Trending February 2024 # Marketing Strategy Integration: Align Your Objectives With Your Vision # Suggested March 2024 # Top 8 Popular

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An integrated marketing strategy means every element of your marketing plan must contribute towards your vision for the business, or be cut out of the day to day workload

Lack of integration between strategic vision and the tactics needed to get there is a problem I often find when reviewing marketing strategies. That’s why I created the RACE Framework as a simple one-page summary to unify your marketing strategy through goals, objectives, and KPIs.

This is true whether I’m reviewing student assignments or mentoring marketers creating real-world marketing strategies. More often than not, I find myself reading about different aspects of marketing objectives and tactics that just don’t line up with each other – and leave you questioning why.

Marketing strategy definitions:

Investopedia defines marketing strategy as: Referring to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services.

Market Business News defines marketing strategy as: A company’s marketing goals and objectives combined into a single comprehensive plan.

Pestle Analysis defines marketing strategy as: An analysis of all aspects of your sales activity and combines it in a way so that all departments know what is going on.

These 3 definitions highlight the strengths of a concise marketing strategy to align your objectives with your vision, and the benefits for your team. That’s why we recommend the RACE framework.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing, also called online marketing or internet marketing, is defined by Dr. Dave Chaffey as:

“Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital media, data and technology”.

If you’re using digital marketing techniques to achieve your marketing strategy goals, check out Dr. Dave’s digital marketing explainer to stay up to date on all things digital marketing 2023.

The RACE framework

RACE is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing strategy. Ultimately, it’s about using a data-driven approach, applying web analytics and recommended best practices to get more commercial value from your investments in digital marketing.

Integrating your omnichannel strategy will support your goals of channeling customers through the funnel of PLAN, REACH to ENGAGE, by measuring and tracking the most important touchpoints for your business right now.

If you’re looking for a new marketing plan structure that helps you integrate your marketing activities and prioritize channels that generate growth, why not download our free digital marketing plan template?

Free digital marketing plan template

Our popular marketing planning template is structured across the Smart Insights RACE Framework. Join Smart Insights as a Free Member to download our digital marketing plan template today

Access the Free digital marketing plan template

Marketing strategy example

The chart below is an example marketing strategy using the RACE framework to integrate objectives, substantiation, strategies, and KPIs.

1. SMARTER objectives are not a new concept in marketing. This means committing to quantified objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Likely, grouped around customer acquisition, conversion, or retention. You can use our set digital marketing goals and objectives module to improve your goal/objective setting technique.

2. Substantiation i.e. Evidence proving your goals are realistic based on situational analysis or creating conversion models.

3. Strategies to achieve objectives. Outline the main ways you will reach your objectives. You may wish to follow the strategy, tactics, action, and control format from PR Smith’s SOSTAC® structure. It’s also worth thinking about the full range of goals indicated by the 5Ss.

I recommend this table layout for aligning your strategies with your objectives since it provides a simple one to two-page summary of your marketing strategy. Much more effective than a long report your colleagues or clients won’t read…

RACE has been widely adopted by marketing professionals since it helps simplify your approach to reviewing the performance of your online marketing and taking actions to improve its effectiveness.

Marketing strategy alignment in 2023

Did you know, nearly half of companies don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy? But of those who do, the majority have integrated it into the marketing strategy.

Currently, about 12% are still using a separate digital document, which is the first step in the process towards a fully integrated strategy.

In 2023, the stakes are higher than ever – those without a digital marketing strategy, and those using separate digital strategies, risk losing customers to competitors whose marketing is aligned.

Now’s the time to streamline and prioritize your marketing strategy for business growth. We’ve got marketing tools, templates and training to support marketers, managers, and business owners to align their strategies in 2023. Don’t wait until tomorrow to start optimizing your marketing funnel, start today.

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Sem Strategy In 2023: More Ahead With Your Year In Review

Hello, my dear fellow search marketer, and welcome to 2023.

It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions, or at the very least, be prepared to make some changes for the new year.

Unlike my New York Jets, there is ample opportunity to drop the crappy “guru” you’ve hired, forecast out a budget (even in a recession), play with a new bid strategy, make memes about Performance Max/GA4 and give Bing (I still refuse to call it Microsoft Advertising) the fighting chance it deserves.

Also, don’t forget to migrate your Twitter ad budget to something actually stable.

So, let’s discuss what you should be doing now, what you went through in 2023, and what you need to do in 2023.

Think of this as a really nerdy and “snarkastic” visitation of three ghosts.

What Should You Be Doing Right Now?

It’s the beginning of 2023, so you’re running a bit late – but you can still make up for lost time.

