A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy
In this day and age, it has become increasingly important for brands to engage with customers on a regular basis. Nowadays, more and more companies turn to technology and social media platforms so as to connect with their customers more frequently and to engage with their audience almost effortlessly. Social media – the number of likes on Facebook and shares on twitter – is definitely a good way to get real feedback on how well you are engaging with your customers.
A lot has been said about digital marketing strategy and how it can help organizations to create a broader audience, engage with them and ultimately, bring in more businesses. However, what is a digital marketing strategy and why should you have one?
A digital marketing strategy is a marketing strategy by which you can promote your product or brand via electronic media. Promotional efforts made via the internet, social media, radio and television channels as well as mobile phones are all examples of advertising mediums that might be used as an integrated part of your digital marketing strategy.
A digital marketing strategy is of a vital importance in the process of helping you target your audience, create brand awareness, increase the company’s reputation, generate leads and hit your sales targets.
So how should you go about formulate a digital marketing strategy and how can you create one?
1. Set Clear Goals & Objectives
In order to measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts, you need to set clear goals. How can you determine how effective your marketing strategy has been if you haven’t defined what you want to achieve in the first place?
The objectives for your digital marketing strategy should be SMART. That is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
These objectives should also be aligned with your overall business goals. The best way to go about it is to ask yourself: how can these objectives help me achieve my main business goals? Where does it fit into? It’s important to set specific time frames so as to keep a track of the progress that has been made and evaluate results whenever necessary.
2. Identify your Customers
So you have a great product and want to sell it. You spent the last few weeks creating new strategies that can allow you to increase the volume of sales so now all you need to do is to implement those strategies and sell it, right? Wrong! How can you sell something to your customer if you don’t know who he is? All too often, companies are focused on sales and how to sell more of their products that they don’t spend enough time asking themselves who their customer is. Who is your customer? Where is he based? What does he need and why does he need it? How does he behave? Is he male, female? Where does he live? Unless you can come up with a pretty detailed profile of how your customer is, you will be always targeting the wrong people and never convert those leads into actual buyers.
If you are unsure of whom your customers are, try conducting some research and create a customer profile. It should include and in-depth description of whom your typical customer may be and should include both demographic (age, gender, location, ethnic, background, etc.) and psychographic information (such as hobbies, values, interests, behaviours, etc.).
3. Identify your Competitors
The same way you need to identify your customers, you also need to identify your competitors. The purpose of doing so is to gain a better understanding and insight of what they are doing and how they are doing it. Knowing what products they are selling and how they are selling them will give you a competitive advantage over them. Also, you will be more likely to gain new customers if you can listen to what they are saying and try to improve what the competition is doing wrong. By knowing your competitors, you can also define your USP (Unique Selling Point) which will help you set your business apart from the crowd.
4. Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing or SEM is the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines and can be both paid and unpaid.
Even though small businesses usually think that running a paid search campaign can be quite expensive that is not entirely true. In fact, you should allocate a budget to run your digital marketing campaigns and align your digital marketing strategy accordingly.
Let’s see how you can create an effective digital marketing strategy by using search engine marketing.
4.1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is when people use different types of keywords to find and research certain search terms that people actually enter into search engines. This type of knowledge allows you to know exactly what your customers are looking for and help you in the creation of an effective content strategy that can draw some of those users into your website. One of the best ways to conduct a keyword research is to use a keyword tool. You can use Google Planner Tool, the one Google offers as it is a free one, or you can even use keyword research software such as SEOmoz or Long Tail Pro (even though the latter is not free).
4.2. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is concerned with growing and improving the visibility in organic search engine results (non-paid). SEO includes both creative and technical elements that can help improve rankings, drive traffic to the website and increase awareness. SEO comprehends several aspects such as the words on your pages, the way other sites link to you on the web, as well as the way your site is structured and how well can search engines understand it. Search Engine Optimization is a very good way to market your website.
