The importance of having a digital strategy

Marketing / 26.08.16
Mark Vaesen

In a previous blog post I explained, and how the landscape for marketers has been under a rapid evolution in recent times with the advent of new technology. With this in mind, it’s a great idea for your company to have a proper digital strategy documented.

With the scope of digital marketing getting wider, integrating it into overall business strategies can appear to be a mammoth task to undertake.

In fact, according to a 2016 survey just 35 per cent of businesses have integrated digital into their overall strategy, and a further 47 per cent are doing digital marketing with no defined strategy.

Remember – a digital strategy goes further than simply ‘getting a website’. With all the different methods of digital communication – from social media, to email, to apps, to SEO and PPC – there’s a huge range of possible opportunities you could be utilising!

‘Lean back’ versus ‘lean forward’

A popular way to divide traditional and digital marketing is to consider it as either ‘lean back’ or ’lean forward’.

‘Lean back’ relates to how an audience would consume broadcast and print media – picture someone vegging on the sofa flicking through a magazine. It involves a more passive approach to consumption (think having the TV on in the background), and the attention span will be much longer.

On the flip-side, ‘lean forward’ comes from the image of a person sitting at a desk at a computer as they are actively searching for content that they want. A user will be in scanning mode, with a relatively low sustained attention span, and will be much more engaged in their consumption of information. Therefore, they’ll be more choosy about what they spend their time on – hence the need for engaging content.

Nowadays, we’re largely back to ‘lean back 2.0’ as people relax with a tablet or smartphone!

Digital marketing differs from traditional marketing in terms of the way its medium fits into people’s lives. With broadcast marketing, for example, the flow of information is in one direction; the audience has the message ‘pushed’ onto them, and they are passive recipients.

Here’s a table that lays out some of the key differences between different marketing channels:

TV Print Online
Intrusiveness High Low Low
Control/selectivity Passive Active, selective Active, selective of consumption
*Episode *attention Long Long Restless, fragmented span
*Active *processing Low High High
Mood Relaxed, seeking exceptional gratification Relaxed, seeking interest, stimulation Goal- orientated, needs-related
Modality Audio/visual Visual Visual (auditory increasing)
Processing Episodic, superficial Semantic, deep Semantic, deep
Context As individual in interpersonal setting Individual, personal Alone, private

The beauty of digital marketing is the ability to conduct personalised and targeted campaigns. No longer is a ‘one-to-many’ approach needed, where just one advertisement is seen by your entire target market (e.g. a TV advert).

‘one-to-one’ approach can be utilised,  which relies on getting to know the individual choices made by a customer, and then tailoring marketing outreach to each customer differently based on those choices. A prime example of this is Amazon, a company that regularly suggests items to customers based on their previous purchase or browsing history.

Many-to-many communication has also become more prominent, as customers are now able to interact with each other online, either through blogs or social media. This can, at first glance, appear to be a danger to a brand due to an inability to control the sentiment of such online conversations. Instead, it should be seen as an opportunity to be able to identify and interact with key influencers and increase engagement.

Things to consider for inclusion in a digital strategy

When writing your digital marketing strategy you’ll want to think about including the following:

  • A mission statement – laying out the future direction of the company that gives the purpose
  • An analysis of your organisation’s internal and external environment – what factors outside your control might affect operations in the future (e.g. political change)?
  • A consideration of the internal resources and capabilities you’ll have at your disposal – what can your workers actually do, and are there any skills gaps that might cause a problem?
  • Defined digital marketing objectives, with a clear link to overall marketing objectives and how they’ll support them
  • Strategic options – defined using segmenting, targeting, and positioning – and identification of which ones to use and not to use
  • Resource allocation

Having a codified digital strategy in place provides a clear direction for future digital marketing activities, and can specify how organisational resources should be deployed to full effect.

The time it takes to engage with a potential customer online is fleeting, so you’ll want to ensure you’re doing everything to be as fruitful as possible.

And finally, don’t forget – you don’t want an in-house split between digital and non-digital – they should all be pulling towards the same goal!

Learn more

Get in touch with us to discuss any aspect of your digital strategy further, we’ll be glad to help.