IDM Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning Course
Last week I attended a Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning course held by the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. In this blog I discuss some of the issues raised by the course and why a well-planned strategy is fundamental to successful digital marketing campaigns.
For some the word strategy can seem like an invitation to endless “thinking time” and brainstorming sessions. For me however, strategy is a vital part of any campaign, offline or online. Digital strategy can be defined as:
“The process of determining an organisation’s vision, goals, opportunities and related activities in order to maximize the business benefits of digital initiatives to the organization.”
Key digital trends raised by the IDM
The course kicked off with a discussion of some key current trends in digital marketing: wearable tech, frictionless payments and data intelligence. Customers now expect businesses to react to these trends and be up to date with new technology. As businesses, our mission is to understand our customers’ needs and wants in order to be able to serve up the products and services they are looking for. This means utilising the right digital channels in the right way.
But how can you ensure great customer service in a digital world? The answer lies in the planning & execution of a strategy that employs the right tactics to engage your customers.
Understanding your customers
The best way to understand your customers is to find out as much as possible about their interests, habits, needs and wants. Fortunately, nowadays we are easily able to obtain useful data about customer behaviour.
Learning more about where your customers join the buying cycle and which touch points they pass on the way to purchase is vital. Proper analysis helps to create a digital strategy that captures customers at the right time with the right activities. This kind of segmentation is an important part of digital strategy. Grouping customers into personas helps to tailor activities to specific buying behaviours.
Planning tools & strategy framework
Once you begin to understand more about your customers, other elements of your digital strategy can be defined with the help of a planning framework. The IDM course introduced a number of approaches to support a planning framework such as a SOSTAC or SWOT analysis. The well-known SWOT analysis helps you understand the current status quo of the business by analysing strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. SOSTAC (situation, objectives, strategy, tactics, actions and control) on the other hand goes further into detail and expands into strategic elements.
Along with the above tools, the main framework that IDM suggested was RACE. This framework is based on four key action points: reach, act, convert and engage.
As the basis for all following activity, the RACE framework starts with a situation analysis of the business – looking at audience, competitors, and the business’ digital capability. This is followed by setting objectives, KPI’s and formulating a clear mission and vision of the business.
As the main part of the model, the strategy was discussed in the afternoon. We focused on outlining a customer segmentation and engagement strategy as well as opportunities for integration with other marketing channels and the positioning and value proposition of the business. In the second part tactical activities were discussed in detail, concluding with the RACE framework at the end.
This course established that planning and analysis is key to a successful strategy and further emphasised that the process of developing a strategy is never finished. A strategy needs to be adapted and extended based on market developments, customer demands and business expansion.
The Digital Strategy and Planning course with the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing is a one day course delivered face to face. For me personally, this personal approach was perfect, however, everyone learns differently. Luckily, there are so many resources resources online that will bring you up to speed on digital strategy.
What are your thoughts on digital strategy? Does your business get it right?