Nowadays it’s plain to see that a massive part of our marketing strategy is undertaken digitally. Consumers and businesses spend more time searching online than anywhere else, so that's exactly where your business needs to be in order to reach them.
Whether you have been in business for a while or your business is in its infancy, the ever-changing picture of digital marketing can quickly grow and feel overwhelming. As a self-employed business owner, you are already faced with a long daily to-do list. How are you supposed to create, and maintain, an effective digital marketing strategy too?
What is a digital marketing strategy?
Your digital marketing strategy encompasses a series of actions (that take place online) with the aim of marketing your business and attracting the right customers.
The term ‘strategy’ might seem frightening but simply means, ‘plan of action’. Creating an effective digital strategy doesn’t need to be scary and should be viewed as a necessary tool that's used for bringing more paying customers to your business.
How to build a comprehensive digital marketing strategy
You will gain a better insight into your sector by studying other business models and reviewing the approach taken by your competitors. The results can form part of your strategy.
The following is a list of other factors to consider when devising your strategy.
1) Identify and build your buyer personas
Buyer persona's shows your ideal customer and can be developed by researching, surveying, and interviewing the target audience of your business. It’s important to note that this information should be based upon real data. Making assumptions about your audience can cause your marketing strategy to fail.
To get a rounded picture of your persona, try and include information that relates to their demographics, motivations, behaviour patterns and goals. Include a mixture of customers and people outside your contacts database who align with your target audience.
2) Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you’ll need
Your marketing goals should form a significant part of the objectives for your business. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 20 per cent, your goal as a marketer might be to generate 50 per cent more leads via the website than you did last year to contribute towards that success.
Whatever your dominating goal is, you need to know how to measure it. The success of a digital strategy will be measured differently for each business and will vary dependent upon the nature of your goal. Having the ability to measure the impact of a marketing strategy is essential as it will allow you to refine your approach accordingly.
3) Evaluate your existing digital marketing channels and assets. Which ones are you using? Should you be on others?
The digital landscape changes quite often, so it’s a good idea to do your homework and find out what is out there, who is using it, why are they using it and if it’s a method that will fit in with your business. Not all platforms or assets are right for every business.
The key is to build a plan of what you would like to do and how you are going to achieve this. Can it be executed with your current resources or do you need to invest in more staff or external help?
4) Audit and plan your owned media.
Your owned media (original content that you create yourself) is often placed at the heart of digital marketing – your website. Each element of content that your brand creates, such as your website pages, product descriptions, blog posts, e-books, infographics, all helps transform your website viewers into leads and customers. It can also boost your search/organic traffic.
Whatever your goal is, you’ll need owned content to form part of your digital marketing strategy. You can then use other platforms (e.g. social media) to broadcast your messages to other audiences.
5) Create a content strategy and develop your earned media
Earned media is external publicity that you haven’t paid for. This is media exposure that comes to your business via methods such as, customer reviews, or content that has been shared, reposted, or mentioned by other people on their social media channels.
A good content strategy creates earned media. In turn, this exposure gets picked up by search engines and works towards them favourably ranking you above your competitors. Review the digital marketing asset column above and consider which tools will help your business receive more engagements and improve the external publicity for your site.
6) Do you have a budget for paid media?
If you have a marketing budget, you may want to spend some of it on advertising. Branded content, pay per click advertising (PPC) or display ads in print/online newspapers/magazines are all varieties of paid media. Budgets can be spent easily, so choose wisely where you want to spend your money. For online businesses, this is an essential aspect of revenue growth and building brand awareness.
7) Bring it all together.
It’s never too late to start implementing a good digital marketing strategy for your online business. A combination of owned, earned and paid for media can often give you better results.
Remember to plan ahead (as much as is realistically possible) and schedule regular meetings to evaluate the impact and performance of what has gone out. What lessons have you learned? Going forward, does the marketing plan you have in place need to be tweaked?
Digital marketing checklist:
- Profile of your buyer persona
- One or more marketing-specific goals
- An inventory and audit of your existing owned, earned, and paid media
- An owned content strategy plan
- Social media marketing plan
- Ideas of how you can create earned content
- A budget and plan for paid for content (advertising)
Have you got everything covered? We’d love to hear how you plan and action your digital marketing strategy. Leave a comment below to get the discussion started.