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By: Agne Lund | 20 July 2016
A digital marketing strategy is a must-have for any business or organisation that is trying to market itself online and is serious about it. Nevertheless, where do you begin if you want to build an online marketing strategy? As a matter of fact, it is fairly simple.
The digital strategy does not need to be a huge report or monumental document. It can be relatively easy and effortless to create, pretty much just a straightforward summary on two sides of paper – a simple table linking your strategy to what is called SMART (or Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Time-Related), a set of objectives making intentions easy to understand.
Things as they are in reality, in fact with many businesses online, are somewhat interesting. Despite the simplicity it still seems that many companies do not have a proper plan. That said, whether you have a strategy or not, at the heart of the approach to improving digital marketing is benchmarking. The need to benchmark is obvious, even if not a guarantee of success on its own, it is the best way to compare where you are now to where you need to be in the future. So why should you have that strategy? Below you will find 10 good reasons why.
Businesses without a digital strategy (and those with a poor one) do not have clear goals for what they want to achieve online. Especially in terms of gaining new customers and building deeper relationships with existing ones. Without these strategic goals you will likely not put enough resources to attain the goals. Furthermore, it will be difficult to evaluate any analytics whatsoever to measure your success.
For instance, would you aim to drive more traffic to your website? If so, how much traffic do you want to increase it by? Would you prefer more customers and increase sales on your online store? If that is the case, how are you going to do that? Redesign the website? Improve your social media presence? Open a blog like we did?
Without having specific goals in place, it is quite difficult to determine what needs to be done, how you will do it and more importantly, how you will measure your success.
Creating a written strategy forces you to answer the crucial questions. Furthermore, it will develop your online value proposition, define your target audience, and help to consider which methods will enable you to implement your strategy.
You have to understand your market. The dynamics of digital marketing differ from traditional channels due to different customer profile and behaviour towards traditional and online marketing communications.
Many businesses that recognise this do not utilise the standard promotional approaches that are commonly found online. Traditional marketing and advertising convey techniques that target all audiences. These methods literally blast communication in the event that it will hopefully reach someone interested in the product. Digital marketing on the other hand narrowly defines the audience by segmenting and offering tailor-made approach for higher engagement.
In case your business is not devoting enough resources to online marketing or worse, is using a zero-budget approach with no clearly defined strategy in place, you most likely will have a problem. Competitors are ruthless. Sooner or later, both existing and newer competition would eat into your digital market share.
Why so? Because in our mass digitalised age newer, vibrant and dynamic companies including startups are doing this already. Startups understand the need to gain traction with an audience already and to determine product market fit. If you are not reaching potential customers where they are browsing, i.e. online – a new company will do that.
A clearly defined vision about customer value proposition will help you differentiate your service. This will encourage existing as well as new customers to engage and remain loyal. Retention is just as important as acquisition. Successful brands and companies do not just stop at getting a sale from a customer, they continue to attract them with offers and free content, ensuring that their company remain front of mind when they are ready to purchase.
Furthermore, the customers expect to communicate in more ways than traditional communication methods like telephone. Messaging a brand via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well as expecting an instant response is one of the best ways to keep your customers loyal and not going elsewhere for better customer service.
It is often said that with digitalisation you can measure everything. But Google Analytics and similar tools will report just the volumes and not customer emotion. You will need to use other forms of user feedback tools to identify your pain points and then address them, for example emailing surveys, asking for reviews or customer feedback forms.
If a business fails to appreciate the difference in market dynamics and the limitations of traditional marketing techniques then it faces a serious problem. In that case this business does not understand different customer behaviour, profile and even worse, the nature of the competition. It is crucial to correctly establish the means of targeting the customers needs. Offering a consumer a product as well as that said product fulfilling the needs should be of utmost importance. The competition is ruthless – if you do not, someone else will.
Often digital marketing becomes separated into various segments between a digital marketing strategist, web developer, UX designer or is completely outsourced to a digital marketing agency. This way it is easier to package marketing into convenient sections. However, at times this can have less of an impact and its effectiveness is limited, too. Digital marketing works best when integrated with all media channels, traditional et al.
Ensuring broad support for your digital activity within your company can be challenging. This is much easier to obtain if you have something in writing – a documentation that spells out what you aim to accomplish as well as how it fits in with the company’s other marketing and sales goals. For example asking members of staff to promote social media posts or answering emails to potential and existing clients. Suddenly you have a digital programme that can be promoted and defended, rather than just “something some of us in the company dabble in”.
Insufficient resources to both planning and executing online marketing will mean a lack of specialist digital marketers, and the ability to effectively respond to competitor as well as customer concerns. If a strategy is not implemented, it will be challenging to determine what budget you require in order to succeed, and more importantly, what skills your staff needs to execute the ideas.
Rather than hiring staff when the need arises, having a plan will enable you to plan for the long term, and you can hire the talented staff you need to execute before your plan is implemented. This way you can budget more effectively and expect your goals to be achieved amongst your staff members.
As a business or an organisation, it is crucial to maintain budgets and use cost-effective marketing methods that can reward in higher profits. Beyond any doubt, a thoroughly devised strategy will help you in predicting your future expenses.
Even if you do have sufficient resources for online marketing, there is hardly any guarantee that it could not end up wasted. Within larger companies various parts of the marketing machine use multitudinous techniques and purchase tools that could be way too diverse as well as nearly identical. Furthermore, some are using several marketing agencies to perform very similar marketing tasks.
Avoiding duplication of techniques, tools and tasks is obviously a save of resources. Hence it is vital to have a strategy in place to ensure they are used efficiently.
Everyone who is serious about business and has a website, does have analytics. However, often senior management does not ensure their teams act on their key performance indicators (KPIs). Having a strategy in place enables to get your basics right and begin evolutionary process of continuous development. That includes improvement of key aspects such as website user experience, paid and organic search marketing, social media marketing and more.
Hence unless the strategy is properly written down, you will most likely struggle to execute your business ideas in the long run and even short-term action. So you can benchmark it against. Regular examination of your written goals and monitoring success should be built into your marketing machine.
Having an active digital strategy signifies to existing and potential clients that you not only are into the process of business development, but are there for your customers once they purchased. Ability to find your products, services and industry information with minimal fuss and avoiding labyrinthine navigation sends a clear and simple message. A message that says you are easy to do business with.
Social media presence is a good example of a way to demonstrate consumers how they can find products and companies like yours. Having a clear strategy in place ensures that your business not only stands out from the competition, but beats the competition. It endorses the foundation of increasing sales and more returning loyal customers.
Creating the digital marketing strategy does not have to be hard work. Making things happen is fairly easy, especially online. If any at all, the only step requiring somewhat willpower is the very first one. Begin by writing goals down and you have the basics to get started. Whether that is allocating resources, more staff or outsourcing to others to execute your ideas.
One key point to always remember is that if you are not doing it, other competitors are. However, should any of the concepts listed remain alien or you would prefer a very thorough and in-depth digital strategy, the team at Opus is happy to help – feel free to contact the team and tell what you need. The marketing strategists at Opus would be delighted in partnering with you to beat the competition and get you on top of the game instead.
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