How do you create a successful digital marketing strategy? What are the components of it? Should you hire an expert or do it yourself? Many questions come to mind when one thinks about creating and implementing a digital marketing strategy, but they can be answered when you understand what it entails and how to go about doing it. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know to get started on developing your own successful digital marketing strategy and plan, so keep reading!
Step 1 - Understand your business objectives
What are your business objectives for digital marketing? Do you want increased brand awareness? Leads for your sales team? More social followers or likes? You can’t create a strategy without knowing exactly what you want from it. It might be tempting to set up Google Analytics, add AdWords accounts and start posting on Facebook – but remember that successful digital marketing takes time. You need to decide how much money you’re willing to spend, who your target audience is, and how long you’re willing to commit before seeing results. Once you understand these things, you can develop your plan accordingly.
Step 2 - Establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
A KPI is a metric that can be tracked, meaning it shows how well your marketing strategy performs against your goals. Think of KPIs as measures that are used to evaluate your campaigns or initiatives, says Jon Massey, Director of Search at Annalect. When you develop digital marketing strategies and plans, you need good KPIs in place so you can measure success.
While there are dozens of KPIs marketers can choose from, there are two main categories: business-level metrics and campaign-level metrics. Business level metrics focus on how well your company's digital presence is performing—in other words, do customers like what they see? Campaign level metrics look at specific aspects of your marketing campaigns (for example, click-through rate). So what should you track? Where should you start? It depends on your individual goals.
Step 3 - Define your Digital Marketing Strategy with Goals and Objectives
If you don’t have clearly defined goals and objectives that outline what you hope to achieve with your digital marketing efforts, you’re going to find it very difficult (if not impossible) to assess whether or not your strategy was successful.
Before planning out your strategy, you must understand what each goal means for your company. These goals should outline what type of impact you want each digital marketing channel or campaign (e.g., AdWords, social media, etc.) to have on traffic and sales. For example, do you want your AdWords ads to increase the click-through rate? Do you want more people following your brand on Facebook? Do you simply just want more people visiting your website? Each one of these examples outlines a different digital marketing goal, and each one will need to be addressed for an effective digital marketing strategy to be created. Once these goals are identified and outlined, they can help serve as digital marketers throughout every step of creating a digital marketing plan—from when campaigns are being developed through how they are executed.
Step 4 - Define Metrics
This step should be self-explanatory, but it's important nonetheless. Just as you have metrics for your weight loss program or running shoes, you need to define metrics for your professional blogging efforts. These metrics will tell you how well (or poorly) you're doing in your attempts at growing traffic. This isn't just about measuring clicks; it's about measuring leads, conversions, and ultimately -- sales. Your metric definitions will depend on what it is that you're selling and that depends on what type of business you're operating or attempting to grow.
Here are some general guidelines: Click-through Rate: To measure clicks, we can simply track our overall CTR from Google Analytics, assuming we're using an external source like Disqus. If you already have an account with Google Analytics set up under your website or if you're only planning on focusing on organic search rankings rather than direct customer acquisition (like B2B marketing), I recommend taking advantage of their new feature -- advanced segmentation, which allows us to drill down even further into data reporting.
Step 5 - Choose your content channels
What platforms will you publish on? Think about how your audience spends time online. Most people are online every day, for hours at a time. So, what do they spend their time doing online? Once you know that, think about how best to reach them through those platforms. Will it be with images, text posts, or video? Knowing where your target audience hangs out will help you determine which medium works best for your business needs. For example, if you’re trying to get eyeballs on your new product line to sell more online, Facebook videos might be your best bet. If you want to get feedback from consumers who have already bought some of your products to improve for next season's line, Pinterest could work better for you. If you run an e-commerce site selling shoes and want traffic both from word-of-mouth advertising and SEO link acquisition, then Google Plus may just fit the bill. Here’s why: It has all of these components built into one place—and it's extremely easy to create a compelling post as long as you have great photography!
Step 6 - Choose your digital marketing tools
Once you’ve got an understanding of what it takes to develop your digital marketing strategy, you can start thinking about how you’re going to put that plan into action. At this point, choosing some digital marketing tools will help you with certain parts of developing your strategy.
Digital marketing tools are like any other tool in life: they make your work easier, but they won’t do all of it for you. So be sure to choose wisely! If you think any digital marketing tools would help develop your digital marketing strategy, try these questions: What part of creating my digital marketing strategy could these digital marketing tools help me with? What aren’t they helping with? Which aspects would I rather not use them on? Could I outsource those parts so I wouldn’t have to use them at all? (This is important if there are budget limitations.) Is there anything special or unique about using these particular digital marketing tools instead of others that could give me a better chance at success?
Step 7 - Create an Action Plan to Implement your Digital Marketing Strategy
With your goals laid out, you’re ready to turn them into reality. The best way to set up a plan of action for implementing your digital marketing strategy is by using Excel. With an Excel spreadsheet, you can easily layout all of your marketing activities in one place, keeping them organized and easily updated. Start by listing each goal that you want to accomplish as its column on your spreadsheet. Then list when you plan on accomplishing each goal in sequential columns under each goal column. When it comes time to update your progress, simply drag over each activity's box from a previous date period into any day during your current period, and voila - you'll have an instant visual representation of where things need work.
Step 8 - Monitor, Measure, Optimize, Repeat
Over time, use what you’ve learned about your readers, searches, links, and shares to optimize your content. Look at which posts get more shares or links from other sites. Use that information to fine-tune your search strategy and target audience. Keep doing it until you see diminishing returns (or until you run out of time). Then look at other ways you can expand your reach - write more posts in different formats or target different audiences through social media marketing. The point is, while everything has an expiration date on one level, in terms of traffic generation it's better to keep iterating as long as there's still an audience who loves what you write about. So repeat after me: Monitor...measure...optimize...repeat!
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