Trending February 2024 # Is Your Business Making The Right Digital Marketing Investments? # Suggested March 2024 # Top 4 Popular

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and if not, why not?

There is only ever one pot of money for investments in marketing, so it can seem it is spread more thinly each year as you need to engage customers across more digital touchpoints. Worse still, the size of the pot may shrink as budgets are cut.

So, it’s a challenging decision as to where to invest wisely. In our Managing Digital Marketing 2024 we did ask about investments in different types of media and developing digital experiences, but we also thought we would turn the question on its head by asking where the frustrations were with investment in time or budget. We asked respondents where they felt there was insufficient investment which highlighted some common frustrations.

You can see that respondents naturally felt there were a number of areas of underinvestment. That’s to be expected given the fixed or shrinking size of the pot. But what was interesting to me, was that there was that the top two rated areas of underinvestment weren’t related to media or capital expenditure, rather they were around management time.

In our report, we asked a panel of experts to suggest reasons why this is the case.

Jim Sterne, Founder, eMetrics Summit & Digital Analytics Association believes that increasing focus on the customer can help give more focus on measurement and optimisation. He says:

“The only way to deliver relevance is to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ behavior and opinion. Track what they do and ask them how they feel… all the time. Bringing these two data streams together is your only hope for delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time, segment by segment”.

But he acknowledges that managing these two data streams in tandem is a significant challenge. Focusing too much on one or the other, in terms of budget, tools or report weighting, can blur the results and tarnish your decision-making. He suggests that in larger organisation you need two teams – a quantitative group and the qualitative group, and the wisdom to merge the fruits of their intellectual labors.

Joe Edwards, Consultant and Director, Digital and Social Strategy for MOI recommends moving to a new way of integrating testing rather than ‘finding more budget. He explains:

“The term lean / agile marketing seem to be appearing more and more, with ’Measurement, testing and optimisation’ underpinning these. I would argue that perhaps it’s not actually about more investment at all, it’s about re-aligning existing budgets and re-setting objectives.

In lean world it’s about minimum viable product, if we start thinking like that in marketing we’d not need more budget for testing, it would just be built-in, we’d reap the rewards of our marketing efforts, enough to build the next program, where more investment would be a natural by-product of the previous activity, perhaps a holy grail … but if it’s more budget we need then, it’s business case we need to provide, what are your expected outcomes from further investment, can you project or build KPIs around what additional conversions you would hope to achieve.”

Perhaps for many organisations, it’s simply too early to develop their testing and optimisation capabilities. Daniel Rowles, Digital Marketing Trainer and Consultant at Target Internet believes that for many organisations there are more pressing options before testing is but in place. First a capability review digital plan and investment priorities need to be put in place. His experience is that:

It’s surprising how many organisations are still dealing with the basics, but I think this reflects back to need for digital capability auditing and the need for organisational transformation. Without the fundamental building blocks in place that will give the right environment for digital, no progress can be made.

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This research from Smart Insights in association with the TFM&A 2024 event explores approaches businesses use to plan and manage their investments in digital marketing. Findings and recommendations are grouped into 6 areas to improve the commercial contribution of their digital marketing.

Recommended Guide: Managing Digital Marketing 2024 report

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What Is Digital Marketing And Best Strategies Of Digital Marketing?

What is digital marketing?

Marketing is tied in with connecting the audience. Digital marketing alludes to online marketing or web-marketing endeavors to make your business perceived on the web. Offer the promotion on different digital channels with the assistance of a digital marketing office is additionally important for web marketing that assists with improving your brand awareness.

How digital marketing function?

Also read: Best 12 Vocabulary Building Apps for Adults 2023?

Advantages of Digital Marketing:

Digital marketing encourages you to drive more organic traffic to your website from various online stages.

It permits you to connect with the targeted audience.

It encourages you to build conversion rates.

It assists with contacting the individuals who utilize versatile gadgets, for example, tablets, smartphones, and so on to search for anything.

Strategies that work with digital marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Web optimization is the strategy to make your website simple to crawled, indexed, and to be found on the search engine result page when individuals search for significant inquiries.

Web optimization contains a lot of tools and innovations that assist your website with positioning high in search engine results. It implies more traffic to your website that eventually supports your deals.

There are principally three elements of the SEO that incorporates: On-Page SEO

A most renowned kind of SEO chips away at your webpage, and it contains content, pictures, videos, or code.

