The importance of creating and using a digital marketing plan to support digital transformation and company growth
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 grow and engage their audiences effectively.
If your business doesn’t have a plan you will suffer from the ten problems I highlight later in this article and you will lose out to competitors who are more digitally savvy.
The challenges of creating a digital marketing strategy?
In my experience, a common challenge is where to start drawing up your digital marketing plan. I think there is a fear that a massive report is required, but we believe that lean planning works best.
Your plan doesn’t need to be a huge report, a strategy can best be summarized in two or three sides of A4 in a table linking digital marketing strategies to SMART objectives within our RACE planning framework.
We recommend creating a lean digital plan based on our 90-day planning templates to implement your digital plan rapidly to gain traction. You can learn more about our free download.
Another challenge is the sheer scope and scale of digital marketing. There are so many great digital marketing techniques ranging from search, social and email marketing to improve the digital experience of your website.
Our article, What is digital marketing? shows how by using our RACE planning framework you can define a more manageable number of digital marketing activities that cover the full customer journey.
Within each digital marketing technique, there are lots of detailed tactics that are important to success,
so they need to be evaluated and prioritized, for example from dynamic content for email automation, website personalization to programmatic, re-targeting, and skyscraper content for organic search.
A recommended approach for developing a digital strategy
Whether you have a strategy or not, at the heart of the Smart Insights ‘Opportunity, Strategy, Action‘ approach to improving digital marketing,
is benchmarking to compare where you are now to assess the potential against where you need to be in the future.
But what if you’re one of the companies that don’t have a digital strategy yet? Well, I think the two simple alternatives for creating a plan may suggest a way forward:
Start with a separate marketing plan defining transformation needed and making the case for investment and changes to your digital marketing
Then, following approval, create an integrated digital plan which is part of the overall marketing plan – digital is fully aligned and becomes part of business as usual.
So, what are the takeaways to act on here? It seems to me that:
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.
But I’m equally sure that many are missing opportunities for better targeting or optimization, or are suffering from the other challenges I’ve listed below.
Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organizations who most urgently need governance.
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.
The majority of companies in our research do take a strategic approach to digital. From talking to companies, I find 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.
1. You’re directionless
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.
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.
2. 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 behavior, 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.
3. 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!
7. Digital doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance
Insufficient resources 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.
8. 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.
Praxis Studios is a results-driven Digital Branding Agency that focuses on effectively creating awareness for companies looking for exposure to their brand. Our team is led by game-changing developers, graphic artist, animators, presenters, creative writers and digital advertising veterans with decades of experience.