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Some digital marketers would say it’s heresy, but the controversial truth is that for some brands, a website is more important than it is for other brands.

Depending on the type of business or organisation that you are, your website’s purpose and role in your marketing plan and digital strategy varies greatly.

If you’re an e-commerce business your website is one of your most important assets, serving as your digital storefront. If you are a deodorant brand and sell only in retail stores, your website serves more for brand presence and content, and certainly doesn’t work the same way as an e-commerce store.

Understanding the role of your website in your marketing mix is critical to a successful digital strategy.

Some digital marketers would say it’s heresy, but the controversial truth is that for some brands, their website is highly important to their marketing and business success, and for other brands the website isn’t a critical asset, doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, and shouldn’t really be top of mind.

I might buy Maggi 2 Minute Noodles every week, but have I ever been to their website? No. I also suspect that an extremely high percentage of their other loyal, regular customers haven’t either – and they have probably never needed to. On the other hand, if I buy health supplements online every month, the layout of the ecommerce store and presentation of product items, my user journey, and the brand’s ability to reach me with new products and offers can all greatly affect how much, and how regularly I shop with them.

So do some brands not need to worry about digital then? No.

Digital platforms are a core marketing tool for every brand on the planet. Here’s the catch: It’s is just as important and useful for every brand, but the usage and mix of platforms and channels is unique to all. Understanding your mix is the key factor to success.

No two brands should be doing digital exactly the same way.

Every day we see businesses copying other strategies exactly, or launching campaigns without understanding who they’re reaching and how they’re doing it. We are in a space where a business consulting firm and an ice cream company might have exactly the same digital mix and budget: website, email list, and regular sponsored Facebook ads. They may even have the same audience, e.g Males 25 – 45 in Sydney, Australia. In terms of traditional advertising strategy, these two businesses would never match up with the same mix of media.

So why do they awkwardly match up now? Because there’s a lack of in depth understanding of how digital platforms work – and it’s not the brands fault.

Digital moves so fast and so quickly that you need someone dedicated to your digital presence to truly stay on top or ahead of it.

A majority of brands don’t have this and can’t afford it, and usually the digital firms that they look to to do this for them are more interested in these two things than in properly servicing the client:

  • Running a stock standard campaign with the same platform and creative mix, swapping out only the target audience and location, or
  • Using the client’s budget as a way to experiment with the latest and greatest when it doesn’t fit the clients needs at all

A pre-digital traditional ad agency would rarely fall into this unhealthy pattern, so why does it happen in digital? Because it’s so fast, simple, and easily accessible to anyone. And that’s the dangerous trap that most are falling into.

So, how do we fix the problem of this approach to digital?

The solution is simple, but by no means easy. Doing digital right takes valuable time and effort.

First, a brand needs to understand how and why their audience use their digital devices and platforms. Then, they need to learn how and where their own brand and business model fit into that usage pattern, so they can create and execute a strategy that meets the members of that audience where they’re at, connecting them to the brand in a meaningful, valuable, and authentic way.

Your audience gets to hand pick each bit of content that they consume, website they visit, or app that they use. You need to know why your brand is important and meaningful to your audience. If you don’t, how can you possibly engage them in a space where they consume only the content that they deem meaningful and valuable?

This is the first question that a brand needs to answer before they look at the actualities of digital marketing. Without knowing your message and your brand, it doesn’t matter how often you put it in front of consumers – it’ll be missed.

Copy-pasting another business’s digital strategy is the best way to waste 90% of what you spend on digital.

Here’s a multi step plan to approaching your digital strategy:

  1. Know why your brand is important and meaningful to your audience.As stated before, in a world where your audience hand picks everything they pay attention to, you need to know why you’re worth paying attention to. How else can your audience connect with your brand?
  2. Learn how your audience spend their time on digital platforms.Everyone uses different platforms in different ways, for different amounts of time. Without knowing how your audience spend their time, you’ll end up spending money and effort somewhere that your audience never pays attention to.
  3. Understand how your business model works best in the connected world. It’s crucial to consider the big picture rather than looking at digital with tunnel-vision. The goal of your digital efforts may be to get your customer to walk into a store and purchase your product, rather than clicking an ad to visit your website. Your goals will be different from other brands so don’t go in to this exercise looking for a way to emulate another brand’s flashy new campaign. Understanding your landscape will help you know how to split your budget, time, and creative effort.
  4. Understand the technicalities of every relevant platform and technology relevant to you. Using a platform incorrectly will undo all your thorough planning, because your strategy simply won’t catch. Without understanding how a platform works, how can you create a piece of content or experience that’s authentic to the platform, rather than tacky and jarring?
  5. Know what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to track it. It’s easier now than ever before to track metrics, including website traffic, ad impressions, clickthrough rates, engagement rates, and every other metric under the sun. Tracking your progress is vital to digital success, because you’ll be able to see what you’re doing right, and what you’e getting wrong before it’s too late. This gives you the flexibility and power to learn and grow, scaling the success of your efforts rather than waiting until the end to learn valuable lessons.
  6. Craft and execute a strategy. Whether it’s a one month ad campaign, or an ongoing effort, use your newly gained knowledge of audience, brand, technology, and platform to craft the right campaign – then launch it.
  7. Measure and adapt. The worst thing you can do with digital is “set and forget”. You need to be constantly watching, learning, creating, and improving. Without this, your efforts will stay relevant and interesting for only a short period of time, putting you back in the same place you were before.

The connected world will always be quickly evolving. Your most important digital asset is your understanding of your brand and business, and how it fits in to the ever changing landscape of our digital world.

Posted 17.12.18