Strategy is everything when it comes to marketing, and your business needs to create the best digital plan possible to compete online.
This year, it’s more important than ever that you have a careful plan for attracting business. However, this can make the idea of digital marketing feel a little intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with the online realm.
Don’t despair, though — help is at hand. This guide will explain the nuts and bolts of digital marketing and talk you through how to create a failsafe strategy. Certainly, the internet has changed how we market products and services forever, but efficient planning will always bring positive results.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy involves increasing awareness of your offering through online channels.
Once upon a time, marketing was straightforward. You’d pay for a print advertisement, such as a poster, billboard, or magazine page, and wait for consumers to respond.
However, the world has moved away from paper in favor of screens. As a result, the art and science of marketing have had to adjust. Campaigns now need to be tailored to an audience rarely separated from their smartphones.
However, the good news is that this means a business can enjoy immediate success and is afforded endless opportunities to study the analytics of a campaign’s performance — as long as a sound digital marketing strategy is used as the baseline platform for these online communications.
How to create a digital marketing strategy for your business.
We promised to offer insight into how your business can devise a digital marketing strategy, so without any further ado, let’s do so. Follow each of these ten steps in order, and you’ll soon have a digital marketing strategy that’s the envy of your industry.
1. Define your brand identity.
Before you do anything else, you need to decide on your brand identity before launching a digital marketing campaign. The online world is one of permanence, so there will be no turning back once you start down a particular road.
Your online identity needs to match that of your website and general communications. For example, don’t attempt to run a sassy social media account that regularly “claps back” at users if you build your corporate brand around wholesome family values.
It never hurts to have something that sets you apart from your competitors and holds the interest, though — internet users will never be lauded for their attention spans.
Gather your business team and brainstorm what sets your brand apart from the chasing pack, building your online identity around this.
2. Study the conversion funnel of digital marketing.
If your digital marketing strategy is effective, it will guide users along a conversion funnel. However, before you start planning your strategy, you need to understand the process. The digital conversions funnel is divided into four stages.
|Awareness||Step one is simple enough — you need your target audience to know who you are. This means getting your business name into the consciousness of a potential consumer.|
|Interest||Once you have piqued the curiosity of a potential user, you need to hold their interest. Stage two of the funnel is getting this consumer to cement their interest in your product or service, ideally by visiting a website or landing page.|
|Desire||You convinced a fish to bite at your baited hook during stage two of the funnel. Stage three is the time to reel in the catch. You need to convince the user that your product or service will benefit their lives in some way.|
|Action||This is the endgame and everything your digital marketing strategy has been engineered to achieve. The user will complete an action, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or whatever your intention might be.|
3. Decide upon your digital marketing goals.
As we intimated when discussing the action stage of the digital conversion funnel, your strategy needs to have an endpoint in mind.
What exactly are you looking for from your digital marketing, and what constitutes a conversion from a campaign? Are you hoping to make more sales? Do you need to bolster your mailing list? Would you be happy with more social media followers?
Once you understand what you’re looking for from your strategy, set SMART goals to tie down what constitutes appropriate performance.
If you want more sales, what number on your bottom line is appropriate? Similarly, if you are looking to increase awareness, how many new sign-ups or social media follows will satisfy you?
4. Investigate different marketing styles.
Digital marketing is a broad church with many possible approaches. Accordingly, if your business is to enjoy success in the online realm, you’ll need to ensure that you understand all the paths you could take. These include:
|Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)||SEO is the bread and butter of most digital marketing campaigns. SEO involves using keywords to reach the plum top spots on a Google search result, which drastically increases your chances of being noticed.|
|Pay-Per-Click (PPC)||Alas, organically reaching the apex of a Google search is unlikely if you’re competing with industry titans. Many businesses purchase plum advertising slots, paying a fee whenever a user clicks on the link in question. This, perhaps unimaginatively, is known as pay-per-click marketing.|
|Social Media Marketing||Over half of the world’s population is active on social media. In the West, that number is even higher. This means that tactical use of social media marketing ensures that you’ll reach a vast potential audience.|
|Email and SMS Marketing||Social media may be where most people spend their time, but 99% of people still check their email at least once a day. Email marketing typically requires a very low outlay, meaning that a well-crafted missive could see an impressive ROI.|
|Content Marketing||Content marketing involves focussing your efforts on crafting interesting, helpful blog posts, videos, and infographics that generate a loyal following. This way, when consumers do need a product or service that you offer, you’ll have their trust.|
A quick word of caution, though!