Forecasting A 2023 Budget

You’ve seen how to forecast search budgets year after year: the old “determine impression share (IS) lost due to budget and had 3%-5% increase in CPC assuming strategy stays the same” method.

Then the pandemic came along, and forecasting got a little iffier. Now, that method lacks some weight.

Why? There are a variety of theories, but for now, let’s just call it “inflation.”

If you keep the typical approach, expect to add anywhere from 10%-15% on brand CPC growth YoY in Q1 and, likely, more along the lines of 4%-7% growth on non-brand. This comes from our own in-house estimate – yours should vary.

Next, the ugly elephant in the room – Performance Max – appears. But it gets more complicated if you migrate smart shopping over to Performance Max as well.

Look at Google’s recommendation tool, see what it says for growth on a budget (because we all know it never says less), take 15%-25% off that growth level (kill off the buffer), and try that.

Or, gradually scale upward of 5%-10% from your current budget, assuming you hit budget caps consistently while flexing up and down for seasonality.

As I said, neither option is great.

It’ll help you understand where your current strategy/bids are, causing you to miss opportunities.

This is a good time to pace out your budget (if you’re like me, you have a planned budget to spend for literally every day of the year, which will vary based on anticipated demand).

Content Calendar/Seasonal Flighting Planning

Often this is not as applicable if you’re new to a piece of business, but it should 100% be part of your plan.

If you aren’t new to the business and you haven’t done this, then you are Mr. Wilson of the Jets and deserve to be benched.

Make sure you know your deals, seasonality for peaks and lows, and everything you want to do creatively and budget-wise.

Assessing What You Didn’t Do

Life and work get busy. This happens to all of us. Odds are, you had laid out some plans for 2023 that you could not execute.

Now is the time to determine what builds, testing, flighting plans, etc., you never got around to doing last year and reprioritize them to determine if you should try them out in 2023.

I like to use this thought process when doing that evaluation:

Was this for “fun” or a necessity (i.e., Is this effort something that would’ve definitely made a business impact, or something just to try out and see if it could help or hurt)?

If it was a necessity, then I hope you have a good excuse for why it wasn’t done and put it on the books for 2023.

If it was for “fun,” file it away for a rainy day.

Was there a business implication (positive or negative) by not doing this?

If no, then no harm/no foul, and you can try it eventually.

If yes, then get it ready for 2023, and have a good explanation as to why it wasn’t done.

Consider what you’ve been through.

Much like dealing with your strange aunt/uncle who said something grossly inappropriate during the holidays, you need to sit down and process what did happen to your SEM campaigns in 2023.

This helps you decide if it was all good, all bad, or somewhere in between and what you need to consider carefully in 2023.

Look at both the big things and the small things.

Performance Max

If you migrated into Performance Max by choice or by force (anyone using Smart Shopping or local search), it likely made both a negative and a positive impact on your year.

Negative: You literally have no idea when/where your ad is showing, and all you can think (and you’re probably right) is that Google has thrown some of your direct-to-consumer (DTC) funds away on a really bad Google Display Network placement.

At the same time, you have very little information or ability to explain to your boss why Google has basically relaunched the SMB-targeted Adwords Express as a 2.0 version and just ruined your transparency.

Negative: You did the auto upgrade of a local campaign to Performance Max and discovered how many bugs there are, or you let Google create your YouTube video, and the music makes it far more cringe than you had hoped.

Positive: Especially for those running foot traffic campaigns, you’ve (hopefully) seen cost per store visits become somewhat more cost-efficient, and your ecommerce (for those running Smart Shopping) has seen an improvement in the cost per action (CPA).

Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

I’ll go ahead and say what we’re all thinking (and it has been published multiple times already):

My god, this analytics platform was clearly made by someone who clearly only interacts with barnyard animals and has a vision and not by someone who did a user focus group.

If you somehow managed to survive the implementation of GA4, you’re now, more than likely, cursing it out due to lack of intuitiveness or more frustrated they rolled it out without a bounce rate or even conversion rate until months later.

All is not lost, though; I highly recommend deploying it immediately (if you haven’t already) and running it concurrently with GA UA, so you can work out the kinks and learn the platform while accruing historical data.

You may feel like Google decided to wake up and choose chaos with this platform and probably lost a few weeks of your life trying to understand it – so keep it in mind when you evaluate what you didn’t get around to doing in 2023.

Bing Multimedia Ads

You saw the hype for them in September, especially on the video side, and thought: Finally, Bing is getting into the video ad game.

But then you realized you needed a raw video file to upload it and how little it would rotate.

Big hopes, big opportunity, but just no volume.

Twitter

I know this article is SEM focused, but I would be remiss if I didn’t address this, as it is still biddable media.

Some of these changes in 2023 impacted you in different ways, good or bad.

