Putting together a digital marketing strategy can be confusing. There are so many channels, tactics and people with different opinions on every aspect of marketing – that taking a step back to actually understand the objectives of any marketing campaigns you run, can seem pointless.
But it’s important that every business has a digital marketing strategy in place.
Without it you may find you are trying to come up with a marketing campaign that doesn’t drive results for your company, or you are posting on social media just for the sake of it. It could even be that you are investing in a website or marketing strategy or team – without really knowing what they are there to achieve.
In this blog, I’m going to talk you through some of the best tips for your online marketing and help you put together a marketing strategy document based on what your business wants to achieve.
This marketing approach will define how you can get in front of your target personas using online marketing campaign tactics like social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, PPC and paid social strategies to plan ahead and actually meet your digital marketing strategy goals.
Why is a digital marketing strategy important for your business?
First of all, let’s talk about why a digital marketing strategy is important for your business in the first place. A marketing strategy isn’t just something you write on the back of a fag packet. Digital marketing strategies need to be well thought out, expertly executed and measured consistently – otherwise you could fall into the trap of doing ‘stuff for the sake of it’.
According to Investopedia;
“A digital marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into buyers of their products or services. A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.”
There isn’t exactly any best practices when it comes to marketing strategy, but from that statement, we know that a marketing strategy is not a list of tactics to sell your product. It is instead, a way to show your loyal audience and prospects how your business, product or service, solves their problems and meets their goals.
Ultimatley, it is a way of communicating your business proposition to the end-user – and you can use a variety of marketing tactics to create a digital strategy that works for you.
So, below are my top tips for how to create a digital marketing strategy for your small business and most importantly, how to bring your marketing strategy to life.
Tips on creating a digital marketing strategy that works for you
You can use the below as tools to guide your success when it comes to a marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy needs to rely on more than just having websites with blog content on them – your site must have well-optimised landing page content to make sure your customers convert and take actions at every stage of their journey.
Below, are 8 tips for organising your marketing strategy to drive user actions and talk more directly to your customers through digital marketing.
What should a digital marketing plan include?
1. Decide on your goals
2. Get to know your target audience
3. Create a content marketing strategy
4. Identify the best tactics to reach your customers amplify your content
5. Website optimisation to increase website traffic
6. Digital marketing automation, platforms and tools
7. Well optimised landing pages
8. Measuring marketing strategies, metrics and performance indicators
1. Decide on your business goals (then on your marketing ones!)
I speak to so many businesses who haven’t quite conquered the digital marketing strategy mountain, but who already feel defeated because they have failed so much in the past. They have tried out a digital marketing campaign or two but never seen the results they wanted. Marketing strategies will never be a ‘one size fits all approach – so before you even start thinking about what you are going to do, and where you are going to do it, you need to think about what you want to achieve. That’s the point of a digital marketing strategy – it’s your guide to how your business reaches your customers.
Are you looking to raise your brand awareness? Increase your leads? Create a bigger sales pipeline? Grow your email subscribers? Whatever it is you need to make sure you decide on it and put a number next to it.
An example of a poor objective for your digital marketing strategy:
“Increase brand awareness for X product by 1000000%”
This objective is missing a few things:
- How to measure any digital marketing strategy. Are you measuring market share? Traffic? Leads?
- How you will grow brand awareness? What digital marketing tactics will you use? Social media marketing? Email marketing? PPC? SEO? Whatever digital marketing tactics you use – it needs to be in line with your goals.
- How much are you looking to grow brand awareness? 10%? 20%? 50%?
- What time period are you looking to achieve it in?
- Is it realistic? 1000000% might be a little on the unrealistic side…
I like to use SMART objectives to make any digital marketing strategies come to life and help businesses reach their target audience. Then we can go on to create a digital marketing strategy that works for your business.
A good example of a strong SMART objective for your business:
“Increase leads for X product in Q1 via expansion to LinkedIn Advertising”|
This is the bit most digital marketing strategies fail on. You need to be clear, customer focussed and make such you have tangible goals in place for any tactic so that you can reach your target audience.
2. Get to know your target audience
Before you start looking into any inbound marketing campaign – it’s important you understand who you are focussing your digital marketing efforts on, so that you can reach your marketing goals.
Your current customers are a great place to start. Think about:
- Asking them what they want in a product/service.
- What do they think of your company?
- How did they find your company?
- Why did they choose your company?
- What’s going on in their lives?
- What are their goals?
- What affects them?
- What do they care about?
- What don’t they care about?
- Where do they hang out?
- What offline and online marketing channels do they primarily use?
- How do they like to shop or compare services?
- What other services/products/businesses do they like and or use?
- Are they brand loyal?
The more you get to know your target audience and perfect customer and can build up an audience persona, the better customer experience you can provide, and the more effective your digital marketing plan will be.
Even better than thinking about the above, ask your customers what they like about your business and what they don’t. How do they shop, and all of the questions as above?
The worst thing we can do as marketers is to assume what our audience wants, so creating a brand and digital marketing strategy built on fact and not assumption is important.
Creating a Buyer Persona
I always recommend my clients create a ‘mind map’ of their customers or potential customers so that they can visualise it better. These buyer personas are great for wider business circulation and can help you make sure all your teams are on the same page in your company.
In a mind map I ask people what challenges their customers are facing, how their product or service helps solve that problem, and whatever else you can think that you’d like to know about your customers. Then, you can see what different audience groups have in common.
This is a key part of your digital marketing, as without it – you will struggle to solve your customer’s problem.
Once you have these buyer personas in place (there may be a few, but try to limit these to a maximum of 5 if possible) you can start to visualise this even further by actually putting together a framework to keep track of your audience.
Here is an example of buyer person best practices. A simple one-sheet description of who you are targeting and why you are targeting them. You can download this template too!
3. Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing can be used across so many channels – but it’s vital that before you think about your email marketing, your PPC, SEO or Social Media marketing – that you think about how your content marketing can aid your marketing campaigns.
The aim here is to try and test to help you create the best digital marketing campaign strategy for your company.
Content marketing refers to the creation of content across a broad spectrum. That means it can come in all shapes and sizes. Blogs, Press releases, Videos, Social graphics, even your website – you name it. It’s all content marketing. Regardless of channel, your content will drive your success to help you meet your goals.
Any content you weave into your digital marketing plan must tie back to two main steps.
- Your business objectives.
- Your customer’s problems.
Content creation for any campaign, or stand-alone can be super difficult to create. It takes up time, resource and understanding of how you can create content that packs a punch, and gets in front of your potential customer. It needs to drive action and be amplified by relevant channels – so how can you create content that does all that and more?
A content cascade is a great method to use to create content on a large scale, so that you can repurpose it in the future.
By starting off with a large piece of in depth content, that is data driven and discussed complex topics, you can extract key themes or ‘pillars’ to target specific sectors that your customer may be in.
This ‘Hero content’ is a large piece of content that may be a white paper or Ebook, but it could be done with a webinar or public speaking talk too. (I have done it and it works really well!)
Once you identify key topics to make into pillar content, you can start to shape your content cascade. You c an do this by deciding on the type of content you want to include, and what may be best suited to your audience.
Are they more likely to read an Ebook or article? Or are they more likely to watch a video? Ask yourself these questions and understand where you audience hangs out so this can have the maximum impact.
Then you can create smaller content, which again takes key bits of topical content and chunks it down into smaller pieces of content to amplify further using social media.
4. Identify the best channels to reach your customers and amplify your content
Tactics should never define your approach when it comes to a digital marketing or content strategy. Though channels are key to any marketing campaign, it’s more important you focus on the bigger picture when it comes to your plan.
Not every channel will be suitable for every business to get in front of their customers, but following this framework, you should have some idea of the most suitable channels and inbound tactics for your sector.
