5 Step Guide To Create Digital Marketing Strategy
Steps That You Must Follow Before Jumping Into Online Advertising
Last updated: July 28, 2017
In the ever-changing digital landscape that we find ourselves in, forethought and planning are often crucial for success in business. Digital marketing is hectic and plunging in without any direction will find you adrift as your business loses both time and money in spades.
To avoid this, you need a logical marketing framework to help you achieve specified goals – that’s where a digital marketing strategy comes in.
What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
This is simply a step by step plan detailing actions you can take to achieve your desired objectives using online marketing.
Why you need a digital marketing strategy
Creating a digital marketing strategy is certainly a great idea that will see your business soar to previously unmet heights. Whatever the size of your business, be it small, medium or large, a marketing strategy will be a great help. Here are some reasons why you need one.
- Reducing replication and redundancy – A clear-cut digital marketing strategy will enable you to focus on what’s important and prevent you from wasting resources and duplicating your efforts.
- Improve customer experience – digital marketing provides a platform to better understand the needs of your consumer and meet them efficiently.
- Resource allocation and evaluation – a digital marketing strategy in place will enable you to have a clear path to achieve your goals like increasing your customer base online. This goes a long way in allowing proper resource allocation and analysis.
- Stay ahead of your competition – a digital strategy that allows you to keep track of the ever-changing consumer preferences and react accordingly will ensure you remain ahead of the pack.
- Increase the reach of your business – there is a multitude of digital platforms ranging from simple google searches to Facebook feeds that provide viable marketing options. Having a digital marketing strategy that will include various digital platforms will greatly improve the reach of your business.
Step 1#: Start With Situation Analysis
This section of your digital marketing strategy will give an overview of your current marketing arena. It includes research on the size and trends of your target market to date, the competitors you face and the factors affecting your ability to sell products. It is basically a review of the marketing you have undertaken to date and what you have to show for it.
Demographics and behaviors of the existing audience
Collecting information about your current customer base is vital for any marketing strategy, because knowing who you are marketing to is the first step in streamlining your marketing approach. Such information can be acquired by surveying or even interviewing your business’ target audience.
To get a more complete picture, your research pool should include a wide array of customers and avoid making assumptions about your audience as this can mislead you therefore defeating the purpose of the digital marketing strategy in the first place. The kind of information you should gather depends on your business but here is something to help you begin:
Quantitative (Demographic) information
- Depending on your business, age may be an important factor since many trends and preferences are often age-related.
- This can easily be determined by using web analytic tools to pinpoint the general location of your website traffic.
- Knowledge about the purchasing power of your customers is vital in determining the value of your products. However, be sure to conduct personal interviews to acquire such sensitive information as many would be reluctant to divulge it online.
- Some products are only viable to a specific gender and knowing the composition of your target audience in terms of gender can be very beneficial to your business.
Qualitative (Psychographic) information
- Knowing what your target audience values most in relation to your business is an essential factor. For instance, knowing the current market prefers quality over affordability will help you restructure your marketing accordingly.
- Be sure to find out the need your service fulfills or why customers buy your product in the first place.
- Figure out any challenges your current audience faces regarding your business in order to know what to improve.
- Aligning your marketing with the general interests and hobbies of your audience will go a long way in making your products or service much more attractive.
Analysing your existing assets
Your digital marketing strategy should include evaluation of the digital resources you have available and the current internal capabilities of your business. Categorizing the assets you have been using so far is a good place to start since it will keep you focused and prevent you from getting overwhelmed. That said, digital marketing assets are typically divided into three categories:
- Owned media
These are digital assets that you own and can exercise complete control over in the implementation of your digital marketing strategy. They include your website, email, social media profiles or even blog content.
- Earned media
Refers to recognition your business gets that you did not directly initiate. Positive mentions and reviews by your customers to other people are a great example. Shares on social media, press mentions and guest posts at other websites also constitute earned media.
- Paid media
Includes any channel that you pay for to propagate awareness amongst your buyers. Social media Ads, Google Adwords and sponsored posts are all forms of paid media.
No matter the kind of business you run, competitors will always be a reality you have to accept. However, this isn’t permission to lie down and get trampled on; it just means you have to put in a little more effort to remain at the top.