The question is, can you learn from them, use them, and progress in 2023, with or without them?

What You Need to Do In 2023

I’ve done several of these “What to Expect in the New Year for SEM” articles over the years, but the last two of these could never have anticipated what is going on now… again.

With that being said, I will go with what I believe is mostly going to happen, and you can take it with a grain of salt:

The NY Jets will not make the big game – just accept it.

CPCs, especially for Q1, will be higher than any other Q1 on record (especially brand terms), so be prepared to find a way to explain why and for your money make to become less cost-efficient.

There will not be a decline in demand/search volume until there is an increase in unemployment (ala 2007-2009 recession), so be prepared to address the uptick in volume.

Google will become less transparent, somehow.

Bing will eventually do whatever Google does.

If you work with healthcare brands, prepare to get rid of GA UA quickly due to HIPAA compliance.

Absolutely most important, use 1st party data as long as you can – but you need to get extremely good, and fast, at building in market audience segment groups and go all Criminal Minds/FBI profiling a serial killer mentality on targeting.

Have I scared you yet? Good.

2023 will be a wild year in search, and you must be prepared for it.

But you cannot move forward until you evaluate and process the past. Once that is done, you can plan out the future.

Best of luck, search marketers. We’re all going to need it.

More resources: 

Featured Image: 3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock

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

Objectives

Strategy

Tactics

Action

Control

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

Omnichannel Customer Revolution: 3 Keys For Your Strategy

Planning how companies communicate with customers has always been an important aspect of marketing strategy. But the introduction of new omnichannel marketing technologies in the era of digital disruption makes it even more crucial today

The pace of innovation continues to drive new options for reaching customers across a number of key channels. Savvy business leaders know that to thrive in this market, they must be ready to adapt and develop their strategies. For example, Omnichannel marketing is now recognized as an essential approach for all businesses with an online presence. But how does omnichannel relate back to your customer?

Twenty years ago, when digital channels didn’t have the diversity and importance they do now, the choice of which channel to use and how best to connect with customers didn’t influence customer service outcomes so heavily. Today, however, customers have an astounding number of options for communicating with companies — and businesses need to optimize their omnichannel approach to meet them where they are.

To start, let’s consider a typical omnichannel customer lifecycle, across paid, owned, earned media and digital experience. We recommend using the RACE Framework to structure your omnichannel plan. RACE planning considers the customer lifecycle across reach, act, convert and engage.

In the omnichannel marketing mix, there are high-tech and low-tech channels that can be applied to add varying value depending on the customer journey. For instance, a business can use live chat or chatbots to interact with customers on its website, customer portal, or app. It can also use chatbots to interact on social media messaging apps. And now, live chat and chatbots are available on platforms like WhatsApp Business, a business-focused leg of WhatsApp that launched in 2023.

So what should businesses consider when deciding which digital channels to use to connect with customers, and how should they use those channels to see the best results? The first and most important thing to consider is what your customers want.

Where customers lead, businesses should follow

Customers should be the biggest driving factor in your adoption of omnichannel customer interaction channels.

Just look at WhatsApp Business. Approximately 1.5 billion people around the world already use WhatsApp; its ubiquity means customers are comfortable with the platform. When businesses adopt the standalone WhatsApp Business app, then, customers will be able to communicate with ease.

Facebook isn’t stopping with WhatsApp, either. Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he’d also be focusing on building out more functionalities for businesses on apps like Instagram and Facebook Messenger over the next few years.

3 tips for customer-centric omnichannel success

The ultimate goal of integrating digital customer interaction channels should always be to create happier customers.

Consider the development of software-as-a-service vendors: By the mid-2000s, many had focused on customer acquisition and landed a lot of sales. But in adding new, flashy functionalities to products to attract more customers, the software itself became much too complex and confusing for the average customer. This led to low adoption and user rates.

Some of these companies then decided to turn their attention toward helping customers better understand their products and ultimately gain more value from them. This was the jumping-off point for a greater focus on customer satisfaction in the software industry overall. Now, the most profitable SaaS vendors invest more in customer-success initiatives than the less profitable ones.

Businesses in every industry can learn something from the SaaS industry — most importantly, that happy customers drive business. The way you communicate with those customers is one of the main determinants of their happiness.

To provide your customers with the most satisfactory experience, follow these three steps:

Eliminate silos and craft a truly integrated environment

When companies rely on legacy-based infrastructure — usually acquired by the different company departments individually without any consideration for things such as open APIs — they inevitably face silos. Each department has its information, and the technology does not support the flow of that information between all departments.

Today, it should be embarrassing any time an agent needs to jot something down on a scrap of paper to move it from one system to another. All of that should be able to be done seamlessly and instantly. When it’s not, customers will notice.

