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Updated: October 05, 2022

Digital Marketing Strategy: The Ultimate Guide

Famous Chinese military figure and master strategist Sun Tzu once said: "Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." From this oft-repeated quote, we can infer there's no winning without a strategy. In digital marketing, we might define "winning" as profit growth. Under this overarching objective, a myriad of other company goals co-exists, such as increasing brand awareness and loyalty, as well as lead acquisition and retention.

American professor and economist Philip Kotler, regarded by many as “The Father of Modern Marketing,” posited marketing is an essential part of economics. He theorized the demand for goods is influenced not just by price but also by advertising, retailers, and distribution channels. Kotler and his marketing successors understand the symbiotic relationship between advertising and demand and supply, which is vital in developing a digital marketing strategy.

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

What is digital marketing? In a word, a digital marketing strategy is a plan of action to achieve desired business goals through carefully selected marketing channels like earned, owned, and paid media. A strong digital marketing plan considers where a business currently is sound and identifies opportunities for exponential success. A quick aside: A strategy is a focused plan to guide businesses to achieve their objectives, whereas a tactic is a concrete step within a strategy that moves a company closer to its super-objective.

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Marketing strategies are customized to meet each organization’s needs according to a SMART goal framework. This mnemonic acronym imbues strategy with a sense of direction, clarity, and motivation.

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Setting SMART goals is valuable because it helps businesses adequately direct enough time and resources towards the right tactics. More than that, it ensures objectives are clearly defined and attainable within a reasonable timeframe. Working through each step can reveal where priorities require realignment.

Benefits of a Well-Executed Digital Marketing Strategy

There are currently 7.9 million online retailers in the world, and 2.1 million of them are in the United States. Studies suggest only 25% of users ever go to the second page of search engine results, meaning a whopping 75% stick to the first page, which generally only indexes eight websites at a time.

When you do the math, it’s almost impossible to stand out online without an exceptionally well-planned data-driven marketing strategy that:

  • Improves brand recognition
  • Increases leads
  • Boosts sales
  • Markets to new target audiences both locally and abroad
  • Improves online presence
  • Grows market share

Without a clear strategy, an organization likely won’t understand the online marketplace dynamics, including customer behaviors, competitors, and target audiences. An incisive digital marketing strategy keeps customers invested in your services, company, and brand. In many ways, it’s the lifeline to business longevity.

There are also indirect benefits from marketing data that enhance business performance. A thorough competition analysis allows companies to sharpen their value proposition and stand out among the crowd. At the same time, an effective digital marketing strategy eliminates work silos and time and resource waste. Due to the analytic component of digital marketing, organizations are more empowered to make productive and decisive decisions that reduce frivolous expenditure and propel revenue growth.

Learn more about what is growth hacking in digital marketing.

Is a Digital Marketing Campaign any Different?

To expand the war analogy, we might consider a marketing strategy as a high-level framework connected to an organization’s imperatives. It’s like the overall battle plan, whereas marketing campaigns are the smaller, tactical operations that help achieve specific deliverables within the overall battle plan.

Thus, the marketing strategy is the overarching framework and decisions that result in a marketing campaign. For instance, one of a company’s marketing strategy goals may be to increase brand awareness. To do so, it could roll out a content marketing campaign across different social media channels.

If we break it down further, we might say a marketing strategy contains:

  • An audience segmentation study
  • A clear value proposition with unique selling points
  • Marketing approaches
  • Customer experience priorities, journey maps, and digital touchpoints
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Different marketing channels and marketing activities with identifiable campaign points

And a marketing campaign will contain these more detailed elements:

  • A finite timeframe
  • Specific marketing channels to be used within a budget to achieve objectives with particular analytics and ROI
  • Key messaging informed by keyword research and accompanied by strong visuals and mechanics to meet campaign objectives
  • Specific reference to the marketing approach used, for example, social media, email, etc.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan

An online marketing strategy allows organizations to stress-test marketing assumptions and determine the right strategies key to success. It connects businesses with their ideal target market when they are on search engines, social media, email, and other digital channels. To lower wasteful expenditure and attain higher flexibility for marketing efforts, businesses need to develop an agile digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing technology enables disruptive business models to expand at unimaginable rates. To stay on top of the competition, marketers have to constantly and seamlessly adapt to a fluctuating online landscape. Suffice to say; a digital marketing plan is a living document that should be updated to meet target audience and technology demands.

