Who should need a digital marketing strategy
Today most of the marketing is undoubtedly done digitally. Both companies and their customers are online almost around the clock. It is therefore crucial that you can use this media for yourself and know where your customers are predominantly.
However, as new opportunities continue to emerge in this area, digital marketing can be a bit overwhelming for emerging businesses. Your to-do list is already long enough. There is actually no time left to think about digital marketing, to develop a suitable strategy and to continuously adapt it.
So we have a list of them for you seven steps to developing a digital marketing strategy designed to help your marketers move your team and company forward.
How to develop a digital marketing strategy
- Develop your buyer personas
- Define your goals and determine what marketing tools you will need
- Examine your existing marketing channels and resources
- Analyze and plan your "Owned Media" content
- Analyze and plan your "earned media" content
- Analyze and plan your “paid media” content
- Put all the information together
First of all, a brief explanation of what is actually behind a digital strategy and digital marketing campaigns hides.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
Basically, a digital marketing strategy is simply your plan for how you want to achieve a goal or set of goals using online marketing. The term “strategy” may suggest a very complex issue, but creating an effective digital strategy doesn't always have to be difficult.
Let's say you want to be in Generate 25% more leads through your website this year than last year.
Depending on the size of your business, your strategy could include more than that one goal and several other variables. However, a simplified view helps not to lose sight of your goals.
However, since developing an actual strategy can still be tricky, we recommend that you stick to the seven approaches below. You can use these tips to create a top-notch strategy for effective digital marketing.
What is a digital marketing campaign?
The two terms “digital strategy” and “digital marketing campaign” are often confused, but they differ from each other.
Your digital strategy describes how you want to achieve your primary or overarching marketing goal. Your digital marketing campaigns are that individual elements that make up this strategy and which should bring you step by step closer to your goal.
For example, such a campaign could consist of sharing some of your most popular protected content on Twitter in order to generate more leads through this platform. The sharing of the content represents a campaign as part of your strategy for gaining further leads.
Note that a Campaign won't become a strategy even if you run it for several years. It is and remains one of the building blocks that, together with others, form a strategy.
So now let's see how you can develop a strategy.
How to work out your digital strategy
1. Develop your buyer personas
A prerequisite for any marketing strategy - whether online or offline - is that you know exactly who your target group is. A digital marketing strategy is most effective when it is based on carefully crafted buyer personas. Therefore, your first step in developing a strategy is always to create your persona (s).
Buyer personas are generalized representations of your ideal customers. They are based on data from analyzes and written and personal surveys of your customers. Since assumptions about your target group can quickly lead you on the black ice, you should, as far as possible, create your personas on the basis of hard facts.
To do this, ask a diverse mix of customers, prospects and people outside your contact database who fit your target group. This way you can get as complete a picture of your persona (s) as possible.
The type of information you collect depends on what you produce, and usually also on whether you are serving corporate customers or end customers and the price range in which you offer your products. To get you started, we've put together a few ideas for data that might be of interest to you:
Quantitative (or demographic) data
- Location: Using tools for web analytics such as B. Google Analytics you can easily determine the location of your website visitors.
- Age: Whether the age of your customers is important to you depends on your company and your products. Information on this can best be derived from trends that you observe with prospects and customers in your database.
- Income: Since this is extremely sensitive data that is generally reluctant to enter in online forms, it is best to collect it in person.
- Job title: This information is particularly relevant for B2B companies. A look at your customer database is usually sufficient here.
Qualitative (or psychographic) data
- Aims: Depending on the purpose for which you are offering your product or service, you may already know the goals of your persona very well. However, it is still a good idea to have face-to-face meetings with your customers, your sales team, and customer service staff to ensure that your assumptions are actually correct.
- Challenges: The best way to find out which problems your target group is typically confronted with is also best in a personal conversation with your customers, your sales team and your customer service staff.
- Hobbys and Interests: Interview your customers as well as people who correspond to your target audience. For companies that are active in the fashion industry, for example, it is interesting to know whether a large part of their target group attaches great importance to fitness and well-being. Because in this way you can make future content or partnerships dependent on this information.
