This is the ultimate guide to manage your digital presence to achieve marketing success.
What the heck is a digital presence? Isn’t it a website?
Your digital presence encompasses all the content, communication, and interactions related to your brand across all of your branded, unbranded, mobile, social, and third-party properties.
Your website is usually just the core piece of your digital presence.
What comprises your digital presence? What does not comprise part of your digital presence?
Your digital presence or your online presence consists of a number of pieces.
But not everything is considered to be part of your digital presence.
Why should you actively manage your digital presence?
Typically, your audiences, both prospects and customers discover your products through your media campaigns, database campaigns, search engines, or word of mouth. This is the top of the funnel.
Unless your products are impulsive or low-ticket items, usually, your audience doesn’t buy your products immediately after discovery.
Instead, they scout for more information on your portal, research your products on social media, review portals, community forums, etc., where people rave or grieve about their experiences.
If your audience gets a good experience on your portal and discovers positive sentiments during research, they may develop a preference and liking for your product. This is the middle of the funnel.
Once your audience decides to go ahead with your products, they come back to your portal to fulfill the transaction, such as signing up for or purchasing a product. This is the bottom of the funnel.
The middle of the funnel is the most important stage in your audience’s buying cycle that makes or breaks your marketing efforts.
This is the stage where your audience creates preference for or becomes apathetic to your products. Hence, it becomes important for brands to invest their time and energy in managing their digital presence.
Where exactly does digital presence management fit into your overall marketing?
You develop brand strategy to rightly position your brand in the minds of your target audience. You also develop creative strategy over which your entire marketing campaigns, both paid and organic are built. This is usually done by your team or your brand partner.
Next, you reach your target audiences through Facebook, Google and other digital media platforms and run 1:1 campaign on your existing customer base with the sole intention of getting them to buy your products. Usually, your digital marketing and campaign services partners do these for you.
However, the expected results don’t come straightforward. Your strongest brand strategy can be toppled by a string of poor brand experiences shared by your honest and vocal customers. Your spectacular creative strategy can go for a toss with a stream of poor social media reviews.
But, when you build the capability to creatively handle these vocal customers, without taking them on, you can get your brand and creative strategies work hard for your marketing. This is where digital presence management fits in your marketing scheme of things.
What is the scope of digital presence management? Is it indeed such a big deal?
This pizza has 3 slices.
- Content management - Production and publishing of content across all digital properties
- Communication management - Streamlining of communication across digital properties to align with your overall marketing objectives.
- Conversation management - Creating and engaging with digital audience, controlling the narrative and responding to customer interactions
Let us take a bite of each of these slices.
How do you make your marketing successful?
By making your messaging effective.
How do you make your messaging effective?
By publishing on where your target audiences are present.
By ensuring that the messaging is consistent so that you are coherent.
By adhering to the dynamics / specifications of the channels where the messaging is published.
Let us get the “By …” out of the way.
Obviously, it is not going to be possible to explain how to create effective creatives in one article. That is also not the focus of this piece. So, we will keep it really really simple and stupid.
So long as you are clear about your brand strategy and your positioning
So long as your communication is designed to be relevant to your target audience
So long as your creative is cogent and attention-grabbing
So long as your value prop and your benefits are loud and center
Your baseline creatives should be good to go.
The fleeting nature of digital attention has moved the needle on the value of a creative. We live in a world where we generate creatives by the hundreds and publish them indiscriminately. Regardless, so long as we at least adhere to the basic principles of effective communication, your creatives should do their work.
Consistency of Messaging
It is one thing to design effective creatives. But how do you ensure that your creatives are at least seen by your dopamine-overloaded attention-deficit digitally-fragmented audiences?
This starts with
To manage your Instagram channel, you need images and bite-sized videos
To manage your mobile app engagement, you need short text and visual content
To manage your LinkedIn channel, you need text posts
To manage your Pinterest channel, you need images.
