Most of our consumption of content today exists online. Because of this, companies have had to shift to digital marketing in order to get the word out about their products and services. However, you cannot simply make content for online platforms and hope for the best. You need to build a digital marketing strategy to focus your efforts.
What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a step-by-step process outlining how you will achieve your company’s digital marketing goals. There are many different channels that can be utilized as part of a digital marketing portfolio. These include social media, paid advertising, and earned media, just to name a few. The strategy lays out the exact steps your company will take to reach your goals and what channels will be used to achieve them.
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Digital Marketing Channels
As mentioned, there are a number of different channels used for digital marketing. Before discussing how to build a marketing plan, you must be familiar with the various mediums available. Here are the digital marketing channels you should consider for your digital marketing strategy.
Gone are the days when social media was used simply to be social. Today, social media is an essential part of advertising for any company. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are some of the most used social media platforms today. Each of these platforms allows you to create a profile that attracts and retains customers as well as creating paid advertisements to target new customers.
Search engine optimization can be a tricky thing to master, but it will be critical to any digital marketing strategy. When someone searches for keywords that match your business and its offerings, you want to be on the first page of the results. Being strategic about adding keywords to the content on your website will help you get these important rankings.
Pay-per-click is vital to bringing more qualified traffic to your website. You can target your advertisements to show up for specific keywords. But no matter how many times people see it, you only pay if someone clicks on it. You get more qualified leads with this type of strategy because you know that when someone clicks on your ad, something in it encouraged them to learn more about your business. An effective PPC strategy will work together with your SEO strategy to increase traffic and generate more business.
Ever wondered why so many websites have blogs? It’s because of content marketing! Most online searches lead people to blog content. Having a business blog can position you and your business as the experts at what you do. Using blogs or other content can help more potential customers find your website, leading to more business.
Social media, SEO, PPC, and content all have one thing in common – they (typically) lead back to your website. So what are people seeing once they get there? Your website should be an extremely user-friendly landing spot for all of your incoming traffic. Viewers should be able to easily navigate through all of the information on your site to find what they need.
How to Build a Digital Marketing Plan
These five steps outline a possible method for developing your digital marketing strategy. There are numerous ways to approach any problem, which goes for marketing plans too. This may not be a perfect fit for you and your organization, but this framework is a good place to start.
Conduct SWOT Analysis
A cornerstone of marketing strategy, SWOT analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From this standpoint, SWOT includes both internal (strengths/weaknesses) and external (opportunities/threats) components:
- Strengths – Strengths are internal factors that help organizations reach and, potentially, exceed their goals. Examples of strengths can include high sales and profits, customer loyalty, long-term employees, or attractive brand/culture.
- Weaknesses – Weaknesses are internal factors that prevent businesses from reaching their goals. Examples of weaknesses can include improperly marketed products or services, regular customer complaints, high levels of employee turnover, inadequate funding, or supply chain issues.
- Opportunities – Opportunities represent potentially positive, external situations that might help an organization succeed in the future. Examples of opportunities can include changing attitudes or aspirations, new laws or legislation, trade agreements, or removal of tariffs/sanctions.
- Threats – Threats represent potentially negative, external situations that might harm an organization in the future. Examples of threats can include shifts in the labor market, increasing supply costs, or new competition/technology.
Establish SMART Business Goals
Another popular acronym in the marketing strategy context, SMART refers to business goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By establishing SMART business goals, organizations can help ensure that their marketing strategy moves forward in a positive direction.
In order to establish SMART business goals, marketers and leaders should evaluate the following questions:
- Specific – What am I trying to achieve, why is it important, and what will be required?
- Measurable – How can I measure and track progress to meet deadlines and accomplish the end goal?
- Attainable – Based on available resources and existing constraints, is the end goal actually achievable?
- Relevant – In light of prevailing business needs/realities and overall environment, is the end goal valuable at this time?
- Timely – When can I expect to make progress toward the end goal? What benefits are expected immediately versus in the short, intermediate, or long term?
Engage in Market Segmentation
Market segmentation is usually a vital piece of an effective digital marketing strategy. This practice involves dividing an organization’s target market or audience into smaller groups. By segmenting an entire customer base into digestible pieces, it becomes easier to tailor unique marketing tactics to each market segment.
Within the sphere of market segmentation, organizations typically start with four categories:
- Demographic — Demographic segmentation occurs in the business-to-consumer (B2C) context and focuses on personal characteristics. Demographic segmentation utilizes factors such as age, education, gender, or geography to divide customers into categories.
- Firmographic — Firmographic segmentation occurs in the business-to-business (B2B) context and focuses on organizational characteristics. Firmographic segmentation examines factors such as revenue, industry, location, or number of employees to separate businesses into categories.
- Psychographic — Psychographic segmentation can occur in either B2C or B2B contexts. Psychographic segmentation examines factors such as personality, opinions, goals, or lifestyle, to separate prospects into categories.
- Behavioral — Behavioral segmentation can occur in either B2C or B2B contexts. Behavioral segmentation examines factors such as purchasing history, brand loyalty, or usage patterns to separate prospects into categories.
Create Buyer Personas
Often utilized in conjunction with market segmentation, buyer personas are fictional profiles that represent the customer. Buyer personas are particularly helpful in helping to understand a company’s customers — whether existing, prospective, or desired. Correspondingly, buyer personas vary greatly from industry to industry and organization to organization.
As noted above, it is common practice for marketers to unify buyer personas with market segmentation initiatives. In doing so, marketers attempt to create profiles of ideal customers based on demographic, firmographic, psychographic and behavioral data. In that way, organizations can individually customize their messaging, products, and services to match each different buyer persona and market segment,
Identify Budget Constraints
Fundamentally, commercial and nonprofit organizations of every flavor must ensure that they budget appropriately to roll out an effective digital marketing strategy. Even the best marketing strategies and tactics are dependent upon adequate cash flow. Consequently, it is vital for organizations to think realistically about their budget to determine which marketing tactics are achievable and affordable.
With so many different areas of digital marketing to think about, it’s obvious that building a marketing plan is not easy. The most important things to remember are that every aspect of your strategy should work together and your strategy should constantly be updated. Each of the digital marketing examples above will need to be approached differently and analyzed separately, while still working together to achieve your overall goal. While this is a time consuming task, you will appreciate the results you will see when you begin to implement it.