7 Steps to Create the Perfect Digital Marketing Strategy
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin’s well-known adage still applies today in the 21st century, with the rapid growth of digital marketing seizing business operations around the world.
Although a vast majority of businesses use digital marketing tactics to promote their brand, many of them fail to plan these properly. According to Managing Digital Marketing Study by Smart Insights, 46% of businesses don’t have a defined marketing strategy. This is very detrimental in the long-run so it’s crucial that you start creating one now!
But first of all, what is a Digital Marketing Strategy? And why do we need it?
A digital marketing strategy is defined as a series of actions designed to achieve a marketing objective via online channels.
Any business, whether they are growing or established, must develop their own digital marketing strategy to stay ahead of competitors. It’s also incredibly useful in organising your marketing tactics holistically, while analysing your overall business performance in terms of sales revenue, conversion rates or cost-per-lead-per-channel.
Think of it this way – if a business doesn’t have a comprehensive digital marketing strategy:
- How are they supposed to facilitate growth and catalyse innovation?
- How are they supposed to track, measure and evaluate results to achieve target objectives and conversion-metrics?
- And above all, how are they able to understand their customers and deliver great VALUE?
To help you, here is a 7-step guide on how to create the perfect digital marketing strategy!
- Do Your Research!
Doing your own research about digital marketing is vital.
Understanding its primary components will guarantee a solid application of strategy in the real world. This could include learning about fundamental digital marketing terms such SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), organic traffic and paid traffic, conversion rates, content strategy or data analytics.
You can also easily familiarise yourself with various digital tools and explore useful online resources – Google Analytics, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Facebook Insights, Google AdWords, WordPress and Canva. These can be integrated into your digital assets, which are concentrated within your holistic digital marketing strategy.
- Set Goals and Objectives
Every strategy NEEDS established goals and objectives.
Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably but the main difference lies in the fact that a goal is a desired primary outcome of work, whereas an objective is the smaller milestone that would meet this desired goal. The strategy of a business is the actual approach you use to achieve these goals and objectives.
Your digital marketing strategy must adhere to the grand vision of your business. So, ask yourself:
- What is the main overarching goal and the objectives within it that you want to accomplish with your business?
- How can you generate an appropriate digital marketing strategy to meet this goal?
More importantly, you need to know how to measure the effectiveness in achieving your goals and objectives through key dimensions…which brings us to the next point.
- Measure and Analyse Key Metrics
A metric measures the performance and efficiency of your business based on crucial figures. The most relevant metrics to consider include:
- Cost-per-lead-per-channel à the average costs incurred to generate leads (potential customers) on a particular digital marketing channel. This enables you to identify which channels are the most powerful lead generators for future marketing campaigns. This allows you to make the best investment decisions.
- Sales conversion rates à this records any action of a customer directly engaging with a business such as purchasing a product, a newsletter signup, email subscriptions, downloading videos, etc. It gives you a solid understanding of your sales funnel and which marketing avenues give the best ROI.
Metrics can involve setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which identifies the primary figures you aim to achieve for your business. For example, a 20% increase in market share.
A useful KPI template:
- Specific goal (e.g. generate more conversions)
- By ____ figure increase
- In ____ number of months/years
If you did your digital marketing research firsthand, you will know what kinds of digital marketing tools you can utilise to measure and analyse your KPIs.
For example, Google Analytics measures your conversion rate. Alternatively, if you want to determine the click-through-rate for paid search advertising, then Google AdWords is your ideal asset. Similarly, you can utilise online resources such as BuzzSumo to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing.
Analysis of your KPI and metrics can be derived from a comparative assessment of your historical performance. This means analysing your business’s previous successes and failures. What worked and what didn’t? How can you improve? This is a fantastic way to benchmark your goals.
You can also audit the progress and effectiveness of achieving your KPIs through a competitor analysis. What are they doing better than you? What are they doing differently? How can you differentiate yourself?
