Firewater Logo

Why you need to reverse engineer your digital marketing strategy (and stop playing in traffic)

By Mark Stecker


Remember when you did your K53 driver’s test? Whenever you took off, you had to turn yourself into a chameleon’s eyeball with that 500-point check. And if you’ve ever been a pedestrian in Jo’burg, you’ll know that you need eyes in the back of your head when you cross a road, lest a taxi takes you out (flashing green man and zebra-crossing? FOR WHAT).


It's the same with your digital marketing. Sort of.


Like getting your licence (or getting to the other side of the road alive), you need to look backwards to move forwards. With your digital marketing strategy, you need to have an endpoint in mind. Otherwise, you’re just playing in traffic.


A strategy defines the way forward, and part of that strategy must start right at the beginning with the WHY. This often also involves a , which gives you a bird’s eye view of the market, who your competitors are, if people want what you’re offering, and, if so, who you should be targeting.


All of this provides a benchmark to work from, and you can use it as a reference point to always go back to asking what your business’s goals and KPIs are – and what you want to achieve in the digital space. For example, is it brand awareness, more sales, lead generation, or all the above?




For example, if you want 100 acquisitions in the next three months, you can’t just throw a budget at it and expect results. You must understand how to build your digital marketing strategy backwards to reach that goal.


Do the math(s)


Throwing money at digital marketing campaigns and expecting results happens more often than you think. We find that many companies come in budget first. They don’t have a clear endgame, and they don’t consider a crucial element: how much their customers are worth.


Your money isn't well spent if you don't know what you're spending it on, so you need to look at what your customers are worth. For example, how much are you willing to spend to get a return on your ad spend, and have you considered the value of the sale itself versus the lifetime value if it's a recurring retainer? It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to work out that a recurring sale will make your business more money, so that customer is worth more.


According to the 2022 Kantar Media Reactions survey, marketers want to spend more of their 2023 marketing budgets on digital (online video and streaming, social media stories, e-commerce, and influencers are top of the list). But it’s no use sinking your budget into online shopping display ads or an influencer campaign if there’s no clear objective to start with, or if you don’t know how much your customers are actually worth.


And just because you double your budget it doesn't mean you'll double your leads, either. Sometimes you're constrained and you must diversify the way you execute, rather than throwing more money in one place. But don’t spread yourself too thinly, either.


Doubling your budget


Be realistic – or get a second opinion


Marketers often get disappointed when they're not getting the results they want, but it's because they started in the wrong place. Your digital strategy needs to align with your business strategy, and often teams don't work out all these nuts and bolts.


Recently, we helped a large B2B services client with their digital strategy that wasn’t getting results. So, we looked backwards. We reversed engineered a digital strategy by asking how many conversions they wanted, and from there, they assessed the value of each lead and what the odds of converting it would be. They decided that if they could get 50 leads a month that would be a great starting point. So, for 50 leads, we calculated what budget was needed, and what formats would work best. And from that, we could build something solid for them.


It’s important to be realistic in your digital implementations, and if your digital marketing partner isn't giving you what you need, feel free to get a second opinion – but realise that you might need to look backwards to get ahead. 



Stop playing in traffic; contact us to reverse engineer digital marketing success.




Why not drop us a message?