How to deliver a digital marketing strategy in a regulated industry
While the detail within marketing collateral will be under scrutiny, the strategic direction required should still follow a structured path.
Audience. Objectives. Targets. Opportunities.
The approach to creating a digital marketing strategy within a regulated industry should not differ from any other sector – it’s the tactical plan and details within where you need to display caution.
And this is a very important point of detail, and where understanding the difference between strategy and tactics is crucial.
If your digital marketing thinking begins with the tactical, in a regulated industry you might be forgiven for thinking it is not going to work for you, particularly if you are dipping your toes into the water for the first time. Do you really want to open yourselves up to a potential world of pain on social media, and have to vet extra carefully everything a copywriter or agency is producing for you? Is it really worth the time and effort?
The result? Potentially missing a huge opportunity by coming to the conclusion that digital marketing isn’t worth the hassle or just can’t work for you.
But begin with strategy and define what you are aiming to achieve, then look at how this can be achieved, and suddenly you are in a much more positive position.
The regulations still exist, obviously, but you will be opening your company up to more options. The result? Potentially taking advantage of a huge opportunity by coming to the conclusion that digital marketing is absolutely the right thing for your business.
Take this example: A strategic goal for your brand may well be to increase awareness – of the company itself or of a new product or service you’re offering. And in many cases, there will need to be a creative campaign to drive this visibility, which will pose challenges, due to the regulations around your industry.
But this should not affect the strategic approach. It will have an impact on the treatment and tactical output, but what you are ultimately aiming to achieve – to increase the awareness of your brand to a particular audience group – remains the same.
It might be the case that some channels will be off limits, but having a clear goal of what you are aiming to achieve in mind will ensure that you can tackle this relatively comfortably.
It’s why having a strategy in place is essential to any long-term success.
For regulated industries, social media marketing may well come with a set of regulations and you will need to ensure that you remain compliant, and this may deter you from using certain platforms, but don’t let the rules guide your plan. Be clear on what you want to achieve and then find the appropriate way of making that happen.
Place digital at the forefront of your marketing efforts
Global consultancy firm McKinsey and Co reports that more than 65% of consumers get car insurance quotes online and 40% of those are on mobile, while 65% of European insurers plan to professionalise their online marketing.
Insurance is a heavily regulated industry but because many insurance products are consumer-facing, the online world has been adopted much quicker. B2B companies can sometimes fail to see the potential in digital marketing, which is a real shame when the same strategic thinking can be applied and targeting is actually often more focused, leading to stronger results.
It is why, at Further, we highly recommend customer profiling and the creation of personas as a result. Univariate analysis of data within Google Analytics helps us provide information to clients on who their most valuable audiences are and the online habits they exhibit.
This allows for more focused targeting – for advertising and for content production – leading to better results for your digital marketing.
Keyword research will provide you with opportunities within search and, specifically, the key commercial opportunities. This means that you are not simply chasing volume, but focusing on the bottom line.
Competitor analysis – using tools such as SEMRush for search and Likealyzer for Facebook – will provide valuable information on how others are performing in your industry, and all of this is building the picture of where opportunities lie and, therefore, how your strategy can be structured.
Getting into the tactical
As an advocate of strategy and wanting to understand why something is being done before looking at what is being done, I will always highlight the importance of setting that direction. However, I am also fully aware that ‘the tactical’ is what excites a lot of people and is where you get to see what is actually being created. And regulated industries are seeing some exciting advances in this area.
In the health world, virtual doctors and professionals providing guidance online is becoming more and more commonplace, particularly as part of a policy where patients are using health insurance. While this is often being delivered through applications at present, it is not inconceivable to see that progress to things like messaging apps, such as What’s App or Facebook Messenger, especially as social media might be off limits due to patient confidentiality and whether actually want to share potentially quite sensitive information with the world. Car insurance has gone through significant change, with the advent of comparison engines, and the autonomous future we’re heading towards will shake up the car insurance industry like never before.As with all disruption, there is the opportunity to look at it with excitement or trepidation. Will it create fantastic opportunities or shut down the business?
With driverless cars, here at Further, we saw an opportunity for Adrian Flux and we generated some fantastic results through a creative campaign. It has positioned the company as a thought leader within this space, something which could be hugely valuable for them as we begin to see more driverless cars on the road.
Driving thought leadership is a tried and tested strategic pillar, particularly in the B2B space – and should be viewed as a key opportunity to get ahead of competitors in regulated industries. Becoming a thought leader on the new tech and the disruption within your industry is not only great for marketing but also provides huge value to customers.
From that, you can build an engaged email newsletter database and provide thought leadership to targeted customers. Make yourself an invaluable resource and provider of great content, and you have the opportunity to cut through the marketing noise, be targeted and provide quality over quantity.
And you can tie this thought leadership into keywords. Group together keywords – including core and long-tail terms – into topics relevant to your industry and before you know it, you have a content strategy. Turn this into an editorial plan or content calendar full of articles relating to those topics, and you’ve mapped out what 12 months of content production looks like.
So when it comes to regulated industries, don’t take the glass half empty view and get turned away by the regulations; fill your drink, build your strategy and become a leader. Digital marketing is just perfect for you.