Digital Marketing is any marketing that takes place online. There are many different forms of digital marketing means. A few included are online video, display ads, search engine marketing, paid ads, social media ads, email campaigns, text messages, and more. In 2020, there were 4.5 billion internet users and it is expected in 2023 to have 5.3 billion internet users. Regarding social media, there are 1386 million active users on Instagram alone. With the number of users online steadily growing, there is no end in sight for the importance of digital marketing.
With so many avenues for promotion, it can be hard to align your brand with a successful campaign. How do you get started preparing your digital marketing strategy?
The Difference: Marketing vs Digital Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy is a plan for reaching your marketing goal--be it increase brand awareness, customer acquisition, increase revenue, etc.--in a meaningful, focused manner. A digital marketing strategy is a part of your overall marketing strategy, however it is singularly focused on establishing online channels through web-mediums often leading customers to your website. In most cases, the goal of digital marketing is increasing brand awareness and increasing reach to improve customer acquisition.
An important differentiating point is that digital marketing is reliant on online means and requires you to have an online presence. At minimum, a website is required as you need a place for all this online traffic to be directed to. It doesn't have to be a robust, complex site. It can be limited to a description of your brand and services / products offered and a means of contact. What is important is that one exists. Whereas a marketing strategy doesn't require you to have any form of digital presence--although having one is starting to seem like a modern-day requirement.
What is a Strategy?
A strategy is a detailed plan of how to get to your goal.
Creating a Strategy
A strategy, whether it's for a digital marketing strategy or otherwise, is a descriptive, clear plan of objectives and how you are going to get there. If a strategy was described in one word, it would be that it's the "How".
First, the challenges need to be addressed, both past and present, that have kept you from that goal. In order to move forward, the landscape has to detailed so that you don't encounter obstacles you aren't prepared for. Next, clearly layout what your goal is. What is important in goal creation is following the SMART methodology: Specific, Measurable, Action-Orientated, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For all plans, following this goal-planning methodology will ensure you can measure how successful your actions were. Once your goal is established, create milestones that are connected to your overarching goals. Milestones are essential aspects to your plan as they work in line with the establishment of a time-line (the M and T of SMART) to both keep you on track and allow clear insight to the progress of your strategy. In addition to milestones, you need to create targeted actions that you (or others in your company) are going to take to achieve your goal and forward your strategy from plan to action. It is important to keep track of what you are going to be doing and the campaign(s) that are a part of this strategy later down the line when measuring your performance data.
No matter what kind of strategy you are creating, these steps will remain the same:
Identify your challenges
Create the goal of your plan using SMART techniques
Establish and outline a time-line and milestones
Create targeted actions designed to accomplish your goal
Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy
As referenced above, there are a few clear steps that are important for every kind of strategy, whether it is an overarching business strategy to a marketing one. Due to that, the steps are generalized to cover a range of topics and direction.
When creating a digital marketing strategy, your steps will become more focused on aspects related to digital marketing. It is still important to clarify what has been done so far as well as the strengths and weaknesses of current digital marketing strategies. One challenge could be that you have never done a marketing strategy and are starting from the ground up. Or you could have an established digital presence and are undergoing rebranding. One consistent challenge for all marketing is understanding the target audience. Constructing buyer personas are a major part of bringing clarity to this challenge. Only after you have a clear understanding of who you are marketing to, can you generate your strategy.
Once the personas are built, the next step is detailing the goals of this strategy. As digital marketing has a variety of platforms and means, in order to have a clear goal, the tools you will be using also need to be identified. Choosing too many tools, or the wrong tool, can make even a strong strategy unsuccessful. Do research into what platform best aligns with your goals and your company. Next, create the campaign(s) that will be the drivers (actionable parts) of your strategy. These should contain milestones, timelines, who will be managing the campaigns, content descriptions, etc. They should be very detailed whether or not a single person is carrying it out, because this will help you when you analyze the successfulness of your campaign(s) and strategy. Additionally, as you develop a clearer understand and/or scale, these can be helpful references for you in the future. As before, the last step of your digital marketing strategy is monitoring and analyzing the data. The results of your analysis should lead you to changing your campaigns or strategy, or if they are successful, continue what you are doing.
To reiterate, the steps of creating a digital marketing strategy are:
Create buyer persona(s)
Detailing the goal(s) of the strategy (utilizing the SMART methodology)
Identify the tools that will be used
Create the campaign(s) of your strategy
Monitor the progress of your campaign(s)
Analyze and re-evaluate your campaign(s) / strategy
Continue campaign(s) or start over
Creating all strategies requires a significant amount of time and effort--especially when done thoroughly. Having a detailed strategy is vitally important because it will direct the rest of your efforts. Set aside a decent amount of time to go through each aspect of the strategy and complete it thoroughly. A great resource we found is Hubspot's Marketing Template (they have quite a few free templates on their website in regards to marketing). If you are looking for outside help, we are here for you! As a team we will go through the different components of marketing along with your goals and conduct the research on your part to provide you with suggestions.