“Those who fail to plan are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
The importance of a digital marketing strategy cannot be overstated. Without a clear direction of where you are going, it is difficult to achieve your KPIs. Promoting your business online literally gives you access to millions of potential customers. However, considering the sheer amount of online businesses out there, you need a clear plan and structure in place to stand out from the crowd.
According to statistics by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 60% of the most successful businesses have a documented content strategy.
This is why you need a digital marketing strategy that positions you as a leader in your field. This blog will highlight the benefits of a digital marketing strategy and give you tips on how you can create a strategy that helps you to achieve your business goals.
“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart” – Joe Chernov
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that helps your business achieve specific digital goals through carefully selected online marketing channels such as paid, earned, and owned media.
Regardless of the specific objectives of the company, the common goal of businesses and marketing teams is to attract and convert customers and clients.
“Don’t push people to where you want them to be, move them to where they are” – Meghan Anderson
A digital marketing asset is anything used by an organization to promote its products, services, or brand online. Here are a few common examples:
“Tactics without strategy is the noise of defeat” – Sun Tzu
A digital marketing strategy can make the difference between business success and failure.
In order to understand your target audience, and achieve your goals, it is essential to plan ahead and ensure that everyone in your business is on the same page when it comes to promoting your products and services.
A documented content marketing strategy can help businesses to achieve their goals, as it sets expectations for what teams should prioritize. Yet, only 38% of B2C businesses reported having one, while 18% of the least successful B2C companies had a strategy.
The results are clear: those who fail to set up a strategy are less likely to succeed with their campaigns. But this is not the only reason why you need a digital marketing strategy.
Here are some of the other reasons a digital marketing strategy is important for your business:
Companies without a digital marketing strategy often lack strategic goals and as a result, the marketing campaign is often unstructured and inconsistent. This makes it difficult to allocate enough resources to individual marketing campaigns and makes it harder to gain the results you want and to track the success of your marketing.
Setting out your digital marketing strategy in advance helps to ensure your communications, messaging and branding are consistent across different platforms.
In order to establish and maintain a brand identity that your target audience will recognize and remember, your outreach needs to be uniform in order to avoid confusion.
A digital marketing strategy makes it easier to check that all of your marketing collateral and branding represents your company in the best possible way and is consistent across the board.
Creating a digital marketing strategy usually involves putting together comprehensive audience personas. A persona is a detailed, fictional description of someone who represents your target audience.
The aim of these personas is to build a detailed picture of your prospective customers to make it easier to connect with them.
Although you can’t get to know all of your target audience individually, you can create a digital model that keeps you focussed on addressing customer priorities.
By developing an understanding of your customer’s wants, needs and interests, it will be easier to produce content that they will resonate with.
Creating a buyer persona is one of the first and most important components of developing a digital marketing strategy. In order for any marketing campaign or outreach to be successful, it is essential to develop a persona as part of a digital marketing plan.
Failing to do this market research beforehand can waste time and resources. According to a whitepaper published by Proxima $37 billion (£27.28 billion) is wasted in ad spend every year from ads that fail to engage the target audience. Digital marketing strategies are built around the audience persona, which will help you to ensure your campaign remains relevant and successful.
A digital marketing strategy, when done correctly, increases brand awareness and creates advocates for your enterprise. Communicating your unique company voice and story helps to raise awareness of your business and improve your visibility.
The way you do that is by setting out a digital marketing strategy to increase the effectiveness of any branding that you do. Posting helpful content and promoting your business to online platforms and media publications on a regular basis, ensures that your enterprise will be recognised and appreciated by your customers who may then refer other people they know to engage with your company.
Every business wants to attract customers. Marketing can certainly help with that goal. The problem is, not all leads are right for your business. When you advertise through traditional channels such as billboards, newspapers and television, you have little control over who will see the ad and when.
However, digital marketing helps to ensure you only identify and target the customers that are likely to purchase from your business, by selecting the channels they engage with and developing personalized, high-converting material that grabs their attention.
For example, you may create Google ads that target people who type in a specific keyword or phrase. Or perhaps you create a series of Facebook ads that can target people based upon marital status, interests, personality traits, age, et cetera.
In a nutshell, another reason why you need a digital marketing strategy is that it allows you to identify your prospective customers, create personas and target people based upon the criteria you outline.
