The world of digital marketing can often be characterised by “doing”. For example, creating emails, blogs, display ads, social media posts, videos and more.

Of course, it’s a fast-paced environment and sometimes planning and developing strategies can feel like you’re standing still when your competitors are actively executing in the latest platforms, posting, sharing while being dynamic and exciting, whatever the activity. And sometimes the need for agile action can often get ahead of the intent.

If you don’t have a digital marketing strategy you are not alone. According to research conducted by Smart Insights, 45% of businesses surveyed did not have a digital marketing plan. That’s nearly half of their survey group not working to a plan and not evaluating whether their spend is generating the intended effect. Surely it’s not that hard to bring accountability to your digital marketing efforts – even if they are only small scale at this stage. 

7 compelling reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy

  1. Without a plan you won’t know where you are going and just about any road could take you there
    As we’ve already discussed there’s lots of “doing” going on with digital marketing. And while there are lots of benefits in doing all of this activity, there is are significant downsides - quality, depth and of course focus. Employees can rally around a plan. They feel like they are purposely working towards something, which is likely to lead to a greater chance of success when compared to the random effects bouncing around alternative platforms, content ideas and paid advertising. A digital marketing planning approach doesn’t prevent innovation or real time responsiveness. In fact it will put a framework from which agile behaviours can flourish.

  2. Without a plan your marketing efforts will be siloed and disintegrated
    Nothing hinders success more than a lack of collaboration between departments and teams. The open nature of many digital platforms means that anyone in the business can start ‘doing stuff’. For example, your sales team may start sending out emails, which on top of the marketing emails being sent could result in mixed messages and over communication – something customers hate. A digital marketing plan will communicate to everyone in the business the priorities and allocated responsibilities thereby ensuring greater synergies. Planning places the customer at the forefront and all departments will understand their role.

  3. Without a plan you won’t know how important digital marketing channels could be
    Nothing kills an idea or an initiative more than failure or mediocrity, which is what you can expect if your digital marketing is conducted on the ‘fly’. More importantly, without a plan and strategy you may not be able to properly assess how important digital channels could be for your business. If you are new to the digital marketing environment then a good plan would specify a number of test markets based on hypotheses you and your team generate. These test markets will enable behavioural learning from which your business can expand or contract on depending on the results.

  4. Without a plan you won’t gain leverage from your non-digital initiatives
    Even for pure digital businesses, non-digital marketing is a key part of their marketing plan. Both digital and non-digital mediums play a role in the short and long term success of your business, so it’s crucial that they work together in an integrated fashion. Imagine the scenario where you are spending a lot of money to generate a whole lot of mass awareness only to find that your SEO is not keyword optimised for this campaign, you don’t have any Google search ads running and your Google display banners are advertising another product from your company. A digital strategy should work in harmony with your overall marketing strategy with both informing each other. That scenario would be a big ‘F’ for fail and a digital plan will help avoid this.

    Click here for tips and assistance in making your digital strategy for 2019 download our guide. 
  1. Without a plan you’ll be giving your competition a leg up
    Is there a marketplace where at least one of the competitors is not making good advances via their digital marketing channels? We think not. So, if you’re just dabbling in digital marketing or worse doing lots of digital marketing without a plan then you are giving your competitors a massive leg up – let alone missing out on a big growth opportunity. Think about this - of your competitors, one or more is right now plotting their plan against you! They are reflecting, reviewing data, collaborating with experts and planning to win against your business! If this section of the blog is starting to rise up your blood temperature, then good! Because the phrase ‘business isn’t personal’ is bullshit. It is personal and the stakes are high!

  2. Without a plan you’ll miss the opportunity to understand customers better
    Business growth is fundamentally a function of the level of understanding and affinity you have for your customers. This understanding drives the products and services you sell and the profits you generate. The more you understand your customers’ needs, their pain and gain points the better you are going to be able to communicate with them. A digital marketing strategy should have in-built mechanisms to listen and actively understand your customers’ attitudes and behaviours. This might simply be via Google Analytics, SEMRush or via more sophisticated social listening tools like Hootsuite or HubSpot. You may even decide to run a continuous quality monitor or regular net promoter score surveys. A digital marketing strategy will take a considered and integrated approach to these sources of information ensuring that you have the whole of businesses understanding of the customer. Without a digital marketing strategy you need to hope that activities are being measured and rely on a ‘data wizard’ to make sense of the various sources.

  3. Without a plan you won’t get the most out of automated personalisation
    One of the hottest topics in marketing today is automation and personalisation – from blogs to email to video to just about any piece of content that is relevant to the customer. Your customers’ world is becoming busier every year, with customers being exposed to between 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, causing conversion success to be harder to achieve every year. Being able to personalise on mass is a great way to increase effectiveness. Surely a digital marketing strategy would address this? Yes it would. However, an adhoc approach to digital marketing might miss this significant opportunity and leave it at the water cooler as an empty conversation. Or at best it may be implemented in a piece meal fashion without tight accountabilities or a business case.

The argument against digital marketing planning and strategy is weak - that it’s such a fast paced, changing environment that the benefits of being agile and responsive are lost. For us this mindset leads to the worship of the ‘new, new thing’ and your marketing department becomes mindlessly responsive, achieving very little in the long term. 

The bigger reason for any type of business planning is mitigation of risk and increased certainty of outcome. However, surely the biggest benefit is better communication and engagement between employees and other stakeholders. Think about this. If your marketing team arrives at work each day knowing their priorities based on an agreed digital marketing plan and strategy and how they connect with the wider business, that has got to be the starting point for more effective growth outcomes. Click here or the image below for tips and assistance in making your digital strategy for 2019 download our guide.

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