The days of billboards and newspaper ads are long gone. In today’s world, digital marketing seems to be the go-to way of growing your business. Video and social media ads have taken over.
After all, the internet takes up a major part of our day-to-day lives. And now, with over 59% of the global population having access to it, there’s no better place to advertise your company than on the internet.
However, digital marketing comes in many different forms. There is Search Engine Optimization, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and more. Because of this, figuring out the best strategy to advertise your business can seem difficult and overwhelming. And it could be unless you start by developing a digital marketing strategy.
How to create a digital marketing strategy
Now, when creating a digital marketing strategy, it may be a good idea to consult with a marketing or brand identity agency. But if you’re just starting your business or want to keep this process in-house here are the key points to keep in mind when creating a digital marketing strategy.
1. Set goals
First and foremost, you need to establish your goal. Knowing what you want to achieve is important because it will dictate the course of your digital marketing strategy.
To do this, try using SMART criteria. This is a tool that will help you create clear, attainable, and meaningful goals. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Do you want to generate more leads? Or sell more products? Maybe you want more people to subscribe to your newsletter or you want to focus on building brand recognition.
Be as specific as possible when setting your goals. Simply saying that you want to sell more products is not enough. However, establishing that you want to increase your sales by 10% within the next three months will give you a better idea of how to get there.
2. Evaluate your existing digital marketing presence
Once you’ve figured out what you want to achieve, it’s time to take a step back and analyze how your existing digital marketing strategy is working.
To do this, take a look at your main marketing channels. These may include your website, social media pages, email marketing or content marketing efforts, SEO or pay-per-click advertising. Analyze what’s working and what needs to be improved to help you determine where you should focus your efforts.
If your website currently serves as your only digital marketing presence, do some research into which other channels may benefit your brand. What social media platforms do your potential customers frequent? Will email marketing help boost your sales?
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at what your competitors are doing. This can help give you ideas on how to get your brand in front of your target audience.
3. Understand what the digital sales funnel is
You have the baseline for your strategy, but before diving headfirst into executing your digital marketing strategy, you need to understand the digital sales funnel. So, what is it?
A digital sales funnel is a marketing concept that depicts the buyers’ journey, starting from being a stranger to your company and ending up as being one of your loyal customers. The digital sales funnel includes the following stages:
Where people get to hear about your company for the first time.
When some level of brand recognition has been established and the user is looking into your company and your products, becoming a potential customer.
Where potential customers have turned into current customers.
Where people connect with your brand and turn into long-term customers.
Understanding what stage your audience is at and what their expectations are can help you better curate your messaging. This is important to understand because users will react to your ads differently, based on the stage they are at. You need to construct your CTAs, social posts, and other copy based on these stages.
4. Build buyer personas
The next step is to get inside the mind of your customer. Imagine who your customer is, how old they are, what their values are, what they do for a living, and more. By doing this, you’ll gain a better understanding of who your audience is and how you will reach them. This practice steps beyond identifying a target market and actually has you create a faux buyer persona that helps you visualize your ideal customer.
These buyer personas need to be specific, just like the goals we talked about earlier. Conduct thorough market research, and leverage the steps you’ve already taken when defining your sales funnel as a starting point. From there, start to talk to your potential customers in forums, social media groups, or by requesting one-on-one interviews.
In many ways, this will function like the validation process you ran when starting your business, just with a focus on messaging, digital ads, and your overall online presence.
5. Find your customers within your digital sales funnel
Now that you’ve figured out what type of audience you’re looking at, it’s time to imagine your buyers scattered across all stages of the digital sales funnel.
Why? Because, as we have previously mentioned, the buyers will react differently to your ads, depending on the stage they are at. Therefore, each one of these stages requires a different marketing approach.
Let’s say that you’re running a car repair shop. From regular maintenance to restoration, and even fine-tuning ― you do it all. Think about how people will be able to find you depending on the stage they are at.
For example, a customer at the discovery phase would be someone who had experienced an unexpected breakdown. And now, they’re looking for a mechanic to fix the issue immediately.
They’ll most likely do a quick search on Google and might even look at online reviews. In this instance, you’d want to be one of the first to pop up in their search results for “car repair shop near me.” And you’d want to have a handful of positive reviews attached to your listing. To get there, you’ll need to optimize your SEO for that given term by having the right copy, an efficient site, readily available contact info, among other on-page elements.
Another customer within the research phase may be someone looking for a new paint job or to add an after-market car stereo to their vehicle. They’re not in a rush and are willing to wait and do enough research to qualify reaching out to you. In that case, you’ll want your ads to present where they are.
So why not run a Facebook ad campaign showcasing your past restoration projects? Seeing that you made an old car look brand new, might just be enough to convince this potential customer that his car could really use a paint job.
There will be a lot of trial and error during this stage. More than likely, you’ll continue to test and iterate on your ad positioning over time. For now, start with your buyer personas and where you expect them to be in your sales funnel. You can always adjust your ads, targeting, digital channels, and overall efforts depending on customer response.
6. Create a content strategy
Now, you need to put everything together and create a specific marketing strategy for each channel. Your content strategy may include blogs, webinars, eBooks, podcasts, videos, and more. Define your goals and determine which types of content can help you achieve those goals.
For example, if you want to improve your ranking in search results, you might work on a keyword strategy, or ask users to post reviews on Google business so you can improve your local SEO score. Or, if you’re looking to gain brand recognition, you’ll want to make sure you’re active on social media.
Just be sure that no matter what content you develop, that you follow these best practices:
- Get to the point: Focus on the most important points and make sure your content is valuable to your reader.
- Speak directly to your audience: In order to connect with your audience, you must understand them. What are they looking for? What questions do they need answered? What problems do they need solved? How can you help?
- Use your unique value proposition: A value proposition tells your potential customers what they can expect from your brand. Along with valuable copy, be sure to create engaging headlines.
- Be consistent: Make sure your brand is consistent across all channels. Define your brand’s personality, tone of voice, and other unique traits. Ensure that every piece of content you create truly reflects your brand.
7. Keep track of your results
Once you’ve got your marketing strategy up and running, it’s time to observe and see how it’s working. There’s always room for improvement. That’s why you need to constantly keep track of the performance of your project. Find out what strategies are doing well and what could go better, then make changes accordingly.
Just be sure that you establish key metrics that you want to track upfront. This could simply be final transactions or appointment bookings, or something a bit broader like social shares and backlinks. Knowing what metrics matter can help you quickly identify and pivot away from any problems that arise.
Digital marketing is a continuous process
When creating a digital marketing strategy, always be specific with what you want to achieve, know who your target audience is, and determine how they will react to your ads based on the phase they’re at in the funnel.
You’re not going to get this right every time. You may find that the channel you chose, the medium, and even the imagery just doesn’t resonate with your customers. Don’t let that shake you. Instead, learn from those results and try again.
The same can be said if you see success. Don’t stop there, keep iterating on what works to find what works even better. That’s the beauty of leveraging digital marketing, there’s always room for improvement and so many ways to do it. You just need to lay the groundwork to know how best to approach it.