- Priorities: Ask your customers and people who correspond to your target group what they value most in your offer. For example, it would be very important for B2B companies in the software industry to know if their target group placed more value on good customer service than on competitive prices.
This means that you should have enough information at hand, on the basis of which you can create one or more buyer persona (s) - as shown in the figure below. As you further develop your strategy, make sure that it is precisely aligned with your persona (s).
2. Define your goals and determine what marketing tools you will need
Always align your marketing goals with the basic goals of your company. For example, if your focus is on growing your online sales by 20%, it might be a sensible goal for your marketers to generate 50% more leads through your website this year than last year.
Regardless of your goal, one thing is crucial: You should always know how you can measure the performance of your digital strategy, and - more importantly - actually be able, to do that. To do this, you need suitable tools, among other things. The way you collect data about your metrics may vary by company and goal (s). The only important thing is that you actually collect this data, because you will need it in the future in order to be able to adapt your strategy.
3. Examine your existing marketing channels and resources
Deciding which of your channels and resources to incorporate into your strategy can be challenging. Here it helps to always look at the big picture so that you don't get lost in the details. It can be helpful to categorize the channels and resources accordingly. We recommend a model with the classifications "Owned Media" (company's own media), "Earned Media" (Media presence through word of mouth and recommendations) and "Paid Media" (media purchased for a fee).
These are all digital resources that belong to your company and that are solely in your hands to manage. This includes your website, social media profiles, blog posts and images, among other things. External content that you do not host on your own website, such as a blog on a platform like Medium, also counts in this category.
The term "earned media" describes the media presence of a company, which it has thanks to word of mouth and recommendations. In other words, the recognition that you receive for content such as guest posts on external websites, for the customer service you have provided and for your press work. This type of presence is created on the basis of press releases, positive customer feedback and by sharing your content on social networks.
These are all of the chargeable resources and platforms that you use to get your buyer persona (s) to focus on your business. These include Google AdWords, paid posts in social networks, native advertising (such as sponsored posts on external websites) and any other medium through which you can expand your online presence for a fee.
We recommend you, create a table with these three categories and enter all of your digital resources and materials etc. accordingly.
A digital marketing strategy can build on elements from all three categories. In-house content that you created yourself for a landing page on your website in order to generate more leads falls into this category, for example "Owned Media". If your content is then shared by other users via their personal social media profiles, and this increases the conversion rate of this content, it is called "Earned Media". You can further reinforce the success of this content by promoting it on your Facebook page and paying to attract more potential customers to it. This measure then falls within the scope "Paid Media".
In this example, you would have combined all three categories to achieve the best possible result. Of course, this is not always necessary. Because if you have already achieved your goal with the help of your company's own media and the organic effect of "earned media", you can do without the additional investment in "paid media". It is important that you first carefully consider what content is best for your goal and then include the appropriate content types in your strategy.
After you have determined which resources, channels etc. you are already using, you should analyze which of them are efficient and which are not.
4. Analyze and plan your "Owned Media "-Content
The most important component of a digital marketing strategy is the company's own media. In most cases, this is content. Basically, anything your company publishes can be called content - the “About Us” page on your website, product descriptions, blog posts, e-books, infographics, and social media posts. You need content to convert website visitors into leads and customers and to increase your brand presence on the Internet. If you adjust it accordingly, you can even use it to increase your organic traffic. Whatever your goal, in-house content is essential for any digital marketing strategy.
Your goals only dictate what content you should focus on. For example, if you want to generate 50% more leads through your website than in the previous year, your “About Us” page is rather irrelevant. Unless you've got a lot of leads this way in the past.
However, it is more likely that an e-book that website visitors were able to download after filling out a form has and will result in more conversions. In this case, it would be a good idea to offer more content like this. To find out which one own Content will help you achieve your goals, here's what to do next:
Take a close look at your existing content
Make a list of all existing content elements and rate each piece of content to determine which has so far contributed most to achieving your goals. In the case of our lead generation example, you should rate the content that generated the most leads in the past year as the best. This could be a specific blog post, an e-book, or even a specific page on your website.
The point here is to find out what worked and what didn't so that you can access the right content in the future.
