. Look for vendors and agencies that have already boldly gone where you want to go and tap their expertise.

Start with your business objectives, and then identify the marketing steps you need to execute to achieve them. From there, drill down to your digital marketing criteria and the technology you need to give you the requisite capabilities.

In applying Trapeze Model–thinking here, make sure you have a strong mentor as part of your team—ideally, an executive sponsor. That’s a must.

2. Restricted budget

Most organizations face a restricted budget, so you’re probably familiar with that barrier already. This is typically due to the perpetual problem of not being able to show how marketing impacts the bottom line. Fix this by building a causal map showing how digital marketing goals drive the success of marketing objectives, and how that success, in turn, drives larger success with organizational objectives.

In other words, map out your trajectory through the air as you swing from the old trapeze platform to the new, and what happens after you land there.

3. Pressure for short-term gains

The pressure for short-term gains comes when the need for improved digital marketing isn’t a high enough priority. That frequently happens when long-term gains are unclear, and there is no sense of urgency about the need for change.

Once you clarify and develop the business case (as described in the first point) you can ease the pressure by establishing credibility with “quick wins” such as:

  • Create an engagement value scale that weights your conversions by how they contribute to achieving organizational objectives
  • Implement rules-based personalization on key website real estate, using keyword combinations that target your most productive visitor segments
  • Optimize your campaigns with simple A/B testing
  • Identify campaigns that have the greatest impact and use them to improve others

A good tactic is to plan for, communicate, and celebrate your quick wins. The applause that meets a quick win will motivate your stakeholders and get everyone fired up to push through the tough barriers.

4. Lacking resources

When you don’t have the necessary resources to get everything done, the best solution is to focus on what’s critical to success. The trapeze artist doesn’t have to perform a triple somersault on the way to the new platform; she just has to get over there safely.

In your drive toward greater digital maturity, focus on your most important visitor segments by identifying the traffic channels and keyword phrases that identify those segments. Focus on campaign themes that win. Identify “hero” campaigns that produce both high visitor and high conversions on critical goals.

Repeat and leverage those hero campaigns, for example, by taking a hero webinar topic and make it a whitepaper asset. Take a hero overview topic and dive into its details. Focus on retaining, upselling, and cross-selling to those customers you’ve already converted. Research continually shows there’s better ROI from existing customers than from acquiring new customers.

Finally, focus on what’s most important in the rest of your content. Making a stronger impact with the 100 pages that matter most is much less daunting than the prospect of overhauling 15,000 pages.

5. Managing the change

FUD—fear, uncertainty, and doubt—can paralyze any trapeze artist and any organization that’s trying to change. The biggest factor here is that you need to hear every stakeholder’s input. You may not be able to solve or incorporate their issues, but stakeholders should feel like they’re part of the process.

Similarly, the CEO or CMO should project the message that digital marketing maturity is absolutely critical to business success. That’s the best way to prove the importance and commitment.

Before you know it, you’ll have flown through the air with the greatest of ease and landed safely on the digital marketing platform for the future.

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