Your digital marketing strategy should include thorough competitor analysis to provide valuable guidance that will allow you to stay one step ahead. Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify current and future competitors.
The logical first step is finding out who your competition actually is. This includes both the direct and indirect competitors in your marketing situation. Direct competitors offer the same products as your business while indirect competitors may offer different products that occupy the same niche as yours. For instance, cable television versus movie theatres. Catalog and describe each one before moving on to the next step.
- Define your competitor’s target market and market share.
This is the group of customers at which your competitor aims its products or services and their general presence in the market. Determine the size of the customer base your competitor enjoys and the cumulative appeal of their products and services in the market. You will therefore have a general idea of the impact your competitors have on the market.
- SWOT analysis.
Perform a detailed analysis of their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Doing this will give you a clear picture of the competition you face and allow your digital marketing strategy to capitalize on their weaknesses and minimize their strengths. If your competition focuses solely on the affordability of its products and disregards quality, then direct your marketing to emphasize on your higher quality products.
Step 2#: Determine Your Objectives
This is where you look ahead and determine where you want to be in the future. Your digital marketing strategy needs to have some marketing goals and objectives. Additionally, you need to identify the digital marketing tools you will need to achieve them. These goals will give purpose to your marketing and provide important milestones you can use to measure your progress. Your marketing objectives may be short-term or long-term.
- Short-term objectives.
These can be achieved within a short duration like days, weeks or a couple of months. Such goals are normally used to provide a temporary boost in business often as a part of larger endgame related to a known long-term goal. An example of a short-term goal is ‘Update social media feeds and improve their content by the end of the week’.
- Long-term objectives.
The backbone of your digital marketing strategy is centered on long-term goals. These may take several months or years to accomplish but will produce results that could permanently change your business for the better. For instance, improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an undertaking that could take several months. It involves anticipating what potential customer will look for online and optimizing your website accordingly.
Whatever goals you put in place, whether short-term or long-term, there are some things you should consider to you get the most out of them. An effective objective should have the following characteristics:
- Logical. The objective should be realistic and relevant to your overall business plan. For example, ‘ increase company website traffic’
- Specific. Quantifiable and therefore easily measured. For example, ‘increase company website traffic by 10%’
- Time constrained. A deadline should be set in order to cultivate maximum effort. An example is ‘increase company website traffic by 10% in two months.
After setting your goals, find out what online marketing tools you will require to achieve them. If you plan on improving your email marketing, Infusionsoft is a great tool for the job. The same goes for HootSuite when it comes to managing social media updates. Whatever the tool you use, be sure to balance effectiveness and cost to ensure it suits your business. We have made a great list of different marketing tools.
Step 3#: Create Your Marketing Strategy.
This involves building a digital marketing strategy that will allow you to achieve your objectives. Your strategy should allow you to find a niche in the market that you perfectly fit in; to make your product the most attractive option out there. Even as you move towards achieving your business’ goals, your digital marketing strategy should have measures in place to track your progress over time. The best way to do this is using KPIs.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
KPIs are quantifiable measurements that help an organization define and measure progress towards its objectives. In online marketing, a good way to track your reach is by monitoring engagement on your website. In this case, important KPIs to use will include:
- A number of new visits to your website.
- Number of return visits
- Time spent on the website.
When used properly, KPIs can be an important indicator of the success of your marketing and the organization in general. They can also show areas that need improvement and give you valuable insight when trying to improve your existing digital marketing strategy.
Improve your existing digital marketing strategy.
- Use your KPIs to figure out what works then capitalize on it in your new strategy. Do away with any deadweight or take steps to address the issue.
- Build relationships with customers. Focus on your customer care and outreach programs to make your buyers feel valued. Build familiarity and trust in your brand that will maintain current customers and attract new ones.
- Use information gained from your customers to increase the value of your product in their eyes. For instance, with the current increase in environmental awareness, design your products to be more environmentally friendly for a greater appeal.
Offline digital marketing strategy
- Integration of both online and offline digital marketing strategies will lead to an exponential increase in your business.
- Twitter hashtags in television shows and commercials are an example of how you can use offline demand to generate interest in your online marketing.
- This integration will always ensure your customers remain in the loop as many interact with offline and online sources interchangeably.
Step 4#: Make Preparations to Implement your digital marketing strategy
Generate a marketing timeline.
