Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy
In 2018, over half of the world’s population was online. We are now more interconnected than ever, but the number of mobile device users are only expected to increase to over five billions by 2019. The value of a strong digital presence is beneficial but according to a survey by Adobe, only 15% of businesses said ‘digital’ permeates their marketing activities. In the same survey, top-performing companies were twice as likely to classify themselves as ‘digital-first’.
Building a holistic presence online is crucial to the success of most brands in today’s digital era, but like traditional business activities, success and growth are largely reliant on the strategy and research behind the scenes.
So, what is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is an all-encompassing term that involves promoting or selling a product or service through digital channels and electronic devices. It leverages a wide range of marketing tactics, such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Content Marketing and Email Marketing, to create a strong digital presence and contribute to the business’ overall growth.
Digital Marketers rely on a Value Journey Canvas to understand all the steps a prospect goes through to become a customer. This is where relationships with leads (or prospects) are nurtured into converts, and eventually, repeat customers.
By utilising data-driven insights, digital marketing can help businesses monitor and analyse the effectiveness of online campaigns. Additionally, digital marketing can unlock the following advantages for businesses:
- The ability to understand which marketing channels are most effective
- Measurable insights providing real-time data to understand how to engage, excite, and entice customers
- Reach current, past, and prospective customers in relevant ways
What’s included in a digital marketing strategy?
If ‘digital marketing’ refers to any form of marketing involving electronic devices, then a digital marketing strategy is simply a plan of action required to achieve a specific marketing goal.
A digital marketing strategy is your roadmap to an overarching business goal and involves planning a series of actions on any online marketing channels that are owned, earned, or paid. Carefully thought out, digital marketing strategies can ensure your marketing efforts are helping customers and prospective customers move through each stage of the marketing funnel seamlessly.
According to Adobe’s 2018 survey, under two-thirds of businesses have a cohesive, long-term view for the future of their customers. A cohesive digital marketing strategy can help inform businesses along each step of the customer journey from awareness to engagement, and conversion.
Don’t forget: Digital marketing strategies are not the same as a marketing campaign that aims to move people from one stage of the journey to the next. Marketing campaigns include a call-to-action to encourage the next step of action and a clear traffic source that details where your audience is coming from (email, ads, social media, etc).
How to create a digital marketing strategy
There are five steps to consider when crafting a digital marketing strategy:
1. Define your objectives:
Set the ground rules of your digital marketing activities by defining the overall objectives of your business: Do you plan to generate new signups or are you looking to increase sales over the next 12 months? Your business’ overall goal will always direct your marketing efforts because ultimately, any successful digital marketing strategy will help achieve key business goals and priorities!
Here are some questions you might ask yourself to determine your objectives:
- What areas of your business need the most improvement?
- What are the strengths, weaknesses, objectives and key threats that your business faces?
- Are there any competitors that are worth researching?
- What insights does market research reveal?
Tip: Set S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals to ensure you are on a realistic path to achieving your goals.
2. Set and measure your KPIs:
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is critical to the success of your marketing strategy and your goals – without KPIs it is difficult to measure the success and return on investment.
Analysing the past successes and failures of previous digital marketing strategies and activities can also help adjust your KPIs. Here are some tips to help set KPIs:
- Set realistic KPIs (you can revisit these) that will help analyse your digital marketing activities rather than setting unrealistically high expectations
- Be specific with your KPIs and include details of how you will be held accountable
- Identify the methods and processes that will help you measure your KPIs (including tools, reporting guidelines, etc.)
3. Leverage what you already know about your users:
A successful digital marketing strategy will always revolve around the customer and enable current and prospective customers to progress throughout the value journey.
When drafting your digital marketing strategy, leverage the information you have about your customer’s emotional needs, demographics, and pain points. Keeping the customer at the centre of your mind will help you effectively tailor and plan a relevant digital marketing strategy.
Tip: Create user personas (an archetype or a fictional representation of people researched) to visualise what customers need and how they engage with your product or service.
4. Choose your channels
There’s no shortage of online channels to invest in; but putting your dollar where it will generate the best results for your business will require a strategic approach.
Identifying the best channels to invest in starts with a clear understanding of where your users consume content or engage with similar products.
With a range of organic or paid channels, selecting which channels to continue investing in and which channels to cease investment, depends on a solid understanding of what each channel is trying to achieve and where your customers are. One method to gain confidence in which channels you should invest in is through testing. When your digital marketing channels are evaluated and tested in conjunction with the value journey of your customers and business KPIs, it can help you determine the best channels to utilise.
Determine the best channels to invest in with some of these questions:
- Does this channel attract the right audience within my target market?
- Will this channel be measurable?
- How sustainable is this channel considering my overall marketing spend?
- Are there any elements on this channel that may compromise my brand message?
- How will this channel interact with other channels in my marketing strategy?
Allocate the right budget according to the effectiveness of each channel to drive a positive ROI in the long-term.
5. Create your digital marketing calendar
Put your marketing strategy to work by planning ahead with a campaign calendar. A digital marketing calendar will be integral to your business’ long-term success and help your business maintain consistency across all your marketing activities.
Draft your digital marketing calendar in your preferred format (spreadsheet, calendar, Word document or any planning tool) and include high-level details (channel, content, requirements and expected ROI) that will enable you to allocate resources and budgets ahead of time, and avoid backlogs in your campaigns. If possible, aim to create a coordinated calendar that will depict all your marketing channels and activities for every month or quarter.