Heroes, Spotlights, SEO – How to Make Your Digital Marketing More Effective
If you’re in a marketing role for your organization, these last couple of years might have been more challenging than most. In just a short stretch of time, the channels and tactics for marketers seem to have quadrupled.
What used to be the land of pay-per-click Google Ads is now littered with choices. There are Facebook Ads and boosted posts, LinkedIn sponsored content and InMail messages, sponsored Instagram posts and stories–not to mention platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. This internet thing is catching on, and the opportunities for businesses to get in front of their audiences are growing.
So how do you choose what digital marketing tactic is right for your business?
Here’s the thing: the tactics and channels don’t matter if your messaging doesn’t resonate. To create more effective digital marketing, take the time to make sure your message is right before you start experimenting with your budget.
Start with the Story
If we’ve ever met in person (which we should, by the way) you have probably heard me rant about one of my favorite messaging frameworks: The Hero’s Journey.
The Hero’s Journey is a format for storytelling that has been used in more books, movies and television shows than you could imagine. It’s a great way start building the foundation for your digital marketing messaging.
Essentially, it goes something like this: An ordinary person is asked to go on an adventure to stop an impossible villain, doesn’t want to go, meets a guide that shows them a magic power, goes on the quest and fails, goes back and wins using the magic power, and then returns to the everyday world to tell the tale.
In terms of branding, most businesses think of themselves as the hero, saving the day and ridding the world of some form of evil—even if it is just a competitor.
In the book Building a Story Brand, author Donald Miller clears up one simple-to-remember fact about business branding: the business isn’t the hero in the story. Your customer is the hero. Your business is the guide.
The business’ job is to make the customer the hero. To guide them through whatever challenges they face. To help them save their world. To rid their world from evil–even if it is just the competitor.
When you create digital marketing, and specifically the language in your ads, start by asking yourself who the hero is. The answer should always be your customer.
Here’s another way to think about it.
Marie Forleo and the Spotlight Method
Marie Forleo is an author and vlogger, and runs the mega-successful Youtube channel MarieTV, where she shares business and life advice for entrepreneurs.
Her version of the hero and guide approach is called the Spotlight Method.
She simply asks: in your marketing, is the spotlight on you or your customer? If your copy talks about how great you are, how long you’ve been in business, and how many awards you’ve won, the spotlight is on you.
If your copy talks about your customers, and how you can help with a particular problem they are facing, how great they are, and how you can make their life better, the spotlight is on them.
To make your digital marketing more effective, the spotlight should be on them.
Testing channels, measuring effectiveness and pivoting
Better messaging in digital marketing starts with putting your audience (and their problems) first. Both the Hero’s Journey and the Spotlight Method are great ways to think about how to format marketing copy.
Once you have your messaging solidified, then you can begin putting your budget against it. We typically make three to four versions of an ad to test the effectiveness and conversion rate through A/B testing. The results vary not only with copy, but how that messaging performed on a certain social media channel. For example, Atomicdust’s funnier ads perform better on Facebook than on LinkedIn.
But how do you know what digital marketing channels to try? Should you advertise on Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram?
Focusing on your customer is important here, too. If you’re a B2B brand, LinkedIn is likely a natural fit. If you’re B2C, you might try Facebook Ads. Google Ads can be effective for both. But here’s the thing–just like testing your messaging, you should test a few channels to see what works best for your business. There’s no perfect platform for everyone.
Businesses can learn a lot about a channel and their audience by experimenting with digital ads. For instance, Atomicdust gets far more impressions and engagement on Facebook Ads than LinkedIn Ads, but our click-through-rate with LinkedIn Ads is usually higher.
Collecting this data at the beginning of a marketing campaign gives us insight into the channel and allows us to pivot and shift efforts towards what is performing better.
One more thing: More strategic messaging means better SEO.
Framing your brand messaging around your customer isn’t just for digital ads, either—it also gives you a clear roadmap for what content to create on your website. Knowing what your audience is interested in and wants to learn about can help creating content in support of SEO.
When people use Google, they tend to ask it questions. “What’s the best _____?” or “How do I _______?” If a business can build a website answering questions their customers have around their industry (instead of just talking about themselves), Google will find it more useful, and they will have an advantage in search engine results.
To make the most out of your digital marketing on any channel, start with customer-focused language, A/B test everything and pivot accordingly.