It's no secret that how products and services are marketed can make all the difference between success and failure. But competing in a digital world that's constantly evolving is difficult.
Making matters worse, according to a Smart Insights study, 46% of companies don't have a defined digital marketing strategy, while 16% that do have a plan in place haven't yet put it into practice.
A well-conceived digital marketing plan is an essential tool for any brand or business seeking to compete in the ever-shifting, tech-focused online.
Here are five essential steps to developing an effective digital marketing strategy customized for your company's specific goals.
Step 1. Analyze Your Situation
First, define your business' mission or objective to ensure that your digital marketing goals fit into your overall plan.
To do so, ask yourself what you want to achieve with your digital marketing efforts and set your goals. For example, are you seeking to position your ecommerce store as the go-to online retailer in a specialty niche in the U.S.?
Set and Track Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Identify and set realistic KPIs by analyzing your past online marketing efforts as a benchmark for results to avoid setting unrealistically high expectations.
Determine how you will measure KPIs. Will you use Google Analytics to measure traffic or conversions or tools like Buffer to monitor social media engagement?
Conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your:
Strengths: What are your business' greatest strengths? Analyze your capabilities and resources to determine how well you'll be able to exploit them and capitalize on existing and emerging opportunities.
Weaknesses: Think about and jot down everything (yes, everything) you can think of that puts you at a disadvantage in the competitive landscape.
Opportunities: Evaluate and identify current and future opportunities you can take advantage of.
Threats: Make note of any and every associated risk that can stand in the way of your strategic efforts, operational efficiency or overall success
Step 2. Get Insights From Your Past
To ensure you don't try to conceive a digital marketing strategy in the dark, analyze your past success and failures to learn from them.
- Deciding on the time period you'd like to analyze (monthly, quarterly or yearly) and set your Google Analytics calendar to match that time frame.
- Use out Google Analytics' Benchmarking Reports to compare your progress.
- Do competitive research by looking into your competitors' marketing strategies, and creating an analytical spreadsheet providing an overview of their digital activities.
Tools like SEMrush can be used to flesh out the SEO strategy of a competitor and determine which keywords drive the most traffic to their website. These tools can also compare the organic and paid traffic to different websites, giving you valuable insight.
Step 3. Keep Your Target Audience in Mind
When planning, always consider the people you'd like to reach. Believe it or not, the target audience can be one of the first things inexperienced digital marketers forget about when devising a plan.
Keep your audience at the center of your digital marketing plan by never losing focus on what they want and need. How? By coming up with well-thought-out profile of your potential customers or clients.
- Start with the basics, being sure to make note of all the demographics of your target audience, including their age, gender, income, location, lifestyle and interests.
- Then, dig a bit deeper to identify how you can help them to solve their problems and achieve their goals.
- Dive into their emotional triggers, goals, aspirations, desires and fears to figure out exactly what makes them tick, both consciously and subconsciously.
As a starting point, Google Analytics’ Audience Reports can help you to identify key characteristics
Step 4. Determine Your Budget and Resources
An effective digital marketing plan requires three things: financial investment, human resources and marketing channels.
Once you've conceived and designed your strategy, it's time to decide how much time, money and tech resources you'll be able to dedicate to your plan.
Key Areas of Focus
- Set your total digital marketing budget.
- Use data from past successful projects to see what worked before and what didn't.
- Decide if you'll primarily focus on an organic (free) strategy or a paid one (like Google Adwords or Facebook Ads).
- Allocate a specific amount of your budget to each digital channel you plan to use for paid promotion
- Evaluate your team and assess what each member can realistically achieve with their individual abilities and the time they will be able to commit.
- Determine if your digital marketing strategy will be carried out in house or if you'll have to hire outside help (freelancers or an agency) and how much it would cost to do so.
- Review your existing online marketing channels and decide which ones are worth keeping and if it's worthwhile to invest in any new outlets.
- Clearly define what you'd like to achieve through each digital marketing channel.
- Be sure to attach at least one KPI to each channel you use.
Step 5. Create, Implement and Monitor Your Plan
Develop a Marketing Calendar:
- Create and maintain your digital marketing timeline using a tool like Google Calendar or Teamwork, which will allow you to share it with your team and adjust it, when necessary.
- Make note of the key campaigns and marketing efforts you plan to start and allocate a timeframe for each one.
Review Your Strategy and Identify Any Required Changes:
- Develop a plan to measure and monitor the effectiveness of your plan based on your KPIs.
- Regularly check the success of each aspect of your digital marketing strategy at planned intervals.
- If anything is not working, identify weak points and make appropriate changes.
Even with a strategy conceived through deep analysis and insightful assumptions, there's no way to predict exactly how your target audience will respond to your efforts. So, it's important to continuously measure and monitor your plan's performance to fine-tune certain elements when needed.
These six useful tools will save you valuable time and provide you with the opportunity to gain unique insights to help take your social media marketing campaigns to the next level..