4.2.1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is basically the practice of optimizing web pages individually with the aim of ranking higher in search engines and gain more relevant traffic. On-page refers to the aspects of your website that you have control over such as the content on your page, HTML code, meta tags as well as keyword placement and keyword density. On-page optimization is, therefore, the process that encompasses as measures that can be taken within your website in order to improve its position in the search rankings. On site optimization accounts for approximately twenty five percent (25%) of your entire SEO and is important to have it right. Small things such as adding the proper tags, headings and descriptions are usually forgotten by many website owners and they all have a great impact in terms of SEO benefits.
On-page SEO Tips:
- Optimized titles and descriptions
- Adequate URL Structures
- User-friendly navigation (breadcrumbs, user sitemaps, etc.)
- Optimized internal links
- Correct Text Formatting (usage of h1,h2,bold etc.)
- Image optimization (image size, image names, usage of ALT tag)
- User-friendly 404 pages
- Fast loading pages
- Google verification for all pages
- Regular fresh content
- External links (no broken links or links to ‘bad’ sites)
4.2.2. Off-page SEO
Contrary to On-page SEO, Off-page SEO refers to techniques that can be used to improve the position of your website in the search engine results page or SERPs and are not controlled by you. Off-page SEO is usually associated with promotion methods which can lead to a higher ranking of a website in the search results such as social media efforts, social bookmarking and link building.
Off-page SEO tips:
- Extend your online network of contacts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
- Blogging (include and produce fresh content regularly)
- Get involved in forums online that are relevant to your niche
- Submit your site to popular search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
- Get business reviews about your company and product.
4.2.3. Link Building
The process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own is called link building. A hyperlink is a way for users to navigate from one page to another on the internet. As a general rule, the more high-quality websites there are out there linking to your website, the more likely you are to rank well in search results. That is because usually people like, follow and share content they find relevant and that gives an indication to Google that the content that has been produced by a certain website is relevant to users.
Since search engines use link building to determine how well a page should rank in their results, it is important to have a certain number of quality links pointing to your website.
4.3. Paid Search Ads
Paid search ads is a type of advertising where website owners usually pay an advertising fee, usually based on click-throughs, in order to have their website search results shown on top of search engines’ result pages. While some search engines make it easy for users to determine which search results are natural and which are paid, other mix the two of them making it harder to know and distinguish both of them. That is also called sponsored search and it is amongst one of the best practises in digital marketing.
4.4. PPC (Pay-per-click)
Paid search marketing, also known as pay-per-click or search engine advertising, is a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Pay-per-click is basically a smart way of buying visits to your website rather than trying to gain those visitors organically. This is one of the fastest ways to drive relevant, quality traffic to your website and by utilizing ad platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads and even Microsoft adCenter you can drive as much traffic as you want.
4.5. Measure the Results
For a good search engine marketing and a strong marketing strategy, you should have a mix of some of the methods mentioned above. Once you have spent some time figuring out the most relevant keywords to your business and work on your on-page SEO, you should move forward and work on improving your off-page SEO and concentrate on your link building by using some of the tips and techniques previously described. It is equally important to monitor the results you have obtained by observing the results of your website’s ranking and draw some conclusions regarding to how well your marketing strategy is working. If the results you have obtained are not the ones you were expecting, you can adjust your digital marketing strategy by implementing different techniques and mix several different methods.
5. Content Marketing
Content marketing refers to the process of creating and sharing valuable content with the aim to attract visitors and convert them into customers. The type of content you share should be relevant and closely related to the product you are selling or service you provide. When creating content, it is important to know your audience well enough so you can develop long-term relationships with your visitors and educate them in a way that they trust you enough to do business with you. The purpose of content marketing is, therefore, to attract and retain customers by consistently creating new and fresh content that is relevant and valuable to your customers. Since content marketing is one of the most popular and powerful methods of digital marketing, you should spend some time thinking what your customers would like to know more about and how relevant is that content to them (i.e.: how does that change consumer behavior or solves your customers’ problems?).
Most part of websites nowadays have a blog. That is one of the most powerful tools in order to develop more empathy with your customers and engage with them more frequently. It also allows you to collect data through the people who actually read your blog posts (your readers), conduct customer surveys and monitor reviews, comments and opinions on social media channels. The collection of all that data will then help you form a profile that can then be translated into search keywords, social channels, promotional plans, creation of content, etc.
