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).