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How to plan and manage a digital marketing strategy

How to plan and manage a digital marketing strategy

By Richard Conyard, CIO at Red Ant.

Websites, microsites, eCommerce, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – everyone’s heard of them, everyone makes use of at least one of them on a daily basis, yet from a business perspective, most people don’t know where to start when it comes to planning and managing a digital strategy.

Take, for example, the Marketing Executives Networking Group’s recent survey about social media:
•    67% of those surveyed consider themselves ‘beginners’ at exploiting social media
•    87% are not measuring ROI on their social networking activities
•    The majority consider social media to be the ‘Wild West’

Yet 67% report that, despite this, they intend to increase their social media budget. It’s clear that there is a gap in the knowledge of decision makers which could lead to costly mistakes and failed campaigns.

Taking the time to plan a structured and comprehensive digital strategy pays real, measurable dividends, and, taken step by step with regular checks and balances built into the process, should be no more daunting than planning a strategy for more traditional marketing.


As with all strategies, your business aims should form the foundation of your digital strategy. You need to establish three key things:
•    Your broad aims – you can always adapt them later in response to activity and achievement
•    Your brand – who are you, and what do you want to say?
•    Your audience and where to engage with them

Once you have a clear overview of these elements, you can start the creation process for your digital strategy.

Generating ideas, brainstorming and thinking creatively about how to get your message across are vital if you want your digital strategy to be dynamic, engaging and consistently successful. However, like any other part of your digital strategy, the creative process needs a robust system for evaluation to ensure that any ideas and campaigns have proven value and worth.

Test each idea:
•    Does it work on a practical level?
•    Does it make the audience jump through unnecessary hoops?
•    Is it aligned to audience rather than internal brand perception?
•    Does the audience get payback for the time it invests in the idea?
•    Will it enable the audience to become ‘active’ - influencers, advocates, partners?


Making your ideas work is perhaps the most challenging part of your digital strategy, and requires an agreed structure for development, management and reporting.
•    Make sure you have the right team in place, with clear roles and responsibilities
•    Establish a timeline which is flexible enough to accommodate change
•    Run your messages and actions through an engagement loop – constructing, delivering, monitoring, engaging, reporting, reviewing  then challenging the message
•    List your KPIs and regularly review them


The simplest way to evaluate a digital strategy is to ask ‘did it work?’.  If the aims you established at planning stage have all been achieved, then on a very basic level, the answer is ‘yes’. However, to get a true picture of ROI and performance, you need to carry out:
•    A fiscal review which mathematically evaluates value, worth and performance.
•    An audience evaluation covering growth, migration, sentiment  and engagement
•    An evaluation of lessons learned from both internal and external perspectives

Scratching the surface

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of planning and managing a digital strategy, covering the basic steps in broad strokes.

The experts at Red Ant have authored a white paper which gives you the full picture. ‘Planning and managing a digital strategy’ offers businesses a comprehensive set of tools and techniques covering planning, creation, actualisation and evaluation, and it’s available to download for free by clicking here.

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