How to create a digital marketing strategy

If you’re planning on building a thriving business, having a digital marketing strategy designed to drive either sustainable or rapid growth is crucial.

These days, we’re online almost all of our waking hours—even if we don’t realise it, we’re just a notification away from opening our phones. So when you’re working on growing your brand, it makes sense to put in place a digital marketing strategy.

Side note: if you need convincing, check out our post for 15 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy. Because, y’know, sometimes you need reasons.

Wondering how to create a digital marketing strategy? Before we dive into the step-by-step guide to creating your own digital marketing strategy, let’s quickly review what a digital marketing strategy actually is, and the difference between digital marketing campaigns and channels.

What’s a digital marketing strategy

Ah, strategy. It’s one of those words that’s bandied about by just about everyone these days. And while it might get a bit tired, it’s super important to understand if you want to succeed in business.

Put simply, a digital marketing strategy outlines the campaigns and channels you’re planning on using to connect with and influence your target audience, with the goal of achieving your business objectives.

What’s a digital marketing campaign

Okay, so a digital marketing campaign is essentially a tactical activity that is designed to support the objectives of the overarching digital marketing strategy. Campaigns can also be great for conversions that lead to the ultimate goal—such as acquiring more newsletter subscribers or building an engaged social media community. While these things don’t result in dollars in the bank immediately, they definitely help you get there.

What are digital marketing channels

Put simply, digital marketing channels are the places that you’re going to execute your digital marketing strategy. The effectiveness of these channels are reviewed when it comes to evaluating the digital marketing strategy.

Organic search

Organic search refers to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. There are other smaller engines, too, like DuckDuckGo. Organic traffic is unpaid (although, there is always at least a resource cost to create and optimise a website).

Paid search

Paid search ads appear in search engines, almost always above the organic search results. Google Ads is the most popular paid search platform in Australia, and makes it easy for brands to rank for keywords that are valuable to them.

Social media

Social media marketing is an all-encompassing phrase that refers to marketing activity implemented across a range of social media networks and platforms. Social media commonly included in digital marketing plans include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Snap (formerly, SnapChat)

Messaging platforms like Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram direct messages, and Viber are also considered social media. However, they’re incredibly difficult to track and traffic referred to websites from these channels is often referred to as ‘dark social’.

Email

Now here’s a simple one. Email marketing is the channel that, er, utilises email. It includes both broadcast email [sending a planned email to a curated list of your own subscribers], third-party email [sending a planned email to a third-party database—with permission, often paid], and email automation [sending emails automatically based on pre-defined triggers].

Direct

Direct is a channel you’ll see in your Google Analytics account, and it simply refers to the traffic that has come to your website directly without using another channel.

That means typing in your website URL directly, or clicking a bookmark to your website. It can also include clicks from dark social, which are harder to track.

Referral

As the name suggests, referral traffic is traffic that has been referred to your website by another website—kind of like digital word of mouth. Essentially, it’s a link to your website from another website.

Step-by-step guide to create a digital marketing strategy

Ever wondered how to create a digital marketing strategy? It can sound complicated—and there are certainly some complicated frameworks out there—but it doesn’t have to be. This seven-step plan simplifies the process of creating a digital marketing strategy for your brand.

1. Get clear on your goals

Every good strategy starts with how it intends to finish. That is, deciding what you want to achieve. Put simply, you gotta know what you want. We’re talking increasing profit, or selling more units of stock, or launching a new product or service. Write it down.

Not sure where to start? Look back on your overarching business plan and financial goals, as  marketing strategy is all about achieving what you’re setting out in your business plan.

It’s always a good idea to plan out your high level goals annually, either for the calendar or fiscal year. This means the decisions you make for your digital marketing strategy are accountable as part of your business as a whole.Define your target audience

2. Define your target audience

Once you’ve mapped out your goals it’s time to define your target audience. If you’ve done any research on this you might have seen suggestions to develop buyer personas or avatars. And while that can be helpful, it can also overcomplicate things.

Keep it simple and just write down who your product or service is for. There might be a couple of different target audiences, and that’s okay.

As an example, an online retail store selling children’s clothing would have parents of young children as a target audience but also grandparents and friends who are likely to buy gifts.

