A good definition of digital marketing strategy is that it is a strategy put in place by a brand to align with set objectives and goals to attract a specific type, or types, of customer using a combination of marketing techniques.
Where do you start if you want to develop a digital marketing strategy? It’s still 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 support digital transformation and business growth based on engaging their audiences effectively online.
The importance of digital channels in influencing brand discovery is highlighted by this research from Global Web Insight
This research shows that if you don’t compete by maintaining quality online content to gain visibility within search engines and social networks, then you’re missing out on opportunities to reach new customers.
Regardless of the type of business, if your business doesn’t have a strategic digital marketing plan aligned with your business plan, you will suffer from the ten problems I highlight in this article and you will lose out to competitors who are more digitally savvy.
Let’s now look at the 10 reasons that you can treat as challenges, or better, as opportunities. For each of the potential digital marketing challenges, I will also recommend marketing solutions and next steps to help you improve your process of digital marketing planning.
10 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy
It’s important to be able to make the business case to invest more in digital marketing since, if you can’t convince yourself or your colleagues to invest, then the future of your business is in jeopardy. It’s simple, you won’t be able to compete to attract new customers in the future.
1. You’re directionless – you don’t have a plan
I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) 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.
Our Managing Digital marketing research report showed that almost half (45%) of companies don’t yet have a defined digital marketing strategy, but are doing digital marketing!
You can see that around one-fifth (17%) do define their digital strategy. This is a great first step in the process towards a fully integrated strategy. Where you want to get to is where all digital marketing activities are prioritized as part of overall investments in your marketing
And if you don’t have goals with SMART digital marketing objectives you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.
Our templates can support you to create more realistic forecasts of investing in digital media and improving conversion rates. Use our RACE digital marketing dashboard to simplify your reporting of Google Analytics goals for monthly reviews.
2. You have poor digital maturity since digital marketing doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance
We often see that businesses of all sizes have insufficient resources devoted to both planning and executing digital marketing. There is likely to be a lack of specific specialist online marketing skills which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.
A good starting point to make the case for more investment in digital marketing is to assess your digital maturity. To help our members we have created a free download of maturity benchmarks like that shown below.
We have collected these visuals together in a single download so that you can easily review them and print the most relevant for you. We’ve designed them so members can use them for different scales of business and roles. There are more than 10 templates which cover:
- Digital marketing for small and medium businesses using our RACE framework
- Digital transformation for larger businesses
- Digital channel marketing activities including SEO, Social media, email and content marketing
I designed this example for reviewing digital marketing effectiveness with senior leaders in small and medium or larger businesses. I recommend you score your current maturity across each of the pillars of effective digital marketing and then set targets of how you need to improve within the next 12 or 18th months and put in place a plan to achieve that. We find that often, many businesses are at level 1 or 2 and should aim to reach at least level 3 when they will have a planned approach and will be able to compete.
The other templates in the download are more granular, looking at specific digital marketing activities using our RACE framework.
As a Smart Insights premium member, you’ll have access to strategy and planning tools including performance and digital maturity benchmarking, and regular marketing insights reports, so you can keep track of your position in a competitive landscape.
3. Existing and start-up competitors will gain market share through optimizing their always-on marketing
If you’re not devoting enough resources to digital, or you’re using an ad-hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, then your competitors will eat your digital lunch since they will be more focused on always-on marketing!
Always-on marketing refers to the investments in paid, owned and earned media needed across the customer lifecycle shown in this figure from the eighth edition of my Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice book. Investment is needed to maintain visibility and support conversion and retention continuously as people search for and select products online.
Many brands don’t get the balance right between investment in always-on across these activities and campaigns, so neglect AOM.
Our RACE planning framework defines how to create a plan covering both always-on and campaign communications. You can learn more in our free download.
4. You won’t know your online audience or market share
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven’t researched this. Perhaps, more importantly, you won’t understand your online marketplace. The dynamics will be different from traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions, and options for marketing communications.
Our templates include a customer persona guide and template to help you develop more detailed, actionable personas that map messages and content requirements through the customer journey. Through completing this persona analysis you will be able to create a content strategy to support customers in selecting products and to implement the strategy to improve engagement through your search, social media and email marketing too. That’s why a content strategy is one of the pillars of your digital marketing.
5. You don’t have a powerful online value proposition
As part of defining the scope of opportunity when using a strategic approach to digital marketing, it’s helpful to think about how digital experiences can improve your brand appeal. This involves improving online services, interactive tools and digital audience interactions to improve customer service.
A clearly defined digital 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.
6. You don’t know your online customers well enough
It’s often said that digital is the “most measurable medium ever”. But Google Analytics and similar will only tell you volumes of visits, not the sentiment of visitors, what they think. You need to use other forms of research and website user feedback tools to identify your weak points and then address them.
7. You’re not integrated (“disintegrated”)
It’s all too common for digital 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’ into a convenient chunk. But of course, it’s less effective. Everyone agrees that digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.
That’s why we recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy, so your digital marketing works hard for you! With your integrated plan in place, digital will become part of your marketing activity and part of business as usual.
8. You’re wasting money and time through duplication
Even if you do have sufficient resources, they may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.
That’s why you need to invest in a marketing strategy that works for you and your team, to plan, manage and optimize your digital channels and platforms. Drive the marketing results you need to achieve your business objectives, and boost your marketing ROI.
9. You’re not agile enough to catch up or stay ahead
If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Booking.com, Dell, Google and Zappos, they’re all dynamic – trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.
Our 90-day RACE Growth system approach will support you to create a similar process to improve your results.
To manage your always-on marketing activities we recommend a 90-day planning approach (template) to prioritize your activities using the RACE growth process that identifies 25 key digital activities you should continuously refine by prioritizing those that matter most.
10. You’re not optimizing
Every company with a website will have analytics. But many senior managers don’t ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once your digital channel strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to the continuous improvement of the key aspects like brand building, site user experience, and lead nurturing.
Transform your marketing strategy and accelerate your results today with Smart Insights
So, the good news is that there are powerful reasons for creating a winning digital strategy and transforming your marketing, which you can use to persuade your colleagues and clients.
If you’re looking to integrate your marketing strategy, Smart Insights membership is a no-brainer. Since all our marketing solutions are integrated across our RACE Growth System, you can confidently track and adapt the journeys which you know deliver the best results, integrated across multiple channels. Download our free template to find out more.