STEP FIVE: Strategy Proposition

Q. Are we continuously reviewing our digital channel proposition and how we communicate it?

Despite all the talk of tactics online

What really helps companies succeed online is the strength of their brand and what it can offer customers. Since digital channels are still quite new and many consumers are still switching to use them there are two issues to consider when developing your proposition.

First you can think about how you communicate the core features of your brand and in particular what makes you different? This is where you aim to position your brand and its products and services relative to competitors.

Second, you should take a channel-based view of your proposition and communicate what your channel offers compared to your own offerings in this channel and others. Through doing this you can encourage visitors to start and continue using your website, social network presence, email communications, mobile site or app.

Strategy Recommendation 27 Ensure your online presences communicate both core
brand essence and product features but also channel value
Users of your digital platforms will compare these platforms to your other channels &
to competitors, so you have to communicate these through the interface design and

Communicating the core features of your brand

Q. Have we reviewed how effectively we communicate the core features of our brand online?

Once we have understood our audiences and what we will offer them, key messages should be defined which can be communicated to customers on the site itself and in offline communications.

Strategy Recommendation 28 Ensure the key brand offer is clearly defined
Make the basics clear: Who you are? What you offer? Where you offer it? What makes you different?

Remember that for your website or social sites, the majority of visitors won’t know you so well. Think about what we call the “Four Familiarities” for a new site visitor.

They will differ in :

  • Familiarity of the customer with the different digital platforms
  • Familiarity of the customer with a brand
  • Familiarity with your products and services
  • Familiarity of a customer with your online channels

So, the main brand messages need to explain what you offer to these different groups.

Given that we have this range of familiarity, it’s useful to define the core of what you offer, particularly for new customers. Check it’s clear your visitors can answer these questions:

  1. Who you are? Clear brand names and idents?
  2. What you offer? Clear products and services?
  3. Who your offer appeals to? Less important, but this can help define your positioning.
  4. Where you offer it? Particularly important if you serve local markets!
  5. What makes you different? Often missed and the most important! What truly differentiates you?

It’s also important that these type of messages detailing the offer and linking to supporting information are visible over the entire site since not everyone arrives on the home page and reminders work.

Best Practice Tip 14 Ensure key brand messages are visible across the site
Use containers above or below the menu or in the sidebars to communicate your key messages aimed at increasing conversion.
Strait to the points


Q. Have we developed a sufficiently distinct positioning?

Strategy Recommendation 29 Identify key differentiators
Don’t fall into the trap of only communicating low relevance or low differentiating value – make sure you identify the key drives of relevance and differentiation that are right for your customer segment(s).

Better Branding. Aufreiter, Elzinga, and. Gordon

Adding value to your brand online

Q. Have we reviewed our online value proposition for different online platforms?

Really, creating and adding more value to your brand is one of the most powerful aspects of digital channels, since it will engage your audience and encourage them to share the proposition, so it’s essential to think this through clearly.

What is it? Online value proposition
Each digital channel should have its own OVP defined and there is a collective OVP.

You can communicate the OVP indirectly through the menu options, design style and tone of voice of your digital platforms whether that’s a website, blog, mobile app or email campaign. But’s it’s also useful to formalize and develop specific messaging to explain your proposition, so we will look at examples of these later in the section.

Strategy Recommendation 30 Define the overall OVP for your digital channels and
individual channels and communicate them effectively
If you don’t define your OVP, it’s likely you’re not really taking advantage of the unique benefits of digital channels to provide better experiences for customers. You also won’t be able to communicate the OVP well if it’s ill-defined. It’s important this communication happens both online and in other channels.
Checklist – different OVPs
  • Website OVP
  • Social media platform OVP
  • Email marketing content OVP
  • Service OVP
  • Mobile platform, app OVPs

STEP FOUR: Strategy Targeting

Q. Customer segmentation and targeting approach defined?

Digital channels offer exciting potential to target customers more closely.

For long-time marketers have talked about the nirvana of one-to-one marketing enabled by technology.

While there are opportunities for smart targeting with technology, the reality is that many communications aren’t targeted at any level! Yet Relevance, Relevance, Relevance should be the mantra that underpins your online marketing. Without delivering relevant communications you’re dead in the water.

In this step we recommend you target these groups of customers & grow your audience effectively.

  • Overall targeting approaches – strategic segmentation
  • Owned media targeting approaches – main audiences and web design personas
  • Earned media targeting options
  • Paid media options for targeting through different digital media channels

You can see that these targeting approaches are closely related to the next 3 steps: the propositions you offer to these segments, how you grow your reach and how you engage existing customers.

