You can have all the latest marketing tools, technology, and resources, but do you know how to use them to accomplish your goals?
As a professional with the task of marketing a small business, you know strategy is essential, especially in a world as complex as that of digital marketing. It’s a challenge ensuring the right amount of resources and research are put into any one area of your marketing efforts.
Taking the time to “measure twice and cut once” will produce a well-informed strategy that’s also simpler to execute. Doing this will yield a plan that both serves your needs and saves you time and energy in the long run.
“How do I do that?” you might ask. In this guide, we’ll answer that very question by defining what a digital marketing strategy is, discussing what it looks like, and walking you through five steps to craft a strategy that will help you achieve your marketing goals.
Here’s a sneak peek at the steps we’ll be discussing:
A digital marketing strategy is a plan for how to utilize paid, owned, and earned media through digital marketing channels to connect with your target audience and accomplish business goals.
Digital marketing channels refer to things such as social media, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and content marketing. Refer to our 7 Types of Digital Marketing guide to learn more about these channels and how to use them in your digital marketing campaigns.
A successful digital marketing strategy involves determining your business goals, defining your audience as specifically as possible, and optimizing your efforts to appeal to your audience and, ultimately, meeting those aforementioned goals.
This guide is designed to address the most important essentials, so missing even one of the steps included below could put your overall strategy at risk.
Excited to get started? Let’s go into more detail on the steps and some key actions you can take on your way to a winning digital marketing strategy.
As the first step to creating your digital marketing strategy, determine what business goals you want to accomplish. Do you want to grow your customer base? Are you focused on increasing revenue? Is the goal to educate potential customers on the benefits of your offerings?
Any of these are admirable goals to pursue (and you can have multiple), but the most important thing is to clearly define them.
You’d think most businesses do this already, but in a 2020 survey of small-business owners from the market research firm Clutch, they discovered that only 15% of small-business owners put pen to paper on their plans for the year. In fact, another 27% failed to document any sort of business strategy.
Sometimes winging it can be a good thing, but we’d propose that striving to achieve success through digital marketing as a small business is not one of those times.
To combat this lack of planning, utilize SMART goal setting to clearly define your business goals. These types of goals are often used in personal development, but they also work well for our purposes.
Once you’ve determined what you’re trying to accomplish, do an audit of your current digital marketing activities to assess if they’re contributing to those goals. And be honest.
You may find out your current marketing aligns nicely, but you may also discover that it’s not serving you as well as you’d hoped.
Collaborate with your marketing team (or person) to break your digital marketing activities down by the types and channels you’re currently using.
Start by listing out your social media posting schedule, any regular email messages to customers, pay-per-click ad campaigns, or anything else you’re currently running. This process will be helpful in and of itself, as it gives you a clear view of everything you’re doing in one central location.
Be sure to gather and include your metrics from each digital marketing channel you listed. Having a sense for your current performance will help you optimize it as we get further into the steps.
After you’ve decided on your goals and honestly assessed the current state of your marketing strategy, the next step is to develop a buyer persona that represents your ideal customer. This process will help you get specific about who you want to target with your marketing and products and will allow you to optimize your strategy to do so.
Why is this an important step? According to SharpSpring, nearly three-quarters (71%) of companies who exceed lead generation and revenue goals have documented buyer personas. If that’s not enough, the same data showed that utilizing buyer personas in the web design process can improve usability by a factor of two to five times.
In this case, a more enjoyable web experience leads to more engaged customers which leads to more lead generation which leads to, well, you get the idea. And it all started with knowing your audience.
Map out the basics and focus on your most loyal customers first: demographic information, location, the ways in which they engage with your marketing and sales funnels, etc. Start small since you can always create more buyer personas later.
Gartner identifies understanding the buyer journey, learning how buyers make decisions, and personalizing content to buyers as the three top benefits of using buyer personas (full research available to clients).
