Would it be correct to assume that much of your marketing strategy today is digital? Probably
Consumers and businesses are almost always online and on the go – and you want to reach them and see their behavior where they spend their time.
However, as you start a business, this ever-changing digital landscape can quickly become overwhelming. With a bunch of other tasks and tasks that you need to do, how can you also efficiently create, optimize and maintain an agile digital marketing strategy?
We have put together this guide to marketing strategies to help you improve your digital presence and grow better.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
It is important to understand how a marketing strategy differs from a digital marketing strategy before implementing either or both in your company.
A marketing strategy is a plan to achieve a specific marketing goal (or goals) in a focused and achievable way. It takes into account what your company is doing well right now and what you are missing about the goal you have set so that you are more likely to achieve it.
But what’s the difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing tactic – two terms that are often used interchangeably?
Tactics vs. strategy
As mentioned above, a strategy is an achievable and targeted series of steps that you can take to achieve a specific goal.
Marketing or not, every strategy has three parts:
- A diagnosis of your challenge
- A guideline for dealing with the challenge
- A set of targeted actions needed to implement the directive
Depending on the size of your business, your marketing strategy may have several moving parts, each with different goals. With this in mind, over time, working on your strategy can become daunting. If you ever feel overwhelmed with your marketing strategy, read these three steps to focus on achieving your goals.
Marketing tactics, or tactics of any kind, are the specific actions that you will take during your strategy to achieve your ultimate goal. In other words, a strategy is your goal – it’s the achievable, focused plan to get you there. Tactics are concrete and definable steps within your strategy that will ensure that you achieve your goal.
Review the following list of basic marketing strategies commonly used by teams in different industries to get a better understanding of the potential impact.
- Publish a blog.
- Advertising on a specific social media platform (e.g. Facebook ads or Instagram ads).
- Offer free educational resources
- Search engines optimize your digital content.
- Create a giveaway and / or competition.
- Test different types of campaigns to see which are best for your audience.
- Organize a webinar.
- Produce a podcast.
- Create an email campaign.
Now let’s take a look at the digital marketing strategy.
What is digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy will help your business achieve specific digital goals through carefully selected online marketing channels such as paid, earned, and proprietary media.
Similar to marketing strategies versus marketing tactics, “digital marketing strategy” and “digital marketing campaign” are also frequently exchanged. How are they different?
What is a digital marketing campaign?
Digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks and actions within your digital marketing strategy that lead you to a specific end goal.
For example, if the overall goal of your digital marketing strategy is to generate more leads through social media, you can run a digital marketing campaign on Twitter. You can share some of your company’s top performing gated content on Twitter to generate more leads through the channel.
How to create a digital marketing strategy
- Build your buyer personalities.
- Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you need.
- Assess your existing digital channels and assets.
- Review and plan your own media campaigns.
- Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you need.
- Review and plan your deserved media campaigns.
1. Create your buyer personalities.
For any marketing strategy – digital or not – you need to know who you are marketing to. The best digital marketing strategies are based on detailed buyer personalities. Your first step is to create these.
Organize your audience segments and empower your marketing with templates to build your buyer personalities.
Buyer personalities represent your ideal customers and can be created through research, questioning and questioning your company’s target group.
It’s important to note that this information should be based on real world data whenever possible, as assumptions about your target audience can cause your marketing strategy to move in the wrong direction.
To get a complete picture of yourself, your research pool should contain a mix of customers, prospects, and people outside of your contact database who are aligned with your target audience.
But what kind of information should you gather for your own buyer personalities to educate your digital marketing strategy?
That depends on your business – it probably depends on whether you are B2B or B2C, or whether you are selling a high or low cost product.
Here are a few starting points that you can fine-tune for your business.
Quantitative and demographic information
- Place: Use web analytics tools to easily determine where your website traffic is coming from.
- Age: Depending on your company, this may or may not be relevant information. However, if you do, your best bet is to collect this data by identifying trends in your existing prospect and contact database.
- Income: It is best to collect sensitive information such as personal income through interviews with people, as people may not be willing to provide this information through online forms.
