What is a digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that sets out the objectives, competitors, target markets, marketing positioning, products/service, promotional tactics, budgets that a business implements to satisfy customer needs and realise online profitability. So it’s much more than the online channels and vehicles that many people are familiar with such as Pay Per Click Advertising, SEO, Social Media, Online Public Relations and many others.
To help implement a digital strategy, it is important to create a document that will steer your plans and actions and help you keep track of progress. The outline of a digital market strategy document will differ for many businesses and industries and you should only add elements that are pertinent to your business.
Here are some key points to consider as you create your digital marketing strategy document:
When you first create your digital marketing strategy, you will carry out an audit into your market, competitors, and the internal and external market environment. This is important to help you understand the needs of your customers, who they are and how you can create an offer to meet that need.
The audit will also highlight who your direct and indirect competitors are and all the competitor forces that could be a threat to your business, such as substitute products, new offers from competitors and new competitors entering your industry.
The marketing audit will help you to assess the external environment which you will have little control over. This includes such forces as Technology and how your target market uses mobile devices, tablets and desktop for example, to access your website and therefore your products or services.
An audit is an ongoing activity and you will do this throughout the life of your business and continually plug your findings into your digital marketing strategy. It’s important to carry out regular audits to keep an eye on your competitors.
Your audit findings will create some very important factors which you will add to your SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats):
With all the info you’ve gathered from the marketing audit and SWOT, you will have a clearer idea of what is happening in the market, so that you can create SMART objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time related and they help you stay focused and ensure that you achieve your objectives.
Whatever your objectives, you should take into consideration your available resources such as time and money, to ensure that you are able to achieve them.
Your objectives should also take into consideration your competitors’ current standing in the market, whether they are market leaders, challengers, followers or nichers, so you can create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to benchmark your progress towards achieving your goals and against your competitors and adjust them accordingly.
There are many types of objectives and many of them fall under acquisition, conversion and retention strategies. An acquisition objective for example would be to see a 20% increase in new visitors to your website by a specific date. Using Google Analytics, you can then create a KPI to benchmark your progress towards achieving this goal using spreadsheets.
Competitors will be working as hard as or even harder than you to win and gain customers and your digital marketing strategy should set out how you plan to counter this. With the help of your marketing audit, you can understand your markets greatest needs and use that to build a competitive advantage.
The problem many businesses have online is that they have no unique benefits, which they can use to create a competitive advantage. Opportunities to create a competitive advantage can come from many areas including quality of service, meeting customers’ needs better than competitors, lower prices, cost advantages, offers and discounts and many other ways.
However, price is not usually an advantage, because competitors can usually meet or beat prices and this spirals into a price war, where everyone loses, except the customer of course.
Your business strengths combined with your competitive advantage is what is known as your basis for competing. You need this to win new business, turn them into loyal customers and ultimately convert them to advocates who will bring more business your way.
Online Promotional Tactics
Online promotion is a huge topic on its own and I cover it many of my case studies, whitepapers, blogs and articles which you can read about here on my website. The ways to promote your website online continue to grow and you should constantly be on the lookout for a way to reach your customers more efficiently and effectively.
Some of the main promotional tools and channels include:
• Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
• Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
• Content Marketing
• Social Media Marketing
• Affiliate Marketing
• Online PR
• Online Sponsorship
• Display Advertising
• Directory Listings
• Online shopping portals
• Email Marketing
• And many others
A well crafted digital marketing strategy will help you create a winning online presence. It will focus your ideas and plans into what you need to do to meet and exceed your goals and it will help you to take your resources (time and money) into consideration.
Download my free digital marketing strategy template to plan your online marketing campaigns.