Differentiation between online marketing strategy and tactics
Before we go deeper into the topic of online marketing strategy, it is important to become aware of the difference between tactics and strategy, as misunderstandings often occur when naming them.
Strategies are larger visions that are oriented towards higher-level corporate goals. Strategies are planned for the long term. Tactics are the daily operations and tasks to implement the strategy and push it forward.
Strategies are often thought of at meta-levels with a view to developing the existing mission statement. Strategies are often developed, planned and presented in mind maps or other visualizing tools.
Tactics are developed at the micro level and result in actionable actions. Tactics are often planned in task lists for a specific cycle or chronology, such as the continuous optimization of Adwords campaigns.
Roughly speaking, strategies tend to answer questions such as
- How do we achieve a goal?
- Until when do we reach a destination?
- With what budget do we reach a goal?
Tactics rather answers the questions:
The following basic characteristics describe a strategy:
- Strategies require a vision. Without vision, no strategies can be worked out.
- Strategies have a long-term character, for example, they should apply for a period of several years.
- Strategies include packages of measures, not individual measures. For their realization a decomposition into such tactical individual measures is necessary.
- Strategy serve the coordination of the company with the environment and are constantly checked for correctness.
The development of an online marketing strategy. Where do I begin?
What questions does the development of a suitable online marketing strategy for my company start with? I think in the center should always be the offer and the target group. Let’s start with the offer.
The products or the offer
We regularly receive requests from customers who want to use SEO, AdWords or other online marketing services, but basic homework has not been done. In the first conversation, the important question often arises Why should someone be interested in it? or why should someone just order from you? So the question of the USP or added value.
In principle, the development of a business model or products should always focus on the customer and his needs. Accordingly, one should first of all answer the question of whether one can offer added value to the target group with what one plans to do. Too often, the answer to this question is not and the first basic mistake is made. For a product / brand / service without communicable surplus Online marketing is thrown out money. We as Online Marketeers are not magicians and can not make money out of Sch … .e.
If I have developed an offer with added value, the foundation is laid and you can think about online marketing. Online Marketing offers a variety of tools. But in the real world, most companies have limited resources available to test all online marketing tools. That’s why it makes sense to focus on the most promising channels and methods in an online marketing strategy. To develop the strategy you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my product / brand / service known or a market novelty?
- How emotional is my offer?
The target groups, demand groups and personas
The second important question that often cannot be answered right away is “who are my target groups or personas? “. Even here, some companies still find it difficult to answer this question clearly.
It is important for strategy development to deal with the target groups and needs groups and their needs and events that affect them.
Demand groups are usually a small part of the target groups. Namely this part in which both the need, the will to act and the action force are present. The Demand Group includes all individuals who can currently interact with focus on the objective.
Personas are important so that landing pages and advertising material such as Facebook ads or display banners can be tailored to the target person. It is important to tailor the personas to the possible targeting functionalities of the individual online marketing channels.
For target groups, one always thinks first of all of the potential customers, but the target groups include all persons who can in any way be related to the company and its offers. Whether as a customer, multiplier, opinion leader or employee. To summarize, I summarized the most important target groups for (digital) marketing.
Especially for building a brand are not the customers, the important target groups, but influencers such as popular people, editors, journalists, existing satisfied customers, but also industry experts. The perception of a brand as a relevant brand by the potential customers arises primarily through the interaction of the brand with influencers, existing customers and other multipliers. The quality of relations with these market participants makes the relevance. A brand cannot turn itself into a relevant brand.
The customer journey at the center of online marketing
The times when one had to concentrate on one channel in online marketing in order to reach potential customers and above all to buy are over. The pressure of competition in the search engines, the social networks and in general on the digital advertising space is great and customers want to be all the more convinced these days. As a contact is usually not enough.
Modern online marketing considers the buying journey also called the customer journey across all phases and touch points. That’s why the customer journey model is very well suited to the development of online marketing strategies.
Online marketing strategies along the customer journey
For the development of an online marketing strategy, it is important to be clear about the different characteristics of the channels and instruments. These must be harmonized according to the usage habits of the own target groups or stakeholders and as many positive touch points as possible on the way through the customer journey.
These as many positive touch points serve as anchors in the brain and are a crucial success factor for brand building.
Through these, in the best case, positive experiences, target and need groups build a relationship with the company, brand and products.
This process is also called customer experience management.
Online Marketing Strategy in the Upper Funnel
The Upper Funnel covers the customer journey phases Pre-Awareness, Awareness and Consideration. These phases are used on the one hand the Touch point-acquisition and thus the brand building.
The upper phases of the customer journey are often characterized by low advertising acceptance. The audiences are often not open to advertising in the pre-awareness and awareness phase, especially if it is product related.