- Know Your Customer
The best digital marketing strategies are tailored effectively to a certain target market.
That’s why you HAVE to know your customer. But how?
You should generate a buyer persona, which is essentially a representation of your ideal customer. This involves researching your business’s target segment to get an accurate snapshot of WHO exactly you’re directing your marketing efforts towards.
Be careful about making assumptions of your buyer persona because it could cause your digital marketing strategy to veer into the wrong direction. To get you started off in the right track, your research should involve a combination of different target markets, prospects and people who align with your target audience. This can also involve researching your customer’s quantitative and qualitative information.
- Quantitative (Demographic) Information à based on objective measurements, statistics and data. E.g. age, gender, income bracket, location and occupation.
- Qualitative (Psychographic) Information à this revolves around exploratory, behavioural research such as motivations, underlying factors and opinions. E.g. goals, challenges, hobbies and interests.
Additionally, you can also research general statistics of customer trends and behaviours or facts about online consumer shopping (E-commerce). This kind of information is pivotal when implementing your content strategy to certain types of customers or identifying the most optimal online platforms to promote your business. It’s also a useful way to identify customer needs and to satisfy their desires.
- Manage Digital Channels and Assets
Your digital marketing strategy will consist of various digital channels and assets.
To determine which channels/assets you want to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy, research and experimentation is integral to see which ones work best for your business. Generally, each digital channel should have 1 KPI.
But how to manage all these digital channels and assets at once?
The simplest way to do this is to create an Owned, Earned and Paid Media Framework (formulated by HubSpot) on a spreadsheet. This efficiently categorises your existing digital channels/assets so that you have a rich picture of your overall digital marketing strategy.
- Owned media à digital assets owned by your business including your website, blog content, infographics, eBooks, personal social media page and profiles – the things that your business has complete control over.
- Earned media à the exposure or recognition you’ve acquired through word-of-mouth or external media organisations. This includes content you’ve distributed on other websites, public relations work, positive reviews, press mentions or shares on social media.
- Paid media à any channel you’ve paid for to promote your business to customers. This includes pay-per-click advertising – PPC (such as Google AdWords), sponsored social media posts, search engine marketing and display ads.
Depending on your digital marketing strategy, you may choose to merge all (or some) of these three elements together. You might even only select one channel.
If your owned media and your earned media are already effective in generating leads, then investing in paid media may not be necessary. Incorporating these three channels involves the right mixture and balance for your business.
- Create a Digital Marketing Calendar
Your Digital Marketing Calendar should function like a Holy Bible – it should be guiding your business operations throughout the implementation of your digital marketing strategy.
It’s important to understand that this calendar is susceptible to constant change since you can never truly accurately predict customer behaviour as a business.
However, the calendar would provide meaningful analysis on numerous facets of your business’s promotional efforts online, which can be constantly tweaked according to your business’s performance and effectiveness in meeting KPIs.
To get you started, here are some simple steps to create your calendar:
- Use Google Calendars to create your timeline – you can share this with other team members involved in your digital marketing strategy.
- Highlight the most important campaigns you’ll promote throughout the year, which will then be given a timeframe allocation.
- Decide which combination of digital channels would be the most effective for each campaign – how would this link with the main goal and objectives in mind?
- Within your Digital Marketing Calendar, you can integrate a Content Creation Template which can include key information such as channel type and goal.
- Monitor, Evaluate and Review
As with any strategy, there should be a monitoring and evaluating plan which involves a thorough assessment of the previous KPIs.
Your digital marketing strategy should be monitored at regular intervals (such as quarterly or yearly). It should also based upon the weaknesses or strengths of the individual channels in achieving the established goal and KPIs.
If there is a problem in your strategy, such as having stagnant sales volume or a lack of conversion rate optimisation, then revisit your analysis, buyer personas or mixture of digital channels in order to determine the root cause. Then review this component by setting a new goal and measure its progress through a clearly defined KPI.