A digital marketing strategy helps you choose what NOT to do.
You simply don’t have the resources to do everything well, trade offs have to happen. A digital marketing strategy helps you make the best possible choices, things you must do and, more importantly, things you should not do.
So how do you develop a digital marketing strategy?
Ultimately, we recommend you employ a specialist digital marketing strategist to facilitate this process, as they will help you see the wood for the trees. However, if you decide to create a plan yourself then we recommend you follow the following four step framework.
Step 1: set SMaRT goals
The purpose of the goal-setting phase is establish the three year, annual and quarterly digital marketing goals for your business. Your goals ultimately guide decisions going forward, such as which resources and tactics are required, in priority order, to achieve your goals.
Your digital marketing goals need to be SMaRT. By SMaRT, we mean goals that are:
- time stamped
Ensure your digital marketing goals connect with the overall goals of your business or your digital strategy will become directionless.
Step 2: strategic planning
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to design a strategic plan that, once implemented, will enable your digital marketing goals. As mentioned, ensure at all times your goals and digital marketing plan connects with the overall strategy of your business.
We typically divide the strategic planning phase into three parts: evaluation, creation and implementation. Let’s look briefly at these two parts.
Start by conducting a situation analysis of your market, an analysis of the internal and external factors that may impact or enable your goals. Then feed the key findings into a SWOT analysis, that lists the inherent Strengths and Weaknesses of your business and external Opportunities and Threats that may impact your digital marketing strategy.
Your SWOT analysis can take between a few hours and hundreds of hours to formulate. Either way, it’s vital and needs to be done. You can do it yourself, or hire an expert digital marketing strategist to facilitate this process.
It’s now time to create a strategy that plays to your strengths and identifies external resources that need to be acquired to achieve your goals. Your strategic plan needs to present factors such as the following:
- how your digital strategy positions your business in the market
- what activities, in priority order you need to undertake to achieve your digital marketing goals e.g. social media marketing, SEO, with costs
- how you will measure the progress of your digital plan
The successful implementation of your strategic plan is critical – getting it wrong is very wasteful. Ensure all your activities have goals that directly connect with the overall strategic goals of your plan and that each activity is ranked in priority order. Ranking your activities helps you understand where to prioritize your time – as a general rule of thumb, priority activities should get the most focus.
Focus on the rocks, not the sand
Watch the video below. We like to use the rocks, pebbles and sand analogy to highlight the importance of focusing your resources on the activities that will have the biggest impact on your goals (the rocks), rather than getting distracted by less important matters (the pebbles and sand).
Also bear in mind the implementation of a digital marketing plan is dynamic – digital marketing changes constantly! So be ready to adjust your plan and re-prioritize your activities if something is not working or if a new opportunity is presented.
Finally, put in place user friendly processes and the right organisation structure to enable your strategy.
Rocks, pebbles and sand video
Mechanistic structures tend to struggle most with digital, whereas flatter structures that enable information flow, tend to work better.
Step 3: evaluation
As mentioned, your digital marketing strategy needs SMaRT goals that can be measured regularly.
You also need to setup an analytics tracking system that monitors the performance of your digital strategy against it’s goals. This allows you to review what is working and not working and make adjustments. You also need to be monitoring internal and external issues that may impact your plan e.g. new market entrants, changes in government policy, economic conditions, staff churn.
If you discover your digital marketing strategy is under performing, then take immediate action.
Spend time understanding what is working as it may well help you improve the performance across other activities.
Step 4: training and coaching
Digital marketing is a fast moving discipline that is constantly changing e.g. Facebook and Google often change their offering. The successful implementing of your digital marketing strategy, even when outsourced, requires constant focus and expertise.
We strongly recommend you hire a specialist company to train and coach you in digital marketing best practices. They can also provide you with objective advice and keep you up to speed with the latest changes.
Your digital marketing strategy needs to identify which skills you want to have in-house and those skills you want to outsource.