Where do you start if you want to develop an digital marketing strategy? Well, I don’t think it needs to be a huge report, a strategy can best be summarised in two or three sides of A4 in a table linking digital marketing strategies to SMART objectives. Yet despite this it seems that many organisations still don’t have a plan.
Do you have a digital marketing strategy?
2016 Update: Since 2012 we have run an informal poll to see how widely used digital marketing strategies are. The results have shown some big improvements over the years. A few years ago we found around two-thirds to three-quarters did not have a digital marketing plan. Now that number has shrunk to 44% in latest survey, although that is still quite high, and means many are doing digital with no strategy in place.
When we did the research for our free Managing Digital Marketing report published in 2016 we were interested to see how this percentage looked for a defined sample. This is what we found:
So, the latest research suggests an improved approach to planning in this sample of marketers, with fewer than half without a digital strategy. Congratulations if you’re one of these companies!
A recommended approach for developing a digital strategy
Whether you have a strategy or not, at the heart of the Smart Insights approach to improving digital marketing is benchmarking to compare where you are now to where you need to be in the future. We have created a free digital marketing benchmarks download with a series of benchmarks covering overall digital strategy and the tactics like Search, Social media, Email marketing and site/experience design.
But what if you’re one of the companies that doesn’t have a digital strategy yet? Well, I think the two simple alternatives for creating a plan may suggest a way forward:
1. No-specific digital channel plan.
2. Separate digital marketing plan defining transformation needed and making case for investment.
3. Integrated digital plan part of marketing plan – digital becomes part of business as usual.
So, what are the takeaways to act on here? It seems to me that:
Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I’m sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. But I’m equally sure that many are missing opportunities or are suffering from the other challenges I’ve listed below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organisations who most urgently need governance. There’s arguably less need for a strategy in a smaller company.
Many, a majority of companies in this research do take a strategic approach to digital. From talking to companies, I find the creation of digital plans often occurs in two stages. First, a separate digital marketing plan is created. This is useful to get agreement and buy-in by showing the opportunities and problems and map out a path through setting goals and specific strategies for digital including how you integrated digital marketing into other business activities.Second, digital becomes integrated into marketing strategy, it’s a core activity, “business-as-usual”, but doesn’t warrant separate planning, except for the tactics.
If you don’t have a strategy, or maybe you want to review which business issues are important to include within a strategic review, we’ve set out the 10 most common problems, that in our experience arise if you don’t have a strategy.
Digital Marketing Elearning module
Learn more about our Elearning module for Expert members which is structured around 5 key activities for each part of our RACE planning framework, that need to be managed for digital marketing success.
Access the Digital Marketing E-learning course
10 reasons why you may need a digital channel strategy?
1 You’re directionless
I find that companies without a digital stra