One of the things I find pleasure in and for which I’m honing my skills is developing strategy, I love developing and executing efficacious marketing strategies. Having started off as a traditional, more rudimental marketer within the Nyangari School of Marketing, I still have fond memories of the times when we would evaluate marketing campaigns using the ABC concept of evaluating advertising effectiveness. Our leader then, CMO as we called him would ask us to contribute and evaluate the big idea, the campaign strategy and indeed it was my cup of tea, I’ve always felt an innate ability to devise marketing strategies. With that, now that I’m fully immersed in digital marketing I want to share some thoughts on how to develop a digital marketing strategy and unpack the imperatives we need to adhere to.
Digital marketing strategies are not divorced from the fundamental principles of developing a marketing strategy, the principles espoused by Kotler and other marketing gurus. As such, in adherence to these timeless principles we need to follow a prescribed pattern and form which gives structure to our thoughts thereof. Without being too academic, here’s how I intend to approach this subject using the marketing planning process framework;
1. Situational Analysis
2. Summary of key issues
3. Goals and Objectives
5. Implementation plan
The first important element in developing a digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive analysis of where you’re as a business entity or brand, an audit of your obtaining environment. The marketing audit is regarded as having four major characteristics Kotler, Gregor and Rodgers (1977): It should be comprehensive, objective, systematic and periodical. Considering these characteristics, Kotler et al (1977, p 29) formulated a definition for the marketing audit that still remains current. “A marketing audit is a comprehensive, systematic, independent, and periodic examination of a company’s – or business unit’s – marketing environment, objectives, strategies, and activities with a view of determining problem areas and opportunities and recommending a plan of action to improve the company’s marketing performance”. As such we need to undertake a SWOT analysis of our digital environment and ask ourselves some of these pertinent questions;
· Where are we with our digital efforts
· What digital skills do we currently possess
· What is the state of our web presence
· Which digital channels are we making use of and to what success have they been
· Who are our competitors and how are they using digital media channels
· What are the external forces at play, technological advancements, consumer intelligence, internet usage patterns etc.
· What are the consumer insights
There’s a host of more questions we need to objectively probe at this stage, depending on the nature of your industry they are various models which you can apply. The next step is to determine the summary of key issues obtained from the audit process. Key issues will enable us to zero in on the most important aspects in relation to our business and then devise the strategy accordingly. Some of the key issues we can obtain from the audit are typically;
· How our customers are interacting with your brand
· The most dominant digital channels
· Opportunities to digitalize our business operations
Having summarized key issues, we now need to set our crystal clear goals and objectives on what we need to achieve. At this stage we need to be clear on how we intend to make use of digital media channels to create the success that we need. We need to set short and long term goals and objectives and these need to be SMART, what do you want to achieve, when and how will you know you’ve achieved. Some of the digital goals and objectives you can set can be;
· Lead generation – generate specific leads in a defined period of time
· Using digital media channels to create brand awareness, customer retention, customer acquisition
· Using content marketing for brand positioning and authority leadership
Having analysed our environment, summarized key issues and set goals, we now to create a digital strategy based on our goals and objectives. Prior to developing a strategy, we need to define our digital persona, whom are we talking to? The basic premise is, how can you reach a target audience you don’t know and fully understand? A digital persona is the definition of your target audience in respect to;
· Demographics – what age and gender characteristics?
· Behavioral patterns – which sites do they browse the most? What is their online behavior? What do they do on social media? On search engines? Which content do they consume the most?
Clarity on the digital persona will enable us to target our various consumer segments with surgical accuracy. The digital strategy should encompass every digital media channel with a clear plan of how you intend to leverage on individual channel strengths in relation to the nature of your business. Here’s an example;
|Paid Advertising||How do you intend to use this channel?||Use Google Adwords and Display Advertising to generate leads and brand visibility|
|Social Media||What do you want to achieve on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube?||Make use of Paid Ads for lead generation and organic posts for brand awareness|
|Content Marketing||How do you position your brand or company as an authority leader using content marketing?||Establish a blog for authority leadership. Create white papers, ebooks etc|
|How can you make use of this platform to generate leads?||Create weekly mailers which engages customers|
|Data Analytics||How can you convert data into actionable insights?||What intelligence can you gather and feed into existing campaigns|
The digital strategy should be comprehensive and detailed enough so that you can draw up an actionable implementation plan. An implementation plan should be preceded by a measurement plan which is basically a listing of your KPIs. What gets done gets measured and a measurement plan should detail the important KPIs you need to track in assessing your progress per each channel. Below is an example you can have;
|Brand Awareness||Number of views per display ad||Impressions, Reach, CTR, CPC|
|Lead Generation||Number of qualified leads||Cost per lead, conversions, conversion rate, CTR|
This piece is but a synopsis which you can use to guide you in developing a digital strategy for your business. I can with reasonable certainty claim that if you apply the structural thinking outlined above you will be able to develop an effective and efficacious digital strategy. If you need help in developing one and or want clarity on any of the sections outlined above, let’s chat about it over coffee.