Many companies look at business goals on a yearly, maybe even a quarterly, basis. However, they may not evaluate how their online goals fit into the overall picture. As a result, many executives look at online efforts as a nonproducing expenditure and cut the digital budget.
Marketers and website administrators understand the return-on-investment (ROI) potential of online activities, but may not adequately express their strategies or existing progress. Every other business process warrants regular evaluation, and online activities are no different. Executives should make time to stop and reflect on online activities, and marketers need to understand how to convey value to a management team, and not only theirs, but all the teams that support what they do from IT to Product Development.
What Should Executives Look for in an Online Strategy?
As an executive, see the facts of your online strategy. You need to see:
- What the current market looks like – What are competitors accomplishing online with their mobile and desktop strategies? Who holds the top place digitally? Which brands perform well online in terms of credibility, loyalty, and prolificacy?
- Where your current online strategy stands – As part of marketing strategy discussions, you should discover the financial and nonfinancial ROI of online activities. Because online marketing serves both short-term and long-term business goals, find the investment potential of building a strong website that ranks well, as well as the existing conversion rate and what affects it. Understanding where you stand and the potential of your current activities will help you actively direct future goals and activities.
- What you want online efforts to do for your brand – Online goals vary from company to company. Some businesses have a website and social media accounts only because they feel they must. While a presence is a basic online goal, it won’t do much for future brand growth, visibility, and ROI unless there is a strategy that can be supported over an extended period of time. Almost every company has some form of website presence, and simply existing online could turn online activities into nonperforming expenditures.
A calculated online presence can do so much more in terms of company success. Define your current goals for business and target those for the next quarter or year. For some businesses, that may mean strengthening visibility for future conversions. For others, it may mean supporting your current customer base to improve retention rates. Online strategy can support numerous business goals. Take the time to discover how online activities can help you meet your goals, instead of using the internet to “keep up with the Joneses.”
How Marketers Can Support Business Investments and Goals
For online goal redefinition to result in an actionable strategy, executives need to understand more about marketing, and marketers need to understand more about business management. You know that Snapchat is the next big thing for companies in your market, but unless you can pitch the concept in a way that makes sense to management, it may never earn approval. Use these tips to help management redefine online goals and start seeing digital ROI:
- Take an analytics course or seminar – Marketer education is changing, but many marketers in the field today do not truly understand analytics. Some can run a report and see a high rate of traffic from Google Analytics, but it would be a mistake to equate those “fluffy” statistics with success. Executives need to see data that puts online goals in the right frame of reference, and the right analytical research information can help, but you need to make sure it tells a concise story.
- Map online activities to business goals – How will a content campaign generate business? What impact does social media sharing have on customer conversions? Many online marketing activities indirectly support business goals, and they take time to produce results. To develop a strong case for online activities, you must explain how individual activities will lead to success, define key performance indicators, outline the measurement process, and, most of all, define a realistic time period for review towards those goals.
- Develop a strategic timeline – Without benchmarks, online goals can stay off in the distance permanently. The activities are supporting the business, but until they produce ROI, it’s hard to tell they’re accomplishing anything. A strategic timeline helps marketers’ better plan campaigns and define benchmarks along the way. If you can’t show a direct activity to revenue case, you may be able to indicate how close you are to achieving a major goal. Regularly demonstrate performance to maintain a strong online strategy.
Working Together for Online and Offline Success
When marketers and management stay on the same page regarding a digital strategy, they can make smart technology investments and redefine online marketing goals along the way to see real progress. Plan to revisit and redefine online strategies throughout the year, and make time to sit down and review past progress and plan for the future at least once a year.