What is the digital marketing strategy these days

How to develop an online marketing strategy

Modern online marketing requires holistic and multi-levelOnline Marketing Strategythat is oriented towards the products, target groups and their customer journey. Here are a few thoughts on this ...

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Differentiation between online marketing strategy and tactics

Before we go deeper into the topic of online marketing strategy, it is important to be aware of the difference between tactics and strategy, as misunderstandings often arise when naming them.

Strategies are larger visions that are based on overarching corporate goals. Strategies are planned for the long term. Tactics are the daily operations and tasks of executing the strategy and pushing it forward.

Strategies are often thought of on a meta-level with a view to the existing corporate mission statement. Strategies are often developed, planned and presented in mind maps or with other visualizing tools.

Tactics are developed on the micro level and result in actions that can be implemented directly. Tactics are often planned in task lists in a certain cycle or chronology, such as the continuous optimization of AdWords campaigns.

Roughly speaking, strategies tend to answer questions like

  • How do we achieve a goal?
  • By when do we reach a goal?
  • What budget do we use to achieve a goal?

Tactics tend to answer the questions:

The following basic properties describe a strategy:

  • Strategies require a vision. No strategies can be worked out without a vision.
  • Strategies have a long-term character, for example they should apply for a period of several years.
  • Strategies include bundles of measures, not individual measures. A breakdown into such tactical individual measures is necessary for their implementation.
  • Strategies serve to coordinate the company with the environment and must be checked for correctness on an ongoing basis.


Developing an online marketing strategy. Where do I begin?

What questions does the development of a suitable online marketing strategy for my company begin with? I think the focus should always be on the offer and the target group. Let's start with the offer.

The products or the offer

We regularly receive inquiries from customers who want to use SEO, AdWords or other online marketing services, but basic homework has not been done. The important question often arises in the first conversation Why should anyone care? or. why should someone order from you right now? So the question of the USP or added value. (see also good online marketing no guarantee of success if there is no USP or when SEO makes no sense: the problem with the nails)

In principle, when developing a business model or product, the customer and his needs should always be in the foreground. Accordingly, you should first of all answer the question of whether you can offer the target group added value with what you are planning to do. Far too often this question is not answered and the first fundamental mistake is made. Doing online marketing for a product / brand / service without communicable added value is wasted money. As online marketers, we are not magicians and we cannot make money out of Sch… .e.

If I have developed an offer with added value, the basis has been laid and you can start thinking about online marketing. A variety of instruments are available in online marketing. But in the real world, most companies have limited resources to test all online marketing tools. That is why it makes sense in an online marketing strategy to concentrate on the most promising channels and methods for the offer. In order to develop the strategy, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my product / brand / service well-known or a market novelty?
  2. How emotional is my offer?


The target groups, need groups and personas

The second important question that often cannot be answered straight away is "Who are my target groups or personas?". Even here, some companies still find it difficult to answer this question clearly.

For strategy development, it is important to deal with the target and need groups and their needs and events that affect them.

Need groups are usually a small part of the target groups. Namely this part where both that desire, the Will to act and the Agency available. The need group includes all people who can currently carry out an interaction with a focus on the goal setting. More on this from Karl Kratz.

Personas are important so that landing pages and advertising materials such as Facebook ads or display banners can be tailored to the target person. It is important to coordinate the personas with the possible targeting functionalities of the individual online marketing channels. More on this in the article How do you create personas for online marketing? .

When it comes to target groups, one always thinks of potential customers first, but target groups include all people who can be in some way related to the company and its offers. Whether as a customer, multiplier, opinion leader or employee. For an overview, I have summarized the most important target groups for (digital) marketing.

When it comes to building a brand, it is not the customers, the important target groups, but influencers such as popular people, editors, journalists, existing satisfied customers, but also industry experts. The perception of a brand as a relevant brand by the potential customers arises primarily through the interaction of the brand with influencers, existing customers and other multipliers. The quality of the relationships with these market participants makes the relevance. A brand cannot develop from itself into a relevant brand.

The customer journey at the center of online marketing

The times in which you only had to focus on one channel in online marketing in order to reach potential customers and, above all, to lead them to purchase are over. The competitive pressure in the search engines, the social networks and in general on the digital advertising space is great and customers nowadays want to be convinced all the more. One contact is usually not enough.

