Those who believe that the earth is flat and those who believe their business can survive without a solid digital marketing strategy are the same.
They are looking into glaring facts and clear evidence but are still in denial.
Though members of the ‘flat earth society’ might be scant, those of ‘we can survive without digital marketing’ are plenty.
1 in 10 small business owners thinks their business doesn’t need any marketing. So, they don’t invest in any form of marketing.
They might still be earning, but they certainly have no idea what they can unlock with a sound digital marketing strategy.
A digital marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a sacred document with dotted i’s and crossed t’s that can’t be modified. It also doesn’t have to be a 1000-page heavy binder with color-marked pages and detailed charts outlining every goal.
Your strategy can be a single paper if you know what goals you want to achieve and how many resources you can dedicate to achieve them. This is the simplistic understanding of a digital marketing policy.
But delving deep into formulating this policy involves having a step-by-step process to cover all the basics and make realistic assumptions about the goals. The number of steps you take to develop a strategy depends upon your choice and business needs. The important thing is to devise a process and then follow it.
6 steps to make a digital marketing strategy
This blog covers the step-by-step process of formulating a digital marketing plan.
But there are a few things you should keep in mind before initiating the process.
- Two digital marketing policies do not need to follow the same template. It is scalable based on your goals.
- There is no rigid order. You can follow these digital marketing steps in whichever order you prefer.
- Prepare a strategy for short, medium, and long-term goals. You should be thinking at least three years into the future.
- It is a time-consuming process, especially if you are doing it for the first time.
If you are making a digital marketing strategy for the first time, consult a digital marketing agency or an expert. They will formulate a plan and also show you some digital marketing examples that others in your niche have followed.
They can help you create a holistic strategy, keeping in mind the limitations set by your business and envisage realistic goals.
Step #1: What are your goals
The vastness of digital marketing is such that you can’t step into it without knowing what you want to achieve. Otherwise, you will try to hit too many targets and miss all of them.
The first step is to have clear goals that you want to achieve with this strategy. Here are a few guidelines to start you off:
- Set sales and engagement goals for your marketing channels.
- Set targets for click-through rate, conversion rate, impressions, cost per click, cost per lead, social engagements, social media followers, and other key performance indicators.
Align these goals with your resource allocation for digital marketing and set targets that you can achieve within those resources.
Step #2: Develop audience personas
The audience persona is ‘every detail about your targeted audience’ that can help you reach out to them in a meaningful manner.
To form audience personas, answer these questions:
- What is your brand?
- What product do you offer?
- What problem do you solve?
- What challenges do you help overcome?
Based on these, you can form audience personas.
Audience personas help you formulate perfect strategies to target them. Here is a sample questionnaire to help you create a basic audience persona
- Is your audience predominantly rural or urban?
- Are they teens, middle-aged, or older people?
- What social media channel do they use the most?
- What types of searches do they make?
- What kind of content do they engage with?
- What devices do they mostly use?
- What time of the day do they usually come online?
Step #3: Identify your target channels
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, and even more – all these channels are the fields to hit your digital marketing goals.
To decide which channel you should target, review your existing channels and media assets. For example, if your ads get more clicks on Facebook than the traffic you are getting from the search engine, your focus should be on social media marketing.
Here is brief know-how of all these channels:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO remains a vital part of every digital marketing campaign. With 81% of people searching online, your website has to be there to attract customers.
Pay-per-Click (PPC): PPC advertising derives 36% of the total traffic for retail businesses. Running a PPC campaign while optimizing your website for search engines yields good results.
Social media marketing: How many people use social media today? Around 4 billion people – almost half the world population. Social media brings the buyers to you instead of businesses having to go to the buyers.
Email marketing: No one reads emails in 2021? Tell it to 31% B2B marketers who say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads.
Step#4: Prepare a Content Strategy
So, what is the plan? It is not that the customers are just going to fall in your lap. You have to reach out to them.
How you will reach out; your audiences’ persona will answer this. Do you reach out through video, writing a 1000-word long blog, making an explainer video, podcasts, creating fun Insta reels or Snapchat stories, or sending email newsletter? Do you target one of these or all of these?
Ask the following questions to get the answer:
- What is your product or service? The type of content that works with your target audience depends upon the product you are selling or the service you are offering. For example, if you are selling a life insurance policy, your content will have a sympathetic theme. If you’re selling gym equipment, you will have to take a charged-up tone that motivates your audience.
- What would the content be? Does your product need an explainer video, like a makeup tutorial, or do you have to write a blog to explain how your accounting software work? Based on your product/service, you can devise a content marketing strategy.
- How will the content be created? If you have to produce adverts for digital channels, you need an ad agency’s services. If you want to target the audience with Facebook ads or PPC campaigns or want to reach out to influencers to promote your product, a digital marketing company can help you.
Your content should have these elements:
- It portrays your brand identity
- It sells your product/service’s USP
- It should be convincing
- It explains how your product/service can help people
Step #5: Prepare Your Plans
Now that initial planning is done, it is time to translate these strategies and assumptions into a final plan.
Break the plan into short, medium, and long-term goals. For example, in the short term, you need 1000 more likes on your Facebook page. In the medium term, you want to increase engagement on your social channels by 20%. Your long-term goal can be to achieve 50% of the total traffic from search engines.
The planning process includes setting benchmarks to achieve at the end of a designated period. For example, you need to have a 25% growth in traffic from the search engine in the first year to achieve 50% growth in the second year.
Break the plan into milestones to keep track of your progress and how you can accelerate towards achieving your goal.
Step #6: Monitor and Respond
With a digital marketing strategy in place, you are not shooting your shot in the dark. The best thing about digital marketing is that each goal can be traced.
There is enough analytics to evaluate the success of your campaign. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube have in-depth insights into your performance.
By analyzing them, you can determine which aspect of your campaign performed well and what needs to be improved.
Then there is the trove of Google Analytics. It is an insight into your website’s traffic; where is it coming from, from what device, when is it coming, who are your customers, where on your site are they spending their most time, etc.
Literally, everything that you want to understand your customers – and even more – can be understood from these numbers.
Inbound marketing enabled by digital media brings people to the businesses. For the first time, you have to convince them to choose your brand among several other options.
Once they opt for you, you constantly have to live up to their expectations to turn them into your loyal customers. One misgiving from your side is enough for them to quit and opt for your competitor.
Use analytics to constantly update audience personas, know about their needs and expectations, respond to their queries, and provide them with what they are looking for. It isn’t a one-time thing. You have to repeat this process again and again.
Digital marketing is no labyrinth, as many people think it to be. If your goals are clear and you have a plan in place, it’s a straightforward road.
The most crucial thing in a digital marketing strategy is the audience. How well you understand them will determine the outcome of your plan.