Digital Marketing can help you increase your revenues and expose your business to your customers (and prospects) in a way that is measurable, and if done right with positive ROI. However, that is going to require you to be ready to embark on some strategic planning.
If you are like 50% of businesses (SmartInsights) then you probably don’t even have a digital strategy. And I wonder of the other 50% how many actually have a properly designed strategy?
Before we get into it, I want to share that when I started my career, I used to be quite tactical and did not really consider planning as such an important thing. I just wanted to get things done and would go full force into everything I was doing, just thinking that I could out work everyone.
Sometimes being only tactical and action oriented can work, I signed many partners and merchants this way, however as I moved to other roles and as I started to gain experience and think more about the big picture; and specifically when I started to combine (digital) marketing and sales, I realized that I needed to be strategic and that is when developing a plan became essential.
If You Have No Plan That Means Three Things:
1. You have no idea where you are – meaning you don’t know who your competitors are, what your strengths and weaknesses could be, what you are good at, what you can actually get done and what real resources you have.
2. You have no idea where you are going – without setting your objectives how do you know what you need to work towards? I have seen and known many companies that can’t justify or even tell you what they want to achieve – besides something very high level like ”getting more users”.
3. You have no idea how you are going to get there – if you have no plan or strategy then you are probably not going to solve any problems.
Planning for Digital Marketing
If you are one of the brave ones and are ready to implement or start thinking about developing a digital strategy, then think about the following things:
Just Start – Don’t delay it
If you are like most businesses, you probably feel overwhelmed by the fact that you need to actually sit down and start. It was a struggle for me as well, but the only way to get it done, is by doing it. Online marketeers would hopefully agree that the best place to start is with a proper analysis of your current situation. That should include knowing your customers, your competitors, knowing who you could work with and partner with, knowing what is going on in the environment (what is new). You should then be able to establish your goals and objectives, as well as how you are going to measure them (KPI’s).
Develop the Strategy (Solve the Problem)
This is going to be the hardest thing and the most critical part of your plan. This is where you put all that research together and where you need to make sure that it fits with your organization. If you don’t get this part right, everything else is going to fall apart. Strategy is basically about solving problems, and that is exactly how you should think about it when developing yours.
Make sure to include your targeting, value proposition, how you are going to position your company, any partners, any new processes that need to be developed, any integrations from your product to serve your partners or customers better and of course the channels on which you are going to engage with your audience.
This is basically how you are going to implement your strategy and what should each of the tactics serve. Should you be aiming for acquisition, activation, retention? What should you be doing? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, adwords, retargeting etc. Here you should also develop budgets, and measure effectiveness for each tactic you are using. Another good practice is to develop proper procedures so your team can follow them and be accountable.
Measure, Test and Iterate
Lets not forget that digital is not a set it and forget it kind of thing and that your plan should be a living document and guide for you. You need to be testing constantly, improving, looking out for new channels, new tactics, new customer behavior and new trends. Sometimes your tried and tested tactics will stop working, but if you are on top of it, then it should not come as a surprise and you will be able to adapt quickly.
Learn to Embrace Technology
Digital programs that can monitor various online marketing activities are abundant. You can better streamline your day-to-day operations (think marketing automation for example). Always being one step ahead will ensure your competitiveness and business longevity. Try and make informed predictions of where your industry is heading and what technology needs to be used to easily adapt to these changes.
Although this is a summarized list of what needs to be done in order for your to solve problems and develop your strategy, it should give you a good idea of what you need to do. I hope that it helps you and that it does not scare you away from getting started. I think the alternative – which is NO action is a lot SCARIER.