At a practical level, you can target specific audiences either through your website and other owned media like your social presence, bought or earned media, so we will look at the targeting options in each of these areas.

A. Set strategic segmentation

Q. Strategic market segments defined?

Before we dive into the tactical segmentation of how to target existing audiences better, we should look at the bigger picture of the main markets you’re targeting. This is your strategic segmentation.

What is it? Strategic segmentation
A definition of the main markets and audiences you are targeting.
Define core audiences to target

Q. Core audience demographics defined.

You can’t be all things to all people, you need to focus to offer a targeted proposition, so you should specify who are your core audiences. These will be likely 2-6 main audiences. Online media like ad networks give opportunities to buy media by demographic criteria, so clearly define different groups by age, gender and social groupings.

These audiences will form the web design personas we describe in the next section.

Checklist – audiences by priority

List audience by priority of volume or by value to the organisation.

  1. ______________________________
  2. ______________________________
  3. ______________________________
  4. ______________________________
  5. ______________________________
Define international audiences to target

Q. International marketing options defined

Receive visits from many different countries. But certain markets will be much more important, so you have to identify these and group them in a meaningful way such that you can tackle them. Of course, your primary market may be in your local country simply because you can only deliver products or services locally, in which case you will need to exclude all other countries in analytics unless people buy from abroad. 

Best Practice Tip 10 Group international target markets in a meaningful way To help manage markets you should group them into three or four tiers according to the amount of business they generate or based on future potential, e.g. emerging markets.

Define opportunities to reach new markets and audiences

Q. Options to reach new markets and audiences reviewed?

Through reviewing strategic segmentation, you can think through the opportunities available to sell into new markets through online channels.

These could involve taking advantage of the low cost of advertising internationally without the necessity for a supporting sales infrastructure in the customer’s country. For example, the Internet has helped low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair to enter new markets served by their routes cost- effectively.

This is a relatively conservative use of the Internet but is a great opportunity for SMEs to increase exports at a low cost, though it does require overcoming the barriers to exporting.

Strategy Recommendation 24 Review opportunities of digital media to target new audi- ences and new markets Don’t limit your online ambitions to sell into existing markets. Instead, review opportunities to reach new audiences – either completely different to those that exist already or through micro-targeting.

There may also be opportunity to sell to new market segments or different types of customers. For example, B2B company RS Components, a supplier of a range of MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) items, found when it first launched its site that 10% of the web-based sales were to individual consumers rather than traditional business customers. It also uses the website to offer additional facilities for customers placing large orders online.

The UK retailer Argos found the opposite was true with 10% of website sales being from businesses when their traditional market was consumer-based. EasyJet also has a section of its website to serve business customers.

The Internet may offer further opportunities for selling to market sub-segments that have not been previously targeted. For example, a product sold to large businesses may also appeal to SMEs that they have previously been unable to serve because of the cost of sales via a specialist sales force.

Alternatively, a product targeted at young people could also appeal to some members of an older audience and vice versa. Many companies have found that the audience and customers of their website are quite different from their traditional audience.

Common online targeting priorities

Let’s look at some examples of how we can select segments for targeting online that
are most attractive in terms of growth and profitability. These may be similar or different compared with groups targeted offline. Some examples of B2C and B2B customer segments that you should think about reaching or influencing through your site and ecosystem include:

  • The most profitable customers. Using the Internet to provide tailored offers to the top 20% of customers by profit may result in more repeat business and cross-sales;
  • Customers that are difficult to reach using other media. An insurance company looking to target younger drivers could use the web as a vehicle for this;
  • Customers that are brand-loyal. Services to appeal to brand loyalists and influencers can be provided to support them in their role as advocates of a brand, as suggested by Aaker and Joachimsthaler (2000);
  • Customers that are not brand-loyal. Conversely, incentives, promotion and a good level of service quality could be provided by the website to try and retain such customers.
  • Larger companies (B2B). Think about how you can reach these audiences through digital media and then how you appeal to them on your site through specific site sections or messages on a web page;
  • Smaller companies (B2B). Large companies are traditionally serviced through sales representatives and account managers, but smaller companies may not warrant the expense of account managers. The Internet, especially through the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model can be used to reach and serve smaller companies more cost-effectively;
  • Specific members of the buying unit (B2B). Again, the site can provide detailed information for different interests which supports the buying decision, for example technical documentation for users of products, information on savings from e-procurement for IS or purchasing managers, and information to establish the credibility of the company for decision makers;

As we will see at the end of this step, the digital media channels like affiliate, search and social media also give opportunities to reach to smaller segment sizes, this is micro- targeting.

