When it comes to digital marketing, the confusion between strategy and tactics is quite common. Probably one of the reasons is that the term strategy is undoubtedly more appealing and more easily spent with colleagues and customers
However, the abuse of the term is not the worst evil. The problem is putting into practice tactics without any strategy or confusing / passing off a simple strategy tactic.
Acquiring more followers on Instagram is not a strategy, as is a content marketing activity or a campaign on Facebook.
At times, these initiatives are taken because they have heard / read about those who have had success with a Telegram channel, of that company which, thanks to Instagram, has doubled its turnover.
These are examples and stories that can immediately trigger the spirit of emulation and make us throw ourselves headlong into Telegram, Instagram or Facebook Ads.
Without, however, a minimum of strategy and without asking at least WHY we should do it, we only risk wasting time, money and other precious resources.
So what is the difference between strategies and tactics?
By tactics we mean all those active operations that are often carried out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
The strategy, on the other hand, is an overview aimed at achieving certain objectives. The strategy is the plan that ensures that the various tactics contribute to meeting the monthly, quarterly, annual goals … Tactics are therefore the actions necessary to implement the strategy.
- An effective strategy necessarily requires a correct definition of the objectives. Objectives that must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound):
- Specific – It leaves no room for ambiguity and is sufficiently detailed to identify problems or opportunities;
- Measurable – A quantitative or qualitative attribute can be used to measure it and verify it later in the control phase;
- Reachable – Can it be used to improve performance? It must also be neither impossible to achieve nor too easy.
- Relevant – from an organizational point of view, ie coherent with the company mission;
- Defined over time – so that it allows to identify a trend and be detected in different periods.
Some examples of goals:
- Acquisition objective : Acquire 10,000 new customers in the coming months with an average acquisition cost (CPA) of € 30.
- Conversion objective: To increase the average order value from € 40 to € 45 over the next 12 months.
- Engagement objective : Increase the number of active customers making a purchase at least every 3 months by 10%.
Examples of tactics:
- TV commercials aimed at the target audience, improving lunch and dinner;
- Facebook campaigns based on interests similar to those of the relevant public;
- presence in newspapers and magazines read by the relevant public;
- display advertising on sites frequented by the relevant public;
- event sponsorship;
- creation of content that responds to the questions / needs of customers and potential customers.
- to make sure that the URL of the site is always present and very evident in the TV commercials, the printed paper and the social channels;
- start at least 10 new conversations a day on Twitter with your target audience;
- organize Tweet chats on Twitter involving influencers;
- answer the questions asked by users with videos (complete with transcription) to be published on the site;
- share these posts on Twitter and other social media.
- send e-mails to current customers by offering a discount percentage for reporting new customers;
- insert a promotional voucher printed in the orders shipped within the next 30 days;
- create special promotions to be sent to customers who do not place orders for 3/6/9 months.
- show unmissable special offers on the cart page;
- increase the minimum order amount which entitles you to free shipping;
- offer premium options for packaging or shipping the package.
- Objective = What I want to achieve
- Strategy = How I think to reach the goal
- Tactics = What can I use to reach the goal
It is easy to see how the strategies are broad and less time-sensitive. Bringing new visitors to the site or stimulating new purchases from existing customers were also valid 10/15 years ago and probably will be in the future.
Tactics instead are more affected by the particular period in which they are implemented. 10 years ago it certainly didn’t make sense to plan advertising campaigns on Instagram or create content on Snap chat, also because these two realities didn’t exist yet.
It is therefore important to consider the tactics for what they are, that is as tools to support a strategy, avoiding instead to follow the fashion of the moment putting the tactic before the strategy or worse still implementing repeating tactics without the slightest strategy.
So, before leaving and proceeding headlong in the implementation of a tactic, just because it is fashionable in this period it is better to stop for a moment and try to see things from a higher point. Only then is it possible to have a strategic overview and ask yourself WHY, before identifying the next steps to take.