Digital marketing is so inevitable and crucial to success these days that most companies don’t even think twice about having some version of it for their business, no matter how small it is. But where most of them go wrong is the way they approach their digital marketing strategy and how they execute it.
That’s precisely the reason why we have come up with this concise guide to help you guide through your digital marketing strategy
But before we begin, let’s get familiarised with the concepts and what they mean.
What is digital marketing?
What is a Digital Marketing strategy?
Digital Marketing strategy is a step-by-step and actionable process that works towards achieving the digital marketing goals for a company. It is accomplished through digital marketing channels including social media, digital publishing, paid, earned, or owned media.
While building your digital marketing strategy, always keep in mind the SMART test.
Check whether your marketing strategy can be considered SMART or not. It’s a very helpful tool for setting goals. Wondering what SMART is?
Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Timely
A SMART goal is to generate 10% more visits to our website through ads on social media platforms over the next five months.
While building a strategy, it’s important to have a very good sense of understanding of what you have and don’t. So before you start with the strategy, evaluate the existing channels and mediums and assess their viability. This can be platforms or properties such as:
The next step is to rank each channel or medium from the most effective to the least effective. This will help you to create a bird’s eye view of what you can and cannot use, and how to go with each of them individually. This will help greatly while building a strategy.
With a proper assessment and understanding of each of these tools, you can succeed where most strategies fail: creating a customer experience.
Usually, strategies are made to be platform-specific and they don’t work cohesively to create a customer experience that goes beyond any one channel to build the brand experience. Those firms/organizations that succeed in creating such a brand experience are the ones that you usually see winning the digital marketing game. We will now see this in detail.
Every customer journey can be broken down into three important stages.
The stage when the audience or potential customer first hears or interacts with your brand, whether it be through social media or website or through an email. SEO and paid search/social media ads can help you to reach out to potential customers more efficiently.
Once we have their attention, that is when we begin the second stage of the journey. Once they’re on the website, we can engage with them using chats, follow-up emails, blogs, and other useful and relevant content that slowly builds brand loyalty and familiarity.
Once we have converted the audience to be customers and have engaged with them long enough, then begin the third stage of the journey. We want them to have a positive brand experience so that by the time they’re loyal to the brand, they’ll also want to bring others into the community. They’ll effectively be converted into brand advocates who spread the word for the brand.
What are the steps to build a Digital Marketing Strategy?
Depending on the scale of your business, your marketing strategy may include several moving parts, each with different goals. With that said, working on your strategy can become daunting at times. So, if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed about your marketing strategy, refer to these three steps to keep you focused on achieving your objectives.
Marketing tactics, or tactics of any kind, are the specific actions you choose to take throughout your strategy to help you reach your end goal. In other words, a strategy is your destination — it’s the achievable, focused plan for getting you to your target. Tactics are concrete and definable steps within your strategy that ensure you reach your objective.
For any marketing strategy — digital or not — you need to know who you’re marketing to. The best digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas, and your first step is to create them.
Organize your audience segments and make your marketing stronger with templates to build your buyer personas. Buyer personas represent your ideal customer(s) and can be created by researching, surveying, and interviewing your business’s target audience.
It’s important to note that this information should be based upon real data whenever possible, as making assumptions about your audience can cause your marketing strategy to move in the wrong direction. To get a rounded picture of your persona, your research pool should include a mixture of customers, prospects, and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience.
But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer persona(s) to inform your digital marketing strategy? That depends on your business — it’s likely to vary depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C, or whether you sell a high-cost or low-cost product.
Here are some starting points that you can fine-tune and tailor to your particular business.
Quantitative and Demographic Information
Qualitative and Psychographic Information
By combining all of these details, you’ll be able to create buyer personas that are accurate and highly valuable for your business.
Your marketing goals should always be tied back to the fundamental goals of your business.
For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 20%, your marketing team’s goal might be to generate 50% more leads via the website than the previous year to contribute to that success.
Use a high-level marketing plan template to outline your annual marketing strategy, identify top priorities, and more. Whatever your overarching digital marketing goal is, you must be able to measure the success of your strategy along the way with the right digital marketing tools.
