As a business owner or entrepreneur, you might have considered investing in digital marketing channels for better customer acquisition. Do you have a solid digital marketing strategy in place, one that ensures long term growth and progress?
If the answer to that question is “no” or “I’m not sure”, then it might be because you are not giving enough importance to your digital marketing strategy. You can bring your company to the forefront of the industry and dominate the field, with a good digital marketing strategy in place.
According to analytics giant SAS, digital marketing owes its relevance to the all-pervasive nature of digital media. Your consumers have the internet at their fingertips. This means they always have access to any and all information they need or want. Hence, the internet is where you must proliferate as well.
Before indulging more into this topic, it is probably vital that I ensure you have no qualms at all about employing digital marketing techniques in the first place. In spite of the buzz around creating a digital marketing strategy, some companies and businesses shun the very idea. There could be many different reasons for this:
Knowledge: Some of you might not have the required knowledge about digital marketing. You might be under the false impression that learning digital marketing is difficult.
Complexity: Some of you might think that you need to spend a lot of time, energy and resources for digital marketing to work.
If the above two are some of the reasons holding you back from kick-starting your digital marketing, you have nothing to worry about. A digital marketing strategy is easy to create and implement. You can learn the necessary know-how quickly. It would involve neither over-the-top expenses nor complicated measures.
What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?
As a business-owner, one of your main objective is to achieve your goals in a cost-effective and business-friendly manner. Many businesses still create their brand presence with offline platforms using print media, TV ads, etc,. But the truth of the matter is that the world is going digital.
To keep up with this digital, online world, your business has to have visibility and a strong foothold on various online platforms. Otherwise, you might run out of business.
Having a digital marketing strategy does not mean that you target all online platforms. Neither does it mean that you reach out blindly to everyone who has an online and social media presence. In fact, the entire point of a digital marketing strategy, to put it very concisely, is to get you to identify:
- who your target consumers are
- what they like and dislike
- where they hang out on the internet and on various online/mobile platforms
Armed with above knowledge, you can now use various online marketing tools to:
- best to reach out to target potential consumers on preferred platforms
- convert potential consumers into interested, action-taking parties
Basically, you can achieve your business-developing goals in a more complete fashion if you create a compelling presence for yourself on the same platforms that your target consumers use. The best digital marketing strategy will allow you to create this presence. It will also help you draw potential clients and customers to your website. This increases the chances of their buying your products or contracting your services.
So you now understand what digital marketing encompasses, in a nutshell. However, for you to be able to find and target your potential consumers online, you need to have many other factors in place. This brings us to:
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy
Jargon such as Keywords, Analytics, SEO, Lead Generation and Management, Marketing Funnel, etc, might throw you for a spin. What you need to remember is that every field has its own terminology and you should not lose heart at the list of new things to learn.
The first part of creating a good online marketing campaign or strategy is:
1. Create Consumer/Buyer Personas
You conduct some thorough research and analysis of your consumer pool. You need to use real data and keep assumptions to a minimum. You conduct an in-depth survey of customers, contacts, target audiences, etc,. This gives you valuable information pertaining to your target consumers. You find age-groups, incomes, jobs, preferred hangouts, interests, priorities, lifestyle, etc,.
You could split the data you wish to collect into two broad categories: qualitative and quantitative.
Quantitative Data helps you define consumers based on demographics such as age, location, income, etc,. For example, take Google Analytics, you can use this tool to track the locations from which a website receives traffic. The place from which maximum traffic hails is the location you need to dominate further. Locations that don’t give you much traffic are potential areas of improvement for your future plans.
Qualitative Data is psychographic in nature. You get assessments of consumer values, attitudes, interests, opinions, lifestyles, etc,. You should collect data on peoples’ goals, priorities, hobbies, interests, challenges, etc,. For example, understanding your consumers’ priorities and interests will help you deliver to them the kind of products and services they would value the most. Some might rather pay more for a deeper personal bond with a company and its customer support team. Some consumers might prefer their needs and wants addressed in cost-effective ways.
As you can see, such information will help you to accurately identify and define your ideal consumer base. You can then tailor your digital strategy for that consumer base.
You do not have to stick to fixed parameters for the information you collect. Be flexible. Use what works best for you to understand how you can reach your potential consumers.
2. Set Clear Marketing Goals
The next step in creating a digital marketing strategy is evaluating your marketing goals. Whatever methods of marketing you have been using up to this point, you need to judge the efficacy of the same. Once you have these results in hand, you can set new goals that you wish to achieve with the added support of online marketing techniques.
This will help you assess the results of your digital marketing endeavors and you will be able to easily compare ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenarios. While it will be encouraging to note the progress you have made with digital marketing, this step serves another purpose as well. Before you start implementing digital marketing strategies, you need to do an overall check of your company. What was the original business goal of your business and how much of it have you achieved? How will you then work towards your overall goals as well as your digital marketing goals? This will help you set timelines and schedule your strategy in a way that would help you better conduct it.
