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Inspiring through vision statements for Ecommerce and Digital Marketing

Examples of using vision statements to give focus to your digital marketing

I believe that developing a specific vision or mission statement for your digital channels can really help explain the need for sufficient investment in digital marketing within a company. They also show where your focus should be. So in this post I look at some examples which show effective vision statements.

As you read, you're probably thinking we've already got a corporate mission statement that everyone pokes fun at, so why would we want to define a digital vision statement? or  why should we bother?s too corporate and we're just a small business, we just get on with selling our products.

Good questions! I still think it's helpful to have a vision for your online marketing for all different types of organisation. We say this since the opportunities from digital marketing are too big to not have a vision of how you will use digital media in the future. If you don't define the opportunity you won't be able to grasp it because there will be too many other distractions.

Here's a real example of a digital vision statement for a multichannel company.

1 x 2 x 3 Digital Vision

Largest online audience share (No.1) in Europe by XXXX

  • By XXXX, 1 in 2 of total sales will be generated on-line
  • 1 in 3 of our people and our customers love our online services and will recommend them to a friend
  • 2 in 3 customer service contacts will be electronic by XXXX

You can see this is simple yet, specific enough to link to future targets unlike many vague mission statements. I've also seen other examples that are less specific, but show how a change of mindset is needed so digital marketing is at the front of everyone's mind rather than an afterthought, for example:

Why use a vision statement for digital channels?

So, a good vision statement for your digital marketing activities can help:

  • Show how digital marketing or Ebusiness can transform your organisation in the future if you innovate and invest
  • Show where you need to focus your efforts - is it customer experience and service to build loyalty or are you also looking to expand your reach into new markets?
  • Energise colleagues by showing the future potential of digital marketing and communicating that it's a strategic priority through a senior manager or director who is a sponsor of digital marketing
  • Set top-level goals without going into detail KPIs.

We're not talking about mission statements of what your company currently is, instead it's, a vision is an inspiring, ideal future state. A vision is almost certainly not going to be 100% attainable, but you must feel as if it is possible.

Features of an effective vision statement

Here is a checklist of what I think is an effective vision statement. It should:

1. Shows how digital channels will help the customer. What value will you provide?

2. Shows the benefit to the company in terms of efficiencies or profitability

3. Link vision to specific goals in the future

4. Be simple and memorable

5. Be inspirational

Examples of inspiring vision statements

The Internet pureplays can teach us about good and bad vision statements, here some examples of inspiring vision statements taken from the SEC filings for these companies:

  • Amazon.com
    Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • Dell
    Dell listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value.
  • eBay
    eBay pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity. eBay brings together millions of people every day on a local, national and international basis through an array of websites that focus on commerce, payments and communications
  • Facebook
    Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people's real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.
  • Google
    Google's aim is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful

Note that some of these examples are better described as mission statements and for use beyond a company. Remember that mission and vision statements are are two very different things and we're focusing on digital vision statements here. At a corporate strategy level, company should have a Vision statement, and a Mission, and goals by which to achieve these. The mission is what your company currently is, a vision is an inspiring, ideal future state.

The textbook view

For students studying digital marketing refer to to Strategies for E-business by Professors Jelassi and Enders who suggest that a vision statement should provide definition of:

  • Business scope (Where?). Markets including products, customer segments and geographies where the company wants to compete online.
  • Unique competencies (How?). A high-level view of how the company will position and differentiate itself in terms of e-business products or services.
  • Values (Why?). This is an emotional element of the vision statement which can indicate what inspires the organization or its e-business initiative.

Jelassi, T. and Enders, A. (2008) Strategies for e-Business. Creating Value through Electronic and Mobile Commerce. Financial Times, Prentice Hall, Harlow, UK. Second edition.

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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