- You can use a Gantt chart, calendar or even a handwritten document to create a timeline that will organize your digital marketing strategy.
- It lets you observe the chronology of your marketing plan including your objectives and completed actions.
- Objectives are broken down into tasks needed to achieve the particular goal and a deadline attached to provide a clear schedule to follow.
Set up a digital marketing dashboard to monitor your progress.
- To set up a digital marketing dashboard, you need to integrate all your data sources (Google Adwords, Facebook, Paypal etc) into one platform. Several apps including Cyfe and BIME can help you do this.
- The dashboard will continuously track your performance on multiple digital platforms and show statistics that elaborate your progress towards your goals.
- It does this by tracking KPIs and similar metrics pertaining to your online marketing efforts. Such metrics include social media engagement, website traffic numbers, and email marketing list numbers.
- Structure your dashboard to clearly show progress towards daily, weekly or monthly goals of your choice.
Communicate the plan.
- Involves both internal and external communications: advertising and outreach efforts coupled with communication with internal stakeholders and employees.
- Inform internal stakeholders and employees on the responsibilities required of them. Ensure there is a clear delineation between each task to avoid confusion.
- Also make sure that all deadlines are explicitly stated and enforced to prevent tardiness in your business.
Account for all the resources and capital you can amass to implement your digital marketing strategy then allocate them meticulously.
- Focus on what works. With KPIs as your guide, determine which platforms are worth your time and money. Supporting digital platforms that aren’t performing will cost you a lot.
- Determine income and expenditure. Knowing the cash-flow within your business is integral to learning how much you can afford to spend on marketing.
- Analyze your spending and balance your checkbook. View your spending to date and ensure you stay on top of your finances to avoid nasty surprises later on.
Take direct action
This is the part where you have to walk the talk. Your digital marketing strategy means nothing if you can’t actually do anything to realise it.
Reaching the target audience.
- Use the information gained when analyzing the market to determine the channels to choose. If you are in the fashion business, producing high-end designer jeans that appeal to the younger generation, then popular social networks are a good bet.
- Integrate various digital channels, both online and offline, to have access to a wider audience and increase your sales.
- Identify your organization’s capabilities and align them with your marketing plan for the best results. For instance, a culture of good customer care should be utilized to increase the available customer base.
Determine the systems, processes, and tools for use in marketing.
- This involves selecting the best marketing tools and systems that will ensure the realization of your digital marketing strategy.
- Most marketing tools are suited for a specific aspect of marketing and you have to perform extensive research to determine the best fit.
Step 5#: Evaluation and Monitoring of Your Strategy
This is where you optimize the running of your digital marketing strategy and deal with any issues that crop up.
Consistently measure your digital marketing efforts.
- Your KPIs are an important indicator of the progress of your business and achievement of your goals.
- Ensure your KPIs are tailored for your organization and clearly defined for an accurate feedback on your business. Simply lifting KPIs from a successful company will be detrimental since their priorities may be very different from yours.
- Link your strategic intent to your KPI´s for an efficient evaluation of your marketing efforts. For instance, if your goal is to achieve social media engagement by 50%, monitor the number of likes and comments as a KPI.
- Structure the generation of reports detailing your progress in marketing carefully to allow for seamless data collection and generation. This will help avoid gaps in data collection.
Optimise and adjust your digital marketing strategy constantly.
- Run A/B testing. Two versions of a web page, application or product are compared against each other to see which performs better before distribution. This ensures the quality of your output remains high.
- Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). Conversion rates refer to the percentage of visitors that undertake the desired option on your site. Those viewers that will actually purchase your product online as opposed to just browsing your website. Here are some ways you can improve your conversion rate:
- Providing guarantees. Including a refund policy for online purchases will go a long way in enticing visitors to commit to a purchase.
- Use reviews. Positive testimonials and reviews of previous buyers will provide assurance that you are to be trusted.
- Ask for little information. Try to reduce the number of fields required to make a purchase to the bare minimum. This will help avoid suspicion and tedium.
In as much as a good digital marketing strategy is a safe bet that is sure to increase your sales, it’s not an excuse to just sit back and relax. You have to remain vigilant since the market is constantly in flux. Always be ready to adapt your strategy at a moment’s notice to suit the current market.