Marketing in the digital world has been evolving very rapidly. A great part of consumers’ lives takes place on social media, mobile phones and searching about pretty much everything on Google.

How does a business get more attention in this ever crowded and competitive world? Its hard indeed, however, starting with a solid digital marketing strategy will certainly put you ahead of competition.

Cornerstone elements of digital marketing

One thing is certain with digital marketing, that nothing remains fixed and everything tends to evolve. As of 2018 and headed to 2019 there are few key elements that have to be part of your digital marketing and need to start evaluating them once you set in place your strategy.

Mobile/web

There are many attempts from different social media companies and others to force users abandon creating websites and move all their assets to them. However, it never works. Highly mobile optimized websites will still be the center of all your digital marketing efforts.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is rapidly evolving, few years back a 200 words blog post could make it to first page on google for fairly competitive keywords, however, moving towards the end of the decade and things are very different.

Quality over quantity wins, Google likes content that ads tremendous value to its visitors, highly researched with plenty of inbound and outgoing links and oh yes, it is fairly long.

Voice search starts to become mainstream too. According to a recent research, over $40b worth of commerce will take place via voice by 2022 and this is something you cannot ignore.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about building long term relationships with your audience through great content. Teach your audience something new and will always remember you.

Content marketing can come in various forms, as a result, it needs to be hosted somewhere, and the best option is to have a blog or a form of an online magazine. Youtube, Facebook, Instagram are great but at the end of the day you cannot control how they change their algorithms.

Social Media

This involves all your activities with the social networks you decide to focus on. Go after where your audience is and engage with them with great quality content.

Not everyone needs to be on Facebook or Instagram, ask your self, where this fits within our customer journey map?

Paid Media

Gone are the days of cheap advertising, consequently paid media becomes more important to reach targeted audiences. Using pay per click marketing, display re targeting and paid social becomes and absolute must if you want to reach your existing audience and look for new customers.

Before you jump on any new initiative, make sure it fits within your customer journey map and have a clear goal on what its purpose is.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not going anywhere, that is for sure. It certainly evolves and tries to get rid of generic spam and meaning less campaigns. Focus on personalized email content based on your customer preferences and behavior.

Email marketing moves to a more automated process where traditional bulk email messages are replaced with life cycle marketing based on customers behavior and patterns.

Putting everything together

A successful digital marketing strategy does not have to be complicated, rather follow a specific set of sets and above all stay focus.

Step 1: Set your goals

The first and most crucial step towards a successful digital marketing strategy is setting clear goals. What exactly does your business want to achieve.

Without goals, there is no drive and no direction for any business to exist and operate. Setting up goals, it makes easier for everyone to stay focused and allocate all the resources to the right actions.

Goals must be SMART.

Specific – Be very specific on what you want to achieve. For example, achieve $100,000 in e-commerce revenue

Measurable – This goal must be able to measure. For example $100,000

Attainable – Goals must be realistic to achieve, therefore if I know that I can only do $100,000 and I set as goal $1,000,000 then this is not attainable

Relevant – Goals must be relevant to my business, if I sell clothes hence it should be related to the clothing line.

Time based – Goals must be achieved within a specific period of time or else none will work towards these goals.

Example: Our goals for 2019 are

  • $100,000 of e-commerce revenue
  • 300 qualified email leads
  • 300,000 unique website visitors
  • Achieve a return of advertising spent on digital paid media of 10:1

Quick tip:

Avoid generalizations, here you need to be very specific what your goals are. Put exact numbers down and stick to them. A digital marketing strategy without a goal is like flying a plane without a specified landing destination in mind.

Step 2: Craft a strategy

What is a strategy? Strategy is the set of actions you will have to take to meet your goals. As opposed to goals that are very specific, strategy is a more like a vision towards that goal. What shall we do to make these goals happen?

Without a strategy goals cannot be achieved. Here you set up all the required actions plans to achieve your goals.

Example:

The digital marketing strategy to achieve the above goals is:

Drive qualified traffic to the website using different tactics, optimize our website and our digital paid media campaigns.

As you can see, strategy is a more generic approached as opposed to the goals. It’s HOW we get to the goals.

We get to the $100,000 of e-commerce revenue, 300 qualified email leads and 300,000 unique website visitors by driving qualified traffic to the website, optimizing the website for better conversions and our paid media campaigns for better return on advertising spent.

Quick tip:

Do not confuse strategy with tactics as both may sound very similar however they are very different in nature. Digital marketing strategy is a vision on how to achieve your goals and you will do that by putting in place a set of tactics.

Step 3: Create your customer’s persona

Customer persona is the ideal customer you want to sell your products or services.

There are few ways to create your customer’s persona:

  • Analyze existing CRM data
  • Survey your customers
  • Research the market for similar examples

To create a customer’s persona, you need to define the below values:

  • Demographic information – Who is our customer? How old is he/she? Is he/she married? What about their occupation and their income level?
  • Goals/Values – What does he/she want achieve?
  • Sources of information – Where from is he/she getting the information needed to make decisions?
  • Challenges and pain points – What are his/her pain points and challenges?
  • Roles in the decision making – What is his/her role in the decision making process?
  • Objections – What are the objections and by whom towards making a decision?

Quick tip:

The more detailed your customer’s persona is the easiest will be to reach them with the right message and channel.

Step 4: Analyse your competition

Whether you like it or not, all products and services have competition. When you hear people saying “We have no competition” either of the four things below are happening

  • There is no market for this product or service
  • Market is too small to go after
  • Others tested it and did not work
  • Simply you are lying to yourself

Obviously, there is always the chance of creating something really new and unique, however, these days is really hard to make such a bold statement.

