Publishers: What’s in your Digital Marketing Toolbox?

What the most important elements to a successful digital marketing initiative? Diana Landau of Niche Media interviewed marketing expert Rebecca Sterner for her ideas on what works and what trends to watch.

While digital marketing has surely brought some new ideas to the table, Sterner insists that “good marketing is good marketing.” In other words, begin with a clear understanding of your goals and solid buy-in from the entire team.

“To me, the most critical part of any digital strategy is having a clear direction and buy-in from the top,” Sterner tells Landua.  “If everyone understands the goal – to sell more subscriptions, increase natural search, deliver ad impressions, whatever – it’s so much easier for the team to reach them.”

What changes with the addition of digital components in your plan? Sterner continues:

“Since digital strategy requires the breaking down of the old traditional silos of advertising, editorial, circulation, production, it becomes even more critical for management to model and encourage a collaborative, risk-taking atmosphere.”

What doesn’t change is a focus on the fundamentals of good marketing concepts.

“When it comes to ‘best practices’ in digital marketing, common sense prevails.  Really pay attention to the user experience and have people outside the office test your promotions,” Sterner says.

This might seem obvious to many of us, but Sterner relates the experience of one publisher website that required a dozen clicks to reach the subscription page. That’s like opening a store and placing all the merchandise 20 feet in the air—not many customers are going to go through that much trouble.

As to trends, Sterner believes that the marriage of big data and marketing will result in more triggered emails containing highly relevant marketing messages.

“Rather than pulling lists of cohorts and scheduling ad hoc promotions, I see pre-scheduled emails sent individually and triggered by customer behavior.  So instead of pulling all the e-newsletter subscribers quarterly to send them a print subscription pitch, I see automatic individual emails sent out based on a schedule, such as immediately upon registration, shortly before and after the first e-newsletter is sent, and so on, all building up to the subscription pitch,” she tells Landau.

While some of her advice is clearly aimed at the beginner in digital marketing, it’s a good reminder to any of us to focus on the fundamentals—well defined goals and a clear marketing message that brings it home.