How often have you, as a customer, been asked to repeat information you’ve already given to another agent — or even the same one — when reaching out to a technology contact center? It feels like an absurd waste of time and reflects poorly on the company.

Craft an integrated multichannel customer relationship management

An omnichannel customer support approach that is supported by the right CRM technology can not only resolve these issues but also add new value to the customer-agent interaction. Such systems can create new customer insights and allow those insights to be collated and documented easily.

It can also detect and drive opportunities for delighting customers. Nike is now capitalizing on this trend — using its app to seamlessly connect with in-store technology and customer loyalty rewards programs.

Use omnichannel customer support to decrease turnaround time

When it comes to customer support, turnaround time is crucial, especially when you consider modern consumers’ heightened expectations. When Edison Research surveyed individuals who’ve tried to contact a brand, product, or company through social media, it found that 32% expect brands to respond within half an hour, while 42% expect a response within an hour.

Conversely, when companies support an omnichannel approach, customer retention soars. That’s because this type of approach not only supports all channels a customer may be using, but also the transference between those channels in the same interaction and others.

In other words, it allows agents to have a 360-degree view of a customer’s full journey. When agents are better able to see all the details, turnaround times are quicker because agents can address questions and concerns more efficiently. 

Empower your agents to take control with a unified agent desktop

If you’re not setting your agents up for success with the right tools to help customers, then you can’t expect high customer satisfaction. When your agents have everything they need to succeed, they will feel more empowered to help customers. And happy customers create happy agents.

An omnichannel customer support approach allows agents to see a customer’s full history with the business without having to jump from platform to platform or look for bits of information in various places. It all starts with a user-friendly unified agent desktop.

When agents can use this single interface to access all the information they need about a customer, they are operating at full awareness and can provide customers with quicker, more accurate information. Customer retention and enthusiasm is more critical than ever, but companies that fail to recognize the benefits of live chat, multichannel support, and the need for different ways to communicate with customers can’t expect to stick around for long.

Fortunately, integrated platforms are making it easier than ever to provide customers with efficient customer interaction channels for digital communications. Those businesses that recognize the benefits of unified communication platforms and provide the best omnichannel customer support approaches will reap big rewards in the years to come.

How To Automate Your Marketing With Social Media Monitoring Tools

In today’s day and age, markets can change direction in the blink of an eye and huge trends can show up overnight only to die down a few weeks later. Plus, customers are better informed and require more than just your good intentions to pay attention to your brand. 

Therefore, businesses must adapt to the crazy fast pace of the market and find new ways to cope with the coming and going of the trends. That’s where

marketing automation

truly shows its value as it takes over routine tasks and frees up time for ingenuity, creativity, and strategy. 

But you can’t have marketing automation without the right tools. Luckily, the offer is incredibly diverse with smart automation tools that can help improve the customer experience while also shedding hours off your schedule. However, it can be a bit confusing when trying to decide which tools work the best for your needs. 

For instance, did you know you can use

social media monitoring tools

to automate and enrich your campaigns? Here’s how:

Use Social Listening

Social listening is the process of monitoring what people are saying about topics of interest to you online. With the right tools, you can learn more about your customers’ opinions about your brand, products, and more. 

You can check brand mentions across all platforms, so you don’t waste any marketing opportunities. Brand mentions mean people are talking about you, therefore, you have to make sure you’ll be a part of the conversation. 

Plus, you can use social media monitoring tools to take a peek at your competitors’ strategies and campaigns. After all, inspiration can come from a wide range of sources, right?

Overall, social listening is great for your marketing because it keeps you up to date with popular topics and lets you know what’s trendy on the market. 

Gain Valuable Insight

Luckily, some of these tools also have analytics built into the system, which means you can create default and customized reports to better understand trends and currents. With the right data, social media can paint an accurate picture of your customer, which is incredibly valuable information especially in today’s day and age.  

24/7 Customer Support

Customer support is the one service you know for sure it can improve your chances on the market when done right. When customers and interested buyers reach out, you must reply quickly and swiftly to keep their satisfaction levels high. 

Luckily, nowadays you don’t have to hire a call center company to cover basic interactions. Intelligent chatbots are not new technology, but small and medium-sized brands are not extremely keen on using them. 

However, with minimal initial investment and the data provided by social media monitoring tools, you can set up user-friendly chatbots that can take over routine questions and even basic actions. Plus, chatbots can stay active 24/7 and they use AI algorithms to learn from the collected data how to better talk with your customers. 

Quick note

: There are plenty of AI tools you can use to up your marketing and

social media strategy

. Also, these tools are quite affordable even for small brands, so there’s absolutely no need not to use them. 

Wrap Up

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

Access Now For Free

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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?

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