For example, suppose one of the goals is to increase the number of customers you have in the age group of 25 to 35 from 40% to 80%. You could then set a separate digital marketing goal to grab half of this increased set from online methods. You could also set goals for the percentage of revenue increase you expect to gain from online leads.
This might mean you will have to work on increasing traffic to pages of your website that prompt call-to-action from consumers. The best part about this step is that goals help you select platforms and channels for your messages. They help make more relevant everything you have to say to your target audience. This increases your value to them and strengthens your hold on their attention and interest.
3. Select Relevant Platforms
The third step of creating a good digital marketing strategy is very crucial. This is where all your previous efforts in researching personas and setting goals come together. You need to select the right platforms on which you wish to strengthen your brand presence. You will then create content and online marketing strategies that work best for those particular platforms.
To select platforms that are most relevant for your business, you first need to evaluate the channels and platforms you might already be using. You could split this up into channels you own, channels that you pay for, and channels that you earned. Your website and all your online social media pages, profiles and blogs are assets already owned by you. Google AdWords, for example, is a paid channel. You organically gain business, exposure, increased revenue, etc,. This comes from online users sharing your content, posting about your website or your business, or from word-of-mouth. These fall under earned channels.
When you conduct thorough assessments of these channels, you would be able to identify weaknesses in your existing set-ups. You can make the necessary changes to the channels you own because you have complete authority over them. With earned media, however, you need to assess how, where and why you receive exposure. You could target these channels with content and information relevant to your business. You could also use the information and knowledge you have to increase natural exposure from new platforms.
Post completion of the above stages, you are in a position to design a content creation plan. This plan would target relevant audiences in the most effective manner, and on the most relevant platforms. You would also be able to address gaps and weaknesses. However, though among the last stages, content creation is hardly the least of your concerns. Here is why:
Content Creation Plan
Digital marketing revolves around good quality, useful, reader-friendly content. Once you have identified relevant platforms and areas that you need to improve on, the next action you must take is to develop content. You need to have relevant content out there, designed and tailored to match your consumer personas. You could start with your website. Optimizing your website means making it easier for search engines to find it when users type in search requests. However, that does not mean you only fill your website with all the relevant keywords and phrases that pertain to your business. You website must be easy to navigate. You also need to create and publish content on third party websites and social media platforms.
Sounds like too much? It’s actually not that complicated. Suppose you are a rent-a-car service that offers transportation all throughout the night. Your consumer personas indicate that a major chunk of your potential customers are from a younger age demographic. They require a cab once they are done with dinner, drinks and partying. Now what you do is you create content that caters to this demographic. This content has to be relevant to them, as well as related to the services you offer. You now post this content on Facebook groups related to evening events and parties. You also publish it on e-zines that are popular among youngsters. The content you publish would have links that would take interested users to your website. This way, you generate more traffic to your site.
Do remember, though, that you cannot rely only on written content with appropriate keywords. In fact, you should not restrict your content creation plan to written content. You have to target different platforms with different types of content. In fact, many online platforms have different content format requirements. For example, you could put out graphical posts on social media platforms, and written content on blogs. For AdWords, you need to excel at copy-writing of ads as well as content related to landing pages. A combination of different types of content works great as well. Use pictures, videos, info-graphs, etc,. They are all great ways to disseminate information and appeal to various online audiences. Ultimately, this draws more traffic to your website.
Now you are now done with your content planning, and have started putting your digital strategy into practice. You now need to perform regular audits on the progress you are making. The best thing about digital marketing strategies is that they are straightforward and flexible. You can keep altering them and improving them according to performance and results.
You could employ an “n” number of methods to achieve each stage in your online strategy. For example, outsourcing content is something that many businesses choose to do. While this does free you up for other tasks, you need to ensure that the content you receive and finally upload is of the best quality.
A side note: Outsourcing parts of this process, sourcing a digital marketing expert etc, however, all come at a cost. One thing you absolutely have to sketch out right in the beginning is your budget. Once you set that budget, you should ensure you do not deviate from it. Get creative, but avoid crossing limits set by your budget. This will help you trim off the fat from elaborate and unproductive marketing campaigns. It will help you put together a digital strategy that is more compact and goal-oriented.
If you are still not convinced of the need for a good digital strategy, keep this in mind: The field of digital marketing has become so established that colleges around the world now offer specialized courses in digital marketing. It isn’t at all hard to imagine why. A digital marketing strategy is proven to help you better know your market and your customers. It gives you direction and prevents you from wasting time, energy and resources unnecessarily. You could begin right away, with just some preliminary orientation on the subject. You get to experience whole new strata of marketing possibilities. You get to experience the satisfaction of a well-thought out digital strategy brought to fruition. And most importantly, you get to watch your business grow and flourish.
Let me know if you need any assistance in creating you digital marketing strategy. I am just an email away 🙂