You Need More Than Marketing: You Need a Digital Strategy

If you are a managing partner or a marketing professional at an accounting firm, you most likely already engage in some form of digital marketing. It’s easy to think that “doing” digital marketing is the same as having a digital growth strategy. And some might think having a social presence, an updated website, and occasional emails to clients and prospects with a monthly newsletter is all you need. Most firm leaders impacting business development and marketing don’t have established key performance indicators or even track metrics to understand what is working and how to repeat success or learn from our failures.

Here’s what you need to know about digital marketing that we see most firms getting wrong : 

Executing digital marketing isn’t the same as following a digital growth strategy.

The strategy that supports digital marketing efforts encompasses far more than your website copy, LinkedIn posts, and online networking. If you’re feeling generally uncertain or disappointed with the results you see from digital marketing efforts, here’s why: You don’t have a digital strategy.

Read on to learn more: 

  • Types of go to market strategies
  • Components of a digital plan
  • Digital strategy as a compass
  • How the strategy is a process-driver 
  • How the strategy orients each area of the business to yield better results
  • Difference between digital marketing and digital strategy

Types of Go To Market Strategies

On any given day, you may hear noise about types of digital strategies. Selecting a strategy is simply about understanding your priorities and goals. 

Digital strategies are not the same as digital marketing strategies. Tactics like inbound, demand generation and lead nurturing are great – and essential – but we are talking here at a higher level. For instance, a go to market strategy will include digital, processes and models:

  1. Digital interactions, in which you focus on then maximize reach through your website and digital platforms.
  2. Process or experience improvement, which prioritizes customer experience by mapping and process efficiency.
  3. Service model strategy, which focuses on productizing services and streamlining operations.

Most firms will have a custom digital strategy that is informed by one or more of these, and the goal of honing in on this is to attract new clients and increase revenues or profits.

Digital Strategy: the Starting Point for all Digital Marketing

Achieve implementation by building strategy steps. Here is an example of the steps you may take to execute on a strategy:

These are sequential. The single biggest mistake firms make in any strategy is that they jump straight to the doing, because they want immediate results. Think of a digital strategy  like you would a game of dominos: yank one out and you’re at a standstill. If you don’t start with the  strategy, and you don’t start at all.

Most managing partners want the benefit of instant results without understanding that the  process in its entirety is required to achieve them. Instead, they push for a premature outcome that presents a false narrative of what the data means. They must first understand that the process that is put in place must be adhered to in order to derive timely and accurate results.

Digital Strategy as a Compass

The Marketing Strategy Compass was created and popularized by Forrester. Picture digital strategy as a compass. You can easily identify degrees on the compass, which navigate you in the right direction. Strategy is the magnetic pull. Every effort, if only a degree or two off, can misdirect the path to your destination. A comprehensive digital strategy will keep everyone aligned toward reaching the same goals. 

Digital Strategy as a Process Driver

The process that follows the approved strategy needs to be implemented in its proper order. This step-by-step method ensures that a firm remains on a trajectory to the desired outcome. The marketing team implements the plan through every phase, then uses data to confirm that the plan is on target. Should an event distract the plan or cause the firm to veer from it, returning to the digital strategy will ensure the ability to resume the direction toward success.   All of the processes that come after the establishment of a digital strategy (design, build, team, measuring, improvements) are driven by digital strategy.

Orienting Marketing Functions

Process orientation can be critical to rollout. According to, “Functional orientations are organized along functions, like production, marketing and sales. Process orientations let staff interact between these business functions, or across organizational lines.” In the case of a digital strategy, employing a functional strategy, whereby marketing oversees the implementation of the strategy, monitors, redirects, and reports is a logical appointment. Expect endless course-corrections. Having a plan in place and the team executing it identified means never having to start from zero.  

Survey Results: High Performers and Digital Strategies

McKinsey conducted a survey that identified four ways in which companies with the best economic performance are leverage digital strategies:

  1. High-performing companies have purposely increased the agility of their digital strategy practices, enabling first-mover advantage.
  2. These companies use digital platforms to gain access to a broader ecosystem wherein they can innovate new business models and digital products.
  3. M&A is building new digital businesses and new digital capabilities.
  4. The highest performing companies are ahead of their peers in making strategic investments in digital talent.

If you need help with a digital growth strategy, Winding River Consulting is here. It’s what we do. Contact us to learn more.