An important part of getting any digital strategy implemented is ensuring that the right support is available – this means getting the right people to support the ambitions and securing enough budget to implement the strategic plan.
Understand your business in a local/global context
Look at your competitors and other businesses to see what they’re doing in areas you want to focus on, such as email marketing, social media, website. Understanding the existing activity in a particular area of digital marketing can provide some insights into what is engaging the audiences of businesses in your industry.
Compare your own activities and identify where you need to improve. This can be done through formal audits and benchmarks, or informally. Even if done at a very basic level, capturing this information creates a baseline to measure against in future. Being able to identify where your competitors excel in the digital space, may also help get buy-in from senior stakeholders.
Stakeholders don’t often look at their own business’ digital capabilities, but might be motivated when they understand that competitors are moving more quickly or effectively in the digital space.
As an example, if senior stakeholders realise how much easier it is to do a core activity eg buy a product on the competitor sites compared to your own, they may realise the investment in improved user experience or systems is an important pillar of a web strategy. An activity such as walking senior stakeholders through a process that is core to the business can highlight real gaps between the company and its competitors, so facilitating a workshop with senior stakeholders can work to achieve this realisation.
It is important to think about who in the business needs to be on board to bring the strategy to life – this isn’t limited to the people in Marketing or those you’re already aware of. Many areas of the business can be interested in the Digital Strategy and can have a part to play in influencing its shape.
Finding an interesting way to keep stakeholders engaged can be a challenge, but it is worth looking at what they want to know, where their interests are and addressing these. It could be a working group that meets regularly to talk about digital generally, where digital is impacting the business and where these stakeholders can get involved. Or it could be that the digital marketing team can facilitiate sessions such as learning lunches focused on digital topics, to broaden the awareness of digital and the digital team’s capabilities to the business.
Having good relationships with Finance and Technology departments is always important to delivering strategies in complex organisations.
Budgets never seem to stretch far enough and this is something that most marketers have to work around.
Digital marketers are often required to influence stakeholders to spend their budgets on digital rather than traditional offline methods. This is where having strong stakeholder relationships becomes important, as you may find the bulk of the budget you spend comes from those stakeholders in other areas of the business.
When considering budget required to implement the strategy, it is useful to tie each budget line back to the expected business outcomes. This way when the inevitable request to trim budget comes, there is a way to clearly describe what the implications of a trimmed budget will be.
For example, if a reduced budget means there is no money to fund Search Engine Optimisation or Marketing activities, being able to state to the business that this means there will be a knock on effect of reduced site traffic and therefore less products sold online, the business can make a decision about whether this is a business objective that can afford to be compromised.
Your role can be about proving the value of using digital channels, measuring the effectiveness of activities and building on results to keep the stakeholders engaged and willing to allocate budget to the digital space.