- Job title: This is something that you can get a rough idea of with your existing customer base and that is most relevant to B2B businesses.
Qualitative and psychographic information
- Gates: Depending on the challenge your product or service solves, you may already have a good idea of your buyer personality’s goals. Cement your assumptions by speaking to real customers and internal sales and customer service reps.
- Challenges: Talk to customers, sales, customer service, and other customer-facing employees to get an idea of the general challenges your audience members face.
- Hobbies: Ask customers and those who target your audience about their hobbies and interests. For example, if you are a fashion brand, it is helpful to know if large parts of your audience are also interested in fitness and wellbeing in order to inform about future content and partnerships.
- Priorities: Talk to customers and audience members to find out what is most important to them about your business. For example, if you’re a B2B software company, knowing that your target audience values customer support for a competitive price is very valuable information.
By combining all of these details, you can create buyer personalities who are accurate and of great value to your business.
2. Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you need.
Your marketing goals should always be tied to the basic goals of your company.
For example, if your company’s goal is to increase online sales by 20%, your marketing team’s goal might be to generate 50% more leads through the website than last year to contribute to that success.
Use a high-level marketing plan template to outline your annual marketing strategy, identify top priorities, and more.
Whatever your overall digital marketing goal, you need to be able to measure the success of your strategy along the way with the right digital marketing tools.
For example, the reporting dashboard in HubSpot brings all of your marketing and sales data together in one place so you can quickly see what’s working and what’s not to improve your strategy for the future.
3. Assess your existing digital channels and assets.
When reviewing your existing digital marketing channels and resources to determine what to include in your strategy, it is helpful to consider the bigger picture first. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or confused.
Gather what you have and categorize each vehicle or asset in a spreadsheet so you have a clear picture of your existing own, earned, and paid media.
Owned, earned, paid media framework
To do this effectively, use your own earned and paid media framework to categorize the digital “vehicles”, assets or channels already in use and decide what works well for your strategy.
This refers to the digital assets your brand or company owns – be it your website, social media profiles, blog content, or images. Own channels are what your company has complete control over.
This can also include some external content that you own that is not hosted on your website (e.g. a blog that you post on Medium).
Media earned relates to the word-of-mouth marketing you gain. Whether it’s content you’ve shared on other sites (e.g. guest posts), PR work you’ve done, or the customer experience you’ve delivered. Merited Media is the recognition you receive as a result of these efforts.
You can earn media by receiving press releases and positive reviews, as well as sharing your content through their networks (e.g. social media channels).
Paid media refers to any vehicle or channel that you spend money on to attract the attention of your buyer personalities.
This includes things like Google AdWords, paid social media posts, native advertising (e.g. sponsored posts on other websites), or any other medium through which you pay in exchange for better visibility.
Let’s look at an example as you better understand what this framework entails.
For example, suppose you have your own content on a landing page on your website that was created to help you generate leads. They know that you want to incorporate different parts of the framework rather than just working with your own, earned, or paid media.
To increase the number of leads the content generates, make an effort to make sure it can be shared so your audience can spread it through their social media profiles. In turn, this will increase the traffic to your landing page. This is the media component earned.
To help your content succeed, you can post over the content on your Facebook page and pay to see it by more people in your target audience.
This allows the three parts of the framework to work together – although it is not required for success. For example, if your own and earned media are already doing well, you may not need to invest in paid media. So, evaluate the best solution to achieve your goal, then incorporate the most appropriate channels for your business into your digital marketing strategy.
Now that you know what is already in use, you can decide what to keep and what to cut.
4. Review and plan your own media campaigns.
At the heart of digital marketing is media-owned – and it almost always comes in the form of content. This is because almost any message your brand sends can be classified as content, whether it’s a website page about us, product descriptions, blog posts, e-books, infographics, podcasts, or social Media contributions.
You can use content to convert your website visitors into leads and customers while improving your brand’s online presence. And when that content is search engine optimized (SEO) it can increase your search and organic traffic.
Regardless of your digital marketing strategy goal, you’ll want to include your own content. First, decide what content will help you achieve your goals.
