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Strategy Fundamentals

This step identifies the core components of an effective digital marketing strategy.
Hello, I’m Jessica, a consultant with experience in marketing and an in-depth knowledge of the latest marketing techniques. Strategy is a word that we tend to use casually in our day-to-day business, but it is often misinterpreted. Therefore, it is important that we start off with an accurate understanding of what we mean when we talk about strategy. Digital strategies govern how digital is used to achieve commercial goals. A key foundation of digital strategy as you will learn is that it is primarily about understanding your audience, their behaviors, and how you might craft new behavior that involves your brand, product or services online. Strategy is regularly mistaken for tactics. Short-term specific goals fit under the tactics moniker.
Strategy, on the other hand, relates to your long-term digital objectives and operates across all of the digital channels your customer utilizes. In short, digital strategies operate across all digital channels used by your organization or client. They target audiences with creative formats working to drive towards a single objective or set of objectives. Digital can be how you are using content on any of your online channels. Digital can also be how you use paid advertising to reach people. Digital can be how your customer connects with your brand. For example, by buying online, clicking Like on Facebook or tweeting about your brand. True digital practitioners utilize all three to get results.
A digital strategy involves a mix of setting goals, executing tactics, and attempting to achieve a high level of business results. It is also a blueprint for your use of digital. What we have to be aware of from the very start, is that you have to be committed to a clear purpose and clearly identified success outcomes because if you don’t know why you’re doing it and what the end goal needs to be, then what are you chasing as a result of using digital? Okay. So before we really dive deeper into strategy, you first need to understand the core elements of digital strategy development, and there’s five of them. They are objectives, channel strategy, content strategy, media strategy, and tactics.
Objectives is about setting the goals and outcomes you are trying to achieve both with your overall plan and from the individual elements that make up the plan. Objectives usually fall into three main categories, awareness, consideration, and conversion and retention. These are the types of behaviors that can be most effectively influenced by digital channels.
Firstly, we need to identify the awareness levels of our product or brand. We can do this by using some keyword research using our brand or product name and tools like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends. We can also use our own knowledge of the market. If awareness levels are low, we will have to make people aware of the existence and benefits of the product in order to drive sales or conversions. Banners and outbound display and video on websites and social media are good approaches to driving awareness.
If there is some awareness of our product but the market is cluttered or if our product needs differentiation, we can use reach and frequency of messaging to drive recall of our products’ USPs, Unique Selling Propositions, or ESPs, Emotional Selling Propositions. This encourages consideration in the decision-making process of our consumers. Again, outbound display in social as well as wider organic and paid search can help drive consideration. Ultimately, we will want to drive sales or conversions for our brand or product. These can be online or offline and will build on the awareness and consideration-based activities from the previous two stages. We can use search channels to drive this type of objective.
Finally, for retention, keeping previous customers engaged to encourage brand advocacy or repeat purchases. It is generally accepted that it is easier to drive sales from people who have already bought from you than to attract new customers. The retention objective, therefore, should be considered high value. Many multichannel digital marketing campaigns will include elements of each objective to help customers along the sales journey. When setting objectives for your digital strategy, it’s important to identify the priority of the objectives. This helps to focus your resources, time, and budget on delivering the most important goal for the campaign. The choice and priority of the objectives will influence the channels you choose as part of your channel strategy.
So the channel strategy is understanding how you’re going to use all of the different digital platforms that are available to you. It is about understanding what’s possible with the channel, what formats you’re going to use, and how you’re going to use the features of that channel, how it’s going to be used most effectively, and how you’re going to target the audience engaging with it. Channels are all of the different digital platforms and locations that you might utilize. A channel strategy is an understanding of what is possible with channels but choosing to utilize either a specific channel or a feature of a channel because you would know it is impertinent to your target audience.
The content strategy is what you’re going to put in those channels. So this strategy is informed by your overarching digital strategy. The content can be what you put on your site, what you put on your social media, how you tweet. That is all content. And it’s important to recognize that content doesn’t just mean it’s a video or an image, content can be a top five things that you should do on an article on your site, or the content can also be the image on the header of your site. So it’s just important to recognize that content encapsulates everything that’s there, not just the things that you make.
The media strategy is often overlooked by smaller brands because it’s a complex area to understand, but also with bigger brands, they often overlook the investment required within digital to actually be successful. So the media strategy is how you’re utilizing your paid activity. How are you reaching people with ads? How are you making sure that you’re reaching the right people using the targeting that’s available to you and the formats that are available? And finally, we have tactics. Tactics are the individual executions that are a part of making up your strategy. It’s important to recognize that quite often when somebody says, “Our strategy is to do this,” they could be in fact, talking about tactics.
So if I said to you that our strategy is to increase our brand awareness via Twitter, the tactic here is to tweet whereas the strategy is to use Twitter to communicate more positively with your customers. That is an example of a clear strategy. There’s a clear purpose, there’s a long-term goal and that is how a digital strategy becomes more effective. In summary, the purpose of your digital marketing strategy is to use your available resources, channels, tools and people to deliver on an agreed objective while meeting expectations.
Creating a strategy to deliver on your objective can be achieved by understanding available resources, setting timelines and budgets, looking at current and past activity, and assigning ownership of activities and KPIs to team members or stakeholders. There is a three-pronged approach to understanding the outputs of a digital marketing strategy. First, and as we have already discussed, you must establish the foundations of your strategy. What are you trying to achieve? And how do you intend to achieve it? Second, you must have a strong familiarity with your current digital strategy, expectations, and the resources available to you, what is working, and what isn’t. Examine what is at your disposal and plan to adjust accordingly.
Third, you need to confirm the crucial requirements in running your strategy, the budget you have access to and who exactly is in charge of the key decisions. Ownership among team members must be established. All advertising can be digital, but not all digital can be advertising. Digital represents the medium through which you are communicating or the channels your audience are consuming information through. How this can be achieved is by understanding that there are a number of philosophies of digital strategy. One, digital as concept. Two, digital as advertising. Three, digital as participation. Four, digital as a balance of all three.
In this regard, simply engaging with your customer on social channels for customer service or emailing useful blog content to your customer with the sole purpose of driving goodwill and awareness falls outside the realm of advertising as you are not necessarily delivering a message about a brand or product to encourage them to take action. Instead you’re adding value to their lives by helping them out. As a result of good engagement, your brand equity and value will increase in the eyes of the audience which is of significant value to the brand and was part achieved through non-advertising methods using digital engagement.

Digital strategies govern how digital is used to achieve commercial goals. A key foundation of digital strategy that you will learn, is that it is primarily about understanding your audience, their behaviors and how you might craft new behavior that involves your brand, product, or services online. This step identifies the core components of an effective digital marketing strategy.

Jessica Preddy
Jessica is a consultant with experience in marketing and an in-depth knowledge of the latest marketing techniques. Her previous roles have included working in a marketing agency and numerous customer-service-facing positions that have given her exposure to a wide range of customers and clients.

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