Making Great Strategic Digital Choices

Making Great Strategic Digital Choices


In the last digital marketing post we looked at the idea that everything can be tracked. It was a fairly meaty post and hopefully you weren’t frightened by the number of times it mentioned “metrics,” “analytics” and “optimisation”.  Measurement and analysis should be built into your digital marketing plan from the beginning. Today though, we’re going to be looking at Digital Strategy.

One of the debates I often have at the start of new course development, is the approach to strategy. When a course is being developed with a focus on a particular tactic, the temptation is to focus only on the process of its implementation. Often however, this can undermine an understanding of the big picture and ultimately of what that tactic can do for you and your brand. No tactic should be understood in isolation, rather it should be fulfilling a purpose within your larger business goals. And herein lies the challenge – you can’t know which tactics to match to which outcomes unless you understand what is possible via all of these tactics. Say that three times fast.

Overall business goals

Digital strategy should never be separated from your overall business goals.  Often, digital brings together other mediums, allowing you to track all interactions in a way you can’t do with offline mediums .

In the 4th edition of eMarketing: the essential guide to digital marketing, which we have just released, the approach to digital strategy is described as follows:

Digital marketing strategy builds on and adapts the principles of traditional marketing, using the opportunities and challenges offered by technology and the digital medium.

If we define strategy as “a plan of action designed to achieve a particular outcome”, then the desired outcome from a digital marketing strategy point of view would be aligned with your organisation’s overall business objectives. For example, if one of the overall business objectives is acquisition of new clients, possible digital marketing objectives might be building brand awareness online.

A tactic differs from a strategy. It is a specific action or method that contributes to achieving a goal. For example, if the overall business objective is acquisition and the digital objective is to increase awareness, a paid search campaign would be a possible tactic towards achieving this (Stokes 22-23:2011).

So what you’ll need to do is consider your digital strategy when you are putting together your overall business strategy. In the digital context, you need to understand the following steps in order to devise your strategy:

1. Context

Who are you? Who are your competitors? What social, political etc. context are you operating in?

2. Objectives

These need to be aligned with your overall organisational objectives. You need to have both creative and technical minds involved at this stage in the process, so that you have an eye on what can be measured as well as what the big idea is.

3. Value-Exchange

This is essential in the digital context – whether you are asking for attention, engagement, time, purchases or all of the above – there is an exchange happening between you and your market. What value are you adding to the market? What are you trying to achieve and how will you know if you are successful?

4. Tactics and Evaluation

Your choice of tactics should rest entirely on your objectives. Too often, the social media space, for example, is entered without any real understanding of why the brand needs to be present there.  Assess possible tactics in terms of how they match your objectives, and then put measures in place so that you can optimise your performance.

5. Metrics

Metrics – like number of unsubscribes or conversions from a pay per click advert – will help you to define success and keep an eye on the process of your strategic implementation. The metrics that matter to your business are known as key performance indicators or KPI’s.

6. Ongoing Optimisation

You should ideally set budget aside for continually analysing the data resulting from your campaigns and using this to optimise the whole process.

Planning and strategising before stepping into the digital space is essential to the process. Paying attention to the steps outlined above will provide a useful framework for the tactics you implement, and will become more useful the more you learn about the digital tactics that are available.

For more information see the strategy chapter of eMarketing: the essential guide to digital marketing. You can download your free chapter here .