Digital marketing is essential for any business, but as a business owner it can feel like a minefield to navigate, should you be concentrating on SEO or PPC or indeed both? How do you optimise your website for user experience? And let’s not mention the social side of things! It can feel like you’re trying to spin many plates all at the same time and especially if you are a small business owner and its all on your head. One thing many people struggle with is where to start, then they end up not starting and missing an opportunity to grow. The best place to start is to write a Digital Marketing strategy. After all,
Rome wasn’t built without a plan*.
*admittedly I do not know this to be true
Ok but what is a Digital Marketing Strategy, and how do you write one?
A Digital Marketing Strategy is a series of actions that will help your company to achieve its goals via carefully selected online marketing channels. These channels include Owned, Earned, and Paid Media, more on those later. In simple terms, a Digital Marketing Strategy is just a plan of action needed to achieve a desired goal, for example, to grow your lead gen from your website by 70%. The term strategy can seem a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Depending on the scale of your business, your digital strategy could involve many different parts. Coming back to this simple way of thinking about strategy can help you make progress and stay focused on meeting those objectives.
Your Digital Marketing Strategy can be easily confused with your Digital Marketing Campaign. But remember the following to distinguish between the two.
As already outlined your Digital Marketing Strategy is the series of actions that will help your company to achieve its goals via carefully selected online marketing channels. Whereas your Digital Marketing campaigns are the building blocks or the actions you take within your Strategy, to move toward that goal. For example, you might decide to share some of your best performing gated content through Facebook, to generate more leads through that channel. That campaign is part of the overarching goal and strategy to achieve more leads. Facebook would come under your “owned” channels. Let's look into what they mean a little, starting with,
Paid Media Channels are any marketing media that you pay for. In the digital world, this means forms such as banner ads, retargeting, pay-per-click (PPC) and social media advertising i.e. ads and boosted posts. The main goal for Paid Media is to drive traffic to your Owned Media and to start raising awareness and interest. This type of media is heavily reliant on analytics and performance metrics that optimise the strategy to reduce cost.
Owned Media Channels incorporates media that is your own companies. This includes packaging, people who come into contact with consumers, point of sale (POS) and your content. In digital marketing terms, this is your website, mobile app, mobile site, blog, social media accounts and any other platform you develop and control. Mainly this type of media is driven by your content strategy to provide information, education, and not to be overly self-promotional in order to develop your brand personality and raise awareness of your brand relevant to your audience.
Earned Media consists of the free publicity generated by consumers, influencers, people who speak about and share content related to your brand or product either voluntary mentions or in response to content you’ve created. Think of it as amplification of your activity, as social media users pick up on your campaigns and help spread the word.
So now we understand the different channels let’s look at how to build the strategy.
Let’s break those steps down a bit.
Essential to any marketing campaign, on-line or off-line, understanding who your marketing to, buyer personas represent your ideal customers. The best place to start is by creating them. They can be created by researching, interviewing, and surveying your business’s target audience. Where ever possible this should be based on real data as making assumptions can send you in the wrong direction. Here’s a great template from Hootsuite to help with this.
Your marketing goals should go hand in hand with your overall business so they can support them. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase online revenue by 30% then your goals as a marketer might be to generate 60% more leads via the website to contribute towards achieving that. Whatever your overarching goal is, you need to be able to measure it, and you need to have the right tools in order to do that. How you measure your goals will be depended on what type of business you have and its goals, but it's important that you do measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy as its these metrics that will help you adjust your strategy in the future.
Categorise the digital channels into the owned, earned, and paid framework as outlined above, this helps you see the bigger picture and not get too overwhelmed by how to incorporate these into your strategy. Your digital marketing strategy may incorporate channels from all three categories of the framework above, all working together to aid in your progress towards your goal. For example, you may have a created piece of content on a landing page, to help you generate leads (which would be Owned).
To increase the number of leads that content generates, you might have made it really sharable, meaning others may share it on their social profiles increasing traffic to the landing page (which would be Earned). To support the success of this piece of content you might share it to your Facebook page and pay to boost it to reach more people in your target audience (which would be Paid).
This is just an example of how all three channels could work together. You, of course, don’t have to use all three, you can just use one or two. Especially if your owned and earned are both successful there might be no need to invest in paid. It’s all about finding the best solution in order to meet your goal.
Once you know what’s already being used you can start to think about what to keep and what get rid of.
You will need to evaluate all of your existing paid media across all of your channels (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, and Google AdWords), in order to figure out which may help you to achieve your goal. It might be time to refine your efforts on certain channels if you haven’t seen the results you’d hoped for. By the end of this process, you should have a clear idea on which paid media you still want to be using and which you don’t, if at all any!
Your owned medial will be at the heart of your digital marketing, it usually takes the form of content. Every message you send out will generally be classified as content. Your product descriptions, blog posts, eBooks, infographics, social media posts, even your about us page are counted as content!
Content raises your brands profile online and help convert your website visitors into leads. When its optimised, it can boost any efforts you have around search/organic traffic. You will need owned content to form part of your digital marketing strategy, regardless of your goal.
Firstly, you need to decide what content will help you achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to gain 35% more leads then your about us page is unlikely to help and therefore unlikely to be included in your strategy unless that page has somehow been a lead generation source in the past. It's more likely that an eBook gated by a form on your website drives far more leads, and as a result you will want to more of.
Checking your previous earned media against your current goals will help you find where you need to focus your time. Using tools such as Google Analytics and HubSpot to look at where your traffic and leads, if that’s your goal, are coming from and rank each earned media source from most to least effective. You might discover that a certain article you contributed to in the industry press drove a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which in turn converted really well. Or, you might discover that Twitter is where you see most people sharing your content, which in turns drives a lot of traffic.
The idea is to, based on historical data, build up a picture of which Earned Media will help you reach your goals, and which won’t. However, don’t rule anything new out, just because it hasn’t been tried and tested before.
Now you’ve done the planning and research, you should now have a solid vision of the elements that will make up your digital marketing strategy. Here’s what you should have so far:
Now its time to form a cohesive strategy document by bringing all of that together. Remember that a Digital Marketing Strategy is a series of actions that will help your company to achieve its goals via carefully selected online marketing channels. By that definition, your strategy should map out the series of actions you need to take in order to achieve your goals, and on which channels. Its best, for consistency, to use the framework of Owned, Paid, and Earned that we’ve used up to this point.
Depending on how your business is set up, it might be best to plan your strategy for a longer-term period, for example, 12 months is typically a good starting point. This way you can overlay when you’ll be executing each action. For example:
By creating a structured plan this way, it will help you communicate it to your colleagues. You will have a structured timeline for your activity that may even help keep you sane!
Remembering the purpose of a digital marketing strategy is to create a series of actions that will help your company to achieve its goals via carefully selected online marketing channels. You will have created a strategy document that’s very personal to your business, which is why its virtually impossible to create a one size fits all strategy.
If you are eager to create an unstoppable digital strategy, then please get InTouch and We will help you with that.