Modern online marketing takes into account the buying journey, also known as the customer journey, across all phases and touchpoints. Therefore, the customer journey model is very suitable for developing online marketing strategies.

The customer journey is divided into different phases before and after the purchase. There are different tier models here. For example, Google relies on a very simplified four-stage model with a special focus on the Zero Moment of Truth short ZMOT.

The Zero Moment of Truth in the Customer JourneySource

The stimulus here describes the triggering event that leads a potential customer to initiate a research process and enter the customer journey.

The conscious or subconscious decision for an offer then takes place in the ZMOT. The first moment of truth is the moment when the potential customer stands in front of the offer in the store or in the online shop and makes the final decision to buy it or not. The second moment of truth is the period of time in which the customer holds the product in their hands and gathers their first experiences.

I do not find this model detailed enough, especially in the phases before the purchase, and would therefore like to fall back on a seven-step model from us.

Customer journey model by Aufgesang

Online marketing strategies along the customer journey

In order to develop an online marketing strategy, it is important to be clear about the different characteristics of the channels and instruments. It is important to reconcile these according to the usage habits of your own target groups or stakeholders and as many positive touchpoints as possible with outstanding onesUser experience or Customer experience on the way through the customer journey.

These as many positive touchpoints as possible serve as anchors in the brain and are a decisive success factor for brand building.

These, at best, positive experiences help target and need groups to build a relationship with the company, brand and products.

This process is also called customer experience management.


Online Marketing Strategy in the Upper Funnel

The upper funnel comprises the customer journey phases Pre-awareness, Awareness and Consideration. On the one hand, these phases serve to gain touchpoints and thus to build a brand.

The upper phases of the customer journey are often characterized by low advertising acceptance. The target groups are often not open to advertising in the pre-awareness and awareness phase, especially when it is product-related.

In these phases you should try to build relationships with the target groups, especially with pull marketing instruments such as PR, social media marketing or content marketing. In this context, the target groups should be recorded via retargeting tracking, interactions on Facebook, entry in e-mail distribution lists and / or recording in customer relation management systems. The best way to achieve this is through good content, developed in the form of content marketing campaigns with leads as the main goal. This strategy is often the best way to go, especially for B2B business models.

If possible, you should still qualify the leads, assign them to target or need groups and achieve further touchpoints, e.g. via email marketing. Marketing automation systems are suitable for this process. If you want to learn more about this, you should take a closer look at the topic of inbound marketing.

The first product-related push advertising measures can be used in the consideration phase. Before doing so, content should be advertised as part of content promotion.

Targeted SEA campaigns (search engine advertising) also make sense here, since target groups begin the search for potential solution providers in this phase.


Online Marketing Strategy in the Lower Funnel

The lower funnel begins in the preference phase and extends to the after sale / loyalty phase. Here we are no longer talking about target groups, but target groups should be addressed in a targeted manner.

Especially in the preference phase, the need groups are open to product-related push measures such as display ads or sales contacts. In the best case, the sales department should already contact warm contacts who had already made contact in the previous phases in the form of touchpoints. The information from the CRM and / or the marketing automation system can be very helpful here.

As in the consideration phase, search engine advertising makes sense in the preference phase, especially on keywords with transaction-oriented search intent. In other words, search terms that suggest a clear purchase-oriented interest.

The subject of search intention of keywords generally plays a very important role for measures in search engine advertising and search engine optimization. More on this in the article All information about the keyword types, search intention, identification of user intention.

The descriptions in the last sections are recommendations that can be applied to many business models. However, there will be a few examples to which these models cannot be applied one-to-one. The development of an online marketing strategy has to be carried out on a very individual basis. With B2C and B2B business models, there can be big differences in the online marketing strategy.


Tactical vs. Strategic Online Marketing Goals

When defining goals, a distinction must be made between tactical and strategic online marketing goals.

Tactical Online Marketing Goals

Tactics often follow directly measurable and quickly achievable goals such as generating visitors to a website via SEO. Strategy goals are often more channel-independent or defined across the board. Typical tactical goals are e.g.

  • Improvement of the CTR for AdWords ad texts
  • Building backlinks
  • Improvement of the interaction rate for Facebook postings
  • Improvement of the cost per conversion for Bing Ads
  • Increase in views and clicks on YouTube videos
  • Improvement of the organic rankings for keyword xy

Strategic online marketing goals

Strategic marketing goals - brand-related goals and sales goals can be distinguished.

Sales goals would be e.g.

  • Online sales increase by x%
  • Improvement of the ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) of the AdWords campaigns by y%
  • Improve the ROI of all push online marketing activities by z%
  • Improving lead quality
  • Increase in the proportion of multiple buyers
  • Minimization of the return rate

Brand-related goals would be e.g.

  • Increase in digital brand popularity
  • Improvement of the brand reputation


With regard to individual channels or measures, one can argue whether a channel or measure-related plan is also a strategy or a planning of tactical measures. Here it depends individually on which measures and for which goals are defined.

Also the following graphic:

Fig. 2: Overview of strategic and tactical goals in online marketing, © Olaf Kopp, Aufgesang Inbound Marketing, 2017

The quality of the relationship is more important than the number of contacts

In classic marketing, classic evaluation and measurement parameters such as the CPM (thousand-contact price) are a common metric to this day. For a modern assessment of brand strength, however, the number of contacts is no longer appropriate. Strong brands these days are based on strong relationships with potential customers and other stakeholders.

The relationship between the stakeholders plays a very important role for both short-term and long-term goals of a company and its marketing.

The image and the reputation, i.e. the brand relevance or brand strength, is primarily determined nowadays by the relationship with the stakeholders or the target groups.


Selection of the right online marketing instruments

If goals have been defined and indicators for the measurement of success have been set and if you are clear about the target groups, it is a matter of determining the online marketing measures through which the goals are to be achieved. The preceding steps play a crucial role here.

With an online marketing tool, you should think about whether an online marketing tool is more like push marketing or pull marketing (more on this in the article The evolution of marketing: From push to pull or here) and between Owned - Differentiate between paid and earned media.

Push and pull in online marketing

In our overview of modern online marketing you can read more about the different channels and instruments in online marketing.


Online Marketing Infographic for Download

A printer-ready version of our online marketing overview can be downloaded free of charge by sharing it on Facebook, XING, LinkedIn or Twitter. Just click on the picture below.

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Branding or performance?

The question of whether an instrument or channel should be used for performance, i.e. direct sales, or for long-term brand building, is less of an issue nowadays in modern online marketing. The strength of a brand has a direct influence on performance metrics such as the completion rate.

Due to the large number of conscious and unconscious points of contact with an offer and / or a brand, branding and performance can no longer be separated from one another these days.

More on this in the article Digital Branding: The Importance of Brands for Online Marketing.


Competitive situation in SEO and SEA

Basically, you shouldn't be afraid of big competitors, as long as the business model is well thought out and the offer offers USP and added value. Nevertheless, the best recommendation for newcomers to the market is to occupy a niche in order to avoid the budget pressures of financially strong competitors. A look at Google can be very helpful to find out which competition you would be dealing with if you were doing SEO and SEA. With AdWords ads, you should pay attention to the accuracy of the ads and the level of specialization of the advertisers. Amazon, ebay and ask are usually not direct competitors, as they bid on almost all terms and pursue a range-oriented strategy. This is also a good opportunity to analyze the offer of the competition, if available. Here one should ask oneself again objectively why the customer should not prefer the offer of the competitors to mine.

How strong the competition is in the area of ​​SEO can be checked by taking a look at one of the backlink tools available on the market for the domains of direct competition on the first search results page. If such a tool is not in use, you should check how many listings the direct competition has already occupied on the first Google page. If a lot of places are still occupied by non-commercial websites such as Wikipedia, directories, forums, question-and-answer portals ... that's a good sign. But I'll leave this topic at this brief outline.

SWOT analysis to determine the right online marketing mix

A more detailed way of analyzing competition is the classic SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis in a marketing context is about comparing the weaknesses and strengths of your own marketing with those of your competitors.

You analyze your own company as well as the most important competitors and compare strengths and weaknesses.

Examples of strengths can be:

  • Innovative Products
  • High qualification of the marketing team
  • High marketing budget
  • Good relationships with influencers

Examples of weaknesses can be:

  • Bad quality of the products
  • Low brand awareness
  • High price level

The next step is to determine factors that affect the global market and can only be influenced to a limited extent. These are then identified in terms of opportunities and risks.

Examples of opportunities can be:

  • Occupation of niches
  • High market potential
  • Distribution channels not yet developed

Examples of risks can be:

  • Very fast innovation cycles
  • High costs for new customer acquisition
  • High click prices
  • Strong seasonality

The SWOT analyzes are usually carried out in the first step for sub-areas and can then be summarized in a holistic SWOT analysis at the end. An exemplary SWOT analysis for online marketing could then look like this:


Example online marketing SWOT analysis, © Olaf Kopp, Aufgesang Inbound Marketing, 2017

In addition to manual research, free tools such as the Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends or Smilar Web are suitable for collecting data for SWOT analyzes.


Your own assets as the core of your online marketing strategy

Many companies are faced with the same problem again and again in the first few years of founding or taking the first steps in online marketing. The digital popularity and own digital communication channels do not exist or at least not particularly powerful in relation to their own target groups.

So it makes sense to rely on the big gatekeepers and rely on SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook ads, listing of your own products on Amazon ... for visitors to your own website and, in the best case, also sales. Many big players such as Zalando, the companies of the Scout Group (Immobillienscout, Friendscout ...) have grown up especially through SEO and SEA. This path is easier than stepping in, in some cases, years of advance work until you have built something of your own, independent. But this strategy is tricky.

Many companies and online marketers are developing more and more into the plaything of the great gatekeepers Google, Facebook, Amazon ... and align their online marketing strategies with these third-party systems.

The Internet giants' battle for Internet dominance has been in full swing for years with the goal of capturing and capitalizing on a large portion of the traffic, transactions ... on the Internet.

Here, Google, Facebook and Amazon are in the best positions. All three started at different starting points. Google as a search engine, Facebook as a social network and Amazon as an online bookseller. But the air is getting thinner! Now they are moving very quickly towards each other. While Amazon is fighting for the products and retailers, there is currently the fight for the content.

The great danger for online marketing is the curtailment of possibilities and autonomy. Imagine there were only Google and / or Facebook as the only online marketing channels. You would be hopelessly trapped within the limits of the systems and a plaything in full dependence on your sensitivities without your own base.

That is why you diversify, have courage and, in addition to external channels, build your own systems that you can use to position yourself with excellent online marketing and products. Because that can quickly no longer be possible by synchronizing online marketing in third-party systems. Then at some point it's all about who has the biggest budget ... Don't let it get that far!

But diversifying channels is not enough. Create something of your own, independent, which you can fully influence yourself. A strong brand with inbound potential and its own target group-specific and efficient communication system.

It is not the quick and easy way, but it is sustainable and value-creating. The aim should be to generate at least 40-50% of the visitors via brand traffic such as direct access, brand or navigation search queries, feed readers, newsletters etc. on your own website, where you can directly influence via conversion and usability optimization preserves the monetization of its own content. I have already explained the advantages of brand traffic in the article Digital Brand Building: The Importance of Brand for Online Marketing and Digital Brand Building: Why good branding pays for all your key figures in detail.

The rest should consist of a mix of organic search engine traffic, PPC advertising, visitors from social media, referrals, etc., depending on the business model. So it's a healthy mix and the risk of addiction is manageable. A marketing strategy not around your own website or your own systems, but around third-party systems such as Google, Facebook, Amazon ... is not sustainable.

The brand and its own autonomous communication channels such as newsletters, blogs, websites ... as separate assets should generally be the central link between all (online) marketing measures. Brand building and the development of your own independent communication channels should therefore always be at the center of a long-term (online) marketing strategy.

More on this in the article Why Google, Facebook & Co are not allowed to be the core of the marketing strategy.


The online marketing strategy as a critical success factor

While in the past you could be successful with tactical online marketing and channel thinking, nowadays you have to rely on holistic, multi-level online marketing strategies. These funnel strategies have become indispensable for brand building and sales for many offers and business models. Single channel strategies will work less and less.