A digital marketing strategy can be developed around one marketing channel or around all marketing channels.
What is a Digital Marketing Strategy
A digital marketing strategy details the course of action and tactics to reach the main business goals using the relevant marketing channels and available resources.
Depending on the target audience and main objectives, you develop a sub-strategy (a plan) for each block of the strategy: the channels to be used, the content to be created, and the paid media.
Without knowing exactly where you want to go there is no strategy, no path to take.
It’s important o have a clear objective. Using the SMART Goal system you can formulate accurate sub-objectives that correspond with the main business goal and the resources you have.
If the main objective may be to raise brand awareness or increase sales, a SMART sub-goal will sound like this:
- 5% more organic traffic by the end of the sixth month.
- 10,000 more followers on social media by the end of the year.
- 20% more engagement rates on social media in 3 months.
- Decrease my email subscriber’s monthly drop rate by 40% in 3 months.
How much awareness is already there about you?
To help you understand how much to spend on awareness-driving channels you need to know how much online awareness is there already about your brand or product.
If you are an established brand, you do that by looking at the search queries related to your brand, or by researching discussions on forums/groups/social media about your brand/product.
If for example, you are a new business, then you should start your strategy by raising brand awareness using channels such as Display Advertising and Paid Social and move upward to all steps of the customer’s journey: Interest, Consideration, Conversion and Retention.
2. Channel Strategy
Developing a channel strategy will guide your efforts in the direction that will deliver the best results.
Researching your audience will clarify where your prospects are spending time online. Maybe they spend time more on TikTok than on Instagram. Or maybe more on LinkedIn than on Facebook.
Knowing what channels and what features you will use, the outline of your channel strategy may sound something like this:
- Use Instagram video story ads + Instagram micro-influencers to raise brand awareness.
- Produce videos on TikTok over songs that are trending on the platform.
- Use email marketing to send exclusive content to existing clients.
- Use Linkedin’s advertising capabilities to target people based on their industry and jobs.
3. Content Strategy
How and what you will communicate to your audience is the bridge between you and them.
Many fail to reach their online goals because they don’t create content that resonates with their audience.
If Content is King, Context is GodGary vee
It’s highly important to be contextual to the platform where you communicate your message.
For example, when you develop your content marketing strategy you shouldn’t plan and create the same post copy, images, and videos for Linkedin as you do for Instagram.
If you lack the creative resources, have a look at the following examples on how to generate content without you creating it:
- Collaborate with influencers on TikTok to creatively promote your new pizza from their own point of view and negotiate for rights to use their videos on your own assets.
- Create 20 videos (using your phone) for Linked wherein the video starts with ‘Hello, -name of the company you are targeting-‘ + explain the benefits of your new SaaS product targeting the employees of 20 targeted companies you want to sell to (applicable at media strategy stage too).
- Reach previous customers to create video and written reviews of their experiences with them. Get approval to use that content on your own assets.
- Collaborate with relevant youtube influencers and offer your product for free. If they like the product to make an honest video review about it.
4. Media Strategy
The content and channels you are going to use are the creative part of your strategy. Now it’s time to determine the paid efforts to reach your audience.
At this stage it’s about the pay-to-play marketing channels, mainly PPC and Display Advertising, but also Influencer Marketing. What formats on what platforms, and who are you going to target with your ads?
Is it Facebook 15 seconds videos or carousel ads? Instagram feed ads or story ads? Are you going to reach influencers? How much budget for each channel and for each platform?
Engaging Content Always Wins
As I was just reading Neal Schaffer’s book I want to reiterate his point here in relation to media strategy.
If you come from a traditional marketing environment keep this in mind: social media is not a place for billboards. That’s not how you advertise on the internet.
People come online to engage, to react, to be drawn into something worth being part of. When on social media, your audience will not be excited by a ‘Buy this from me‘ type of advert. Simply put, whoever creates engaging content, that business wins.
Following the examples from the channel strategy here is how to implement that content in the media strategy:
- Target teenagers within an 8-mile radius promoting the influencer’s pizza video on TikTok and Instagram.
