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If You Don't Do These 4 Digital Marketing Basics, You're Setting Money on Fire


Imagine a CFO saying, "Well, I'm not a CPA, so I don't know the difference between an income statement and a balance sheet." After the CEO picked his jaw off the floor, he would likely fire that CFO for incomprehensible negligence. How could any responsible C-Suite member not understand something so basic, so fundamental? This could have devastating repercussions at every level of the company. Not understanding the potential of digital advertising and how to deploy it effectively within and for a company can cause significant opportunity costs. You're getting killed in two ways: your company is losing out on tons of potential customers, and you're likely spending money on marketing that's a waste.

Even after 20 years in digital marketing, YPO member Thomas Donohoe is still stunned how often he, too, has to pick his jaw off the floor. "You'd be amazed at how many CMOs don't know the difference between SEO and SEM," he laments, making the CFO comparison. Donohoe is the Founder and CEO of The Level Agency, an award-winning digital advertising agency based in Pittsburgh. The Level Agency has been named to the Inc. 500 List. It was a Top 10 Digital Marketing Agency in the Region, and the Pittsburgh Times recognized The Level Agency as the #1 Fastest Growing Company in the Region on its "Pittsburgh 100" List. Donohoe was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and earned a Pittsburgh Business Times' Diamond Award for Outstanding CEOs. In addition to YPO, Donohoe is a founding member of EO Charleston and a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. He's also a regular guest on TD Ameritrade's "The Watch List" show and has been featured in national publications such as FORBES and Business Insider. Plus check out the podcast we recorded!

Donohoe is publishing a new book called The CEO's Digital Marketing Playbook: The Definitive Crash Course and Battle Plan for B2B and High Valve B2C Customer Generation, which has already hit #1 new release on Amazon for Internet Marketing & Direct Marketing. Here, Donohoe shares what he calls the Core 4, the marketing strategies that every company, regardless of size or industry, absolutely must use, because they drive what Donohoe calls "incredibly low cost per acquisition results":

  1. Trade Name Search Engine Advertising 

Donohoe starts with the most basic: your company needs to advertise its name on search engines, and he suggests starting with Google and Bing. "This is relatively cheap for every company in the world, from high volume B2C to heavy industry B2B or B2B SaaS platforms," he explains. To Donohoe, this seems to be the absolute least a marketing team can do. He says, "If your marketing team is not doing this, consider firing your marketing team. Unless you are actively in chapter 7 Bankruptcy, there is no excuse to not do this." Funny, but true!

  1. Retargeting Display Advertising 

Retargeting Display Advertising is more commonly known as banner advertising. Donohoe explains, "You use this tactic to make sure that people who have already visited your company online get reminded, ideally only once or twice a day, to return and pick up where they left off." He describes it as "one-to-one nurturing of aged leads, new leads, and current customers." To start, Donohoe suggests, "Use Google's simple banner ad network and interface, called Google Display Network, or GDN. If your firm is more advanced, use Programmatic DSP, or Demand Side Platform," which allows real-time bidding for advertisement space. Like all the suggestions on this list, Donohoe calls Retargeting Display Advertising "incredibly cheap, easy to set up, and with a tremendous ROI." You're likely to have clicked on one of these ads yourself...because they work!

  1. Landing Pages 

A landing page, which some used to call "microsites," are webpages that users are led to based on their expression of a specific interest. In exchange for some information or resource, visitors volunteer contact information, which the company can then use to turn the visitor into a customer. Donohoe says, "Landing pages have morphed into an even more streamlined user experience and sales funnel and you MUST have them." He warns, "If you're just sending users to your homepage, you are setting money on fire." The page doesn't have to be super fancy. Donohoe advises, "The creative must not suck, but it doesn't have to be amazing. It must be specific to the product or service that the ad they came from talked about, and it must follow standard best practices for direct response."He goes on, "You need video assets and client testimonials. And you need unique 800 numbers, or you can't track what you're doing. They're cheap and easy to set up, and there is no excuse for not using them."

  1. Social Media CAT Targeting

Donohoe calls Social Media CAT Targeting, which stands for Custom Audience Targeting, "the easiest way to target real people that are already in your database or client list. And much like the tactics above, it's incredibly profitable, easy to build, and typically low cost." The logic is simple: "Use the real email addresses for every new or aged lead in your database or your current customers in an eCommerce company, and target people on a one-to-one basis. This means that you are only talking to those actual human beings on Facebook," Donohoe describes. This results are remarkable. According to Donohoe, "The match rate, meaning how many people out of every 100 you upload will be able to be targeted, is around 40% for B2B, and often more than 60% in B2C industries." Those are powerful numbers, and it's still inexpensive. Donohoe advises companies to use it on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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