Business Strategy in Digital Marketing

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

Strategy First

In truth, digital strategy is both art and science. While there seems to be a wide ranging misperception that “optimization” in digital market is more like a technical science than a creative discipline, we find that both halves are needed.

To do digital strategy right you need to combine elements of branding, business intelligence, technical savvy and design excellence. Drop any one of those, and your strategy will be off. 

Before diving into the detailed and wide ranging work we undertake, like data analytics, SEO, and using paid media to drive business results, a foundation must be built.  Before anything else we need to know the answer to a core strategic question: — What are we optimizing for?

Colorful baby penguin in a crowd of brown baby penguins

Despite there being best practices for things like SEO and analytics, we believe delivering concrete value means working from first principles. There is a risk of defaulting to checklists and formulaic advice that templatizes and generalizes what is best approached first as an organic, ground up discipline.

The 80/20 Rule

Really, we are looking for Pareto’s finest peas. In 1906 an Italian economist (and gardener) called Vilfredo Pareto noticed that about 20% of the pea pods in his vegetable patch were responsible for 80% of the peas.

This was the first example of what’s now called the Pareto principle or the 80-20 rule- around 20% of the effort and change generates 80%+ of the value. This rule crops up a lot.

In economics, Pareto also noticed that 20% of landlords owned 80% of the land. You might have 10 pairs of shoes, but 80% of the time you’ll probably wear the same one or two pairs. In business, about 20% of sales reps generate 80% of total sales revenue. On a typical ecommerce site around 20% of customers generate 80% of revenue over their lifetime.

Bowl of shelled peas and pea pods

Key Strategic Questions

Below is a set of questions we have found helpful in guiding a wide range of businesses in this stage of strategic thinking. 

  • What am I selling? 
  • What is my addressable market?
  • Who are the key personas in my market?
  • Who are my main competitors?
  • Where are my 80/20 leverage points?
  • Are some users/product/sales much more profitable than others?
  • What are my unique selling positions?
  • What are my customer pain points?
  • What are my key business goals- do I need increased sales numbers? More profitable clients? New market development?
  • How am I currently tracking and measuring key business goals?