Digital or online presence management involves smartly creating content aimed at specific objectives and publishing them on all channels at a pre-determined frequency.
The objective is to ensure the content across your digital channels is fresh and provides gratification for repeat visitors also.
Online presence management is also about ensuring the developed content is trackable where possible so that the performance of each unit can be measured and optimized.
Various teams within the marketing function run campaigns across organic, owned, and paid channels to achieve specific marketing objectives.
When your brand communication across non-paid channels differs from your paid media efforts, you effectively lose the opportunity to influence an audience that conducts research on your products and services after seeing your ads.
Digital Presence Management ensures the communication on organic, social, unbranded, and third-party channels is synchronous with other marketing programs to maximize the chances of achieving targeted marketing objectives.
Communication Management ensures both sides of the aisles are in sync. Pass the laws. Stop the mass shootings. Now.
Digital presence is not only about managing channels such as your websites where you have complete control of what you want to communicate. It also includes channels where your audience is free to express their opinions and experiences.
These can be your social brand pages, which you can partially control, or they could be third-party portals, where you don’t have any control over what your audience is talking about.
Third-party discussion forums like Reddit, review portals like Yelp, etc., are all the more important to your digital presence. People specifically look for other people’s reviews and discussions on those portals.
The volume of such searches is so large that search engines like Google auto-suggest those keywords in search queries.
Conversation management refers to tracking and responding to people’s conversations across the internet, both positive and negative.
It is also about influencing and driving the narrative of their discussions by seeding conversations that are beneficial to your brand and addressing conversations that hurt your brand.
Digital presence management gives you the power to ignite conversations and create momentum via brand champions, super fans, influencers, or even through profiles managed by your employees or partners.
Once you create the initial momentum, the conversations reach everyone in a short time, like wildfire.
When more and more people become involved in those conversations, all other conversations take a back seat.
To achieve such control, you need to manage your digital presence comprehensively for a substantial period of time so that you are able to gauge the pulse of your audience and plan the right topics for your narrative.
Is managing your digital presence indeed a big deal?
Contrary to popular belief, your online presence is more than just your website or social media brand pages.
Digital presence includes every single channel that has the potential to mention your brand or have conversations around it.
Usually, mid-market and enterprise brands manage digital channels in silos. They deploy different teams to manage websites, social media, content, etc.
Their current marketing organization structure looks like this.
However, given the number of brands, campaigns, channels, and competing priorities, the volume and heterogeneity of changes makes it complex to control the timing and frequency.
There is no single marketing technology platform that can bring all this into a single workflow, either.
These result in brands’ failure to create communication coherence.
To overcome this and create communication coherence, brands need to stop looking at their digital presence from an operational point of view and instead look from a brand point of view.
Instead of having brand managers manage one channel for all products, they should manage one product or LOBs or SBUs across the entire digital presence.
This provides them with better control over internal teams and partner agencies to ensure their efforts are done in an integrated manner and aligned with the brand.
Your marketing organization should look like this.
Note: By maintaining the compartmentalization, you continue to have managerial control without losing communication coherence.
When you manage your digital presence in a comprehensive manner, you achieve communication coherence resulting in better customer experiences and many other benefits discussed in the ensuing section.
Hence, managing your digital presence is indeed a big deal.
Why should your organization’s digital presence be actively managed?
Deliver consistent customer experiences
Using the same copy, images, videos, layouts, and forms across multiple digital properties is good marketing practice. This creates consistency of user experience and creates brand coherence. Consistency aids in brand recall and salience.
Diligently managing your digital presence is important for the following reasons.
Address diminishing attention in the mobile age
The growth of TikTok, the adoption of Instagram Reels, and the proliferation of mobile apps over the past few years is a clear indicator of how people are becoming addicted to mobile devices and how short their attention span has become.
Average Monthly Hours Per User TikTok vs YouTube
Source: App Annie
The onus is now on brands to produce content that is suitable for both spontaneous immediate unplanned consumption as well as introspective considered consumption.
