What is the role of digital marketing in overall strategy

Emily Long
September 26, 2023

Articulating the role of digital channels in your marketing strategy

We live in an increasingly digitised world -  but has the role of marketing really changed?

Our role as marketeers has changed in the sense that we need to keep up with customers' expectations. They are the ones who set the trends, choose what will be a successful platform and what won’t. They leave websites which take too long to load or block content which isn’t relevant. The fundamentals however are still the same.

  • Know where to find your customer
  • Understand where they want to engage with us as a brand
  • At a point where they are open and receptive to your brand and message

The core challenge currently is that there are now so many options of where to spend your marketing money and resources it’s easy to get distracted.

Selecting the right tools from your toolkit

Our job as marketeers is to pick the right set of tools to achieve the relevant objective. Our starting point at Genie Goals is always to understand the broader business and marketing objectives. This allows us to take a holistic view of the entire toolkit and understand the role of each channel in the marketing mix. Going through this process ensures we don’t just look at digital channels in isolation but how they work collectively amongst other channels. 

Measuring performance on the correct metrics is key

We can then recommend the right metrics to measure the success of each of those channels in achieving your overall marketing objectives. It also enables us to challenge ourselves and our clients whether we are spending your money and resources in the right places.

With so many new digital tools to use, I guess the advice is always to spend more in digital right?

Not necessarily - sometimes our recommendation is to spend less! Digital marketing isn’t a tick box exercise - there is no right or wrong strategy. It’s about selecting the right channels, platforms for your business objectives and audiences. 

Don’t be a magpie, stay focused - Fewer, Bigger, Better

It’s easy to get distracted by the new and shiny offerings in the market. There is also this feeling that if you aren’t incorporating these in your marketing mix you are getting left behind. 

Spend your money and resource on fewer things. Don’t spread yourself too thinly so you can focus on what is working well and what isn’t and most importantly understanding why. Above all, make sure that any shiny new thing on your plan helps you achieve your objectives. I come back to the same questions:

  • Are my customers there?
  • Do they want to engage with my brand there?
  • What do they want to get out of engaging with my brand in this space? - what can the brand give to them?

If you can confidently answer those questions, then it’s definitely worth adding it to the mix in your test and learn plan.

Underpin everything on a robust test and learn approach

Our approach to test and learn starts from being really clear on your objective - what are you trying to prove or disprove. It could be around performance, it could be around simply testing if your audience is on that platform - it could be using that platform to test messaging, creative or audience profiles to apply that learning to other areas of your marketing plan. The great thing about a test and learn approach in digital marketing is that it is often quicker and cheaper to learn in these channels than other offline channels. So your objective could be less about results, but more about gaining tangible insights to apply to other areas of your plan. Just be sure you set the right metrics which are aligned to the objective so you are correctly measuring your version of success.  

If in doubt, lean on the 70 20 10 model

It’s easy to want to test lots of things at once, but the key is to be structured and considered and test selected elements at one time. The 70 20 10 model can provide you with a useful roadmap to testing.

  • 70% of your activity should be on tried and tested channels and campaigns (optimising of course)
  • 20% on low risk ‘tests’
  • 10% on higher risk vs reward tests. These could be completely new platforms or markets or audiences.
  • The objective is to move activity from the 10 and 20% buckets into the 70% one quickly and confidently, making room for new tests. This will keep your digital marketing fresh but balance the risk to deliver the numbers. 

If you are looking to articulate the role of digital in your marketing plan, try following these 4 key points:

  1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes - understand how they use these channels, how they want to engage with your brand and therefore how you are able to interact with them. Ensure you have got a holistic plan which enables you to hold your customers’ hand throughout the conversion funnel from awareness through to conversion and loyalty. If you aren’t at every step, another brand in the competitive digital space will be there to take them. 
  2. Be clear on the role of the channel - what does this channel do that others can’t, can it do it quicker, can it do it better, can it do it cheaper? Or not? Be clear on why you are using that channel from both a business perspective and a customer point of view. 
  3. Ensure you are using the right metric to measure success. Make sure you articulate the right metric at the right point of the marketing funnel and align this to the role of that channel in your marketing mix.  
  4. Have a robust Test and Learn plan - Yes you want to drive revenue - but you also need to understand why something is working or not. Make sure this is built into the foundations of your marketing plan and apply these insights where possible to other marketing activities.
All Resources