A digital marketing strategy is an absolute given for any company trying to market itself online – right? That’s certainly the impression you’d get from reading most digital marketing blogs, where the question of whether you should have a digital marketing strategy has long ago been eclipsed by how to develop one.

And yet, on the ground, most companies remain unconvinced. Studies shows that a full 50% of marketers have active digital marketing programmes, but no defined strategy at all. This is actually a slight increase from the previous year, when the figure was 46%. The other half is divided between those who have a stand-alone digital strategy (16%), and those who have integrated it into a more general marketing plan (34%). The latter are probably more advanced marketers, for whom digital marketing has become ‘business as usual’. I’m sure that many of the 50% of companies that do not yet have a written strategy are using digital media effectively and could certainly be getting results from their search, email or social media marketing. digital marketing Massachusetts will tell you a strategy is the best option. Here are two reasons why:

1. A written strategy gives you direction and focus

Companies that have not written down their approach may have a general sense of what they want to do online and what their tactics are, but are unlikely to have properly defined some of the essential elements.

For example, they may know that they want to get more visits to their website, but can they say how many? They may want to gain more customers, but can they pinpoint by what percentage, or through which channels?

Without specific goals, it’s harder to know exactly what you need to do online, and later to measure how successful you are.

Creating a written strategy forces companies to tackle these crucial questions, as well as formulate a powerful online value proposition, narrowly define the target audience, and carefully consider all the other building blocks for an effective digital programme.

2. It ensures everyone is on board – and on the same page

Ensuring that there is broad support for your digital activity within your company can be difficult.

This is much easier to obtain if you have written documentation that spells out what you are aiming to accomplish, how it fits in with the company’s other marketing priorities, and gives you a way of measuring whether it’s working or not. Suddenly you have a digital programme that can be promoted and defended, rather than just “something some of us dabble in”.

Moreover, it ensures that there is a vision and method that everyone has to sign up to. Without a written strategy, every manager and director is free to project their own aims and priorities on the online activity, and all too often, the result is that everyone is working at cross-purposes without ever realising it.  Clarity is essential!

3. You’ll be better resourced

If you’re working without a strategy, it will be harder to work out in advance what budget your digital programme needs in order to succeed, and what kind of skills your staff need to execute it.

Sure, you can apply for more funding and hire staff as and when the need arises, but you’ll always be on the back foot. Surely it would be more efficient – and easier to successfully make the case – if you were able to present a long-term plan for budget and staff members?

- Burton Oquinn