Off-Page SEO

It’s difficult to rank your website without the off-page SEO that incorporates guest posting, blogging, quality link building (internal linking, and backlinks).

Technical SEO It streamlines your website for crawling and indexing via search engines. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing one of the most proficient approaches to build your brand awareness in the online commercial center. It is the way toward accepting more traffic to your websites through paid promotions that show up in the search results or paid search posting.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

Social Media Marketing is one of the pivotal variables of Internet Marketing. Publicize your business by sharing posts on social media or by sharing your posts on the numerous foundations of social media, for example, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and some more. It assists with expanding client commitment and put your business on the map in the online commercial center.

Content Marketing Email Marketing Video Marketing

Video Marketing is the freshest addition, and it is one of the most versatile and profitable digital marketing strategies to drive more audience to your website. Visualization influences more than the content, so it assists with drawing in new individuals and builds client commitment that helps deals.

Also read: Top 10 Job Search Websites of 2023


Building an effective startup resembles competition in the present digital world. You can remain ahead in the competition by picking the offshore digital marketing organization that gives successful digital marketing strategies. Search engine optimization, SEM, SMM, Email marketing, content marketing, video marketing are demonstrated as profitable strategies to drive more traffic to your website that at last expands deals and lift your primary concern.

Daniel Abbott

Daniel Abbott is editor in chief & research analyst at The Next Tech. He is deeply interested in the moral ramifications of new technologies and believes in leveraging the data scientist, research and content enhancement to help build a better world for everyone.

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Influencer Marketing Solutions: Which One Is Right For Your Company?

Advantages and drawbacks of different influencer marketing solutions.

Did you know that searches for the term “influencer marketing” increased almost by 200% between 2024 and 2023? And, by just the fifth month of 2023, the average monthly searches have already increased by another 60% compared to 2023.

This clearly indicates how influencer marketing has been growing over the past couple of years. And it definitely doesn’t show any signs of stopping. By 2023, the global spend on influencer marketing is expected to be anywhere between $5 and $10 billion.

The growing popularity and success of influencer marketing have encouraged many marketers to focus more on it. 85% of marketers are using it, and 90% of them have found it to be the most effective form of marketing. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that over 60% of marketers wish to increase their budgets for influencer marketing.

There many tools, platforms, and software solutions available today to assist you with your influencer marketing campaigns. However, not all tools may be suitable for your brand. To understand this better, we’ll take a look at the different types of influencer marketing solutions in this post.

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It is worth mentioning that the influencer marketing space has seen an explosion of companies offering solutions. Most of them follow the below generalizations. Also, most have a varying degree of managed services available. However, please bear in mind that some may break the molds outlined below.

1. Influencer Marketing Agencies

When trying to implement influencer marketing, brands may face challenges in executing their campaigns. One solution to avoid all of the confusion and complexities is to work with an influencer marketing agency.

Influencer marketing agencies can help you connect with influencers to promote your brand’s product or services. Bigger agencies offer services like finding influencers, managing your campaigns, tracking engagement and impressions.

Here are some of the pros and cons of leveraging influencer marketing agencies:


Most influencer marketing agencies can help you manage campaigns across all the major social media platforms. They can help with your marketing campaigns on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.

They facilitate partnerships between you and influencers. Influencer marketing agencies can successfully connect you with influencers from any industry or niche.


The cost of the agency’s services would depend on factors like platforms used, target audience, duration of campaign, etc. Because agencies offer specialized and customized services, the cost may not be viable for small businesses or startups.

With so many influencer marketing agencies in the market, it can be difficult to figure out which ones that are reliable and trustworthy.

Influencer marketing agencies mainly work on social media platforms. But what if a brand also wants to reach their audiences via print or TV? Most agencies don’t implement campaigns other than on social media platforms.

2. Influencer Marketing Platforms

Influencer marketing platforms serve as a medium to connect brands with influencers. And they help to build relationships which are beneficial for both brands and influencers. These platforms offer a wide range of influencers to select from.

Influencer marketing platforms list influencers regardless of whether they have been signed by a MNC or working with a talent manager. Some platforms have a minimum follower count requirement for influencers to join, and generally, they don’t need to pay any joining fees.

