Planning for your 2019 digital marketing strategy

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Working backwards is the key to a successful digital strategy.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to digital strategy, whether that be down to increasing customer expectations or the non-linear way in which information is consumed; digital is a very busy space and, unsurprisingly, many struggle when it comes to creating sound digital plans.

Having worked in digital for over a decade, I’ve seen it all when it comes to planning – and along the way, have noticed some trends that underpin some of the most successful strategies. Obviously, stakeholders, the wider industry and budgets all come into play, but as we enter the tail-end of 2018, I wanted to share my insights on how best to approach your digital strategy and planning for 2019.

Learn to walk before you can run

This classic parenting advice is just as, if not more, useful to a business as it is a person. Brands often stumble in a few places in their bid to reach new heights with their plans, but one of the key pitfalls is trying to get somewhere without knowing whether it’s feasible. I see it time and time again: brands know where they want to go (that’s great), then try to turbocharge their way to the finish line (not so great). Before getting hung up on where you want to go, think about what’s actually achievable given your current resources and budget, and then consider how that aligns with your brand’s overall business strategy.

Don’t overcomplicate things

To make my point, let’s consider these two words: digital transformation. I hate them. Why? Because everyone has a different definition of what the term means, which quickly leads to confusion on end goals and strategy. If people are going to bandy the term about, they need to be clear on what they’re talking about and communicate what that means for their brand in layman’s terms.

And this logic applies to all areas of your strategy: don’t add too many layers to something that doesn’t need it. Be brave, be daring, but most of all, be realistic and clear in your delivery.

Too many cooks

There are often a lot of stakeholders who want to get involved with the creation and execution of digital strategy. For some businesses, this isn’t much of a hindrance, but for many it can lead to a strategy that’s trying too hard, isn’t focused, and doesn’t support overarching business goals – which will subsequently lead to some difficult conversations when it struggles to come to fruition.

My advice is to hear out different stakeholders early on, then only involve the people required to forge your strategy. Keep it clear in what it will set out to achieve, and ask yourself those hard questions to ensure it’s geared towards solving the problems that need attention. Above all, have your end user in mind throughout, so you’re looking at everything from their vantage point and not from an inside-out perspective.

Know what success looks like

Understand what your end goals are, what your leverage points are to achieve them and how you’re going to execute your strategy before you deem it complete. Once you’ve got your end goal and milestones in mind, ensure you’re using the right metrics to measure your progress. It helps to know what problem you’re trying to solve and what value points will make a point of difference, as these will be what you’re trying to measure against.

Now what?

Work backwards. I’ve alluded to this already, but it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to do and question how you’re going to get there. Only then can you know what steps need to be taken. I can’t recommend this approach enough, as it will make it apparent very quickly whether or not your end goal is realistic or clear enough. And finally, remember that there’s no harm in making mistakes early on, as long as you learn and improve along the way.

Matt Whiteway is client services director at Greenlight

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