How to create a digital marketing strategy that grows leads and revenue
Achieving success at digital marketing can be challenging. Choosing the right marketing channels, right approaches, and setting realistic goals is a difficult task.
For this reason, you need a strategy to order your efforts and budget. Truth is, a strategy makes your digital marketing efforts more effective and easy.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
A strategy is defined as a plan of action. It devises the steps to achieve a goal.
A digital marketing strategy therefore, is a plan of action for achieving your set goals and objectives. It’s a systematic approach to planning, executing, and monitoring your digital marketing campaigns — you stay focused on what matters most to your business.
Yes, it sounds like a hard nut to crack, but don’t worry, I will show you exactly how you can create a strategy for your business, why you need it, and what tools to use.
Why you need a digital marketing strategy
Why in the first place do you need a digital marketing strategy?
Why not go without a strategy?
How does a strategy makes you different from your competitors who don’t have one?
There are several reasons why a marketing strategy will help your business.
Let’s quickly discuss a few of the benefits:
1. Direction and focus
A strategy gives you direction. It tells you and your team what has to be done, why it has to be done, when and how it will help achieve the set goals.
In the absence of a digital marketing strategy, everyone in the organisation will be moving in their own direction. Some will even be moving in the opposite direction.
There are several types of marketing techniques and channels. A strategy that says we need to increase traffic is not focused because some team members will work on social media, others on SEO, another chunk will spend lavishly on PPC. Everyone will be driving traffic to the site.
It won’t work.
A better strategy would aim on increasing organic traffic by 100% in 6 months. This strategy gives direction to your team. Everyone will be focused on SEO and nothing else. This is what a strategy does to your business – organises the work carried out by digital marketers.
2. Achieve business goals
An online marketing strategy will help achieve business goals.
Every marketing strategy aims to achieve something and it adds to the overall business goals. However, you have to make sure that the marketing strategy is integrated with the business objectives.
In fact, a digital marketing strategy is a subset of your business’s strategy.
If your business strategy is be the biggest smartphone seller in your country in five years. You can’t achieve it without a proven plan. Each year, your marketing strategy will push your business closer to its objective.
3. Minimise wastage
How would you like to be able to allocate budget and resources in advance? You know how much you have to spend on content marketing, how many backlinks you have to acquire in a month, and so on — you need a step-by-step strategy to guide you.
This planning reduces resource wastage.
For instance, if you need to acquire 500 backlinks a month, you can allocate budget for it and hire someone experienced to do it for you.
Everything works smoothly.
4. Reduces duplication
How many times have you realised that there were two or more people in your organisation working on the same or similar projects?
It’s uncommon, but could happen for various reasons. The most frequent being:
Lack of a written strategy.
Lack of communication.
Consider the previous example.
Your business needs to acquire 500 backlinks. You have created a plan for it and a team has been assigned to generate these backlinks. There will be no duplication.
As opposed to when you simply tell your team to create backlinks. They might end up getting backlinks from the same websites which may not pan out well for your search visibility.
5. Improvement in performance
Yes, a digital marketing strategy will improve your business’ performance. After all, this is the reason why you’re investing in it in the first place.
It’s not just about the results that you drive from your campaign. Think of the analytics, the data and continuous monitoring that helps you optimise campaigns.
Businesses that have a well-documented marketing strategy see significantly higher performance in the form of ROI and customer engagement compared to those that don’t.
6. Better ROI
No matter the industry you operate in, you want to maximise your investment and build a profitable business. From manufacturing to entertainment, getting a better ROI is the ultimate pursuit.
While 64% of the insurance agencies reported that they don’t measure the ROI of marketing but the businesses that do, are killing it.
Statistics show that digital marketing provides 4x high ROI than TV.
Yes, marketing through digital channels does work but you have to measure the ROI. Unfortunately, most of the businesses don’t measure the ROI of their digital marketing campaigns and strategy. This is where things get wrong. If you don’t know how much you made for every dollar you invested in digital marketing, how’d you scale it? Or, how’d you tell if it worked or didn’t?
Businesses with a clear strategy normally don’t struggle too much with ROI because they measure it one way or another.
In any case, having a strategy will make things clearer in several ways. This will help you in getting better at measuring ROI over time.
A digital marketing strategy makes communication smooth and meaningful.
Everyone in the organisation knows their responsibilities. Inter-department interaction gets meaningful in the process. All the departments should know what the marketing team is up to this month and how they can help.
For instance, the product development team will know when they have to launch their new product so that the marketing team can kick start its influencer marketing campaign.
Steps to create a winning digital marketing strategy
You know the reasons why your business needs a digital marketing strategy. But how do you create one?
The following 6-step process will show you how to create a killer strategy from scratch:
1. Set objectives
Nothing starts without objectives.
Did you start your business without an objective? No.
Did you publish the last post on Facebook without any objective? No.
How could you have a digital marketing strategy without an objective?
It shouldn’t be.
Statistics show that 32% of businesses plan for a year considering how digital technologies will change in the marketing industry.
This is a good approach. You need to consider everything when creating objectives for your strategy.