In these phases, one should try to build up a relationship with the target groups, especially with pull marketing instruments such as PR, social media marketing or content marketing. In this train you should capture the target groups via retargeting tracking, interactions on Facebook, entry in e-mail distribution lists and / or collection in customer relationship management systems. This is best achieved through good content developed in the form of content marketing campaigns with the main goal Leads. Especially for B2B business models, this strategy is often the best way.
If possible, you should qualify the leads, assign the target or need groups and, for example, achieve additional touch points via e-mail marketing. Marketing automation systems are suitable for this process. If you want to know more, you should take a closer look at the subject of inbound marketing.
In the consideration phase, the first product-related push advertising measures can be used. Before that content should be promoted as part of the content promotion.
Targeted SEA campaigns ( search engine advertising ) also make sense here, as target groups start their search for potential solution providers in this phase.
Online Marketing Strategy in the Lower Funnel
The Lower Funnel begins in the Preference phase and extends to the After Sale / Loyalty phase. Here we no longer speak of target groups, but rather target specific groups.
Especially in the Preference phase, the demand groups are open to product-related push measures, such as display ads or sales contacts. In the best case, distributors should already contact warm contacts who had already made contact in the form of touch points in the upstream phases. Here, the information from the CRM and / or the marketing automation system can be very helpful.
As in the Consideration phase, in the Preference phase, search engine advertising makes sense especially for keywords with a transaction-oriented search intention. So search terms that suggest a clear purchase-oriented interest.
The topic search intent of keywords generally plays a very important role in search engine advertising and search engine optimization .
The descriptions in the last sections are recommendations that can be applied to many business models. Nevertheless, there are some examples where these models can not be applied one to one. The development of an online marketing strategy is very individual to the particular case. For B2C and B2B business models, there can be huge differences in the online marketing strategy.
Tactical vs. Strategic Online Marketing Goals
When defining a goal, it is important to distinguish tactical from strategic online marketing goals.
Tactical online marketing goals
Tactics often follow directly measurable and quickly achievable goals such as the generation of visitors to a website via SEO. Strategy goals are often defined as channel-independent or across-the-board. Typical tactical goals are eg
- Improved CTR on AdWords ad text
- Building backlinks
- Improve the interaction rate on Facebook postings
- Improved cost per conversion on Bing Ads
- Increase the views and click on Youtube videos
- Improve organic rankings for keyword xy
Strategic Online Marketing Goals
Strategic marketing goals – can distinguish brand-related goals and sales goals.
Sales goals would be eg
- Increase in online sales by x%
- Improved ROA (Return on Advertising Spend) of AdWords campaigns by y%
- Improved ROI of all push online marketing activities by z%
- Improvement of lead quality
- Increase in proportionate multiple buyers
- Minimization of the return rate
Brand-related goals would be eg
- Increase digital brand popularity
- Improve brand reputation
With regard to individual channels or measures, one can argue whether a channel-related or measure-related plan is also a strategy or a plan for tactical measures. Here it depends individually on which measures and for which goals are defined.
In addition also the following diagram:
Quality of relationship is more important than number of contacts
In classic marketing, traditional valuation and measurement variables such as the TKP (Thousand Contact Price) are still a common metric. For a modern brand rating, however, the number of contacts is outdated. Strong brands today are based on strong relationships with potential customers and other stakeholders.
Thus, the relationship of the stakeholders plays a very important role both for short-term and long-term goals of an enterprise and its marketing.
Especially the image and the reputation, ie the brand relevance or brand strength is determined today primarily by the relationship to the stakeholders or the target groups.
Selection of suitable online marketing tools
Once goals have been defined, and key figures have been defined for the success measurement, and one is clear about the target groups, it is about defining the online marketing measures through which the goals are to be achieved. Here, the previous steps play a crucial role.
In an online marketing tool, one should think about whether an online marketing tool is more push marketing or pull marketing (more on this in The Evolution of Marketing: From Push to Pull or Here ) and between Owned , Paid and Earned Media differentiate.
Branding or Performance?
The question of whether an instrument or channel should be used for performance, ie the direct sales or for the long-term brand building is now less in modern online marketing. The strength of a brand has a direct impact on performance metrics such as the completion rate.
Due to the large number of conscious and unconscious points of contact with an offer and / or a brand, branding and performance can no longer be separated today.
Competitive situation in SEO and SEA
From the ground up, you should not be afraid of big competitors as long as the business model is thoughtful and the offering offers USP as well as added value. Nevertheless, the best recommendation for new entrants is to fill a niche in order to avoid the budgetary pressure of financially strong competitors. A look at Google can be very helpful in finding out what competition you would have to do if you were to run SEO and SEA. AdWords advertisements should be focused on advertiser targeting and advertiser specialization. Amazon, ebay and ask are usually not direct competitors, since they offer almost all terms and pursue a reach-oriented strategy. This is also a good way to analyze the offer of the competition, if available.
