How to plan a digital marketing strategy: step by step
Online marketing strategies take time and consideration to plan. Follow these five steps to get well on your way to creating a strategy to be proud of.
Step 1: Understand the marketing funnel
The marketing funnel is a method whereby you can visualise the customer journey, breaking it down into each individual step. From the first awareness stage, to the point of purchase, each part of the customer’s engagement with your brand can be plotted, and therefore strategised.
The funnel works by combining marketing and sales strategies, the buyer’s decision-making process is then guided towards purchase, transforming prospects into customers.
The funnel will help you to direct certain marketing strategies at certain people, depending on their previous experience with the brand. For example, the way in which you market to a customer just learning about your brand will be very different to the way in which you market to a returning customer.
Step 2: Get to know your target audience
This step involves the creation of a buyer persona and streamlining your marketing tactics to accommodate for the consumer habits of your identified customers. Done correctly, this will increase your audience reach and drive sales.
To do this, you must:
- Conduct market research to find out who you audience actually is.
- Carry out competitor research to identify what other businesses in your field are doing, and think about how you can do it better.
Create a persona template (a document that captures all aspects of your target market’s persona). This document should include information such as:
Location (urban, suburban, rural)
Challenges and goals (primary and secondary)
Fears and values
Level of digital competence
Preferred news sources
Blog, website and other brand influences
Most used form of social media
To gather this information, you’ll need to carry out a consumer insight poll or survey to reveal the habits of your existing consumer base. Survey Monkey is a useful tool for this task, and you might be surprised by the answers your customers give!
With the consumer information you gather, you’ll be able to streamline your marketing strategy. For example, if your consumer research reveals that your customer’s preferred social media platform is Twitter overall, then you’ll know to put more energy into your Twitter feed as this is how you’ll reach more of your ideal customers.
Step 3: Evaluate your existing digital marketing efforts
This might seem obvious, but it’s a very effective part of any successful strategy. By taking some time for some self reflection, you’ll be able to see what’s worked well for you in the past, and what hasn’t. Armed with this information, your future campaigns can be created to replicate your successes whilst avoiding any failures.
To carry out an evaluation, take a look at:
The number of social media shares previous blog posts have received
The number of followers you have on social media
Reviews on Google and Yelp
Website traffic from social sites
Conversion rates generated from social traffic
These kinds of stats will help you to shape future marketing moves, revealing what you do well and what areas of your strategy might need a little TLC.
Step 4: Decide which digital marketing channels you will use in your strategy
Internet marketing strategies vary massively, but the best way to connect with your customer directly is via social media. When it comes to social strategy, there’s a plethora of platforms to choose from, and it’s important that you choose the most appropriate social network for promotional purposes.
|Social media||How to use|
Create a page for your business, on which you can post information, offers, photos, details of forthcoming events and so on.
More than 50 million small businesses use Facebook to connect with their customers worldwide. Four million of those businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook.
Twitter is great for building up a following amongst potential and existing customers.
People often go to Twitter to give feedback. Note: 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.
|LinkedIn A really useful tool for connecting with other professionals in your industry.
Use to write articles and share interesting posts. Also good for scouting out potential recruits as your business expands.
A very popular visual tool, especially if your business has anything to do with food, travel or design.
Pinterest isn’t a ‘chatty’ form of media, so strong imagery works well here.
It’s also a really good source of creative inspiration – with Pinterest, you can ‘mood board’ without the mess.
|Instagram If you’re trying to tap into the Millennial market, this is the one for you. With 90% of Instagram users younger than 35, Instagram is ‘the’ social media tool of today.
Visually promote your product and create stories that will help your audience develop a personal relationship with your brand.
Create a dedicated YouTube channel for your business. Videos are a clear and engaging way to communicate with your customers, putting a human voice to your brand.
While a ‘how it’s made’ video would build interest in your product, a ‘how to’ video will ensure customers use the product correctly, whilst providing customer support without the need for someone to be ready to take a call 24-seven.
Step 5: Decide whether you need an agency to help you
Whilst digital marketing isn’t the most costly of in-house operations, it’s very time consuming and reliant on some serious digital know-how.
Due to the time and skill a successful digital marketing campaign will require, it’s worth considering bringing in the help of an agency if you don’t think you digital skills are quite up to scratch. Using an agency has many advantages, most notably the time it will save you.
To keep the costs down, it’s possible to delegate some (rather than all) of your marketing tasks to an agency. This will cover the aspects of the campaign that you find most challenging, whilst keeping control of the bits you’re confident you can handle.
For more information, take a look at our 10 best digital marketing agencies page.