The Digital Marketing Ecosystem
“Many leaders are tempted to lead like a chess master, striving to control every move, when they should be leading like gardeners, creating and maintaining a viable ecosystem in which the organization operates.” - Leadership author and retired U.S. Army General Stanley A. McChrystal
When it comes to marketing your business, it’s easy to want everything to go perfectly – to want to keep every project and campaign in its own color-coded folder, untouched past completion and filed away. But understanding the way that separate parts of your strategy can work together, feed off each other, and help each other grow can do wonders for your marketing effort. This symbiotic relationship between different marketing elements is called a marketing ecosystem, and it is the core of our strategy at LONDONmiddlebury.
So, what is a digital marketing ecosystem? Why is it important?
No single part of marketing stands alone – each element works together to create a cohesive ecosystem in which all parts support and augment the others. For example, calls-to-action on social media posts pull viewers into a digital ad remarketing campaign with cookie tracking, then push to a website download that triggers an email marketing campaign to push to a conversion page. At LONDONmiddlebury, we build marketing ecosystems in which the separate parts complement each other this way, working together to boost your marketing effort and your business.
A digital marketing ecosystem often focuses on social media management, digital ad strategy, website optimization, SEO efforts, and email marketing but can extend further out into your business to include sales and customer service, even HR and operations. The way audiences perceive your brand isn’t restricted to your marketing channels – your brand identity reaches into every aspect of your business as a whole.
If there are errors in ecosystem elements, all parts of the whole can be affected. Let’s say, for example, that your brand’s promotional social media post isn’t converting into scheduled meetings or a completed purchase. If we dive deeper, we can ask a series of questions about other parts of your marketing ecosystem to narrow down what the problem might be:
- Is the website easy to navigate to find the service offering or product?
- Is it clear to them to learn more about your offering and purchase the product or schedule a meeting?
- When they try inputting their credit card or completing a form, is there a processing error?
- Do users get email follow-ups from the value exchange that captured their email address?
- Is your website equipped with cookies ready to track potential leads?
- Does a remarketing digital ad remind them about the currently promoted product after they leave a site?
- Is your sales team equipped to follow up promptly?
Asking the right questions will give you the answers you need to solve your marketing challenges. Considering details about one ecosystem element that may seem irrelevant to another can actually be the key to unlocking your full marketing potential. If any of these steps are broken, the ecosystem is broken. We might not work on the entire ecosystem for every client, but we always consider the big picture to make sure effort isn’t wasted.
What are the parts of a healthy ecosystem?
There are ten components that make up a healthy and complete digital marketing ecosystem. Each component yields different outcomes and has its own challenges and priority shifts based on your current business goals. But, they’re all of equal importance because one can’t thrive without the rest. Here’s our brief rundown of the key players in your digital marketing ecosystem.
Email & SMS
Email and SMS marketing is usually the first place to start your marketing journey. The importance of email marketing is paramount to any business's success, no matter what they’re selling or how big they are. Some companies consider email a dated form of communication in our social-media-driven market, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Suppose social media giants like Instagram or Facebook go out of business (or become culturally irrelevant), and their user base plummets. Businesses that spent years building their social media profiles and follower counts will lose them instantly. Relying on social media to reach your audience can be a great marketing tactic – but it’s too unreliable to be your only one. On the other hand, once you capture an email address, it’s yours – no need to worry about platform popularity or hacked accounts. With a long, engaged email list, you have the insurance of being able to reach your captive audience no matter what.
What’s more, email marketing is often more effective than other digital channels. When asked about the effectiveness of various marketing channels, email marketing ranked “excellent” by marketers more than any other channel. Those using email marketing are generally so impressed with its ROI that email marketing budgets rarely decrease, with 47% of marketers planning to expand their budget next year.
Organic social media is a great way to expand brand awareness and connect with your targeted audience on their own turf. Strategically posting and engaging on social platforms can effectively promote your brand and build two-way relationships with current and potential customers. If you cultivate an active follower base, they can be a great resource for authentic feedback and testimonials.
Because platforms like Instagram are so creatively focused, branded social media accounts can clearly set and communicate your company’s tone, messaging, and identity. Organic social is also a perfect way to test out content techniques and strategies for free. When something performs well, you can then push it onto paid digital ads to spread your reach.
Paid media is a great way to supplement email marketing or organic social media efforts. Converting potential customers for free is a great option with social and email, but when reaching outside your current audience, paid media can get your brand in front of new eyes. Paid advertising can be very effective for reaching outside your current audience and promoting events, big-deal sales, offers, or other news you want to ensure reach a broader scope.
With paid media, you can be highly targeted with your audience in a way that you can’t be with organic social, which typically targets audiences already within your sphere. It can also be a fast way to get visitors to your website, online store, or social media accounts, where they can access your organic content and become even more engaged with your brand. While organic media is free to post, you still need to pay someone to monitor, create, and expand organic advertising efforts, so paid can often be a cheaper alternative. It can lead potential new customers to the rest of your digital marketing efforts.
