7 STEPS TO BUILD A STANDOUT DIGITAL STRATEGY IN 2018

2 April 2018

7 Steps to build a digital strategy infographic

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing can be defined as ‘the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile apps, advertising, and other digital channels.’

In practice, digital marketing for businesses often includes managing different types of online presence. Company websites, mobile apps or social media pages, for example. It could also be managing online communities in conjunction with other online communications techniques such as; search engine marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, e-mail marketing, digital PR and online partnerships, with influencers for example.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is, essentially, a series of actions that will help you to achieve your business goals using online marketing.

Of course, depending on the scale of your business, building an effective digital strategy can be both straightforward or complex but it should always help you to drive a plan of action to achieve a desired business goal.

How do I build a comprehensive digital strategy?

Step1: Competitor analysis

There are many ways to begin building your digital strategy and our initial starting point is always to do a baseline analysis of the digital marketing channels of competitors in your sector.

Consider what they are doing well, what they are not doing so well, the channels they use, what gets them the best engagement and what their key offering is. Ensuring your offering competes with, yet is defined and differentiated from, your closest competitors will help you to develop and solidify your unique position in the marketplace. This insight will provide a good basis for you to build your strategy on.

Step 2: Build customer profiles

Every great digital strategy is built upon thorough understanding of your customers needs. What are they looking for? What content are they looking for? Which channels do they use, and why?

Create detailed customer profiles to give you a rounded view of your key audience including both qualitative and quantitative information such as demographics, locations, likes, dislikes, challenges, priorities, hobbies and interests.

Understanding what your customer does online and therefore, how you may be able to reach them with relevant and interesting content is the best way to ensure your focus is in the right place… on your customers!

Step 3: Identify goals and measurement tools

Your marketing goals should always reflect your business goals… and digital marketing is no different. If your business is looking to increase sales leads by 20% this year, then one strand of your digital strategy may be to increase website traffic by 30% to contribute to helping your business to meet this overarching objective.

Once you know what your goals are, you must also consider if you have the right tools to help measure the effectiveness of your strategy. There are no hard and fast rules of what to measure, as every business is different. How you measure the effectiveness of your digital strategy will depend on the channels and objectives you have set.

However, ensuring you have the right tools to measure the most important metrics to you, is vital – from Google Analytics and e-campaign analytics to social analytics or more specialist measurement tools such as Hubspot or Social Sprout, knowing your goals and how you will measure them will ensure your plan stays on track.

 Step 4: Evaluation of existing channels, tactics and assets

The idea of paid, owned and earned media is a useful way of thinking about your channels.

  • Owned media is the content you’re in full control of
  • Earned media refers to media exposure you’ve earned through word-of-mouth.
  • Paid media serves as a method for promoting content and driving exposure.

Relying too heavily on one marketing stream can leave you vulnerable should an unexpected change reduce its output, so it’s important to get a balance of sources when it comes to your marketing.

There are undoubtedly grey areas and overlaps, but this doesn’t make the distinctions irrelevant. These three spheres influence each other in differing ways. It is useful to understand the difference and how to measure your efforts in each one and come to understand how they affect each other. So, what is the difference between ‘earned’, ‘owned’ and ‘paid’ media and what does it mean for your digital strategy?

Types of media infographic

To build your digital strategy, first audit the content on each of your channels. A good audit will list the content on your channels and rank them in order of what has performed best in relation to your identified objective.

For example, if you’re looking to improve lead generation, then rank the content based on what generated the most leads in the last year. By the end of this process you are likely to have identified the channels that are working for you and may even wish to refine these in light of your analysis.

Use the list to identify any gaps in content you may have that are relevant to each of your audiences and then finally create a content plan for your owned media.

Step 5: Bring it all together into a 12-month plan

This step takes your research and consolidates all the elements that are going to create your digital strategy.

It could consist of a series of individual actions (perhaps PR pieces, social campaigns, e-newsletters and blog articles) laid out on a timeline so that you can make the most of your time and efficiently organise how your strategy will be executed.

This strategy document is likely to be in a spread-sheet format and should map out the series of activity which will lead you to achieve your online goals, aligned to your business objectives and audiences, using all of the material from previous steps to help you define the best route to take for your business.

Step 6: Define what a successful implementation looks like

How will you monitor success? Generally this is related to the analytics of the channels which you are using in your plan… but you should take the time to consider which actions you can measure and which will show you whether or not you are being successful in the delivery of your plan.

Step 7: Review, refine and adjust

Inevitably some aspects of your plan will not go as you had imagined… but regular re-visitation and refinement is vital to ensure you keep learning and moving towards your goals effectively.

We help businesses develop efficient, effective and informed digital plans which are customised to their business, their brand, their customer and their market. