Editor's Note: Originally published in 2021, this blog was updated and additional content was added in June 2022.
Whether you run an online or brick-and-mortar business, you need a digital marketing strategy. Without one, you're giving up on converting anyone who shops or looks for products or services online.
Keep reading to learn how to create the right digital marketing strategy for your business.
What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a formulated digital marketing plan that helps businesses gain organizational success. It focuses mainly on the digital world and the tactics needed to drive revenue for a business. Focusing on the digital world is essential, especially in the ever-changing world of technology. Creating a strategy helps your business allocate resources for its digital marketing and reach customers across all digital channels.
A digital marketing strategy goes beyond basic marketing. You need to look at all appropriate digital channels and means of advertising across these channels. Markets can include social media networks, digital ads through Youtube channels, SEO, etc. The aim is to use digital marketing to reach your target market and achieve your business goals.
Why Is a Digital Marketing Strategy Important?
Creating a digital strategy is essential for marketers. Digital marketing campaigns and strategies will help you take advantage of the digital opportunities available to grow your business and help you retain your existing customers or client base.
A digital marketing strategy will help your business to:
- Research and build your buyer personas. You'll be able to find out what your customers are searching for and what they are buying and attract leads.
- Identify your business and marketing goals and ensure that you use the digital marketing tools you need to reach your goals.
- Evaluate your digital channels and see whether you use your assets towards the proper marketing channels.
- Create a search engine optimization (SEO) audit and identify the tools you need for successful SEO.
- Ensure that your business monitors and reports on digital marketing campaign activity.
What Does A Digital Marketing Strategy Look Like?
A digital marketing strategy will look different for every business. The strategy for a business will depend on its specific goals. For example, are you a business-to-business channel (B2B) or a business-to-consumer channel (B2C)? You will have to assess which online channels you will need and what will be best for your business. Can your business goals be achieved through your online channels?
It's likely a B2B company won't need a channel such as a TikTok page that targets a younger demographic but rather targets businesses via LinkedIn or Facebook Business. Your business goals will therefore be better achieved by using these alternative online channels.
Most digital marketing strategies will have three important aspects: owned media channels, paid media channels, and earned media channels. Owned media will be any media that your business has under its control, such as your websites, blogs, or even your podcasts. It's all owned, controlled, and operated by you. Paid media is the content marketing that you will have to get from 3rd parties, such as paid social media ads and influencer marketing. Lastly, earned media is content that is exposure for your business. These will include testimonials and user-submitted reviews.
A digital marketing strategy will usually take a combination of these three elements to create a strategy that has multiple channels hence multiple chances of brand exposure and success for your business.
What Is The Difference Between A Marketing Strategy And A Marketing Campaign?
A marketing strategy especially focuses on your business goals concerning marketing and the steps needed to achieve these goals. These include specific marketing tactics and timelines that need to be created to achieve marketing goals.
Digital marketing campaigns involve the execution of these marketing goals. Without a proper digital marketing strategy, your digital marketing efforts about digital marketing campaigns will fail. Campaigns need a specific guideline and strategy to work, for example, a marketing strategy will direct campaigns towards the right digital channels, target audience, and other factors needed for effective marketing.
Steps to Create a Digital Marketing Plan
As mentioned, creating a digital marketing strategy can help you to grow your brand. Every strategy however starts with a plan. You need to explore different areas of your brand before mapping out a digital marketing strategy that works for you. Don't know where to start? Here are some tips to create a good digital marketing strategy for your business:
Know Your Ideal Customer
Before you can create the perfect digital marketing strategy, you need to learn about your ideal customer. Knowing who your customers are can help you target your marketing materials to certain groups. Elements to consider include:
- Family size
The better you understand who your ideal customer is, the easier it will be to create marketing content for them. For example, a cosmetics company for young adult women wouldn't want to use the same copy as a software company aimed at executive businessmen.
As you redefine your marketing plan, you need to make sure the new plan works with the customers you want to attract. That way, your marketing can lead to more conversions and sales.
Determine What Sets You Apart
Once you know who your ideal customer is, you should look at your competitors. Consider what they offer and how they market their businesses online. Think about what images or copy they use on their website or social media accounts.
Use the information you find to set your business apart. Perhaps you have a unique experience that your competitors lack. Or maybe your products are of better quality or are more affordable than the competition.
Customers will want to know what makes your business different before they buy from you. If you can include that information in your marketing materials, you can convince people to become your customers.
Set Trackable Goals
Next, you need to set some goals for your digital marketing campaign. Without goals, you won't be able to track the success of your strategy. Your goal needs to be specific and measurable so that you can tell if you're on track to reach it.
While the goal of increasing conversions is nice, it's not the most helpful. Instead, add some numbers to it. Your new goal might be to increase conversions by 20% by the end of the year.
Setting goals is great for marketing an eBook or another single product. However, you can also use goals to market your overall business. If you aren't ready to sell or launch something, your marketing goals can look different.
Instead, you may set goals to grow your following or website traffic by 20% within the next year. That way, you'll have an audience to sell to when you launch something.
Consider Your Current Strategy
If you're already doing some digital marketing, think about your current efforts. Look at the tools and platforms you use, your posting schedule, and the results you're getting.
Review the results you're getting and see how close they are to the results you want. If you aren't getting the traffic or sales you need, you'll know you need to change something.
On the other hand, if you're getting some results, you can use that. Then, you can figure out what is getting sales or conversions so that you can replicate them with your new digital marketing strategy.
In some cases, you can handle your digital marketing in-house, but outsourcing can be a great option. Working with an agency on your marketing is useful if you want to scale your marketing but can't afford to hire more full-time employees.
Another benefit of outsourcing is that you can hire experts. You can look for an agency that has experience in social media marketing, email marketing, and website content. That way, you won't have to worry about if you're following best practices for a specific platform.
If your digital marketing strategy will include your website, email, and social media, you may be able to handle it in-house. But hiring an agency with experts in those areas can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Outline Your Strategy
After you decide who will work on your digital marketing strategy, you need to figure out what that strategy will include. Your strategy can be as simple or complex as you want, and the things you cover may vary based on what your business currently needs.
A digital marketing strategy should include:
- Marketing platforms
- Goals and milestones
- Any other pertinent information
Outlining your strategy can help you and your marketing team know what to do and when. That way, you won't have any confusion during the campaign. An outline can also help a marketing agency because they can understand your plan better.
Next, you can start assigning roles and tasks to everyone on your team or working for the agency if you partner with one. If you have a digital marketing team, you may already know who will work on what.
For example, you may have a social media specialist to tackle your business Facebook and Instagram marketing. Your business might also have an email marketer or a website content manager to handle those elements.
If your marketing team doesn't have those specialties, you can assign people to different areas. Then, your employees will know what to work on, which means your team can avoid forgetting any important tasks.
Research and Select Tech Tools
Another crucial step in creating a digital marketing strategy is marketing tech (martech) tools. These tools and programs are what you will use to create content and publish your marketing campaigns. Examples of tools include:
- Website platform
- Social media networks
- Social media scheduling tool
- Email marketing software
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tool
- Project management and collaboration software
Consider how you can integrate these various tools to help with your digital marketing. For example, you may want to use a social media scheduling tool that works with all of your social platforms. Or you might select email marketing software that integrates with your website.
Set Up Your Marketing Funnel
If you haven't already, you should set up your marketing funnel. Without a funnel, you will have a much harder time turning followers and leads into customers.
A funnel usually starts with free content, such as on your website or social media. The content you post for free should lead into your paid product or service. Use that free content to build awareness and provide value.
For example, you can use your email list to provide a free download. The download can cover a bit about your paid offer. Then, you can use your email marketing to encourage people to convert to paying customers.
Create a Content Calendar
To help people enter and move through your marketing funnel, you should create and use a content calendar. Your content calendar should cover when you will post on your various social media networks, blog, and email newsletter. The calendar can also include what you will post and when.
As you create a content calendar, consider any upcoming sales or launches you have. Think about what content you can create that leads to that sale or launch.
Your content calendar is the perfect place to plan out how to build excitement for a new product. By posting relevant content before your launch, you can prepare your audience. Then, it will be easier to sell that product and increase conversions.
Develop and Publish Content
Use your content calendar to create your content and publish it. Your content is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy, and that includes content on your website, social media, and emails.
Make sure you publish content where your ideal customer can see it. For example, women make up the majority of Pinterest users, so it can be a great option for some companies. But if your ideal customers are male, you may want to focus on Facebook or Twitter.
Consider if there are any times where posting or sending an email is best. If your ideal customer works in the corporate world, you may want to avoid posting content between 9 am and 5 pm. However, a company that targets college students might want to post during the day.
Make the Content Enjoyable
When you post content, make sure it's enjoyable and easy to read. Your content can do a few things, such as:
Consider the purpose of each piece of content as you create and post it. If you want a post to lead to sales, include buying something like a call-to-action (CTA). A good CTA will tell visitors and followers what to do.
Make sure the CTA you use is relevant to the content. If you post about why you need to use Instagram, consider linking to an Instagram guide or your Instagram management service. That way, people will understand the connection and want to buy.
Focus on SEO
When creating content for your website, be sure to include search engine optimization (SEO) in your digital marketing strategy. SEO involves using keywords strategically to help boost your ranks in search engine results.
If you can rank well for keywords related to your business, you can attract your ideal customers organically. You can use a keyword research tool to find keywords in your niche that people are searching for.
Then, you can write blog posts or web pages using those keywords. When someone searches for a keyword you've used, your website might be one of the first results. SEO is a great way to attract visitors and transform your business. If someone likes your content, they may buy something or come back later to buy.
Running a digital marketing strategy manually can be nice for a while. However, automation can save you time and energy overall. Marketing automation involves software to help you execute your digital marketing strategy.
One of the best ways to start using automation is with your email marketing. When someone signs up for your email list, you can automatically send them a free download. Then, they can enter a sequence of emails to introduce them to your brand and business.
While you do have to spend time creating the automation upfront, that's all you need to do. After you set up the automation, they can run for you and work whenever you get a new email subscriber or customer.
Use A/B Testing
If you want to make sure your digital marketing strategy is as successful as possible, use A/B testing at the beginning. A/B testing involves running two very similar ads or emails and comparing the results they achieve.
When doing an A/B test, keep everything the same except for one thing. For example, you could run two ads with different images but the same ad copy. Or you can run two ads with the same image but a different copy.
Let the ads run for a few days to see which is more successful. Then, you can know which image or text your customers resonate with more for your future marketing campaigns.
Review Your Analytics
Looking at your analytics can be overwhelming, especially if you aren't good with numbers. But the numbers don't lie, so they're a great way to track the success of your digital marketing.
Now, you should give a new strategy time to work, so don't look at the analytics a day or two after you start something. However, look at your analytics after a month or so. See if your posts or emails are converting how you want them to.
If not, you can change something with your content, posting schedule, or something else. Then, you can, hopefully, get better results from your digital marketing strategy.
What Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Include?
Creating a digital marketing strategy involves a lot of planning, goal setting, and organization. But it is a vital component of success in the digital work because, without a strategy, you won't be able to track your marketing successes or determine where and how you can improve your efforts.
Before you create your next digital marketing strategy, consider how to do it. That way, you can make sure you'll be able to track your progress and ensure success.
Should I Hire a Digital Marketing Expert?
Hiring a professional might seem necessary in some cases, but it is not always feasible. Your digital marketing strategy is important for your business, and it is something that you should not neglect. However, sometimes you may not have the right resources or staff on hand for a digital marketing plan, and you will still face difficulties in formulating a strategy that works for your business. If this happens, you can lose money and time. Hiring a professional can help you to get back on track and help you to target your ideal customer to ensure your digital marketing efforts are worth every dollar you spend.
In some cases, hiring a digital marketing specialist permanently might be costly but take note that an expert will ensure that you make a profit in the long term. They will do this by ensuring the right digital channels are used and that your brand image and message are consistent throughout all marketing channels. Marketing experts also ensure that the latest trends and digital marketing tactics are used in all your marketing channels so that your business does not get left behind.
It is a worthwhile investment; however, if you can't hire permanent specialists, it may be helpful to outsource your digital marketing to a reputable team or company. The WSI team can help you to map out a plan that works specifically for your business and your budget. We have specialist marketing teams that keep up to date on the latest digital marketing tactics and research to ensure that your business is effectively promoted across your digital marketing channels.
If you're having trouble putting together a marketing strategy on your own and want to hire an expert team to help, contact us ASAP to get started!