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Understand Your Market Before Integrating Your Online Marketing Channels – by Li Evans

30 November 2011 BY

The “second round” of our guest posts is being kicked off by Li Evans, an old friend of State of Search, has been a guest on our radioshow before. We are very pleased to have her on board. She is going to write about understanding the marketing channels.

There are a lot of ways that marketers can integrate different marketing channels. From email, to social media to search (both PPC & organic) to even affiliate marketing and display advertising, the questions truly become overwhelming if you aren’t looking at data and research to help point you in the right direction. If you are just going by with “what worked in the past” you can find that your efforts are truly falling behind the times and aren’t garnering you any ground in engaging with your customers.

Launching a major integrated marketing strategy without understanding where your customers are, what they like, what are their passion points, what do they consider valuable and in the end, what makes them convert is a useless effort. It’s a lot like playing the child’s game of pin the tail on the donkey where players are blindly trying to put the tail in the right place. Without some sort of guide to lead you down the correct path, pinning down the right tactics will be as hit and miss as that child’s game is. Unfortunately your business really cannot rely on hit and miss marketing tactics for very long. Most companies today need to see results, fast.

That’s why audience research is so vitally important to any company’s success in putting together an integrated marketing strategy.  Customers have a lot of choices of where they consume their information to make decisions today.  40 years ago they had very few mediums – print, radio, outdoor & television.  Today consumers can be overwhelmed with the constant barrage of messages being pushed in their direction and will tend to settle into only the most comfortable and trustworthy channels to rely on that information.  For each and every consumer base those three to four channels can be different, that’s why a cookie cutter approach to marketing doesn’t work very well these days.

Sure, you want to secure purchasing your brand name in PPC, securing your profiles in the social media channels and optimizing your website for you most important terms.  Those are the basics, the foundation of your integrated marketing strategy.  What matters in today’s marketing environment is where you are actually engaging, how you’re are engaging and what are the results of that engagement – that all is part of taking your integrated marketing strategy to the next level and each channel needs to be integrated with one another.

The first step is to get a sense of where your audience is hanging out and talking about the topics that are relevant to you.  If you understand your demographic profile of your customers, a great tool to set you on a decent path is Forrester’s Groundswell tool (note: tool is flashed based and will not work on iPhones or iPads). This tool lets you understand where in the scheme of types of social media communities where your audience is most likely to be.

From there you can utilize social media monitoring tools such as Trackur, Viral Heat or Radian Six.  Depending on the amount of conversations going on and the data you need to bring back along with the size of your company there are different types of listening tools available.  With the data from these tools you can actually see with more specificity where the conversations are going on.

Then we move onto the hard part, listening.  Once you sort through the spam and figure out where the real conversations are going on, you can identify influencers, understand where these audiences are consuming their information (are they searching, are they listening to podcasts, do they pay attention t ads, are they watching videos, etc.).  You can also observe what they share the most to give you even better grounding in the type of content you need to produce.

There are also other tools such as traffic analysis tools, competitive analysis tools, your own site analytics and even keyword analysis tools that can help guide you onto deciding the channels to integrate with, but understanding the conversations your audience is having is key.  Your consumers are expressing what channels they find the most valuable – and smart marketers would take that information and produce content especially for the channels, not just produce content for the sake of producing content.

Research is key to success in integrated marketing, it’s not easy, unfortunately not quick, and it’s never ending because audiences and trends chance.  That being said, the rewards are great because once you have a base understanding of where, when and how your audience engages it becomes easier to interact with them in a more successful way than just blindly “pinning the tail on the donkey.”

About Li Evans

Liana “Li” Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, “Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media” and she is the President & CEO of Da Li Social as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University’s Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books Online Marketing Heroes and Video Marketing An Hour a Day. As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years’ experience she’s focused her unique skillset to specialize in Integrated Marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media.

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This post was written by an author who is not a regular contributor to State of Digital. See all the other regular State of Digital authors here. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of State of Digital.
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