Where do you start if you want to develop a strategy for digital marketing? It is still a common challenge as many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for customer acquisition and retention. Yet they lack an integrated plan to grow and effectively engage their audiences. It remains common practice to use digital marketing without a strategic approach. I’m sure many of the companies in this category are making effective use of digital media and they could certainly get great results from their search, email, or social media marketing. But I am equally sure that many lack opportunities for better targeting or optimization, or suffer from the other challenges we have listed below. In our research, most companies do not take a strategic approach to digital.

If you don’t have a strategy, or you may want to review what business issues are important to include in your strategy, we’ve identified the 10 most common issues that arise if you don’t have a strategy around digital marketing.

1. Directionless approach

We found that companies without a digital strategy have no clear strategic goal of what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper ties with existing ones. And if you don’t have clear goals defined, then it’s likely that you don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.

2. You won’t know your market share or online audience

Customer demand for online services can be underestimated if you’ve researched this. Perhaps, more importantly, you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will differ from traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behavior, competitors, proposals, and marketing communications options.

3. Existing competitors and startups will gain market share

If you don’t commit enough time to digital marketing, or using an ad hoc strategy with no clearly established tactics, your rivals will eat your digital lunch!

4. You don’t have a good value proposition online

A clearly defined online customer value proposition tailored to your different target customers will help you differentiate your online service by encouraging existing and new customers to initially engage and remain loyal. Creating a competitive content marketing plan is key to this for many businesses, as the content is what engages the audiences through various channels, such as search engines, social media, email marketing, and on the blog.

5. You don’t know well enough about your online customers

Digital is often said to be the “most measurable medium ever,” but Google Analytics and the like will only tell you visit volumes, not visitors’ feelings, what they think. You need to use other forms of website user feedback tools to identify your weak points and then address them.

6. You need to have an integrated marketing 

It’s all too common for digital marketing to be done in silos, whether it’s a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT, or a separate advertising agency. It’s easier to cram digital marketing into a compact piece, but it’s less successful, of course. Everybody acknowledges that digital media works better when combined with conventional media and communication networks.

7. Given its importance, digital doesn’t have enough people/budget

Insufficient resources will be dedicated to both e-marketing preparation and execution, and there is likely to be a shortage of unique e-marketing professional expertise which will make it difficult to respond effectively to competitive threats.

8. You waste money and time by duplication

Even if you have enough money, it can be wasted, particularly in large organizations where you see different sections of the marketing department buying different tools or using different agencies to conduct similar online marketing tasks.

9. You’re not agile enough to stay ahead

If you look at the top online brands such as Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all competitive-testing out new ways to win or hold their online audiences.

10. You are not optimizing

Any company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t make sure their teams do or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy allows you to get the basics right, then you can continue to improve the key aspects such as search marketing, website user experience, email, and social media marketing.

The good news is that there are compelling reasons for developing a digital strategy and transforming your marketing which you can use to persuade your colleagues and clients. Also, there is now a lot of insight into how other businesses have successfully incorporated digital marketing into their business and are now reaping its benefits.