Once you’ve defined who’s buying your stuff, the next step is to really think about the problem your product solves for them. This feeds into your unique value proposition or unique service offering.

3. Understand the customer journey

Gone are the days of ‘spray and pray’ advertising where billboards and pushy television advertising shoved new products and services in prospective customer’s faces. These days, marketers and entrepreneurs need to be so much more intune with the customer journey to purchase.

So, what do we mean by ‘journey to purchase’? Basically, the steps that customers take on the path to purchasing products or services— also referred to as the sales funnel [though it’s not quite so linear these days].

The stages of the customer journey include:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration
  • Intent
  • Evaluation
  • Purchase
  • Loyalty

And digital marketing? It can influence all of these stages [when done well].

4. Select your marketing channels

If you’ve nailed step two: define your target audience, the process of selecting digital marketing channels is really simple—all you gotta do is figure out where your target audience hang out and consume content online.

Those places that your audience hang out online? It might include social media channels, messaging apps, blogs and forums, search engines, podcasts, video streaming services, email.

When it comes to choosing them, it’s always a good idea to try and aim for a mix of different channels that cover the various stages of the customer journey.

This means paid digital advertising—like Facebook Ads or Google Ads—might be a key channel for the awareness stage of the customer journey because these paid ads facilitate the discovery of your brand with high levels of precision when it comes to targeting.

Equally, you might choose Facebook or Instagram as channels to share content that lead to consideration, create trust and develop brand advocacy.

And you might choose to run abandon cart emails to remind people who’ve added to cart but not yet purchased that your products are now on sale.

5. Define your marketing messages

Defining your marketing messages should also be a cinch if you’ve nailed step two—because you’re already totally clear on who your target audience is. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out what their needs, wants, and challenges are and how your product or service can help with that.

It’s also a good idea to think about what your customers’ pain points are, as this can really help create relatable and engaging content for the digital marketing channels.

Let’s take it back to that children’s clothing store concept. If you know your primary target audience is parents of young children, then you’ll also know that they’re sleep deprived and have probably experienced some pretty epic parenting fails. You can bring these relatable little nuggets into your content and really humanise your brand.

6. Produce marketing collateral

Yes. This is the fun bit. When it comes to creating marketing collateral for your digital marketing campaigns it’s important to remember what we covered in steps one, two and five:

  • What are your goals?
  • Who’s your target audience (and what are their pain points)?
  • What are your marketing messages?

Keeping these things in mind will help you develop marketing collateral that will actually align with your overarching strategy. It’s also important to consider what type of media is best suited to the channel and audience.

This is where little tricks and tactics to optimise reach and engagement come in. For example, a post on Instagram with two images might encourage the audience to swipe and since swiping is ‘engaging’ that sends a little positive signal to the Instagram algorithm.

It’s also important to consider personalisation. In some channels, like email marketing, personalisation is easy. How hard is it to address an email with ‘Hi <firstname>’, instead of the acutely impersonal ‘Dear valued customer’.

Hint: Marketing collateral is just a fancy name for all the different types of marketing materials you’ll produce for your campaigns and activity.

7. Create a measurement framework

Finally, it’s important that you create a measurement framework to determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Afterall, no strategy would be complete without measurement, optimisation, and refinement.

Each business will have a slightly different measurement framework, as what you measure will be dependent on the goals you set out in step one. However, some common metrics included in reporting are:

  • Monthly traffic [sessions and users]
  • Average bounce rate
  • Average time on site
  • Transactions
  • Transaction rate
  • Revenue
  • Traffic by marketing channel
  • Transaction by marketing channel
  • Advertising spend
  • Return on advertising spend (ROAS)
  • Return on investment (ROI)

There you have it. Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful and are ready to go forth and create a digital marketing strategy that’s perfect for your brand.

And, of course, if you have any questions, drop them in the comments or head over to the Young Folks Digital Facebook page or Instagram profile and continue the conversation with our beautiful community of entrepreneurs and aspiring marketing leaders.

Still not sure you can put together a digital marketing strategy without a little help? Why not book into a full-day digital strategy intensive and we’ll do it together.

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