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How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

Creating a digital marketing strategy that works for your business is crucial in today’s increasingly digital world. With people spending more and more of their time online, your business must be able to reach and connect with potential customers in a meaningful way — and that starts with a robust digital marketing strategy.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

Before delving into how to create a digital marketing strategy, you should understand exactly what it entails. 

A digital marketing strategy is a planned set of actions performed online to achieve business goals. Your digital marketing strategy can cover any kind of digital content — including, for example, blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media, pay-per-click advertising, and more.

Why do I need a digital marketing strategy?

Any business operating at this time of digital transformation should make their digital marketing strategy a priority. Just think about how you receive most of your information — probably from scrolling through the internet, either on social media or a number of other websites that you enjoy and trust. 

Your experience online influences your habits, including where you choose to spend your time and money. When a business operates an effective digital marketing strategy, they first ensure that their business is seen by the right people before connecting with their customers, building a relationship of trust that encourages repeat business, referrals, and an overall positive experience.

How to create a digital marketing strategy: Ten steps

Creating your digital marketing strategy is a process of trial and error — you will run into many pitfalls along the way and should be constantly learning, updating, and optimizing your strategy as you go. Here is a ten-step guide to getting started.

1. Research your audience and create your buyer persona

Your first step is to figure out who your audience is, what they want, and what your buyer persona looks like. A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer — think of them as a character that is the perfect person to buy your product or service. When creating this image, you should research how your potential audience thinks and operates. Try not to base your ideas on assumptions — use real data so you can get a realistic picture of your customers.

You may do this by looking at online analytics tools to see how your audience is reaching you,  and find some more information about them, like their age, gender, location, and even occupation. 

2. Identify your goals

Once you’ve figured out who to target, it’s time to look at what you want to gain from your digital marketing strategy. Your marketing goals should always be tied to your organization’s goals — take this time to consider how your marketing efforts can feed into your company’s overall success and where you can provide value. 

For example, if your company’s goal is to increase revenue by 30%, your marketing team’s goal may be to generate 60% more leads from online traffic over last year. Your goals should be measurable and aim high while still being achievable for your team’s current size and workload.

3. Evaluate your existing assets, channels, tools, and content

It’s now time to look at what you’ve already got in your arsenal and what your team needs to achieve your goals. You may be creating a digital strategy because you are starting from scratch — in this case, do some research into the kind of campaigns you admire from other businesses, and what may be needed to achieve them. For example, do you need an analytics tool? A graphic design tool? A work management platform? 

If you are creating a new digital marketing strategy because what you have been doing so far isn’t working, it’s time to audit. Maybe you have a lot of blog posts, but they are not optimized for SEO — that should be a key part of your strategy. Maybe you have been concentrating your efforts on Instagram when your research shows that your buyers are more active on Twitter — your new strategy should reflect this. 

4. Map your strategy across the marketing funnel

To spread your content effectively, it’s important to understand the marketing funnel. This refers to the process of turning someone visiting your website or social media channels into a paying customer. Their customer journey can be broken down into stages, each with its own kind of content that would work well to move the customer further along the funnel.

  • Awareness: This stage is about appealing to audiences and making them aware of your product or service and what it can do for them. This is the largest part of the funnel and includes the widest range of content — blog posts, podcasts, videos, and more can all aid in this stage. 
  • Consideration: This is where you as a brand advocate for yourself against competitors and drive home why you would be the best option for your customer. This could include case studies or landing pages specific to pain points your customer may be experiencing.
  • Conversion: This is the point that an observer becomes a customer. The process of making a purchase should be as smooth and easy as possible — facilitate this with regular calls-to-action in your content and seamless UX design so customers know where to look.

5. Set your KPIs

Once your strategy is ready, it’s time to detail how you will measure its success. Marketing KPIs (or key performance indicators) are the metrics and results that determine your success in reaching your marketing goals. There are hundreds of potential KPIs that you might look at for your own marketing strategy — it all depends on your own department’s needs. You may look at click-through rates on your email campaigns or landing page conversion rates, for example. It’s all about tailoring to your specific goals. 

6. Run some campaigns

Now that you’ve done the planning, it’s time to put your strategy into action. Choose a couple of areas to focus on and launch some campaigns with everything that you’ve learned so far behind you. Remember, obstacles will arise and things will go wrong, but keep moving forward — learning is the most important part of the process.

7. Embrace automation

Digital marketing is a massive undertaking and many teams waste valuable time on tasks that could be automated. Email marketing, social media, and content marketing can all be aided with automation tools. To keep track of your own team and their workloads, an automation feature in your work management system can be invaluable in managing incoming requests and tasks. 

8. Track and monitor

As your campaigns run, it’s important to keep track of how they’re progressing. It’s also important to give campaigns the time and space to perform before pulling the plug. Long-term growth in digital marketing rarely happens in a straight line — you may invest months into a campaign before realizing it’s not as lucrative as you had hoped and your efforts may be better suited elsewhere. Constant tracking, monitoring, and recapping of results will help your strategy be the best it can be. 

9. Analyze and optimize

Armed with all of your data, it’s time to see where changes need to be made. Pay close attention to how your audience behaves and act accordingly. Did a particular social media post perform better than the rest? Why was that? Did a landing page fail to rank for SEO? Why, and how can you ensure that your next landing page does rank? 

10. Repeat

Your digital marketing strategy is not a one-and-done project. It should be viewed as an ever-evolving, ever-improving factor of your business success. A great digital marketer is always prepared to learn something new — when your initial campaigns have run their course, use everything that you’ve learned to make them even better next time around.

Further reading
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Digital Marketing Strategy Frameworks

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Digital Marketing Plan

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The Definitive Guide to Multi-Channel Marketing

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