Digital marketing ads are generally much more cost-effective than traditional advertising.
The cost of a TV ad depends upon a number of variables, but can cost anywhere from £10,000 to £250,000 for a slot on the big screen.
However, you can get started with a Facebook ad with just £10 and it will get shown to thousands of people that are in your target demographic.
Most online ads are cost per click ads, which means that you will only pay when someone clicks on your ads. This works differently from traditional advertising which has no way to determine who has purchased your products after seeing the ad.
Therefore another reason why digital ads are more affordable is that it is much easier to track how effective your ads are.
Without a clear strategy, it is difficult to figure out and highlight your unique value proposition. Having a well-thought out marketing strategy can help you to ensure that your value is communicated effectively throughout your campaigns.
Having a clear strategy before you start your marketing campaign avoids wasting time. It reduces the likelihood of producing duplicate content or having different parts of the marketing department use different tools or agencies to achieve the same objectives. A digital marketing strategy gives everyone at your company one source of truth to work from.
Ultimately, without a strategy, you could easily underestimate the demand for your products and services. Moreover, it’s likely that you won’t fully understand the dynamics of the online marketplace, including customer behaviours, competitors, and customer profiles without researching and planning ahead first
Creating a digital marketing strategy allows you to reach a global audience in a way that’s cost-effective, scalable and measurable.
According to HubSpot, 78% of internet users conduct product research online. That means that having a well-planned online strategy gives you significant access to leads that you may otherwise have missed out on.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell” – Seth Godin
So far we have discussed the reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy. In this section, we look at what questions you should answer as part of your strategy.
Any marketing plan you create must include the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why). Let’s look at this in more detail:
You must understand who your target audience is. It is likely you already have an idea of who your prospective customers are. Perhaps you see them on a daily basis. But as we’ve discussed above, it is essential to understand exactly what motivates them to purchase from businesses like yours and where you can find them. Once you understand this, you give your digital marketing strategy the power it needs to generate leads successfully.
Creating personas and doing a little market research is one of the first steps that you should take when creating targeted marketing campaigns because it will give you the insights you need to ensure that your entire digital marketing strategy will help you to achieve your objectives.
The ‘What’ is essentially your content and the components of your campaign. Once you have decided who your campaign is aimed at, the next step is to decide what your campaign will consist of. This could include text, images, videos, emails, texts and other marketing collateral that will communicate your messaging.
It may also involve the creation of a content calendar and budget that outlines exactly when you will run your campaign and how much it will cost.
The ‘where’ refers to where you decide to publish your content. For example, this could be on social media platforms such as Facebook, or Linkedin. Alternativerly, you may decide to publish your content via email marketing, websites or third party publications. It could also refer to which device you decide to focus your marketing activities around, namely desktop, tablet or mobile.
Where you decide to publish your content should not be random. In-depth research of your target audience should give you insights as to what platforms they hang out on. For example, if you are marketing to a younger audience, then Instagram and Tik Tok may be one of the best platforms to target. On the other hand, if you were targeting business professionals, then platforms such as Linkedin may be your best bet.
Another insight that audience research should give you is when your audience is online. For example, Facebook Audience Insights shows you when your audience engages with your content and which days and times you received the vast majority of views.
Other social media platforms, and email marketing providers have similar insights tools that give you clues as to when the majority of your audience are more likely to engage with your content.
The other thing to factor in are major holidays, seasons and time of the year which may be relevant to your product or service. For example, if you are a gift card company, then you should definitely factor in holidays such as Valentine’s, Halloween, Christmas and other holidays.
Knowing the ‘why’ behind everything you do in a digital marketing campaign is the key to your success. You must understand exactly why you need a digital marketing strategy and what you will include within it. You should also know why you are deciding to publish the content that you have created and why you are publishing it at the time that you are. More importantly, you should know why your audience purchases the products and services that you offer and why they are the best people to connect with in the first place. This is why in-depth market research is so essential.
Market research is behind all of the five W’s. In order to get the answers you need to factor in all of the major points above, it is essential that you have done all of your homework on who you are targeting and why.
Even if you don’t plan to advertise on social media, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Tik Tok have a vast reservoir of resources that can help you gain demographic information. You can also gain valuable insights from conducting online surveys, email marketing insights, and free tools such as Google Analytics, and Search Console.
