A plethora of marketing solutions provides many opportunities to connect with customers, build your brand, and market at scale. Yet without a clear strategy, it’s easy to invest a lot of resources and money without any tangible return. A study by Smart Insights found that 47 percent of businesses are doing digital marketing without a clear strategy, which makes it impossible to successfully navigate today’s integrated omnichannel and real-time-data-powered digital environment. Here’s a closer look at why companies need to invest in a digital marketing strategy.
1. Align your digital marketing with your bigger business goals. What are your most critical business goals, and how can digital marketing help you reach them? That’s the essential question driving a digital strategy. Whether you’re focused on acquiring new customers, taking your products or services into new markets, or building brand awareness for your company with specific segments, a digital strategy provides the roadmap you’ll need. Your goals determine which tactics, channels, messages, and partners you need to focus on to generate real results.
2. Get your team focused on what’s important. For your team, digital marketing is a significant amount of work, from analyzing data to creating content for many different channels. Out of the infinite possibilities that your team could be focusing on, there are a number of activities they absolutely must focus on to get the best results. A digital strategy sets critical workflows.
3. Prioritize your technology investments. Digital marketing today requires the right tools, from marketing platforms to analytics tools. Without a clear strategy, it’s impossible to prioritize which tools to invest in to achieve the best return and deliver an outstanding customer experience.
4. Dedicate the right resources. Successful digital marketing takes human resources, financial capital, and technology resources. With a digital strategy, it’s possible to identify which resources you need to accomplish your goals, and then advocate for that within your company – whether you need staff time, a bigger budget, or IT. Without a clear strategy, many companies find themselves understaffed or without access to critical tools.
5. Focus your customer intelligence initiative. A successful digital strategy starts with knowing your customers. However, with all the data available today, it’s possible to collect infinite amounts of information without clear insights. A digital strategy helps companies focus on key performance indicators (KPIs), data-collection methods, and technology systems that will provide the deepest insights on customers.
6. Minimize duplication and waste. Digital marketing can quickly become complex, with different parts of the business creating content, managing social media accounts, and gathering information on customers. Without a clear strategy, you’re at risk for wasting resources and duplicating efforts. Companies with a clear digital strategy know what to focus on and which parts of their organizations own key tasks.
7. Build a better customer experience. Digital transformations are a hot topic because they’re letting companies develop more effective customer experiences. A digital strategy defines what your ideal customer experience looks like and provides the roadmap to get there. As Forrester Research notes, a digital strategy lets companies take “a user-centered approach to understanding the needs and behaviors of their omni-channel customers and filling in the experience gaps in a disciplined manner.”
8. Continually improve your performance. Measuring the ROI of your digital marketing efforts is key to making ongoing investments and knowing when it’s time to pivot your approach. In your digital marketing strategy, you’ll define the KPIs that matter most to your business. Convince and Convert recommends focusing on KPIs such as traffic, channel-specific traffic, conversions, and search trends. Knowing what matters most helps you put the right analytics technology in place to create smart, data-driven feedback loops.
9. Experiment with new approaches. The digital marketing toolkit is constantly evolving. New technologies like wearable devices and expanding social platforms such as livestreaming apps like Periscope are constantly being introduced. Innovative brands stay on top of trends and proactively experiment with different formats, channels, and approaches to see what resonates with their audience. A digital strategy helps brands effectively determine what’s working and what isn’t.
10. Integrate and optimize your digital marketing. The biggest opportunities for digital marketing come when it’s done holistically. How can marketers create multichannel campaigns that amplify a message to consumers across channels? Can digital marketing integrate with advertising or traditional marketing for a bigger impact? A digital strategy allows companies to integrate and optimize their marketing for more effective initiatives.
Digital marketing is no longer optional. Customers are looking for brands online – from seeking basic information to looking for support and interaction. Don’t become one of those brands that’s failing to make an impact because it’s being pulled in too many directions. Create a strategy that will let you define your goals, focus your resources behind your most important business objectives, and reap real rewards from your digital marketing efforts.
Liz Alton writes about digital marketing and her work has been featured on USA Today, Forbes,Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Entrepreneur. Her specialties include all things marketing, technology, B2B, big data/analytics, cloud, and mobility. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and an MBA from Western Governors University. She is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism from Harvard University.