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Do I really need a digital marketing strategy?
It is estimated that more than 50% of companies engaging in digital marketing do not have a properly formulated digital marketing strategy; and roughly 20% of those that do have a digital marketing strategy do not actually integrate it into their traditional marketing planning. Such an activity would be unthinkable with traditional marketing, but it seems that online marketing is treated in a more haphazard fashion than its traditional counterpart. Yet why wouldn’t you have a written plan, as you would in every other department?
Structure and Planning
A written plan ensures that there have been some thought processes applied, that someone has considered what is to be achieved, why and how. There should be a structure to follow, a direction and a focus. All this should be integrated into the corporate marketing strategy, to create a cohesive action plan. Not only is having a plan important so everyone knows where they are headed, but also for business continuity – the ability to continue with activities should there be a personnel change, without starting from scratch or changing direction mid-campaign. When planning the digital marketing campaign, it is also important to identify whether digital marketing leads the entire marketing activity, or acts as support to more traditional activities and processes.
The first thing to consider when writing the plan is the objective of a Digital Marketing Campaign. Why are you doing it? What do you hope to achieve from your digital marketing activity? Who are you talking to, and why? Where does it fit within the traditional marketing plan? Objectives for a digital marketing campaign should be set in the same way as they are for a traditional marketing campaign.
Measurement of Success
How will you measure a digital marketing campaign’s success or failure? What metrics are most important to the management team or those you report to? Perhaps Google Analytics is enough, or Google Analytics together with a combination of the metrics offered by each social media platform. If you don’t have a plan, and a way to measure success, how do you know what you have achieved?
Tone of voice
The online persona adopted in your digital marketing campaign is key – know who you are talking to and talk to them, not at them. Never talk down to them! Should your online persona be chatty, or serious, informative or a mixture of everything? This of course will depend heavily on the type of business you are in.
Be consistent with language usage and spelling – otherwise it will be obvious when different team members are managing the accounts! All your online persona attributes, language, tone and attitude should be noted down in the digital marketing plan, to maintain brand consistency, much like a brand guidelines reference.
Learn from past mistakes – and constantly review
What has worked in the past? What failed? Do you know why? Perhaps it was the wrong channel, the wrong persona or tone of voice, or talking to the wrong audience. Only by analysing past activity, and constantly monitoring and reviewing your current activity, can you plan for a more successful future. Learn from your competitors too – what do your competitors do that works, and what doesn’t work? What keywords actually drive interaction or web traffic – as opposed to the keywords you think you should use…. The same way we can learn from past mistakes in traditional marketing, we can learn from those online – only the consequences for online mistakes are much quicker to go viral, hence the need for constant attention and review.
Planning should include budget requirements and advertising spend, as well as the team to be involved and the channels to be used. Budget for time, not only financially: a digital marketing plan involving multiple channels, with 24-hour a day response requirement will need manpower, so don’t underestimate the time needed, or tone down your expectations.
And finally, a plan is vital, but in this fast-paced world you also need to maintain flexibility! So, have a plan, but be flexible! At least know where you are headed, and why – but recognise that sometimes the way to your goals is a winding path rather than a straight road.