I have written about marketing strategy many times in the past. This topic is quite popular among my target audience, namely: small businessmen, business/marketing managers, and aspiring entrepreneurs.
I have always discussed marketing strategy with this audience in a simple straightforward manner so they could easily understand and assimilate the concepts to their actual business operations.
Discussing digital marketing strategy, however, seems to require a different approach. It looks more technical and daunting for some, particularly small businesses, and easily misconstrued by others, mostly those who do not understand it, as simply having a website or posting on social media.
In this article, I will not attempt to discuss the details of digital marketing strategy. I will present it in its broadest concept, how it relates to the overall marketing and corporate strategies, its accompanying marketing campaigns, and how these lead a business toward its online marketing objectives.
What is digital marketing strategy?
First, let us define strategy. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a goal. It defines what you want to do to realize your goal.
Digital marketing strategy is a series of plans of action aimed to achieve several marketing objectives using inter-related online channels and techniques.
Synergistic use of search engine marketing and email marketing to increase online sales by 50% is an example of a digital marketing strategy.
These plans of action are also called campaigns specially crafted to reach specific objectives. These are where you show in detail how you want to arrive at your objectives.
Both search engine marketing and email marketing are examples of campaigns each with specific objectives, like generating online inquiries and converting inquiries into leads and eventually into sales, respectively, designed to contribute to increasing online sales.
Attainment of such specific objectives adds up to clinching your overarching marketing objectives.
Why is it important to craft a digital marketing strategy?
Without a digital marketing strategy, you will not know where you will take your business in the online world, how your business will progress, what actions you will execute, what metrics you will monitor, and how you will know your investments are delivering an ROI.
Your business will be at a loss, moving from point to point in an uncoordinated manner, and nowhere to go.
How is digital marketing strategy related to corporate strategy?
Your overarching marketing strategy is a subset of your overall corporate strategy.
Digital marketing strategy, in turn, is a major function of your marketing strategy.
As an integrated function, the digital marketing strategy is made operational by a set of digital marketing campaigns as mentioned above, which in turn, have its respective objectives.
The confluence of the results of all digital marketing campaigns determines the total outcome of the digital marketing strategy.
The linear illustration looks like this:
Digital marketing campaigns => Digital marketing strategy=>Overall marketing strategy=>Corporate strategy.
How do we create a digital marketing strategy?
Digital marketing strategies are based on the sales lifecycle. Simply defined, sales lifecycle is the process that encompasses the different stages through which a customer passes through from being a total stranger to your product/service, to becoming a lead, to converting into a paying customer, and to becoming a loyal brand advocate.
Digital marketers also call this process as the marketing/sales funnel or the customer’s journey.
The process may be a short or a long one depending on how detailed you want to chart the customer’s journey. Some determining factors include the type of industry, nature of the business, product or service category, the target market, and the buyer persona.
Some marketers follow the most basic one which has three stages, namely: awareness, consideration, action.
Others follow far more than three stages.
Always remember that it is your target customer that drives your marketing strategy and your client persona dictates the architecture of your sales lifecycle. This way, you build an online relationship with your potential customers. A good relationship builds credibility and trust.
Launching digital marketing campaigns to implement your strategy
For each stage of this lifecycle, there is a corresponding digital marketing campaign or a combination of campaigns that you must implement. Some campaigns may be repeated during the entire process.
Each campaign or a combination thereof is designed to move the customer through the lifecycle, journey, or funnel with the ultimate aim of generating sales and making the customer a brand loyalist.
It is important to note that your campaigns should present the right content or offer to your target customers at the right time and at the right channels. This is essentially how you move total strangers through the funnel and consequently convert them into paying customers and brand advocates.
The more common digital marketing campaigns are the following:
Publishing content on your website that your potential customers find useful and relevant. Ensure that your product/service features and benefits on your website provide appropriate answers to your potential customers’ needs/problems. Your blog should be an authoritative article that directly addresses their needs/problems.
