Online marketing has become a crucial strategy for creating a successful, competitive business. However, the vast array of digital marketing options and channels can feel overwhelming. What works for one company or industry may not work for your business.
The secret to choosing the right digital marketing strategy is to understand your offerings and customers to aid you in developing a customized strategy for achieving specific marketing goals. We’ll explore the steps you should take to choose the right digital marketing strategy for your company and share more online marketing insights.
Did you know? You can also increase in-store sales with online marketing by using digital activity, including social media posts, to influence offline sales.
How to choose a digital marketing strategy for your business
A successful digital marketing strategy isn’t about trying the newest digital marketing trends or guessing what your customers want. Instead, it’s about data-backed insights.
“The most successful marketers understand truly scalable digital marketing has transformed into people-based advertising, or knowing the exact message to give at the right time, on the right platform, to the right person,” said Jess Reilly, chief marketing officer at Rebel Interactive Group.
Choosing a digital marketing strategy includes building buyer personas, identifying your goals, choosing the right digital marketing tools, and assessing your strategy to ensure it’s working.
1. Build buyer personas to understand your target audience.
Buyer personas are fictional characters representing archetypal consumers who might be attracted to your brand. These personas help you market your products and services to this demographic.
“Creating buyer personas will help you determine your marketing strategy by illuminating who your buyers are, the situations they are faced with and, most important, what goals the audience [is] attempting to accomplish to inform your messaging strategy,” Reilly said.
To build customer personas, consider the following information about your target customer:
- Job type
- General demographics
- Most-used social platforms
- Beliefs and values
Then, customize your strategy based on these details.
One way to get a handle on your target customer is by looking closely at your competitors and how they’re attempting to reach these buyers. Brett Prentiss, co-founder of Instinct Marketing, said his team looks at competitors’ landing pages, ad title tags, website structure and more.
“Once we understand [these elements], we reverse-engineer their strategy, along with the business owners’ vision and our expertise, [and] something truly magical is created,” Prentiss said. “That magic simply works because it delivers results.”
2. Identify your goals, and align them to your strategy.
What are your marketing strategy goals? For example, you may want to build brand awareness, increase product sales or attract a larger social following. Be specific about your goals to direct your efforts effectively. We’ll explore some specific examples.
If your goal is to heighten brand awareness:
Does your target customer buy only from reputable brands? Are they aware of your brand? Do they trust or have enough familiarity with it to make a purchase?
If cultivating brand awareness and strengthening your company’s reputation are top priorities, concentrate on the following:
- Content creation. Create a significant amount of high-quality content, both written (blog posts, Instagram posts, website articles) and video. Excellent content will establish your brand’s personality and mark you as an expert. Consider using humor, comments and striking images to catch people’s attention and make your content more shareable.
- Traffic generation. Focus on generating traffic to your content. Use digital advertising and social tools, such as Facebook marketing strategies, to expose the maximum number of potential customers to your brand.
- Co-marketing. You can also collaborate with more established businesses with complementary products by co-marketing, creating an affiliate program or running an online giveaway publicized via digital advertising.
Aside from using and monitoring hashtags and social media promotion engagement, a brand awareness campaign’s return on investment (ROI) is challenging to measure. Although you won’t be able to pinpoint every person who learned about your brand due to your efforts, building awareness is the first step in laying the foundation for a more extensive customer base.
FYI: Other ways to boost online awareness of your brand include creating a memorable logo, building an easy-to-navigate website and creating a successful podcast.
If your goal is to raise consumer awareness:
Sometimes, consumers don’t seek out your company because they don’t understand how your product or service can improve their lives. If this is the case, you may see low search volumes for your target keywords.
If you don’t have a problem with your sales process or website traffic, you may be experiencing a general lack of consumer awareness. If so, your digital marketing strategy goal would be to educate potential customers about a specific problem they encounter and then offer your solution. Here are some ways to do this:
- Create videos. Videos are an excellent way to educate prospects. You can create explainer videos, product demonstration videos, and livestream videos, like Facebook Live Q&As showcasing your solution.
