“You’ve got to have that unity, you can’t have people pushing in different directions. Just like with a rugby team – if we’re not running down the field together in unison moving that ball forward, we’re really just out there kicking that ball around like a bunch of kindergarteners playing soccer. A well-organised team follows a strategy, moving the ball down the field with purpose – that’s an exciting thing to think about.”
The biggest factor for growth today is an effective digital marketing strategy. Without a clear strategy, most businesses probably look like the kindergarten kids that Dymski describes. To be successful, you need a strategically coordinated team with multiple skills, including writing, design, development, branding, strategy, automation, and implementation. Each player has a finesse to their craft. No one person can do it all. Strategic leadership is required to tie all these digital marketing skills together; this is the role of your 10, your fly half, your growth team’s first five-eighth, and what we have based our name on.
What's a first five-eighth?
They decide the plays, the strategy, they dictate the pace of the game, and are crucial to a team's game plan. They must possess leadership, needing to be decisive with what actions to take and being effective at communicating and motivating their team. They need to keep their eye on what’s happening and adapt with the flow of the game. They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave a training session.
For us, unity is vital. And just as for all team sports, every business needs to have unity – you can’t succeed having team members running off in different directions trying to implement disorganised ideas about how to grow the business. You need a clear brand message, image, and strategy for growing your business online.
Businesses and marketers need to adjust their strategies and build their teams wisely, to avoid being left behind in this fast-moving digital marketplace. So, let's talk about the key players in digital marketing and what roles do they play.
How does a rugby player grow my business?
First five-eighth needed for digital marketing strategy
First off, every professional team needs a strong first five-eighth to lead your digital marketing strategy and execution and bring the game plan together. In the same way that a FFE calls the plays on the field, aligns the individual players, and makes sure that crucial penalties aren’t given away - so too your business needs a digital marketing strategist.
Digital marketing mind map (link here)
There are an endless number of strategies for your digital marketing, just take a look at the above mind map which only highlights the starting point of many strategies used online. Your FFE needs to understand you, your business, and your customer, so they can make crucial strategic decisions on the best way to grow your business.
Your FFE must lead from the front, by example. They make sure they are doing the hard work along with the rest of the team, because they know that to be a leader for a top-performing professional outfit you have to train constantly and remain focussed. At First Five Eight, we are also looking at new strategies, educating ourselves on the best services we can offer our clients to stay ahead of the game.
In today's data-driven, constantly changing world of marketing, it’s critical to learn and adapt as the game progresses, and as the season progresses. We’re not playing to win a couple of games, we are in it to win the championship. And just like a professional rugby team, we’re training day in and day out to hone our skills to ensure success on game day. To win, we need strong leadership and a united team.
As the great Steve Jobs said:
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people."
Your FFE is able to call the plays accurately, because they are part of the team and are on the field with you, working alongside your marketing team. Their aim is to get points on the board for your business, and are responsible for conversion. They make sure everyone is in the right position, knows the game plan and they keep the communication flowing so everyone has what they need to get the job done effectively.
Content marketing used to just be a way to differentiate your business from your competitors. Nowadays, good content is essential for any brand, and it’s key for building trust and brand reputation. When consumers read valuable content created by you, they develop a positive opinion and positions you as an industry leader. If you provide them with content that is engaging, educational and valuable they will start to form the same opinion of your business.
The minute your customers or leads sense that you’re ‘selling’ to them, they will move on quickly. Educating your customers through content that they find valuable and engaging will build a stronger relationship and increase loyalty. Think of the way people interact with social media, they are there to be distracted, entertained, and to discuss ideas they are interested in, if you are able to flow with that, they learn about your business in a positive way, and respect you for it.
Content strategy is an important skill of your digital marketing strategist in a business context, as this discipline requires vision and a solid game plan in order to execute on that vision.
This is the role in which we see ourselves: helping businesses like yours with winning game plans. To perform this role to the best of our ability, here at FFE we learn about you, your company and your customers. We define your business strategy and implement it by coordinating all the different aspects of digital marketing to drive more leads for your business. And, just like in a game of rugby, the FFE is responsible for conversions, and so are we.
Key players in a lead generation team
But, while we provide the strategy and tactics, there are other key players in the digital marketing team that are equally important:
Content is the lifeblood of inbound marketing and blogging is a key component of your content strategy. Blogging gives you a chance to talk about your business in a way that helps your customers relate to you and understand what you do. You may have heard of the term ‘content is king’. Well, this phrase is true; more than ever people search for information about a company before engaging with it.
Your blog does the heavy lifting in your business with respect to generating traffic. It’s a core part of your online presence and is often what people find when they’re searching for information about you. In fact, according to Forbes, 65% of people consider online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source.
