These are two terms that are often bounded around but all too often are either misused or misunderstood.
A marketing strategy is the big picture plan that looks at the resources available to you (budget, channels, skills, market conditions, products, prices, placements, promotions, distribution, customers etc) and creates a battle plan of how to create customer satisfaction, product sales, and secure revenue for the organisation.
A marketing process is the application of this and consists of a series of tactics, so that whenever the process is activated, you can predict the results of what will happen each time.
A process could consist of writing a blog post about your products and then promoting the blog post on Twitter and Facebook. Each time you do that, you can expect a number of people to click on the promotional links and read your blog post.
This is definitely a process, but it isn’t a strategy because it only gets people reading your blog post. It doesn’t create any product sales that you know about and it can’t legitimately claim to have secured any revenue for the organisation.
That kind of process can only be considered tactical in nature and the sad fact is that tactics are what an awful lot of digital agencies are offering to clients. The results are often hugely disappointing. There is a new breed of digital agency coming to the fore though, which appreciates the need for Strategic Digital Marketing and works across the various digital channels such as Search, Social Media, User experience, Web Design, Email, eCRM, analytics, and advertising. Agencies such as Interactive Mix are strategic in nature and have a different proposition to clients than traditional tactical digital agencies, because the focus is on customers and the bottom line rather than technical disciplines.
An awful lot of online activity results in a lot of noise that ultimately achieves very little. If your online marketing strategy places a focus on the commercial needs of the organisation and engages prospects, then it should also plan the route through to a point where customers are created nurtured and retained. That is why an online marketing strategy should be the basis for online marketing processes, and should also be a priority for all organisations.