A digital marketing strategy is needed to provide consistent direction for an organization’s online marketing activities so that they integrate with its other marketing activities and support its overall business objectives. The digital marketing strategy has many similarities to the typical aims of traditional marketing strategies, in that it will:
- provide a future direction to digital marketing activities;
- involve analysis of the organization’s external environment, internal resources and capabilities to inform strategy;
- define digital marketing objectives that support marketing objectives;
- involve selection of strategic options to achieve digital marketing objectives and create sustainable differential competitive advantage;
The scope of digital marketing strategy
When reviewing options for online strategy, it is useful to consider that this now involves more than the narrow focus of a strategy to develop website functionality and attract visits to it. Developing a digital marketing strategy may also involve redesigning business processes to integrate with partners such as suppliers and distributors. Sultan and Rohm (2004) suggested that digital technology created opportunities for new business processes, which could also deliver business benefits.
How to structure a digital marketing strategy
Michael Porter (2001) thought that the Internet and the digital era have heightened the importance of strategy, but he encouraged business to be cautious and suggested where businesses should focus when developing their strategy. He believed that the growth in the use of digital media and technology would make it harder to create and sustain competitive advantage and suggested six principles which could help to sustain a distinctive strategic position:
1 Start with the right goal which is grounded in real economic value.
2 Define a value proposition, which is unique but, importantly, deliverable.
3 Do things differently; create a distinctive value chain?
These positioning options have much in common with Porter’s generic competitive strategies of cost leadership or differentiation in a broad market and a market segmentation approach focusing on a more limited target market (Porter, 1980). Porter has been criticized because many commentators believe that to remain competitive it is necessary to combine excellence in all of these areas. It can be suggested that the same is true for sell side e-commerce.