When it comes to Digital Marketing, there are so many options available that it can become overwhelming. Building a Digital Marketing Blueprint for your business focuses the mind on what you want to achieve, validates that your digital plan is aligned with your overall strategy, and helps you to define how you are going to get there.
In this article, we explain the key elements of building a Digital Strategy, and summarise with a 14 point checklist for you to work with.
Why build a Digital Strategy?
Most large organisations have documented business strategies which are revisited every 3-5 years by the C-suite team. Small / medium sized companies are less likely to do this, the strategy more likely being held in the owner’s or CEO’s head and somewhat more fluid. So, why should all businesses document their strategy?
- A strategy helps you to build a roadmap so that you avoid wasted work, duplicated effort & unnecessary cost
- Incremental tactical changes which are not based on strategic direction, can gradually take your business away from your core proposition without you realizing it
- The process challenges you to describe not only “what” & “when” but “why” you are making changes
- The output gives you a reference point for measuring progress, communications and team engagement
What’s involved in building a Digital Strategy?
There is no prescriptive format for a strategy document – some CEOs love to create bumper books describing every step of the way. However, in our experience, a concise document which the team have been part of building, and which serves as a clear guide as to steps, priorities and performance measures, is the type of strategy document which the team refer to time and time again.
The inputs : Build on knowledge and work already done in the business –no-one wants to rework something they believe in for the sake of a new format
The content : What you want to achieve, the context, why, to whom, when and how
The output : A concise document that acts as a guide for the team
The process can be summarised in these 5 elements for building a digital strategy :
Building your Digital Strategy
A strategy is most effective when individual teams pull in the same direction. So, if you are a multi channel or multi discipline business, we’d encourage you to work on most of the steps as a senior management team.
WSI Digital Advisors
Much is made of “Vision” and “Mission” statements, but broadly they can be summarised as “Why we do what we do”, “How we do it” and “What we do”. Start with Why by Simon Sinek (2011) is a great reference book for this principle.
“Why” is all about understanding the emotional connection a brand makes with it’s customer base. As an example, MacDonalds’ vision statement is “To be our customers’ favourite place and way to eat and drink”. Short, ambitious and punchy, and not necessarily a marketing strapline.
“How” is understanding what makes you special to your customer base – what you do, what you stand for, and your unique selling points.
“What” is the specific, measurable bold goal you are setting the team e.g. “double sales and triple profit”
Understanding your Buyer personas is a critical part of Digital Marketing success. Clear Buyer personas help you target your communications specifically to engage your primary audience(s). Without this, you can end up with generic copy and an offer that sounds like it’s all things to all people (which only the likes of Amazon can get away with!) Here’s some further reading on Creating useful buyer personas .
It’s also useful to examine how those customer personas interact with you (customer journey / customer touchpoints) – this will inform which channels you should be investing in, and what you should be talking about at each interaction. Here’s a recent blog on Inbound Marketing for you if you want to read more.
No business operates in a vacuum, so it’s also important to check out your competitors, and to understand where you have a competitive advantage over them (and them over you). Are you competing in a Red Ocean or a Blue Ocean? Red oceans are mature, busy, highly competitive markets where it’s all about winning market share, and Blue Oceans are untapped market space where the rules of the game are waiting to be set.
Ref : Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.
Offer is all about what you sell.
Consider what your core offering is, what resonates most deeply with your brand, and (hopefully) what makes you the most money.
Look at your ancillary offerings and determine if they sit with your brand and/or meet your financial goals, and identify any gaps where you can extend your offer into.
If you operate in multiple channels, do different products perform the same in all channels, or does one channel drive certain types of sales harder than another? Is there a channel related opportunity?
Tell the product story – Why these products? How to use them? Why do they represent value?
Once you are clear about what you are selling and to whom, it’s time to reflect on which channels will be most effective for you. Is LinkedIn the social media channel most appropriate for your business, or is it Tik-Tok? Try not to “boil the ocean” – keep in mind that engagement (one of the most critical metrics) usually calls for a real conversation. So, for every digital channel that you choose, ask yourself whether you have the resources to maintain communication with your audience there or not.
Now you are ready to build a Digital Marketing Blueprint that fits your overall strategy, and which will deliver the results you are looking for. Will you focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)? Or Paid Search? Will you channel your energies into Google Ads or Facebook Ads? Does your website need a revamp? Will marketing automation deliver you in house efficiencies? Should you insource or outsource certain activities?
Look at your customer and prospect database – is it big enough, accurate enough and segmented effectively to deliver against your plans? Does your CRM system need some investment?
There is plenty to consider…
- What are the operational implications?
- Is there an impact on your technical infrastructure?
- How much will it cost?
- What will the benefits be?
A plan which doesn’t help your team understand how they are going to get there will invariably end up sat on a shelf gathering dust. Take the time to create a roadmap and implementation plan that shows activities, logical sequencing, timing and responsibilities.
Whilst your roadmap is likely to be high level, so relatively fixed, you will need to review your implementation plan regularly, and adjust it based on what is going on in and around the business to make sure that you are continuing to go in the right direction, and at the pace you want to achieve. For your key strategic threads, consider creating scenario plans ahead of time so that you are always ready with a Plan B (more in next week’s blog!)
Similarly, a plan without targets will never be achieved. Set yourself key performance indicators that help you and your team track whether you are on the right path to delivering the goals set between you. Here is some additional reading on Digital Marketing KPIs.
Digital Strategy Checklist
Check your proposed Digital Strategy document – have you answered all of these questions?
- What do you do?
- Why do you do it?
- How do you do it?
- What are your differentiators?
- Who is your Buyer Persona(s)?
- Who are your competitors? Where do you (and they) have the edge?
- What do you sell? What could / should you sell?
- What is the core message you want your customers to receive?
- Which channels will you use?
- What are your priorities?
- How strong is our prospect and customer database?
- What’s the sequence of activity?
- What are the measurable goals of the strategy?
- What KPIs should you measure?
As ex C-suite operators in the corporate world, we appreciate that building a Digital Strategy without external facilitation can be very challenging. At WSI Digital Advisors, we specialise in helping businesses through this process – unlike big consultancies, we don’t use standard templates, meaning that every strategy we build is tailored and unique to that business.
Want to know more? Contact us for a no obligation chat.
Further reading : WSI’s Digital Minds : A strategic approach to connecting and engaging with your customers online