Additionally, you may want to look at SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEM Rush and Keywords Everywhere to gain an idea of the kind of searches that your potential prospects are typing into Google.
“A bad craftsman blames his tools”….Daphne du Maurier
Once you have defined your target audience, the next step is to decide what channels you will publish your content on. The most popular online choices are on your website, social media, email marketing, Google ads and third party websites.
How you decide to promote your products and services depends very much upon who it is you are targeting. Below, we take a look at how the following digital marketing assets may appeal to different audiences.
Your website is the front page of your business. Even if you have a bricks and mortar store, it is still important to have an online presence because the majority of your audience regularly shop online.
Official figures published by Statista showed that more than 80 percent of consumers across the globe shopped online. Regardless of who your target audience are, having a website is essential in the digital age.
Additional figures published by Oblero showed that more than one out of every four people shop online, while in 2021, there were 900 million more digital buyers than there were in 2020, which represents a 4.4 percent year-over-year increase.
Therefore, if you don’t have a website, you are missing out on a huge chunk of the consumer market. Publishing regular content on your website using carefully researched keywords can also help to boost your SEO.
Some social media websites are aimed at a younger audience, while others are aimed at an older crowd. So if you are trying to reach out to college students, then Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you are attempting to reach out to a professional, business-focussed audience, then consider using a social networking site such as Linkedin. On the other hand, Facebook is a popular social networking platform for those connecting with consumer audiences of all ages, while Twitter is more effective to those giving social or political commentary.
Regardless of the platform, social networking tools give you access to people on a scale never seen before.
Figures published by Statista showed that the number of people across the world using social platforms is expected to reach some 3.43 billion monthly active social media users by 2023, around a third of the Earth’s entire population.
The social media site you choose should also depend upon the type of content you wish to publish. YouTube and Tik Tok are the biggest video streaming websites, while Twitter works best with shorter, text or image based content, particularly gifs, while memes and general multimedia content are all the rage on Facebook.
If you already have a list of customer emails or prospective customer emails, then email marketing is a great way to keep your target audience updated with news and offers. If they are existing customers, then they are warm leads, which means they have already built up trust with your company.
The more they learn about your business, and the more they hear about your business, the more credibility you’ll gain and the more they will trust your company.
You can also use email marketing to appeal to different customer segments and create customized messages.
Despite being decades old, email as a communication channel has a user base of 4 billion people, meaning that more than half the world’s population use this medium.
Email marketing has an ROI of £35 for every £1 spent, meaning it should not be overlooked as a way to promote your products.
If you don’t yet have an email list, consider offering customers a small incentive in exchange for their emails.
Below is an example of how Buzzfeed successfully used email marketing to engage their users:
Source: Buzzfeed newsletters
Google Ads is Google’s online advertising program that allows businesses to connect with internet users that are actively searching for the products and services they offer.
Originally called Google Adwords, the search engine company rebranded the service as Google Ads in 2018.
The key to success with Google ads is selecting profitable keywords with a high volume of traffic and low competition.
Profitable keywords are ones that indicate buying intent from prospects that are likely to buy from your service.
For example, they may be long tail phrases that include words like ‘price’, ‘cost’, ‘how much’, ‘where to get’, et cetera.
Designing a short ad that includes keywords that your target audience are searching for can help to get your products and services out to a wider audience. Indeed, research published by Clutch showed that one-third of people (33%) click on a paid search ad because it directly answers their search query, while three-fourths of people (75%) say paid search ads make it easier to find the information they are searching for on a website or search engine.
Doing keyword research can help you to understand what type of keywords are most profitable for your industry.
Over time, Google Ads will also help you analyse and improve those ads to reach more people so your business can hit all of your paid campaign goals.
Another popular way of advertising business services or products is to promote your services on third-party websites. One of the most popular ways to do this is through something known as link building. Links are one of the top two criteria considered in Google’s page ranking algorithm according to SEO experts, Search Engine Land.
But what is link building?
Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. For example, you may publish a guest blog on another website, which then promotes your business to their readers. Alternatively, it may come in the form of a journalist publishing a news story on your website or paying to post an advert on another website.
The key to success with third-party websites is to ensure that it is a relevant, high authority website that will add credibility to your brand.