Digital Marketing Channels
Social Media Marketing
Using any social network or social media campaign, whether you focus on organic or paid will always have some part to play in a marketing strategy. It may be minimal if you are more B2B, or more extensive if you are B2C. Whatever your industry it’s important you use the right social media platforms at the right time in a customers journey.
Now I’m going to say this once. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. Having a social media presence that is suited to your business, has strong content and is in-depth is much more beneficial to you than trying to do everything across every tool and channel that exists.
Email marketing helps drive actions when your audience is already semi-aware of who you are. Email is one of the great tools that help you re-engage, and have a direct line of access to your customer.
Email is usually best used in line with other digital channels, but the general rule is that having someone’s email is one of the best ways to push a customer further down your marketing funnel.
Some of the best email campaign tools (that are also free!) are things like Mailchimp and campaign monitor. Hubspot is also a great option here as it can help you create a specific landing page on your website to help with your marketing plan funnel activity.
Many marketers are big believers in email marketing, and the more you integrate email campaigns into your marketing plan, the more engagement you will probably see, which will drive your online marketing efforts forward.
It’s all about the steps you take towards the content of your emails. Using content marketing to produce more content that works towards your digital marketing strategy goal will no doubt help get the attention of your audience and help you reach those important measures we will put in place for your overarching digital marketing strategy.
Paid Media Advertising could refer to getting your business to the top of a search engine ranking page by using search advertising, but can also refer to video, social media and native advertising.
Paid media, PPC and social media advertising can help you get in front of and market to new audiences and is a great way to hyper-target new prospects across Google, Microsoft/Bing, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, TikTok and hundreds of other marketing platforms.
But how you use this without blowing your whole budget is really important to think about. As part of your digital marketing strategy, you will probably have to invest some form of budget. Whether that be in the form of money or time. So starting small with paid advertising is the best way to start, and scale accordingly once you have a model that works.
PPC and paid advertising works best when its part of a wider digital marketing campaign and again can be used to amplify content, helping you reach your digital marketing goals quicker and more straightforwardly .
Search Engine Optimisation helps you get your company found across sERP’s like Google and Bing. Millions of people use Google every day to find the answer to their questions or find an international or small company to help with theirs needs. You must make it possible for any content you create to appear on a search engine.
SEO is important for every single website to think about as part of its online marketing strategy. Without it, your website will struggle to get found on SERP’s – so make sure you don’t neglect SEO on your website or as part of your marketing campaign strategy.
There are four things you must think about for making your website more search engine worthy and to help you reach your marketing goal:
Authority for your website is focused on building trust. Search engines like Google want to see how you provide value to anyone online, and how ‘trustworthy’ you are is based on a Domain Authority score.
This domain authority should be a key part of your website strategy, and without it, you will find competitors are ranking above your company on search engines.
Relevancy focuses on how relevant is your site content, to what a user may be searching for. As an example, you may be a business that sells scooters. So writing content that supports the key theme of your site and the overarching topic is really important.
You can create ‘topic clusters’ to increase how relevant you are in certain subjects, and search engines will start to see you contextualising the purpose of your site – giving you more and more traffic over time.
Something that is often thought about last is the journey the user or potential customer goes through to carry out an action on your site.
From June 2021, Google will be using user experience metrics (or core web vitals) as a ranking factor on Google SERP’s.
That means that more than ever, you need to think about the experience your users have on your site as part of your marketing strategy. Things like page speed, Cumulative Layout Shift, where CTA’s are placed – will all make your website marketing as successful as possible.
Finally, Technology is a key thing you must think about as part of your SEO marketing strategy. The technology of your website may vary from the CMS (Content management system it’s on), the category pages and page structure you have on-site, or even things like internal links, your sitemap and page speed etc. All of these things will benefit your marketing strategy hugely and will help with mini gains to propel you towards your business objectives
PR & link building
PR and Link building is another vital tactic for most marketing strategies and can work for international business to a small business. To an extent, it’s a core part of how you can build trust and build brand awareness at the same time – and any digital marketer will be able to help you work toward this goal with a PR campaign or link-building campaign that can drive your digital marketing campaign strategy performance.
