A lot of clients want to jump straight into online marketing tactics without first considering how or where they fit within the overall marketing plan. By taking a step back and implementing a planning phase, you can save significant time and money in the long run. This doesn’t mean you can’t be reactive to current market conditions; in fact having an overall plan enables tactical campaigns to be even more turn-key. Here we look at 8 key steps involved in developing an effective digital marketing strategy. And remember…
… ‘Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat’ — SunTzu
Step 1: Be clear about the role of digital within the wider marketing mix
Have clearly defined marketing objectives and be clear about how digital can integrate and support these to achieve the overall goals of the business. Define which customer segments digital can target most effectively and what the online value proposition is.
Step 2: Analyse the current marketplace
Before you can determine digital strategy and tactics, you must know the digital marketplace within which your business operates. Review what your key competitors are doing online, what useful technologies are being exploited and if the current economic state is changing the landscape. A SWOT analysis is useful to structure your findings and identify gaps in the market, opportunities to differentiate or what resources are required to compete effectively.
Step 3: Review your existing digital marketing activity
Take learning’s from any existing digital activity and results to get an understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. You should be able to answer questions such as; what acquisition tactics have generated online leads? What your site conversion rate is? How active is your email database? This information offers useful insight for strategy development. (If you don’t know this, you haven’t implemented the right measurement to know what part of your marketing budget is effective!).
Step 4: Define your digital marketing objectives
Now you have clearly defined marketing objectives, an understanding of the current marketplace and what has worked to date, you are equipped to define realistic digital objectives. This is one of the most important steps as it guides the strategy and is used as a benchmark to evaluate results. Digital objectives should be specific e.g raise awareness of your brand by x%, increase online leads and sales from x% to y%, grow customer retention by % in xyz timeframe.
Step 5: Develop your digital marketing strategy
Strategy looks at the bigger picture and decides what tactics are required to achieve the overall objectives, within the boundaries of your available resources i.e. people, budget, technology and knowledge. A clearly defined online value proposition should form the basis of all communications. Offline marketing should be considered and leveraged where possible, for example: press and outdoor could drive users online to redeem etc.
Step 6: Write the online marketing plan
Once the approach is defined, write the online marketing plan. This will outline the optimal mix of digital tactics and timing to achieve desired results. A business case will model the expected results from each strand of activity and deliver a blended result in the form of cost per acquisition, conversion or retained customer.
Step 7: Measure, measure and measure more
If you can’t measure, you can’t manage. As well as being the most accountable and transparent form of marketing, digital offers the unique opportunity to optimise campaigns in real time. By implementing the right tracking and measuring against the right benchmarks, you can take immediate learning’s and optimise campaigns in real time, saving time and budget.
Step 8: What else could you be doing?
Learning’s and results will guide future strategy. For example, if your acquisition activity resulted in a significant database of customers, you’ll need an approach on how to activate these to become loyal and valuable customers. An eCRM strategy would help define and guide what tactics should be used.
Strategy is the most important element of digital marketing yet probably the most overlooked. It guides and gels together the different digital marketing tactics required to achieve a pre-defined set of digital objectives. Would you put together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle without constantly referring back to the bigger picture?