This week, we touch on digital marketing and its relationship to your overall digital strategy.
Part three of a series
Digital Marketing vs. Digital Strategy
The customer journeys envisioned likely begin before someone is a customer. Thus, Digital Marketing activities are increasingly important to comprehensive digital strategies. More organizations are asking the CMO or Marketing organization to take the lead in defining the end-to-end customer experience, both pre- and post-post sale, so the line between marketing and servicing is as blurry as ever.
Depending on who we work with in an organization, some clients may equate digital marketing with digital strategy. However, this is the narrowest definition of digital strategy and may limit opportunities to truly leverage digital. Regardless of its role in the overall strategy, Digital Marketing requires new capabilities beyond traditional marketing and every digital strategy needs to consider this component.
In the first post we introduced the Digital Strategy Continuum. For organizations that are young in their Digital maturity, or are targeted in their digital investments, their digital strategy may more narrowly focus on establishing their digital presence and/or leveraging digital marketing to stay relevant in the eyes of their prospects and customers. They develop digital marketing programs and marketing operations that drive traffic to their on- or off-line channels and ultimately drive sales and retention. This may be their digital strategy.
To fully leverage the opportunities of digital, most organizations will consider Digital Marketing including digital content, creative, targeted social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Marketing Analytics activities. Integrating digital marketing with other components of digital (sales apps, customer retention apps, customer data in CRM for cross-sell, etc.) can yield greater returns on digital marketing investment.
A good digital marketing component of digital strategy starts with, “What are we trying to achieve with our target audiences?” Some companies have found themselves investing in digital marketing without this focus on the outcome and thus have failed to realize much benefit from their spend.
Digital Marketing Components
Digital Marketing strategies add specific new capabilities to the traditional marketing function and the role of each is often considered as part of developing a digital strategy.
A broad, integrated Digital Marketing strategy is a significant component of digital and could be a whole topic itself, as Digital Marketing requires a broad set of specialized skills and tools. Understanding today’s digital ecosystem and how to optimize your marketing activities within it requires understanding of practices and technologies that didn’t exist ten years ago. Some of these skills will be new to organizations that haven’t focused here. Partnering with outside firms that understand how to effectively use and measure the results of these marketing capabilities as part of a broader marketing strategy and as part of the broader digital strategy can help if you haven’t done this before. Selecting a partner that can bring this full range of business, marketing and technology expertise can help you pull it all together and avoid potential islands of data and capabilities. Outsourcing creation of a website to a specialist that doesn’t help you consider integration (and support) requirements can create headaches down the road for your IT department and may limit your overall return on investment.
Starting with specific, targeted business outcomes and the needed digital marketing components allows you to learn, adjust and expand as you evolve. Once you establish the marketing activities that should become part of your ongoing capabilities, build out a Marketing Operations organization that can orchestrate, manage and refine these activities at needed scale. This will help avoid the outdated website, blog that hasn’t had a post for six months and makes digital marketing more sustainable and integrated into digital business as usual.
Digital Marketing is a critical piece of a Digital Strategy, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Whether starting there or incorporating digital marketing capabilities into a broader digital strategy, defining these specific capabilities, plans and resources as part of your strategy are key.