With digital technology constantly evolving and consumer behaviour changing, it can be difficult to keep up. Having an effective digital marketing strategy in place will help to ensure you stay ahead of the game and are ready to face any business challenges, whatever may come.

A digital marketing strategy is a plan of action designed to help a business achieve set marketing goals via online marketing channels. These goals are determined by your business objectives and consideration of the ‘bigger picture’; this includes which audience segments will be best to target and what the size of the opportunity is as well as how you hope your business will look a few years down the line. Essentially, it is all about the ‘top down’ approach which our Strategy Director Kherrin discusses the importance of in her blog about making marketing decisions.

Whilst you may already have plans for what the next level of your business will involve, the big question you need to ask when it comes to developing a marketing strategy is why?

Consider why you have your specific targets in mind and keep challenging each decision along the way - by doing so, you can throw guesswork out the door and concentrate on the data behind the initiative.

Why you need a digital marketing strategy

Having a digital marketing strategy will help you to establish what your goals are and consider what course of action would be the most effective path in order to reach them. Not having a clear business strategy is like packing for a holiday when you don’t know where you’re going (you’re packing factor 50+ lotion and your new leopard print bikini, but you’re going to Scotland, not The Bahamas!). Don’t run the risk of leaning on assumptions that may not see the best results in terms of growth and waste your company’s resources.

Here are just some of the benefits of investing in your digital marketing strategy:

You will have a clear goal and direction to increase your CTR, leads, sales and ROI

When you set a clear goal, you can measure your progress once actions are taken. For most businesses, the likely goal will be to increase sales, leads and return on investment (ROI); by optimising your campaigns and targeting the right audience, the odds of seeing results will be in your favour.

For example, if you determine that you need to optimise your site’s content (perhaps as a result of consumer insight, competitor analysis or a performance review) and allocate more of your time and budget on your SEO efforts, you may see improvements in your rankings and click-through-rate (CTR) which could lead to more conversions.

You can identify any opportunities

When reviewing your current strategy and building your new ‘plan of attack’, you can be encouraged to think about different approaches. For instance, whilst you may have always focused on acquiring new customers, you could consider the potential of implementing a retention strategy (such as email marketing) to entice existing customers to return to your business. On the other hand, your new priority could be to utilise different channels to expand your reach. As cliché as it sounds, the opportunities are endless, so leave no stone unturned!

You can identify and reach your target audience

Through identifying who your target audience are (considering demographics, interests etc.), you will be able to reach them more effectively. For instance, if you know that you want to target 18-30 year old females and your research as well as competitor analysis indicates that Instagram would be a key channel to utilise, you could take advantage of this insight and invest more ad spend there.

It’s important to really take the time to understand who it is you’re targeting and why your products or services are relevant to them so that you know how to optimise your marketing efforts.

You can keep up with and outperform your competitors

If you’re not devoting enough time to a well-thought-out marketing strategy and simply following an ad-hoc approach, you’ll probably fall behind your competitors who are considering their long-term strategy. Keeping yourself educated with the latest trends and innovations in your industry will allow you to seize opportunities for growth.

You won’t waste time, effort and money

Once you know where the best opportunity for growth lies (be it social channels for advertising or implementing retention strategies to keep your customers coming back for more), you can focus your team’s time and effort on these areas and reduce expenditure of your budget on ineffective campaigns.

How to create a digital marketing strategy

When considering the approach to a strategy, we often refer to our strategic planning wheel (see below):

This reminds us of the aspects we consider to be important for any business looking for opportunities to grow.

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are:

  • Specific - the objective should be clear, detailed and has a specific endpoint.
  • Measurable - you’ll need to be able to accurately track progress to monitor if goals are met.
  • Attainable - if it’s not realistic, you’ll probably never reach it!
  • Relevant - the goal should be pertinent to the business so it can benefit you.
  • Time-bound - setting a timeframe to reach your goals helps to keep you on track and to quantify them better.

In order to determine what it is you’re trying to achieve, you should be asking yourself questions such as:

  • Why does my website exist?
  • What does ‘good’ look like?
  • What are my business’s expertise?
  • Do I want to reach new customers and focus on an acquisition or improve repeat business by retaining existing customers?

Determine who your target audience is

Take a deep dive into your customer data to learn about your main consumers - looking at their age, occupation, location and interests, what do they search for and when (the list goes on!). It’s also worth defining your ‘buyer persona’ to get a richer understanding of who your audience is and what their specific needs are.

Look at the competitive landscape

When it comes to your competitors, you should observe what they’re doing to appeal to a similar target market (as well as highlighting any of their weaknesses). Consider aspects such as how they communicate with the audience and the channels they use.

Follow up on any emerging market trends and monitor the competitive landscape to see what’s currently in demand. You can learn more about how to improve your competitor intelligence in this article.

Think about brand storytelling

Your brand’s story is what sets you apart from the rest - make sure your audience knows it! Ask yourself how you hope to be represented, how you should be communicating with your audience (including the tone of your brand voice and imagery) and what your value proposition is. For more on this, we’ve written this article.

Consider what the best channels will be

Think about what each channel you utilise needs to achieve as well as the volume of traffic associated with them. Do you need a channel to raise brand awareness and connect with your audience or are you looking for the best channel to convert?

Prepare your tactical plan

This should cover how you will be implementing your strategy and will decide which channels and tools you will use. Some things for you to consider are the scheduling of your campaigns, whether there will be seasonal impacts and what the predicted ROI will be. Remember, you should consider why each tactic must be relevant to your objectives.

Measure your performance

Measuring your online performance will indicate whether you are on track to reach your goals (of course, with cookies and other new digital obstacles coming our way it is becoming harder to track each customer but we’ve got to work with what we’ve got). You’ll need to consider what you need to be tracking (i.e. the number of enquiries you’re receiving or contact form submissions) and using tools to forecast your performance by channel. Remember you should focus on the metrics that matter most to your business, and not get sidetracked by fake KPIs.For more information, our Head of PPC, David, shared his thoughts in these short videos.

And finally...don’t stop questioning why

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to challenge each decision every step of the way so that there is logical reasoning behind it, and a clear rationale.

Looking to improve your digital marketing strategy?

If you’re looking to create a data-driven digital marketing strategy that will see you hit your business goals and want the input of expert knowledge to get you there, look no further! We offer our digital marketing strategy service in Bournemouth and across the UK - simply get in touch with us to discuss your business’s future and how we can help today.

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Meet the author ...

Olivia Gilchrist

SEO Executive

Liv works in the SEO team and loves blending creativity with technical strategies to help our clients' webpages reach the top of the rankings! Having recently graduated from ...