How to create a digital marketing strategy in 13 easy steps
Digital marketing is one of the most powerful tools that we have available in the modern business world, in part because it’s inherently measurable and allows us to tap into the huge amounts of data that digital platforms are able to gather and make available.
The stats also back this up, showing just how powerful digital marketing can be. For example, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. E-commerce companies in particular can benefit from digital marketing.
Customers who receive multiple abandoned shopping cart emails are 2.4 times more likely to complete their purchase than those who only receive one – and they’re much more likely to finish their purchase than those who receive nothing at all.
The challenge is that knowing that something is a good idea is very different to being able to actually do it. That’s why in today’s article, we’re going to take a look at what you need to know if you want to create a digital marketing strategy.
What is Digital Marketing?
Before we delve a little deeper into creating a digital marketing strategy, let’s have a quick recap of what digital marketing actually is.
Put simply, digital marketing is the process of using digital technologies and in particular the internet to sell your product or service. Common subcategories of digital marketing include social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing and pay-per-click (PPC).
As previously mentioned, one of the main benefits to digital marketing is that everything is so measurable. You can see exactly how many people have visited one of your web pages and know the exact actions that they took as a result of it. Compare that to offline marketing, like a billboard, where you have no way of knowing how many people saw it or whether it actually encouraged them to make a purchase.
“A sufficiently advanced strategy is a powerful tool in the hands of a marketer. Just like how a magician makes a deft use of his magic wand.” – Hecate Strategy
What Does a Digital Marketing Agency Do?
Different digital marketing agencies fulfil different roles. In some cases, they’ll take on the job of developing your strategy before handing it over to you so that you can carry it out yourself. Other agencies will work with you on a retainer basis to help you to deploy your digital marketing campaigns over time.
On top of that, different agencies specialise in different areas. Because there are so many different moving parts and so many areas that need covering, even the more generic digital marketing agencies need to hire specialists who can cover the different subject matters.
The good news is that with so many different types of digital marketing agency, you’re sure to be able to find the right agency for you, whether that’s to create content, work on your strategy or just to take on any of the jobs that you don’t have time to do.
“This one step – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.” – Scott Reed
13 Easy Steps to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy in 13 Easy Steps
1. Set a goal
The first and most important thing for you to think about is what your goal is. Different people turn to digital marketing for different reasons. For example, some brands focus on raising awareness, while others turn to digital marketing for direct sales.
Knowing your goal is vital if you hope to be successful because it will define everything that you do. All of your digital marketing activities need to be checked against your goal to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction.
Without setting your goal (and sticking to it), you can’t carry out an effective marketing campaign. It’s as simple as that.
61% of marketers ranked improving the ability to measure and analyse marketing impact as a priority.
2. Decide how to measure it
Now that you’ve set your goal, it’s time for you to figure out how best to measure it. The fact that digital marketing is so inherently measurable is a double-edged sword, because while it means that we can easily measure any goal that we put our minds to, it can also be easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of choice.
When measuring your goals, you’ll need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the metrics that you’ll focus on to determine whether you’re achieving the goals that you set out for yourself.
It’s also a good idea to take some benchmark measurements. To do this, you need to figure out what KPIs you’re going to measure and then establish what those metrics look like before you carry out any marketing activity. That way, you’ll be able to see exactly what impact your marketing efforts have on your KPIs.
“One of the most common reasons for a product failure is poor audience research.” – Pooja Agnihotri
3. Identify your target audience
The next step is for you to determine who you want to reach. This is important because it will make a big difference to the messaging that you use and the digital marketing outlets that you turn to.
For example, TikTok is super popular amongst teenagers and people in their twenties, but if you’re trying to sell to retirees then it would make more sense to focus on a platform like Facebook. We’re going to take a closer look at this later on.
Marketing is all about reaching the right person in the right place with the right message at the right time. Identifying your target audience will help you to tick off that first criterion, and it will also determine your responses to the others.
4. Use pain points to develop your messaging
Pain points are a commonly used concept in marketing in which we hone in on a challenge that potential customers are facing and identify the ways that our product or service can help them to cope with it.
For example, a marketing agency might target clients whose pain points are the challenge of finding new clients and making more revenue out of existing ones. A personal trainer might target people whose pain points are that they’re struggling to lose weight.
Once you’ve identified your pain points, you’ll be able to develop marketing messages that cater to those pain points and explain how your company can help. To re-use the previous examples, the marketing agency might use messaging like “grow your business to double its revenue with our proven lead generation services”.
5. Decide which channels to use
We’ve now identified the right people and the right message, so the next step is to find the right place. This builds on from what we were talking about earlier about using TikTok to target young adults and Facebook to reach out to OAPs.
Your choice of which channels to use will be determined by the kinds of people that you’re hoping to reach. You’re also going to want to diversify your channels, starting with just one or two and building out to cover others so that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.
Common digital marketing channels include the various social networking sites, a company blog/website and an email list. However, don’t make the mistake of only thinking about digital technologies. There can still be a place for old school direct mail and print advertisements, but only when it makes sense for your target audience and their communication preferences.
6. Set a schedule
We’ve got the right people, the right place and the right message, so now it’s all about the timing. This can be a challenge to get right, because different people are active at different times. For example, office workers might respond best if you reach out to them during the commute or on their lunch break, while it might be easier to reach out to parents after the kids have gone to sleep.
