We have seen a shift in the digital world. It has gone from a set of individual platforms to a complicated network of interacting with your customers online.
These are also services you can use to manage internal processes. For example, a business no longer uses only a social media platform like Twitter. Businesses use many services on top of twitter to help them be more efficient. This will only continue to increase and the digital world will look completely different in 3 years than it does now. The changes are coming at an exponential rate.
In his book Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi describes this as a coming “digital tsunami”. One in which most businesses are not prepared for. This is why it is more important than ever for a business to develop a digital strategy AND use it as a guideline that is constantly amended.
Most businesses that we talk to either have no digital marketing strategy or it is vague, high-level and reactionary to their customers. Their strategy is born loosely from what other businesses sell to them. As a business owner, you will frequently hear things like “You have to use Twitter!” and “Your website needs better SEO!”. These things are said as a blanket statement for how a business should perform. But these are usually spoken only because that is the the service they provide…not on whether it fits your business or not. Naturally an SEO company is going to tell you that you need better SEO!
In this ever changing climate, who do you choose to listen to? How do you know who to trust for the right information? Who has the magic algorithm that will bring traffic to your site and convert them to customers?
The answer is everybody and nobody at the same time. Every digital platform is now within its own niche. Today’s sales platform is incredibly more diverse than it was three years ago. Today’s online platforms call for experts that understand the full spectrum of all digital channels. While you may have in-house marketing personnel that can handle your day to day strategy, having a team with diverse skill sets help you craft your strategy could save you a lot of time and money.
A digital marketing strategy will provide you with structure. It is a guideline for how to make decisions. However there is also no streamlined, packaged-up, digital strategy formula.
Your digital strategy is unique to your business. It depends on:
- Your history
- Your mission
- Your values
- Your growth
- Number of employees
- The platforms you currently use
- What customers are saying about you
- How customers interact with your website
- How customers interact with your social media channels
The list goes on an on. There is not one answer that will help your business grow online. Not only that, the answer is always changing.
Many businesses will set out to create a digital strategy and abandon it when it doesn’t work out for them. It’s understandable why this happens often. A business is able to run and make a profit just by being reactionary. We’ve all heard the saying “the customer comes first” our entire lives. But, focusing on your businesses digital marketing strategy serves the customer. At the same time it can make you more profitable. If your business is currently profitable and thriving without a strategy, it can help you save time and be more productive.
Here are the most common mistakes made when developing a digital marketing strategy:
You create a digital strategy once and never come back to it.
In some cases, a business will follow the strategy closely but never change a thing. In other cases, a business will spend time developing a strategy and then stash it away in a drawer never to be seen again.
One of the most important things to remember in creating a digital strategy is that it is an organic, living document. A business must revisit their strategy and make adjustments from the results they see. Part of the strategy should take this into consideration. Your strategy should tell you how often to revisit your strategy!
You don’t make adjustments based on results.
Look at results of your marketing efforts and use those to make decisions. Is your blog not doing anything to increase revenue no matter how much you post to it? Maybe you don’t need a blog and should focus purely on sales. Maybe your social media isn’t engaging people enough to drive them to read your articles. What are the things you can do to find out?
This is what your strategy is about. The Who, What, How and Why of your digital marketing efforts.
Businesses must be willing to cut things out of their strategy if they aren’t working. For example, if you have exhausted every resource into drawing traffic to your blog, you are spending time and money on producing content that isn’t converting customers. Then perhaps you should do away with your blog and focus elsewhere.
You don’t make decisions based off the right results.
This is a tricky one. There is so much data to collect across all of your digital channels. It is difficult to consolidate the data and derive meaningful results from it. A decision made off of the wrong results could have drastic implications for your business.
For example, I have seen businesses make decisions based on the amount of followers they have on Twitter. They see that their following is low and they react. This reaction results in watered down content or dropping their social media altogether. And perhaps this is the right decision in some cases. However in many cases they have a very engaged following, albeit small. Their minimal following often clicks through to their blog and buys their products. This a simple example of how vanity metrics come into play.
Take the time to look at the results of your digital marketing efforts before making a decision. Run tests to see how they might have an effect on your business. The great thing about the digital world is that it makes it easy to test a market or a new platform. Unsure who to target for you $10,000 Facebook campaign? Create 5 different ads and spend $100 on them to see the results before jumping into a larger campaign.
You work in silos.
The purpose of a digital strategy is to gain a holistic perspective on all marketing efforts online. Many businesses create silos across their channels. They hire a social media person who works to promote their business activities on Facebook and Twitter. They tell their web team to spend months to design and develop a fancy new website. They then hand that off to an SEO expert for a one-time keyword audit. Meanwhile, they have blog writers creating content to get clicks. This content barely represents the mission and values of the company.
This is the norm in today’s environment. The end goal is to align everything across all your digital channels. Your SEO keyword research should be influencing your blog writing. Your blog writing should influence your social media. Your social media should influence your blog writing by telling you what is and isn’t working. These are all just examples, but the point is that your digital strategy should work to get rid of silos.
You don’t get help.
The digital tsunamis IS coming if it is not already here. There are hundreds of platforms out there that your business may be using. There are CRM Tools, Social Media platforms, social media tools, SEO analysis tools, and the list goes on and on. For each of these tools and within each of these platforms is a learning curve. Beyond the learning curve there are trends, algorithms and features that are rapidly changing. Who in your business is going to be able to stay on top of everything in your digital world?
Many small business owners are reluctant to give up control or admit that they need help in an area, or they are too focused on the everyday, core tasks of the business that they run. As I said before, a businesses can still be profitable when it is being reactionary…but a business can be much more profitable when being proactive with a strategy. Use the experts that you find to fill in the gaps in your digital strategy.