- Part 1: Preparing Your Digital Marketing Strategy
- Part 2: Choosing the Digital Marketing Channels to Use
- Part 3: Integrating Key Digital Trends in Your Marketing Strategy
- Part 4: Creating Your Digital Marketing Plan
Every business owner wants to achieve certain things that ultimately lead to sales and revenues. Gaining new customers, retaining existing ones, raising brand awareness, and engaging potential customers are some of them.
Everyone wants to win the digital marketing game. But are you strategic about it?
Smart Insight’s survey conducted in December 2018 found that 45% of marketers implement campaigns without a clearly defined digital marketing strategy. That’s a huge number considering that the digital marketing landscape has become more competitive than ever.
A critical component of a successful business, digital marketing is something you don’t leave to chance. You need a clear, holistic, and cohesive strategy that specifies how and when to use your company’s resources and marketing channels to meet your business goals.
If you’re keen on creating a plan for your digital marketing campaigns for this year, you’re off to a good start. The challenge, though, is how to start doing it. The key is to take things one step at a time.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a digital marketing strategy that works for your organization.
Part 1: Preparing Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Before you start drafting your plan, there are a couple of steps necessary to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction. A systematic and meticulous preparation process—rather than just putting whatever comes to mind—will take you there.
1. Define Your SMART Goals
You want to set realistic marketing goals, considering your available resources and overall business goals. This is why the importance of having SMART goals can never be stressed enough. Let’s break down what that means for anyone tasked to create a digital marketing strategy:
- Specific – Do your goals precisely point out the problems you’re trying to solve or opportunities you want to take advantage?
- Measurable – How will you track progress? What quantitative and qualitative metrics will you use?
- Achievable – Taking your budget, time, manpower, and other available resources into account, can your goals be actually attained?
- Relevant – Can your goals lead to solutions that address your marketing team’s biggest challenges? Are your marketing goals aligned with your overall business goals?
- Time-bound – What’s your timeframe for meeting each goal?
To give you a better idea of what SMART goals are, here are some examples:
- Increase email opt-in signups by X% within [timeframe]
- Get X new fans/followers on [social media channel/s] per week/month/quarter
- Gain X new online customers this year at an average cost per acquisition of [amount] and an average profitability of [amount]
- Increase online sales by X% in the next X weeks/months/quarters
- Increase email open rate by X%
- Decrease unsubscribe rate by X%
2. Build Your Customer Personas
Customer personas, also called buyer personas, are the fictional representation of your ideal customers, including their key traits, interests, challenges, and buying decisions.
Creating customer personas allows you to get to know your target customers before you spend money and time to win them over. That way, you won’t waste your precious resources on campaigns that aren’t interesting, useful, and relevant to them.
Pick an ideal customer you have in mind and develop a persona based on what you already know about this person. Then research the following information that should be included in the buyer persona:
- Demographics – Location, age, gender, income, education, etc.
- Professional information – Job title, industry, company size, etc.
- Psychographics – Personality traits, interests, values, motivations, priorities, fears, factors that affect buying decisions, etc.
- Goals and challenges – Personal goals, career goals, challenges to meeting goals, pain points, etc.
3. Evaluate Your Past Digital Strategies
Take the time to review how your digital strategy has fared in the past few years. What lessons did you learn from both triumphs and failures? These learnings will serve as a springboard for making your new strategy a lot better than the previous ones.
If you haven’t measured the ROI from your past strategy, now is the time to do it. You have several useful tools at your disposal, such as Google Analytics for monitoring and analyzing a wide range of metrics (pageviews, bounce rates, conversions, etc.), Hotjar for tracking clicks on your website, and Hootsuite for tracking social media metrics.
4. Perform a Competitor Analysis
Your digital marketing plan must also take into consideration your competitors—what their strategies are, what they’re good and bad at, and any threats and opportunities they present.
Conducting a competitor analysis usually involves the following steps:
- Identifying your top competitors by searching for your keywords on Google and checking the brands your audience is following on social media
- Gathering data about your competitors through company websites, social listening (monitoring social media channels for mentions of your competitors), product brochures and other marketing collaterals, news reports written about them, etc.
- Analyzing competitors by performing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis
- Comparing the data against your own digital marketing strategy to improve it and know your company’s competitive position in the marketplace
5. Identify Your Resources
Assess your three most important resources: budget, digital marketing channels, and people. What you’ll find out from this step will help you determine how to allocate them properly so that you can achieve your goals for your digital strategy.
Specifically, here’s what you need to look into when it comes to your resources:
- Total budget for your digital marketing campaigns
- Budget allocation for paid ads on Google and/or social media, if you’ll be spending on paid promotion
- Assessment of your existing digital marketing channels (what works and what doesn’t)
- Goals and KPIs for each channel
- Realistic assessment of your marketing team’s skills and capabilities
- Need for additional manpower (and if you have the budget for it)
- Which functions or roles can be done in-house or outsourced to a third party
Part 2: Choosing the Digital Marketing Channels to Use
The sheer scope of digital marketing can overwhelm even the most experienced marketer. It also continues to evolve, with new techniques, technologies, and innovations being introduced each year.
So that your strategy will be more manageable, focus only on the digital marketing channels that will bring the most ROI. You can use the data you’ve collected from the preparation stage of creating your strategy (See Part 1 above) as your basis for selecting the best channels to use.
Each channel has its own advantages, disadvantages, and budget range. Thus, different channels deliver different results.