You’ll also need to think geographically. If you’re targeting a global audience, you can do a pretty good job of catching everyone by posting in the morning in US time, because that translates to the afternoon in the UK and the evening in Australia.
When setting a schedule, remember that consistency is more important than regularity. In other words, it’s better to post once a week every week than it is to try to post five times a week and to give up after a couple of weeks.
93% of brands have acquired a new customer through video content digital advertising.
7. Use paid media to amplify your reach
Even though social networking sites are free to use, if you want to be successful then it helps to use paid media to boost your reach. No matter how good your content is, you’re only going to be able to reach a certain number of people organically.
Using paid media via promoted posts on social networking sites is like applying gasoline to an open flame. It helps you to take the great work that you’re doing and to get more out of it by reaching as many relevant people as possible.
Most social networking sites also provide advanced targeting tools so you can ensure that you’re not spending money on people who are never going to be a customer. You can also apply spending caps to make sure that you don’t blow your entire budget in the first day.
A case study by Monetate found that 4.24% of email marketing traffic makes a purchase, compared to 2.49% of search engine traffic and 0.59% of social media traffic.
8. Build an email list
Building an email list is a good idea because it’s an asset that you own. When you establish a presence on a social networking site like Facebook, you’re essentially at their whim. If Mark Zuckerberg decides to shut it down tomorrow, you’re out of luck.
In contrast, as an owned asset, you own your email list and can easily take it from one email provider to another. You can also carry out advanced techniques like segmenting your list, running A/B tests on subject lines and content and setting up automated email campaigns.
Just bear in mind that email marketing requires people to opt in, and so you can’t just add people to your list without their express permission. It’s also a bad idea to purchase email lists from other providers, even when all of the regulatory privacy requirements have been adhered to.
Nearly 90% of agencies say that their marketing automation strategy is successful.
9. Set up automation
Automation is a digital marketer’s best friend, because it essentially allows you to “set it and forget it”. Once you’ve set up automation, it will continue to run for you in the background, delivering results long after you first implement it.
Another great thing about automation is that it can be rolled out across a range of different disciplines. You can automate everything from emails to social networking, A/B tests and your digital advertising.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just set it and forget it, though. You’ll still want to occasionally revisit your automation and make sure that it’s still set up the way you want to, and you may also want to test it on an ongoing basis to make further improvements.
The influencer marketing industry is set to reach $16.4 billion in 2022.
10. Identify and work with influencers
Working with influencers is great because it allows you to tap into the audiences that they’ve established without forcing you to invest the huge amount of time and money it takes to build a community of your own.
The important thing to remember here is that every industry has its influencers, no matter how niche or obscure the industry might be. As well as the obvious international celebrity influencers like Rihanna and the Kardashians, there are also micro-influencers such as book bloggers or people who write about accountancy.
Your job is to identify the influencers in your industry and to reach out to them. You’ll want to build relationships with them so that you can work with them on an ongoing basis, instead of just trying to spam them into promoting your products or services.
93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands.
11. Encourage user-generated content (UGC)
User-generated content is the marketer’s secret weapon. The idea is to encourage your social media followers to create content about your brand that you can then share from your own profiles.
This has a number of benefits, perhaps the most obvious of which is that it doesn’t have to cost you any money. For example, many brands shy away from creating video content because it can be expensive to shoot and edit it. If someone films something on their smartphone and shares it with you, you don’t need to worry about blowing your budget.
And there’s another huge benefit to user-generated content, which is that it taps into the phenomenon of social proof. Social proof is the phenomenon by which we turn to our friends and family for product recommendations, and user-generated content is one of the best ways there is to put that to work for you.
“It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.”
– Anna Wintour
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12. Tap into trends, current events and awareness days
One great way to boost your messages and to get the word out about your company and its products is to tap into current trends. We’ve seen this happen time and time again, such as back in the day when every brand under the sun was doing the Harlem Shake.
Tapping into trends and current events helps to make your brand seem relevant and up-to-date, and it also allows you to tap into the conversations that are taking place around those trends and events. It gives you something to talk about when you’re short on content ideas.
Another option is to participate in national awareness days. There are days for almost everything, from “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to Black History Month. They range from being a little bit of fun to a great way to take a stand about an important social cause.
13. Evaluate your performance
Now that we’ve covered the steps you’ll need to follow to create and deploy an effective digital marketing campaign, the next step is for you to keep an eye on your performance and to use what you learn to make changes.
This will be where those measurements that you established earlier will start to become worth their weight in gold. This is especially true if you remembered to take benchmarks so that you can see exactly how your marketing campaigns have performed and whether they’re pushing you in the right direction.
Of course, simply checking the metrics only covers part of the story. The next step is to take what you learn and to use it to improve your digital marketing campaigns. The idea is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, ramping up your spend on any aspect that’s delivering a positive return on investment.
Believe it or not, creating a digital marketing strategy is the easy part. The hard part is then executing that strategy and honing it until you start to see results. It can be time-consuming and resource-intensive and will require a large amount of expertise, which you might not necessarily have in-house.
That’s where marketing agencies come in. They can help you with everything from identifying and implementing your strategy to creating the content that you’re going to need to keep your online and offline marketing campaigns ticking over.
The good news is that if you’re on the lookout for a marketing agency, we can help. Check out our agency listings to find out more about how a marketing broker can help you, or follow us on social media to stay updated when we post new articles.