Tips for Successful Digital Marketing in 2018. Touchdown!

Nate Hook

I’m a fair weather football fan, no, strike that—I sometimes watch football. It’s usually a side effect of the disease known as Netflixus Depletedus, where the seemingly endless options on an unnamed streaming service have in fact run out… at leas the ones worth watching.

At a young age I arrived at the juncture of sports and nerdy stuff, and decided to trade Friday night lights for Friday night Nintendo. And while I’ll never be a season ticket holder, it’s hard not to get drawn in by the sport, replete with its human monster truck wrecks and high-speed chases. As I was cut down by the aforementioned disease, I reluctantly turned to football and all its topical glory to assuage my entertainment woes.

Twenty-two players stepped onto the field, each there to perform a specific function, united in a common goal – score more points than the other guys. Simple, perhaps beautiful game logic that is a constant in sports. It occurred to me as I watched the plays unfold just how little the game has shifted for these professionals over the last ten or so years, and how in the same amount of time we’ve watched countless industries and professional disciplines completely transform. Ten years ago the smartphone industry was in its infancy, and less than five tenths of one percent of mobile phones had an Apple symbol on the back. No Instagram, no Pinterest, and Candy Crush was simply the maddening urge to lick your way to the center of a Tootsie pop.

From the growing abundance of social media channels, shifts in media consumption patterns, user experience, content strategy, influencer marketing, mobile apps, responsive web design, marketing automation, CRM’s, cross-channel, omni-channel, brand listening, SEO, SEM, to the new frontier of artificial intelligence… (whew!) someone throw a yellow flag already.

And even though most marketing teams today have already matured some of their strategy and digital tactics, and possibly even mastered a few, the pressure to innovate and add new plays to the playbook is seen as an intrinsic imperative in our business culture. The ever-evolving digital marketing stack allows marketers a constant barrage of opportunities to transform their business, but in that scramble to get the ball, focus gets lost in the pile, and the orientation toward their goals with it.

2018 is upon us, and as you walk up to the annual one yard line, look down the field and consider your game plan for the year ahead, ensure that your digital marketing goals are in line to impact the game. There will always be something new, something buzz-worthy that garners marketer’s attentions, but a few simple tactics can help keep the ball moving.

To help get your game off to a good start here are some guidelines to consider as you develop your digital marketing playbook in 2018:

1. Review the other teams in your league

If it’s been a while since you last conducted a thorough competitive review, consider taking some extra time to lock down what the other teams are up to. Where are they spending their money, what activities seem to be working well for them, what does their talent roster look like, and which agencies are backing their plays.

Good marketing is as much about playing good defense as it is good offense offense. Knowing what the other teams are doing and where they are committing their resources can help you discern where to take your game.

You might also consider updating your SWAT analysis. Get the whole team involved, from the head office, to the sidelines, to the field – you’ll need different perspectives to get the right mix of feedback.

2. Field position is about progress in sprints

You may or may not be familiar with how the term “sprint” is applied in the digital world, but the concept is simple: in order to be agile in how you make headway you need to progressively iterate to ensure that goals are met in each part of the plan.

Chop the year, and your projects, into roughly ten chunks that run five weeks, that’s ten yard lines for every new down. Now, define what success towards your goals can be focused into those sprints to iteratively move the ball down the field.

You might not use it for everything, but for the long plays, thinking of goals and success metrics through the lens of the digital space can be very helpful in creating measurable momentum.

3. Your fans are the lifeblood of your game

User experience isn’t just a passing fad, successful companies are putting experiential thinking right out in front of their audience, paying careful attention to how their audience behaves and what their audience needs are at each phase of their journey.

You might say you want more social-stickiness to your web presence, and hey, Instagram has been snagging headlines – why not more of that. After all, social media influences nearly everyone these days, right?

While some of that may be true, until you’ve mapped audience behavior to your business goals, you really can’t say what the best solution might be. At every decision point in the digital marketing stack, ask yourself: what do the fans want, what digital solution best adheres to that behavior pattern, and how can that work toward our goals?

4. New plays need to work with the game plan

As the latest trends or new technologies pops up, your instinct might be to rush in and try it out. Before you do though, ask whether it’s inline with the goals you’re committed to achieving. That alignment should take into consideration your audience, your team, and especially your brand.

It’s easy to want to look innovative by tacking on something new to your marketing arsenal, and initially it might not seem like that much of a lift to do so, but what will maintaining it cost you down the field? What metrics will you use to measure its success? Does it align to your goals?

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment, that’s critical, but before you make something a strategic part of your execution, ensure it aligns with a problem, or opportunity in your plan.

There are countless ways to take advantage of solutions in the digital spectrum, just as there are countless ways to win a football game. In the end, I’ll probably find a dozen or more clichés to pour into the metaphor you’ve allowed me to expound upon here. For now though, I will simply leave you with this thought; quarterback the best decisions with your goals to protect your outcomes and you’ll keep the scrambling to a minimum.

If you have questions, want to learn more about our approach, or want to help me with some Netflix or football observations, drop me a line at nhook@cenergy.com.

Nate Hook


Digital Media Director

Nate launched his career at Pearl Drums in Nashville, Tenn., where he spent nearly 10 years working in the music industry, winning numerous industry awards for both print and digital projects. After leaving the music industry, Nate moved on to work for such companies as HCA, Kroll, C.R. Gibson, and Trakref, serving in various creative, digital and UX leadership roles over the last nine years.