Marketing strategy is a crucial component in any business, whether you are looking for increased revenues, higher market shares or even growth. In order to be successful, any action undertaken by a company should rely on a relevant, proper marketing strategy. And, considering the trends of the last few years, as well as the advancement of technology, it is only fair to say that a digital marketing strategy is today’s main focus for marketers and brands.
Although it is common knowledge that digital channels can attract more customers faster than traditional media, digital transformation is still a challenge for many companies trying to develop an integrated strategy and communicate with both existing and potential customers online.
A digital marketing strategy requires planning ahead, using SMART goals to gain market insights and a well defined direction. Tactics such as website design, SEO, paid ads, content marketing and social media marketing, all elements of a digital strategy, aim to keep your business or brand competitive no matter what vertical or field you operate in.
The vast majority of marketing channels can be grouped in three main buckets: paid, earned, and owned media. All channels are meant to help you achieve clear acquisition, conversion and retention goals for your business.
Here are the 5 pillars of building a successful digital strategy.
1. Identify Your Marketing Goals
Marketing goals are the foundational pillar of any digital marketing strategy. They must always mirror the primary goals of any business. For instance, if the objective is to obtain 20% higher online revenue, then the marketing strategy should aim at generating 50% more website content, compared to last year.
A good strategy will have SMART goals:
- Specific - decide the exact objective your business wants to achieve;
- Measurable - determine how to measure and know when the specific goals have been achieved;
- Attainable - choose realistic targets;
- Relevant - make sure it’s clear why the goals are important or applicable to the business;
- Time-Based - set up a time frame for reaching your goal.
A strong digital marketing strategy includes various techniques that provide support for the process. This includes determining, reviewing and supervising its performance throughout the entire range of digital activities. A model of marketing objectives set in the digital media is the so-called 5 Ss:
- Sell - use the biggest transactions as a starting point, if you already sale online. Otherwise, follow up on potential customers targeted by the digital campaign, so that they bring on more sales, or donations for non-profit organisations. Online sales can be boosted by creating a safe online purchase procedure and by offering incentives, like free delivery.
- Speak - digital media provides excellent communication channels for your target audience. Marketing campaign synergy and storytelling could be used to draw attention from the offline, conventional media to the online environment.
- Serve - customers will navigate to your website to find an answer to their questions, make complaints, ask for quotes, and even chat with a representative of the customer service department. Today, customers expectations are quite high, therefore setting specific objectives for customer satisfaction can only help with assessing this type of activity and upgrading it, if and when necessary.
- Save - online channels can really make a difference budget wise, saving money in two ways: they are cost effective and they reduce the need for or the quantity of printed media.
- Sizzle - this mark is all about creating and sustaining a brand online. It may be a great way to increase sales, but it is also challenging when it comes to establishing and following performance objectives. Create a memorable online experience for all your customers, so that they will not only come back to use your services again, but they would also share it with friends and family. In other words, central sizzle goals are client satisfaction, loyalty to the brand and advocacy.
For new businesses, but not only, identifying and setting the right goals can be challenging. Luckily, there are many expert digital marketing freelancers who specialize exactly in this: go to market strategies that include setting goals and building campaigns.
2. Build Buyer Personas
All marketing strategies, digital ones included, need a clear target audience and the most successful ones are based on detailed buyer personas. These are the expressions of the ideal customer, and can be built after extensive research and product-market fit. This could involve surveying or interviewing your target audience.
Ideally, the information gathered consists of real data, where possible, in order to avoid making educated guesses. In many cases, an educated guess could potentially derail a digital marketing strategy. Furthermore, the research pool should be quite assorted and incorporate not only existing clients, but also potential ones, people who can identify with your brand.
Another key factor in building buyer personas is the type of information gathered for a viable strategy. This depends from business to business, on brand and product particularities, as well as end users, product placement etc. Here are a couple of starting points that can be adjusted to any kind of business.
Quantitative and Demographic Information
- Location - identify the source of your website traffic, using web analysis tools.
- Age - if this is relevant to your business, consider collecting data from your clients’ database.
- Income - such sensible information is better gathered by conducting in-person interviews; most people are reluctant to provide personal details online.
- Job Title - mainly used by B2B companies, this sort of data can be usually extracted from the ordinary customer base.
Qualitative and Psychographic Information
- Goals - consider the need(s) your product or service addresses. Talking to real customers or customer service representatives can only validate those suppositions.
- Challenges - knowing the pain points of your target audience is crucial for presenting your service or product as the solution. Speak to your audience, sales reps and even customer oriented employees to identify these pain points.
- Hobbies/Interests - hobbies and interests of customers are helpful for certain companies, as they can be the foundation of partnerships.
- Priorities - discuss with your customers, as well as to targeted clients, about what they value the most with respect to your brand. It will give you the necessary information to prioritize your products and services in order to increase customer satisfaction.
By mixing some or all of the elements mentioned above, every business should be able to build their own useful buyer personas.
