What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
“What do you want to achieve or avoid? The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.” William E.Rothschild
A digital marketing strategy is the plan or framework to map out the goals and the tactics that you are going to utilise in order to achieve those goals. It should be a written document that should be agreed and acted upon by all stakeholders in an organisation.
Wikipedia defines a digital strategy as:
‘A form of strategic management and a business answer or response to a digital question, often best addressed as part of an overall business strategy. A digital strategy is often characterized by the application of new technologies to existing business activity and/or a focus on the enablement of new digital capabilities to their business.’
For further information on the difference between strategy and tactics check out this blog: Whats the difference between digital marketing strategy and digital marketing tactics
Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?
The old army adage of ‘Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance’ can be used not just in the military, but in any walk of life.
Digital marketing can be time consuming and expensive, so ensuring that you have a plan of action in place that sets the boundaries of what is and what isn’t permissible, as well as the benchmark of what is acceptable performance, is a crucial step before jumping in to applying different activities.
You don’t want either yourself or your staff just running Facebook Ads or Google AdWords activity without some direction and understanding of what it is they are looking to achieve.
Instead, you need to apply a clear methodology, making sure that firstly everyone knows what the objectives are and the plan of action in order to achieve. You need to know what the anticipated outcomes are, what good looks like and what to do if you’re not reaching your set goals.
In the world of digital marketing, things change quickly. There’s always a new technique, a new piece of software or a new methodology that will catch your eye. By nature, digital marketers love to experiment and are prone to Shiny New Object syndrome, so having a robust strategy in place keeps you on track and doesn’t allow you to be distracted by all of the noise.
For further information on metrics, check out this blog: 9 Reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy for your business
What’s the value of a digital marketing strategy
There are a number of ways that having a robust digital strategy in place holds value:
- Once your goals are established, having a plan is going to give you the greatest chance of reaching them. Having a goal without a plan is just a dream.
- Having a strategy in place allows you to be flexible in your activities. Are you on target to hit your goals? If not, a well thought out strategy will tell you what to do.
- If your strategy includes KPI’s and test boundaries (i.e. How much time/budget do we spend before we can determine whether part of the strategy is/isn’t working?) then you’ll save time and money.
- It helps you prioritise your actions, completing the high value/high impact activities.
- You and your team will be more efficient, you’ll know what to do and when to do it.
- You’ll concentrate on the right activities that you’ve all agreed will drive you and your organisation forward, removing unnecessary distractions.
What should be in your digital marketing strategy?
Whilst you need some detail in your strategy document, it’s important that it doesn’t become an overbearing encyclopedia of every activity. We’re not writing a procedures manual here. If you’re working for an organisation it’s important that you keep in mind that other stakeholders will be looking at your document as a high level plan, and they don’t want the detail and instructions on how to implement it.
Simplify your strategy so that the following points are covered:
- What are we looking to achieve?
- How are we going to achieve those goals?
- How are we going to measure our success?
So, to start with, outline the objective of your strategies. Layout your goals in clear, easy-to-read language and ensure that they align with the overall business objectives. Also, I’m sure you’re familiar with the SMART acronym for goals:
Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Relevant - Time-based
Keep your goals SMART and, again, keep them at a high-level.
So for example, if your business has the objective to double its turnover and digital is going to play a big part in this, let’s define how. You might start with something like:
‘XYZ business has the objective of increasing its turnover from £1M to £2m by December 2019’. This statement outlines the big picture objective.
Next, determine and state how the digital channel is going to contribute to this:
‘50% of the turnover is to be generated by digital activities. Therefore, digital needs to contribute £1m of turnover by December 2019.‘
Once we have the goal we can then start examining our numbers a bit further. There are five metrics that I would highly suggest that you familiarise yourself with:
- The number of visitors to your website
- The conversion rate from visitor to lead
- The percentage of qualified leads
- The conversion rate of qualified leads to customers
- The lifetime value of your customers
Once you’ve established this, you can work backwards so you know what you’ve got to achieve in order to hit your revenue target.
So, if for example, we know the lifetime value of your customer is £10,000, we know that in order to hit the £1m target we need 100 customers.
If the conversion rate of qualified leads to customers is 50%, then we need 200 qualified leads. If 50% of leads generated are qualified, then we need 400 leads. Then if we have a 1% conversion rate from web visitor to lead, we need 40,000 visitors.
We now have two choices: do we concentrate on driving more visitors, or do we concentrate on increasing the conversion rates so that the number of visitors needed reduces. Usually the best option is to do both, as small increases in each one will lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of visitors needed and/or a dramatic increase in the end result.
Now that you have your goals written down and sense-checked (use the SMART model), then it’s time to be creating the plan of how you’re going to achieve them. What are the actions that you’re going to take to increase each of the metrics to where they need to be?
I.e., what are you going to do to increase visitors, to increase lead generation, to increase sales closure rates and to increase the lifetime value of your customer?
At Klood Digital, we’re an inbound agency and we utilise six different key steps to achieve and exceed our client goals.
- Understand your buyer persona — by having the right people on your website, you’ll have a better chance of converting them to a lead and then a customer.
- Attract more visitors — utilising tactics such as SEO, PPC, social media, blogging, email and so on.
- Convert more leads — ensuring that there’s plenty of conversion paths at all touch points with your visitors.
- Nurture the lead so they become sales ready.
- Delight the prospect and customer — provide lots of value so that the product sells itself.
- Scale — once your growth engine is built, how can we scale it and get even better results?
We’ve put together an eBook, 6 Keys to Planning an Inbound Strategy, that you can download for free.
Now that your goals are set and you’ve put together an action plan, you need to establish your measurement of success, or KPI’s that you can use in order to make decisions on. The five metrics we covered at the start of this section should be the prime focus, but each of your activities will have different metrics that you want to pay attention to.
Be careful though not to concentrate on vanity metrics (numbers that look good, but don’t have much bearing on the results, e.g. number of likes on Facebook, number of followers on Twitter.). Concentrate on the metrics that matter. You’ll want to monitor each channel or activity, and each one will have their own different numbers that you’ll want to pay attention to.
For further information on metrics, check out this blog: The Key Metrics for Determining the Success of an Inbound Marketing Campaign
Who should be involved in the creation?
The key here is about identifying the value that a stakeholder can bring to the strategy process. Everyone will have a different idea and different experiences to bring to the table.
But be careful that you don’t end up with getting too many people involved, as you’re not going to be able to please everyone. Have one or two people that are responsible for driving the strategy creation project and have them pull in or get input from the relevant people for each part of the document.
For example, your salespeople are often the best people to help you develop your personas and understand the problems that you as a company solve for your customers, whilst your marketing people understand the tactics that they are able to employ. Your CEO/MD and FD will have input to the goals.
For more information on creating an inbound team read our blog: How to build an inbound marketing team
Once your digital marketing strategy has been created, what should you do with it?
It’s important that you view your strategy document as a working document, not just a tick box exercise that sits gathering dust on a shelf. Ensure that any individual actions are implemented in time and then use the KPIs section to monitor performance. Your strategy document needs to be flexible enough to adapt to any low performing items or unforeseen circumstances. It should be used as a guide as to what day-to-day activities your digital marketing team implement.
Above all, schedule in a monthly review of the performance against your strategy document and make the adjustments necessary to reach your goals.