Now is the perfect time for planning and refining your 2017 digital marketing strategy, and before putting pen to paper (or more likely mindmap to spreadsheet), take a step back and think about the integrated opportunities that can drive your strategic digital success in 2017 and beyond.
In this article, I share some of my favourite and successful, practical tips for making the most out of integration within digital marketing, planning, and strategic thinking. At this stage, let me set expectations, of what I mean by ‘integrated marketing’ and offer some information on why businesses need a strategy:
Integrated Marketing is an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer. The DMA.org.
Why integration matters online
Before exploring tips and advice for creating an integrated strategy for your digital marketing, it’s important to consider the value that an integrated thinking can bring to your business. This is even more imperative with the online industry, as many experts are by design, very much single specialist orientated, which can lead to isolated working environments, and segmented team approaches to marketing.
What you are looking to achieve with integrated working is, the added value derived by combining the expertise of specialism with the added outcomes of group think, and effective team working.
Here’s an example of what integrated working can look like in practice, and where digital specialists can sit within the information seeking and buying process.
Source: Vertical Leap ‘How companies win when SEO, UX and CX talk‘.
Creating an integrated working environment
When you effectively have distinct industry specialists (SEO, PPC, CRO, etc.) working together it is not unrealistic to achieve a force multiplier effect through the outcomes gained. Some of the core focus areas to support successful digital expert working include:
- Making data accessible to all parties.
- Confirming expected project working and ‘team think’ requirements.
- Having an identified cross team / project leader.
- Being proactive with communication and facilitate easy team collaboration.
- Ensuring everyone understands team roles, responsibilities, and tasks.
In addition to the above, make it clear from the outset what an integrated approach looks like and set/manage the expectations. You will need to propose, agree, and communicate expected end results, ensure you have the right people in place needed to deliver on them, and throughout the process reassess how successfully you are progressing towards achieving them.
Planning to succeed from the outset
The basics of an integrated website, or digital strategy are built using the same foundations as any other business strategy – you need to:
Have a clear mission statement / objective. What do you want to achieve? If this is longer than a single paragraph (or two at most), you are likely over-thinking this. The more refined the objective the greater the chance of people understanding it, and being able to contribute towards it. An example objective could be ‘Increase total unique visitors to your website in 2017 by 70%’.
Set the overarching strategy. The strategy provides an easy to understand overview of how you will deliver the objective. An example strategy tied to the above objective could be – ‘Turn the website into a content rich, information hub for business to grow non-brand visibility and traffic’.
Decide core tactics. This will enable experts to add value at the ideation stages of an integrated digital strategy, support cross-team buy-in from the start, and set expectations on what people are required to deliver. Remaining on this theoretical example, tactics may include; creating new content hubs, paid content promotion, social PR, email marketing, SMS marketing, and expanding the current affiliate network.
Agree KPI’s and metrics. It’s important that everyone involved in the project understand what success looks like, and how it is measured. Key Performance Indicators for this project would likely include benchmarks and targets set for:
- traffic by source
- social sharing
- non-brand impressions
- topic/theme traffic
- topic/theme rankings
Understanding and maximising specialist roles
Whether you are working in-house or with an external agency, freelancers, or other resource areas, it is unlikely that every digital marketing quality is fully fulfilled by a single person. Your ability to understand, and play on the strengths of the resources you have at your disposal (and by contrast overcome many of the barriers) is important from the start of your digital strategy planning.
Through understanding and making the most from specialist roles at your disposal you are able to create the perfect search anatomy for the project needs.
Practical integrated strategy creation tips
Here are a few of my integrated strategy creation tips which I hope you will find useful when creating your next digital strategy. Please do comment and add to this with tactics and tips you have found beneficial too.
- Make sure that you are placing the end user at the forefront of the strategy. It can be surprisingly easy to focus so much on integrated working that you overlook the end goal.
- Have a plan, but don’t rigidly adhere to it. An important element of any strategy is evaluation and refinement. Changing course is not failure, it is an imperative aspect of making the most out of changeable data, tactic successes and potential impact.
- Remember integration requires teamwork. Integrated working is not a dictatorship, but a collaborative environment for sharing and nurturing ideas, enriching end results, and empowering skilled staff to deliver results.
- Set review deadlines throughout the delivery of your integrated digital strategy. You need to know what you are achieving, and how everyone in the project team is contributing towards the objective throughout. Team scrums can work well for this as they are informal, require minimal planning, and often take 15 minutes of less to complete.
All other images have been used with permission from Vertical Leap.