ImageA marketing director is faced with countless decisions to make and directions to take a company. Additionally, once decisions are made, it is important to constantly reevaluate them and tweak strategies to stay ahead of the curve. The evolution of the Internet has created an array of new marketing opportunities, leaving some marketing directors struggling. The result for some is half hearted attempts down numerous paths to keep up with competition. Rather than trying to do what the competition is, the marketing director should establish a unique digital strategy, identifying the proper strategic initiatives to most effectively impact his or her target market.

To bring marketers up to speed, the first step is to define digital strategy. Digital strategy is the overarching process to properly organize, align, implement, and evaluate your organization’s digital initiatives with the overarching marketing objectives. I understand the process can be complex, so I recommend these three questions to ask about your digital strategy:

  • Have you thought about your digital strategy?
  • What is the purpose of your digital presence?
  • Are you aligning your digital strategy to achieve integrated marketing communication (IMC)?

Have you thought about your digital strategy?
Although it seems like an unnecessary question to some, it is important to gauge where your company is currently situated in the digital realm. Consumers can quickly identify when a marketing director skips the process of establishing a digital strategy. A perfect example is an organization’s Facebook page that has nothing more than the name and address. Management at companies like this have created a Facebook page because others were doing it, but they haven’t laid out the digital strategy to follow through on the initiative. Consumers trying to interact with the brand will be left feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.

Macala Wright identifies some helpful points your digital strategy should be achieving. Some things you should consider while thinking about your digital strategy are the story you want to tell, who you want to tell it to, and what it should be achieving. If you can accurately identify your audience and discover how to evoke their emotions, your campaigns will be more successful. A great example is Adidas’ recent holiday campaign, Un-Scrooge yourself, featuring Snoop Dogg. Adidas identified a similar psychographic in their target market, enlisted support of a popular celebrity, and produced a humorous message to engage their audience. Adidas targeted their audience on Facebook and Youtube, two places that allow them to reach a high concentration of their target market. In addition, they added campaign consistent imagery to their website, allowing an ongoing experience for the consumer and a greater impact of the campaign.

Also important to consider in your digital strategy is your method of evaluating success. You should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to track how your initiative is performing. Examples are fans, followers, likes, shares, retweets, website visitors, sales, calls, etc. The guideline to follow when choosing your KPI is make sure that it aligns with the purpose. Don’t track sales increases if your goal is to build a fan base. An effective digital strategy could encompass all those points, but you’ll want to establish clear goals and prioritize. Also, make sure to keep your digital initiatives in line with the organization’s core marketing objectives.

What is your digital purpose?
For many companies, the digital purpose is composed of two or more objectives. The two most common are sales generation and brand awareness. These two initiatives lie on a spectrum, with most companies falling somewhere between the two. Where you fall on the spectrum is largely impacted by the industry you are in and your target market, but it also factors in what you are trying to achieve. Start ups are more likely to focus on sales using email campaigns, social media promotions, or text based PPC ads and large corporations will strive for brand awareness using social media contests, multimedia ads, or content development. An equilibrium point between the two will help most companies increase growth and have the highest positive impact on their return on investment (ROI).

If you don’t accurately identify your purpose, you are negatively affecting your digital strategy. One challenge that will arise is choosing the correct KPI. If you are evaluating an awareness campaign by revenue, you will determine it was a flop and abandon the initiative. Therefore, it is important to analyze what each initiative is supposed to achieve so you can accurately evaluate each, identify which are successful, and determine what tactics should be modified.

Are you aligning your digital strategy to achieve integrated marketing communication (IMC)?
Digital initiatives should use a consistent theme, allowing them to build on each other and have a greater impact on the consumer. However, this does not mean they should have the same message. Make adjustments to your message to optimally convey it on the platform you are on, but keep consistency in your marketing presentation.

A proper digital strategy should make IMC seamless. IMC will help to establish an optimal frequency with your target market, which will strengthen the relationship between the brand and consumer. Lennar provides a great example with the right balance of consistency between their websiteFacebookTwitter, and blog. The brand message is different to fit each platform, yet similar enough to deliver a consistent presentation across the varying initiatives. The result will yield a higher ROI and potentially an increase in your market share over time.

Establishing a digital strategy will provide a structure for accomplishing your online goals. It will identify your digital purpose and help achieve IMC through your various initiatives. The result is that your marketing will be cohesive and both easily evaluated and modified. Year over year you will be better positioned for growth, while improving the effectiveness of your marketing time and budget. You will no longer be trying to keep up with your competition and instead, they will be struggling to chase you.