Your blog is one of the best ways to get listed at the top of search engine rankings through Google – through it, you can answer your customers’ questions and educate prospects about your products or services. Just like a prop in rugby, blogs can take a bit of time to get up and running, but once they’ve built up momentum they’re hard to stop!
Your website is another key player in your digital marketing ‘front row’. These days, a website is your online sales rep, available 24/7 to engage with your prospects, answer questions, and learn more about your business. A high performing website is the core of your online marketing strategy. It’s the foundation of your lead generation, hosts your landing pages, forms, live chat and offers that are designed to convert your traffic to leads.
Because of the role that websites play, we liken them to the hooker in rugby. In the same way they ‘hook’ the ball in a scrum, so too does a well-constructed website ‘hook’ your traffic and channel it to the rest of the players.
The third front-row in your lead generation team is marketing automation. This player also packs a punch by doing a lot of the heavy lifting for your email communications and lead nurturing. It follows up on your leads and automatically sends notifications based on certain triggers and predefined workflows. Marketing automation software is designed to make email communication a breeze, improve your email marketing performance, and identify your most interested leads by tracking how leads engage with your website, emails and content. Software automation providers support you as you develop this functionality, as if you grow, they grow, which is a win win.
Landing Pages & Your Offer
One of the biggest challenges and issues we see with online marketing is that companies don't present an offer to their website visitors. Something that will make it easy for your customer to take the first step to engage with your business. It’s your Call to Action, it’s your bridge between anonymous site visitor and opportunity. You need to give your customers a reason to engage with you online.
It needs to be relevant, interesting, timely, useful and something they would consider valuable. Your offer needs good copywriting, design, and implementation. It can take many forms including eBooks, checklists, free trials, quizzes, webinars, events, and discounts. Making it easy for people to start a relationship with your business will increase your lead list and increase your sales.
Landing pages tee up the opportunity for visitors to start interacting with your business and often present key value propositions to enable you to gather leads from your website. Landing pages typically present an offer, which a user can download/obtain in exchange for their contact information. They are just like any other page on your website, except they are focused purely on communicating a single message and encouraging a customer to engage directly with you. It strips back all other available options such as header elements, and encourages 1 key action. If you’ve ever provided your email address in return for a pdf – this would have happened on a landing page.
They operate similar to a lineout in rugby, where the hooker (your website) throws the ball in, your website funnels the traffic to gather leads, a landing page and offer will give you the chance to convert traffic to leads.
SEO, Reporting & Analytics, Branding
The back row: they need to be everywhere
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a critical part of any search engine marketing strategy as it focuses on making you easy to find online. Historically, clients would find out about your business through word of mouth or print advertising. Now, 68% of people will spend a considerable amount of time reading the content published by a brand they’re interested in and it will often be found on a search engine optimised blog, website, or landing page.
And, just like a blindside flanker in rugby, SEO needs to be at every breakdown, it’s part of your website, your content strategy, every article and blog post, and it helps to drive relevant traffic to your website. It’s a key part of your online lead conversion strategy.
Your openside flanker is Branding. Branding is a key – but often undervalued – component of your marketing strategy. If overlooked, it can fundamentally tilt the game away from you. Used wisely, even small brand considerations can make a big positive difference to your online perception.
Your brand needs to reinforce who you are to your audience and do it better than your competitors. You need to have a strong, consistent brand message and identity across all digital channels. People need to understand who you are and what you’re about every time they see you, and getting your brand in front of your prospects is a driving force of marketing.
The third member of the backrow is your Data Reporting and Analytics, which should be a part of every digital marketing campaign. Research is conducted before any advanced marketing strategy, documenting the statistics of search terms, current conversion rates, and PPC performance and so data plays a vital role in all aspects of your growth.
"That which can be tracked, can be managed."
"That which can be managed, can be improved."
Data-driven decision making has become a necessity in modern business and having a reporting and analytics platform allows you to break down your online sales strategy and find out where you need to improve. At First Five Eight, we start with the basics, traffic, leads and customers. We make data drive strategic decisions based on how much traffic goes to your website, how many leads are generated from this traffic, and how many customers convert from these leads.
These basic stats will show the key areas for focus at a high level. Typically, we’ll start by optimising your website for conversion, as there’s no point sending traffic to a website if it’s not converting. Similarly, there’s no sense in implementing a lead nurturing or sales enablement strategy without leads. Analytics and insights will pinpoint how your website is performing and where we need to focus our attention next.
Your combined back row (SEO, branding and Analytics) need to be all over the park, getting in front of your competitors in search rankings, with a brand and message that resonates with your target customer, and tracking the conversion rates are basic elements required in today's online world. Successful implementation of this trio is fundamental to your conversion strategy.
