What is a digital marketing strategy?
The digital marketing strategy is the process of articulating the vision, goals and opportunities — as well as the processes, people, technology and initiatives to execute them — to create deeper interactions with customers, more customized and personalized offerings and interactions, data-driven decision making, and customer experience models that are more nimble and reactive to changes in customers’ needs, wants and interests (Gartner).
In simple terms, It is the thought out sequence of actions that allow to achieve company goals through pre-selected online marketing channels: like paid, owned & partners media, and all support a main campaign around a general line of business.
For example, to generate 25% more leads via website this year compared with previous.
So, entrepreneurs usually ask me, how to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy?
- Describe your ideal customers (buyer personas).
- Identify goals and the digital marketing tools you’ll need.
- Evaluate existing digital channels and assets.
- Audit and plan owned media and paid campaigns.
- Gather all in sequence of actions.
For any marketing strategy (offline or online) know your customer (KYC) or who is your audience. The best digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed buyer personas, and you need to do it.
Research, survey, and interview your target audience to describe Personas (based on real data), who represent your ideal customers.
Making not exact hypothesis about your audience cause the wrong direction of marketing strategy and leak of marketing budget.
Don’t forget about customers, sales managers, people who align with your target audience.
- Location and language. Use Analytics to identify what location your website traffic is coming from.
- Age & Income. Depending on your business, this may or not be relevant.
- Job Title. It might be your assumption or from relevant for B2B companies.
- Goals. What goals persona wants to reach.
- Challenges. Again, speak to customers, sales to get an idea of the common problems your audience faces.
- Priorities & Expectations. What’s most important to them in relation to your business. Thus, if you’re a B2B software company, discovered that your audience prefer customer support over a competitive price, that is very valuable information.
2. Goals and the digital marketing tools you’ll need.
Marketing goals should be tied back to the fundamental goals of the business. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online sales by 20%, a goal might be to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year.
Don’t forget you need to know how to measure it (e.g., have the right digital marketing tools in place to do so). How you measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy will be different for each business and dependent on goal(s), these metrics which will help you adjust your strategy in the future.
3. Evaluate your existing digital channels and assets.
Owned Media is all digital assets that brand or company owns: website, social media, blog, owned channels (like a blog on Medium).
Paid Media is any vehicle or channel where you spend money on to catch the attention of audience/personas (Google Ads, paid social media posts, native advertising (like sponsored posts on other websites and etc).
Gather what you have in a spreadsheet, so you have a clear picture of current situation. Digital marketing strategy should incorporate all channels working together to help you achieve goal.
For example, you have a content on a landing page on your website that’s been created to help you generate leads. To increase the number of leads that content generates, you make real effort to make it shareable, you distribute it via personal social media profiles, amplifying traffic to the landing page.
To support the content’s success, you post to your Facebook page and pay to have it seen by more people in target audience. That’s exactly how all channels (incorporated into your digital marketing strategy) work together to help you reach goal.
4. Audit and plan media campaigns.
The digital marketing is always around your media, and it takes the form of content. When your brand broadcasts any message it’s classified as content starting from about us page, product descriptions, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or social media posts.
Content helps convert website visitors into leads and customers, and to raise your brand. When it’s optimized, it boosts search/organic traffic. Whatever your goal, you need to use content to form digital marketing strategy.
To build your digital marketing strategy, you need to decide what content will help you reach goals. If the goal is to generate 50% more leads via the website than you did last year, that is not about how to improve ‘About Us’ page. It’s about how to improve your lead generation machine.
Audit your existing content.
What is the best performing content in relation to your current goals? Make a list of your content, rank each item. For example, the goal is lead generation, rank content according to which generated the most leads in the last year: blog post, an ebook, a specific page on website.
What’s currently working, and what’s not?
Identify gaps in existing content based on personas. If you’re a FinTech company and discovered in your audience research that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is finding interesting ways to study, but you don’t have such content, you need to create some.
Thus you may discover that ebooks convert really well (much better than webinars, for example). In this case, you might add an ebook about ‘how to make studying more interesting’ to your content creation plan.
Create a content plan.
Based on the gaps you’ve identified, create a content plan that’s necessary to achieve goals. Include there:
- Promotional channels;
- Reason = Why you’re creating it (e.g., Persona struggles to find time to plan blog content, so we’re creating a template editorial calendar);
- Priority level (to decide what’s the most effective).
It should be a simple spreadsheet, and include budget information if you plan to outsource the content creation, or a time estimate if you produce it yourself.
5. Audit and plan media campaigns.
Look at the best performing channels, where your traffic and leads come from (e.g Google Analytics) and use it your planned campaign.
E. g. Your article in the industry press, drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which in turn converted well. Or your post in LinkedIn drives a lot of traffic.
6. Audit and plan paid media campaigns.
Evaluate your existing paid media across each platform (e.g., Google Ads, In, Fb, Tw, etc.) to find out which help you meet goals.
If you leaked budget on Facebook and haven’t seen the results, it’s time to refine your approach, or scrap it altogether and focus on another platform might bring better results.
By doing that, you review your paid channels and should exclude ineffective channels from your digital marketing strategy.
7. Gather all in sequence of actions.
After the planning and the research, you get a solid vision of your digital marketing strategy:
- Clear profiles of personas.
- Marketing-specific goals.
- A list of your existing media.
- An audit of existing media.
- An owned content plan or wish list.
Now, gather all in sequence of actionsto form a cohesive digital marketing strategy document to meet your goals. A spreadsheet is an efficient format.
Plan your strategy for a longer-term period ~ 12 months, depending on your business.
- In January, you start a blog which will be continually updated 1/week, for the entire year.
- In March, you launch a new ebook, accompanied by paid promotion.
- In July, you prepare for further business seasons — what topics for content? When? Paid channels or not?
- In September, you focus on PR to drive additional traffic.
This approach will help communicate your plans to your colleagues.