If you are looking to generate 50% more leads from the website than last year, your About Us page will most likely not be included in your strategy unless this page has been a lead generation machine in the past.
Here’s a quick process that can help you figure out what your own content will need to meet your digital marketing strategy goals.
Review your existing content.
Make a list of your existing own content and arrange each item based on what previously worked best for your current goals.
For example, if your goal is lead generation, organize your content based on which parts have generated the most leads in the past year (e.g. a blog post, e-book, or website page).
This is about figuring out what’s working and what’s not so that you can prepare for success as you plan for future content.
Identify gaps in your existing content.
Use your buyer personalities to identify any gaps in your content. For example, if you are a math tutoring company and you know through research that a major challenge for your personas is finding effective learning methods – you don’t currently have any content to speak on that matter – create some.
If you look at your content reviewer, you may find that ebooks hosted on a certain type of landing page converts very well (better than webinars, for example). In the case of this math tutoring company, you could make the decision to add an e-book to your content creation plans about how to make learning more effective.
Create a content creation plan.
Based on your results and the gaps you have identified, create a content creation plan that lists the content needed to meet your goals.
This should include:
- Advertising channels
- Why you create the content
- Content priority
This can be a simple spreadsheet and should also include budget information if you plan to outsource content creation or a time estimate if you do it yourself.
5. Review and plan your deserved media campaigns.
By evaluating your previously earned media against your current goals, you can get an idea of where to focus your time. Take a look at where your traffic and leads are coming from (if that’s your goal) and rank each media source earned from most effective to least effective.
You can get this information using tools such as the source reports in HubSpot’s Traffic Analytics tool.
Perhaps a particular article you contributed to the industry press generated a lot of qualified traffic to your website, which increased conversions. Or, you may find that LinkedIn is where most people share content, which increases traffic.
The idea is to use historical data to create a picture of what types of media earned will help you (and which will not) help you achieve your goals. However, if you want to experiment with something new, don’t rule it out just because it has never been done before.
6. Review and plan your paid media campaigns.
This process involves much the same process: you need to evaluate your existing paid media on each platform (e.g. Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to find out what is most likely to help you achieve your current goals.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on AdWords and haven’t seen the results you were hoping for, it may be time to refine your approach or ditch it altogether and focus on another platform that appears to be producing better results.
Read this free guide to learn more about how you can use AdWords in your digital marketing strategy.
At the end of the process, you should have a clear idea of which paid media platforms you want to keep using and which (if any) you want to remove from your strategy.
7. Bring your digital marketing campaign together.
You have done the planning and research and now you have a solid idea of the elements that make up your digital marketing strategy.
To check this, you should solidify the following:
- Clear profiles of your buyer personality (s)
- One or more digital marketing specific goals
- An inventory of your existing own, earned, and paid media
- A review of your existing own, earned, and paid media
- Your own content creation plan or wish list
Now is the time to bring all of this together into one cohesive marketing strategy document. Your strategy document should outline the series of actions you will take to achieve your goals based on your research to date.
Let’s discuss how our digital strategy template can help.
Digital marketing strategy template
While a spreadsheet can be an efficient format for mapping your digital marketing strategy, this approach can quickly get messy and overwhelming.
To plan your strategy for the long term – usually between six and twelve months – you need a reliable digital marketing strategy document. But where do I start? With our free digital marketing plan template.
This template guides you through your business overview and initiatives, helps you build your target market and competitor information, and concretizes your marketing strategy – including your budget and specific channels and metrics.
Use this digital strategy template to build your annual digital marketing strategy and tactic. When planning these annual plans, you can overlay when you and your team will take each action. For example:
- In January you start a blog that is updated once a week throughout the year.
- In March, you will start a new e-book that will be accompanied by paid advertising.
- In July you are preparing for your biggest business month – what do you hope to have observed at this point that is influencing the content you are producing to endorse it?
- In September you will concentrate on earned media in the form of PR to generate additional traffic in advance.
This approach provides a structured schedule of your activities that you can use to communicate plans between colleagues.
Finally, some well-known examples of digital marketing campaigns and their strategies to inspire you.
