It’s impossible to avoid the term “digital marketing strategy” these days. If you’re in business, you probably hear and see it everywhere, from online entrepreneurship blogs to business networking groups.
You’ve been told you need one if you want to succeed in business, but like many things related to marketing and public relations, if you’re not actually in the industry, it might be a little bit of a mystery. If you’re one of the people who knows you need to create a digital marketing strategy and implement it but have no clue where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a blueprint for a wide variety of tasks and actions that companies (and sometimes the professionals they hire), take online to increase their digital footprint, attract more visitors to their websites, social media channels and blogs, and convert them into customers.
A digital marketing strategy will consider the marketing budget available, the goals that you want to achieve, your target audience, and many other factors, and create a “recipe” for success.
The same way you wouldn’t undertake a construction project without a plan, or introduce new product lines without some market research, your digital marketing strategy gives you detailed, repeatable and measurable steps to reach your business marketing goals.
When you go about creating a digital marketing plan, you formalise what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, how frequently you plan to do it, and what your desired results are.
Why Is a Digital Marketing Strategy Necessary?
The simple truth is that customers across all industries, everywhere in the world, make purchasing decisions based on online research. In fact, some studies report that nearly 90% of buying decisions today start online.
From choosing a restaurant to buying a car, customers in the B2C and B2B markets are doing the bulk of their information gathering online. Chances are, when you want to make any purchase, whether it’s a new refrigerator or a flight to a far flung destination, you’re making your choice online, and probably even placing an order at the same time.
So, where a billboard, radio ad and yellow pages listing might have been enough in the past, if you’re not online, and significantly engaged with your target audience, you’re losing out on all of those sales, and if your competitors are doing those things, you’re losing to them. If you’re not intercepting your customers where they are shopping – on the internet – you’re losing business.
If you approach anything in business with a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” mentality, chances are you’re going to waste a lot of time and money, and not get the results you’d hoped for, which is why you can’t just dive right in and get started. You have to do some planning first!
How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan
The good news is that while a digital marketing plan or strategy might sound like a daunting proposition, it’s actually easier than you think to get started.
Like most business strategies, digital marketing strategy also isn’t set in stone. It will change and evolve over time, as you discover what works and what is less effective. Here are some of the major steps involved:
1. Define Your Target Audience
What used to be known as a target audience or target market, in the age of all things digital, is now known as a buyer persona.
While they’re certainly very detailed, and help you to create a targeted marketing plan, the broad strokes haven’t changed too much. Buyer personas help you to define your ideal customer or customers and are the foundation that everything else is built on.
2. Choose Your Marketing Channels
Digital marketing is a catch-all term for dozens of marketing activities, from downloadable content to social media, online press releases, content marketing, and videos to SEO, PPC and all sorts of other acronyms!
But the truth is, no one (except massive multinationals) could possibly cover all of those channels. At least, not very effectively. So, a good digital marketing strategy will use the buyer persona profile to determine which channels are the most likely to succeed and direct the focus of attention on those.
A good mix of marketing channels will engage with your target customers, catch them at the beginning, middle and end of the buying process, and turn website visitors into paying clients.
3. Tasks and Activities
Once you know which channels you are going to focus your digital marketing efforts on, the next step is to determine what tasks and activities you are going to focus on, how often you are going to do them, and what tools and techniques you plan to use. For instance, you might:
- Decide on a blogging strategy and design a content calendar that sets out which keywords and phrases you will target, what topics you will cover, and how often you will blog.
- Create a list of customers, and a subscription option on your website, and design and send regular email marketing campaigns.
- Get active on social media, engage with fans and connections, and build relationships with your customer base.
- Explore search engine marketing opportunities, take advantage of free options like business listings, and consider paid advertising options, like AdWords.
- Create downloadable content that your target market wants and use it to generate leads on your website. Free downloads that require an email address are one of the oldest and most effective digital marketing tools!
Whatever your tasks and activities lists do include, it’s important to remember that digital marketing success is based on quality, consistency and frequency. You need to commit to doing these things regularly if you want to see benefits.
You can also use automation tools like auto publish features on your website, or Hootsuite for social media management, to do some of the work for you.
4. Measure and Track Results
As with any business activity, the process doesn’t end when you do the things you planned to do. The last step in the process is to measure and track results.
There are many tools that can help you do this, from Google Analytics and Search Console to paid products.
Whatever you use, you will want to look at how effective your strategy is, whether you’re getting high traffic and high conversions, or whether there’s anything that’s not working. Keep tweaking the plan until you get the results you want!
With so many options out there, there’s always something new you can try to improve your digital marketing results, but since everything is measurable, and the ROI on digital marketing spending blows traditional methods completely out of the water, there’s no denying that it’s the most effective marketing option today, bar none.
There are many ways you could get started in online marketing.
You could read free resources on sites like this, or sites like HubSpot, Copy Blogger or the Content Marketing Institute. They all offer free information, as well as resources like content calendar templates, digital marketing strategy templates and more.
Of course, learning anything new can take time, and online marketing is no different, so if you need to hit the ground running fast, you might want to hire a professional to get you started quickly, and on the right track. There’s a fairly steep learning curve to digital marketing when you first get started, and it can take time before you understand the terminology and basic ideas enough to create and implement your own plan.
Polkadot Communications offers a wide range of these types of services to businesses looking to start digital marketing or improve their online presence. We’re always happy to discuss your needs and options.
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