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Playing 20 Questions With Your Digital Strategy

  |  December 3, 2010   |  Comments

A systematic approach to guide your digital marketing strategy planning.

While true digital strategy cannot be a paint-by-numbers affair, it can be helpful to use a checklist of questions and considerations to spur thinking and either qualify or dismiss proposed approaches.

Strategy Prep

Start with a concise brief that details business objectives and do some initial prep work to help keep the work focused and on track. Check current site and campaign performance, do your competitive research and test your assumptions about your audience demographics by confirming their media, device, channel, property, and other consumption preferences through research tools starting first with your own site stats. Develop a persona that describes your best customers. You are now armed with information that should help guide your strategy.

Early Stage Questions

Throw the following questions out to your team in the early stages of digital strategy formation:

  • Does geographic location, proximity to fixed locations, or other users play an important role in motivating desired behaviors? Are you targeting a specific geography or can you overlay a strategy that collects pockets of populations?
  • Is your audience likely to use mobile and other established platforms within mobile?
  • Is your audience well represented in social media? How and where do they prefer to engage? This is a good place to check back to your personas.
  • If this is a global approach then how are you translating language and culture to the targeted environments?
  • Is your demo gaming friendly? From casual gaming for moms to product placements in large-scale mass games, to unique branded content magnets on your site - the opportunities are broad. Gaming behaviors and habits will vary across populations but the pull of entertainment is strong online.
  • Is there an element of new or cool to this product or offering? Is it the kind of thing that requires the influencers' stamp of approval? Do you need to harness reviews or recommendations of the target network?
  • What is being said about the brand online? Does your product or service already have a strong group of advocates that you could tap to accelerate your marketing?
  • Do you have a specific time window of opportunity to work within before competitive pressures or other constraints close off or complicate your efforts?
  • Is a real-time component important?
  • Are there seasonal periods when activity and behaviors may shift?
  • How much consumer commitment is required? Is this an impulse, low risk, low consideration type of product or service or is it a complex, long term, multi-part decision cycle?
  • How much time or space do you need to effectively convey your message or unique selling proposition?
  • Are you hoping to motivate an initial sign up, adoption, or purchase or do you need consistent engagement on an ongoing basis to claim success? Contest signups, for instance, or co-registrations are notoriously poor quality leads if they stand alone and you want to signal any legitimate interest in the product or service.
  • What is the scale you need to be successful? Are you looking for wide adoption within a niche market or a sliver of a mass-market pie? If this is a B2B effort your definitions will be very different.
  • What kind of brand capital are you working with? Is this a new brand or product? How strong is your current brand awareness within your current target demo and does their perception (if there is one) match the one you wish they had?
  • Is there a charity tie-in or other feel-good aspect to this product or service that gives permission to brag a bit? Could there or should there be?

Later Stage Questions

In later stage digital strategy brainstorming - after an initial approach has been identified, ask these questions:

  • Are there political barriers or other obstacles to adopting this smart approach?
  • Is this approach sustainable or extensible? Does it lead to another logical extension or effort or is it purely a one-off campaign? Are the effort and investment justified?
  • How would competitors likely respond if we take this approach?
  • What is the risk/reward ratio? Can we project the impact of this effort in the short or long term?
  • Is this effort appropriately staffed or will we need to factor in additional resources or training?
  • What impact do these plans have on our site and our other online locations, including social media?

Your goal is not to put together a patchwork quilt of all the possible approaches - just the ones that combine to maximize potential value. Introducing a systematic approach to a brainstorming process helps to ensure that you have thought through all angles and identify and connect all the right ones for success.

What questions would you add in early or late-stage strategy formation?

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Robin Neifield

Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.

Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.

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