Examples of digital marketing campaigns
- Delta Airlines
- ETF securities
- Red Bull
1. GoPro: Earned Media User-Made Video
GoPro is famous for its unique Angle of View footage, all of which comes from the company’s classic fisheye lens.
What you may not know is that so much of the video content you see on GoPro’s YouTube channel was not created by GoPro, but rather was created by their loyal users.
By populating the YouTube channel with user-generated video content, GoPro has encouraged the fan base to record footage and adventures and post them online (with the GoPro product being credited for footage and experience).
This ongoing digital marketing campaign leveraged the use of video to promote the GoPro line of products and created a community of loyal customers and fans.
2. Delta Air Lines: Obsessed Media Twitter Stories
Delta Air Lines is a prolific user of social media, especially on Twitter. The brand uses the platform to target potential passengers in a variety of ways that are both contemporary and emotionally stimulating.
For example, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the company shared personal stories from Delta employees with viewers via the company’s Twitter feed.
This type of digital campaign drives loyalty, positive brand awareness, and gives potential and current customers an idea of what Delta is interested in and what it stands for.
3. Geico: Paid YouTube Pre-Roll Ads for Media
When you hear the word “Geico”, many people automatically think that “You can save 15% or more on car insurance”.
But even a company with such a catchy and successful tagline can run the risk of annoying viewers (repetitive things can get old quickly) if a marketing campaign gets too tedious.
Because of this, Geico ran a series of pre-roll ads on YouTube that confirm the brevity of the ad. Pre-roll ads are a form of paid content on YouTube where you pay YouTube to show ads that last 15-20 seconds before videos that are targeted to the same audience as the advertiser.
While some companies are trying to put as much messaging as possible into this short slot, Geico took the opportunity to poke fun at their brand to take their time in the first place.
This makes Geico’s YouTube pre-roll commercials fun and unique, and shows just how confident the brand is.
4. Wayfair: Obsessed Media Instagram Tags
Wayfair, an interior design and decoration retailer, has an innovative Instagram strategy – its Instagram photos are not just photos. That’s because Instagram offers businesses the ability to create buy pages within the platform.
With Instagram Shopping, Wayfair published interior photos on Instagram and provided the products in the photos with information and prices.
This is a digital marketing campaign that shows people exactly how much each item in the photos costs. It also instructs viewers to purchase the items shown in the photos without ever leaving the app. In return, Wayfair can increase conversions and revenue within Instagram.
5. Mastercard: Obsessed Media Travel Blog
Mastercard bases its brand on the stories and adventures that cardholders experience. But what good is a travel-based brand without an accompanying travel-based digital marketing campaign?
Priceless Cities, Mastercard’s travel blog, is a resource that customers combine with the credit cards they use to pay for their trips.
This campaign allows the company to better target the things their customers are investing in as well as the places their customers travel to.
6. ETF Securities: Paid Media LinkedIn Sponsored Content
ETF Securities is a small asset management service aimed at asset managers and investors in Europe.
The company learned that its customers spend most of their time on LinkedIn and interact with sponsored, paid content on the platform.
By investing their time here, ETF Securities has generated more interest in investing and has been able to help clients make smarter financial decisions. With this digital campaign, ETF Securities saw a 95% year-over-year growth in LinkedIn followers.
7. Red Bull: Owned Media Lifestyle News
Red Bull are known for sponsoring extreme sports, not just the energy drink they sell.
Instead of creating digital content all about the energy drink, Red Bull captures its audience with articles and videos about the latest happenings in the extreme sports community.
In one of their digital marketing campaigns, Red Bull proved that what you sell isn’t always the ideal focus for a content strategy. Rather, it can be far more valuable to tailor a campaign to the lifestyle of your customers or who they want to be associated with.
Grow better with marketing strategies that enhance your digital presence
Your strategy document is very individual for your company, which is why it is almost impossible for us to create a uniform strategy template for digital marketing.
Remember that the purpose of your strategy document is to identify the actions you will take to achieve your goal over a period of time. As long as this is communicated, you have laid the foundations for creating a digital strategy.
If you want to come up with a really effective strategy for growing your business, check out our free collection of content marketing templates below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for completeness.