Tactical segmentation methods review

Q. Does your Tactical segmentation reviewed?

The next two sections also review tactical segmentation options. Before we look at these, one other segmentation method to consider is psychographic segmentation. In plain language this is how audiences think about products and brands and how they behave through the buying process. It involves understanding their buying criteria and behaviour.

For example, laser eye treatment company Ultralase discovered that leads on their website were generated through two distinct behaviours. First some leads were generated rapidly within a day of the first visit, but another group of visitors took much longer, using a more considered approach involving many visits over a longer time period.

Don’t forget that at a practical level, your options to target your email list will be based on your customer knowledge. Since we are looking to learn more through time, we need a structured approach to customer data capture. This can be achieved through a common customer profile.

What is it? Common customer profile
A definition of all the database fields that are relevant to the marketer in order to understand and target the customer with a relevant offering. It is best if different levels,1-3 of profile can be defined to encourage more customers to sign-up.

Once defined, the common customer profile can then be used as a means of
structuring e-permission marketing and refining understanding about the customer. A plan with targets for each level can be created about how to learn more about the customer.

Best Practice Tip 11 Identify key profile fields
Identify the profile fields you really need to be able to understand your audience and target them with future messages. These are level 1 or 2 of the common customer profile.

A structured approach to customer data capture is needed otherwise some data will be missed, as is the case with the utility company that collected 80,000 e-mail addresses, but forgot to ask for the postcode for geo-targeting!

The customer profile can have different levels to set targets for data quality:

  • Level 1 is contact details and key profile fields only
  • Level 2 includes preferences
  • Level 3 includes full purchase and response behaviour

B. Owned media targeting options

Q. Owned media targeting options reviewed?

The company website is still the main owned media option for most companies to interact with prospects and customers. It’s important to think of methods of personalisation to use. But for some, such as FMCG brands social platforms are becoming more important – often their Facebook pages are larger than their website by audience and interactions. For others, mobile platforms like the mobile website and mobile apps are becoming ever more important. We’ll look at each of these in this section.

Define company website targeting approach

Q. Social media platform targeting approach defined?

You can apply the approach of personas to your website social presence. You will likely find that the demographics and preferences of users of your social presences are quite different from those of your main website. There will also be differences between different social sites like Facebook, Twitter and of course LinkedIn for business users.

Best Practice Tip 12 Audit users of your social presence to create a social profile for each site
Review a sample of profiles and comments on your social media presence to understand the types of audiences and their preferences.
Targeting using email marketing

Q. Options for targeting through email house-list reviewed?

Q. Options for targeting through email house-list reviewed?

Email is most effective for marketing when using your in-house list. Your capability here for targeting will be part of your wider E-CRM strategy. But at a practical level it will depend on the fields you have available on the database for your audience and whether they have been populated.

In my 7 Steps Guide to Excellent Email Marketing, we run through 5 options for email targeting. Of these, we think the customer lifecycle and activity levels are particularly important levels of targeting to consider.

Checklist – 5 email targeting approaches

  1. Customer profile characteristics (demographics).
  2. Customer value (current and future).
  3. Customer lifecycle groups.
  4. Customer behaviour in response and purchase (observed and predicted).
  5. Customer multi-channel behaviour (channel preference).
  6. Customer personas including psychographics.
Best Practice Tip 13 Summarise your segmentation in a layered form
It can be useful to summarise different targeting options for colleagues through a layered segmentation as shown in this approach used by eBay UK shared at a recent email marketing conference.

C. Paid media targeting options

Q. Paid-media audience targeting approach defined?

We will look at the paid media targeting approaches in more depth in Step 6, but for com- pleteness we have a quick review of the targeting options here.

Targeting using search marketing

Q. Search marketing targeting approach reviewed?

Of course search marketing involves both paid and owned media, the owned media being the natural search engine optimisation (SEO). But both share similar targeting options.

At a strategy level, the most important thing to get right is investing time in targeting the keyphrases that will get you the best results. Methods of keyphrase research and targeting are covered in more detail in our guides on paid and natural search marketing and a later section which reminds us that the Google Display Network (GDN) can be used for targeting on third-party sites.

