Indicators of a poor digital strategy

It can be difficult to identify which aspects of a digital marketing pitch are genuinely worthwhile. This article points out some of the indicators that can help identify a poor digital strategy.

There are thousands of articles and discussions out there focused on what makes a good digital strategy, a few of which I’ve probably contributed to myself. But it can be difficult, especially for clients with little or no knowledge of online marketing, to identify which aspects of a digital marketing pitch are genuinely worthwhile.

Most will have come across it at some point, but there’s usually at least one client or colleague in each digital marketing specialist’s career who’s been pitched an online strategy which is either unfit for purpose or uses grey- or black-hat digital marketing.

This article points out some of the indicators that can help identify a poor digital marketing strategy in order to help clients make more informed decisions about how and who they choose to improve their online presence.

Focusing too heavily on impression and visitors

I’ve briefly touched upon this in my previous article about KPIs that every marketing report should include,but too much discussion around impressions and visitors can be an early indicator that the person pitching the digital strategy may not understand the end goal, or may be trying to impress with some seemingly large figures. Discussing percentage increase is a step in the right direction, but may be part of the same tactics.

Now, many clients or colleagues often ask questions related to these ‘softer’ KPIs, and so the topic will crop up from time to time. However, most digital marketers worth dealing with will follow the conversation up with some solid percentage figures, be that click-through rates or visitor conversion rates.

Concentrating on keywords rather than key content

Keyword focused search marketing is becoming a thing of the past. Google has already stopped providing keyword specific search details, and is leading the shift from keyword to content.

This shift is largely for search engine optimisation, where as pay-per-click is still quite keyword dependent – So it can depend on the methods that are being pitched, but in general taking a more overall content focused approach is the way that all digital marketing is moving.

Only discussing on-page or off-page processes

Dropping the entire range of possible digital marketing processes into one of two categories (which are more usually associated with Search Engine Optimisation) may seem a little ambiguous, but it’s incredible how often one or the other will be discussed without any consideration of the other.

Email marketing, for example, may be discussed in quite a lot of depth, discussing the frequency, content and design of each email campaign. But the strategy may make no mention of the landing pages and form that will ultimately convert recipients into leads.

When reviewing any element of digital marketing it’s useful to put yourself in the customer’s shoes – What’s the initial point of contact? What’s the first time that you hand over your details? Answering these two questions will allow you to identify the customer journey from initial contact to acquisition – And every customer journey involves both on- and off-page digital marketing.

Not using percentages, initialisations and the correct terminology

If there’s one thing for a client to take away from this article, it’s that digital marketing is full of initialisations – Just do a quick search on Wikipedia. These will come up often, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with what they stand for and what they mean. Here’s a list of twenty definitions worth memorizing.

Percentages are also commonly used in digital marketing, many associated with the initialisations mentioned above. If there’s a digital strategy in place then it’s worth finding out existing figures. If there isn’t then it’s a good idea to get independent benchmark figures for your industry.

If a digital marketing pitch is missing these initialisations and figures it’s possible that the strategy hasn’t been objectively qualified.

Some digital marketing specialists argue that certain terms such as ‘eShot’ and ‘eBlast’ can be additional identifiers, for reasons I’ve discussed previously. Certainly any mention of ‘scaling up’, ‘link building’ or ‘guest posting’ should be treated cautiously…

Scaling up natural digital marketing processes

As mentioned above, almost any mention of ‘scaling up’ an existing process should be seen as an amber flag and investigated. There’s been a lot of coverage in recent months regarding Google’s site-wide penalties, which is as a result of the natural online PR process being scaled up to produce black-hat SEO marketing techniques.

If there’s a natural process in place that’s ethical and working well, simply ‘scaling up’ is in many cases not the right approach, and should always be seen as a potential indicator of a poor digital marketing strategy.

John Alexander Rowley

An enthusiastic digital marketing professional passionately dedicated to increasing the online presence of businesses and individuals in order to improve engagement and ROI.

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