When reviewing your existing digital marketing channels and assets to determine what to incorporate in your strategy, it’s helpful to first consider the big picture — this will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or confused.
Gather what you have, and categorize each vehicle or asset in a spreadsheet, so you have a clear picture of your existing owned, earned, and paid media.
This refers to the digital assets your brand or company owns — whether that’s your website, social media profiles, blog content, or imagery. Owned channels are what your business has complete control over. This can also include some off-site content you own that isn’t hosted on your website (e.g. a blog you publish on Medium).
Earned media refers to the exposure you earn through word-of-mouth marketing. Whether that’s content you’ve distributed on other websites (e.g. guest posts), PR work you’ve been doing, or the customer experience you’ve delivered. Earned media is the recognition you receive as a result of these efforts.
You can earn media by getting press mentions and positive reviews as well as by people sharing your content via their networks (e.g. social media channels).
Paid media refers to any vehicle or channel you spend money on to catch the attention of your buyer personas. This includes things like Google AdWords, paid social media posts, native advertising (e.g. sponsored posts on other websites), or any other medium through which you pay in exchange for increased visibility.
If your owned and earned media are already both successful, you might not need to invest in paid. So, evaluate the best solution to help you meet your goal, and then incorporate the channels that work best for your business into your digital marketing strategy.
Now you know what’s already being used, you can start to think about what to keep and what to cut.
At the heart of digital marketing is owned media — and it almost always comes in the form of content. That’s because nearly every message your brand broadcasts can be classified as content, whether it’s an About Us site page, product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, podcasts, or social media posts.
Content helps convert your website visitors into leads and customers while improving your brand’s online presence. And when this content is search engine optimized (SEO), it can boost your search and organic traffic.
Whatever your digital marketing strategy goal is, you’ll want to incorporate owned content. To start, decide what content will help you reach your goals.
If your goal is to generate 50% more leads via the website than last year, your ‘About Us’ page is most likely not going to be included in your strategy, unless that page has somehow been a lead-generation machine in the past.
Here’s a brief process you can follow to work out what owned content you need to meet your digital marketing strategy goals.
Based on your buyer personas, identify any gaps in the content you have. For example, if you’re a math tutoring company and know through research that a major challenge for your personas is finding effective ways to study — you don’t currently have content that speaks to that concern — create some.
By looking at your content audit, you might discover that ebooks hosted on a certain type of landing page convert really well (better than webinars, for example). In the case of this math tutoring company, you might make the decision to add an ebook about “how to make studying more effective” to your content creation plans.
Create a content creation plan.
Based on your findings and the gaps you’ve identified, make a content creation plan outlining the content that’s necessary to help you hit your goals.
This should include:
This can be a simple spreadsheet, and should also include budget information if you’re planning to outsource the content creation, or a time estimate if you’re producing it yourself.
Evaluating your previous earned media against your current goals can help you get an idea of where to focus your time. Look at where your traffic and leads are coming from (if that’s your goal) and rank each earned media source from most effective to least effective.
You may find a particular article you contributed to the industry press drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which boosted conversions. Or, you may discover LinkedIn is where you see most people sharing content, which increases traffic.
The idea is to build a picture of what types of earned media will help you reach your goals (and what won’t) based on historical data. However, if there’s something new you want to experiment with, don’t rule it out just because it’s never been done before.
This process involves much of the same process: You need to evaluate your existing paid media across each platform (e.g. Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to figure out what’s most likely to help you meet your current goals.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on AdWords and haven’t seen the results you’d hoped for, maybe it’s time to refine your approach, or scrap it altogether and focus on another platform that seems to be yielding better results.
By the end of the process, you should have a clear idea of which paid media platforms you want to continue using, and which (if any) you’d like to remove from your strategy.
Your strategy document will be very individual to your business, which is why it’s almost impossible for us to create a one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy template.
Remember, the purpose of your strategy document is to map out the actions you’re going to take to achieve your goal over a period of time — as long as it communicates that, then you’ve nailed the basics of creating a digital strategy.