Search engine optimization
A good content amounts to nothing if your audience does not find your website or blog on the internet. Your website pages should be optimized so it appears on search engine results pages. This includes having the right keywords, meta title, meta description, internal links, alt text for images, and backlinks.
Social media marketing
Billions of people are on various social media platforms every day. It is no wonder that your potential customers likewise spend a significant amount of their time on their favorite social sites.
You must find out, however, what platforms they use to connect socially or to scan the latest news about their favorite brands. You then publish on these preferred platforms content that are informative and at the same time entertaining to keep them engaged with your page. Use also the most preferred format (videos, images, or links) and the most aesthetically pleasing color palette and typography to attract their attention and interest.
No, email is not dead. In fact, it is still the most effective channel for communicating directly with your potential customers about your value proposition and product/service benefits in a more customized or personalized way.
While organic or free promotions are still preferred by small businesses with a limited marketing budget, you can consider online advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others to complement organic promotions.
You can make a more accurate targeting for your marketing messages in terms of demographics, geography, and interests. You can also choose from a variety of creatives you can use with your messaging. You may select the schedule and duration of your ads and specify the budget that you want to spend for it.
Search engine marketing
When your potential customers search online for the kind of product/service that you offer, you can have your website appear on the search engine results page by using search advertising through search engines like Google.
You must properly research, however, what keywords that your potential customers will likely use when they conduct the search and use these keywords on your ads and landing pages.
Conversion rate optimization
Upon visiting your website and browsing through your pages, you should be able to convert your site visitors into paying customers by incorporating into your content the words and creatives that will convince them to purchase your product/service. The selection of the appropriate words and creatives does not come in a single-step process but would require you to try different variables or combinations of these variables before you finally hit the magic one.
If you can reach out to influencers with sizeable and genuine followers on social media who are aligned with your buyer persona, you can request them to collaborate with you in promoting your product/service to their followers.
You can also connect with bloggers with a good number of followers and who write regularly and persistently along topics related to your product/service.
Corresponding to the basic stages of awareness, consideration, and action, the following campaigns may be used as follows:
The potential customers may become aware of your product/service through:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
- Online advertising
- Search engine marketing
- Outreach marketing
You may launch any one or in combination the above campaigns with the specific objective of creating awareness for your business. The launch can follow a certain sequence based on a pre-determined time frame.
Each campaign will be monitored and periodically evaluated using metrics relevant to your campaign objective, which in turn are calculated to contribute over time to achieve the strategic marketing objective.
At this point, your potential customers have shown interest in your product/service.
Provide them with more information that will most likely heighten their desire to seriously consider your product/service. Customers back off if they do not find the right information that will answer their questions about how your product/service will address their needs/problems.
You may consider using the following:
- Content marketing – giving additional and more specific information about your product/service like in the form of case studies.
- Social media marketing – posting content about positive customer experiences
- Email marketing – citing specific uses of your product/service to effectively address their particular needs/problems; highlight your unique value proposition.
- Conversion rate optimization – using the most effective words and creatives to elicit the most favorable response to your offer.
This is where a potential customer becomes a paying customer.
Be sure you have satisfied your customer with how your product/service can deliver the value much better than competitors particularly in terms of benefits, features, price, and customer support.
You can further induce the customer to make the decision to purchase by offering special deals like discounts, incentives (like buy two, take one free), easy payment terms, free online/onsite training, extended warranties, and the like.
Do these using the following:
- Content marketing – a special landing page for the deals
- Social media marketing – time-sensitive promo offers
- Email marketing – supplying specific information tailored to their particular needs and highlighting time-sensitive deals
Plan well and systematically execute your strategies and campaigns. It is crucial that your campaigns have specific objectives that are clearly and deliberately monitored using realistic key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs, in turn, should all lead to the attainment of your periodic milestones and ultimately to your strategic objectives. Tweak and optimize your campaigns if necessary so these can be more effective in supporting your digital marketing strategy.
We welcome your questions, comments, suggestions.