Therefore, it is very critical to make a detailed analysis of your competitors, and see what are the things you can copy from them to push you ahead. (Everyone copies some elements of their competitors)

Here are few questions you should ask to profile them thoroughly:

  • Who are our competitors?
  • What productions do they sell?
  • Are they better than ours? If so, why?
  • How do they distribute their productions?
  • How do they market their products?
  • What is their pricing strategy?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How about our opportunities and threats?
  • What do customers think about them?
  • Can you understand what is their digital marketing strategy?

Once you honestly answer all these questions, do some on the ground research to get the real feel on where they stand against your business.

  • Visit their website and set alerts so when they make any updates you are notified
  • Visit their social media pages and see what they post
  • Read customers’ public review pages
  • Get in touch with them pretending you are  a potential prospect and see how they handle pre sales issues
  • If you can afford, simply buy their product to experience first-hand the entire process
  • Follow them on social media and try to get re targeted so you see the type of ads they are pushing out.

Quick tip:

Follow your competitors, sign up for alert services, become their social media follower. The worst thing you can do is neglect them.

However, guessing someone’s digital marketing strategy is not as straightforward as it sound. You will need to analyze carefully their advertising campaigns, landing pages, web copy and look for hints that will give you clues.

Step 5: Create a customer’s journey map

Customer journey map is a visual representation of the process a customer goes through to buy our products or services or simply get in touch with us (prospects).

Customer journey maps will help us define their motivations, challenges and how do we reach them on every step of this journey towards complete a goal.

A customer’s journey map is consisted of 4 stages and it requires a set of touch points in order to pass through the required messages.

Customer’s journey map is a great way to lead you on what kind of marketing technologies you need to achieve your goals.  Do not just pick a tool because it looks cool but see where it fits within your customer’s journey map towards getting a sale. If it has no place, then simply scrap it.

Do I still need these exit intent pop ups or create eBooks? Think carefully and act accordingly.

A customer’s journey map is consisted of 4 stages and it requires a set of touch points in order to pass through the required messages.

Awareness – How do our potential customers and prospects become aware about our business?

Example touch points to create awareness:

  • TV and Radio ads
  • PPC ads
  • Display prospecting
  • Paid social media (prospecting)
  • Organic social media
  • Blog/website
  • SEO
  • Word of mouth

Consideration – How do potential customers and prospects start to consider our business as their source to meet their needs?

Example touch points during the consideration stage:

  • Reviews
  • Content marketing
  • Blog
  • Social Mentions
  • Demo and free trials
  • Webinars and eBooks
  • Calls
  • Email marketing

Purchase – How do they buy our products?

Example touch points during the purchase stage:

  • Website/app
  • Online shop
  • Live support/help desk
  • Email support
  • Shopping cart recovery
  • Up-sell

Loyalty – How do we keep them loyal so they can keep coming for more products and services?

Example touch points during the loyalty stage

  • Reviews
  • Surveys
  • After sales service
  • Content marketing
  • Blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Membership benefits/exclusive benefits

Quick tip:

Very crucial to success, do not start by getting tools and services because they are cool, unless they fit within your customer’s journey to buying from you.

This will help you focus on utilizing technologies to meet your customers’ needs and put a clear path to your digital marketing strategy.

Step 6: Form an integrated marketing plan

Once you define your customer’s journey map, it’s time to put the pieces together and create an integrated marketing approach. This allows you to create a seamless brand experience throughout their journey to purchase.

During each stage, you can customise your messaging and touch points in order to meet their needs and address any concerns.

There are 4 key benefits of using an integrated marketing approach:

  • Focuses on a strong brand image – Consumers use different touch points throughout their journey to making a purchase. Integrated marketing allows you to be present with consistent messages that fully represent the brand.
  • Communicates a clear and persistence message – When all your touch-points are aligned with consistent messaging it gives the brand a great clarify about its purpose.
  • Focus resources for better results – Integrated marketing helps you stay focused and allocate your resources towards the same goal, hence driving better results.
  • Increases media coverage – Consumers these days use various types of channels and touch-points, hence it is easier for your brand to get greater exposure if it is present to as many  of these connections as possible.

During the awareness stage you may want to focus on high the funnel keywords on your pay per click campaigns. For instance, if you run an online store selling chocolate cookies and you are based out of Boston, then you should focus on keywords such as “ chocolate cookies Boston “

However, during the consideration stage where your potential customers have already interacted with your brand, you may want to focus your resources on great blog content that teaches them how to bake these awesome cookies from their home or related recipes.

Step 7: Evaluate results

After your digital marketing strategy has been executed, it is very important that you evaluate results on regular basis. This will keep your team up to their toes, alert and focus towards their original goal.

Here are few questions you need to ask yourself and identify the reports you need to produce.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Peter Drucker
  • What are our sales?
  • Which products contribute to this number and by what percentage?
  • How do we sell our products?
  • Are we making money?
  • Who are our top customers?
  • Where are they from?
  • How our digital media campaigns are perform?
  • What are the top channels of revenue contribution?
  • How much do we spend on our marketing and what is our return on advertising spent?
  • Do we spot any changes in consumer behaviour or market trends?

Quick tip:

Analyze, track and keep looking at the numbers at a daily basis. Once you lose a hold of numbers your strategy will fall apart.

Conclusion

A solid digital marketing strategy is the best steps towards achieving your business goals but the work does not stop there. Technology changes at a very fast pace, therefore, businesses of any size, especially small ones, have no option but to adapt and change.

Having clear goals on what is needed to be achieved, together with an action plan, makes things much easier and sets the path for successful outcomes.

Image credits
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Author

I started this amazing trip in the digital world back in 2001.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Ilias,

    awesome article!

    That gives me a great strategic overview of how to structure and even more start my business now!

    Thank you!

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