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Seven steps to building an effective digital marketing strategy

Seven steps to building an effective digital marketing strategyThere is no denying that digital marketing is here to stay. If your company does not have a digital marketing strategy in place, it’s time to get one. Even if you do, it’s time to refresh it. The nature of the industry means that change is always around the next corner – and as a marketer, it’s up to you to keep up. 

A solid digital marketing strategy should set clear goals for your business, measure your market share and progress, optimise your existing strategies and help you to remain competitive. Fortunately, no matter how much the industry changes, the basics of writing a digital marketing strategy are just that – basic.

1. Evaluate Yourself

Take some time to evaluate your company’s current status. Maybe you already have a Facebook page with a few fans or maybe you only have a company website. Follow these steps to gain an insight into your own brand or company:

  • Assess your brand’s current presence in the digital world and compare it to your competitors’. For example, if you have a Facebook page, note the number of likes and observe the degree of engagement with your content. It’s also useful to take a look at your competitors’ sites as well.
  • Note the current marketing trends related to your brand and those followed by your competitors. Check what kind of digital activities are most engaging among customers in your industry.
  • Try to figure out what makes you stand out from your competitors and what you could do differently. Instead of following trends, start setting them.

2. Identify Your Customers

If you’ve been running your business for a while, you should already know who your customers are. But when it comes to digital marketing, specifics are a necessity. For example, knowing that the target for your fashion market is simply “young females” is not sufficient. You need to know details such as age, interests, occupations, locations and marital status in order to successfully reach a potential customer.

A ‘persona’ is a fictional character representing a set of potential customers with similar demographics and interests. A company can have multiple personas and these can be used to personalise ads and campaigns – otherwise known as hypertargeting. In order to create successful personas, you can follow these simple steps:

  • Gather data on your existing customers. Simple data collection methods such as online surveys, interviews and even talking to your sales or customers service teams all help.
  • Categorise your customers according to similarities in their demographics and interests. The number of categories can vary depending on how diverse your customer base is. But it should not be so large that you’re unable to devote individual attention to each of them.
  • Give each category an appropriate name and treat your personas as if they are individual customers.
  • Now you can use these personas to communicate with your customers on a personal level – instead of diluting your message by trying to please the crowd.

3. Choose the Right Platforms

Maintaining a Facebook Page for your company will definitely give you more exposure. But digital marketing is based on multi-platform content delivery. Having at least three social media channels, through which you can effectively deliver your content and engage with customers, is highly recommended. But it’s essential to pick the platforms appropriate for your company – not just the most popular ones.

Selecting the right platform depends heavily on the type of product or service that you offer as well as the personas of your customers. For example, a platform such as Pinterest would be ideal for a fashion designing company but less so for an educational institution. Similarly, Twitter is not very popular in certain developing countries, so it would be less than ideal to prioritise Twitter if your target customers are based there.

However, social networks are not the only platforms you should select. In order to monitor and analyse the activity of your chosen social networks, website and email campaigns, certain analytical tools will be necessary. Cloud marketing tools such as Hub Spot, Formstack, Infusionsoft, Act-on and Moz top the list. Choose what fits your company’s needs.

4. Set Goals

Having completed Step 1, you should be able to set a number of goals for your digital marketing strategy. Setting goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) can help motivate and give purpose to the strategy itself. It will also help you to prioritise and focus on the important aspects of the strategy. To make the most of your digital marketing strategy, try to be as specific as possible by setting the following goals:

  • The number of page likes, followers, and subscribers that you hope to attract
  • The number of engagements such as likes, comments, retweets, favourites, and mentions that you would like to gain
  • The number of positive reviews or comments left behind by your customers
  • The number of conversions you hope to gain from your website traffic
  • The number of newsletters, email campaigns or other promotions you successfully implement
  • The amount of content you publish and share through your networks, such as blogs and whitepapers

In order to help you with the last point mentioned, a content plan is strongly suggested. A monthly plan would allow you to publish your content in an orderly manner, on a regular basis. This would also let your followers or subscribers know when to expect new material.

5. Fix a budget

If you have a marketing budget, digital marketing should be allocated a sufficient amount. This budget depends on your requirements but should be used to promote your social pages and posts, provide exciting marketing offers through campaigns and invest in some valuable analytical tools. Most social media networks only charge for engagements, which means you will only pay if the ad you placed or the post you promoted was clicked on. This is known by the acronyms CPE and CPC, which stand for Cost per Engagement and Cost per Click. The social networks themselves and any third party analytical tools that you use will help keep a close track of your budget and return on investment (ROI).

6. Engage Yourself

Once your digital marketing takes off, you need to keep building momentum. Social media networks are fast moving and require constant and consistent attention. You should interact with your fans and followers by doing the following:

  • Reply to any questions or messages from viewers
  • Respond to any likes, mentions or retweets from viewers, or even rival companies, in an appropriate and friendly manner
  • Engage yourself by sharing, retweeting, liking, commenting on or favouring useful content
  • Respond to any feedback comments, whether good or bad

Above all, the content that is created should be engaging and entertaining, while meeting your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) requirements. To succeed at this, you need to follow the latest trends, keep an eye on the news and always be creative. If your digital marketing strategy feels like too much work for you to handle alone, hiring a qualified digital marketer with a CAM Diploma could help.

7. Evaluate the Results

A vital part of any strategy is analysis. At the end of every campaign and towards the end of every fiscal year, the numbers should be crunched and the campaign’s effectiveness should be measured. Customer and internal feedback should both be taken into account, along with the statistics collected from the various analytical tools you’ve relied on. Your digital marketing strategy for the following year can then be revised with the information you’ve collected. This evaluation cycle will help you to continuously improve your future strategies, until you’ve perfected them.

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