So does an online strategy have to deliver ROI? More importantly, what’s the point of an online strategy?
Have you ever started a meeting without an agenda?
Fixed the car with no idea of where to start?
Got on train with no destination?
Amazingly, I have heard of people and businesses trying all 3 of these. And the result of course was a meeting that lasted hours, with no actions, a car that failed and some rather strange phone calls asking “….where are you?”
Of course, there are also businesses that jump in with no plans, direction or familiarity with how to solve a problem. Then there are companies that build a website based on a desire to have one…not a strategy. Without an online strategy that is exactly what you are doing when you embark on a new website build or online marketing campaign that ties in to real business needs.
When you create marketing material and get to strategy later you are more likely to fail or at the very least waste time and money trying to amend the collateral. You will have started with great ideas and energy but with no direction or accountability, your ideas have a high probability of failure. As a result the company name and brand is tarnished; but more importantly your competitors have gained a lot of your prospective customers.
Clear objectives and measurable goals must be at the forefront of any online activity. There is always the issue that goals are measured in sales, but this ignores the contribution made by communication, relationships and brand identification…this is not always directly attributable to sales. How will this blog be measured as a direct contributor to sales? It will not, but it will create an impression, underline an ability, emphasis the thinking of Braid Consulting as a company that thinks about online strategy. A strategy identifies where you want to be, who you want to get there with and how you intend to get there.
Yet in social media, a strategy is sometimes lost or forgotten and the consequences of not having clear objectives and goals can have a hugely negative impact (Tesco Horse Meat Tweet). What you do in social media or traditional media HAS to add up to some bigger and greater business goals. If you are not clearly defining, chasing, or building towards those goals, then why are you doing it?
Without a strategy, does there necessarily have to be ROI? Well, yes, but not necessarily in the way some business think of ROI. Ask a travel agent what ROI on theor strategy is and they are likely to say we “spent £000 and got £000×4 back.” Ok, that is ROI, but if the sales were at a much reduced margin, on products the agent doesn’t normally sell, to customers who will not use them again then.. …what was the strategy? Because the aim of the ROI certainly delivered a short term gain with no consideration for the long term.
The advice we give partners is to ensure they have a simple strategic objective that is not based on the vanity of desire, but on measurement, planning, knowledge and realism. Or if you like those Harvard acronyms, SMART as well as KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). Use a people-first, technology-last approach where everything begins with desired outcomes. As Brian Solis often says, People are the 5th P of Marketing. To get our partners off the ground we look at the following 5W’s + How…
- Who: Identify and target the people you are trying to reach
- What: Learn what are they saying and what is important to them.
- When: Determine how often are they engaging and when to engage in real-time and at the right time.
- Where: Discover the networks, communities, and technologies that facilitate conversations as you design a “build and/or join” approach.
- Why: Define why we should engage, why customers will value our engagement, and why this makes business sense for us based on our objectives and goals.
- How: Develop a strategy that communicates how you will add value to the community, the bottom line, and the technologies and channels that will enable engagement and desired outcomes.