Targeting using display advertising

Q. Opportunities for reaching audience through display advertising reviewed?

Although search marketing is effective at reaching visitors who have a defined need they are searching, for it is less effective for generating hidden demand through targeted ads on niche sites or reaching a mass-market audience through larger sites. Many companies don’t invest in display since they can’t see beyond the low clickthrough rates.

Targeting using affiliates and partners

Q. Relevance of affiliate marketing reviewed?

Marketing via partners is another method of targeting audiences using third-party sites which can complement your other traffic-building efforts. These can give new potential sources for reaching audiences that aren’t aware of your brand or specific products and services. For example, retailer Tescos has good levels of brand awareness in many markets, but some offerings like their financial, diet or wine products may be less well known, so they use affiliate marketing to raise awareness of these services with higher levels of commission.

D. Earned media targeting options

Q. Earned-media audience targeting approach defined?

Reaching your audience through online public relations is another tactical method of targeting. Here we are looking to deliver a message to our audience though editorial produced by influencers such as bloggers, celebrities or online publications.

Strategy Recommendation 26 Ensure you invest sufficient in influencer outreach Segmenting and then forming relationships with relevant bloggers and content sites is a key part of influencer outreach, but it’s often an under-resourced part of content marketing.

VQVC test for using the right digital marketing KPIs

As a starting point for creating a dashboard for digital marketing activity based on Google Analytics or another digital analytics system, consider the VQVC measures.

By using the Volume-Quality-Value-Cost (VQVC) measures you can check you have a balanced set of measures in a dashboard. In our experience, some dashboards tend to include Volume measures only. There is a tendency to focus on Volume, but it’s Quality, Value, and Cost that really matter. You should also segment these KPIs by referral channel, for example, comparing social media to SEO to AdWords.

VQVC defines four types of measures that you should review within your analytics:

Traffic volume measures. Google Analytics is great at showing these simple measures of what we often call “traffic”. You will see these in the standard audience overview report. Key Measures include:

  • Unique visits – the number of individuals who visit the site in the specified period.
  • Visits – the total number of times the site was accessed by different individuals.
  • Pageviews – the total number of pages viewed by individuals.

Quality measures. For meaningful use of analytics to improve digital marketing it’s essential to go beyond volume measures to understand the quality of traffic on the site. The reason? It’s really challenging to deliver relevance to web users, they’re impatient if the content, design, and experience don’t match their intent as they search for a product or service, or their expectations based on visits to other sites. These traffic quality measures give an indication of how a visitor has engaged with a site, these examples of site engagement benchmarks show a typical range for these metrics.

Bounce rate The percentage of visitors who leave immediately after viewing only one page. Generally, unless they’re on the site for specific information such as a support question, a high bounce rate is a sign of poor quality traffic and/or experience.

Duration – The dwell time – measured as Average Time on Page or Average time on site.Pages per visit – I find this more useful than dwell time since it gives you an idea of how many pages your visitor views on average. It’s opportunities for a marketer to communicate their messages.

Conversion rates to lead and sale. These are the most important of the quality measures since they show what proportion of visits convert to commercial outcomes. –

While these don’t vary much from one week to the next unless there is a big change to the content or design of a site, they become really important to review for different site visitor segments. For example, if you’re paying for Google AdWords and your bounce rate for this traffic source is 90%, then you’re not getting great value from your ad investment.

If you’re involved in managing search day-to-day you will know this, but if you review search marketing with an agency or team, you do need to get into how traffic quality varies for different types of search marketing. But yet still more important are…

Value measures. Value shows the communications effectiveness and commercial contribution of our digital marketing to a business. Here we’re looking for outcomes which show intent to purchase or purchase itself. For an Ecommerce site this is straight- forward, we can look at measures like sales transactions and average order value. However, it’s less obvious for the many non-transactional sites, like many B2B sites. Here it’s necessary to setup goals for customised for the business in Google Analytics for when user actions are completed for qualified leads. Taking the example of a brochure or whitepaper download, you specify the thank you page address, give the goal a name and your goal is set up.

Many will do this, but often not set a value against it based on the conversion of brochure download to sale and their average order value. Since it’s so crucial to have Goals customized for a business I have inserted an example. Most agencies will get this right as part of their onboarding for new clients, but many businesses still don’t have this right I find.

Once you have Ecommerce or Goal tracking setup you can then use these Value measures. It’s vital to review these if you’re serious about improving marketing effectiveness by seeing which online campaigns and site pages are working best for you in terms of value rather than visits and those that aren’t.