Grin, Onalytica, Upfluence, and Hypr are great examples of influencer marketing platforms. These platforms help to connect brands with relevant influencers from their niche.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using influencer marketing platforms:


Since influencer marketing platforms have access to various tools and incredible talent, it is easy for brands to scale up.

With tools for campaign management, it’s easy for brands to keep a close watch on the performance of their campaigns.

Influencer marketing platforms don’t charge influencers to join them. So they have a huge pool of talented macro and micro-influencers from almost every industry.

Influencer marketing platforms offer suggestions to build effective strategies to optimize the outcomes of your marketing campaigns.


When using influencer marketing platforms, you or an in-house expert will need to successfully implement a marketing campaign.

Not all platforms will provide you with efficient and effective strategies to improve your campaign outcomes.

There is no guarantee of finding a relevant influencer for your campaign.

3.  Influencer Marketing Networks

In the context of influencer marketing, an influencer marketing network is a group of influencers who share the same kind of characteristics. Influencers need to “opt-in” to such networks. They need to sign up and agree to the terms and conditions of such networks, sometimes by signing an agreement.

Like in any other network, these influencers also interact and engage with each other. Influencer marketing networks can be beneficial for influencers as members often share useful tools and resources. These are valuable and helpful for other members of the network.

Hello Society, Famebit, and the Tidal Labs are some of the well-known influencer marketing networks.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using influencer marketing networks:


Influencer marketing networks can give you access to an influencer’s audience data. On these networks, influencers sign up and authenticate their social accounts. And that’s how the network gets access to their audience demographic data. Obviously, such data can be extremely useful when you’re trying to identify relevant influencers for your brand.

These networks usually have a marketplace where brands can essentially post a Request For Proposal (RFP). Influencers then send in their proposals which makes it really easy for brands to collaborate.  

Influencer networks typically have a quick and high reply rate. When you contact their influencers, chances are, you’ll get numerous responses quickly.

Many networks have standard rate cards for their influencers for specific content types. So you will be aware of how much it is going to cost you.


Perhaps the biggest shortfall of these networks is the inability to scale. Influencer networks generally have anywhere from 1K to 50K influencers. This makes it difficult to run large-scale activations, local campaigns, especially in secondary markets, or global initiatives.

They do not provide a roster import. You can’t import your own influencers into the software for management. Your current roster would need to sign up for the network.

Smaller networks don’t have high-quality technology or features. They are very basic and simply help connect you to the right influencers. That leaves you to figure out how to manage the content production and performance.

As a brand, if you can find a network that specifically serves your niche – the extra audience insights, vetting of influencers, known pricing, and sometimes higher response rates can offer a lot of value.

Final Thoughts

A single influencer marketing tool won’t be the perfect fit for every company. Companies need to weigh the pros and cons of each solution and ultimately decide how much ownership and control they want over their programs. They should also consider whether or not they have the resources required to make any chosen solution successful.

Is Personal Marketing More Effective Than Digital Marketing?

The only thing that sells is what is visible to customers. Marketing is a very essential part of the business because today’s consumers are spoiled with choices. All the markets have turned into the red ocean, and hence the company has to aggressively market its product to ensure sales. Marketing can be broadly divided into two types −

Digital Marketing − Here the company uses digital media to ensure sales. The various forms of digital marketing could be content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, website marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, and others.

Which is a better form of marketing totally depending upon the consumer segment and the product type.

In today’s article, we will be diving deep into the concepts of both digital marketing and personal selling to determine which is the better mode of communication and in which cases.

The Concept of Personal Selling

It is a crucial part of traditional marketing channels. It is a form of marketing in which the company appoints salespeople so that they can reach out to the consumer and convince them into buying the product or the company’s product. The salesperson is going to provide the consumers with information on why they should purchase this product and also do the competitor’s analysis for the consumers to prove that their product is better than the competitor’s product. It is also known as the “aggressive selling method.” The most beneficial part of this marketing is that it can be extremely personalized and changed according to the mood of the room, and the salesperson can hit the right nerve while interacting. This form of marketing was extensively used when the market came up with water purifiers. Consumers were not ready to believe in the utility of the machine, and the company started door-to-door selling.

The Concept of Digital Marketing Personal Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

It is hard to pick a favorite as both of these methods of marketing are effective. In some cases, we will find digital marketing more effective, while in other cases, personalized marketing will win out. We’ll go over some scenarios to clear the air, and then you can decide which marketing technique to use based on your company’s needs and structure.

