Why You Need A Digital Marketing Strategy

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Do you have a digital strategy in place? 

It is a question that is usually responded to by blank stares, as if I’ve taken away a calculator and casually asked “can you tell me the square root of 48547?” (220.33, in case you were wondering).

Every business, no matter how small, should have a digital strategy. I like to think of it as a broader plan. You know those mind maps they made us create in elementary school to describe plots of a story or the ecosystem? Think of digital strategy as the online marketing ecosystem of your business. Whether or not you think about it, all the elements connect. And if you don’t know where some of your elements are – you’re missing incredible opportunity.

But my product/service/offering isn’t digital” you respond.

Okay – but where are your customers or clients? If you tell me that they aren’t online, I’m going to have a really hard time with that, since even my 90 year old grandma can Google something, send an email, and write reviews.

And maybe you are online – you could be blogging, writing emails, gathering customer reviews – but are all of your online activities working together? That’s digital strategy – and here’s why you need it.

To align your online presence to your bigger strategy goals.

You have a presence online, whether or not you are aware of it. And if you’re already going to have that presence – if it already exists – why aren’t you harnessing it to work for your business?

Everything you do online should align to one bigger goal – the goal of growth for your ecosystem, whatever that looks like for you.

To adapt to a changing market.

Our society is changing rapidly, and so is the shape of our online world. You can buy cars online now without ever setting foot in a dealership. You can Skype someone half a world away – for free. You can connect with clients and customers in ever changing ways. I ordered toilet paper off the internet the other day because I ran out and it arrived less than two hours later.

Staying customer-focused in your digital strategy allows you to understand where your clients are and what they are doing. A solid digital strategy allows you to think from your customers perspective, instead of remaining product centric.

To prioritize your investments (we aren't just talking money)

One of the hardest things about digital strategy is reducing the desire to do it all. Email marketing, blogging, sales funnels, SEO, SEM, SMM, social media, community building, reputation management etc. If you did all of it, you wouldn’t have a business, because you wouldn’t have time for anything else!

Having a digital strategy, with a clear end goal, allows you to maximize the money (but also the time!) that you DO have. It also gives you a starting point for change – as your business grows and changes, as your customers change their behaviour, so can your strategy.

To minimize digital duplication and waste

A digital strategy and plan ensures that as you grow, you don’t cannibalize your own growth or have digital duplication. If members of your team change, or someone new comes on, or you need a new consultant or outsourcer, there is a living document that can be referred to about why you’re doing what you’re doing, and the ultimate end goal. There is nothing worse than two separate teams doing the same tasks on two different marketing platforms – ultimately competing with each other.

Having three separate people working on three seemingly separate digital tasks but without a strategy can often result in negative repercussions for your business. Duplicate content and a lack of clear roles can lead to confusion among your messaging (not to mention make search engines mad), which is a direct route to confusion among your customers.

And please, don’t do everything. Three digital elements working together perfectly is often much better than 15 elements not working together at all.

But remember, your strategy can (and should) change.

Digital strategy is a tough topic – it’s hard to know exactly where to start and exactly what to do. But remember, there is more than one right answer in the world of digital strategy. There is more than one combination of tools and techniques that can result in growth. There is more than one way to grow an ecosystem.

Trial and error is a perfectly good strategy to use – as long as you’re measuring your success. It’s not about knowing off the bat which combination to use, it’s about using the combination that is right for you and your business, and although it takes time to get there – when you nail that magic combination – amazing things can happen.

Don’t get stuck, get started.

TL;DR

A digital strategy is a necessary tool to help you meet your customers where they’re at, unite your efforts across all platforms, and assist you in navigating change. It helps you prioritize your work, reduces digital duplication, and allows your digital strategy to work for you – not run the show.