“Half of the money I spend on marketing is wasted, I just don’t know which half” – John Wanamaker
Before you engage with any digital marketing tools or platforms, you should have a clear idea of how much money you are able to spend.
The last thing you want is to run out of money halfway through a campaign or direct your resources to the wrong strategy.
Setting a budget ensures that there are no nasty surprises when it comes to promoting your products.
How to Set a Budget For Your Campaign
If you have never set a budget for a digital marketing strategy before, then it’s recommended that your marketing budget is somewhere between 7% to 15% of your total business revenue – the sweet spot is around 9-10%.
According to Wordstream, new companies should dedicate even more of their revenue to their budget – around 12%-20%.
Nowadays a growing number of businesses are increasing their digital marketing budget.
Indeed, the Digital Marketing Institute’s 20/20 Vision: A Marketing Leader’s View of Digital’s Future report, showed that 95% of surveyed organizations have increased their digital marketing budget in recent years, and 9 in 10 marketers expect their budget to continue to grow by 2020.
In order to get a high ROI from marketing, you should definitely consider the following before drawing up a budget:
Goals & KPIs – You must be clear on what your KPIs are before setting your budget. It is important to be specific on exactly what you want and why you want it. Perhaps your goal is to increase engagement by a specific percentage within a specific timeframe.
Alternatively, your objectives may be to increase sales, subscribers or brand awareness. In order to know how successful your strategy is, it is important to get clear on your goals and KPIs beforehand so that it can be measured accurately against your achievements.
Buyer’s Journey – The buyer’s journey refers to a buyer’s path to purchase. In order to map the customer journey, it is important to understand how leads and customers typically discover your products.
You should understand what motivates them to buy services and products such as yours and the average value of each lead you generate. Getting clear on the customer journey allows you to plan and provide the content that will answer their questions and address their problems every step of the way.
Prioritize Your Objectives – There are an infinite number of tools, channels, products and services that are designed to help businesses to promote their services.
So how do you know which ones to direct your energy and resources to?
The answer is to organize your expenses. By keeping tabs on where your budget is being allocated, and cross-checking that spending with the results you’re getting, it should be much easier to figure out what marketing activities are worthwhile and which ones should be dropped.
Remember The 70-20-10 Rule – The 70-20-10 rule describes the way you should allocate your marketing resources. While various organizations differ on the exact composition of this allocation, the structure is useful for knowing how to organize your content. For example, the vast majority of your budget (70%) should be allocated towards research and brand building content. This could include things such as SEO tools and services, hiring digital marketers and creatives to create content, and market research costs.
All of these things come with a cost. For example, while there are many free SEO tools, they are not always as effective as using tools such as Ahrefs, Moz and SEM Rush.
A further 20% of your budget should be spent on advertising. This could be advertising on channels such as social media, Google ads, traditional advertising, or on third-party websites.
You may be wondering why a smaller percentage of your budget should be spent on advertising. The main reason for this is that in order to build up the trust, for your ads to be effective, you first need to have built up the trust and credibility by producing powerful content that resonates with your target audience.
The final 10% is basically maintenance. This includes ongoing marketing costs like website hosting, marketing supplies and material, top ups of existing marketing campaigns and automated costs.
While the exact breakdown of your budget is flexible and doesn’t have to be exact, operating under this strategy can be extremely useful when it comes to knowing how to prioritize and organize your marketing activities.
“Make the customer the hero of the story” – Ann Handley
Any blog about why you should create a digital marketing strategy would be remiss without an explanation as to how you actually create one.
Now that you understand why you need a digital marketing strategy, it should be clear that planning and structure is the key to everything.
When it comes to exactly how to create a strategy, having a clear structure is also important.
In this section, we will summarize exactly how you can get started in 4 easy steps. Proper planning ensures you are spending resources wisely.
Start by analysing specific data points of your target audience. At its most basic level, it could include things such as:
Free audience research tools such as Google Analytics, Google Trends, online forums such as Reddit, Quora, Amazon and Facebook can help you to understand more about the kinds of questions, concerns and interests that your prospects have.
Industry tools such as Statista, Statcounter Global Stats, Office for National Statistics, Linkedin and Google Trends can be particularly useful when doing wider market research on your industry.
If you have the budget available, consider using paid tools such as social media, Google Customer Match, SurveyMonkey and Salesforce or other CRM systems.
Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can then create a single or multiple audience profile that gives you all of the information you need to know about your ideal customer.
Below we highlight an example of a company that successfully used audience research to power their campaign.
Once you have outlined your customer profile, it is time to revisit your objectives and KPIs for the reasons set out above. Understand that there is a difference between qualitative goals, which are abstract, and quantitative goals, which can be tracked and measured.
An example of a qualitative goal would be ‘I want to increase brand awareness’. An example of a quantitative goal would be ‘I want a 10% increase in leads on product A.’
Establishing tangible milestones for each and every one of your goals, and breaking it down into simple components facilitates long-term experimentation and growth.
Once you are clear on your strategy, the next step is to collect everything you need to build your campaign. This includes images, videos, tools, software and marketing collateral.
The next step is to then integrate these into a campaign and select your marketing channels.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people that are new to this process is figuring out which platforms your content can live on. This is why the initial research stage is so important.
One of the best ways to figure this out is through a form of A/B testing. Start by identifying the channels that most of your prospects engage with the most. The initial target research you did at the beginning of your campaign should hopefully shed some light on it.
In any case, the next step is to start with small, laser-targeted campaigns with limited budgets to see which one yields the most effective results. While this inevitably requires some investment upfront, it will pay dividends in the end and influence both your current and future campaigns.
For example, you may start by A/B testing a few different versions of Facebook ads to ascertain how effective your advertising will be. You can use this technique for different marketing channels to develop a clear sense of how your prospects are engaging with your marketing on different platforms.
Within a year, you’ll have a collection of data points that are easy to interpret, and even easier to leverage into successful marketing campaigns.
But how do you know your campaign is working?
You need to set up tracking metrics in order to measure how effective your campaign is and whether you are scaling successfully as a company.
The great news is this is fairly straightforward to accomplish. Most online channels have inbuilt tracking metrics that tell you exactly how many people engaged with your promo, times when engagement was at the highest, conversions/sales that were achieved, clicks and much, much more.
Another way to measure the impact of your campaigns is to use tools such as Google Analytics and UTM parameters. Google analytics lets you track conversions, popular pages on your website, bounce rates, average session durations, sessions by channel, page views, which includes customizable reports and visualisations.
UTM parameters are short text codes that you add to URLs (or links) to help you track the performance of a web page or campaign. There are some free tools that allow you to easily create UTM parameters such as UTM Builder, UTM Maker and UTM Tag Builder, among others.
CRM systems such as Salesforce, and HubSpot can also give you access to in-depth customer data that can help you identify exactly which aspects of your campaign are working. This allows you to tweak and update your campaign accordingly. Continuous improvements are always necessary in order to ensure your campaign is as impactful as possible. Regularly measuring the success of your marketing against your KPIs and objectives will pay dividends in the long run. Indeed, this is why you need a digital marketing strategy: it gives you a chance to set out and define your KPIs so you can easily measure what success looks like at your company.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Few forms of advertising are as cost-effective as digital marketing. Over 2.14 billion people worldwide brought goods and services online in 2021, up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016.
With online purchases becoming such a common practice among people all over the world, the opportunities this presents to small businesses are endless.
If you want to increase your chances of success and execute digital marketing campaigns that don’t waste time, money or resources, then having in place a clear plan and structure is essential.
But there is another reason why you need a digital marketing strategy that we haven’t discussed yet. That is: it puts you far ahead of the competition.
According to a report by Alitmeter, 70% of businesses and marketers lack a consistent or integrated strategy.
This means that if you have a well-developed, clear and comprehensive strategy with the right parameters in place, not only are you setting yourself up for success, it will also be much easier to stand out from the crowd.
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right” – Napoleon
Are you looking to develop a digital marketing strategy that can generate leads and sales? Or perhaps you are seeking to kickstart a copywriting campaign that will dramatically increase brand awareness and engagement?
If you’re already doing digital marketing, it’s likely that you’re at least reaching some segments of your audience online. No doubt you can think of some areas of your strategy that could use a little improvement, though.
That’s where we come in.
Whether you are looking for an experienced team of marketers to drive sales at your business, or you are just looking for a little bit of friendly and free advice, get in touch with our team today to create a digital strategy that will bring more customers and leads to your door.