  • Goal value per visit. If you assign a value to a goal such as a download, you can then compare how different visitor sources contribute value to the site. For example, how does social media marketing compare to Email, is LinkedIn more or less valuable than Twitter – this is very powerful for checking your marketing investments.
  • Revenue per visit. For sites with E-commerce tracking, Google will report Revenue per visit which enables you perform similar analysis to that for goal value.
  • Page value. If you review this measure for your pages you can work back to see which pages are prompting the creation of value enabling you to improve customer journeys and messaging.

Cost measures. Cost measures are historically limited in Google Analytics, although you can now import Google AdWords costs and using Google’s new Universal Analytics you can import information about product costs.

Here’s a summary of some of the key VQVC measures you should include from analytics.

Here’s a summary of VQVC to conclude this step:

Note that the VQVC checklist is mainly related to a dashboard for traffic to a site, so it can’t cover everything like satisfaction, so here’s an additional checklist to consider. You also need to check you have the right range of digital marketing KPIs.

STEP THREE: Define your digital future

Vision, Objectives and KPIs

Q. Goals, vision and objectives for digital marketing channels defined?

You should start with a simple way of looking at your future. Ask why and what? Why are you using digital platforms now and into the future? What do you want to achieve?

Developing your future Vision Objectives KPIs for digital marketing, I suggest you think about different levels of measurements for setting goals and reviewing performance. An Examples strategists and managers won’t be interested in the full range of measures like page bounce rates or dwell times – they are interested in the commercial measures. But for the hands-on marketer reviewing landing pages for an Adwords campaign these bounce rates and dwell times will be important to getting more from their Adwords budget.

Strategy Recommendation 15 Define different levels of measures for managing digital mar- keting activities for a common understanding within an organisation
Definitions of Goals, Objectives and KPIs are often hazy within a business since depending on previous experience of team members, the terms may change in meaning. For example sometimes “Goals” are described as SMART, in other occasions “Objectives”, the approach we prefer. Clear definitions with a hierarchy as shown in the diagram will help.

Start by thinking about the 5Ss which are a great, simple framework for thinking through the goals of your digital channels. Then look at longer-term vision – we’ll show you some examples of companies who have developed a vision to communicate their long-term ambitions for digital media. Only then should you drill down into the details of specific goals you want to achieve.

Look out for our detailed grid of KPIs which we structure within our RACE framework. This will give you a comprehensive set of KPIs you can use to help develop your own dashboard.

To define your future Vision Objectives KPI we suggest this hierarchy of measures may help in larger organisations:

  • Mid-long term vision to help communicate the transformation needed in a larger organisation
  • Top-level broad goals to show how the business can benefit from digital channels
  • Specific SMART objectives to give clear direction and commercial targets
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) to check you are on track

I hope you agree that the reasons for setting objectives are obvious; if you don’t know where you’re going and when you hope to get there, you won’t know your progress on the journey and so make adjustments when you go astray.

So, it’s best to start with the top-level goals which help inform the vision before going onto specific objectives. This is where “the 5S goals can help!

Introducing the 5S goals for digital marketing

The 5Ss of digital marketing is a good, simple starting point to help check you’re covering the whole of digital marketing, not just sales!

I developed the 5Ss of digital marketing with PR Smith, my co-author on Emarketing Excellence around 2000, and although it’s a basic top-level review of goals, it’s still used by many when planning their digital marketing strategy.

As we run through each of the 5Ss, I’ll show some questions you should be asking in each area and look at some examples of how these broad goals have translated into strategies and tactics for online retailer

5S: Sell – Set goals to grow sales?

Q. Sales goals set?

Start with goals for your most important transactions which will lead to revenue and profit! That’s sales, or if you don’t sell online, the leads that your online marketing will deliver, which will convert through to sales or donations if you’re a not-for-profit.

As you’d expect, ASOS are all about selling, but it’s worth looking at how this translates to a clear sales offer delivered across the whole site below the navigation bar, and at the bottom of this page.

Create conversion model to help define realistic goals

Q. Conversion model used to calculate realistic targets for goal volume?

Strategy Recommendation 16 Develop conversion models to set realistic online channel goals
Conversion models can help you set realistic goals from online marketing.
Look at options to increase sales through expanding our reach

Q. Options to extend reach reviewed?

Often online marketing can focus on selling to existing markets without looking for new opportunities. Use benchmarking and search demand tools to prove how it’s possible to increase sales beyond your typical customer base.

