Gone are the days when budget can just be spent and no one will question too closely what it was spent on.

Due to a combination of hard times for businesses and consumers alike and the ability to track and measure activity far more successfully, those controlling the purse strings are rightly demanding justification for the cash you are spending.

Digital marketing should be viewed as a single marketing medium which can be split down into SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing, online advertising, conversion optimisation, email marketing and so on.

Therefore, there should be a single all-encompassing strategy which pulls together the best ways to use each of those mediums to bring additional revenue into a business.

For example the State of Search Marketing Report 2011 found that the most popular objectives for digital marketing for businesses (not agencies) were:

  • SEO – driving traffic.
  • PPC – generating leads.
  • Social media – increased brand awareness and enhanced reputation.

Conversion optimisation was considered to be responsible for sales/revenue from a website and this objective was therefore not assigned to any of the above. However, if there is no strategy pulling these together then what is the point in running them at all?

Your strategy should be completely customer centric. You want potential customers to buy from your business; therefore you need to understand your customer groups completely.

If you are looking to expand your market share by appealing to new customer groups then this needs to be planned strategically as all marketing activity for the business should be following a consistent theme on how to achieve this.

The strategy should be campaign-based and organised over a year based on seasonal interest in the theme of the campaign.

Google Insights is great for planning keyword search interest over time and can help to plan when budget could be saved on PPC because SEO is performing well for capturing increased search traffic.

There is also your Google Analytics account, analysing past customer behaviour is the key to developing a new and effective strategy, what worked last time? What didn’t?

The campaign should be central to all digital marketing activity for the particular time period. For example, your business could create an interesting, engaging video such as the Tipp-Ex YouTube video campaign.

This could be promoted through social media, a page should be created on your site about the video and asking for feedback on it which can then be promoted in SEO and PPC.

This page should also be conversion optimised, directing site visitors to product pages. Email campaigns and online advertising should promote the video directly and the page on the website. This campaign can be measured in terms of:

  • Views of the video.
  • Subscriptions to the YouTube Channel.
  • Shares or thumbs up of the video.
  • Search interest in the brand name.
  • Referral traffic to the site from social media.
  • The site page’s ranking for campaign related keywords.
  • Page views of the product pages.

You do not have to hire an expert in each stream of digital marketing in order to manage an integrated digital marketing strategy. You can use agencies; however, each agency will develop their own strategy which will put their own interests first.

Yet if these agencies were working together the overall online presence of the business would improve considerably more. Therefore, businesses need to either:

  • Develop their own digital marketing strategy in-house and then brief each agency on what their priorities are on a quarterly basis.
    • Either, hire a strategic digital marketer to develop the strategy and oversee the agency work.
    • Or have meetings with your specialist at each agency, or one meeting with all of them, to understand the opportunities from each stream and then build the strategy.
  • Work with strategic digital consultants who have the expertise to develop the best possible strategy and have no bias towards any particular medium or agency.

Every agency has their own objectives and if you do not set them clear goals you are likely to find that your digital strategy and presence is fractured and your ROI is falling short of its potential.


Published 28 June, 2011 by Alexandra Coutts

Alexandra Gaiger is SEO Project Manager at TUI Specialist and Activity Sector and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Alexandra on Twitter

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Comments (4)



"Gone are the days when budget can just be spent and no one will question too closely what it was spent on."

I'm not necessarily sure this is true, at least not in digital. I work for a digital auditing business and a number of our clients seem to sign off on budgets with agencies with no definitive agreement on KPI's or other targets.

Therefore, when it comes to auditing the account/campaign agencies can then hide behind the "no clear objectives" excuse which has led them to spend the budget in non-effectual ways.

Digital needs to do a better job of partnering activity with targets to enable clients to have more confidence in the sector.

about 7 years ago


Alexandra Coutts, Head of Digital at THOUGHTSHIFT LTD

Hi James, I agree that clear and achievable objectives are not agreed upon and that is what causes discontent between agency and business. That is why I advocate that the overall strategy and objectives be created in-house and the agency briefed on what they need to achieve. Rather than letting the agency run away with themselves and then not meet the client's objectives because they were not aware of them. Its about clear open communication on both sides.

about 7 years ago


Moyra Rodger

Thanks, Alexandra, for giving strategy the attention it deserves. I completely agree with your post save for the point that agencies will design strategies to suit their internal agenda. I would like to think that experienced digital strategy agencies worth their salt recognize the only way they can do their job effectively is to be agnostic when it comes to the tools. Clearly defined objectives, a phased strategy thats serves those objectives, matches resources and clearly articulates metrics, and ongoing monitoring and measuring are key to creating an effective online and mobile presence where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Thanks again, and best, Moyra

about 7 years ago


Susi O'Neill

Ideally, the client/organisation should take ownership of their digital strategy, but sometimes they struggle with time, expertise and 'seeing the wood for the trees' to but in the reflective time and analysis to see what they should do. I work an an independent consultant with clients to both provide this analysis and reflection, and design a digital strategy meeting their aspirations.

Agencies can take on some of these 'thinking' tasks (often brilliantly based on really knowing the client and it's online needs) but need to draw a clear line in the sand between their strategy operations and delivery departments to make this work for the client.

about 7 years ago

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