People often say to me that they don’t need a digital marketing strategy. They think they’ve already gone through this exercise when writing their business plan, doing a SWOT analysis or going through brand positioning workshops.
Whilst it’s true that some of the same models and questions are asked, these need to be addressed specifically from a marketing communications point of view. This is particularly important in the new connected world of multi-channels and multi-devices. Today, we have so many opportunities to differentiate ourselves that it’s ever more important to define what we want to do.
With digital marketing, the first thing you need to be clear on is your purpose. If you haven’t got that right, then there’s little point starting with any marketing. If you begin at the creating awareness stage, you are missing vital direction about your focus, your audience and user groups, and your business activities.
A digital marketing strategy will bring together the right information so you can make informed decisions about how digital can help achieve your business goals. You’ll uncover opportunities you wouldn’t have thought of had you gone straight into channel marketing, or a website build.
Marketing is really closely aligned to business strategy. They both involve finding ways to make efficiencies, satisfy stakeholders and customers, and ultimately create return on investment.
When you put together a business plan, you think about what you want your business to achieve from a financial point of view, and your approach to getting there. You’ll probably look at your competitors and opportunities for growth. This is all vital information to feed into your digital marketing strategy, but it isn’t a marketing strategy in its own right.
Starting at the diagnosis stage means that you know what challenges you are trying to address through your website, social media, email marketing and other activities. It doesn’t need to be a painful or long-winded process. But it does mean that whatever resource you spend on marketing activity thereafter (even if that’s just someone’s time) will be well spent.
You need to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve and then what this means for your customers. Basically, you need to challenge yourself about why they would care. Then you can begin thinking about how you can turn this into an online experience that inspires people and incites action. Without action, you don’t make sales and you definitely can’t demonstrate ROI. After all, the very definition of marketing is to do it profitably. We must always account for our spend.
At Creative Network, we work with clients to understand just this. We create a roadmap which defines what we are trying to achieve, sets direction and agrees how we apply this so it makes sense to the outside world.
Implementation is often the hardest part of any strategy. So, we create an action plan that documents the priorities, why we need them, how we will achieve it and by when. The output is a robust framework to start communicating with the outside world.
So whilst a digital strategy maps out how online capabilities help achieve your vision, using the latest technology doesn’t mean shoehorning it into your communications. It’s about applying it to make life simpler and easier for your customers (including internal ones).
Take QR codes as an example. As marketers, we should consider bringing these into the mix. But only if we have identified a way that they make things easier for customers, improve internal processes or somehow add extra value.
So, a fleet management company who deals in replacement tyres could use them as a quick tool for customers to reorder tyres.
If each dash on every vehicle displayed a unique QR code encoded with the vehicle reg and specification, this would speed up service time and reduce data-input errors. All this information could automatically feed into the customer database and populate their online fleet management tool. It could trigger renewal reminders, services, and drive after-sales communications like surveys and reviews. This is a meaningful use of technology that makes dealing with this company effortless.
It’s the same with SMS marketing. Don’t use it to spam your customers with offers, make it relevant and valuable. Sticking with the tyre company, how useful would it be if after scanning the QR code to order tyres, you then get an SMS telling you that Paul will be arriving at 10am tomorrow to fit the tyres, with a link to phone to rearrange if that’s not convenient?
It’s about using the power of digital to make it easier to get a sale.
Marketing often becomes a production house for the demands and whims of other internal departments. With limited time and resource on your hands, it can be a case of whoever shouts loudest wins. If you get department heads involved from the start and buy-in from the Board, you’ll have agreement on the vision that your marketing efforts will support.
With a roadmap in place, our clients have a measured approach they can share with the rest of the business. This allows them to react more rapidly whilst ensuring they only respond to the things that fit with their overall strategy.