Review options to increase sales through conversion enhancements

Q. Options to increase conversion rate possible?

We have said it’s worth looking at how to add more prospects to the top of the funnel, but there are also opportunities to increase sales through increasing the efficiency of customer journeys on the site, both at the top of the funnel as they navigate to find relevant services and further down the funnel in the add-to-basket and checkout processes.

Set separate sales goals for existing and new customers

Q. Separate goals and tracking defined for new and existing customers?

To manage online sales, it’s useful to isolate incremental online sales and new sales. Keeping incremental sales volume trending right is most important. You can use analytics or ecommerce sales systems to deliver this insight.

Tracked goals through analytics

Q. Goal types and value defined in analytics?

We have a more detailed section explaining how to do this in our guide to Google Analytics

Define multichannel goals

Q. Online channels goals defined as online contribution of revenue or profit?

Sales might be direct if the product can be sold online or indirect where they are generated offline. Still many people research online and then purchase offline, so it’s key for many companies to think how they use online channels to influence offline sales.

Strategy Recommendation 17 Ensure your goal-setting reflects channel switching
Users switch channels during the purchase process, so make sure you set goals, measures and support these cross-channel behaviours.
This Day it called omni channel

5S: Save – Set cost-saving goals

Q. Goals set around cost savings?

Less glamorous than the sizzle of building your brand and social media engagement, but you can also show the value you gain through using online cost savings to reduce service costs and save on traditional media like print and post.

This is most relevant for a multichannel retailer or service company who can set goals for number of catalogues downloaded or number of service transactions compared to other channels.

If you’re fighting for budget for online channels, the savings you can demonstrate to your finance director or budget holder will improve your cause.

5S: Sizzle – Adding value to your brand online

Q. Goals set for brand engagement and advocacy?
Putting the sizzle into your digital marketing will really help your sales and speak goals, but it’s not to easy to set goals for and then to track. So what is the “Sizzle in your Sausage”?

Sizzle is about building your brand online. Think about what makes for a positive online brand experience for your audience and you.

If the experience is effective, the benefits of engaging with your digital presence will be clear; the interactions within the site and with other channels will be smooth and the visitor will want to use your online services again, and tell their friends and colleagues about it.

So, key goals here are about levels of satisfaction and recommendations or advocacy. ASOS have invested heavily in community platforms and social media to deliver the sizzle!

Define vision

Q. We have a defined mid-long term vision for the future contribution of our digital marketing channels?

We believe that developing a specific vision or mission statement for your digital channels can really help explain the need for digital channel initiatives within a company. They also show where the focus of digital marketing activities and investment should be.

Strategy recommendation 20 Define a vision for how digital channels will support your customers and brand
A longer-term vision and planning horizon will highlight the changes to process, platforms and structure needed for the long-term transformation needed to make the most of digital marketing.

You’re probably thinking ‘we’ve already got a corporate mission statement that everyone pokes fun at, so why would we want to define a vision statement?’ or ‘why should we bother?

It’s too corporate and we’re just a small business, we just get on with selling our products.’ Good questions! But we still think it’s helpful to have a vision for your online marketing for all different types of organisation. We say this since the opportunities from digital marketing are too big to not have a vision of how you will use digital media in the future. If you don’t define the opportunity you won’t be able to grasp it because there will be too many other distractions. They

may also take time to be achieved. Look at how Dell9 set their long-term vision, both for their online channel as a whole and how online analytics will support it.

A good vision statement for your digital marketing activities can help:

  • Show how digital marketing or E-business can transform your organization in the future if you innovate and invest
  • Show where you need to focus your effort – is it customer experience and service to build loyalty or are you also looking to expand your reach into new markets?
  • Energize colleagues by showing the future potential of digital marketing and communicating that it’s a strategic priority through a senior manager or director who is a sponsor of digital marketing
  • Set top-level goals without going into detailed KPIs.

I am not talking about mission statements of what your company currently is, instead, a vision is an inspiring, ideal future state. A vision is almost certainly not going to be 100% attainable, but you must feel as if it is possible.

Some examples of vision statements for digital channels
  • 1 x 2 x 3:
  • Largest online audience share (No.1) in Europe by XXXX By XXXX, 1 in 2 of total sales will be generated on-line
  • 1 in 3 of our people and our customers love our online services and will recommend them to a friend
  • 2 in 3 customer service contacts will be electronic by XXXX
Best Practice Tip 5 Set BHAG: “Big Hairy Audacious Goals
These ambitious targets are used to gain attention for an initiative and attract investment and resources to it. They were popularised in a 1996 Harvard Business Review article by James Collins and Jerry Porras on Building Your Company’s Vision.

