A Digital Marketing Flywheel

Corey Northcutt    By under Content Strategy.

Every great digital marketing effort combines three things.

It doesn't matter if the brand is B2B or B2C.  Ecommerce or brick & mortar.  They are:

  1. Foundation
  2. Funnel
  3. Flywheel

Everything our agency does revolves around this, and today, we're talking flywheels.  How we build them.  And how you can build one for your business too (with or without our help).

What Is A Digital Marketing Flywheel?

A digital "flywheel" describes all the marketing you can do, online, that attracts people to your website.

There are two kinds:

  1. Not free.
  2. Free.

Or, to put this into old-school marketing terms:

  1. Advertising.
  2. Public Relations.

Or, to apply some modern agency lingo:

  1. Attention you rent.
  2. Attention you own.

Northcutt is an inbound marketing agency.  We're basically a hybrid of an advertising agency and public relations agency.  The difference is just that we understand bleeding-edge marketing technologies and digital media channels better.

Finally, so we're clear, here's what isn't a digital marketing flywheel.

  1. Direct sales (or "outbound marketing": cold calling, cold emailing, etc.).
  2. Offline anything (that's not "digital": billboards, T.V., radio, etc.).
  3. Any selling to prospects after they've reached your site (that's funnel talk).

Got it? Great.

Why Do Digital Marketing Flywheels Matter?

If you've followed our two guides that led up to this one..

Your foundation work has given you a brand strategy and all the right tactics.

Your funnel has put you in a position to convince competitively.

You'll now possess an efficient machine that profits from traffic on the highest level.

Although, decades of Internet marketing have led me to hate that word.  "Traffic" is so often faked, or so poorly targeted and messaged that a billion web visits wouldn't lead to one sale.

Really, it's "attention" that you need.  From the right people.  For the right reasons.

That's what great flywheels provide.

Flywheels scale (and maintain) the right attention, from the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons. It's impossible to be effective at digital marketing without.

How Digital Marketing Flywheels Work

Like I mentioned earlier, there are two categories of flywheel.

I'll begin very simple, looking at each, before we get more advanced.

Basic Free Flywheel

Consider this simple content marketing process:

content marketing flywheel

This applies to an epic blog post, press release, webinar, viral video, infographic, entertaining survey, or basically any other mix of free content that has potential to spread.

This is the Free / Public Relations / Attention You Own method in its simplest form. It's often more complex, and it doesn't always happen in this order, but most of the time, it rhymes. Each step is crucial.

  • Plan: Every piece of content deserves a strategy. Written for a specific persona, in a specific format, to reach them at a specific time, for specific reasons.
  • Create: Write, edit, code, and design.
  • Share: Leverage your following. Not only your customers and partners, but a full audience of subscribers and advocates on social media, email, RSS, and other channels. Brands are the media now.
  • Promote: Reach beyond your audience into that of other publications. Collaborate, interview, write editorials, pitch, and converse.
  • Measure: Close the feedback loop with analytics. React as trends take shape. Adjust focus around what works. Help low hanging-fruit rank a little higher in Google.

We've learned that it's most effectively run by squads of four specialists.

Optimization -> Content -> Social -> Outreach

Those four disciplines go extremely deep.  So much so, that often, agencies specialize in only one.  We find the closer integration is beneficial, and at the same time, a squad of these four specialists are far more effective vs. one marketing generalist at a similar salary.

Basic Paid Flywheel

You might be wondering if there's a flywheel for Paid / Advertising / Attention You Rent.

There is.

After establishing Google Ads, Facebook ads, or any other ad channel; your flywheel is really just the scientific method.

scientific method

This applies to ad creative, targeting, bidding, and timing.  Also, to landing pages, though we covered that in the funnel guide.

Do this as often as you have a scientific sample size.  Which, by the way, so many PPC agencies will lie to you about...  nobody can meaningfully optimize $100 in ad spend after the initial setup.  And "setup" is foundation talk.

Even when you think you have your ad strategy all figured out, you don't.  Nothing in business static.  Your competition is trying new things.  Industries are evolving.  Messaging gets stale and your audience will look right past the too familiar.

In Conclusion

We've now covered how to build a strong foundation, funnel, and flywheel for your company. These three guides, together, sum up how exactly how Northcutt builds rock-solid marketing plans. It's also how, with enough time and patience, you can do the same.

Now go to work!