By continuously providing a stream of fresh content to consume across the web and mobile, you satiate your audience’s need for continuous dopamine hits. Similarly, by providing detailed and long-form content targeted at providing reasons to buy while also handling potential objections, you fulfill your audience’s need for purchase decision support.
Accelerate time to Live
One of the activities in digital presence management is to smartly create content to suit the sensibilities of the audience and the dynamics of a multitude of channels by reusing or adapting existing content. This helps you expedite content generation, achieve maximum marketing velocity and accelerate time to live.
Facilitate brand/product discovery in a fragmented media universe
Not everyone in your audience is present on all social media channels. Some of them may be on Facebook, some on TikTok, some on Twitter, some on Reddit, or some of them may not be there on any of the top social channels.
Only when you have a comprehensive digital presence, where you are actively contributing and interacting across all digital properties, regardless of their size, will you be able to get discovered by all of your target audience.
Positively influence purchase decisions
Usually, brand or product discovery happens through your brand campaigns, acquisition campaigns, or through search engines. Having a portal with fresh content every day aids in improved search engine results resulting in maximum organic traffic.
Freshness of content is a ranking factor in Google search results
Source: Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines
Unless your products are low-ticket items or impulsive, your consumers usually develop a desire for "your" products and services only after doing proper research.
And this research usually happens outside the portal because consumers intuitively discount everything that you state on your branded portals as they know all content will favor your brand.
Interest and desire for your products and services are usually created by what your audiences see about you on discussion forums, community and review portals, where other people share their experiences.
Only after they have been persuaded will they make a purchase decision for your brand.
Source: Dimension Research
Once they are convinced about your product after going through reviews and discussions, they come back to your brand properties, like your website or ecommerce portal for consummation.
So, when you actively engage with your audience on social media, resolve complaints, and influence the narrative on communities and discussion forums, you influence the audience to go further down the sales funnel and convert eventually.
Get more bang for the paid media buck
The objective of paid media campaigns is to usually generate leads, or sell products. However, the conventional mental construct of an audience clicking on your ads and getting converted on the landing page is usually flawed, unless the product in question falls under low-ticket or impulsive category.
For everything else that involves research, digital presence management delivers exceptional value in persuading audiences down the sales funnel before eventually converting. The best part is that the good things that you do on digital properties will remain forever, perpetually delivering benefits.
Delivering communication coherence and consistent customer experiences requires you to reuse your creative assets. When you start reusing digital assets at scale, you automatically start saving costs on procuring stock images and videos. Moreover, creative agencies charge you much less for adapting existing creatives rather than developing new ones from scratch.
Active management of your digital presence results in delivering consistent customer experiences, accelerating your marketing velocity, addressing the needs of all kinds of audiences, augmenting product discoverability, influencing audiences to go down the sales funnel and delivering more bang for your paid media buck. Hence, it is imperative for brands to comprehensively manage their digital presence.
What happens if you don’t focus on your digital presence? Is it even something of concern?
Managing your online presence is a mandate and not an option, especially if you are a mid-market or enterprise brand. There are a number of perils if you don’t focus on your digital presence:
- Disjointed brand experiences
When you don’t focus on your digital presence, you end up creating and delivering different messages on different channels. When your audience gets exposed to such inconsistent communication, it results in disjointed brand experiences, leading to poor brand recall and salience.
- Sub-optimal brand discoverability
When you don’t manage your digital presence comprehensively, you lose the opportunity to expose your brand to audiences that are present on digital channels that you are currently not managing.
- Negative brand impact
It's not just negative comments that hurt your brand. Even neutral comments that appear harmless may still have a considerable impact on your audience’s purchase consideration. When audiences are looking for reviews, there are only two classifications: positive and not positive. Only explicit positive comments are treated as favorable ones. The rest are considered non-favorable, leading to negative brand impact.