This sounds like a marketer’s dream, but how do we make sure these results are driving sales? The answer is to now take it one step beyond demographic information to include insights on customer priorities, decision criteria, and challenges they face. The way that you’ll get this information is through interviews which can be as simple as customer surveys conducted through social media or email.
It can be a time-consuming process getting this information, but you’re already on your way to seeing progress if you’re merely thinking of your audience in this way. Collect as much information from customers as you can to build these profiles over time, and you’ll have a solid understanding of what’s driving your audience.
Now that you know 1) what you’re trying to accomplish, 2) how you’re currently going about it, and 3) who you’re marketing to, you’re ready to optimize your digital marketing plan with these things in mind.
This means doing things such as identifying key opportunities in your marketing pipeline to move a customer along or removing blockers that could stop potential customers from converting. (See our guide with 3 Tips for Optimizing Your Customer Acquisition Funnel to get started.)
As an example, you may notice a high shopping cart abandonment rate which can be improved by sending reminder emails to customers who added items but didn’t complete a purchase.
Or maybe a landing page designed to collect customer info isn’t all that easy to use. Optimizing it could increase engagement with your site and earn you more form fills and (eventually) more customers.
Choose one area of your digital marketing plan to optimize first. We’ll choose the social media marketing strategy as an example since it’s a widely-used digital marketing tactic.
Armed with the knowledge of who your customer is, where they are likely to browse, and pain points that could be solved by your product or service, craft an editorial calendar of social content that will help your customer in these areas with the goal of getting on a regular posting schedule.
Social media management software can help you create, organize, and schedule this content. It’s best to start with one or two social media platforms so you can measure the results and continually improve, but we’ll get to that in the next section.
For now, if you’re posting engaging content on the platforms where your target audience can be found, you’re well on your way to attracting and converting them into new customers. Social media marketing strategy is just one example, however, and you can conduct a similar process for other areas such as email marketing, content marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), and the like.
For more tips on optimizing your digital marketing strategies for these channels in particular, visit our guide on the 7 types of digital marketing we think you should be engaging in.
By now you’ve defined clear goals, honed in on a target audience, done an audit of your digital marketing plan, and now you’re creating content with these factors at the forefront.
Congratulations! You now have a bonafide digital marketing strategy humming along the path to your goals.
So what next? The final step we’ll discuss in this guide is measuring the results of your marketing tactics and iterating on your progress to continually improve.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) for the various digital marketing strategies vary widely, but you can start understanding some of the more common metrics in our blog article Defining Success: The Difference Between B2B and B2C Performance Tracking. In it, you’ll find common metrics you should be paying attention to and tips for how to track them.
Utilize the tools at your disposal to gather what data you can, and consider bringing on new software to fill in the gaps. There are an incredible amount of options, but a good place to start is all-in-one marketing platforms offering a range of features or marketing automation software to aid in reporting/analytics and digital marketing campaign management specifically.
Refer to our blog post titled 5 Marketing Automation Tools With the Features Your Business Needs for 2022 for a curated list of GetApp Category Leaders to consider.
Another tip is to use the information you gathered in step two above (assessing your current strategies) to get more specific about where you’re lacking the ability to gather metrics, and then focus your attention and resources there.
Today we defined what a digital marketing strategy is, discussed what a successful digital marketing strategy looks like, and walked you through five steps to help devise one of your own.
As a final recap, after reading this guide and applying the steps, you have now:
Determined clear goals for your small business.
Developed your ideal buyer persona(s).
Assessed your current digital marketing plan.
Optimized your marketing pipeline with steps one through three in mind.
Begun to measure and iterate on the results of your efforts.
All added together, this is a recipe for a winning digital marketing strategy, and we have to say: We’re proud of you! As a small-business owner, putting in the time and effort to pursue this process demonstrates passion and determination which puts you well ahead of the curve.
If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, check out the resources below and keep your eye on the GetApp blog for more digital marketing content:
Note: The applications mentioned in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
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