- Reach out to influencers. Consider reaching out to bloggers, professional reviewers, and social media influencers in your space. Show them how your product solves a specific problem their audience experiences, and get them to recommend it.
Sometimes faith in the brand isn’t enough. You must educate customers about what you do, how your offerings will benefit them and why your solution is better than their current one.
Did you know? Building brand trust through video also helps improve your website’s search rankings. Video boosts the time visitors spend on your website and can enhance backlinks.
If your goal is to increase traffic:
Traffic is a highly sought-after key performance indicator (KPI). With higher-quality traffic, you’ll usually generate more sales leads and actual sales, so it makes sense that most business owners see traffic as a priority.
If your primary goal is traffic, the best areas of focus include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, a successful search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, and email marketing.
- PPC advertising. PPC advertising allows you to control the amount of traffic flowing to your website, depending on your budget. To get a good ROI on your PPC campaign, use longtail keywords (longer and more specific keywords), pinpoint your target audience, and continually use A/B testing to find the most effective combination of audience, headline, image and body copy. Monitor your results, and tweak them as needed.
- SEO. Unlike PPC advertising, SEO is a long-term investment. You must wait at least six to nine months to see a positive return on your investment. Companies can do SEO in-house or hire an agency. SEO’s upsides include perceived lower costs, recurring “free” organic traffic and all the other benefits of being at the top of Google’s search rankings.
- Email marketing. You can use email marketing as a tool for many digital marketing goals. When it comes to increasing traffic, use email marketing to a large, established customer base to drive traffic to your website for content and contests.
If your goal is to increase leads:
If you have an expensive or complex product, it’s unreasonable to expect customers to buy it for the first time online. Instead, focus your efforts on generating leads that your sales team can pursue.
Here are some tips for increasing leads:
- Polish your website copy. Ensure your website copy adequately explains the product and establishes your company’s expertise and experience.
- Offer incentives. Offer a reward to prospects who fill out a form with their contact information. For example, provide a discount for consumer products or a whitepaper for business-to-business products.
- Include social proof. Include plenty of social proof, including positive customer reviews (the more, the better), testimonials, celebrity endorsements, and awards or certifications.
If your goal is to increase sales:
If you want to increase sales, you likely need to utilize email marketing strategically and boost traffic to your website landing page.
- Use email marketing to increase sales. Email marketing has one of the highest potential ROIs. Several types of email marketing can be effective in boosting sales. For example, you can run a campaign directed at warm leads and people who have signed up to receive information from your company. You can also run personalized email campaigns targeted to existing customers using data in your customer relationship management system or point-of-sale system’s customer account module.
- Optimize your website landing page. You can generate more sales with a combination of additional traffic and a landing page that’s optimized for conversions. PPC or SEO can generate traffic to your website. Then, you can test your landing-page copy, layout, design and headlines to help find successful lead conversions, consider offering a free trial, guarantee or warranty.
Tip: The best email marketing services can help you send personalized, custom campaigns to leads and customers and analyze your data to determine which elements were successful.
3. Choose digital marketing tools based on your primary goals.
There are various marketing tools, including content marketing calendar templates, social networks and email marketing software. Each has specific advantages and purposes, so the right tools for you will depend on your goals.
“Every business has a different need or something they are lacking in,” Prentiss said. “That could be a lack of reviews, they’re ranking poorly on Google, or their website just really needs a redesign. Whatever the business needs are, they always require a different tool.”
Prioritize your goals and comb through your budget to determine your best investments. If you’re far away from a sale, use less-expensive tools (such as email and social media posts) because there will be a good amount of leakage in your sales funnel. You can always revisit and experiment with other tools on the market.
4. Audit your current digital marketing strategy.
Auditing your digital marketing strategy involves determining what worked in the past, testing current strategies and figuring out what needs shifting.
