what’s a digital strategy, plan and campaign?

Here’s some help to understand the difference between three terms which are frequently bandied about. They are a digital or online marketing:

  • Strategy
  • Plan
  • Campaign

What’s a digital strategy?

In the broadest sense a digital marketing strategy is the overall approach you decide to invest in online in order to fulfil your business goals. For example your strategy may be to build your business’ reputation online as a leader in your field. This might focus for example on establishing your business as “thought leaders” in your particular area of expertise. Another example of the overarching digital strategy of a business may be to migrate the majority of sales transactions from offline to online.

A strategy can have just one major goal or numerous goals. Once a business has a clear and written digital strategy then it is far easier to map out what tactics you are going to plan to enable you to fulfil that strategy. Every time the business needs to examine a potential activity, campaign or tactic they consider its merits in terms of how it supports the overall stated strategy.

If it doesn’t support the overall strategy, it should get dumped. If it does it should be considered. The tactic’s potential effectiveness is then weighed up against the other potential tactics being considered. The best tactics are then prioritised based on their ability to most effectively deliver on the overall strategy.

Target audience

A strategy also needs to clarify who your priority and secondary target audience are. This will include sectors, geographic locations and job titles.

The target audiences personas should be defined in the strategy. Taking a typical or a number of typical personas and specifying their motivations, needs, drivers, habits and preferences.

Market size

The market size and addressable market should also be outlined.

Finally, a strategy needs to articulate what success will look like.

What’s a digital or online marketing plan?

A digital marketing plan outlines the specific tactics you plan to employ to deliver on your strategy. It will also include details of the specific deliverables, campaigns and timings you will schedule over a period of a year to implement the plan.

A plan can have a mix of general ongoing tactics you plan to employ, as well as specific discrete campaigns you will run at different periods throughout the year.  The plan will identify the target audience and articulate their online habits and preferences.

Ongoing tactics might include designing or improving your website, optimising your content and communications for search engines, social media interactions and content updates as well as ongoing use of tactics such as Adwords.

Specific tactical campaigns might include for example promoting special seasonal offers, creating new packages and services to meet specific customer needs, promoting a new service such as Twitter to manage customer service enquiries or launching a competition. Multiple campaigns may run concurrently and across the business which are driven by the different business areas’ discrete goals.

All of these elements will be included in the digital marketing plan and a timeline for the year will highlight when they will be run, by whom and utilising what tool or tactic.

The plan should also include specific KPIs and metrics for the year based on the plan.

What’s a digital or online campaign?

An online campaign is a very specific campaign run by a business or organisation which is usually designed to deliver on a very specific objective. It is also designed to target a very specific audience or customer. Such as a campaign to increase sales of end-of-line clothing where an online retailer will design a campaign to deliver on that goal. The campaign will have a very specific start and end date, a target audience, a set of metrics to aim for (generate sales of €3,000 and secure 150 email sign ups), a set budget and will detail the tactics or tools that will be used, the offer, creative and the messaging.

A campaign for example to promote this end-of-line clothing sale might use a mix of online and offline tactics which are fully integrated. Starting off with reaching the audience via radio ads quoting a specific website address, combined with Facebook Ads and eMail marketing to previous customers. The offer may be to provide a further 10% discount on all items in the sale in exchange for email registration for future alerts. The goals will be set up for the campaign in Google Analytics, so that the campaign can be tracked. The website address shouted out in the radio campaign, via the Facebook Ad and in the email marketing will be unique and visitors to the website using those URLs can be tracked as they arrive on the website.

In addition, this allows us to track the source of visitors and identify which tactic delivered actual sales conversions or browsers (window shoppers).

What the hell works online? Why can’t anybody tell me?

Too often your online strategy may be wrong and you’ll only find out when the budget and your time, is spent. In a world where we should be able to measure digital activity instantly it seems that nothing is instant when you want it. It takes too long to log into all the different online services you use and dig out the data to understand where your online efforts stand. Can you even be sure what data you should be monitoring and what your realistic and achievable goals should be?

