Written by Top Draw guest contributor Richard Barker.
When it comes to spreading news of the products or services that matter the most to your business and your target audience, the internet provides an endless source of opportunities. No longer do brands have to pound the pavement and play the long game to grow the enviable reputation so essential in today’s hyper-competitive marketplaces, instead the joys of the net and the use of digital marketing, if done correctly, can turn anyone and anything into an overnight success.
Digital strategy is a key term used by marketers everywhere and whilst many brands pay handsomely to tap into the knowledge of a professional and the power of a great digital marketing campaign, understanding exactly what a digital strategy is and how your brand can benefit from its many routes to better revenue and better recognition is an important step in the right direction, and could even mean you taking control of some aspects yourself in-house.
How powerful is digital?
Shockingly, half of businesses using digital marketing openly admit to not having a plan, which can be a dangerous and rather lack lustre approach considering every company, big and small, is out to grab their fair market share. As you well know, when dedicating time, money and other resources like staff to any part of your business, every penny counts, and knowing where and how each penny in your digital marketing budget is being spent and, more importantly, used wisely is a vital part of your plan for online, or at least market, domination.
The average marketer commits 60% of their time to devising and fine tuning their clients’ digital marketing activities, and in recent months studies have shown that 28% of these marketing professionals have reduced the money spent on more traditional methods of marketing, such as advertising, to fund digital strategizing efforts. It’s not just marketers that are realizing the importance of digital marketing, 71% of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budgets this year and according to digital transformation consultant iScoop, 78% of businesses now have dedicated social media teams, a statistic that has grown from 67%. But what exactly is a digital strategy?
The definition of a digital strategy
Digital marketing has exploded onto the media scene during the past 15 years, and the shift in focus has been a great, and profitable, move for marketers and businesses of all sizes and niches alike. In short, and according to Digital Strategy Conference (DSC), “Digital strategy is the process of identifying, articulating and executing on digital opportunities that will increase your organization’s competitive advantage”. Whilst digital-first brands have taken to the digital world seamlessly, for those predominantly based offline and looking to expand their reach and tap into new markets, new opportunities, new audiences and new streams of revenue, the no-holds-barred environment of the net is a difficult one to grasp without professional assistance.
Do I need a digital marketing plan?
Transforming your business for digital success isn’t easy, but with a digital strategy you can make sure that your brand is prepared and even poised for this transition. Whether you are a new business or simply new to using the net for professional purposes, taking a directionless approach is simply not an option, and as our previously mentioned statistic suggests many companies do take this route. A clear strategic plan will ensure your digital objectives can be achieved to gain new customers and new business, whilst making relationships with existing consumers stronger.
Failing to make enough ROI through your online platform isn’t the only indicator that you need to review or completely overhaul your digital marketing strategy, or even introduce one altogether if you don’t currently have a plan in place. You may need a digital strategy if you:
- Are unaware of your market share online
- Do not have a customer value proposition specifically for online consumers
- Notice existing and even start up competitors taking your custom
- Simply do not know your online audience
- Do not dedicate enough resources – whether that be people or budget – to your digital marketing efforts
- Find yourself wasting money and time, two significant resources that are essential to every business
- Observe that your website is not optimizing well, whether that be through search marketing, user experience on-site or via your email and social media marketing channels
Factors that make a digital strategy effective
There are many factors that must be considered when devising a digital strategy that works for your business, its audience and your budget, and whilst marketers follow certain blueprints, if created and implemented correctly, no two digital strategies should be the same. Whether you would like a multi-channel strategy or wish to focus on one specific marketing route, i.e. by working solely on paid or organic search marketing, digital advertising, online video, social media marketing or email marketing, every great digital strategy begins with plenty of groundwork.
Before you even start to devise and implement a strategy, you must ensure that your brand identity, displayed on both online and offline resources, is completely consistent and that your brand promise and ethos is on-point with your business, its products or services, and your audience’s wants and needs. A business with no or limited brand presence will be a forgettable one. Research into your target audience is also a vital part of this process, after all without knowing your existing and potential customers inside out, how can you discover the best way to communicate with them? And more importantly, be heard?
Whilst you can choose to focus on one particular digital avenue to promote your wares, it is important to understand that word of mouth is just as important online as it is offline and social must always be a part of your strategy. Utilizing as many channels as you can afford to without overburdening your team is vital, and flexibility can help you not only use the latest marketing trends to your advantage but tap into a much wider audience.
Assessing your strategy regularly is another factor that must be considered to ensure that your strategy remains effective as your market changes, your audience evolves and your business grows bigger and better.
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