Different aspects of the vision statement can then be expanded upon when discussing with colleagues

  • Digital channels = the web site supported by email and mobile messaging
  • Find = improvements to site search functionality
  • Compare and select = Using detailed product descriptions, rich media and ratings
  • Merchandising and improving conversion = Through delivery of automated merchandising facilities to present relevant offers to maximise conversion and average order value. Additionally, use of structured testing techniques such as AB testing and multivariate testing will be used.
  • Experience rated as excellent = We will regularly review customer satisfaction and advocacy against direct competitors and out-of-sector to drive improvements with the web site
Checklist – creating your vision statement
  1. Shows how digital channels will help the customer. What value will you provide?
  2. Shows the benefit to the company in terms of efficiencies or profitability?
  3. Link vision to specific goals in the future?
  4. Is simple and memorable?
  5. Is inspirational?

Define specific SMART objectives in your performance improvement framework for digital marketing

Q. Right measurement frameworks and dashboards defined?

Measurement frameworks are essential to give you focus – rather than reviewing hundreds of measures you can just focus on top-level performance measures which are critical to improve performance. These are summarised on dashboards.

Strategy Recommendation 21 Define the right measurement framework and dashboards You can’t measure everything, far from it! So define the measures and KPIs that you can review regularly to really drive your business and develop an automated method of reporting via dashboards.

And remember that dashboards count for nothing if they’re not reviewed and actioned. Avinash Kaushik, the web evangelist at Google famously said :

If you have $100 to make smart decisions on the web, invest $10 in tools, spend $90 on people. This is the 10/90 rule.”

Strategy Recommendation 22 Invest sufficient time in the people, process and tools to ssupport performance improvement
If you don’t invest sufficient in the supporting processes and people your careful specification of goals and objectives will have been pointless. So make sure you put in place the right approaches to review and take action depending on your numbers.

I’ll talk more about how to make this happen in our guide to improving results through goal-setting and keep it brief here. Check that:

  • Q. There is a defined measurement framework to review and take action?
  • Q. Our KPIs are aligned to business success?
  • Q. The dependencies between KPIs is clear?
  • Q. Individuals are responsible for KPIs?
  • Q. Our measurement framework includes the right efficiency measures?
  • Q. Our measurement framework includes the right effectiveness measures?
  • Q. Measures can be distributed and reviewed in a top-level report or dashboard?
Best Practice Tip 7 Identify your “critical few” KPIs – make sure they’re SMART
Use the SMART mnemonic to review your measures to define the KPIs that matter to improve results.

Measures you consider should be simplified to a dashboard to limit the information that needs to be reviewed to the “critical few” or the “measures that matter”.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific – Is the objective sufficiently detailed to measure real-world problems and opportunities?
  • Measurable – Can a quantitative qualitative attribute be applied to create a metric?
  • Actionable – Can the information be used to improve performance? If the objective doesn’t change behaviour in staff to help them improve performance, there is little point in it!
  • Relevant – Can the information be applied to the specific problem faced by the manager?
  • Time-related – Can the information be constrained through time?

Define your measurement framework

I’ve have found that still, many companies don’t have a clear objective setting and reporting system summarized as digital marketing dashboards. But there seems to be a hunger to create and use these.

In this guide to improving online results, we consider 3 different performance management frameworks. But here, I’ll just use our RACE framework since this has the fullest range of KPIs for different managers.

RACE consists of four steps designed to help engage prospects, customers and fans with brands throughout the customer lifecycle.

  • 1 Reach – Build awareness of a brand, its products and services on other sites and in offline media and build traffic by driving visits to web presences
  • 2 Act – Engage audience with brand on its website or other online presence
  • 3 Convert – Achieve conversion to marketing goals such as new fans, leads or sales on web presences and offline
  • 4 Engage – Build customer relationships through time to achieve retention goals
Best Practice Tip 8 Use a grid of RACE vs seniority to define your goals.
In the rows, it isolates more detailed metrics that drive performance from the customer-centric KPIs and Business value KPIs, so it identifies the measures that really matter or Key Key Performance Indicators (KKPIs) at the bottom of the matrix. More senior managers will review the performance drivers at the bottom of the grid.

This Acquisition, Conversion, Retention approach is adapted from an approach recommended by analytics specialist Neil Mason on his courses.

