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“Digital marketing strategy” is an essential part of any companies’ digital marketing operations. It should always come first before launching any marketing campaigns. A digital marketing campaign without a well-developed strategy often leads to a waste of resources and ineffective results.
What is digital marketing strategy?
You might come across “Add a call-to-action” or “traffic generation” as some of the digital marketing strategies. But this post does not refer to the same type of “strategy” that is more like common tactics and can be put on the strategy slide of many companies’ digital marketing planning.
A good digital marketing strategy for each company is unique and developed after conducting research, serious analysis, and testing. It takes weeks or even months to develop a digital marketing strategy involving complex processes.
A digital marketing strategy is a well-developed plan concentrating companies’ resources on the optimal digital channels and tactics in order to generate sales in a self-sustaining manner. It should include both short-term and long-term plans integrating multiple digital channels, online and offline, to maximize a company’s return on investment.
It can not be told or taught but only developed by your own company as nobody is more aware of your business goals, coming plans, and resources than you do. And, the ultimate objective of a digital marketing strategy is to increase your sales and improved ROI IN A SELF-SUSTAINING MANNER.
Step 1. Business goals & the Unique Selling Point (USP)
Developing a digital marketing strategy should start with the business goals. And, identify how much “digital” can play realizing that business objective. It could be one or all of the followings:
- Reach more potential customers
- Increase brand awareness
- Engage existing customers
- Generate leads
- Drive direct sales
After a thorough understanding of what roles digital marketing will play meeting your business objective; you need to identify the USP, which will be essential in audience targeting and messaging development.
Many businesses have defined their USP but not all of the USPs are the same as the perceptions of their target audience. Companies must identify the USP from their target customers’ perspective before it can help them succeed in the market.
One way to identify USP is to list all benefits of your products or services, conduct your research and list the benefits that your competitions provide, and compare and identify your USP. Keep in mind that:
- List benefits NOT features
- Do include emotional benefits
- Make sure you write it (USP) down in a short sentence that can be easily communicated both internally and externally
If your product is not unique; then, you need to conduct market research, do SWOT analysis, and identify one area you want your company to stand out. Conduct a focus group study and be certain your USP is UNIQUE in front of your target audiences.
Once you can identify your USP that truly make your brand unique and stand out, you can proceed to the next step of digital strategy development.
Step 2: Personas Development
The purpose of personas development is to create applicable representations of your key audience segments so that you can develop a corresponding marketing plan for each segment. Each persona may require different tactics, channels, and messaging.
Unless you target a niche segment, you should develop two or more sets of personas with each representing a different user type within a targeted demographic, attitude and behavior set.
You should develop as detailed profile as possible for each persona set. Here are some examples:
- Persona group
- Demographics such as age, gender, education, ethnicity, and family status
- Job title in an organization (necessary for B2B companies)
- Interests and hobbies
- Frequently accessed social media websites
- Online time
- The goals and tasks they are trying to complete using your website or app
You can conduct research (among your current customers, prospects, or referrals), brainstorming, and analysis using R to help you with personas development. For SMEs, you can refer to this article for details and this template on how to create buyer personas.
Step 3. Finalize Digital Marketing Strategy
With the understanding of the USP of your product and your target audience personas, it’s time to complete the digital marketing strategy targeting each persona you have created.
Make sure you understand your customers’ decision journey; and, your strategy should target each phase of their decision journey from brand awareness to research and purchase phases. And, your digital marketing strategy should consist of the following components:
Budgeting. How much you plan to spend on each digital channel and/or each persona; you need to use tools or hire an agency to do the estimation based on data and rational reasonings. Make it controllable and flexible as you may need to do budget optimizations during the digital marketing campaign executions.
Measurement and tracking. After defining your KPIs, make sure you have proper analytics tools to track and measure the digital marketing performance for each channel from time to time in order for your operation team to carry out the optimizations. And, also make sure you have rationalized and chosen an attribution model for your upcoming digital marketing campaigns.
Digital channel strategy (including targeting options for each channel). This would require more than another lengthy article to share. In this component, you list out the channels you would deploy such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo,…down to specific digital platforms), online video, search engines, etc.
Content & messaging strategy. You need to develop the right content (for your website and each digital channel) and messaging guideline for each persona. In addition, you need to have your content calendar ready.
Integration (channel integrations, CRM integration, sales force integration).
Step 4: Test & Adjust
If any of the information you analyzed is not accurate or correct, you have a lot of adjustment work to do. If even there is not, you still need to go through a “test and adjust” process for your digital strategies due to the dynamic nature and fast development in digital space.
You should review your digital marketing strategy on a quarterly or annual basis.