When the product is low-priced or a fast-moving consumer good − fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are that category of goods whose selling price is less and is consumed frequently. Examples of FMCG goods could be hair oil, biscuits, juices, and others. Here, the company’s target is to reach as many consumers as possible. The target of FMCG producers is to reach volume sales because the net profit on each product is almost negligible. Hence, we find digital marketing to be the more suitable form of communication for the company. With personal selling, no matter how hard the salesperson tries, they cannot reach more than 20 consumers. More importantly, most consumers will not be interested in detailed information about the product and would find a salesperson to be a hassle.

When the product is technical in nature − When the product that is being sold is highly technical and will save the consumer a lot of time by automating processes, the consumer would prefer personal selling as a mode of communication by the company. These high-end technical products are also going to cost a lot, so the consumers need some human interaction and convincing before signing up. Digital marketing can attract consumers, but they would need personal selling to close the deal. This is applicable in both B2B and B2C segments.

When the company is into B2B selling − B2B sales are typically enormous in terms of cost. In B2C, the consumer would purchase a laptop for their personal use, and when it becomes B2B, the company purchases 1500 laptops for its employees. Companies cannot rely on digital marketing as a source of communication. Again, the cost involved is huge, and more importantly, both parties have to sign agreements to close the deal, which is generally a repetitive thing. The company has to ensure that they maintain good client relationships, so personal selling is a better option for them. The company will not be able to reach thousands of people but will be content if it can close even 50 deals.

When the company is into unsought product sales − unsought products are those that the consumer would not want to purchase willingly. These products generally make the consumer realize their limited time on this earth, and we have a habit of thinking of ourselves as immortal. Some examples of unsought products could be insurance policies, funeral plots, and others. Here, the company cannot rely on digital marketing as a form of marketing because the consumer will turn a blind eye. The company has to resort to personal selling. In personally selling, the salesperson can change their speed according to the mood of the conversation and strike the right nerves. There are important terms and conditions to take care of in the case of insurance policies, so the consumer would seek as much information as possible. Hence, we can conclude that personal selling is a better mode of communication in the case of unsought products.

When the company wants to reach a wider audience − digital marketing is the form of communication that the company should use. In the case of personal selling, the number of customers an employee can reach is very limited, and it is also an expensive mode of communication when compared to digital marketing. With digital marketing, companies can select their target audience and cross all regional boundaries in seconds.

Adapting Your Digital Marketing During Inflation

Adapting your digital marketing strategy could help your business overcome the effects of inflation

Inflation as a consequence of the pandemic has affected most if not all industries, and digital marketing is no exception. As businesses try to overcome the challenges caused by the current economic state, it is necessary for companies to evaluate their digital marketing strategy to ensure they are reaching the right audience online.

What is inflation and how does it affect businesses?

As a marketing professional rather than an economist, it is probably best to give you a more official and informed definition of inflation! According to the IMF, inflation is a broad term used to describe the increased cost of living or an overall rise in prices. It is often mentioned in relation to a specific country.

Inflation: the global picture

With consumers spending less on non-essentials and focusing more on the necessities during times of inflation, we believe businesses will need a strong digital marketing strategy now more than ever, to ensure their product or service still entices new and existing consumers. As prices increase, so does the importance of having clear and consistent digital marketing. 

Many countries are reporting the effect of increased cost of living on their economy, so adapting your digital marketing strategy to ensure you are correctly targeting consumers is the recommended approach.

Headlines from across the world

Is the economy in a recession? 

Recession imminent in UK

Why a US recession could cause trouble for India

How can businesses adapt to meet the needs of consumers facing inflation?

One way to ensure that your business meets the needs of consumers is by remaining up-to-date with economic news. By doing this, you make sure that your business is sympathetic towards consumers’ needs in the current climate and can adapt to meet such needs. 

As a female, UK-based consumer, whether it’s the weekly food shop, beauty products or any other purchases, I actively try to buy from brands that are ethically aware and do their part to help their community. Yes, I would say the cost of items is a factor in my decision-making – and it may become more important with the rise of inflation – but I honestly do pay a lot of attention to branding. Is the brand and its tone of voice consistent? Does the business have a user-friendly website and/or a well-designed shop? What is it doing to help its users and the environment?