For instance, statistics reveal that the share of web traffic by different devices is increasing at an alarming pace for mobile while the desktop population is decreasing.
Ask yourself these questions:
What does this mean for my business?
Does my digital marketing strategy consider mobile traffic?
Is mobile marketing a part of my strategy?
Smart marketers plan ahead and create objectives that relate to the trends and technologies.
When creating objectives and goals, you need to consider two things:
Your goals for the strategy should have these five characteristics.
Let me give you an example.
Increase in traffic is not a SMART goal. You’re expected to convert the same objective into a SMART one.
Increase in organic traffic by 83% in a year
This is a SMART goal because:
It’s specific and tells what exactly has to be done.
You can easily measure traffic using Google Analytics.
It’s assignable as well as achievable. You can assign it to multiple teams by dividing it into smaller tasks.
This objective is realistic considering the fact that increasing organic traffic by 83% in a year isn’t an impossible task.
It has a time string of a year attached to it.
Measurable: Whatever objective you set for your strategy, you must have the resources to measure the results and its effectiveness.
If you can’t measure it, you won’t be able to make informed decisions.
The objective in the above example is quite simple so measuring it is not a big deal.
Consider an increase in engagement or boost in brand awareness.
These are metrics that are hard to measure and it gets challenging to measure the ROI of your campaign.
Your objective should be clear and measurable.
“We want to increase business growth” doesn’t seem to be measurable unless you attach a metric to it. The easiest way to create measurable objectives is to link them to a metric that you can measure. The most common are website traffic and sales.
Based on these two rules, you can create one or more objectives and goals for your strategy.
2. Understand your target audience
Everyone tells you to understand your target audience but only a few know how to do it. It’s a four-step process:
Engage with masses
Create buyer personas
Demographics: Are you targeting males or females?
What is the mean age of your primary target audience?
What is their average monthly income?
What do they do?
Where do they live?
These are the questions that you should ask yourself to narrow down your research. Most of this information is available online so this is something pretty easy to do.
The more details you collect about your target audience, the better.
Engage: The demographics will tell you a lot about your target audience. You now have to find them and engage with them.
You need to collect more information about them. Connect with them on social networks, groups, forums, and get into the conversation on the same platforms they usually hang out.
Gather more information.
Analyse their comments. See what they talk about. What they love to read.
What are their biggest challenges in life?
What are their hobbies, goals, priorities, etc.?
Collect data: You can go a step further and conduct surveys and focus groups to collect more data about your audience.
Surveys give you real insights about your target audience as to what they like and don’t like.
This helps you create accurate buyer personas.
Buyer personas: The final step is to create buyer personas based on all the information gathered about your target audience. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target audience.
A buyer persona will tell you everything about your target audience. This helps in creating better strategies.
You should create a buyer persona for all the different types of potential buyers. Since you’re using these personas for the development of a digital marketing strategy, don’t forget to include the following information:
Their preferred marketing channel.
Type of content they like.
Preferred social network.
3. Choose marketing channels
Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes all types of online marketing channels ranging from SEO to PPC to email marketing to content marketing and more.
You cannot use all these channels for your digital marketing strategy. You need to select the most effective channels based on your business strategy, budget, target audience, and objectives.
You’ve got to consider all these variables before choosing the channels for your strategy.
Start from your objectives.
If your primary objective is to increase organic traffic, then you have to go for SEO. No other option.
If the objective is to increase sales by 50%, see what type of channels and content your target audience likes. Do they like social media? Do they spend the most time on a few news sites? Do they browse the internet a lot?
This will give you an idea of which marketing channels you should choose.
You can target more than one marketing channels. In reality, you need to choose multiple marketing channels based on different buyer personas.
For instance, in one part of the country you might be using display ads and search ads and in another location, you may use email marketing and social ads.
Don’t follow the trend — it’s not the rule of the game. But rather, do what goes well with your target audience and objectives.
If your competitor is seeing 300% ROI from paid search, you don’t have to do the same. They might be interested in generating more sales. Your objective might be brand awareness.
The marketing channel must link to your objectives, target audience, and business goals.
4. Create a plan
Once you’ve selected the right marketing channels for your strategy, it is time to create a plan of action.
Create a step-by-step plan to achieving your marketing goals and objectives using selected marketing channels.
In simple form, divide your annual marketing goal into daily, weekly, and monthly plans.
A simple Excel sheet will work. The image below shows how a large plan has been divided into a small one and is assigned to a team member.
A Gantt chart like this will make your marketing team’s life easy.
Creating this action plan is a time-consuming process but it’s absolutely essential. You can’t go far without out. It has to be detailed and must clearly lay out the exact steps and actions to be taken.
For instance, for the organic traffic objective, you have to create monthly action plans. What do you want to achieve each month to boost rankings?
How many backlinks you’ll generate each month? How to acquire those links? Who will acquire them? How many backlinks a team member must acquire every week?
Add all these details in the Gantt chart, assign responsibilities, and kick start your strategy. If there are multiple marketing channels and objectives, create an action plan for all of them.