Set Clear Goals

Setting SMART goals ensures your digital marketing strategy is straightforward to update and monitor. When organizations determine goals, they gravitate towards qualitative objectives that deal with questions like: “Do we want to improve brand visibility? Or: “How can we increase brand loyalty?” These are necessary inquiries that, while achievable, are astonishingly difficult to measure.

Abstract concepts aren’t useful unless incorporated into a SMART goal framework with quantitative marketing targets. Concrete digital marketing goals with a corresponding and realistic digital marketing timeline might look something like this, for example:

  • Lead increase of X% in the next quarter
  • Increase conversion rate optimization by X% on the site within a year
  • Boost customer engagement by x% in the next six months

All marketing strategy goals should provide insightful information about progress towards them. Becoming an industry-leading business requires a set of quantitative measures of things like sales, innovation, market share, and profitability in comparison to competitors. Therefore, clear goals combine quantitative and qualitative measures, underscored by a range of quantitative key performance indicators.

Analyze Your Current Successes

Web FX states a “digital marketing analysis researches and evaluates [a] business, audience, and competitors to build a customer, data-driven digital marketing plan.” Pioneering brands engage in active listening, i.e., they listen to market needs, consumer behavior, digital marketing trends, competitors, the economic climate, and more because they know an in-depth understanding of these factors produces relevant and engaging digital marketing campaigns.

A thorough digital marketing analysis assesses a brand’s position on all digital channels using Google Analytics and the like. Each business will approach a marketing analysis slightly differently, depending on how advanced their digital marketing strategy is.

Elements worth assessing may include:

  • Competitive landscape: Examining how competitors attract, convert and retain potential customers.
  • Target audience behavior: Determining the what, where, when, how, and why customers behave in a particular way.
  • Marketing performance: Assessing how well a brand performs on different marketing channels like social media, email marketing, and online searches. Coupled with this are average order value, click-through rates, bounce rates, and other standard industry metrics.
  • Brand and consumer predictions: Using data to anticipate the customers’ next move and pivot services and products if necessary.

Analyzing your business’s current success and shortfalls helps refocus efforts and save time and money. Because the internet is a crowded space, you need to optimize and maximize ROI as effectively and swiftly as possible. An analysis will reveal which marketing tactics are performing well and can be enhanced and which ones need improvement or to be scrapped altogether.

Determine Your Buyer’s Persona

Buyer personas deepen target demographics by helping organizations understand who their customer is and how to talk to them. They establish customer attitudes and behaviors critical to product and digital marketing development. Creating buyer personas puts faces on abstract data and allows the engineering of better digital marketing strategies.

Inbound marketing software company HubSpot provides this definition: “Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. They help you focus your time on qualified prospects, guide product development to meet the needs of your target customers, and align all work across your organization (from marketing to sales to service).”

Determining these fictional representations entails market research and analysis. Most important is figuring out who would be interested in what your business has to offer. Gathering existing customer data, conducting interviews, and competitor analysis will help collate the information needed to create personas. Most organizations have more than one, as target audiences can be segmented into smaller groups.

A buyer persona profile includes basic demographic information, interests, hobbies, aspirations, and pain points they experience that your product or service can solve. The greater detail your buyer personas contain, the more solutions you can provide. Buyer personas are the embodiment of your ‘ideal’ customers. They act as a customer bibliography, always referenced to develop relevant strategies and engaging campaigns that increase conversions and sales.

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Establish a Proper Sales Funnel

A digital marketing sales funnel is a term used to describe the journey customers go through on the way to purchase. There are three stages; top, middle, and bottom. Establishing a proper sales funnel informs successful strategy because it helps understand what potential customers are thinking and doing at each stage of the purchasing journey. Equipped with this knowledge, marketers can create the most relevant messaging that nudges leads further down the funnel.

There are four degrees of awareness in a marketing funnel:

  1. Awareness: When a lead first hears about a product or service.
  2. Interest: A lead evaluates a brand’s offering
  3. Conversion: When a lead is ready to buy and will look for the best deal
  4. Action: When a lead (hopefully) purchases your product/service.

A proper sales funnel brings visibility to every stage of connection with customers, but for this to exist, you have to generate leads and engage them. While there are multiple marketing funnels (content marketing, Google Ad marketing, and omnichannel marketing), their purpose is to bring users into the funnel and persuade them to the next stage. This process might follow these steps:

Build a Landing Page

A prospect clicks on an ad, which takes them to a page that reveals what an organization is about and highlights the company’s products or service’s unique benefits. This landing page will likely have an email capture form in exchange for something, so the company can continue to communicate with them.

