How to Get Stakeholder Buy-In For Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Posted by in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing strategy stakeholders hero image

In this article we explore which stakeholders you should speak to when putting together a digital marketing strategy, and what unique needs each group may have.

When planning a digital marketing strategy most people will start the process by putting together marketing goals they want to achieve for their website and other digital properties – increased traffic, better SEO, higher engagement, etc. While these types of goals are essential and lay a foundation from which to measure success, they aren’t the only things to consider.

Having the right stakeholders involved on projects makes a huge difference in everything from improving collaboration to helping clients make a difference. A comprehensive digital strategy includes the needs of your different stakeholder groups, from your marketing and sales teams to your upper management, human resources, and customer service teams. Different stakeholders will have different goals and to really succeed you need to take all of them into account.

Stakeholder Mapping

Identifying a project’s stakeholders is critical to its success. If the right people don’t feel like their needs are being met or they aren’t being heard, the likelihood of them using your product or service effectively diminishes. A simple stakeholder mapping exercise can help jumpstart the conversation.

Stakeholder Mapping Exercise
Mapping stakeholders to an impact/engagement grid

Quick how-to workshop exercise:

  • Create an x/y grid on a white board, labeling the axes as ‘impact’ (high/low) and ‘engagement’ (high/low).
  • Ask team members to identify stakeholders with sticky notes and place them on the grid based on:
    • How impacted a stakeholder is by this problem
    • Their likelihood of getting involved in creating the solution
  • Encourage workshop participants to dig deep: are there secondary or ancillary stakeholders you’re not considering, like the environment, communities, or others who might be impacted by your strategy?
  • Facilitate a discussion about how each stakeholder group might be impacted by your strategy. Are there potential negative repercussions? How might you involve them in a productive and proactive way to ensure their needs are met and voices heard?

Some of the most common stakeholder groups include:

Digital Team

Chances are, if you are working on a digital strategy then you are part of the digital marketing team (or for smaller organizations you may be the sole digital marketer on staff). The easiest place to start is with your own team’s needs.

Who they are

  • Designers
  • Developers
  • Product managers
  • Content strategists and information architects
  • User researchers

What to ask them

Sometimes starting with the basics can uncover areas where your team isn’t on the same page. Ask the following questions:

  • What are your team’s goals?
  • What channels do you want to use?
  • What messages will you focus on?
  • How do you track user metrics?
  • What are your competitors doing online?

Once you’ve got those details ironed out, start to think about what you want your team to do over the next 6-12 months and the activities and platforms that will help you do that.

Marketing Team

Although a marketing team is traditionally involved in creating a digital strategy, it may not be the entire team that takes part. In some organizations, the digital team is siloed from other areas of the marketing team, so it’s important to make sure you speak with the entire marketing department to include their needs in your strategy.

Who they are

  • Advertising planners
  • PR specialists
  • Print designers
  • Marketing managers

What to ask them

  • What sort of campaigns are they going to be putting out this year and how can your strategy align with those?
  • Are there visual assets that can be shared?
  • How can the digital strategy supplement offline marketing or vice versa?
  • How are your competitors blending online and offline marketing?

By considering all the marketing activities when you create a digital strategy, you’ll be able to improve results and team collaboration.

Website Administrators

Your website administrators may have some pain points when updating the current website, and your strategy could help to address these issues.

Who they are

  • Content writers and editors
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Website manager

What to ask them

  • Are there any problems with the content management system that prevent you from doing your work efficiently?
  • What manual tasks do you have to do that could be automated?
  • What feedback have you gotten from users about the site?
  • Should any functionality or content be added, edited, or removed from the site?
  • How much time do you need in the schedule for creating, uploading, and approving content?
  • Do you have enough team resources to implement the existing content calendar?
  • Are our competitors doing anything on their website that you’d like to see implemented on ours?

By recognizing these problems when you start putting together your digital strategy, you can define how your organization will find a solution and if additional resources or updated platforms are needed.

Sales Team

Your sales team works hard to generate new leads and they probably have some ideas on how your digital strategy could improve their process.

Who they are

  • Account executives
  • Sales representatives
  • Sales development representatives
  • Sales managers

What to ask them

  • Do users have enough information before they get in touch or would it be useful to provide more online content about a particular subject so people are more informed when they contact you?
  • Are there particular products or services that the sales team is planning on pushing throughout the year?
  • Do you wish there was specific content or functionality on the website that you could direct people to in order to reduce the manual work on your end?

By asking these questions, you’ll be able to align your strategy and messaging with the sales team and improve the way they work.

Upper Management

An organization’s management will have its own set of goals that are typically higher-level than other departments. This team focuses on overall numbers and wants to make sure all departments work towards those goals. This may include things like increased sales and brand awareness but it could also cover thought-leadership and prestige.

Who they are

  • C-suite staff
  • Presidents
  • Vice Presidents
  • Directors
  • Board of Director members

What to ask them

  • What are your primary goals for the business in the next 12 months? The next 5 years?
  • How are you measuring success against these goals?
  • Are we targeting the same customer groups as before?
  • Will the organization be making any major announcements that our strategy should account for?
  • Are our competitors doing anything online that you’d like to see implemented?