Just like a scrum-half distributes the ball, your social media accounts share your content and get your business in front of your prospects. Scrum-halves constantly talk during a game, they are the link between the forwards and the backs, and are responsible for keeping the ball moving. If they don't communicate well, the game slows down, and the players start falling away from the game plan. Social media is the best way to distribute your message, and communicate your service offering and value to clients in a non-invasive way which people have grown accustomed to, in social media marketing.
Your scrum-half’s role is to clear the ball as quickly as possible to your backline, so they have an advantage against the opposition. They would usually pass the ball to the first five-eighth, who then chooses what the next steps are for moving forward.
Paid Advertising and Retargeting
A double whammy
Pay per click (PPC) is a method of online advertising where you pay each time someone clicks on your advert which typically drives traffic to your website with the aim of converting that traffic to leads. Just like a 12 on a crash ball, PPC gives you a powerful method of driving your strategy forward by getting content in front of your target audience. Social platforms and Google Adwords allow focused targeting and should be based on in-depth persona work to make sure you’re reaching the right prospects.
Many people believe that paid online advertising is all you need to drive leads. In the same way that no single player will win you the game, so too with digital marketing, PPC advertising alone is not enough. Your PPC needs to tie in with your offer, landing pages, CRM, email marketing and of course your brand, and reporting & analytics.
PPC is just one component of a successful digital strategy. Your PPC presence will drive prospect interest, but you need to make sure that they’re being directed to content that is valuable, or you will lose them, as mentioned before, if someone feels like they are being sold to, they will become defensive to your message.
Retargeting partners with PPC in the centres for a powerful midfield combination. This is a form of PPC advertising where a user has shown an interest in your website but is not yet considered a conversion. You may have experienced this frequently online, where you will be presented with ads on social media from websites that you have previously visited. Retargeting is a good strategy to remind people about your services and how you can help them achieve their goals or overcome their challenges.
Your Back 3
Social influencers are another fast-moving player out on the wing. They provide a great opportunity to build brand awareness by tapping into the network of socially connected individuals within your target audience. This strategy has been hugely successful in recent years and is no different to the way that major sports stars receive endorsements. They offer a route to market that can help get a lot of points on the board.
The internet has provided people with methods of communication that weren’t available previously, enabling new marketing strategies – such as social influencing – to emerge. Have you spotted any social influencers in your space? They don’t need to be Instagram models, they could just as easily be writers or media producers who have tailored their content to your industry. The idea is to get a positive message about your business told by an industry lead, in front of your prospects.
A key player that will help get a lot of clients over the line is your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. A CRM is similar to a spreadsheet or contact database that helps you keep track of and manage contacts. It extends a database to allow you to monitor and manage deals moving through your sales pipeline. A CRM is a powerful and valuable tool, which can help your company realise up to a 300% increase in sales conversion rates. This translates to closing three times as many deals than without CRM software.
An advanced CRM integrates with your marketing software, so you can form a complete picture of your potential prospects using lead scoring. It also helps you prioritise your leads, so you can focus on those most likely to convert to customers. A CRM can monitor if your prospects are opening emails, visiting your site or clicking links to certain web pages, then trigger a notification to a sales rep.
Imagine a large potential client is looking at your pricing page; wouldn’t it be great if your sales team could receive a notification they are actively interested in real-time? Of course, it would be! This is the perfect time for your sales rep to pick up the phone and call them to ask if they have any questions.
Email marketing rounds out your backline. This position is your all-rounder, as today everyone has email. It is great for staying in front of new prospects, nurturing leads, as well as keeping in touch with existing customers. Email marketing is a proven method for driving traffic to your website and growing your business. It’s also great for keeping your customer base updated with new products and innovations and prompting them to become repeat customers. Your email database is the trophy in your digital marketing display cabinet.
What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call to action, fills out a form, or downloads your ebook, but still isn’t quite ready to become a customer yet? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with that prospect and nurture them until they’re ready to buy. A monthly newsletter, for example, is another simple way of communicating with your customers and informing them about new services and offerings. This can dramatically increase the Average Order Value of your customer base.
This brings us to your digital marketing ‘bench’, which is stacked with high-impact players. This includes live chat, chatbots, smart content, lead nurturing, quizzes, webinars and podcasts. These are the impact players in your team, brought into play for added punch.
Get in the Game!
If you’re ready to get into the game and want to pull together an online marketing team focused on helping you grow your business, get in touch with First Five Eight. We’re your Hubspot accredited online playmaker and strategist – your digital First Five Eight.
Head over to the How to Close More Leads blog series