How strong the competition is in the field of SEO can be checked by looking at one of the backlink tools available on the market for the domains of direct competition on the first page of search results. If such a tool is not in use you should check how many listings the direct competitors already occupied on the first Google page. If there are still many places occupied by non-commercial websites such as Wikipedia, directories, forums, question-answer portals … this is a good sign. But I leave this topic in this short sketch.
SWOT analysis to determine the right online marketing mix
A more detailed way to analyze wagers is the classic SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis in the marketing context is about comparing the weaknesses and strengths of one’s own marketing with those of competitors.
You analyze your own company as well as the most important competitors and compare their strengths and weaknesses.
Examples of strengths can be:
- Innovative products
- High qualification of the marketing team
- High marketing budget
- Good relationships with influencers
Examples of weaknesses can be:
- Poor quality of the products
- Low brand awareness
- High price level
The next step is to identify factors that affect the global market and can only be influenced to a limited extent. These then become opportunities and risks.
Examples of opportunities can be:
- Occupation of niches
- High market potential
- Unused sales channels
Examples of risks can be:
- Very fast innovation cycles
- High costs for new customer acquisition
- High click rates
- Strong seasonality
The SWOT analyzes are usually carried out in the first step for subsections and can then be summarized in a holistic SWOT analysis. An exemplary SWOT analysis for online marketing might look like this:
In addition to manual research, free tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, or Similar Web are ideal for sourcing data for SWOT analysis.
Your own assets as the core of the online marketing strategy
Many companies are faced with the same problem in the first few years of the foundation or the first steps in online marketing. The digital popularity and their own digital communication channels are not available or at least not particularly powerful in relation to their own target groups.
So it is obvious to rely on the big gatekeepers and rely on SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook ads, listing their own products on Amazon … for visitors to their own website and in the best case, sales. Many big players such as Zalando, the companies of the Scout Group have grown up especially through SEO and SEA. It’s easier to do that than to spend years in advance, until you’ve built your own, independent-but this strategy is tricky.
As a result, many companies and online marketers are becoming more and more the plaything of the big gatekeepers Google, Facebook, Amazon … and aligning their online marketing strategies with these third-party systems.
The Internet giant’s fight for supremacy on the Internet has been in full swing for years, with the goal of capturing much of the traffic, transactions … on the Internet and capitalizing on them.
Here are Google, Facebook and Amazon in the best positions. All three started at different starting points. Google as a search engine, Facebook as a social network and Amazon as an online bookseller. But the air is getting thinner! Now they are moving towards each other very fast. While Amazon fights for the products and dealers, there is currently the fight for the content.
The big danger for online marketing is the curtailment of possibilities and autonomy. Imagine there were only Google and / or Facebook as the only online marketing channels. One would be hopelessly trapped in the limits of the systems and a plaything in full dependence of the sensitivities without own basis.
Therefore, diversify, have courage and build your own systems in addition to foreign channels on which you can position yourself on excellent online marketing and products because this can not be possible any more by synchronizing online marketing with external systems. Then at some point it’s just about who has the biggest budget … Do not let that happen!
But diversification of the channels is not enough. Create something independent, which you can influence completely. A strong brand with inbound potential and its own target group-oriented and efficient communication system.
It is not the easy and fast way but sustainable and value creating. The goal should be to generate at least 40-50% of visitors through brand traffic such as direct access, brand or navigation searches, feed readers, newsletters etc. on their own website, where you can directly influence conversion and usability optimization preserves the monetization of its own content. The benefits of brand traffic I already have in the article Digital brand building: The importance of branding for online marketing and digital brand building: why good branding on all your key figures pays detailed.
The rest should be a mix of organic search engine traffic, PPC advertising, social media visitors, referrals … etc, depending on the business model. So it is a healthy mix and the risk of dependency is manageable. A marketing strategy not around your own website or your own systems, but to create third-party systems such as Google, Facebook, Amazon … is not sustainable.
The brand and its own autonomous communication channels such as newsletter, blog, website … as own assets should usually be the central link between all (online) marketing measures. Brand building and the development of independent communication channels should therefore always be in the center of a long-term (online) marketing strategy.
The online marketing strategy as a critical success factor
While in the past you could be successful with tactical online marketing and channel thinking, today you have to rely on holistic multi-level online marketing strategies. These funnel strategies have become indispensable for brand building and sales for many offerings and business models. Single-channel strategies will work less and less.