- Use Google display ads targeting people that clicked on your LinkedIn ads about your SaaS product.
- Use video testimonials on Youtube Preroll Ad and target people based on google searches around your brand and product.
- Create ads on Facebook and Youtube using the video from the youtube influencer.
We have the channels you want to use, and you have some ideas about content, and about the paid media too. Now it’s time to get practical.
Well, depending on your target audience, your brand message, and the context of the platform you articulate the tactics.
In the above examples, I touch on the tactics as well. But here you need to be as precise as you can.
Following the examples given above here is how the tactics of those strategies might sound like:
1. Identify 100 micro-influencers in the food industry using hashtags. They should post at least once a day and have a high engagement rate on their posts. Discuss with every one of them the conditions of a possible collaboration. If collaboration is agreed upon, further discuss the conditions under which you will have the right to use their content on your own assets.
2. Ask previous clients for an honest video testimonial recorded on their phone. Discuss the conditions under which you can use the videos as promotional material.
3. Find 30 youtube influencers in my industry and offer 1-year premium access to our Email Marketing platform. If they like it do an honest review about it and further discuss the conditions under which to use his review video as your promotional material.
More practical tactics to generate content and brand awareness
- Extract the most common 20 queries from the Google search queries related to your brand and create a FAQ page answering all those questions.
- Identify 20 search queries in your industry using Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends and write blog posts answering all those questions. (Ubbersuggest is another great keyword research tool).
- Contact the top 50 influencers on twitter and ask what is the most valuable lesson they learned in the tech industry. Create a round-up blog post based on their answers.
- Find places where people are talking about your brand and engage with the audiences there on a regular basis.
- Identify the top 10 relevant influencers on all major platforms and engage with genuine comments on their posts on a daily basis.
Budget & Costs
An important aspect of your strategy are the spending associated with each block of your strategy. Broadly, your costs can be divided into three big buckets.
- Media Costs.
- Creative Production.
- Digital Tools.
Depending on your goals, prioritize the advertising channels that will get you closer to your objective. If for example, your focus is awareness then you would allocate a higher budget on awareness driving channels such as display ads, Facebook ads, Youtube pre-roll ads.
As you collect live data on the running campaigns, don’t hesitate to spend more money on it by cutting out the budget from the lower performing channels.
On future campaigns you can use historical data to better estimate future performances of the current strategy and planning.
Creative Production Costs
Creative costs are never exact. Always have enough budget for the creative block after allocating for the media costs.
Digital Tool Costs
When it comes to the tools you will need to perform your marketing activities these can get quite expensive.
If you are on a budget you need to be picky about what is really necessary and what can be done without the help of paid tools.
Other budgeting tips
- If you are on a tight budget is better to focus on a smaller audience. For example, if you are selling dental tools and your target audience is males and females aged between 25-35, it’s probably a good idea to focus on a female-only audience.
- Don’t ignore other channels even when the current channels deliver good results. For example, if you decide to focus on social, maybe you will learn that using social media and PPC will complement each other for better results compared to when used individually.
- It’s better to create a long-term budget within a period of several months. This way will be able to adjust and reallocate your budget on a weekly or monthly basis.
Outsourcing & Hiring
I will leave you with this thought: If you are a business and you need people to take care of the digital aspect, most likely you will be o a budget, and hiring top professionals is out of the question.
Whoever you hire you must yourself know the role you are hiring for. That’s because you need to be able to judge when your employees are progressing and when they aren’t.
That’s why is important to become a practitioner yourself.
If you hire a PPC specialist, spend 10 hours educating yourself about PPC. If you hire someone to manage influencer marketing campaigns, first collaborate with influencers yourself.
You don’t have any excuses to not educate yourself. Just type on google “how to run Facebook ads” or “how to do influencer marketing” and you will have millions of results in written or video form.
The digital space is constantly changing and evolving. What worked 2 years ago might not work as good today.
The kind of Facebook ads that worked then, doesn’t work as well now.
Instagram was the best place to approach influencers. Today we have TikTok influencers too.
As a consequence digital marketing strategies are never set in stone. They need to be regularly adapted to new trends.