Companies are planning to pour more money into digital marketing in 2019. But will they get the ROI they want?

It’s not really surprising that digital marketing is becoming more important. Audiences are spending more and more time on their digital devices, and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

So marketers are recognizing the value of digital marketing opportunities, and as such, are allocating greater budgets to those channels. Part of the rationale is that digital marketing is inherently measurable…so it’s relatively easy to see the return on investment (ROI) through clicks, engagement, call-to-action and other lead generation metrics.

But improving or increasing that ROI can be another matter entirely. And those answers don’t always lie in the digital world.

Despite the popularity of digital devices, there’s still a whole, big, carbon-based world out there… where the majority of life takes place. It’s in that world where marketers should focus their efforts to increase and optimize their digital marketing ROI.

Here are five analog opportunities to address before you start thinking about your digital strategy:

Understand Your Customers

It’s hard to believe in this age of data and analytics — when companies have access to more information than ever before — that many don’t know their customers very well.

Perhaps marketers are overloaded with information. Or maybe the data they have provides an illusion of understanding. Whatever it is, too many companies are out of touch with the people who buy and use their products. And the buyer’s journeys they often “travel” towards purchase.

Nurturing these paths takes time and effort. You have to make it a priority to find ways to listen to your customers, find out what’s important to them and what their problems are. Most importantly, understand how you do (or don’t) solve those problems.

Identify Your Goals

Too many marketers engage in digital marketing because they think they have to. They spend money on social media or paid search campaigns because they think it was effective for someone else.

The thing is, not every digital marketing tool is right for every company or every situation. You need to look at your goals first. If lead generation is your top need, for example, then social media may be a waste of time.

Take a good, hard look at what you need to accomplish, then map those goals to the digital channels that will best help you meet those goals. Focus your energies (and your budget) there, and set aside the rest.

Align Sales & Marketing

Much of the sales process has moved online, replacing the interpersonal interactions with salespeople. But that doesn’t mean the sales function is irrelevant.

Quite the contrary, salespeople are more important than ever. Of course, they are often the people who can help customers take that critical last step to a purchase.

Even more importantly, no one in your organization understands the customers better than they do. They are in a position to feed insights back to the marketing department.

It’s crucial that your sales and marketing departments are partners instead of rivals. Marketing can learn about the customer from sales, which helps them create better, more targeted digital strategies.

Address Your Customer Experience

In the world of apps and software, customer experience (CX) refers to how users interact with a digital product. But if you’re selling building products and services, at some point customers will have an offline experience with your brand.

Make sure that your offline experience is every bit as seamless as your digital one. They both need to be positive, and often need to carry over from one to the other.

If your website promises an awesome experience, but your contractor counter experience is lacking, that gap could undermine your digital marketing efforts.

Know Your Stories

Too often, marketers get hung up on product features, facts, and whiz-bang technology they think customers want. This is certainly not exclusive to digital marketing.

But sometimes customers want to be be inspired, educated or celebrated. They’ve heard all the claims and offers before. They want something different.

This is where stories come in. Your stories. Your customers’ stories. The stories your customers want to live. By injecting a little humanity into your digital marketing, you can make it stand out.

Digital marketing offers some of the greatest power and effectiveness our industry has ever seen. But it still needs to be built on an analog foundation.