Getting Started Guide to a Complete Digital Marketing Strategy

Dec 4, 2016 | Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

There’s a good chance your organization is operating without an articulated digital marketing strategy. You know you should have one, but you may not even know where to start. Stop what you’re doing right now, read this post and put together your organization’s digital strategy Document before it’s too late.

We all know we should have a documented digital marketing strategy, but I’m not sure we always know why we need one or what we do with it once it’s written. It’s not always easy to see why strategy matters, but it really does, and all brands that market themselves online need one.

Having a defined digital strategy is important because helps marketing teams in a few ways:

  • A strategy helps to answer and clarify the question of “why are we doing this?”
  • A strategy helps to keep the team focused on the goals.
  • A strategycan assist in the team in deciding what projects to take on and which to postpone.
  • A strategy can help marketing teams say “no” to projects that don’t align with the strategy.

Step One: You’ve set organizational goals, right?

If you haven’t, that should be a priority first. I realize defining the goals of the entire organization may not be your “job”, but if your company hasn’t defined what it wants to achieve over the next year, two, five or more, then it’s operating without a business plan and that’s a serious recipe for disaster.

If your company doesn’t have organizational goals, then you’d be wise to encourage your leadership to do so. The company needs a clear path to where it’s going because your goals are shaped by the organization’s goals.

A brand’s organizational goals should be top line goals. They should be applicable to the entire organization; they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART goals).

Here are a few example organizational goals:

  1. Achieve “Best Place to Work” status by the local newspaper by 2018 (employee satisfaction goal).
  2. Reduce the total corporate budget 10% by Q1 2017 (fiscal performance goal).
  3. Achieve top 10% in customer satisfaction in our industry by Q4 2017 (competitive advantage goal).

Who should define your organizational goals?

Senior leadership of your company (i.e.: the c-suite) is responsible for defining the goals of the organization. That’s literally their job description (or should be). Ideas related to goals may originate from within the ranks, but ultimately the goal setting is the job of leadership.

Step Two: Be sure to define your marketing organization’s goals.

Once your overall organizational goals and strategy has been defined, you need to have marketing-specific goals. Your marketing goals should be mapped to organizational goals because your marketing efforts should contribute to achieving your organization’s goals.

Like your organizational goals, it’s important that your marketing goals must be achievable and realistic, but also challenge your team. Don’t define goals that you know you’ll reach without having to try too hard. Define goals that will require work to achieve. Goals should drive the team to do more.

Here are some examples of marketing goals:

  1. Increase sales in key service areas 5% by the end of the fiscal year (maps to organizational fiscal performance goal).
  2. Reduce marketing overhead costs 10% by the end of the fiscal year (maps to organizational fiscal performance goal).
  3. Achieve less than 10% staff turnover for FY2017 (maps to organizational employee satisfaction goal).
  4. Build brand awareness 5% as measured by our annual survey (maps to organizational competitive advantage goal).
  5. Enhance customer advocacy as measured by average value per customer by 10% YoY from 2016 (maps to organizational competitive advantage goal).

Who should define your marketing goals?

Senior leadership in marketing (i.e.: the VP & senior directors) is responsible for defining marketing goals for the team. Like your organizational goals, ideas about what the goals may be can originate with team members or managers. In general, marketing goals should be top-down driven.

Daniel Ruyter - Sitecore Marketing & Technology Pro

Who is Daniel Ruyter?

An Orlando, Florida Sitecore enthusiast and MVP hopeful, a marketing consultant, content creator and photographer.
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Step 3: Create your digital-specific goals, then your digital marketing strategy.

Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty of this as a post about defining a digital marketing strategy. I hope you understand that it would be futile to define your digital strategy without first considering your overall organization and marketing goals. Once you’ve got those set, you can turn your focus on your digital-specific goals, and ultimately, defining your digital strategy.

Here are some examples of digital marketing goals:

  1. Improve website search engine visibility 10% YoY (maps to brand awareness goal).
  2. Raise website conversion rates by 5% YoY (maps to fiscal performance goal).
  3. Expand social media engagement, followers and reach 15% by the end of FY2018 (maps to customer retention and advocacy goal).
  4. Reduce outsourced labor by 25% by the end of the fiscal year to reduce digital marketing costs (maps to marketing operational goal).
  5. Certify at least 50% of digital team from programs such as Google AdWords, HubSpot Inbound certification, Project Management Professional (PMP), certified scrum master or other relevant certificates (maps to employee satisfaction & marketing operational goals).