A good digital PR campaign will be targeted at potential prospects, with the goal to do two things.
- To raise awareness of your companies across a variety of media outlets
- To create a scalable link building marketing strategy that will build up your domain authority score and online marketing profile.
5. Website optimisation
Making sure you have a well-optimised website for your companies is great asset for inbound digital marketing. Your website (or websites) should be one of the main tools you use in your strategy to reach your marketing goal.
If you only focus on creating a website for it to just exist, then you are putting a lot of time and effort (and probably money too) into something that won’t drive you any results. Instead, you need to look at how your website forms part of your digital marketing strategy and how it can work in favour of your business.
Many companies I speak to went through an expensive process of getting a new website, for them to not marketing it effectively. Whether that be because they didn’t spend the money they needed on it, or didn’t spent the time that was required, those companies then struggled to reach their marketing goal/s.
Website building takes time and it’s important that any companies looking into a new site take their time to build it inline with what their customers want from them.
6. Digital Marketing automation platforms and tools
I often get asked about the best tools to use as part of a wider strategy so that my clients can start to measure their marketing strategy effectively. Here are a list of my top 5 tools
Google is the king of the SERP’s, and when it comes to free tools – they have a few which I use daily as part of my own strategy and with clients.
- Google Data Studio helps you collate multiple tools together, to have one centralise reporting platform for your marketing strategy. It’s fully customisable and works with hundreds of tools and apps.
- Google Analytics is great to help you understand traffic, bounce rates and how people are finding your site. You should have this installed on your website at the bare minimum.
- Google Ads is another great tool, but this time it’s specifically for paid advertising. Google Ads helps you understand how any paid advertising activity fits into your strategy, and gives you a platform to control you ads, creatives and spending.
- Google Search Console is one of my favourite tools, and helps you understand some of the more technical elements to your site. This one is a vital part of understanding how people find your site, and if there are any issues with how Google is indexing your site and it’s pages.
- Google Tag Manager is the last on the list and this super helpful tool helps you install other tools and software on your website, without slowing it down with loads of extra code. Once you have these basics set up, you can start measuring your strategy to see what is effective and what needs to change for your needs.
SEMRush – SEO
SEMrush is an awesome tool that helps you with a complete overview of keywords. It allows you to see day by day updates of Keyword Rankings, Backlinks and even a health check of your site. It’s a must have tool for any digital marketing strategy.
AHRefs – SEO
AHRefs is another must have tool for understanding how your website is doing. It offers a health check which is free and can be linked to Google Search Console. This is called webmaster tools and if you haven’t already – sign up!
Lighthouse is a super easy tool to use to measure how fast your website is. Page speed is made up of so many different variables and it can be hard to get your head around. So use the Lighthouse Google Chrome Extension to see how your website is doing.
8. Measuring Strategy Success
Putting together a strategy report
One of the most important parts of a marketing strategy should be how you measure it. If you can’t measure it effectively, then i would argue you shouldn’t do it in the first place! Setting up a strategy report on Google Data Studio is a great way to set up measurement
Reviewing your strategy
Regularly reviewing your strategy at least a few times a year is key to making it consistently successful and to drive results all year round. A strategy you set now will not work in a few years, or in some fast moving B2B or B2C sectors, even a few months time.
Next steps for your digital marketing strategy
You have to bring it to life! A marketing strategy is nothing unless you circulate it and commit to carrying it out. Make sure you have some great people who really know their stuff when it comes to marketing who can help you with the tactical marketing that leads into your strategy.
Marketing strategies come in many shapes and sizes, so it’s important to understand what works for your business. Thought the above is just a guide for a digital marketing strategy, I have been involved with so many businesses from B2C and B2B, that I have seen the above as key elements to drive your marketing forward, and ultimately get you the results you need.
If you would like a free, no-obligation consultation, then please get in touch. I’d love to help with your marketing strategy and understand how you can get a bigger and more effective strategy output for a lower effort and cost.