REASONS WHY YOU NEED A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Creating a digital marketing strategy and plan is no different from creating any other marketing plan, in fact it’s increasingly strange to have separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business.
However, we’re often required to separate plans for “creating a digital strategy” based on the way teams and reporting are managed and to help the transition to digital – before digital marketing becomes integrated as “business as usual”.
At the start of this guide we have to face the reality that many organizations don’t have a digital marketing strategy at all. Many organizations are doing digital marketing, but few have a strategy. That’s what our recent research showed1. We found that a majority of organizations responding to the survey do use a planned approach to digital marketing, but many still don’t.
The chart shows that over a third of companies (34%) now have an integrated digital marketing strategy. That’s what you should aim for, but a practical, intermediate step for many is to create a separate document defining the need for investment in digital marketing and defining a long-term roadmap to transform the business using digital media and technology.
Strategy Recommendation: 1 Create a specific digital marketing plan and roadmap! Create a detailed digital marketing plan defining the digital channel strategy for each major market / proposition to provide focus and direction for the future.
The high proportion of businesses doing digital marketing without a plan suggests to us that, in many organizations, senior marketers and directors may not understand the need for a digital strategy, why not “Just Do It” as they used to say in the Nike ads, keeping digital as part of your marketing strategy. We have seen many companies, large and small who get this wrong. Rather than strategy, they simply use a series of poorly integrated tactics, like search, social or email marketing, but without a coherent plan.
A lack of structured planning for digital marketing is evident in relatively unsophisticated adopters of digital channels. For early E-commerce adopters, it is best to create a separate digital marketing plan to provide focus and aid transformation, but for more mature organizations, digital marketing activities should be integrated into annual planning.
Equally, it’s important that creating a separate digital plan or separate resource to focus on digital marketing doesn’t create a silo of digital resources and practice. So we see a digital plan as a short-term tool to define your digital future and help transform your business until it becomes part of planning for business as usual.
Strategy Recommendation 2: Ensure your plan is integrated Although you need a separate digital plan to help you create a strategy it’s important to keep it well integrated. That means supporting common business goals and consistent with brand and communication strategy.
Not convinced of the need for a separate digital plan or need to convince your colleagues? Try out these arguments… We have often seen these 10 typical problems in organizations where detailed plans for digital marketing have not been created or managing the plans do not have clearly defined ownership. These are risks that can be managed through having a strategy defined in a digital channel plan:
Our top 10 reasons why you DO need a digital strategy
Typical problems when companies don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy.
- You’re directionless. We find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.
- You won’t know your online 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 to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behavior, competitors, propositions and options for investing in marketing communications to target online audiences.
- Existing and start-up competitors will gain 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 don’t have a powerful online value proposition. A clearly defined online customer value proposition will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal.
- 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 tools will only tell you volumes not sentiment. You need to use other forms of feedback to identify your weak points and then address them.
- You’re not integrated. 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 marketing 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.
- Digital doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance. Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing e-marketing and there is likely to be a lack of specific specialist e-marketing skills which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.
- You’re wasting money and time through duplication. Even if you do have sufficient resource it 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.
- You’re not agile enough to catchup or stay ahead. If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all dynamic – trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.
- 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 a strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing.