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Marketing in Logistics: 4 Elements of the Market Research Phase in a Sound Digital Marketing Strategy


Like any good logistician knows, it’s the planning portion of well really anything that is usually the key to success. It all starts with a strategy, made up of goals, observances, research, and then an execution model. Then, you execute the strategy, pay attention to the data, and pivot tactics to make sure you are on track in accordance with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you have set out for yourself!

Such is true for the digital marketing plan for any company. This post is the first in a 5 part series on Marketing in Logistics by creating a sound Digital Marketing Strategy. Our goal is to help aid in the resurgence of American Manufacturing, and manufacturing at large, in order to stay in the spirit of continuous improvement and lean methodologies to drive more bottom line savings.

Part 1 of a Sound Digital Marketing Strategy: The Market Research Phase

Like a sound business plan, or when you are establishing your complex supply chain, any great strategy starts with laying a solid foundation and a sound digital marketing plan is no different. In the market research phase there are four crucial components in developing a successful strategy.

Defining Goals and Objectives

digital-marketing-goalsFirst establish your corporate goals, marketing goals, and then your digital marketing goals.

  • Corporate Goal: For example, your corporate goal may be something like:
    •  Our Company aims to be a top widget maker, garnering the respect of our industry, business partners, customers, and prospects all while developing successful and satisfied employees.
    • We’d like to grow by 150% over the next five years with a net profit of 3%.
  • Marketing Goal: Now that you know your corporate goals, you can establish a marketing goal. It’s imperative they are aligned. Using the above corporate goals, you can then establish these goals for example:
    • Create a consistent marketing program of brand awareness campaigns and multi-channel marketing platforms in order to gain leads and sales from a more sophisticated and larger shipper.
    • Achieve market perception as a thought leader in the logistics industry through consistent content marketing.
  • Digital Marketing Goal: Now it’s time to establish your digital marketing goals to align them with both your corporate and marketing goals. Remember, digital marketing uses new tools to achieve your goals. You STILL NEED to think fundamentally and sound when it comes to marketing. Just because there are no new tools, doesn’t mean the basics of goal setting aren’t important, and more than ever is it important to stick to a sound plan predicated by outcomes, not by tactics. So, with the above stated goals, you would have the following Digital Marketing Goals:
    • Create a digital environment where it is easy for the user to reach out via any channel they feel most comfortable, i.e. using digital best practices to have consistent messaging, and calls to action in each channel. Short term specific goals include:
      • Create a new website featuring a blog, a content marketing plan, and email marketing programs
    • Stay active in social media platforms, curating and producing content which adds value to the stated target audience. Short term specific goals include:
      • Establish social media platforms

Target Audience Establishment and Research

Now that you have set your high level goals to align digital marketing objectives with business objectives, it’s time to better understand who you are trying to reach with your digital marketing efforts. It’s important to think holistically when considering who you are trying to reach at a potential prospects’ company. Typically, your target audience falls into two categories: Primary (decision makers) and Secondary (influencers of the decision maker), but there could also be Tertiary (these are the vetters; admins, executive assistants, and those gathering info to present to the group, usually in a B2B environment). When thinking about your target audience, think of the following:

  • Broad Categories: Think of the different verticals you can support. For example, a logistics company may want to reach those in the industries of Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Logistics, Transportation, Distribution and Freight. Let the categories be your guide for when you are joining digital communities or writing content you will then distribute in these communities.
  • Job Titles: Next, ask the sales staff who they typically must talk to in order to get a signed contract. Typically, the person who signs the check, or the contract, is in leadership and makes the ultimate decision. This may be a CFO of a manufacturing company, or a Manager of some sort. Then, ask the customer service reps who fulfill your service or product offering who they deal with at your customers’ companies.  For example, it may be Account Manager. Then, finally, continue to ask if there are other job titles that make sense. You can use these job titles to find communities easily on LinkedIn.
  • Search Engine Key Phrases: To complete your list of your target audience, next go to and search some of these job titles to find related job titles, which you can find at the bottom of the search page. You may also use Google’s free Keyword Tool, plugin the job titles, and see related key phrases to those job titles.