Offer a Lead Magnet

Like an e-book, white paper, or discount, a lead magnet is an effective way to offer something of value on a landing page in exchange for a prospect’s email address. This incentive allows for the quick and easy collection of lead contact information.

Upsell

With contact details, brands can send newsletters with promo offers and product launches to inform leads and encourage them to buy. As leads move towards the decision stage, brands will offer them free trials or special discounts that encourage them to purchase.

Build Loyalty

Once a lead turns into a customer, marketers keep the communication going in an effort to ensure they remain loyal. If it’s a new customer, marketing information is focused on product education and retention. For warm leads turned cold, marketers will develop a new content marketing nurture series in an attempt to persuade them to reenter the funnel.

Set a Budget

A robust digital marketing strategy has a stable and operable framework within the scope of a business’s budget. It’s like saying, man can travel to space, but the reality is that only a very few possess the resources to pull it off. Luckily, digital marketing performance is determined by the caliber of the marketing team and budget. In fact, the former likely accounts for more.

Most are familiar with the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money,” but don’t have a clear idea of what that amount equates to in digital marketing terms. The US Small Business Administration suggests a marketing budget between 2% to 10% of revenue. Overall, B2B Product industries allocate roughly 10%, which is smaller than B2C Services and Products, which assign between 15% to 18% of total revenue.

A marketing budget helps organizations stay on track and set realistic digital marketing goals. A good digital marketing strategy allows you to spend effectively on different channels and proactively shifts the emphasis from promotion-only to low-cost methods that can be equally, if not more, effective. The budget should align with business goals and inform what marketers need to consider and work towards over the long term.

Digital Marketing Strategies that Work

Depending on several variables, some digital marketing strategies will work better than others. However, there are tried-and-tested strategies guaranteed to offer the most probable methods of lead generation.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of improving a website and paid ad copy to increase visibility when potential customers search for products or services related to your business online. The greater visibility a website has, the higher it ranks on Google or other search engine’s results pages, and the more likely it is to garner attention (organic traffic) and drive leads to your website.

Search engines like Google determine a website’s ranking based on SEO according to relevancy, authority, and usefulness. Because most website traffic comes from user search queries, marketers use keywords to optimize web pages. These are words or a group of words internet users use to perform a search. For example, “Best Places to Travel in Italy.”

Marketing insight: SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media marketing.

Example of SEO in Digital marketing

SEO is a detailed practice with many intricate moving parts, but let’s use a simple example of a house cleaning company based in Chicago. Marketers instantly know the company’s target audience will search for “cleaning company in Chicago” or “best cleaning company in Chicago” and include this phrase throughout the website’s copy.

Typically, when a company develops a digital marketing strategy, its marketing team will perform keyword research to determine which words and phrases will match their buyer personas’ queries. So, in the case of our example, they might use; “hire cleaning company in Chicago,” “affordable cleaning company,” and so on.

digital marketing strategy SEO

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an online marketing model in which an advertiser pays a publisher every time their ad is “clicked” on. It is primarily offered by search engines like Google and social media networks like Facebook. In a nutshell: when users type in the same keywords advertisers are interested in showing ads for, an auction takes place for the relevant keyword, and the bidder with the highest amount and best quality ad appears in the top ad position.

This model of online marketing is advantageous for marketers and publishers because it provides an opportunity to advertise to a specific audience actively searching for related content. Hence, the emphasis and importance placed on developing detailed buyer personas. A well-designed PPC campaign is widely considered one of the most cost-effective marketing methods because advertisers can set and control budgets based on real-time feedback.

Marketing insight: Paid advertising converts better and redirects 65% of online traffic, compared to organic results that only receive 35% of all clicks.

Example of PPC in Digital Marketing

Search ads, display ads, social ads, remarketing ads, Google shopping, local service ads, and Gmail sponsored promotions are all examples of pay-per-click advertising. The most common and probably recognizable PPC campaigns are search ads.

For instance, if someone searches “how to varnish wood” or even “how to varnish” on Google, PPC advertisements will appear at the top and bottom of search results pages. These ads are tagged with the word “ad” to inform users it is paid media content.

Similarly, if a user types “buy black bag” and clicks on Google’s shopping tab, many PPC ads will appear that match the user’s query. PPC is a way of buying visits to a website rather than trying to earn them organically.

digital marketing strategy PPC

 

Content Marketing

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract, and retain a clearly defined audience.” Instead of directly selling products or advertising services, this marketing strategy entails publishing valuable information on digital channels that helps solve consumer issues.