Once you have your goals, it’s time to define your digital strategy.

Why do we create a strategy–any strategy? We create a strategy to achieve goals. Therefore, your digital marketing strategy should relate directly to your digital team’s goals. If your digital goals were created by first considering your marketing goals, and your marketing goals were created to contribute to achieving your organizational goals, then your digital goals will map all the way up to what your organization seeks to achieve.

Your digital strategy should seek to answer the question, “how will we achieve our digital goals?” Given our digital goals above, our strategy may look like this:

Goal: Improve website search engine visibility 10% YoY

Strategy to Achieve Goal: Implement a two-pronged strategy of content marketing and SEO on-page optimization.

Goal: Raise website conversion rates by 5% YoY

Strategy to Achieve Goal: Implement a strategy of A/B and multi-variate testing to determine what user experience provides a better conversion path for customers.

Goal: Expand social media engagement, audience and reach 15% by the end of FY2018

Strategy to Achieve Goal: Define social customer personas on social media; identify each persona’s most important priorities when interacting with our brand on social channels.

Goal: Reduce outsourced labor by 25% to Reduce Digital Marketing Costs

Strategy to Achieve Goal: Identify departmental processes that need to be optimized; review in-house skill sets and capabilities related to digital marketing. Provide specialized training opportunities to digital staff to improve skill sets.

Goal: Achieve less than 10% turnover rate of marketing staff

Strategy to Achieve Goal: Provide digital team with training opportunities & certify at least 50% of the digital marketing team.

Summary of Steps to Create a Digital Strategy

  1. Step 1: Create or review your organization’s goals.
  2. Step 2: Create or review your marketing goals & strategy.
  3. Step 3: Create your digital marketing goals and digital strategy.

Example Goal-to-Strategy Outline

Here’s an outline summary of our organizational, marketing and digital marketing goals and strategies so that you can see the entire structure in one place:

  • Organization: Achieve “Best Place to Work” status by the local newspaper by 2018 (employee satisfaction goal).
    • Marketing: Achieve less than 10% (marketing) staff turnover for FY2017 (maps to organizational employee satisfaction goal).
      • Digital: Certify at least 50% of the digital marketing team in modern digital marketing practices.
  • Organization: Reduce the total corporate budget 10% by Q1 2017 (fiscal performance goal).
    • Marketing: Increase sales in key service areas 5% by the end of the fiscal year (maps to organizational fiscal performance goal).
      • Digital: Raise website conversion rates by 5% YoY (maps to fiscal performance goal).
    • Marketing: Reduce marketing overhead costs 10% by the end of the fiscal year (maps to organizational fiscal performance goal).
      • Digital: Reduce outsourced labor by 25% by the end of the fiscal year to reduce digital marketing costs (maps to marketing operational goal).
  • Organization: Achieve top 10% in customer satisfaction in our industry by Q4 2017 (competitive advantage goal).
    • Marketing: Build brand awareness 5% as measured by our annual survey (maps to organizational competitive advantage goal).
      • Digital: Improve website search engine visibility 10% YoY (maps to brand awareness goal).
    • Marketing: Enhance customer advocacy as measured by average value per customer by 10% YoY from 2016 (maps to organizational competitive advantage goal).
      • Digital: Expand social media engagement, audience and reach 15% by the end of FY2018 (maps to customer retention and advocacy goal).

The Story Behind the Photo

Magic Kingdom Park - Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL

The featured photo on this blog post was taken on my mobile phone while riding Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. It’s not the most thrilling ride in the park, but it’s one of the longest, and one of my favorites. The ride hasn’t changed a whole lot since I first rode it back in 1985 age the age of 5 years old. I ride it every time I go to Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Do you Need Help With Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Defining a digital marketing strategy can be a huge struggle for organizations both large and small. The above article is a relatively simple example of a complex process. Have you recently started to define your digital strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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