I’m currently going through the original manuscript of Understanding Digital Marketing to assess what needs updating for the second edition. At the moment I’m working through the chapter on Digital Marketing Strategy.

Defining, implementing and refining a coherent digital strategy is one of the fundamental steps to successful online business. It’s worth re-examining some of the fundamental building blocks that make up an effective digital marketing strategy here:

  • Know your business: is your business ready to embrace digital marketing? Are your products / services suited to online promotion? Do you have the right technology / skills / infrastructure in place? How will digital marketing fit into your existing business processes,  do those processes need to change, and are you and your staff ready to accommodate those changes?
  • Know the competition: who are your main competitors in the digital marketplace? Are they the same as your off-line competitors? What are they doing right (emulate them), what are they doing wrong (learn from them), what aren’t they doing at all (is there an opportunity there for you?) and how can you differentiate your online offering from theirs? Remember, competition in the digital world can come from just around the corner, or from right around the globe. The same technologies that allow you to reach out to a broader geographical market also allow others to reach in to your local market. When you venture online you’re entering a global game, so don’t limit your analysis to local competition.
  • Know your customers: who are your customers and what do they want from you? Are you going to be servicing the same customer base online, or are you fishing for business from a completely new demographic? How do the customers you’re targeting use digital technology, and how can you harness that knowledge to engage in a productive and ongoing relationship with them?
  • Know what you want to achieve: if you don’t know where you’re going, there’s a pretty fair chance you’ll never get there. What do you want to get out of digital marketing? Setting clear, measurable and achievable goals is a key part of your digital marketing strategy. Are you looking to generate online sales, create a source of targeted sales leads, improve your brand awareness among online communities, all of the above or perhaps something completely different? Your goals are the yardsticks against which you can measure the progress of your digital marketing campaigns.
  • Know how you’re doing: the beauty of digital marketing is that, compared to many forms of advertising, results are so much more measurable. You can track everything that happens online and compare your progress against predefined goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). How is your digital campaign progressing? Are certain digital channels delivering more traffic than others? Why is that? What about conversion rates, how much of that increased traffic results in tangible value to your business? Measure, tweak, refine, re-measure. Digital marketing is an ongoing iterative process.

The process of formally defining your digital marketing strategy forces you to sit down and analyse the market you’re operating in with a critical eye, and to really think about the different components of your business and how digital marketing can help you to achieve your business goals.

Don’t get too bogged down in the technical details – remember, digital marketing is about people communicating with other people, the technology is just the bit in the middle that helps it to happen. Your strategy should provide you with a high level framework – a birds-eye view of the digital marketing landscape with your business centre stage – the details will come later.

Image Credit: By Mjt16 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons