The old adage says that “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail” yet 90% of businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place. Few organisations have this 18 month road map and without a solid digital plan opportunities are missed. The need for this strategic approach grows every day as digital disciplines like SEO, social media, paid-search, content marketing and analytics become more intertwined.
15 years ago it was common for an organisations website and email marketing to be controlled by a few enthusiasts who decided development in a piecemeal way with little regard for planning.
5 years ago it was normal for clients to use different agencies in isolation, each conducting different tasks that did not overlap. Results were reported separately by agency partners who did not tread on each other’s turf. This cosy approach suited specialist agencies and did not require cohesive planning.
Digital marketing is now at the core of communications for many firms and is often crucial to the business performance so this slap dash attitude needs to be replaced with the rigger, rigidity and robustness associated with planning finance, HR or traditional marketing.
Here are 11 reasons why every organisation should have a rolling 18 month digital marketing strategy:
1. Your strategy should mirror your business plan and marketing plan
All businesses should have a business plan summarising activity over the next 12 months. It galvanises an organisation around a series of activities and co-ordinates the organisation around common goals. Likewise a marketing plan will outline campaigns and investments required for the year ahead. Given this organisation in other areas it would be strange to leave digital marketing strategy without this concise view on the months ahead.
2. Goals for need to be joined up
Conversions, sign ups and enquiries generated through digital marketing tend to be the result of many strands, tactics, campaigns and often agencies working together. One simple transaction may be the result of several visits triggered by different activities like organic search, social media referral, email marketing or paid for advertising activity. To ensure that attribution is accurate and that all activities work to common goals it is essential that the goals are identified and agreed across tactics and often agency relationships.
2. Reporting needs to be coordinated across devices, channels, marketing disciplines and agencies
Measuring goal performance requires considered setup of reporting, campaign tracking and other tools to provide an accurate view of the contribution of different elements.
Likewise, if you monitor your competitors then it makes sense to monitor the entire SEO, paid search, social media, email marketing, content marketing, website changes and other emerging strands of activity within a central dashboard.
3. A great strategy requires on going funding so you need to budget for it
Successful digital marketing isn’t free. Successful digital marketing requires ongoing investment in a range of different area including:
• Website development
• Visual asset design
• Content production
• Reporting and tools
• Media, advertising and sponsorship
• Software licensing
• App design and development
If you want your finance director to support these initiatives and you need to justify the return n investment to your organisation then it is essential to wrap these investments in to a business plan. This business plan is the basis of an 18 month strategy.
4. Outreach needs to be joined up
SEO, social media and content marketing may all require a degree of outreach as organisations make relationships to amplify the results of great work. Traditionally this may have been done separately to different organisations be different agencies working to achieve different goals.
A contemporary approach requires more holistic thinking. A single influencer or thought leader may have a blog, social media following and email audience who can assist multiple strands
5. Content marketing, email newsletters, SEO and social media need to share the same message and require careful timing
Sending out messages across different channels that complement each other with perfect timing can create an ‘Always On’ presence for a brand across all of the channels used by a target audience. Get this timing wrong and valuable opportunities are missed, messaging can appear disjointed and elements of your audience will see conflicting promotions.
6. Delivery timescales vary across digital disciplines
When planning a new digital marketing strategy it is essential to realise that different elements will have different delivery timescales. A new app, for example, is likely to take months in planning, design, development and testing. Likewise a promotional video for YouTube will take months of meticulous planning and post production before it is ready for broadcast. In contrast ideas generation, drafting press releases and arranging photography and writing content marketing material have shorter timescales. To maximise effectiveness these elements should be planned well in advance.
7. Training, staff development and recruitment need to be planned in advance
The speed of digital innovation is so rapid that all organisations should have an eye on training and staff development. As the impact of digital on every business grows it is essential to plan for expansion and recruitment of new members of staff to meet the needs of the business plan. Recruiting, training and developing staff takes time and this needs to be done in advance of executing digital marketing strategy.
In summary – why you need a digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing, social media and website development are now at the core of marketing activity for many organisations. Traditional marketing investments like TV, press, direct mail and radio merely amplify the digital marketing effort. The website is now at the centre of this activity as opposed to being a mere bolt on.
This requires the alignment of goals, investment, reporting, staff development, content planning and cross departmental cooperation. This is why you need a strategy for your business.
If you need help with digital marketing strategy or want to find out how we have helped other organisations to make an investment case for long term innovation and see the rewards this has generated for my clients please contact me.
Your first steps in planning a digital marketing strategy
The first stage in planning this road map is to conduct a thorough audit of existing activity. A digital marketing strategy audit includes a number of elements including:
• Market research
• Social Media
• Content Planning
• Content Marketing
• The authority of your digital presence
• Google Analytics
• Google Webmaster Tools
• Seeding and opportunities for links and citations from elsewhere
• Development insights
• Page speed analysis
• Usability analysis
• Other insights
I also compare many of these metrics against 3 similar businesses to benchmark your relative performance and can conduct some of the research in multiple territories. If you would like to know more please get in touch.