Episode 4: Digital Strategy is NOT Digital Marketing

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Welcome to episode four of Conversations with a Digital Strategist. In this episode, I’m going to address a common misunderstanding in the digital world. Marketing gurus tend to use digital marketing and digital strategy interchangeably, however, they are not the same thing. As a business owner, it is important for you to know the difference, because you will need both to be successful online. Enough talk, let’s get into the episode.

Buzz Word of the Week

Every week we begin with the buzz word of the week. I’m aware of how much bravado takes place online, and I want to ensure you understand the terms being used. This week’s buzz word is conversion rate. A conversion rate is a calculated ratio of website visitors to website visitors who took a specific action. The beauty of a conversion rate is that the action you select can be any action. The caveat is that a conversion must map back to your website objectives.

An Example

For example, one of the objectives for my company is to create brand awareness. I’m a new company and most people don’t know about me yet. So, I want to create brand awareness. In order to do this, I must increase the number of eyes and ears on my podcast. Watching the video version of my podcast on my website is considered a conversion. The person watching the video has converted from a generic website visitor to a video watcher. This action brings me closer to my overall objective of creating brand awareness, get it?

In this example, my conversion rate is calculated by dividing the total number of visitors to my website by the number of visitors who watched one or more of the podcast videos on my website. If I receive 1,000 website visitors during the month of August and 750 website visitors watched one or more of my podcast videos, I have a conversion rate of 75%. That’s a great conversion rate, but 100% is better.


As I stated, any action taken on your website can be considered a conversion, as long as it can be mapped back to your overall objectives. Conversions can include:

  • Sales, where a website visitors converts to a paying customer
  • Form submissions, where a website visitor converts to a lead
  • Content shares, where a website visitors converts to an influencer
  • Social media clicks, where a website visitor converts to a follower
  • Link click, where a visitor converts to an engaged website visitor

And the list goes on. A conversion rate is considered a key performance indicator or KPI. A KPI is exactly what it says, it indicates how well your website is performing. The higher the conversion rate, the better your website is performing, obviously. The goal is to get to 100%, meaning 100% of the visitors to your website are doing something you consider a conversion. So there you have it, conversions and conversion rate; and if you didn’t know, now you know!

Cool Tool of the Week

Next up, the cool tool of the week. This week, I’m going to discuss with you another free tool that I use when creating content. As you know, I create a lot of content on a regular basis. From my weekly podcast to my blog posts, articles, videos, newsletters, and all that jazz; I need a tool to keep my content error free. When you’re a small company like me, you don’t always have the funds for an editor, but you don’t want to publish junk either. So what do you do? Well, I use Grammarly. Grammarly is a web application, Chrome extension, and desktop application that can be used to check the spelling and grammar of anything you write.


If you install the Chrome extension, it will even check web-based email, chat, social media messages, and message board posts. The desktop application is available for both Mac and Windows environments. The web application includes a text editor in which you can type content and the application will automatically check for spelling and grammar mistakes. You can also upload documents into the application to have them checked. This tool is recommended by many higher education institutions and teachers. It’s easy to use and I can be certain that the content I’m publishing is free from errors.

For More Info

To learn more about Grammarly, visit grammarly.com. One word of caution, I do not use the Chrome extension because when it was first installed, it broke the styling for many of the websites I frequent. However, I do still use the Mac and web-based applications. Enjoy! Oh remember, this segment of the podcast is not sponsored, so you can always rest assured that the tools I’m promoting are things I actually use and recommend.

Digital Strategy vs. Digital Marketing

You cannot use digital strategy and digital marketing interchangeably. Saying digital strategy is the same as digital marketing is like saying a brick and a wall are the same thing. A brick is a component of the wall, but the wall is assembled from many bricks. Digital marketing is a part of your digital strategy, it is not the whole thing. I cringe when I hear people use these two terms interchangeably because I know that if you’re focused only on your digital marketing, you’re ignoring your digital strategy; and that’s a huge mistake.

Digital strategy is not digital marketing!
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Digital Marketing

Let’s begin with digital marketing. Digital marketing is a universal term used for all marketing efforts that take place in the digital arena. This can include but is not limited to search engine marketing, social media marketing, paid advertisements, video marketing, email marketing, so on and so forth.

When determining the best digital marketing mix for your company, you may create a digital marketing strategy, this is still not a digital strategy. A digital marketing strategy is the plan you create to achieve the set objectives as measured by your key performance indicators. These objectives and KPIs work together to achieve your ultimate goals, which I will discuss in a moment.

