Using a digital plan to support digital marketing transformation
Where do you start if you want to develop an digital marketing strategy? Well, We don’t think it needs 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 and wise objectives. Yet despite this it seems that many organizations still don’t have a plan.
Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
2016 Update: Since 2010 we have run an informal poll to see how widely used digital marketing strategies are. The results have shown some big improvements over the years. A few years ago we found around two-thirds to three-quarters did not have a digital marketing plan. Now that number has shrunk to 44% in latest survey. Although that is still quite high, and means many are doing digital with no strategy in place.
When they did the research for our free Managing Digital Marketing report published in 2016. We were interested to see how this percentage looked for a defined sample.
So, the latest research suggests an improved approach to planning in this sample of marketers, with fewer than half without a digital strategy. Congratulations if you’re one of these companies!
A recommended approach for developing a digital strategy
Whether you have a strategy or not. At the heart of the Digital Solutions Insights approach to improving digital marketing is benchmarking to compare where you are now to where you need to be in the future. They have created a free digital marketing benchmarks download with a series of benchmarks covering overall digital strategy and the tactics like Search, Social media, Email marketing and site/experience design.
But what if you’re one of the companies that doesn’t have a digital strategy yet? Well, we think the two simple alternatives for creating a plan may suggest a way forward:
No-specific digital channel plan.
Separate digital marketing plan defining transformation needed and making case for investment.
Integrated digital plan part of marketing plan – digital becomes part of business as usual.
So, what are the takeaways to act on here? It seems to us 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 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. There’s arguably less need for a strategy in a smaller company.
Many, a majority of companies in this 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 create. 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.
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.
10 Reasons Why you may need A Digital Channel Strategy and Marketing Analyst
1 You’re direction-less
We find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for. What they want to achieve on-line 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.
2 You won’t know your on-line market share
Customer demand for on-line services may be underestimated if you haven”t researched this. Perhaps more importantly you won’t understand your on-line marketplace. The dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behavior, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications. See on-line marketplace methodology post.
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!
4. You don’t have a powerful on-line value proposition
A clearly defined on-line customer value proposition will help you differentiate your on-line service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal.
5. You don’t know your on-line customers well enough
It’s often said that digital is the “most measurable medium ever”. But Google Analytics and similar will only tell you volumes not sentiment. You need to use other forms of website user feedback tools to identify your weak-points and then address them.
6. You’re not integrated (“disintegrated”)
It’s all too common for digital 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.
7. Digital doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance
Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing e-marketing. 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 on-line marketing tasks.
9. You’re not agile enough to catchup or stay ahead
If you look at the top on line brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all dynamic – trialling new approaches to gain or keep their on line audiences.