- Higher cost
If you don’t manage your digital presence comprehensively with a focus on delivering a consistent customer experience to achieve communication coherence, you not only end up delivering inconsistent experiences, but end up doing that at a higher cost in the form of a higher number of distinct creative assets and higher usage of stock images and videos.
Blind spots in digital presence and the impact
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about digital presence and the costs associated with it.
- Website as digital presence
A website is undoubtedly the biggest component of your digital presence.
However, it is not the only one.
When you view your website as your comprehensive digital presence, you don’t get visibility into your audience that is present outside of your website.
And you miss out on the opportunity to influence them and spread positive word of mouth through other channels.
- Social media brand pages as digital presence
Social media brand pages are only one fragment of the entire digital presence. A brand’s audiences are scattered across the web, mobile, and, possibly very soon, the metaverse.
By limiting focus only to social channels, brands don’t get visibility into what their audiences are discussing on their product pages on ecommerce portals, discussion forums, Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and communities like Reddit.
- Viewing digital presence as a technology initiative
There are many brands that approach digital presence as a marketing technology game.
They keep adding new channels to interact, such as WhatsApp, chatbots, virtual assistants, etc., with the assumption that the multiplicity of channels eases the audience’s actions.
However, the more channels you add, the harder you have to work to create consistency in the experience.
Technology is not a panacea in itself. It does not aid in achieving marketing objectives, directly.
How well you are using the technology determines your ability to achieve your marketing objectives.
If you want each digital channel that you provide to augment your overall digital presence, you need to determine the role of each channel in your digital presence.
You then upskill your existing teams/agencies to deliver consistent experiences and drive narrative on each channel.
What are the typical activities that you do to manage your digital presence?
Managing your digital presence involves the following activities.
Managing your digital presence starts with the understanding of current overall objectives and marketing programs planned around them.
This is followed by the understanding of how well each of the digital channels can be used to augment the marketing programs and the creation of a content calendar so that content production can be appropriately planned.
Planning also involves evaluation of current capabilities in terms of people and technology resources and plugging the gaps in the same so that the digital presence management activities are seamlessly carried out.
It's ideal to have a single team produce the content for various digital channels suiting the sensibilities of the target audience and the dynamics of the digital channels.
Wherever possible, the team reuses or produces content that aligns with your communication across campaigns and paid media ads.
Reuse is not limited to copy, stock images, layouts, and templates of organic channels. It also involves adaptation of campaign inventory, such as ad creative and landing pages.
Content production is also prioritized based on the needs as per the content calendar.
This also involves the generation of a comprehensive response library to respond to various comments that your audience is likely to make about your products and services on social media.
- Content Distribution
Once content has been created to meet the needs of the content calendar, it is put through the defined workflow and receives the necessary approvals to ensure it meets marketing objectives and compliance guidelines.
All the developed content is tagged for tracking, follows best practices for organic discoverability and is scheduled for publishing as per the content calendar, while also ensuring the content is archived or expired come the expiration date.
- Interaction Management
While producing and distributing content in accordance with the campaign calendar, you should also begin monitoring what your audiences are saying about you on your blog, social media pages, Google Play and iOS app stores, Yelp reviews, Google reviews, Amazon product pages, community forums such as Reddit, and so on, and responding to those conversations with compliance-approved responses.
The focus is not just to thank them for positive comments and respond to negative comments with a resolution objective. The focus is also on identifying neutral comments and responding in such a way that a positive perception is created so that it favors your brand when your audience researches your products.
With proper and timely interactions, you start building relationships with your audience and turn them into brand champions. There may also be scenarios where the conversations are complex and require offline interventions.
Such interactions are quickly identified and passed on to the customer support/customer retention team.
- Narrative Management
Digital presence management is not just about reacting to what audiences are talking about your brand. In fact, the real potential lies in your ability to getting them to converse the narrative that you want them to.
This is done by seeding fresh conversations as well as identifying opportunities on existing conversations and trim negative discussions or boost positive ones.
This activity is carefully planned and executed using brand profiles, employee profiles, agency managed profiles and through brand champions.
