I recently engaged one of Australia’s leading digital strategists from the STW Group to help a client stand out from its competitors in the digital space.
It’s always incredibly powerful to get a fresh perspective, not just about an individual client’s marketing activities, but an industry as a whole.
After conducting a quick review of the clients industry, the strategist excitedly told us it wouldn’t be difficult to dominate this industry with regards to digital strategy.
In developing a digital strategy in B2B and industrial markets it’s dangerous to just rate your business on how it compares to your direct competitors.
With the digital environment relatively new to many industrial companies while you may see yourself as ahead of the pack, in reality you may just be the best of a bad bunch.
The risk you run is that at some stage one of the players will do exactly what we are doing to for our client – rethink the whole strategy from scratch, drawing on the learning’s from the best practices from other industries and markets.
Our digital strategist challenged our clients thinking on some simple issues and asked some fundamental questions that assisted the client to look at their business just as if they were new into it.
A great exercise for all businesses at the start of a new year is to ensure your key people agree on the same answer to a few basic, but critical questions:
- What is the business problem we are trying to solve with our marketing strategy?
Forget digital elements at this stage. The digital strategy and activities can only be developed when the overriding strategy is fully developed, understood, and agreed.
- What s our customer’s path-to-purchase?
This is an area where it is worthwhile investing in research to get an up-to-date understanding of this journey, because the digital world is changing behaviours and processes rapidly. This will also give direction to what digital/social assets you need and help target your marketing and digital spend on those activities that will really make a difference. For example, if your customers are desk bound and analytics show very few visits from mobile devices, why invest in a mobile website?
- How do you get to them at the start of the journey?
For technical products and services, like many of you would be selling, the purchase process is likely to start with a significant research phase, well before a customer decides to engage with potential suppliers. You need to understand what early triggers occur that could indicate the start of the purchase journey, and then determine how you can engage with, or assist, the buyer at this stage.
- When customers are on this journey, can they find your company and do you have relevant content to engage with them?
The most recent online research from Neilson shows the top three brand engagement activities online are:
1. Research products and services
2. Read reviews and discussions about brands
3. Watch video about product or service
Once you understand the path-to-purchase and particularly what potential buyers are looking for on-line, you must ensure that your digital content gives the customer the specific information they need – which is not necessarily what you may want to bombard them with.
Only when you understand all of this should you ask – “Do we really understand what we want to achieve from digital strategies and what would success look like?”
Don’t get caught up on irrelevant statistics like Facebook ‘likes’ and web visitor numbers because if you haven’t genuinely engaged with real potential customers, there is every chance you are getting excited about numbers that don’t add value to your business’s bottom line.
For the most part, for most companies in the business to business sector the ultimate measure of success digital activities is the number of enquiries generated that lead to a sale.
Other measures such as search rankings, content views and time spent on your website etc can of course assist with further developing and enhancing your digital strategy over time and assessing the success of your various digital marketing activities.
As the digital world gets more complex, but more cost effective and measurable, it’s more critical than ever to really understand your potential customers purchase behavior and only invest in those channels where those potential customers are active.
It’s a rapidly changing environment and to leverage it requires the guidance and advice of an experienced digital strategist who understands the complete digital and social landscape.
A web-site builder is not a digital strategist. An employee who is highly engaged with Twitter and Facebook is not a digital strategist. A true digital strategist is a highly trained marketing professional who has a thorough understanding of, and vast experience with, fully integrated digital campaigns involving planning, development, integration, analysis and evaluation of social media and digital platforms as well as the buying and structure of digital advertising.
Karl Boothroyd is the founder and CEO of IMA, a specialist B2B marketing agency. IMA is owned by Australia’s largest marketing communications company, The STW Group.
Karl can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 4627 8011