The more a business, whether local or otherwise, has a strong overall brand, the more likely it is to gain my attention and make me think about purchasing the product or service.

A key point to remember is that as inflation rises, so does the need to have a strong digital marketing strategy to stand out from your competitors. This is because, as a business owner, the need to adapt to better target your consumers increases during challenging times.

“Production is the only answer to inflation”

But what does this really mean?

While there is more than one way to interpret this quote, I would say Chester is stating that the one solution to combat inflation is to continue innovating. By providing a product or service that uses new technology and is frequently updated to offer better solutions, you will help your business to remain relevant during such challenging times. 

If you put yourself in the shoes of a consumer (and prospective customer of your business), then you can carefully think about, and truly appreciate, their need for innovative products and services. This is where customer personas are also really useful, as creating and refining personas helps you visualize your customers and critically assess their goals. The better your understanding of the target consumers’ aims and business needs, the more you can tailor your product or service and position it as a crucial resource for helping them reach their goals.

How does a digital marketing strategy fit into the process of adapting your business?

Well, to be frank, for many industries there is little point in adapting your product offering or service if you don’t ensure that your target audience is aware of the improvements you have made and how it can benefit them.

By adapting your digital marketing strategy, you can ensure that both existing and prospective customers are informed of changes and reminded of how you can help them. From email marketing to using social media to share business updates, digital marketing channels are broad and will enable you to spread the word about your business effectively and in the way you want.

How to adapt your digital marketing

So, how do you adapt your digital marketing strategy to grow your business? Be sure to consider the following points:

Maintain a consistent tone of voice across digital marketing channels

While LinkedIn will require a more formal tone than say Instagram, you still want your brand messaging to be consistent. You can achieve consistent brand messaging by ensuring you use an authentic writing style across all platforms. 

Don’t use language that feels ‘forced’ or isn’t in-keeping with your brand: consumers can see right through this! Just because you’re adapting your business, doesn’t mean you should completely change the language you use to communicate with your followers.

Don’t forget, many of your existing followers on social media will already be familiar with your brand and some are likely to be existing customers of your business. So, a sudden or drastic difference in brand messaging or tone of voice could be picked up by them and may seem unauthentic and off putting.

Always keep your customer personas in mind

Whether you’re sharing a new blog via social media or you’re promoting a new product you’re offering, always consider customer personas when you adapt your digital marketing strategy. Think about their pain points and how your product or service enables them to overcome or minimize these. 

Perhaps you’ve launched a new IT solution to reduce computer viruses, or you’ve updated your accounting software to make payroll more efficient – either way, you need to establish how this helps your target audience and communicate that to them. 

Once you’ve identified the benefit of your product or service, make this clear via digital marketing and prospective customers will recognize the value your business could bring them.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news – both economic and general

Remaining informed about world events is very helpful, as you can then adapt your digital marketing to meet the needs of your target audience. 

If you’re a local business, make sure you’re staying aware of local and national news, so your digital marketing remains topical. 

For larger businesses, global news will help you maintain an awareness of what’s affecting your different markets. Again, your digital marketing will be relevant to your customers and will demonstrate compassion and understanding. 

Understanding the importance of current affairs in how you position your business and your brand can help ensure you stand out from your competitors and may even help you gain engagement on social media too.

To find out more ways to adapt your digital marketing strategy and help grow your business during inflation, download our free 10 growth insights resource.  

RACE Ahead Of Inflation

Download our 10 growth insights to create a RACE digital marketing strategy during inflation

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If you think this blog is helpful, but you don’t have a comprehensive marketing plan yet, don’t worry. Our free RACE resource will explain how to create this plan, so you can transform your digital marketing.

Do you now feel more aware of how to adapt your digital marketing strategy? If not, what other information would help you optimize your digital marketing? Comment below and let us know.

Perhaps you’re already adapting your marketing strategy to meet the needs of consumers during inflation. If so, we’d love to know how this is benefiting your business.

Know somebody who would gain something from reading this article? Why not share it with them, or with your social network, so you can help others find ways to improve their digital marketing and share tips with each other?

Digital Transformation Strategy To Grow Your Business

Let’s look at a practical example from the banking sector of how transformation fuels growth. This usability research on the UX of banking involved competitor benchmarking where different activities like opening an account were logged and compared.