Leading online business managers know that to make the most of any business channel you have to be clear on:

– Why you are using it
– What you expect in return
– The specific metric needed to deliver the goals
– Most importantly know what each activity is actually delivering to the business

A business must identify how online is benefitting the business and how to monitor that online performance, as well as establishing the correct metrics and targets to support the overall business goals


Google Adwords, are they performing?

Prior to coming to us an Ireland SEO client was investing €30,000 annually in Google Adwords. Click-throughs were being monitored but no metrics had been set by the client to evaluate if the Adwords were delivering a return based on the business’s goals. Elucidate’s first step was to set metrics for Adwords including a metric goal for the cost per click-through (CTR) in an effort to try and reduce the cost of visitor acquisition. Our second step was to set a metric for the numbers that converted into online sales where a visitor had originated from a Google Adword.

Immediately the business could see by monitoring the metrics that

a) The CTR was going up instead of down and that

b) The number of conversions was far too low based on the cost of advertising. The problem was NOT Google Adwords but the management of the Adword campaigns. By putting in place a metric to monitor the Adword campaigns and a target to aim for, the business began to notice quickly the poor performance. This gave them a much needed prompt to take action and not let it slide. They reacted by completely overhauling their Adword campaigns which resulted in a large hike in online conversions by redirecting the Adwords budget to more successful keywords and campaigns. This was combined with introducing a series of specific landing pages for the Adwords which more directly encouraged conversions.


How to measure performance?

If a runner doesn’t know how fast he or she is running how can the runner know if their performance is getting better or worse? Businesses or organisations need goals to know how they are performing and how to become better and more efficient.

Goal setting is essential online. Online has the potential to have a massive impact on a business’s success but it can also result in massive wastage of resources if returns are not monitored carefully and action taken if and when an online activity isn’t working.

So you don’t mind losing up to €50,000 a year?

Continuing to invest time and resources in an online activity that is not delivering returns can, in a small business, cost on average €8,000 a year on manpower alone. For larger business we estimate that it can be as much as five times that amount – €40,000!

This does not include the lost opportunity cost when more effective tactics aren’t given the attention needed to get the most out of them. Elucidate calculated that for one organisation alone the opportunity cost financially of NOT identifying and capitalising on LinkedIn as its most valuable source of referrals as almost €50,000 in just 12 months.

For another business we calculated the opportunity cost of not monitoring and addressing the abandonment rate of their online bookings meant the business was losing a staggering 80% of all potential online orders and revenues of approximately €250,000 a year.

bloody customer support on social media: highs and lows

82% of customers stop doing business with a company because of poor customer experience.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever for brands to gain the support of their customers. However, it’s also easier than ever to lose their support.

Let us tell you a story.

Just like everyone else, we at Elucidate need to break in our shoes. Just like everyone else, Elucidators also have birthdays.

Birthday shoes are not meant to cause agony and untold distress (to both the wearer and the followers of the wearer’s Twitter account). Birthday shoes are supposed to be things of beauty, things that fit both the feet of the wearer, and their personality.

Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go as planned.

ugly things. painful things.

Things like this:

Yep, that’s what you think it is. That’s blood.

Being the kind of people who tweet most of our waking lives, this image, along with some rather more graphic ones of said foot and shoe, were soon being circulated on Twitter.

Responses from our followers included horror….


….and melodrama…



…and it was sorted.


There are many examples of brands that perform excellent feats of customer service through social media platforms every day. Here are just a few examples:

facts & figures

Companies who ignore their customers’ complaints on social media do so at their peril (read more here). Ignoring social comments only fuels the debate. However, a response will calm it down and if you do a really good job, will gain you support and loyalty.

It’s worth remembering what happened to Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro during their excruciatingly public meltdown on Facebook.

So, to answer a topical question –

how is social media changing customer support?

At Elucidate, we and our ankles think it can make a huge positive impact if done correctly.