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How to Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy

How to Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy

A digital marketing strategy is one of those terms that most marketers have heard of, but seldom have seen it planned and implemented well. If you’re still trying to search Google for “what is digital marketing strategy,” the following should help.

Today, every business needs to maintain its online presence to be able to reach their potential customers. The data speaks for itself: The number of internet users in North America is rapidly growing.

  • Nearly 90 per cent of people have access to the internet.
  • In Canada, 56 per cent of people use desktop, 34 per cent use mobile devices, and 10 per cent use tablets.

A business can connect with its audience online, but how do you select the channels through which you will do it? With a variety of available options, your marketing efforts should be concentrated on those channels that will achieve your desired results and earn more while investing less. This is when a digital marketing strategy comes into play.

A digital marketing strategy is one of those terms that most marketers have heard of, but seldom have seen it planned and implemented well. If you’re still trying to search Google for “what is digital marketing strategy,” the following should help.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

In a nutshell, a strategy is an execution plan consisting of several steps. Each step describes particular efforts and actions that you should take in order to communicate with your audience — for example, create landing pages or run context ads. Your strategy also defines the channels where you’re applying those efforts, which may include your website, email list, or Facebook page. All this helps you efficiently achieve your ultimate goal, such as “become the go-to place for ordering flowers online.”

The main advantage of having a defined strategy is that it demystifies the marketer’s actions and shows how to achieve high-level goals with particular actions. However, the recent research by SmartInsights shows that 45 per cent of businesses don’t have a clear and defined digital marketing strategy. The not-so-shocking reason behind that number is that you don’t technically need a strategy to do digital marketing. However, if you want to do it efficiently and get more while investing less, a digital marketing strategy is a smart move.

So, where do you start with your digital marketing strategy?

Before you begin, keep in mind that a perfect strategy is not one that is written in stone. It needs to be comprehensive but adaptable, and you should make tweaks and adjustments as you go. To create a digital marketing strategy, gear up with data about your audience, competitive landscape, current efficiency of your marketing efforts, and the right metrics to track.

Step 1: Know your audience.

In particular, you should know where they prefer to spend their time online and find information.

To engage your audience, you need to do it on their terms. That is, you need to deliver your message through the channels and in the tone of voice they prefer. Moreover, it should align with their customer journey stage. For that, you need to know exactly where they spend their time online and how they search for information. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few effective tips to get you up and running.

Ask your current users.

The power of information gathered directly from your audience can’t be overestimated. This can be done with the help of a quick survey. Depending on your budget, you can select something simple and free like Google Surveys, or go with something more sophisticated. For example, Typeform can turn a simple questionnaire into an interactive opinion survey.

Since your users are busy people, if you really want to receive a substantial number of responses, provide them with value. That could be a product or service discount or an evergreen $10 gift card for Amazon or Starbucks.

Use the Facebook Audience Insights tool.

If your company’s Facebook page has a big enough community, you can analyze it and learn more about your audience’s demographics and interests based on how they consume content on Facebook.

However, if you don’t have enough likes to gather insights from your page, there’s still a way to take advantage of the Audience Insights tool by targeting a group of users with particular interests. For example, you can see that people who are interested in social media marketing are frequently interacting with specific groups and pages on Facebook.

Explore Reddit communities.

Another way to understand audience interests within your niche is to explore the conversations happening in Reddit communities. To reword a well-known meme: If something exists, there is a Reddit community about it.

According to its own website, Reddit is a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion platform. There, you can find a discussion about nearly every topic, so check it out and look for the conversations within your niche.

Step 2. Analyze your competitive landscape.

No business operates in a vacuum, and to make informative decisions, you need to be aware of your competitive surroundings. Your competitors have likely already built up some online presence, which is the main reason to review which channels they’re using to communicate with your mutual audience. Furthermore, a competitor analysis will help you better understand your current market position and see where your business sits in your industry.

The first thing you can do is find out what kind of channels are popular in your industry with the help of SimilarWeb.