- Reporting and optimization
Digital presence management outcomes are measured both in terms of efforts and results.
This includes tracking and reporting of metrics such as the number of assets reused, the number of changes made on brand-owned properties, the number of comments and reviews responded to across review portals, the number of narratives seeded, the influence of your response to social media comments and third-party discussion threads, and the influence of the narratives you have seeded.
All metrics are tracked and responded to at a pre-determined frequency.
How digital presence management augments your paid media efforts?
Most marketers misconstrue that digital presence management has nothing to do with their paid media efforts. However, digital presence management complements your paid media efforts in several ways.
- Communication cues for paid media ad messaging
Tracking brand and category conversations across the internet, including your social media brand pages, delivers insights about what your audience likes, dislikes, or expects from your products.
You can then use this insight to create audience centric communication that resonates better.
- Communication reinforcement
When the focus of your messaging across your digital presence is aligned to your paid media campaigns, your communication gets reinforced in the minds of your target audience, leading to better brand recall and salience.
For most brands today, after the prospects get exposed to an ad, reinforcement happens at multiple levels before they get converted into customers.
- Conversion Maximization
Most of your paid media efforts don’t result in direct purchases, even when you have a "Buy Now" call-to-action. This is especially true for products that are not usually bought impulsively.
After seeing your ads, your target audience researches your products and services before they actually buy them.
When you actively manage your digital presence, you have the opportunity to positively influence your audience in the research phase of their buyer journey and influence them to convert. This has a direct bearing on your cost per acquisition.
Cost benefit analysis of managing your digital presence
As mentioned earlier, a comprehensive digital presence management offers numerous benefits:
- Increased discoverability provides access to prospects and leads from unconventional sources without any added cost.
- Improves the effectiveness of paid media programs.
- Increased influence on fence sitters and researchers across digital properties results in increased conversion.
- Resolution of all customer complaints across digital properties results in improved customer satisfaction.
- Increased influence on the conversation narrative across digital properties results in positive word of mouth.
- Effective reuse of content results in cost savings on stock images and videos.
Most organizations have built teams and capacities to manage their websites and social media pages. They already incur capital expenditure on tool licenses and set-up and operational expenditure for managing those.
To achieve the benefits of digital presence management in terms of coherence, alignment, consistency, etc., the cost involved in doing so is not greater than what you are already spending.
It's just that managing a digital presence holistically is a better way to utilize your budget than managing individual channels.
This is a clear indicator that the benefits of digital presence management outweigh the cost by several folds.
Example of a Xerago’s client that enjoys great success due to their digital presence management
Xerago has been working with one of the world’s largest banks, headquartered at US, for two decades. Xerago manages their digital presence comprehensively.
How we scaled
- 25+ Geographies
- 500+ weekly changes across pre-login & post-login portals, mobile apps, and blogs.
- Digital sanity check
- Portal yield maximization
- Social media management
- Social media command center
- App store tracking
- Communities tracking
- Sentiment analysis and reporting
- NPS measurement
- Analytics and reporting
- More than 50% of leads generated are through digital presence management efforts, thereby making digital the largest acquisition channel.
Where we started
- Managing portal changes
- One geography
How to measure how well you are managing your digital presence or Metrics?
The effectiveness of your digital presence management efforts is measured using the following metrics.
- Total number of creatives produced – New vs Adaptation
- Total number of changes made in the portal
- Total number of audience conversations responded
- Total number of narratives planted
- Traffic from third-party digital properties
- Total number of conversions attributable to digital presence efforts
- Net Promoter Score
- Growth in social reach
- Growth in social engagement
Instead of treating different parts of your digital presence as individual independent entities, when you comprehensively manage those in an integrated manner, you expose your brand to your audience through unconventional sources.
Influence audiences that are researching your products and services. Resolve customer complaints and drive brand loyalty. Augment the paid media efforts to drive conversion. All of these are possible with little to no increase in the cost that you are already incurring.
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