Digital marketing campaigns utilizing content marketing establish and nurture relationships with existing and new customers. A relevant content marketing strategy positions brands as thought leaders, building customer preference and loyalty. Content marketing also plays a vital role in nudging leads down the sales funnel.

Marketing insight: 77% of companies have a content marketing strategy, while 94% of marketers use social media platforms for content distribution.

Example of Content Marketing as a Part of Digital Strategy

Blogs, e-books, social media posts, infographics, and videos are all part of content marketing. For instance, a beauty brand might publish a blog post on social media platforms on the difference between night and day cream. This blog post will form part of a series of carefully developed content that offers product-related insights, placing the reader at the center of attention.

Search-engine-optimized blogs are typically classified as top-of-the-sales-funnel assets that capture web traffic and address customer pain points. So, after the reader understands the difference between the creams, they may be prompted to buy one, subscribe to a mailing list, or continue to follow the brand online, providing the company with conversion opportunities.

digital marketing content marketing

Email Marketing

Email marketing strategies promote an organization’s products and services, as well as incentivize customer loyalty. This form of online marketing entails sending email subscribers information about new products, discounts, and other content marketing material. Email marketing efforts like newsletters build community and drive sales.

As an online marketing strategy, email targets consumers who have already expressed an interest in a business or product. These customers can be segmented according to buyer personas, allowing companies to send personalized marketing messages. Scalable and affordable, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate directly with customers on their terms.

Marketing insight: Email marketing delivers an ROI of $42 for every $1 dollar spent.

Example of Email Marketing in Digital Strategy

Once a prospect fills in a lead generation form online, a business can send them personalized email content. For instance, let’s say a lead subscribes to a fashion brand’s email list. The brand can then send an email with information about current trends, as well as calls to action to purchase the latest look.

Email marketing works exceedingly well with drip campaigns. A drip campaign is a series of automated emails sent to potential customers who take a specific action. For example, if someone subscribes to a newsletter, a brand can send a welcome email right away, or if a customer has visited a software upgrade page, a brand could email them content about why they should upgrade. Drip campaigns can be personalized with a contact’s name, company info, and more.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the creation and sharing of content on social media networks to achieve marketing goals. This includes activities like posting text, image, and video updates, interacting with audiences to drive engagement, as well as paid social media advertising. Digital marketers use social media to connect with consumers and help them learn more about a brand.

Because consumers use social media channels every day, it’s an ideal place for businesses to gain insights into their target audience’s interests, enhance brand credibility and build a loyal following. Due to its popularity and mass-market reach, social media is highly effective, garnering more leads and greater conversions.

Marketing insight: In 2021, 75% of brands had a dedicated influencer marketing budget that’s inspected to increase this year.

Example of Social Media Marketing in Digital Strategy

From Instagram influencer marketing to Facebook live streams and TikTok sponsored content, social media marketing offers immense scope and variety. A social media campaign that promotes high user engagement will usually bring the highest ROI. For instance, every year, Spotify releases a personalized summary of each users’ most listened to tracks called Spotify Wrapped.

Record labels and artists have an idea of how well their music did, and users can share their playlists. This hyper-personal social media campaign offers insight into cultural zeitgeists that are highly shareable—music by nature brings people together. Ultimately, users do the work of further promoting the music streaming company.

And that’s just one example among thousands of others. Influencer marketing is also a popular social media marketing strategy. Brands pay influencers to promote products on their social media accounts, either via reviews, look books, or sponsoring YouTube videos, etc. This offers exposure to untapped audiences and markets. Companies pay top-tier influencers to create sponsored ads, whereas they might only offer a trade exchange to micro-influencers.

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Conclusion

Americans spend 23 hours online a week, so businesses that don’t invest in a digital marketing strategy development services are missing out on the enormous potential for revenue growth. Digital marketing has become paramount to eCommerce successes due to the unrivaled engagement it brings which answers the question of why choose digital marketing agency. Companies can converse with prospective and existing customers, resolve issues and interact with a wide audience, over and above selling.

As a full-service digital marketing agency, Comrade Digital Marketing can help you develop a custom digital marketing strategy, whether your company is new to the scene or requires an online marketing overhaul. Our strategic marketing plans and digital marketing tactics boost engagement, customer loyalty, and ROI. From paid advertising to content marketing and more, we cover it all! Find out more about our best digital marketing strategies here.

Frequently Asked Questions

In what cities do you work?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in Chicago or San Antonio. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Portland! If you want to know more about our Kansas City digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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