To help you make the right choice, here’s a quick run-through of the most common digital marketing channels today:
- Pros: Impressive ROI ($44 for every dollar spent), cost-effective, and ability to personalize messages
- Cons: Email delivery issues, email response decay, high unsubscribe rates, and low click-through rates (for untargeted emails)
- Cost: $300 to $1,000 per month
- Pros: Great platform for driving traffic, improving search engine rankings, raising brand awareness and loyalty, generating leads, providing customer service, and increasing sales
- Cons: Time-consuming and difficulty of measuring social ROI
- Cost: $1,000 to $20,000 per month
- Pros: Quick and measurable results, high ROI, real-time ad tracking, and the ability to reach target customers at the right time
- Cons: Costly strategy for small business owners, drives traffic but no guarantee of conversion, and complicated to learn
- Cost: $50 to $500,000 per month
- Pros: Continuous flow of free and targeted traffic, driving traffic with a good chance of conversion, and establishing authority in your industry
- Cons: Slow results, slow ROI, and no guarantee of results
- Cost: Less than $50 to $150,000 per month (with most SEO projects costing $501 to $1,000 based on an Ahrefs study)
- Pros: Earns quality leads, converts visitors into customers, cost-effective, and a great platform for building relationships with customers and establishing thought leadership
- Cons: Slow ROI and time and labor-intensive
- Cost: $5,000 to $50,000+ per month
- Pros: Easy to execute, great for building trust and engaging customers, and increased brand awareness
- Cons: No guarantee of desired results, slow results, the risk of influencer scam, and difficulty of tracking influencer campaigns
- Cost: $5,000 to $10,000 per social media post for influencers with 500,000 to one million followers
Part 3: Integrating Key Digital Trends in Your Marketing Strategy
As the digital marketing industry continues to evolve, so must your strategy. This entails keeping yourself updated on the current trends and using those that suit your overall strategy.
Here are some of the most notable digital marketing trends in recent years to consider when planning your digital strategy for this year. Each trend doesn’t work for everyone—so do your own research about which trends can help you meet your marketing goals.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is hands-down the biggest game-changer in digital marketing today—from personalizing e-commerce experiences and predicting user behaviors to digital advertising and processing vast amounts of customer data.
The most popular application of AI in digital marketing is the chatbot. Customers, for example, can order Starbucks coffee from a chatbot on Messenger. Chatbots can answer customer service-related questions, help complete e-commerce purchases, and even provide beauty advice (as in the case of cosmetics brand Sephora).
GDPR Compliance and Data Privacy Protection
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a key development in data privacy regulation for all people within the European Union.
For businesses and digital marketers, the GDPR affects how consumer data is accessed, used, and shared. Essentially, the new regulation compels everyone to protect customers’ personal data—which is what marketers collect to personalize customer experiences across digital channels.
This effectively requires marketers to be more transparent with how they handle data. Since the GDPR implementation, companies have started to updated their privacy policies and informing their customers about it.
More importantly, because of the GDPR, personalization and ad targeting capabilities have become somewhat limited. Marketers and companies now need to obtain customers’ explicit consent before using their data for targeting purposes.
The Rise of Gen Z
While marketing campaigns nowadays are mostly targeted at the millennial market, the next generation of consumers—the Gen Z—is starting to enter the workforce and grow their purchasing power.
Also called digital natives, this rising demographic was born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, which makes it the first generation to grow up with the internet and other digital technologies.
Perhaps it’s time to adapt your digital marketing strategy to the tech-savvy, hyperconnected Generation Z?
The biggest challenge in reaching post-millennials is getting your brand message across in just 8 seconds (that’s how short their attention span is!). Some of the effective approaches that connect brands with the Gen Z are storytelling, interactivity, authenticity, and personalization. Your marketing strategy must also fulfill their desire to participate with and contribute to brands.
Live Video Marketing
With the popularity of live streaming on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, brands must step up their video marketing game to engage audience in real time, boost site traffic, and drive sales.
According to Facebook, live videos earn six times as many interactions as traditional videos. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get your brand closer to your audience by incorporating live videos into your marketing strategy.
Part 4: Creating Your Digital Marketing Plan
At this point, you’re in the homestretch of planning your strategy for the year. Give your digital marketing plan a lot of thought, as this will guide all your campaigns and activities for the entire year.
Map Out Your Strategy in a Digital Marketing Calendar
A marketing calendar helps identify the messaging you’ll use and the digital channels for promoting that message. You regularly refer to it to keep your team on track with your goals, schedule, and budget.
How to create your digital marketing calendar:
- Identify the major seasonal events throughout the year (SuperBowl, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas, etc.) that will have an impact on your marketing strategy.
- Tailor your blog posts, emails, social media posts, or ads around those key events.
- Plot all your promotional campaigns and events in a blank 12-month calendar. Tools like Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, Evernote, and Trello are useful for planning marketing activities and tactics.
- Include the marketing cost for each item in the calendar.
- Assign team members to execute each task in the calendar.
- Revise and fine-tune your digital marketing calendar as necessary.
Always Monitor Your Progress and Results
Once your digital marketing strategy is good to go, make regular tracking of performance and results a part of your core activities.
Among the crucial metrics to measure are your average dwell time, video watch time, email click-through rate, and bounce rate. Ultimately, computing your ROI gives you a clear sense of whether or not you’ve earned a profit through your digital marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy not only has to provide clear directions to your team for what you want to accomplish but also keep up with the fast-paced, ever-changing digital world.
Be systematic and methodical in creating your digital marketing, but be flexible at the same time to allow for adjustments when the need arises.
After all, the success of your business depends on how well you’ve crafted and executed your strategy.
- How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy That Works - March 8, 2019
Venus Zoleta has been in the digital marketing industry for over 10 years. Her expertise is in content writing, editing, and management, with a background in SEO, journalism, and public relations.