It is so important to create and use a digital marketing plan in modern business, social selling and awareness is key to business growth and allows you to reach more people.
Where do you start if you want to develop a digital marketing strategy?
It's a common challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers. Yet they don't have an integrated plan to grow and engage their audiences effectively.
The challenges of creating a digital marketing strategy?
In our experience, the most common challenge is where to start drawing up your digital marketing plan. There is a fear that this should be a massive document but we believe that lean planning works best. Your plan doesn't need to be a huge report, a strategy can best be summarised in two or three pages that link your digital marketing strategies to your objectives. We recommend creating a lean digital plan based on 90-day plan to implement your digital strategy rapidly to gain traction.
The second biggest challenge is the sheer scope and scale of digital marketing, it can become quickly overwhelming. There are so many great digital marketing techniques ranging from search, social and email marketing to improve the digital experience of your website. Within each digital marketing technique, there are lots of detailed tactics that are important to success, so they need to be evaluated and prioritised, for example from dynamic content for email automation, website personalisation to programmatic, retargeting and skyscraper content for organic search.
Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I'm sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. Equally, many businesses are missing opportunities for better targeting and optimisation, or they are suffering from the other challenges I've listed below.
The opportunities that digital bring is that you can hone and target your message to your desired audience and then use regathering to this same group making your marketing budget go further and not wasted on people that may not be remotely interested.
Where to start when creating a digital strategy?
From talking to our clients, we’ve found the creation of digital plans often occurs in two stages.
First, a separate digital marketing plan is created. This is useful to get agreement and buy-in by showing the opportunities and problems and map out a path through setting goals and specific strategies for digital including how you integrated digital marketing into other business activities.
Second, digital becomes integrated into marketing strategy, it's a core activity, "business-as-usual", but doesn't warrant separate planning, except for the tactics.
If you don't have a strategy, or maybe you want to review which business issues are important to include within a strategic review, we've set out the 10 most common problems, that in our experience arise if you don't have a strategy.
8 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy
Optimise for better user experience
Every company with a website will have analytics but many senior leaders don't ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them.
A strategy enables you to get the basics right so you can focus on continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing. Once you’ve defined your strategy, you’ll be able to use each of your action points to keep focus and measure how you're delivering against it.
If you would like guidance on strategies, Click here to view our document on how to shape actionable strategies.
You're wasting time & money
Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be wasted, this is particularly true in larger companies where you see different parts of marketing purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks. Again, the strategy will keep you and your business focused on areas as a business and not in isolation. Digital marketing enhances this even more due to giving you the ability to target your message to the right people, in the right places.
Existing and start-up competitors will gain advantage and market share
If you're not devoting enough resources to digital marketing or you're using an ad-hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, then your competitors will eat your digital lunch!
You're not integrated
It's all too common for digital marketing activities to be completed in silos whether that's a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT or a separate digital agency. It's easier that way to package digital marketing into a convenient chunk. But of course, it's less effective. Everyone agrees that digital media works best when integrated with traditional media and response channels. We always recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy. Once Digital Transformation is complete, digital marketing activities will be part of your marketing plan and part of business as usual.
You need to understand your online audience
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven’t researched this. More importantly, you won't understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions, and options for marketing communications. There are great tools available from the main digital platforms where we can find out the level of customer demand, we recommend doing a search gap analysis using Google’s Keyword planner to see how you are tapping into the intent of searchers to attract them to your site, or see how many people interested in products or services or sector you could reach through Facebook IQ.
Create direction for your customer engagements
Companies without a digital strategy don't have a clear strategic goal for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones.
You need a powerful online value proposition
A clearly defined online customer value proposition tailored to your different target customer personas will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal.
Developing a competitive content marketing strategy is key to this for many businesses since the content is what engages your audiences through different channels like search, social, email marketing and on your blog.
You need to understand your online customers
It's often said that digital is the "most measurable medium ever". Google Analytics and similar will only tell you volumes of visits, not the sentiment of visitors, what they think. Your strategy will help you guide you with what is important to measure for your business. Remember, if you can measure it, you can’t manage it.
So, the good news is that digital marketing isn’t new anymore meaning there is a lot of experience out there now. With experience comes knowledge of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. It’s always good to work with digital marketing experts, if you can’t afford to to pay for someone to manage this for you then you should at least use their services to create your strategy for you to action and measure.
After many years helping clients with their strategies, Purple Yak have created a guide to creating strategies. Click here to view our document on how to shape actionable strategies for your business.