When you create a digital marketing strategy, it’s not a matter of choosing one of these approaches and placing all your eggs into this singular basket.
Most successful campaigns will involve a combination of all of the above. As a result, take the time to understand the pros and cons of each style. Perhaps more important, determine if you have the appropriate skillset in-house to tackle them.
5. Consider if you’ll work in-house or hire external support.
Based on the styles of marketing discussed above, you may be worried that you don’t know where to start.
That’s a common concern, so try not to fret. Take to Google, and you’ll find all manner of educational courses and insights designed to introduce business owners to digital marketing.
Even so, you may consider it beyond your reach to provide digital marketing with the attention it deserves. If that’s the case, consider bringing in external support from a third party.
This could be a freelance individual that works remotely, a consultant that joins you in your workplace to devise a strategy and get you started, or a digital marketing agency that acts as your partner and manages all aspects of your campaign.
6. Create consumer profiles for your target audience.
Your next step must be to build profiles of your ideal audience.
One of the best things about digital marketing is that you do not need to cast a wide net, sifting through inappropriate or unsuitable leads to find the audience you want. By conducting research in advance, and understanding who you are looking to market to, you stand a far greater chance of success on the first ask.
7. Learn where your audience can be reached.
One of the key elements of building a customer profile is knowing where to market to your ideal audience. The internet is a pretty big place, and not everybody will be found in the same location.
Let’s take social media as an example.
New platforms arise every day, but a handful has stood the test of time. Facebook has the most users of any social media website. However, the core demographic of Facebook is Boomers, Generation X, and older Millennials. If you’re hoping to reach a younger audience, you’ll find them using Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok.
Think about how you’ll use SEO, too.
It makes sense that you’ll tailor any SEO strategy to match Google’s wants and needs, as Google boasts well over 90% of all internet search traffic. Consider quality over quantity, though — PPC campaigns on Bing, using Microsoft Ads, could yield a significant return on investment if you are marketing to the right audience.
For the record, Bing users tend to be older and have more disposable income.
8. Tailor your language and approach to your audience.
Once you’ve built your customer profiles, and you know where to find them, you need to understand how to appeal to consumers’ hearts and minds.
If users feel that you understand them and their needs, they are much likelier to show brand loyalty.
This means learning what matters to your audience and getting on their level. If you’re marketing to Zoomers, for example, show a dedication to changing the world for the better. At the opposite end of the spectrum, while Boomers also care about environmental impact, this age group cares a lot more about reliability and quality than the experience of shopping.
Of course, whatever approach you take, it needs to feel genuine.
Head back to step one of this guide and remind yourself of your brand values. If you try too hard and fly in the face of your core identity for the sake of making a conversion, you’ll lose all sense of trust and authority. Keep it real, though, and results will soon follow.
9. Track your results and ROI.
Previously, we discussed the importance of setting SMART goals for your marketing campaign. When it comes to assessing results, it will become abundantly clear why that was. At this stage, you need to review how your digital marketing strategy is performing.
If the campaign meets expectations, that’s great — though it’s not a time to rest on your laurels.
Increase your ambition and consider how you can achieve even more, adjusting your digital marketing strategy accordingly. If your strategy fails to bring in the results you expected, you need to investigate why that is — and take immediate action.
10. Troubleshoot an underperforming strategy.
No marketing strategy is foolproof, and any approach can fail to yield results. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What matters most when this happens is how you respond to disappointing performance. You’ll need to analyze all links in the chain, investigating where the fault could lie. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Is your online presence compelling enough?
- Does your audience know who you are and why your offering is superior to your competitors?
- Are you approaching the optimum audience in the ideal location?
- If you’re fishing for carp in a river of trout, all the greatest campaign tactics in the world will be unsuccessful.
- Are you using striking, compelling language and visuals that convince users to act fast and convert?
- While you’ll need substance to accompany style, internet audiences sometimes need to be wowed.
- Were your targets realistic in the first place?
- Some digital strategies, especially content marketing, can take time to see results.
Once you’ve identified where the potential flaws in your business strategy lie, get to work on rectifying these concerns.
If you followed the first few steps in this guide appropriately, you’ll definitely create a winning digital marketing strategy. As a result, you’ll only need a few minor tweaks to start seeing the results you initially hoped for.
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