This study highlights the digital disruption caused by challenger banks and how some industry incumbents have improved their customer experience, but others haven’t. The findings are shocking… Look at the difference between the 10+ days for an account to become active from existing banks in comparison to the 2-3 days for an account to be active from challenger banks like Monzo, Starling and Metro.

Yet, each of these issues can be solved through a defined transformation programme which follows a logical process and defines the main activities that need to be prioritized.

Recognizing the need for a managed transformation process in an organization is an essential early part of the process in order to get the buy-in and investment needed to make transformation a success. Consider some of the common problems if you don’t have a structured transformation plan (read more in our post 10 reasons you need a digital strategy ):

It’s clear that the customer experience is much poorer when the process takes much longer and this will translate into frustrated customers and lost business.

Some traditional banks like Barclays and Lloyds have revised their back office process using STP (straight-through processing), so that they offer a 2-day turnaround process. In terms of digital experiences, the challenger banks perform even better and some of the traditional companies offer a much poorer experience.

What process should be followed to structure a transformation plan?

To follow an established process for digital transformation strategy, we recommend combining the Smart Insights RACE planning system and PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning Model.

SOSTAC® is a widely used tool for marketing and business planning which is rated in the top three most popular marketing models in our review of Marketing Models that have stood the test of time. The SOSTAC® process covers six steps which apply well to managing digital transformation:

Situation Analysis






Created in the 1990s by writer and speaker PR Smith, the SOSTAC® framework has built an authoritative reputation as the framework of choice for different scales of business including multinational and start-up organizations across the world.

Smart Insights RACE explains the detail needed to prioritize digital marketing activities since it gives a comprehensive definition of 25 activities that should be considered for prioritization on your digital transformation roadmap. These are summarized in this infographic which explains how the SOSTAC activities relate to RACE.

Let’s now consider the digital transformation activities involved in each step…

Stage 1. Situation analysis and performance review

This review should assess opportunities for deploying digital marketing and technology in your organization and reviewing the limitations involved. Analysis of your digital activity compared to competitors should be part of this. Activities to include at this stage are:

SWOT analysis: what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the whole organization? We recommend a digital-specific or multichannel digital channel SWOT – see examples.

Who your digital customers currently are: What types of audience personas interact with you?  You can see more examples and guidance in the Smart Insights Persona Toolkit.

Competitor analysis: How do they compete online across the 5Ds of digital? e.g. price, product, customer service, reputation, what are their key differentiators?

Digital channel performance: What is the effectiveness of different channels such as search, social media and email marketing in supporting acquisition?

Stage 2. Objectives

Stage 2 of your digital transformation plan should define the objective/s of your transformation strategy. Consider the 5 Ss goals refer to Sell, Serve, Speak, Save and Sizzle as SMART objectives.

We recommend that objectives are clearly aligned with strategies to achieve your goals. Drivers of these objectives include business goals and market research insight. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should also be detailed.

Source: Digital, Marketing, Strategy, Implementation and Practice, 7th edition, by Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick

Objective setting relates to the control stage where it’s important to use the right dashboard and performance review approach to improve performance.

Stage 3. Strategy and governance

Strategy defines how you plan to achieve the objectives set for customer acquisition, conversion and retention.

For transformation projects, you need to select strategic initiatives to achieve your goals. Decisions about investment, resourcing and governance which are also highlighted in the action section.

The Deloitte CMO survey highlights how transformation projects can support business growth strategies business:

Typically, much investment in digital marketing communications is focused on market penetration of existing products into existing markets. However, transformation strategy should also consider more disruptive strategies to support product development and market development.

Digital technologies give opportunities for digital or digitally augmented services to enter new geographic or customer markets at a low cost. So transformation strategy relates closely to market segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) strategies. These will require review of  business and revenue models related to the 4Ps including Product, Place, Pricing and Positioning.

Writing on LinkedIn, Andrew Annacone, Managing Partner at TechNexus Venture Collaborative recommends there are four types of transformation to consider:

Business process: Improving the efficiency of selling and buying processes and communications (he doesn’t acknowledge marketing as a process…)

Business model: Opportunities for digital sales

Domain: This relates to opportunities for new product development and market development

Cultural/organizational: Highlighting the need for careful change management, skills development and restructuring

Digital governance

Governance is a key success factor for digital transformation projects covering issues such as resourcing, skills development, team structure, performance review and improvement process. Digital government also covers how these activities are supported by marketing technology. The McKinsey 7S framework provides a useful way to review these governance decisions.

