What is a digital marketing strategy?

JennaTiffany
Founder & Strategy Director
Let'sTalk Strategy
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Without a digital strategy, how do you know you’re marketing is in the right place, appealing to the right audience and being shown at the optimal time? A strategy reduces the time spent playing the guessing game and more time getting ahead of the competition. As a business, you’ll be prepared and informed of where to adapt when things change and the tactics to apply to future marketing campaigns. Planning is a skill that no marketer can choose to ignore. Yet many do, with 50% of brands without a defined digital marketing strategy!

The English dictionary describes a strategy as ‘a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.’

Once you’ve defined what you want to achieve with your digital marketing, your strategy sets out how you’re going to get there. It is your plan to achieving your business and marketing objectives and goals.
 

Strategy & tactics: the difference

There is a misunderstanding within the marketing industry on the difference between strategy and tactics. Strategy at times is used more as a buzz word and the word 'strategic' has been idenfied as one of the most overused words on LinkedIn! It's the latest cool thing to describe your marketing activity. But there are two clear differences between strategy and tactics:

  • Strategy is the what, why and where.
  • Tactics are the how you are going to achieve the strategy.

It’s often thought that is you’ve defined the tactics then you don’t need a strategy and vice versa, but that isn’t true. The two should work hand in hand and are both needed to achieve marketing success. However, the order in which you use them both is key to get right.

Strategy should always come before tactics. If you create tactics first, you may be in the wrong place to engage with your target audience. The same goes for strategy. There is a famous quote from Sun Tzu, The Art of War book: ‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory’ which sums up that strategy can only work if you have tactics to execute the plan.

How does a strategy achieve marketing and business goals?

The key defining factor is your business’s goals and objectives as this detemines the direction a marketing strategy should take. This is what makes your strategy unique to your business.

Typically, a marketing strategy should include the following:

  • About your company,
  • Your current situation for your business and marketing efforts,
  • Previous performance,
  • Your objectives,
  • Your goals,
  • Your target audience,
  • Your competitors,
  • Your marketing plan,
  • Marketing,
  • KPIs,
  • Requirements to fulfil the strategy,
  • Timeframe,
  • Review stages and check in points on the performance success of your strategy, tactics and overall plan.

The important thing to always remember is that ‘A strategy is choosing what not to do’ by Michael Porter. If you include everything without research, analysis, insights, experience, and experts it won’t work. This is important to remember because it can be tempting to include everything, everyone else is right?...Your competitor might have a successful marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean it would be as successful for your brand. Why? Because every brand, business and customer base is different. Your customers will have a different expectation of what they get when engaging with your brand to your competitors.
 

Strategy evolution

One thing to keep in mind is the evolution of a strategy. With the ever changing digital landscape this is vital because although you’ll have your plan, there needs to be the ability to be agile, to react to changes in the market, new technologies etc. The plan is there as your guide, if something in your industry or your business changes then it’s important to accept that your strategy and plan will need evolve and change in real time. If this isn’t possible it’ll be difficult for your business to adapt. A marketing strategy that never evolves runs the risk of quickly going out of date.

Clearly there is a lot that goes into creating a digital marketing strategy, who said Rome was built in a day?!

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