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Creating business growth with Richard Branson and a marketing strategy
Richard Branson's Business Growth Guide

Why You Should Create a Digital Marketing Plan

Digital Marketing Strategy

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start when you want to establish your digital marketing strategy.

We all know how crucial it is to have a robust digital plan in place if we’re to acquire new customers and retain them.

But what if you don’t have an effective plan to do this?

It is quite clear that if you do not have a digital marketing plan in place, then your business will likely not be competitive and will not be able to survive.

An example of a digital marketing strategy

What Should Be In A Digital Marketing Plan?

Digital marketing is a vast area and its sheer size and scope can sometimes be overwhelming.

So you need to evaluate which type of strategy is best for your own company’s needs. Each strategy approach contains lots of small parts - selecting the correct components can mean the difference between success or failure.

When it comes to digital marketing, especially where it concerns an online business, less can sometimes be more. We recommend that when planning your digital marketing strategy, it’s probably best not to attempt to draw up anything which is huge, unwieldy and unable to be flexible.

You just need a summary of where you want to be at the end of it and what you wish to achieve.

What are digital marketing tools?

Finding A Marketing Strategy For You

Whether your marketing strategy is highly detailed or only a series of ideas, you should start by assessing where you are now, then compare your current position and where you would want to be at some specific time a few short years down the road.

You also need to consider the various digital marketing channels. So ensure that you have an SEO strategy in place, a paid advertising campaign, a plan for social media, an email marketing plan (including autoresponder messages ready for potential customers) and also how you plan to service those customers and handle their queries once they start interacting with you.


Digital Marketing Strategy Approaches

It is quite common for businesses to perform digital marketing without a properly structured marketing strategy in place. Those who do have a strategy, often don't align it with the overall business objectives.

If you don’t have a complete digital marketing strategy for your company, then there are two ways to proceed:

  • Begin with a stand-alone plan which takes into account what needs to happen and the advances that you want to see in your business, taking into account any investments you need to make.
  • Follow this up with a more detailed plan of action which is aligned with your existing business objectives, this will then integrate your entire marketing strategy into your businesses day-to-day activities.

Digital Marketing Strategy Implementation And Practice

Many businesses use various digital marketing channels without a proper plan in place. The chances are that they are using various digital channels to a good extent, and they are probably seeing results from their email campaigns, improvements in SEO changes, paid search campaigns, etc.

But without an overarching strategy and seeing the bigger picture, they are probably not getting as much out of all these channels as they could be.

The scope for missed opportunities is huge.

It is also likely, that the larger the organisation, the more difficult it finds itself being able to properly use an integrated approach to its advantage.

In practice, the majority of businesses do indeed at least start off with some kind of structure digital plan in mind.

Typically, this will take the shape of a separate digital marketing plan to any "non-digital" or "traditional" marketing plans already in place. This separate approach is useful in that allows all departments and key personnel to get used to things, and following on from this, a more organic and joined-up approach is slowly adopted by all concerned parties.

This continues until the digital plan effectively joins up with the non-digital campaigns. At some point, both become integrated and "digital marketing" simply becomes known as "marketing" - at this stage, it becomes an everyday part of the running of the business.

what does the terminology mean

Marketing Strategy Definitions

Marketing Strategy Meaning

A marketing strategy will primarily look at the long term objectives of "marketing" within a business and what will be achieved within that period.

It will consider the current position, before outlining the "idealistic" aims of promoting products or services to customers.

Finally, it will consider individual elements on how to achieve this, these include plans, goals and objectives. Marketers also often talk of: Product, Price, Promotion and Place (the 4 P's).

Digital Strategy Meaning

A digital strategy delivers a company's vision and goals by considering how digital technologies can be harnessed to achieve the overall business strategy.

Digital strategies often include: 1) What opportunities exist to use digital/online applications to solve a problem. 2) How can digital/online technologies be used to satisfy stakeholder visions and/or goals. 3) Using technologies to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a company's online offerings - this often includes using website analytical software.

Digital Marketing Meaning

Digital marketing is the promotion of products and/or services on digital mediums.

These include the Internet (inc. SEO, PPC, social media), mobile Apps (inc. SMS, MMS), games consoles in-play advertising, e-books, CD/DVD discs, digital display advertising, TV, music-on-hold services and email systems.

This is what differentiates digital marketing from online marketing. Online marketing concentrates on technologies delivered via the Internet.

Developing a digital strategy

Get ahead of your competitors

Developing A Digital Marketing Strategy

Several years ago around 70% of companies did not have a digital marketing strategy or plan.

Thankfully, that number has now reduced to 45%.

However, this means a lot of companies are still performing digital marketing activities with no strategy in place.

If you wish to get ahead of your competitors, then it is paramount that you develop a workable strategy.

A Few Good Reasons

Why Your Business Needs A Digital Strategy

1. Your Business Lacks Direction

A lack of any digital strategy is indicative of a similar lack of understanding as to where your business should be heading and what it should be achieving. It may be that there is a lack of goals in general.

This is by no means confined to small businesses; it can be observed in large organisations as well. Many businesses we speak to are not sure how to use digital marketing to win new customers or how to extract more meaningful relationships from existing customers.

