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SERVAS: Benchmarking Your Integrated Digital Marketing Strategy

How To

At some point during our initial consultations, clients will often ask the “million dollar” question — “How do I know digital marketing works?”

We address this challenge through a series of questions which serve to lay the foundation for a successful Integrated Digital Marketing (IDM) strategy:

  • What types of content and messaging will be most effective?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • How will the brand connect with the target audience (e.g., is the target audience communicating via social media and how will you reach them)?
  • Are selected social media channels appropriate and optimized?
  • How do you evaluate this strategy before and after the launch?
  • Does the proposed marketing effort meet the client’s goals?

A simple approach was needed to answer these questions. SERVAS Digital Analysis is a methodology to evaluate current and future digital efforts in lieu of the criteria necessary for a successful IDM campaign.

During the past four years, the SERVAS benchmarks have been used to evaluate each phase of a digital marketing campaign, from the initial strategic and design phases to market or beta testing through post-campaign analysis. It has been used as a guide to develop digital marketing strategies for SMBs, and as a student learning resource for a university-level Social Media Marketing course.

SERVAS Digital Analysis reflects the ultimate goal of “serving your customers” with caring, supportive, and sustainable actions. Marketers apply its six simple benchmarks to evaluate the potential effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts.

(S) Sustainable Goals

What are the targeted goals of each content piece, social media initiative, or digital marketing campaign? What differentiates traditional business goals from sustainable goals?

A traditional goals focus on meeting specific, often short-or medium-term business objectives (e.g., brand recognition, profits). Sustainable goals result in lasting benefit for the community as well as the organization. For example, a business designs a product that supports community values (e.g., social responsibility, community action, environmental stewardship). Based on these actions, the organization might forge deeper connections with its customer base, increasing customer loyalty and advocacy. Dr. Philip Kotler shares many examples of organizations developing sustainable goals in Marketing 3.0.

Sustainable Goals address these questions:

  • Do the sustainable goals benefit the consumer as well as the community, while expanding opportunities for the company?
  • Do they make a meaningful impact on the target market?
  • Is senior management committed and are they integral to company values and operations?
  • Are they definable and measureable?

Sustainable goals can vary widely, but may include things like: exposing the target audience to company values; building the notion of service into the brand for a specific target market; generating positive actions which drive X traffic to the brand website.

(E) Engagement

How effective is the brand message in attracting or involving your target audience?

Engagement is the “elevator pitch” for your digital campaign. The first 10 seconds are critical in attracting and maintaining the interest of your target audience.

Engagement addresses these questions:

  • Is your message reaching your target audience?
  • Does your content provoke an “emotional” attraction?
  • Does the message “speak to your target audience” (involving them, not speaking at them or broadcasting to them)?
  • Did your targets take note or was there a “hook” to remember the message?
  • Does your message extend beyond the initial impression?

(R) Relationships

Does the marketing effort foster interactivity or shared dialogue with its intended audience?

A successful digital message initiates interactivity and two-way conversation, fostering brand affinity and building deeper long-term relationships. These relationships require openness, trust, transparency, and vulnerability to grow to become sustainable with ongoing interactions.

Relationships address these questions:

  • Did the marketing message provide easy venues to connect or initiate conversations with the target audience?
  • Did the message stimulate them to feel trust or common connection?
  • Did the message create a feeling of openness and encourage dialogue?
  • Did the communication help you to “know the users’… needs, preferences, interests”?
  • Did the message inspire ongoing dialogue?

(V) Value 

Do the product or service and related messaging communicate added benefit to the individual or organization for which they were intended?

The value component of a social message is crucial to moving a user/viewer to adoption or actionThe value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer of value that will be experienced.

Value addresses these questions:

  • Does the message answer a need, solve a problem, or address a “pain point;” does it make you more ________ (e.g., competitive, feel better about yourself), or help you to be a better parent, businessperson, or citizen?
  • Can the user perceive Value/Benefit in the message?

(A) Action

Does the message move you to act?

Action is the dependent variable of most traditional marketing efforts.  How does the message translate into results? In a digital campaign, “results” take on expanded meaning to include social sharing/advocacy, social referrals, downloads, reviews, and social mentions.

Action addresses these questions:

  • Is the desired action clearly defined?
  • Is it accessible?
  • Is it being communicated in media where the target market “hangs out?”
  • Is the message focused to promote action?
  • Does the message motivate the user to share it or to advocate the “brand” within their network?
  • If the activity is successful, will it meet your goals?
  • Is the activity trackable and measureable (e.g., sales, orders, leads, brand recognition, database, social referrals, downloads, reviews, social mentions, website visits)?

(S) Synergy

 Is the marketing effort a one-off or an add-on to an existing marketing initiative, or is it integrated into a broader digital marketing strategy?

Synergy is the key element when employing digital media to generate exponential reach and impact in an efficient manner. For example, many companies will add a social media tool without fully leveraging its power by fully integrating it into their existing campaigns. The key to success with digital marketing is seamless integration, or synergy.

Synergy addresses these questions:

  • Is the message designed to augment and leverage other marketing efforts?
  • Does the message link to other media and generate new sources of traffic?
  • Can your message easily be shared with different communities on multiple channels?
  • Does the sustainable goal translate in a meaningful way to consumers or does it need to be adjusted?

SERVAS Digital Analysis is a practical and easy methodology for marketers (whether internal staff or outside agencies & consultants) to benchmark the impact of their digital marketing efforts on an organization’s marketing strategy.

DIGITAL MARKETING RESOURCE CENTER