5.2. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging – when someone develops content for a blog that is not their own – helps you gain traffic and gets you more audience while boosting your SEO ranking in a cost effective way. Guest blogging can be used whether you’re looking to drive traffic to your business website or would like to enhance your personal brand. Guest blogging is also a great way to expose your blog to a new audience, establish yourself as an authority in your field and develop close relationships with other important bloggers in your field.
5.3. LinkedIn Blogging
As one of the most popular business-to-business social network, using LinkedIn to promote your products and services is one of the most effective ways to market to other businesses nowadays. In addition to that, LinkedIn Groups, for example, help you stay informed and get in touch with like-minded people who share your interests. Participating in discussions that are relevant to your field is also a great way to add value to the discussion, expand your circle of influence, see what people are talking about and attract new customers and create valuable partnerships. Platforms like LinkedIn can help you boost your digital marketing strategy, target the right audience, expand your number of contacts and make new business.
5.4. Press Release
Press release distribution is an effective tool in the distribution of content to the media and consumers and is a great way to get your product and brand out there. It is also fairly inexpensive and can get you customers fairly quickly.
Webinars are one of the most popular ways businesses use to market their customers. 62% of B2B marketers currently use webinars to convey their message and create an email list.
Ebooks are a great way to market your business and offer your expertise. It also contributes to the creation of a wider audience that is relevant to your product and share your interests. It is also a great way to drive traffic and create a relevant email list that you can then use to sell other products and services you might have and that are relevant and valuable to them.
5.7. Forums & Q/A sites
These type of platforms constitute a great opportunity for you to have an idea about what are the problems people are facing and how you could help solving them. You can use that information to create valuable content, connect with a wider audience and ultimately promote your products and services.
There are more and more businesses nowadays using the benefits of video content marketing. Video content marketing is an efficient and very dynamic tactic that should be implemented in your digital marketing strategy. Videos play a key role in any marketing strategy since they are capable of capturing a user’s attention very quickly and delivering a brand message that is memorable to users in a very fun, dynamic way.
Such as videos, infographics are a very effective way to convey a particular message since they are a creative and illustrative representation of what you are trying to say.
5.10. Measure the Results
Content marketing plays a vital role in your overall digital marketing campaign and should include relevant and valuable content, visual elements such as infographic, videos and images in order to promote your business more effectively.
6. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing can be defined as the process of gaining traffic and visibility through social media sites. You should create a strong online presence in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Youtube as it will ensure you are engaging with your audience and leverage the opportunities these platforms can provide.
7. Email Marketing
Email marketing is commonly used by companies to send out a commercial message to their customers or to a group of people who might be interested in their products and services. Email marketing is an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business. An email marketing strategy should be part of your overall digital marketing strategy as it can help you market your products and services and increase loyalty among your audience. One of the most important things in email marketing is to grow your list, but how can you do that?
7.1. Six Tips to Grow your Email List
- Create remarkable and valuable email content. If you want people to stay subscribed create fresh and valuable content that helps people solve their problems.
- Encourage them to share and forward your emails by including social sharing buttons. That will give you access to fresh networks and friends who might sign up for your list.
- Promote new offers and discounts who might be doing.
- Insert links to your social media profile such as Facebook and Twitter to gain more visibility.
- Create multiple email subscriptions for each persona in your marketing segment.
- Create an awesome landing page.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission through the promotion of other people’s products. Even though affiliate marketing requires a lot of hard work, it can be very beneficial in terms of content and traffic generation, trial registrations and email subscriptions. It can also bring you more conversions and sales and increase significantly your presence online. The affiliate program you choose, should also be aligned with your business and be relevant to your customers.
These are all examples of tactics and strategies you can implement in your digital marketing strategy in order to get the results you want in an effective way. Many of them are pretty straightforward and fairly inexpensive to implement. The key is to concentrate your efforts on a variety of these strategies and monitor them regularly in order to obtain real feedback on how well they are working out for you so you can adjust them accordingly.
Did we miss any other creative ways for a great digital marketing strategy? Share your ideas in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!