Stage 4. Tactics

Tactics cover the specific tools of the digital mix that you plan to use to realize the objectives of your plan. In practice, these tactics are delivered as ’always-on’ digital communications across the customer lifecycle. Planning in these integrated digital and traditional communications which go beyond marketing campaign communications are needed to make the most of the opportunities of digital marketing, yet they are often missed if a structured transformation approach hasn’t been followed.

As our customer lifecycle analysis visual shows, ‘always-on’ paid, earned and owned digital media are particularly important. If you can encourage initial interactions with a brand based on search intent to buy a product, there are opportunities to design integrated communications to influence audiences throughout the customer lifecycle using email automation, web personalization, and re-targeting.

When completing your performance review you will need to have considered your existing capabilities to deliver these.  Access our free digital marketing benchmarking templates to review your performance across RACE.

Our six pillars of success are based on what we have often seen to be missing parts of the planning puzzle when consulting and training with many companies from small to large.

The six pillars of success for digital marketing tactics

To simplify this complexity from the hundreds of tools and communications channels to potentially use, we recommend six key pillars for success for implementing transformation which must be sufficiently resourced and a dedicated strategy created. These are shown in the visual.

Key activities for the six digital pillars

The first two pillars relate to Objective setting and Control. Governance should be considered as part of strategy. The other tactics are four key implementation factors. For each, we recommend guides and templates our premium members can use to learn more.

1. Planning and governance

What?  A dedicated or integrated plan for increasing the commercial contribution of digital channels for a business

Why?  Our research shows that it’s common for businesses to not have integrated strategic plans or sufficient investment in digital marketing

Deliverables? Digital marketing strategy or transformation plan or a dedicated digital section integrated into marketing plan. Skills development plan. Marketing technology plan.

2. Goals and measurement

What? Customizing goals in Google Analytics and integrating data from different sources into a reporting dashboard system for quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily review

Why? Using a data-driven performance review system helps review your always-on and campaign-based activities to regularly review performance against target and then to take actions to drive growth. Many businesses haven’t customized analytics goals sufficiently.

Deliverables: Google Analytics audit and digital marketing dashboards

3. Media

What? Using always-on paid, owned and earned digital media to generate brand awareness and drive targeted initial website visits and repeat visits. Update campaign process playbooks

Why?  Always on media investment is essential to tap into customer intent as they search for products and services and review on social media and publisher sites

Deliverables?  Customer acquisition plan. Updated campaign plan and editorial calendar plans

4. Content marketing

What?  A defined content marketing strategy engages and converts prospects provided content is surfaced via the website experience through clear customer journeys

Why?  Quality content fuels search, social, email and PR activities and support conversions

Deliverables?  Content audit. Content marketing strategy. Content distribution plan including influencer outreach.

5. Digital Experience (website)

What?  Company websites (and mobile apps where relevant) are at the heart of marketing since they position your brand to support online and offline lead generation and sale

Why?  Websites often fail to provide clear customer journeys, emphasize brand value and differentiation or surface relevant content recommendations to support purchasers

Deliverables?  Customer personas. Website effectiveness audit. CRO plan.

6. Conversational messaging

What?  Personalized messaging across email marketing, mobile messaging (push notifications and SMS), website-based personalization and chat (human-assisted)

Why?  Personalized communications maximize relevance, interaction and response

Deliverables? Email / marketing automation contact and targeting strategy. Sales cadences. Website personalization strategy including chat-based tools. Digital customer care plan.

Stage 5. Action

Stage 5  is focused on turning your plan into action. The action section covers what needs to be achieved for each of the tactics listed in the previous sections of the SOSTAC® plan to realize the objectives of your digital marketing plan.

This will include project plans and roadmaps of activities as recommended in our transformation toolkit.

Change management plans are a key success factor for transformation since staff need to be fully involved and informed as changes introduced will affect their way of working. Our change management for digital transformation recommends best practice approaches.

It will also include consideration of your marketing technology stack as described in our guide to marketing technology selection.

Stage 6. Control

Our RACE digital marketing dashboard in Google Sheets is used by our premium members to review performance based on an API integration with Google Analytics.