You can see it is most practical to use in a larger organisation with different tiers of management. The idea is to select the most relevant KPIs to form dashboards for different people as shown in the left column.

Let’s look at the key performance indicators for each of the four steps and where you can find the reports in Google Analytics.

Stage 1 Reach KPIs

Reach involves building awareness of a brand, its products and services on other sites and in offline media and building traffic by driving visits to web presences. KPIs include:

  • Unique visitors. The size of your audience at the top of the funnel with the potential to convert. This measure is available on your dashboard. Review your reach into social network sites like Facebook and Twitter also if you’re active on these.
  • Audience share. You can benchmark this by comparing your unique visitors to competitor sites using Google AdPlanner. Number share of audience is particularly important for search marketing which often accounts for 50% or more of a catalog site’s audience. You should compare visits from search in your keywords report against the potential demand for search engines using a gap analysis to see where your missing.
  • Revenue or goal value per visit. As described above, these measures enable you to see the value that each referring campaign, site or keyword is generating. Through reviewing how you promote your site through these traffic sources you can aim to increase revenue per visit. Of course increasing conversion rate will also help increase revenue per visit.

Stage 2 Act KPIs

Act stands for interact, your aim is to achieve the initial engagement of your visitors when they enter your site. KPIs include:

  • Bounce rate. Bounce rate is a great measure to use as part of your aim of increasing sales. Review the top sources of traffic report and keywords reports to identify traffic sources with the highest bounce rate and aim to reduce this figure.
  • Pages per visit. If you can encourage more browsing and searching, you are likely to increase conversion rates. The average figure for visits which involve a search is around 30% in the UK for retailers, according to Coremetrics.
  • Product page conversion. Conversion rates for some products will naturally be higher than others so work on increasing conversion rates where you have “problem products” with a relatively high volume of page views, but relatively low conversion rate.
  • Conversion to lead. I do prefer to include conversion to marketing outcomes other than sale which such as new fans or leads as part of encouraging interaction.

Stage 3 Convert to Sale

To Achieving conversion sales whether from online or offline. The well-known KPIs include:

  • Conversion rates. Again it’s worth understanding how these vary for different visitors sources.
  • Sales transactions. The number and value of sales broken down by category.
  • Revenue and margin. Readily reported the margin will be usually reported through a back-end system.

Stage 4 Engage

Build customer relationships through time to achieve retention goals. You may have to derive these through your sales systems. KPIs include:

  • % returning visitors. This gives you a simple indication of the importance of returning visitors to your business.
  • % active hurdle rates. These have to be extracted from the CRM database – you should look at the percentage of customers who make a purchase in a 3 or 6 month period. ASOS uses a 6 month period to define active customers.
  • Repeat sales from existing customers. Encouraging repeat purchases.
  • Repeat conversion rate. This is the proportion of first-time purchasers who buy again.
Best Practice Tip 9 Define dashboards for different team members
You can use Google Analytics custom reports or spreadsheet worksheets to have different tabs for different levels of seniority and involvement with digital.

This example shows how to use the “menu” of KPIs in the table above to select the most relevant measures for them to put into their reporting.

Create a digital channel SWOT

Q. Digital channel specific SWOT created?

A digital channel SWOT summarises your online marketplace analysis findings AND links to strategy. It’s specific to the Internet and digital channels rather than a more general SWOT.

In a large organization, or for a more complete summary, complete a separate SWOT for:

  • Customer acquisition and conversion and customer development
  • Different brands
  • Different markets
  • Different competitors – direct and indirect
  • Recommend using a TOWS matrix for SWOT since this helps integrate your analysis with your strategy rather than the analysis being placed on the shelf and forgotten.

A Digital Marketing SWOT analysis is an essential part of any business or marketing plan. It allows you to create a plan of action based not on what you’re interested in doing or on your gut-feel, but what you need to do given the opportunities presented to you in your marketplace. It considers your capabilities for marketing against competitors plus looks at opportunities.

The example below shows how it reviews not only the situation in internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats around the edge, but also shows 4 box for creating strategies to succeed in the marketplace.

Make sure your SWOT or SWOTs are:

  1. Based on existing SWOT for the business.
  2. Uses a TOWs matrix approach.
  3. Created specific for digital marketing channel.
  4. Considers key digital marketing activities.
  5. Have further details on specific markets as required by the size of the company.
  6. Include both external factors and internal digital capabilities.

The SWOT analysis will give you the strategic view of the main opportunities and challenges available from online marketing. The high-level view will help you see the most important issues which need to be managed for your online success.