Your digital strategy will need to include activities that help to meet these top-level goals for the business.

Customer Service

Social media and websites have become digital customer service channels. They can either improve a customer service team’s process or they can complicate it.

Who they are

  • Customer service representatives
  • Tiered support staff
  • Team leaders

What to ask them

  • What is the best way to send you customer service queries from the website, social media, or other platforms?
  • Is there any content that should be added to the website to reduce customer service calls (eg: policy pages, FAQs, etc)?
  • Is there anything we do in digital marketing that complicates your work?
  • Do you anticipate any new types of customer service inquiries coming in the next 12-6 months?
  • Are any of our competitors doing something effective with digital customer service that you’d like to see implemented?

The customer service team is on the frontline of keeping users happy, so integrating their requests into your strategy will not only help that team, it will also help strengthen the relationships with your users.

Human Resources

An organization is only as good as its staff and the more qualified your recruitment candidates are, the better off your organization will be.

Who they are

  • Hiring manager
  • HR executives
  • Compliance officers
  • Benefits managers

What to ask them

  • Is there any new functionality you’d like to see in the career section?
  • Should we promote vacancies on social media or email?
  • Are there any conventions you’ll be attending? Should we promote that online?
  • Are there any upcoming recruitment campaigns (eg: internships in the summer, or graduate recruitment in the fall) we should plan to promote?

By including the HR team’s needs into your digital strategy, you’ll help your organization meet its recruitment goals.

Existing Users

Your existing users have a vested interest in your company. While they may not have much of a say in how your organization is run, they will voice their opinion with their wallets. That’s not a voice you want to overlook. When putting together your digital strategy, take the time to reach out to existing users to find out how your digital marketing can be improved. After all, these are the people that your digital strategy is targeting so finding out what they need can help improve the strategy’s outcome.

Who they are

  • Existing customers
  • Paying members
  • Donors
  • People who follow you on social media
  • Site visitors

What to ask them

  • Do you want to see content or messaging that we aren’t currently publishing online?
  • What channels do you currently use to access our content online?
  • Is there any channel you wish we had a presence on?
  • Are our social media posts and emails scheduled at the best time for you to receive them?
  • Have you ever been frustrated with our online content or website functionality?

This, alongside more traditional user research methods, will give you a better understanding of your users so you can provide them with the best digital resources.

Partner Liaisons

If your organization relies on partnerships then you’ll need to consider these relationships in your strategy. Your organization will most likely have internal liaisons that nurture these relationships so speak to that team to learn what messaging and content would be important for them.

Who they are

  • Partnership managers
  • Relationship managers
  • Account managers

What to ask them

  • Would a promoting these partnerships through case studies or social posts be beneficial in strengthening the relationships?
  • Would a partner section on the website help to generate new partnerships?
  • How else can we promote our partnerships and the value they bring to the organization?
  • Is there any online content that we could create to improve your relationship with existing partners?
  • Is there any online content or functionality that we could create to improve your ability to sign up new partners?

By including this team’s needs in your digital strategy, you can help them strengthen their relationships and promote the partnerships to other audiences.

Getting Stakeholder Feedback

Knowing what stakeholders to speak to before creating a digital strategy is only half the battle. You also need to figure out a way to gather the feedback in a useful format. Here are some recommendations:

  • Set up a workshop: The Mightybytes team loves workshops. They are a great way to get the right people in a room and have a focused discussion about what everyone needs from a strategy. We recommend inviting 1-2 members of each stakeholder group (with the exception of existing users) since that will give you enough insight into their needs without getting too many people involved. A workshop is a great way for all the stakeholders to discuss their needs together, which may help to consolidate requests. It also helps educate all stakeholders that their needs aren’t the only ones you have to accommodate. We do recommend having a second workshop specifically for customers, members, donors and existing website visitors so they can voice their opinions too.
  • Interview them: If a workshop isn’t possible, then schedule interviews with key members of each stakeholder group so you can ask them what they need from a digital strategy. Ideally you’ll ask the same questions to everyone so you can compare answers and find the most common trends. Consider setting up a spreadsheet with all the questions so you can compare the answers side-by-side.
  • Send out a survey: Surveys are a great option if workshops and interviews aren’t possible or if you want input from more people per stakeholder group. Use a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to streamline your survey and consolidate results. Keep your survey as brief as possible but make sure to ask the essential questions. It’s a good idea to include a field at the end where users can add any other comments that you may not have asked about. Sometimes that is where you get the most useful insight.

Launching Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Keep in mind that not all organizations will have all of the stakeholder groups listed in this article. What’s important is that you include all the stakeholder groups that are relevant to your organization in the planning process. This will increase your chances for success.

It’s time to stop thinking of a digital strategy as just a digital marketing plan and start thinking of it as a tool for all your departments. This will make your strategy more successful and improve organizational collaboration all-around. And this is an essential component of a sustainable digital strategy. For more information on sustainable web design check out our post.

Veronica has managed digital marketing projects for nearly a decade. Her clients include Allstate, Ford Foundation, Access Living and NAFEM. When she's not working, Veronica enjoys travel, working on craft projects, and playing board games. Connect with her on LinkedIn.