Many executives between the ages of 45-65 years are “digital aliens”. They were not brought up in the digital age and feel overwhelmed and sometimes fearful of the new technologies.  Many struggle with the changes necessitated by engaging in Digital Marketing. The result is the New Digital Divide between companies that are fully immersed in digital applications while others are deciding if Facebook is good investment!

18 best digital marketing practicesBelow is a road map of 18 practices* which will facilitate the adoption and successful implementation of a Digital Marketing Program.

1. Assess Current Market Practices– Determine the gaps and opportunities to position your organization in the digital world.
2. Adopt a Digital Mindset – Gain executive understanding and buy-in to the changes required to adopt a digital marketing program. Many executives are not aware of the scope and type of shift needed for successful implementation.
3. Dedicate Resources – Commit staff, provide training; allocate budget.
4. Be Transparent- Be upfront about your intentions and purposes for your site and interactions.  Many executives fear losing control of their marketing message.  Openness and authenticity generates trust and opportunities.
5. Strategize… Strategize- Design a Digital Marketing Strategy that incorporates your assessment; clarifies goals and brand, integrates all media; tracks and evaluates. More than 60% of social media programs fail without a strategy.
6. Build on what you Do Best – Incorporate digital media to leverage and augment successful marketing efforts.
7. Listen, Research, Refine – Monitor social buzz, real-time customer feedback (forums, tweets, surveys, online reviews); refine your product .
8. Give Value– Focus on giving value before expecting anything in return, including downloadable resources, free advice, and links.
9. Be Consistent, not Overpowering – Maintain your Brand; increase your digital presence through regular conversations, but don’t push, overexpose or irritate.
10. Develop Sustainable Relationships – Engage in conversations, take the time to interact; this is a social environment. Conversations build relationships and encourage participation. Touch your current and potential customers with regular updates and newsletters.
11. Provide Social Sharing– Include easy to access to social amplification tools (e.g., social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, email) to spread the message.
12. Cultivate Satisfied, Loyal Customers- Focus on caring for, thanking, satisfying, and providing value for your customers.  This will engender trust and encourage your “customers do your marketing” via sharing your product with their networks.
13. Leverage Social Communities- Access related social communities that have a potential interest/benefit from your product. These groups can boost exposure and penetration with little additional expense.
14. Develop Online Environment as your Hub- Drive traffic to an integrated online environment including website, Facebook site, landing pages, and blog.
15. Integrate Media –Augment your traditional advertising (TV, radio, outdoor, direct mail, print) and PR with social media, mobile, and online efforts. Integrated Media Marketing forces companies to break down the old silos of individual marketing efforts to synergize elements between the media and generate the social buzz and viral distribution.
16. Monitor your Digital Presence- Trackyour company’s Digital FootPrint, company chatter and social mentions.
17. Evaluate your Social Return on Investment (SROI)- Evaluate SROI as an tool for measuring a much broader concept of value. It incorporates social, environmental and economic costs and benefits into decision making; it helps to readjust your strategy and tactics to meet your goals.
18. Keep Current…Generate Competitive Edge- Maintain your “fingers on the pulse”of your changing business ecosystem and the digital environment. Timely responses will drive innovation and competitive positioning.

Any other best practices to suggest?

* Expanded on Best and Worst Practices Social Media Marketing