Having worked in digital for 15 years, in a number of different roles and within some large and complex organisations, I recently gave a talk about achieving a successful integrated digital strategy, which contained a lot of tips based on these experiences. Breaking down the content of the talk into a series of articles, I hope that readers will be able to use some of these tips.
When planning your digital strategy, it is important to remember:
It can be a complicated time, the business you work in might be complex, and the digital strategy itself can require an understanding of technical capabilities (or limitations) Add to that the fact that the landscape is constantly moving, and it can be a difficult challenge to define what you want to achieve using digital.
The strategy is not a static item. It is something that needs to be defined and documented, but it is likely to change and may sometimes have to adapt quickly to the business that might be changing around it. Strategic digital marketers need to be prepared for this.
Digital marketers need to understand how digital fits within their organisation, the various stakeholders and touchpoints, in order to shape a digital strategy that truly supports the business and its goals.
Align digital objectives with business objectives
It is important to understand what the business aims to achieve overall and how digital can support these objectives.
Business objectives can seem quite remote from specific departments in a large business. In smaller businesses, the digital requirements are often about creation and maintenance of a web and digital presence, and the objectives that those channels are trying to achieve can be forgotten in the day to day activities.
It is important to find a way to map a digital objective to each business objective.
By having a way to link digital deliverables and objectives to business objectives you achieve a number of things:
Clarity of what digital needs to do specifically to help the business achieve overall goals
Real link to business objectives helps at budget time – if there is a call to reduce the digital budget, the business will need to acknowledge the implication this might have to the overall strategy
Measuring the results of digital activities when they are mapped to business objectives can really help position the importance of digital in context of the overall business
When mapping the digital objectives to business objectives, it is also time to start thinking about how these objectives will be measured. Setting those in place early also ensures that the methods of tracking various objectives can be planned and budgeted for in the planning stage.
Consider strategy holistically before considering channels
Once the business goals and the digital objectives that will help deliver these goals are understood, the channels can be considered.
It is important to think about the objectives first, before diving into planning activities in specific channels. Marketers need to also consider the strengths and benefits of various channels, and align these with their goals. If for example, your objective is to reactivate lapsed customers, email marketing might be an effective way of doing this, and more effective than spending on online advertising.
Ownership of channels can also get confused, particularly in large organisations where multiple departments might all be using, and claiming ownership of, a particular channel. Social media is a classic example; it is used for customer service, brand awareness, corporate communications, so all of these areas within a business might claim to own it. When it comes to deciding on the use or making plans for how to use social media, the ownership (including responsibility for resourcing and the budget) needs to be clear.
Remember to also bear in mind how the channels can work together, such as using social media as a way to gain email subscribers and including links to social within email communications.
Now that you have defined what channels you’ll use in the digital strategy, the metrics of what you will measure at a channel level can be defined.