In 2009, the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) predicted that internet advertising – just one small part of a digital strategy – would overtake TV advertising by the end of the year. This was inaccurate – according to the IAB’s own figures, internet ad spend out stripped TV ad spend a good three months before the end of 2009.
The UK is now the world’s first major economy to spend more on online advertising than on TV – currently, the internet takes 23% of all advertising spend, compared with 21.9% for TV.And, according to analysis by business consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers, over the last 12 months most digital media categories grew by more than originally forecast, despite a challenging economic climate which frequently had a devastating effect on other, more traditional marketing activities.
Digital is clearly still the fastest growing area of marketing, customer retention and engagement. Inevitably, digital channels and engagement through digital channels are now not only an expected part of audience experience when connecting with a brand – they are often at the core of an audience member’s engagementwith a brand. Audience expectation has increased to such a level when considering brand engagement that:
- it is no longer acceptable for a brand to wait for the audience to visit
- brands must actively communicate to prosper
- positive engagement snowballs, arrogance creates stagnancy
What is digital?
In short, digital is about finding the best way of achieving goals, normally promoting a brand or service, through electronicconnected media. This could be online on the web, through specialist Internet applications, or through mobile phoneapplications (both network and Bluetooth connections). Digital consultancy can also tie into traditional media outlets, either astraditional first (bringing an audience into a digital campaign), or traditional last (by using an existing digital audience as contentgenerators).
Digital can also be used to extend the process into a company’s/brand’s inner workings; improving the supply chain, gainingdirect consumer or business insight through greater transparency and movement of the underlying data.
Digital is the great equaliser and relationship builder. Humans by their very nature are communicative and inquisitive, and digitalchannels allow brands to interact with their audience on both levels. The level of involvement required by the audience to engagewith a brand, in many cases a simple click of the mouse, shrinks the gulf between interaction and offline brand perception.The greatest benefit of digital lies in its ability to forge individual relationships with the audience. Unlike any other broadcastmedium, digital channels allow direct engagement with each member of the audience.
Digital offers brands new opportunities that traditional methods cannot easily match:
- Digital does not obey the line
- Digital should be cost efficient
- Digital can be broadcast and personalised
- Digital should always prove returns
- Digital can be reactive as well as proactive
Digital strategy offers brands and companies new, unique ways of engaging with their customers and audiences to a far higherlevel than has been previously possible. Initial faltering steps in digital marketing such as PPC and SEO are the tip of the icebergas to what is possible.Well-conceived digital strategies and campaigns will push brands ever forward in the consciousness of their audience and lead tolasting adoption, advocacy and, over time, increase expectation from industries as a whole. From an audience perspective, digitalallows the model to change from being a monologue to a dialogue.
Building a digital strategy
There are four core stages to building and running a digital strategy:
Each of these stages runs into the next to deliver a coherent digital campaign. Combined, they deliver an ongoing digital strategyas the audience and brand perception evolves.
The planning of a digital strategy involves analysing the following:
• The initial aims andexpected returns
• The background of thebrand, present positioningand perception
• The audience (broken downinto key segments)
• Audience locations and value of each audience segment against initial aims
The creation stage is purely focused around campaign formalisation. This involves:
• Planning campaign elements based upon previous analysis
• Creating key performance indicators per channel and estimating expected returnper channel
• Design and build of campaign elements /channels
• Planning and establishing actualisation routes,communication flows and expectations
The actualisation focuses on the delivery of the campaign, including:
• Building the engagement timeline
• Engaging with the audience through the engagement loop
• Sampling progress through a campaign and optimising the campaign message
• Recording salient information through each campaign step for evaluation
The evaluation of a digital strategy is imperative to learn the lessons of the campaign,including:
• Evaluating KPIs and fiscal achievement
• Reviewing engagement and unexpected longer term benefits
• Taking lessons on board to build stronger future campaigns
• Scoring the strategy and the benefits that it has given