The simple fact is you need a digital marketing strategy to have an effective online presence and to build up a collaborative relationship with your customers, business partners and knowledge communities.
Planning out such strategies require standard marketing and project management techniques in order to incorporate product innovation strategy, effective business communication skills and well-defined marketing goals.
One of the major mistakes that companies often make is to try and set up a specific digital marketing team. Your marketing efforts should be agnostic to the types of channels that are being used to promote and communicate your brand and product range. Most marketing teams will already be familiar with the three stage approach to delivering regular/digital marketing strategies. These steps are:
- Establishing your target audience & goals,
- Design and implement a roadmap for the activities you wish to pursue and then
- Execute & monitor your digital marketing strategy
- Repeat and rinse!
Step 1: Establish your target audience and goals
You should begin all digital marketing strategies by establishing what type of image you are trying to project and to what audience. To do this in standard marketing terms requires understanding your target audience, what types of customer/market segmentation you aim to target etc.
Standard research can be done to establish customer needs and wants, desires and interests. I’ve written about this before in my post on market segmentation strategy & analysis so won’t go into much detail here.
This is important for several reasons:
- You want to make sure you’re going reach the right groups.
- You want to differentiate yourself from your competition with your content and digital marketing services.
- You want to ensure there is cohesion of your content so that the overall goal and theme of your communications is aligned to your product innovation strategy and marketing goals. Cohesion of content will ultimately lead to ongoing leadership with your target audience.
Step 2: Define your roadmap for implementation
Before rushing into implementing your goals you needs to establish what tools will be used to implement your digital marketing strategy. Clarify what mix of e-mail, mailing lists, Twitter, web pages, etc. are going to be most valid and suitable for your target audience. For example, using twitter pays off better with specific demographics, i.e. younger digitally savvy audiences.
Some companies at this point will secure the services of a digital marketing agency though this is not essential. In fact, there is a strong argument for keeping your intellectual property regarding your marketing techniques in-house. Build upon your existing marketing team to leverage their brand and existing industry/market knowledge and simply augment their digital expertise with training/individual consultants.
When defining your digital marketing strategy roadmap you should be looking to ways in which you can grow your audience. Some suggestions include:
- Polarize audiences with controversial content as this provokes discussion and greater user interaction.
- Encourage social interactions by allowing commenting on posts, forum contributions in customer support areas, retweet buttons & Facebook ‘like’ buttons, forum/comment contributions by in-house staff, etc.
- Leverage your existing audiences and mailing lists to gain an initial base of contributors, relationships and interactions going. This starts the momentum behind some of the online social marketing tools (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) that gradually starts fostering promotion on your behalf.
Step 3: Execute and monitor
A roadmap or project plan is then used as the blueprint for implementing your digital marketing strategy. While this is not set in stone you should be careful not to diverge away from your roadmap too significantly. This will always be a danger when you have executive teams insisting on certain elements be included in your digital marketing strategies. Try to avoid this happening by communicating effectively the various digital marketing strategies you are already using and how they are progressing (through regular reporting).
Effective implementation requires:
- Stay focused on your content as you want to ensure it stays consistent and cohesive with your overall goals. Be sure to review e-mail marketing campaigns prior to going live and constantly revisit mail shot text (i.e. actual copy and structure) for areas of improvement.
- Keep establishing relationships and alliances. Establishing digital connections with customers and other businesses is the fundamental goal of these strategies so focus on all actions that can help improve this.
- You need to have some influential individuals on your marketing team in order for your digital marketing strategy NOT to be led astray. This can often happen when other departments interfere with the strategies being used and your team does not have enough clout to push back on these decisions.
- Monitor return on investment, rather than clicks. The temptation, especially when dealing with a digital marketing agency, is to focus on improving your search engine ranking or increasing mailing list levels/web-page views. However, you should be looking into more specific metrics (using server performance monitoring tools and Google AdSense/Analytics) regarding what percentage of your digital readers are being converted into actual sales.
Step 4: Repeat and rinse!
Finally, your digital marketing strategy is an ever-changing dynamic plan which needs to incorporate repeated research work, design and implementation phases. You should be constantly repeating the above three steps and looking to be evaluating/incorporating the following:
- New trending customer segments.
- New markets.
- New digital tools for social interaction.