Paid ads can be specifically designed to move people along the marketing funnel. A targeted potential new customer can be presented with your brand awareness ad on their digital channel of choice, be directed to your website, and then receive a consideration ad to prompt further engagement. You can also track which viewers engage with your content, and follow up with a remarketing campaign to keep your brand on their minds. If they receive an Instagram ad from your clothing brand and they click to learn more, your remarketing campaign can feature paid ads with coupon codes to their items of interest. Audience interest is key to successful marketing campaigns, and paid marketing makes it easy to get in audiences’ minds and stay there.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing can get you users who are showing active intent for your product or service. People who are actively searching for your topic are in a unique position to make a purchase or learn more. SEM allows you to place paid ads on search engine result pages (SERPs) so when your target audience is looking for a product or service like yours, they’ll find you right away.
This is a great strategy for letting new customers discover your business. If you bid on keywords similar to your product (a bakery might use “bread near me,” “croissant,” or “pastry shop”), your paid ads or search results will be more likely to show up if a potential customer uses them in a search. It’s also a great opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
For example: when you search “ClickUp,” a popular task management tool, one of the first results you’ll see is a paid search result from Monday.com, their competitor, with a headline that reads “Monday.com is So Much Better.”
While strong SEO is a free way to show up in related searches, you’ll more likely snag a spot on a search results page that you might not otherwise appear on (like Monday.com did). To quote Wordstream, “SEO is a powerful way to drive evergreen traffic at the top of the funnel, while search engine advertisements are a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel.”
Website SEO and Content
Your website is your company’s calling card. When you’re Googled, it’s likely the first place someone looking to learn more will go. But if you’re looking to continue expanding your reach, being easy to find through a Google search can make or break growth.
So, let’s say you’re a tutoring business in Vermont called “A+ Tutoring.” If someone searches for “A+ Tutoring Vermont” on a search engine, your website’s likely to pop up. But what if they searched “A Plus” or “tutoring VT”? What about “science tutoring” or “homework help”? Being thorough in your Search Engine Optimization efforts can ensure that you’re not being missed by anyone looking for you – even if they don’t know you yet.
Website content should be concise and communicative, answering visitors’ questions before they have them. Creatively, it should align with your branding in visuals and tone. Make the important stuff (like contact information or online store pages) easy to find and navigate. So much content on the Internet is well-designed and easy to use, so if yours isn’t, odds are your customers will go elsewhere to find what they’re looking for.
LM Tip: When it comes to setting growth goals for your site, aiming for leading goals (like posting five blogs this month) instead of lagging goals (like generating 70k unique page views this month). This will help you focus on more of what you can directly control and less of what you can’t. Learn more about our approach with OKRs.
If you’re selling a product, a smooth functioning online store opens up access to your product for customers anytime, anywhere. In other words, it’s essential.
There are a lot of things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most out of your online store:
- Optimize site functionality and store’s conversion process
- Design an intuitive, easy-to-use website layout
- Push upsells (like accessory products) before and during checkout
- Offer payment plans or product subscription plans
- Scatter email and SMS captures throughout site and checkout
- Include a customer experience survey post-checkout (and maybe offer a 10%-off coupon code for their next purchase to incentivize participation)
This list isn’t even close to covering all the important considerations regarding your online store, but it’s a good jumping-off point to ensure the basics are covered. A well-designed, functional online store is key to revenue generation and business growth.
Your brand’s creative tells so much of its story. The copy and visual design your company uses will instantly communicate your identity to customers – so make sure your creative is geared toward your target audience and is aligned with who you are and what you want to achieve. For example, companies selling phone cases to a Gen Z audience might use casual language and trendy colors in their marketing, while a financial advising firm might lean more formal in tone, with neutral, reliable colors like navy or gray.
Your design choices will weave through and affect countless sections of your marketing ecosystem (see above), so they must stay consistent across all parts. Staying on-brand is crucial to building a consistent identity that customers can get to know and trust – because of this, determining your creative as early as possible is essential. The more familiarity customers have with your brand, the more trust you’ll be able to build. If you switch your creative every few months, then it’s very likely that customers who see your ads repeatedly won’t be able to recognize your brand from one ad view to the next.
Reporting and Analytics
Reporting and analytics are the keys to what works (and what doesn’t) for your business. They tell you which parts of your marketing ecosystem are thriving and which need a little extra TLC. You can most often access analytics through the platforms you’re seeking them from, like Instagram’s analytics, your website’s dashboard, or MailChimps analytics tool. There are also 3rd party platforms that can help you track and analyze data like Google Analytics and Hotjar. Looking for data in too many places? There are dozens of dashboard tools that aggregate all your data into easily digestible visualizations like Databox and Datapad.
You need to know the status of your business’s analytics across your website, social, email, and ad performance to figure out where you are, where you can go and how you can get there.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” - Seth Godin, author of New York Times Best Seller “This Is Marketing”
If your marketing ecosystem is an orchestra, your strategy is the sheet music, and your CMO the conductor. In unison, they determine what each part does: why, when, and how. A strong strategy is irreplaceable and can make all the difference in achieving your growth goals. Keeping messaging consistent across all channels and ensuring a long-term plan is in place for achieving tangible results is key to developing a strategy that works for you.
When asked about the future of outstanding marketers, Vice President and Senior Solutions-Group Lleader at McKinsey Brian Goffman says one characteristic, across the board, is that they’re “doers and leaders.” Our self-proclaimed status as “thinkers and doers” seems incredibly apt.
At LONDONmiddlebury, we believe that marketing strategy is constantly evolving, and we work to track what your system needs now and what it will need next. We are a powerful, collaborative team of thinkers and doers ready to foster symbiosis within your living, breathing marketing ecosystem.