5 Essential Digital Marketing Skills From A Serial Entrepreneur

David Lee stepped into a growth frenzy his first day at Florists.com. The young brand was selling flowers at a 10x year-over-year clip and the growth called for was all hands on deck from a small team. The Navy vet, who had previously founded Thinkery and Lovelee Savings, stepped up and drove user experience and testing, app builds, and major digital marketing channels. It was crash course in start-up acceleration and culture-building. Here are his lessons (in his own words), presented by the Digital Leadership Program.

The Top 5 Essential Skills for A Digital Marketing Manager by David Lee

Marketing is a wide field with an array of channels, and it’s also one of the most dynamic specialties around. With a never-ending stream of available information, consumer needs are constantly changing. The marketing landscape is evolving at record speeds with escalating challenges. Fortunately, we at the Digital Leadership Program are a part of a learning culture that allows us to learn the essential skills on this evolutionary arc by running internal start-ups and a national brand that is a leading online marketing spender. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. Some lessons are timeless, others more prescient. Either way, here are 5 skills critical to business success.

1. Know your business, know your market.

Before you draft your game-changing marketing strategy, do your homework. Know the ins and outs of consumers and competitors in the space and lock in on your economic and marketing models. Every target audience will react differently to the products and ads you put out there. You must be clear about your desired end event. If you want traffic, advertise for more eyeballs. If you want leads, structure your campaigns for them. If you want buyers, build a transactional engine. Don’t try to do all at once.

For example, SaaS-based businesses looking for lead generation might waste crucial ad dollars if their ad messages replicate e-retailers that aim at acquiring a more impulsive transaction (which is often deep-funnel, direct-response marketing). Businesses with bigger ticket items might consider different touch-point campaigns that build longer customer relationships. It might take 10 customer interactions, rather than 2, for a sale. Plan for that. Speaking of customer relationships…

2. Demographics, Demographics, Demographics!

The digital era is all about understanding and creating customer relationships. Today, not knowing your customer is like building a shopping mall in the middle of nowhere. You’ll be completely off beat. Customer profiles should get as close to the individual targets as possible (1:1), including data on gender, age, location, income, marital status, occupation, ethnicity, etc. If you know buying behaviors and triggers, even better. This will help you shape your marketing messages to be more effective. The more in tune you are with your customers, the easier it will be to influence them on their consumer decision journey.

3. Know inside and out your products and services, value propositions & differences.

Believe so much in your product, you are proud of it. Of course, we mean this authentically. Your products or services must do a meaningful job that makes life better. If you are not convinced your of product’s necessity to an audience, they sure won’t buy in either. That means you need a purpose, brand box of appealing value propositions and, in the online space, an up-to-date user experience. What’s that one thing that makes you new, different or better to a new or existing market? If you don’t know, put your advertising checkbook down and go answer the question. Your investors will thank you later.

4. Track the right KPIs.

What’s your average sessions per day? How about conversion rate by channel? Don’t expect meaningful results if your KPIs are vague. Not knowing the right channel KPIs to measure — or a business-guiding KPI like orders/day — can be disastrous to marketing performance. Track all the relevant data to determine what’s working, what’s not, when to launch a new campaign and when to pull the plug on under-performers.

5. Test everything!

Perfect marketers would write content that goes viral and pages that convert all customers. Customer acquisition costs would be pennies on the dollar. But that’s a pipe dream. Today’s marketers are really scientists who experiment their way through new markets and expect failure to help guide their next ad bets. Evolutionary Marketing is iterative testing and statistical decision-making. Are you willing to test multiple channels, ads and UXs and risk short-term portfolio gains for long-term success. We hope so. Cause testing and analytics are the name of the game in 2016.

About David Lee

David is an omni-channel manager for Florists.com. A talented designer and entrepreneur, he earned an accounting degree from Brooklyn College after serving in the U.S. Navy, where he managed multi-million dollar electrical projects aboard a destroyer ship. He is the owner of Thinkery and Lovelee Savings, two companies focused on accelerating online sales, and is a licensed financial adviser.