A digital marketing strategy is the content plan that ensures any digital marketing efforts are tailored to your target audience, in order to maximise return on investment.

While strategizing and planning have always been important activities for larger brands and companies, that importance has never been greater than it is today, for businesses of all sizes. Why? Because at present there are more techniques, media channels and internet enabled devices available than ever before, both for you, and your customers (and your competitors!).

In fact, there are currently over 200 social media channels available worldwide (Wikipedia) for you to promote your marketing content through, and with one in every five minutes spent online attributable to social networking sites (Comscore), it is becoming increasingly critical to use the appropriate ones. Social media isn’t just for B2C companies either. Currently, 50% of B2B buyers also turn to social media/peer reviews (Demandgen) to inform their purchasing choice. So it should be no surprise then, that in general, 35% of marketers consider social engagement to be the second biggest opportunity in digital marketing (2013) (Econsultancy).

As well as multiple social media sites, there are also a number of platforms customers and clients can use to access these media channels. Your audience may be arriving at your website or viewing your content from a desktop, or a tablet or as is increasingly common, from a mobile device. You should, in particular, consider optimising your content and brand for mobile because:

  • 36% of marketing emails were opened on a mobile device (Knotice) last year (2012)
  • 700,000 apps have been developed for the iPhone and Android devices (All Things Digital)
  • 43% of marketers are tipping mobile optimization to be one of the most pivotal opportunities in digital marketing for 2013 (Econsultancy)

If you want to succeed in the digital space, it is vital to focus on what you want to communicate, who you want to communicate it to and how you are going to communicate it, and to focus on these 3 elements you need to be S.M.A.R.T

You can’t measure success unless you’ve set specific targets and objectives. As a rule all objectives should be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). Good quality market research is essential to help you define your areas of improvement and set business objectives. Structuring your areas of improvement to attain business objectives is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) make their first appearance; these are the factors that are measurable so, for example, if you are looking to increase engagement, KPI’s might include: number of bookmarks, % of time spent on site, number of Facebook comments, Twitter retweets and number of email subscriptions among many others.

So, to be S.M.A.R.T, your business objectives need to be:

Specific enough to easily build a plan of action to achieve the end goal (Technorati) and work as a focus for your marketing activity, for example, ‘we want to increase social engagement’ is too generic, because its open to questions like:

  • Increase social engagement across what channel?
  • Increase by what quantity?
  • Increase over what time frame?
    • This opens the door for a lack of focus. Therefore a better objective or goal would be something like: ‘we want to increase our email sign up by 20% over 6 months’.

Measureable - Measurability must be built into your digital strategy. Without it, you can’t quantify improvement or return on investment (ROI).

Attainable – setting unattainable goals wastes time, and impacts on staff morale. Setting incremental, attainable goals keeps you focused, staff morale high and returns your investment quicker. You should consider whether an objective is either too ambitious and needs breaking down into more manageable goals, or in fact, is too easy and needs altering to be more challenging to your business in order to maximise growth.

Relevant to your customer behaviour,

  • for example do you want customers to switch from a competitor and begin buying from you (GAIN),
  • or do you simply want your current customers to continue buying from you (MAINTAIN),
  • or on the other hand would like your current customers to buy more from you (INCREASE),
  • Possibly the objective is even to achieve a combination of these behaviours.
    • Often multiple objectives (Technorati) can be more effective than a single objective, either way it is important to ensure your objectives are tied to your customer’s behaviour and sales or in other words, tied to money. (M4b Marketing)

Timely – attaining an objective should be timed to a deadline that is feasible and appropriate for the task at hand. There should also be subsequent review deadlines as well. Making objectives timely aids measurability.

They should also:

  • Make life easier not harder (that is test number 1 for seeing whether you have set a good objective or not) because it should allow you to visualize the end result of your marketing efforts and the pathway (strategy) for getting there more clearly. Theoretically, if you invest time here, steps 3 and 4 will become easier to determine.

 

  • Be decisive (Technorati), ask yourself, what you want to achieve, where you want to achieve it and when you want to achieve it, and set decisive, measurable limits. And most importantly….

 

  • Be flexible, while you should be specific and decisive at first, you should also be prepared to be flexible in the long term, so that after a trial period and a review session, you can tailor your objectives to suit your company better. And most crucially for digital marketing, flexibility allows space in your strategy to plan for new developments in the industry (technological, social, commercial etc.) allowing you to keep ahead.

 

If you bear these points in mind you should have a good set of goals and objectives and be ready to begin planning how you are going to achieve them.

 

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