- Discover the true ROI of past efforts. You’ll need to measure ROI for digital marketing campaigns you ran in the past. Reilly advised business owners to ask how much “lift” each marketing channel provided in previous seasons. “Using a combination of customer purchase data, digital tracking data and any traditional media buys you have, you can dive into the data to discover what your true ROI was in the past and opportunities to grow in the future,” Reilly said.
- Test new strategies. Before going live with your new strategy, test it to see what might work and what won’t. Spend time figuring out if there are aspects of your strategy that can be fixed or improved.
- Determine what needs tweaking. Prentiss recommended monitoring your progress to determine what might need shifting. “We set daily, weekly and sometimes even monthly reminders to check on the progress we made,” Prentiss said. “The daily and weekly check-ins on what we created are very important in the beginning so we can adjust what we are doing. This truly ensures the success of the campaign.”
Bottom Line: If the cost per lead is more than what you’ll earn after closing the sale, your ROI is unsatisfactory and changes are in order.
Types of digital marketing channels
Here are some of the most common digital marketing strategies:
- Search engine optimization. SEO is the process of increasing your website’s visibility in search engine rankings so you have a prominent spot on search engine results pages (SERP) for keywords that are relevant to your business. SEO involves keyword research, on-page optimization, link building, content marketing and more.
- Pay per click. PPC is an internet advertising strategy. You bid on specific keywords users enter into search engines. Your ad appears at the top (or near the top, depending on how competitive the keyword is) of the SERP. Effective PPC advertising requires optimizing the ads and bids to generate a favorable ROI.
- Social media marketing. Social media marketing involves leveraging social media platforms to boost traffic and awareness of your website or brand. This strategy includes employing advertising tactics within the social media platforms and utilizing social media metrics to gain valuable insights.
- Email marketing. Email marketing is the process of collecting email addresses from potential leads and existing customers. You can then market to them via a series of customized emails.
- Content marketing. Content marketing involves creating and posting informative online content such as videos and blog posts. Content marketing informs viewers and helps with organic SEO.
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO). The goal of CRO is to increase the percentage of conversions from visitors to your website. You can implement CRO for specific goals, such as sign-ups, leads or sales.
Digital marketing budget and resources
In addition to your business goals, factors such as your budget, resources and time will dictate your digital marketing strategy.
- Consider your marketing budget. PPC, display advertising and social media advertising help to generate traffic and brand awareness immediately. Still, these options can be costly, and if the cost outweighs the ROI, they may not be the best choices.
- Look to your available talent. If you’re a small business with limited resources, your strategy also depends on your staff’s skills. For example, if you employ creatives and copywriters, email and content marketing campaigns might be the most effective. If employees don’t have these specific talents or you’re pressed for time, you may want to consider outsourcing these business processes or shifting to other strategies, such as PPC.
- Take a holistic approach. When you’re crafting a digital marketing strategy, understand that these aren’t stand-alone tactics; you must often adopt a holistic approach. The best SEO campaigns may require good public relations, social media marketing and content marketing. Spending money on PPC while having a poor conversion rate is a waste. Most tactics provide a superior ROI when used in conjunction with complementary approaches.
Why a digital marketing strategy is important
Digital marketing is extremely relevant today, as many consumers have mobile devices and internet connections wherever they go. Creating a strategy to guide your digital marketing efforts is crucial. You must contend with various digital marketing factors, tools and platforms. It can be intimidating initially, but the process will be smoother if you craft a plan.
“Having a digital marketing strategy in place before you embark on activity is paramount to the success of any campaigns that you may put in place,” said Trevor Nicholls, managing director of Klood Digital. “The old army adage of ‘proper planning prevents poor performance’ is as relevant to your marketing as it is in the military.”
Nicholls added that a written digital marketing plan is a working document that you and your team will use regularly. It’s not a one-and-done project you’ll never revisit; it’s a plan to guide and inform your marketing efforts.
Sammi Caramela contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.