Summary – your digital transformation strategy success factors

Success in transformation requires sufficient investment in digital marketing activities. We recommend transformation projects ensure sufficient investment across these six pillars:

Digital marketing governance or management: Governance defines the resources and infrastructure needed to develop strategies, action plans, resources, budgets, and KPI dashboards to test, learn, refine, and integrate all marketing and sales communications. Key infrastructure investments are marketing technology, data, insight and optimization.

Digital goals and measurement. Setting SMART objectives and defining goals in analytics for regular review and corrective action using digital marketing dashboards.

Digital media: Grow awareness through integrating paid, owned, and earned media with sufficient investment to gain visibility as customers search for your products and services.

Digital content marketing: Create quality, sector-leading content to fuel all your marketing activities from search to social to email marketing.

Digital customer experience: Optimize websites, apps, and company social media pages. Integrate your digital marketing with customer-facing sales and support staff to engage, explain, and convert.

Digital messaging or ‘conversation marketing’: Deploy personalized communications to welcome, educate, and nurture prospects and customers across websites, email marketing, and mobile notifications.

In our experience of reviewing organizational digital capabilities as part of digital transformation projects, we find that there is often a listless approach to improving digital marketing. Once projects are completed, pages are implemented or products launched, it’s easy to feel that the job is done. This thinking is transferable to in-house digital marketing skills and processes. It’s critical that you ask yourself regularly: “This is how we’re doing it now, but what can we do to improve?”

Here’s a summary checklist of 10 key success factors for digital transformation that you need to communicate as part of your vision of how an organization needs to change in the future:

1. Management and governance: Engaging all relevant stakeholders to define a vision for how digital can strengthen the organization. Setting goals and selecting costed digital initiatives in a prioritized roadmap that align with your business strategy.

2. Brand development: Digital media and data should enhance your brand, by designing and developing a digital value proposition for your target audiences that complements your existing brand characteristics and counters digital disruption in your sector.

3. Integrated lifecycle communications activities: Digital is sometimes treated as a silo, but customer journey and contact strategy should select relevant paid, owned and earned media activities across digital AND traditional communications. These include both ‘always-on’ and campaign communications.

4. Content: The quality of digital and physical content and how it is surfaced at different points in the customer journey through relevant website design and content distribution channels like search, social, and email marketing is the most important practical factor in increasing reach and persuasion.

5. User experience: Research shows that a poor website experience will result in lost business and a lack of engagement with internal stakeholders. So benchmarking and reviewing both product and relevant digital experience through voice of the customer (VoC) and surveys is a key part of transformation. The website, increasingly accessed by smartphone, is traditionally the key digital experience alongside email marketing. Social media platforms are often the main experience of a brand online in some sectors, particularly as social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn seek to own service transactions between brands and their customers.

6. Resourcing: People, organizational structures and agencies. You will have some digital specialists and agencies, but as part of transformation, it’s important to ensure digital marketing competencies are developed across the organization through skills audits and training.

7. Change management: Digital transformation should be an organization-wide initiative which will be implemented over a period of several years. So ensuring your teams understand the why, what and how of transformation and the impact on their work is important.

8. Improvement process: We believe in a data-driven approach to improvement which requires relevant insights from digital analytics and audience research to inform structured testing such as AB testing to improve the effectiveness of your communications.

9. Data and insight: Digital interactions generate vast quantities of data, but this is only of value if it is applied to improve the customer experience and your results. So defining a process for combining digital analytics with customer and market research is needed.

10. Marketing  technology: This is the last factor since selecting the right systems is most important as an enabler to support your digital transformation strategy.

These success factors are consistent with McKinsey research on unlocking success in digital transformations which highlights the importance of senior involvement for governance and to support change management and collaboration.

How can Smart Insights help?

Our premium Smart Insights resources are dedicated to helping businesses navigate the transformation process. Use the transformation playbook in our Digital transformation toolkit to check the key activities to include in your roadmap.

Each learning path integrates with Word, Excel and Powerpoint templates to help you map, plan and manage your transformation.

Recommended learning paths:

Digital transformation course – for leaders managing digital transformation projects

RACE planning course – for team members creating and implementing strategies

Channel-specific courses covering digital channels and planning techniques including Campaign Planning, Analytics, SEO, content marketing, digital experience, email marketing automation and Social media marketing

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