For example, publications on third-party websites, which count as referral traffic, are important for websites in the shopping category — referrals bring in nearly 20 per cent of their traffic.

Another option is to use SEMrush’s Traffic Analytics tool. It shows you how a particular site is acquiring its visitors. For instance, you can see the channels visitors use to visit Reddit.

Over 60 per cent of users go to Reddit directly, which is not surprising for a website with such a strong brand and community. The second highest traffic source is organic search, which brings 30 per cent of visitors, which means Reddit discussions rank high on Google.

Apart from trying to replicate your competitor’s marketing efforts, with this information you can find a promotion back door: If one of your rivals ignores a certain channel, use it to communicate with your audience. The level of competition is lower there.

In terms of the Reddit example, if you want to compete with Reddit, you need to work on the following aspects:

  1. Investing in building a brand that will be easily recognizable in your industry.
  2. Considering social and paid channels to communicate your message.
  3. Taking advantage of other channels and strategies that your rival website is not exploring, such as influencer marketing.

Step 3. Review the channels you’re currently using.

There’s no way to improve something without first analyzing how it performs at the moment. So before turning your findings into an actionable digital marketing plan and setting any KPIs, you need to know how efficiently your channels are currently performing.

To kick things off, go to your Google Analytics Acquisition report and see which channels are currently working best for you.

Pay close attention not only to the quantity of traffic, but also its quality — that is, consider the number of conversions that each channel earns. For instance, even if referral traffic isn’t generating as many visits as social, the percentage of new visits coming from this channel may be higher. Additionally, this audience may demonstrate more interest if the average session duration and the number of pages per session are a lot higher for referral visits.

Evaluate how much effort it takes to keep the traffic flow from each channel. For example, to get enough visits from social media, your team needs to spend a few hours each day curating content, creating custom images, and engaging with the community. It requires substantial resources. However, the amount of interest from this audience is superficial, and they hardly convert. On the other hand, attracting visitors from other channels might not be as time-consuming.

The bottom line is that with this data, you can make informed decisions and concentrate your efforts on the channels that perform best in terms of the resources spent versus the number of acquired visits and conversions.

Step 4. Define your main goal and general principles for measuring success.

This step is critical for your future work. You need to apply all the findings from the previous steps and define how, exactly, you are going to achieve your marketing goals.

Let’s start from the top: Define your high-level marketing goal. If your company has a mission, your main goal should resonate with it and broadcast your mission to the outside world. For instance, remember the example from the beginning of this post: “Become the go-to website for ordering flower delivery.”

Next, move forward to setting high-level KPIs. For example, here’s a nice KPI template to use:

  • Template: [Goal] by [value] in [time period]
  • Example: [Increase traffic] by [20 per cent] in [six months]

After the high-level goals and KPIs are set, you need to deconstruct them with your team into personal goals and KPIs that each team member can achieve individually.

If the high-level goals can be somewhat vague (“20 per cent monthly growth of traffic and conversions”), the individual goals should be clear to the contributor and easily broken down into particular tasks.

Here are a few additional points to consider.

  • Very often, when the actual goals are not clear to the team, reaching target KPIs becomes the goal. Make sure not to let this happen. Communicate the actual goals to your team, inspire them, and make sure they understand that KPIs are just a way to measure progress. Reaching them is not the sole purpose of their work.
  • Preach collaboration within your team. For example, if you’re in charge of community management, team up with your colleagues responsible for content and SEO to maximize the efficiency of what you do.
  • Set up the rules of ethical and low-risk marketing. Everyone, at some point, considers cutting the line in a race for target KPIs. When talking about personal goals with your team members, make sure to communicate which marketing techniques are beneficial for the business’s reputation, and which are not and should not be used.

Over to you

A defined, documented digital marketing strategy is not a necessity. In fact, many marketers do their jobs without having one. However, if you want to maximize the outcomes of your marketing activities, a clear, data-fueled strategy is an absolute must.

Use the tips and information in this article to get started, then revise your strategy as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Use your digital marketing strategy to work together toward clearly defined goals and help your team reach those goals faster.

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