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 intend 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.
Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
Since 2013 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 45% in the latest survey, although that is still quite high, and means almost half are still doing digital with no strategy in place.
When we did the research for our Managing Digital Marketing report we were interested to see how this percentage looked for a defined sample.
1. You’re directionless
I get 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 to 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!
4. You don’t have a powerful online value proposition
A clearly defined online customer value proposition tailored to your different target customer personas will help you differentiate your web service encouraging existing and clients to engage at first and stay loyal. Creating a competitive article marketing strategy is paramount to this for most organizations because the content is certainly what engages your audiences through different channels like search, social, e-mail marketing and on your own blog.
5. You don’t know your online 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 of visits, not the sentiment of visitors, what they think. 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
It’s all too common for digital marketing activities 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. We usually recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy and once Digital Transformation is usually complete digital marketing activities will be part of your marketing plan and part of business as usual.
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 observe different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.
9. You’re not agile enough to catch up or stay ahead
If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all dynamic – trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.
10. You’re not optimizing
Every company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to the continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email, and social media marketing. So that’s our top 10 10 problems that can be avoided with a well thought-through strategy.