Once you’ve figured out your target audience, you will do a lot with it. We will cover what you can do with this information in the next post specifically, but you can use this information to

  • Start researching what kind of content is relevant to these job titles and industries in preparation for your content planning session
  • Identify popular news sources, people, and blogs from which you may draw inspiration, establish key relationship for future guest blogging or networking, and of course in curation of content of value to your target audience to spur community growth and engagement in platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Search Engine Optimization Research

digitial-marekting-seoSince you know what you are trying to accomplish with your digital marketing by way of goals, and you know who you want to reach, now comes the wealth model aspect to your digital marketing plan: Search Engine Optimization. In today’s world, if you are not showing up in search results for key phrases around your products and services, you are losing out on potential business and will fall short of your corporate goals. Do the following to start deciding your top key phrases by gathering SEED words first:

  • Start with Internal Interviews: Get your stakeholders, each department head, legacy employees, and new employees and ask them what goals they have for themselves, who they are trying to reach, what types of content would be of value to customers or potential customers, and what content they themselves pay attention to. Write down copious notes, making sure to take note of key phrases that seem to repeat with each person.
  • Next come external interviews: Interview key customers who have been with the company a while, as well as new ones, vendors, and even possibly a like company or competitor. Jot down notes here as well, making sure you write down the key phrases you hear again and again.
  • Go to your Competition:  Don’t literally go to them, but go to their website, their blog, and their social communities and see what they are talking about. Jot these key phrases you see again and again. Additionally, you can use the Google’s free Keyword Tool, and put your competition’s website into the tool to see what key phrases Google thinks the competition is using.

Once you have all of these seed words, you can then put all of them into the Google Keyword tool, and export a list of words onto an excel spreadsheet. Score each key phrase by relevancy to your target audience, and the ones that could make you money if you rank for them. In future posts, we will cover how to cull your list to the top key phrases. Whenever you identify these, you will then be able to create compelling and ranking content!

Establish Key Metrics through Benchmarking

Finally, before you lay out the strategy, in the market research phase, you must understand yourself, and where you have been, in order to say where you want to go. Here are some good digital marketing areas where you want to establish key metrics:

  • Website Traffic: Look at historical all visits, if available, or make sure you install something like Google analytics for a month so you know at least a month’s worth of traffic. Set a goal of say 5% growth month over month at first, and refine over time as you start executing your strategy. You also want to pay attention to traffic sources and see if you have a baseline for traffic from search, social, and other referral sources. Pay attention to time on site, bounce rates, and new visit percentage. Again, set yourself a 5% improvement goal at first, and refine to what the data shows you over time.
  • Community Metrics: Make sure you set a goal for how many users you have in your community. Extending your reach is all about extending your digital network these days. Look at LinkedIn Connections, Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, Google+ followers, YouTube subscribers, and more. These should increase over time and once the data comes in you can establish more specific goals.
  • Engagement Metrics: In digital and content marketing, being open handed and providing value should lead to higher engagement metrics. Engagement metrics also play into Search Engine Optimization as it is an indication of trust from your content. As SEO tactics these days are no longer the norm, and strategy is the driver, engagement is a HUGE part of ranking on search engines. So, pay attention to the matter of shares, like, retweets, and comments on your discussions over time. These should increase, but again, look at trends and how the numbers of posts you are putting out compare to your engagement rate.
  • Conversion Metrics: Finally, conversion is the entire reason you are investing the time and money in Digital Marketing. So, set yourself a goal for inbound leads and ultimately sales from each digital channel. If you don’t know this at first, that is OK, but you need to either have a baseline from previous activity, or start analyzing where your leads are coming from over time. You may THINK your leads will come from SEO, but you may find you want to invest more time into LinkedIn as it’s bringing in more leads and sales.

If you know where you want to go, and you know the metrics you wish to see, typically, you have more confidence in pulling off a complex project, whether it’s a supply chain or a marketing plan. Stay tuned to the next 4 weeks for more details on how to properly execute a digital marketing plan. In today’s world, digital marketing is no longer a wish to have, but a need to have in order to sustain and survive in today’s competitive business environment.  Expect to see posts around Digital Activation, Content and Ongoing Digital Marketing, Digital Data and Analytics, and Traditional meets Digital in subsequent posts.

Let us know in the comments about your digital marketing efforts and if they are paying off!