A digital marketing strategy is essential to growing your business yet only half of firms have one. Getting started with a digital marketing strategy NOW will help you more quickly identify what makes your product or service unique, identify characteristics of your audience, and learn what digital channels allow you to best target them.
A comprehensive strategy is an integral part of any inbound marketing approach. It should reveal new opportunities and expand your reach while delivering concrete goals to orient daily marketing activities. This blog is all about the first steps you need to take to get your entire strategic process started and make the most of your business opportunities in 2023.
What Exactly Is A Digital Marketing Strategy?
Your digital marketing strategy, above all else, should be unique to your company’s needs and goals. These goals will be based on your past performance, your industry, the budget you have to devote to marketing campaigns, plus other factors. Many common examples of digital marketing goals are increased relevant website traffic, more conversions, improved brand awareness, or a higher marketing return on investment (ROI). Any goals should be quantifiable – supported by metrics and data – and able to clearly show whether the strategy is successful over time.
Want to perform better than your direct competitors? How about turning your brand into a household name in service area X? These high-level goals are a great place to start, as they can be easily broken down into a series of specific, measurable objectives like the ones we listed above. A digital marketing strategy really is just the means to an end, and it makes a lot of sense to have an idea of what that end is before developing the best means to get there...And why does my business need one?
Think about this—if your latest and greatest pay-per-click campaign (the one you’ve invested the most of your time and money in) completely tanked next month, would you know what to do? If you didn’t have a strategy in place, chances are you wouldn’t (and you’d just have to cut your losses and put yourself even further behind the competition). The same goes for SEO, website design, social media campaigns, or any other digital approach to marketing. The great thing about a digital marketing strategy is that it is meant to be adaptive and flexible when one lever falls short.
First Things First – SWOT Analysis
The first thing that your digital marketing strategy should have is what’s called a SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats and is part of a process created by Albert Humphrey and the Stanford Research Institute back in the ‘70s. Basically, this step is an evaluation of your business or a look at where you currently stand. Each area breaks down like this:
So you’ve got a healthy list for each of these 4 categories—now what? Well, this information will serve as the framework for how you position your strategy and prioritize its parts. Your SWOT Analysis will provide guidance in every strategic decision because it can help generate objectives to shoot for, as well as determine whether or not the ones you already had in mind are attainable. You wanted some guidelines, and your SWOT is where they’re at!
Once you’ve brainstormed your SWOT, compared it to your business’s marketing goals, and prioritized everything, you're ready for the next step! Let's take a look at some other fundamental things to keep in mind when developing your strategy. This may seem like a lot of preparation, but remember what we said; working at this stuff now will make for a much smoother ride later!
Identify Your Target Personas
Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to suit the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization – from marketing to sales to service).
Personas can be created through research, surveys, and interviews — all with a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who might align with your target audience. Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:
Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
Use form fields that capture important persona information when creating forms to use on your website. For example, if all of your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms.
Consider your sales team's feedback on the leads they're interacting with most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?
Interview customers and prospects to discover what they like about your product or service.
Next, use your research to identify patterns and commonalities from the answers to your interview questions, develop at least one primary persona, and share that persona with the rest of the company. Once you've refined the process, continue until you have 3-5 personas outlined that your sales & marketing teams can use for targeting purposes.
Did We Mention Channel Specificity?
We didn’t? Well, in any case, it bears emphasis. Your marketing strategy includes an overarching approach to marketing that is adaptable to your needs. But each strategy should ALSO include a deep dive into the specific channels that you might leverage over the next year to reach your goals.
Looking to rebuild your website? Our growth-driven design approach hinges on the strategy component. We start by developing an empathetic understanding of your audience’s world and how your website can solve problems along their journey. By doing so, we’re able to ensure that data can be used to respond to customer needs and ultimately deliver better results through a more adaptable website.
Similarly, looking to get started with social media or SEO services? How are you going to know what to post, to whom, and when, without a foundation to build upon? Without asking (and answering) these questions, you’re driving marketing activities, not marketing results. You need a strategy your team (and/or agency) can refer back to so that they can orient their efforts. Even something as basic as local listings management should include a strategy so that your weekly posts maintain consistency and focus.
Define Timelines & Courses of Action
Granted, this may seem a bit obvious, but that doesn’t diminish how important it is. Once your marketing goals and target audience are identified and your channel strategies are sufficiently outlined, you’ll need to make sure that there’s a general timeframe set up to achieve your aims. A big part of this will be identifying your priorities (with the insight from your SWOT, of course) and generating a calendar of deadlines from there.
To that point, remember that you’ll (hopefully) be referring back to your digital marketing strategy many times as you put all your campaigns into effect. In light of that, make sure that each process or campaign is clearly defined with detailed subtasks (if applicable) and an assignment to specific team members or departments. Nothing will throw a wrench into your strategy more than having to decipher a series of vague tasks that aren’t assigned to anyone. In this scenario, what’s left is a loss of productivity, which means internal inefficiency, which means wasted dollars. That’s like nails on a chalkboard for any business owner.
Finally: A Plan for Measurement
Remember that forward-thinking perspective we talked about? This is where it comes into play. While your shiny, new marketing initiatives are in effect, how do you know if they’re working? The simple answer is a Measurement Plan. The not-so-simple process is identifying a suitable analytics solution, getting it configured to fit your business’s goals and objectives, and setting up regular evaluations of the data that correspond to your definitions of marketing success.
If you need help getting started with YOUR digital marketing strategy don’t hesitate to reach out, let us know in the comments below, or contact us for a free 30-minute consultation today!