5. Integrate marketing activities
At any given time, your business will be using different marketing channels to achieve objectives. Besides, there will be traditional marketing activities too such as TV advertisement. All these marketing activities should be integrated.
Businesses report that non-integrated tech platforms are the biggest obstacle that they face in integrating marketing activities.
In another study, 67% businesses reported that integrating marketing activities across all channels is their top priority.
It should be your top priority too.
Use project management tools like Slack to keep track of every single activity.
Keep the entire marketing team in the loop whenever you’re planning or rolling out a new strategy.
Create and revise your marketing strategy to find and fix loopholes.
6. Optimise marketing activities
Optimising refers to monitoring, evaluating, and tweaking marketing activities across all the channels regularly to make them better. Statistics show that most of the businesses conduct frequent tests or are involved in continuous optimisation to make their marketing activities work better.
The rule is simple – tweak what is not working.
For instance, if a PPC ad campaign isn’t working, see why it isn’t delivering results. Fix it. If you don’t optimise it, you’ll keep on wasting money on ineffective campaigns.
This calls for continuous testing. Monitor the progress of your marketing activities in real-time or at least do it once a week.
Refining your digital marketing campaigns
Once your digital marketing strategy is up and running, you should monitor, optimise, and refine your campaigns, marketing channels, and activities. Let’s see what to refine and how to do it.
1. Retargeting ads
Also known as behavioural retargeting or simply retargeting are the ads that are based on user’s previous interaction with your website.
You show targeted ads to the visitors that have visited your website but didn’t convert. Here is how it works.
A visitor lands on your website.
Leaves without converting or buying.
Highly targeted ads are shown to this visitor to compel them to return to your website.
The visitor returns to your website and converts.
Statistics show that retargeted visitors are 3x more likely to click the ad and are 4x more likely to convert as compared to new visitors.
Retargeting ads are great at ROI. They drive massive ROI.
EasyVSL achieved 300% ROI with Facebook retargeting ads.
There are several ways you can use retargeting ads in your digital marketing strategy.
You can first run a PPC campaign and then run a retargeting ad campaign to target visitors who left the website without buying.
You can use a full-fledged retargeting campaign as a primary marketing channel.
Offer special discounts to visitors who abandoned the cart.
2. Improve site speed
Is your website slow?
If it is, it might affect your digital marketing strategy and it could be the reason why your marketing activities aren’t working.
Search engine marketing works because your target audience cannot stop using search engines. Over 93% of all online experience starts from a search engine.
Four out of five users use the search engine to find local information and 97% of people use search engines to find local goods and services.
SEO converts. It converts better than any other marketing channel primarily because when a user enters a search query, they are interested in finding out more or are more likely to buy than someone who is forced to click an ad.
However, search engine marketing is a long-term process. It needs time.
Therefore, you cannot rely solely on SEO for sales and conversions especially if you’re in a competitive niche because you’ll need at least 6 months to push your website to the first page.
SEO should be used with other marketing channels preferably an advertising campaign or a PPC campaign so that you continue to drive traffic to your website from ads and improve your website’s ranking in the meantime.
5. Mobile marketing
Mobile marketing is the future marketing channel. You shouldn’t ignore it. It relates to every industry and you should prepare for it. Your audience is shifting to mobile at a faster pace than ever. There are over 4 billion mobile phone users in the world. 1.08 billion of these have a smartphone while 3.05 billion use a simple phone that is text-enabled.
Social media marketing has the potential to do wonders for your digital marketing strategy in terms of engagement and ROI.
Facebook provides the best ROI followed by Twitter.
But 42% marketers intend to invest more on Instagram in the next year second only to Facebook.
So Facebook and Instagram are the two best social networks where your brand should invest heavily.
Instagram is mostly powered by images and is best for engagement while Facebook is a beast and works for pretty much everything ranging from increasing engagement to sales to generating leads, app downloads and more.
Don’t ignore it.
Digital marketing tools
Creating and managing a digital marketing strategy seems to be impossible without a few helpful tools. You have to use the right tools and software to get the most out of your strategy.
Here’s a list of the top 5 digital marketing tools that will help you in your strategy:
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the leading analytics tool for measuring all types of analytics whether its website traffic, conversion rate, measuring ROI, tracking, and so on.
The noticeable features of Google Analytics include:
It measures bounce rate.
It helps you create funnels.
It monitors and tracks traffic.
Track conversion rates.
Assign values to conversions.
And much more
Canva is used by more than 10 million people and is the best designing tool out there.
It helps you design images for social media, for your website, and for your ads. It is a design tool that doesn’t require any experience or skills. Anyone in your team can use it.
SEMRush is a multi-purpose tool that will help you in several ways with digital marketing.
It lets you analyse domains, search keywords, analyse competitors, check backlinks, analyse traffic, and more.
MailChimp is one of the easiest email marketing tools out there.
It’s a newbie-friendly email marketing software that makes it super-easy to create newsletters, email campaigns, and has a powerful reporting feature.
BuzzSumo is an awesome tool for analysing the content that generated the most social shares over a period of time.
It lets you find influencers, spy on your competitors, and is very helpful in crafting content that has the potential to go viral.