Your digital marketing strategy is implemented to market or advertise your company, products, and services. It’s a promotion plan that will ebb and flow with your needs at the moment. As your company grows, your digital marketing strategy will change along with your objectives and KPIs. For example, as a new company, your objective may be to expand your reach. This would require different digital marketing tactics than if you were a more established company with the objective to increase influence.

Digital Strategy

Your digital strategy contains the strategy you use to market your company. A digital strategy is how you will run your company digitally. Your digital strategy includes things like:

  • Transitioning from a brick and mortar to partial online or online only
  • Developing digital versions of your products or services
  • Digitizing manufacturing processes to increase efficiency
  • Utilizing human resource information systems or HRIS to improve employee retention and recruit the best talent
  • Implementing digital accounting or logistics tools to save money
  • Using digital marketing tactics to promote your business
  • Implementing digital customer service tools to improve customer relations

A digital strategy is how you will run your company digitally. A digital strategy encompasses your entire business.
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A digital strategy encompasses your entire business, by using digital tools, applications, and theories to meet the ultimate goals of the company. Let’s chat for a moment about a company’s ultimate goals. Your ultimate goal is to do something and that something is dependent on what type of company you are.

Example 1

For example, if you are a quilter who sells quilts on Etsy, your ultimate goal is to make a certain amount of money. You can only do this by having sales higher than your cost of production. If it costs you $100 to make your quilts and you sell your quilts for $150, you are only profiting $50. Your digital strategy may aim to lower production costs and increase sales, through:

  • Using FedEx online shipping instead of dropping products off at the post office. This would entail setting up a logistics system that integrates FedEx with your website. So customers can purchase the product online, pay a more exact price for shipping, taking the responsibility for shipping off you.
  • Implementing an inventory and raw materials software package to assist you in managing your raw materials and finished products. This way, you always have a hand on the pulse of your business, knowing exactly when you need more materials and when you’re running low on inventory. This also helps you only purchase the materials you need, hence saving you money.
  • Creating an online metrics dashboard to measure all of your key performance indicators, giving you and at a glance view of how close you are to achieving your goals. Having this level of access to your KPIs and metrics, allows you to be more agile with your strategy, making spur of the moment decisions when you see yourself getting off track.

Example 2

On the other hand, if you are a non-profit, your ultimate goal may not be to make a certain amount of money, but instead to help a certain number of people. In this case, your digital strategy may aim to increase the number of hours devoted to helping people. Increase volunteer hours by:

  • Implementing a web-based volunteer management system that manages the volunteer opportunities with your organization, the volunteer openings available, and allows volunteers to track their volunteer hours.
  • Creating a public facing online dashboard that compiles all your organization’s key performance indicators. Use the dashboard to showcase your hard work to donors, foundations, and potential volunteers.
  • Developing a donation mobile app that makes it easy for potential and past donors to donate money through their mobile devices. The easier it is for donors to give, the more often they will do so. Removing barriers is the fastest way to get someone from “I don’t know” to “Yes!”.

Creating a Strategy

As I’ve laid out, digital strategy is much more than just marketing your products and services. Creating a digital strategy works to move your company forward in a larger way than just getting more eyes on your brand. In no way am I minimizing digital marketing. In fact, digital marketing is not just a component of your digital strategy, it is arguably the most important component of your digital strategy outside of your goals and KPIs. Without a digital marketing strategy, all the work you do on the other components of your digital strategy is for not.

Creating a digital strategy works to move your company forward in a larger way than just getting more eyes on your brand.
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I wanted to explain the difference between digital marketing and digital strategy because I don’t think enough companies, especially small companies are focusing on their overall digital strategy. And I believe this is because folks don’t know what digital strategy is; and with all the gurus misusing the term, I can understand why.


Now that you have a better understanding of what digital strategy is, start thinking about your own digital strategy. What does it look like? Are there places where you can trim the fat to help you get closer to your ultimate goals, quickly? Can a digital tool solve any of your company’s needs? Not sure, no problem! You know a digital strategist! Me! I invite you to join me on Facebook and Twitter and let’s start brainstorming your needs. This is why I bring you cool tools each week, I want you to begin building your toolbox to help you run your business more efficiently.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I really hope you enjoyed this episode. I could talk about digital strategy all day because it truly is my passion. If you have any questions or anything I’ve discussed helped you in some way, shoot me an email at podcast@level360.co. I want to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, live true, work smart, and in the words of one of the greatest strategists to ever live, think different! Bye!

Intro and outro music by: DJ Quads
DJ Quads Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/aka-dj-quads
DJ Quads YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCusFqutyfTWRqGhC8kHA5uw

13 episodes available. A new episode about every 9 days averaging 14 mins duration .