2. Your Competitors Gain Market Share

If your company does not engage with the marketplace through online channels, then you cannot be surprised when other competitors in your sector or niche win new customers that were there for the taking.

When you have identified which online channels your prospective customers are using (by analysing your historical customer base) you need to take action and engage with those people. To do nothing, simply allows other competitors to take what could have been yours.

3. Make Sure You Know Your Potential Online Market

If you haven’t performed research to evaluate your marketplace (or your potential marketplace) then the chances are that you will underestimate its size. Without proper research, you will also not understand how this market operates, how its dynamics differ from other markets, and what you will need to do in order to gain a competitive advantage.

There are useful free resources available to evaluate your online marketplace and to gauge the potential customer demand. Keyword research is crucial in discovering what people are searching for on search engines. Google’s own Keyword Planner (https://ads.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/) is a useful tool for this. You can also use Facebook IQ (https://www.facebook.com/business/insights) to dig deeper into your sector.

4. Do You Know Your Online Customers Well Enough?

Evaluate, Test and Measure - three items we recommend you perform regularly.

There are free tools available for evaluating the volume of visitors your website receives. Google Analytics (https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/) is really useful for this, however, it has its limits as most people only use it to determine the number of visitors, their demographics and the digital channel source.

These tools do not tell you about what people are thinking, they cannot determine the sentiment of the website visitors at that moment in time. You need to use more insightful tools to ask your visitors (and customers) more probing questions so that you can gain a deeper understanding of your potential customers - this will enable your website, email messaging or social media posts to address any emotional barriers.

5. You Don't Know the Value of Your Customers

Do you know the value of each of your customers, or the potential value of your customers? Do you know their lifetime value?

If you are able to target both new and existing customers, then the value of each customer will become a "lifetime value" instead of being based on just one purchase. For example, when you first win a customer, they may purchase a product or service from you at £999. At this point, their value to you is only £999. Whereas, if you provide excellent customer service and they become repeat customers, say buying products at £500, then another at £1,199, their lifetime value increases to £2,698.

There are many ways of keeping your customers loyal so that they become lifetime customers. The best of these is content marketing. An effective and consistent content marketing strategy that you share across different digital channels will engage your customers, keeping them loyal to your brand.

6. Make Sure That Your Business is Fully Integrated

In any business, there is always a danger of marketing activities taking place in different departments without those departments speaking and properly integrating with each other.

We live in an age of gurus and specialists, so it is not surprising that this exists. But it is not the healthiest way for any business, large or small, to proceed.

Digital marketing works best when it is properly integrated within the existing marketing framework, and the more seamless it is, the better the results. Make sure that you have an integrated digital marketing plan in place that everyone "buys into" so that it will become part of your overall everyday marketing strategy.

7. The Danger of Duplication of Effort and Resources

This tends to happen in larger companies where the same things are done by people in different departments. It creates "overlaps" of duties and tasks which ultimately results in a waste of time, money and effort.

Always ensure that the digital marketing tasks that have to be completed are done only once, with one set of tools, so that results can be measured and improved - this will ensure that other people are not wasting time or money by repeating the same tasks.

8. Not Enough Resources Have Been Allocated to Your Digital Team

It is quite often the case that companies do not allocate sufficient money or resources to digital marketing teams. The owners often see digital marketing teams as a cost, rather than an investment.

You should ensure that you have sufficient qualified personnel spearheading your digital campaigns. Do not underestimate the necessity of having a well-resourced and well-funded digital team.

9. You Let the Competition Beat You By Not Optimizing and Playing to Your Strengths

All the successful tech-based companies have marked out their path by playing to their strengths and optimizing whenever the opportunity has arisen. That is how Google, Amazon and Dell consistently thrive and fare much better than their competitors. They simply find a way of being better in the marketplace. In doing so, they define themselves and become better at retaining their customers for longer.

Make sure that you know how to read the analytics data which is available through tools such as Google Analytics and then act on it. Reviewing the data should become at least a weekly task so that you can see trends emerging, as well as being able to spot problems happening before they become insurmountable.

There are tools available which allow you to spy on your competitor's online performance, you should adopt these too. Discover where you are stronger than your competitors and play on this to win more customers.

A visual example of a digital strategy framework

Digital Marketing Strategy Example

Example of Digital marketing strategy framework

1. Research
Identify the future goals and objectives of the company. Look for new opportunities and set targets that you wish to achieve. Investigate strategies which you can adopt to measure your success.

2. Business Analysis
Analyse the marketplace and your current position. Perform a SWOT analysis to identify areas that you need to improve or where digital marketing can help increase your market share and profits.

3. Build
Configure your digital platforms and create a suite of digital assets. Determine the level of resource required to execute the digital activities.

4. Implement
Deploy your digital assets such as websites, landing pages, email automation systems, SEO, paid search campaigns, social media marketing and content marketing activities.

5. Measure
Continually analyse the data produced by each activity looking for areas for improvement and those which need closer inspection or adjustment.

6. Manage Results
Monitoring your individual digital marketing activity results will help identify if you are on track to meet your overall business objectives. Adjust the strategy if the marketplace has changed.

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