3. Evaluate & Decide Your Digital Channels
Deciding a digital marketing strategy could be an extensive, sometimes confusing process, which is why you need to keep an eye on the whole picture. Evaluating the array of digital channels and deciding which ones are best for your brand, or what the marketing mix will be, are crucial steps. The standard framework includes Owned, Earned and Paid Media Structure.
- Owned Media: This group consists of digital resources a brand owns and can therefore easily control: official websites, imagery, social media profiles or blog content. Off-site content, published on other websites, is considered owned media too.
- Earned Media: This asset is a direct result of all the exposure a brand enjoys. It may consist of social media (when users post about your product or service), PR work, customer experience a company provides and even content hosted on different websites as guest posts. Positive reviews of your product or service, press coverage or brand information spread on social media can also count as earned media.
- Paid Media: Any channel or asset purchased with the purpose of catching the eye of the target audience and increasing brand visibility is called paid media. Google AdWords, paid social media posts, display ads on other websites, and every channel a company pays for are examples of paid media.
Use the owned, earned, and paid media framework to arrange the digital channels you already have set in place in an efficient way. This will help identify what works and what doesn’t, as well as help choose which one(s) to integrate into your future strategy. Our digital marketing freelancers have great experience and expertise in building such frameworks and setting brands up for success.
4. Identify Marketing Tools
Digital marketing tools provide the ideal support in implementing proper strategies and with the latest technologies in place, they can give any business a head start in the field.
While several such tools cover basic needs - email marketing, online forms, analytics or CRM, for instance - certain tools have a more specific, detailed approach, like design platforms or keyword rank trackers.
HubSpot incorporates a number of marketing tools that can develop any business, regardless of its state. First, there are free resources - web slips, popup forms, online chat and even email campaigns. All the collected data can be transferred directly into an available CRM and further analyzed to identify visitors' behavior.
Second, there is an entire new world of refined, modern and automatized services once you access the paid level. HubSpot offers a lot of options, some of which include content and social media management, email tracking or connecting to leads.
Moreover, this tool can help with traffic growth, an increased ROI of marketing campaigns, higher closing rates for sales and it has a real potential of turning leads into loyal customers. It also operates quite nicely with alternative point solutions (Typeform or HotJar).
A complete SEO tool, Ahrefs is designed to boost your website traffic. Its software comprises approximately 150 million keywords in the U.S., and far more for 150 other countries around the world.
Ahrefs’ particularity is the exhaustive analysis of your competition, which supplies plenty of information regarding their content ranks, top pages or who checks their sites. The Content Gap tool highlights the main weak points of your content, whereas Top Pages reveals the pages with the most traffic, even for the competitors’ websites.
3. Google Tools
- Google AdWords - one of the most popular choices for business advertisement on result pages for Google searches. It introduced the Google Keyword Planner, which can be used for an optimised selection of keywords that appear in ads or other content. The payment system allows two methods: pay-per-click or pay-per-call. It also allows advertisers to set a daily limit and a campaign budget. It’s a great tool to get more leads to your website.
- Google Analytics - the standard service for website analytics and the basic level of expertise for any digital marketer. It shows details of a website’s visitors and the most visited pages. Based on that, you can track conversions and events or start an ecommerce operation. Google analytics is used daily by all types of businesses.
MailChimp’s main goal is to manage marketing campaigns as automatically as possible, through emails and social media advertising. Its strengths are tracking and communications. Businesses can track the traffic generated by their campaigns, but they can also communicate with the target audience through automation. Another great advantage is that it can be integrated with other tools and software so that it supports an entire digital marketing strategy.
5. Plan Your Campaigns
Owned media usually takes center stage in digital marketing. And the reason for this is that almost all messages released by a brand come in the form of content, from the homepage of a website to blogs, product presentations and even podcasts or social media posts.
Content has been proven to turn online visitors into leads and eventually real customers, thus increasing a brand’s online presence. A search engine optimized (SEO) content is also able to enhance organic search traffic. In the end, no matter what digital marketing strategy you decide on, owned content will surely be a part of it.
Still, you need to plan your content in order to achieve the goals you’ve set and most likely organize it in different campaigns. This is especially applicable to brands and businesses that experience seasonality. A good place to start is with an audit, where you analyze the existing content, check for gaps and then build your plan for new, improved content. Our SEO experts can help design a content strategy and content calendar that supports audience growth and improved conversion.
Comparing former earned media with present marketing objectives is a great way to set priorities for future strategies. The easiest way might be to rate each earned media tool from most to least productive.
No matter how small the media source is, like an article that leads more traffic to your website than expected or an Instagram post that increases engagement, the important thing is to be able to determine, using historical data, the type of earned media channel that will help you achieve your goals. However, you should never be afraid to add new earned media tools in your portfolio.
Similar to the other media channels, paid media needs to start with an audit, unless you’re starting from scratch. This way, you can identify if previous campaigns met their targets, what has worked or what hasn’t. The results from all digital platforms should be compared to the budget invested in them, to see if it’s better to change your approach or to lose some platforms altogether and start searching for new, more promising ones.
Building a media plan, structuring a paid search campaign or a paid social strategy are all tactics that our paid media experts can help with. These can be either project-based for moments of peak business - such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday - or longer-term support to establish dominance in the market.