Developing an Online Marketing Strategy Using A Challenge Grid, Part 1

CPA, CTR, bounce rate, brand awareness, mind share…the litany of marketing metrics could fill a small book. But when it comes to how marketers are measuring the success of their online marketing efforts, they overwhelmingly choose three:1

  1. Conversion Rate

  2. Engagement Rate

  3. Return on Investment (ROI)

These may be the metrics measuring our success, but where do we find the opportunities to succeed? More specifically, what are the online marketing strategies that we should be using to achieve maximum success in each of these areas? We could have a great budget and lots of staff, but if we’re in the wrong online spaces we won’t see positive results.

The same State of Marketing Report cited above that identified these common measurements for success also identified sixteen areas of focus that marketers were currently working on and planning to expand in the coming year. Sixteen separate verticals are simply unmanageable for all but the largest of marketing departments, so where should the rest of us be investing our time, energy and resources?

It may not be possible to answer that question definitively for every single situation (it depends largely on what level of time, energy and resources you have at your disposal, as well as your product and target market), but what we can do is setup a ranking system that compares some of the most popular online marketing strategies based on their potential for positive returns in the top three success metrics above.

Challenge Grid:

table header

SEO/SEM

3

1

1

1.67

5

5

5

5

Email Marketing

5

3

3

3.67

4

5

5

4.67

YouTube

5

4

3

4

5

3

4

4

Facebook

1

2

2

1.67

3

4

4

3.67

LinkedIn

2

2

2.5

2.17

4

2

4

3.33

Twitter

1

3

3

2.5

2

1

3

2

 

To see how we arrive at the above metrics, we’ll be taking a look at the following possible areas of marketing focus:

  • Email

  • YouTube

  • Social Media, broken down into:

    • Twitter

    • Facebook

    • LinkedIn

  • SEO/SEM

I’ve chosen these six channels because they either have been or will be adopted by most marketers working online. Only 3% of marketers don’t plan to adopt email marketing, 7% don’t plan to use social media marketing and 10% don’t plan to incorporate SEO/SEM1.

And I’ll be giving each of these marketing strategies a score in the following areas:

  • Difficulty. Includes the difficulty of setup, ramp up and maintenance.

  • Potential ROI. Includes a score for each of the three primary success metrics – conversion, engagement and ROI.

Scoring Each Online Marketing Strategy: Scale of 1-5

I’m assigning a score from one to five for each of the sub-categories, and then averaging them to determine the strategy’s score for the category as a whole .

There is hard data behind these numbers, which I’ll be elaborating on in the following sections, but to a certain degree the scores are based on my own experience with each channel. While I have a fair amount of expertise in each of these areas, I’m certainly not the sole authority on how hard it is to implement every online marketing strategy under the sun, nor am I the last word in their potential returns.

Agree or disagree, I’d love to get your feedback in the comments.

Marketing Strategy Difficulty Rankings Explained

I’m averaging three distinct difficulty scores for each of the marketing strategies: difficulty in set up, difficulty in ramp up, and difficulty to maintain. I’ve broken the score up in this way because many of these strategies (email marketing and social media marketing in particular) are already being used by a large percentage of marketers, so the set up score wouldn’t be very applicable.

Ramp up and maintenance difficulty, however, are scores that everybody should be aware of. If you’re looking to expand an existing presence it’s important to know the costs in terms of time and effort, and for ongoing marketing efforts you have to be able to accurately estimate your budget and resource distribution in the long term.


Difficulty Scores for Top 6 Online Marketing Strategies

Email Marketing

diff score email

The main hurdle to setting up an effective email marketing campaign is, well, having email addresses. You’ve got to first set up a method of collection, either online (newsletter signup, trial accounts, social media, etc.) or as part of a face to face transaction, before you can do anything.

And, as you’re probably aware, people are becoming increasingly stingy with their email addresses. It can be very hard to establish a useful list, but once you’ve got one in place you can do a lot with it, as long as you’re careful.

That’s where the moderate scores for ramp up and maintenance difficulty come in. You’ve got to be very, very careful with your email marketing campaigns, otherwise you’ll lose subscribers in droves. Each email campaign has to be useful and/or relevant to your list, and it needs to also be useful and/or relevant to your marketing goals. This is a fine line to walk, and it requires a fairly high level of commitment, making the overall difficulty score for email marketing fairly high.

YouTube Marketing

diff score youtube

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: making videos is hard. Sure the technology is becoming more widely available, and more people are getting comfortable with it, but in terms of the time and resources required to do it (and do it well), YouTube gets the highest difficulty score of all the strategies here.

Setting up and ramping up require almost the same amount of energy; and even maintenance is time consuming because you have to regularly post labor-intensive content.

Facebook

diff score facebook

Back when businesses were first allowed on Facebook, setting up a business page was a huge pain. Now, however, Facebook has embraced its commercial side and made it much simpler for marketers to use. You could easily get a new Facebook page up and running in a day, and ramping up and maintaining a presence are both pretty simple too.

Essentially the only difficulty in running a Facebook marketing campaign over the long term is committing to regular, moderately meaningful interactions with your fans (this doesn’t even have to be daily, it could be weekly). This long term simplicity gives Facebook the lowest difficulty score.

Twitter

diff score twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter is very simple to get started with. You might need to create some custom-sized images for both platforms, but those are fairly simple to generate.

I’ve given Twitter higher scores for ramping up and maintaining a presence than Facebook because of its specialized content. 140 characters can be a tough restriction, and you also need to be able to effectively employ the hashtag system for the best results. Overall the learning curve between novice and expert is much steeper for Twitter.

Finally, the smaller relative size of the Twitter community (284 million monthly active users versus Facebook’s 1.35 billion) means there’s more competition for the followers and interactions, making the difficulty score for this social media campaign slightly higher.

LinkedIn

diff score linkedin

Expectations for a LinkedIn company profile are higher than those for a corporate Facebook or Twitter account because LinkedIn is for businesses. For this reason I’ve given this social media marketing campaign a higher score in setup difficulty.

After the initial hurdle of setup, however, LinkedIn can sometimes be easier to ramp up and maintain than the non-professional networks, depending on your goals for the site.

If you’re just looking to keep up visibility on the site, weekly or even monthly updates can suffice and the difficulty score would be a 1. If, however, you’re looking for quality B2B opportunities you need to be working LinkedIn on a nearly daily basis, and this may even include creating original content for their Pulse feed. In that case the ramp up and maintenance scores would be 3 and possibly 4, respectively. Since this won’t be too common but needs to be reflected in the average difficulty score, I’ve split the difference a bit by giving maintain a 2.5.

SEO/SEM

diff score seo

Getting basic search engine marketing going on your website is not very difficult in and of itself, but establishing your keyword story and doing other preliminary research can be time consuming, hence the setup difficulty score of 3.

Once you’ve settled on keywords, cleaned up your metadata, optimized URLs and generally made your site search engine friendly, things are pretty simple. Ramping up SEO marketing can sometimes be time consuming because of the emphasis Google is currently placing on high quality, original content, giving it a moderate ramp up score.

Maintaining an SEO strategy, however, is pretty simple. (I’m including just onsite SEO here, as offsite efforts are not as certain to provide a return, and may sometimes be detrimental if done improperly.) Anytime you add a new page to the site it needs to be optimized, but there isn’t much effort involved.

For more insight into the potential ROI for all of these channels, check out Part 2 of this article.


Sources:

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In:


get the agile marketing styles ebook

Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.




Leave a Comment