Find the gaps in your previous content
Your buyer personas will help you with this. Let's say your company offers tutoring courses in math. A survey of your target group has now shown that your persona has great difficulty in making learning interesting. If you have not yet offered any content on this topic, you should now consider it.
The next thing you look at is what kind of content has gotten the best results so far, and you'll find that ebooks have significantly more conversions on a given landing page (as opposed to webinars). So here it would be a good idea to plan an e-book with a title like “This is how learning is fun”.
Create a plan of ideas for future content
If, in the course of your search for gaps, you've come across new content ideas that could help you achieve your goals, write them down in the form of a plan. Include the following information:
- Marketing channels
- Reason (example: "Persona X does not have time to carefully plan your blog content. We are therefore offering you a template for an editorial calendar.")
- Priority (so that you can later see at a glance which content will be most profitable)
This plan can simply take the form of a table. Don't forget to include budget details if you plan to have the content created externally. A schedule is recommended for content that you create in-house.
5. Analyze and plan your "Earned Media "-Content
Find out what results you have achieved so far with "Earned Media" and to what extent this corresponds to your current goals. For example, if you want to generate more leads, determine which sources ("earned media") your traffic and leads can be traced back to, and use a ranking list to record how effective these are.
The information on this is provided by tools such as Google Analytics or the source data reports that you can create with the HubSpot software.
Perhaps it turns out that a particular article you published in an industry publication drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website and its conversion rate was also extremely satisfactory. Or you may find that your content is shared the most on LinkedIn and a lot of new traffic is generated through this platform. The point here is that you use your data to determine which types of earned media content will help you achieve your goals and which will not help you. However, this is not to say that you should focus solely on content that has already been tried and tested. It's also worth trying new things.
6. Analyze and plan your "Paid Media "-Content
For this step, proceed in a very similar way to the previous one: Find out to what extent your previous investments in "Paid Media" have paid off on the respective platforms (Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and how useful they will be for you in the future become.
So if you've invested heavily in AdWords ads but haven't gotten the results you expected, maybe it's time to make a change. You may even want to ignore that platform and focus on another one that can help you get better results.(Check out our free AdWords guide to find out how to get the most out of this platform for your business goals.)
This step is about finding out on which platforms an investment in "paid media" content is worthwhile and which (if applicable) you should no longer consider in your future strategy.
7. Put all the information together
At this point you have completed your research and planning, and you have an idea of what elements will make up your digital marketing strategy. You should now have the following:
- Carefully elaborated profiles of your buyer personas
- At least one marketing-specific goal
- An overview of your existing content ("Owned, Earned and Paid Media")
- A ranking list of your existing content ("Owned, Earned and Paid Media")
- A plan with ideas for future “owned media” content
Use all of this information to form your strategy. As a reminder: yours digital strategy it is your plan for how you want to achieve a goal or set of goals using online marketing.
So, in your strategy documentation, make a note of and explain the steps and initiatives that your research suggests you need to take to get the results you want. A table format is available here, and for reasons of consistency we would recommend simply using the table for your “Owned, Earned and Paid Media” as a basis.
In terms of timeframe, strategies are typically designed for twelve months. However, this varies depending on the company structure. You can also plan right awaywhen You want to perform any activity. An example of this:
- In January you want to start a blog that you will update weekly.
- In March you plan to publish a new e-book and place paid advertising for it.
- In July, you want to prepare for your most important business month. Record what knowledge you would like to have gained by then so that you can decide on this basis which content you should provide in the future.
- In September you planned to concentrate on "earned media" and generate additional traffic with press work.
When you do this, you also create a schedule that you can then pass on to your colleagues. In addition, it will be so much easier for you to always keep an overview.
Digital marketing made easy
Every company pursues different goals and sets different priorities. Hence, creating a template for THE perfect digital marketing strategy is not possible. However, what applies to all companies is that they should explain in their strategy document the individual steps and initiatives that will be used to achieve the overarching goal. If you follow this simple tip, you will already have an effective digital strategy in place.
If you are interested in further information on this topic and would like to learn how to develop an effective strategy for more business growth, take a look at our guide to digital marketing made easy.
Originally published January 7, 2019, updated 13 July 2020
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