September 10, 2014 ↘︎

Dear Marketing Director, is your digital strategy working?

This isn’t a trick question. This post won’t explain why it’s important to know that your digital strategy is working. Leading a brand marketing team of any size or shape you’ll be under no illusion that optimising your digital marketing activity, alongside influencing your company’s overall digital behaviour, is a complex but fundamental part of your daily life.

As marketing director you may well be familiar with that queasy feeling of uncertainty that hangs around when you know that your marketing activity is achieving ‘something’ but you can’t be certain if it’s genuinely making a difference.

As far as digital, our most measurable of mediums, is concerned this queasiness can magnify exponentially as you inevitably find yourself ever more involved in broader discussions around the overall digital orientation of your business. I say inevitably because, as the person responsible for the way that consumers perceive your brand, you’re forced to acknowledge that alongside your campaign-led digital marketing there’s also the ‘always on’ contact points to manage.

To add to the complexity, social media, your brand website, e-commerce, online customer service, consumer forums, etc. are no longer the sole preserve of the marketing team. With this brings the further pain of integrating better with your internal digital people, your customer service function, your data analysts, whoever. The fact is, now your job is not only to integrate all of the digital tools at your disposal, but also to ensure they’re effectively orchestrated. You need to be able to present a seamless consumer experience and achieve a measurable performance against your brand objectives.

You simply have to be able to demonstrate that what you’re doing IS working.

Answer: Is your digital activity creating deeper relationships with your brand?

Digital marketing, like ALL marketing, is about creating relationships between a brand and it’s consumers. But how do we go about measuring relationships? The traditional ‘Adoption Funnel’ is the go-to model. However, it’s no longer a linear flow; the consumer journey is a maze of entrances and exits, a network of routes and pathways, into and out of contact with brands.

Are you relating your digital marketing activity back to the Adoption Funnel? Can you be sure that you’re evolving your audience’s affinity with your brand?  To measure this we need to understand their behaviour much more deeply. Therefore any digital marketing activity needs to be evaluated not just on its own channel specific metrics, but also on the basis of how it’s helping to evolve relationships between the brand and its consumers.

ACTIONS speak louder

To truly measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy and truly know if it’s having an impact on your audience’s affinity with your brand we have to move away from fluffy metrics that attempt to interpret broad behaviours. Instead, we need to assign a clear ‘ACTION’ metric to each and every piece of digital marketing activity. We must hardwire your digital activity to influence, and ultimately change, consumer behaviour in ways that shift them through your brand’s ‘Adoption Funnel’.

To effectively measure these actions you need to identify the critical digital behaviours that represent key points of evolution and conversion. You then need to measure these actions consistently, creating a ‘dashboard’ of relevant information that can deliver regular insights as to what is and isn’t working. Soon enough you’ll shift your focus from evaluating via ‘gut feel’ and ‘soft’ metrics to focusing on ‘validated actions’.

The future is bright

Do you have this information at your fingertips?  If not, don’t worry – the future is bright. You can have the clarity of analysis, you can have the insights into your audience’s digital behaviour and how they influence brand affinity.
How? By implementing a clear segmentation, engagement and optimisation strategy. Once in place, all of this ‘dashboard’ information and more is available to you; to help direct, inspire, instruct and ultimately optimise your digital marketing activity.

What will happen if I don’t?” I hear you ask. In simple terms, you’ll leave yourself susceptible to the pitfalls of ‘fashionista thinking’. I’m sure that you’ll recognise this – it’s the sort of thinking that can lead to a stream of “innovative digital activity”. But can also lack cohesion and consistency that results in creating fits and starts of digital effectiveness that don’t come close to shifting your consumers’ behaviour. That’s a difficult boardroom discussion given that investment in digital marketing within most companies shows no signs of reducing or slowing.

I’ll be writing further on the topics of digital transformation, how effective analytics and strategic planning can enhance marketing ROI, how you can best resource and structure your marketing team to optimise your digital activity, key team skills and resources and more. Please do check back to follow the conversation, and if in the meantime you’d like to have a chat about how we can help you towards your own digital transformation feel free to contact us.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on September 10, 2014.
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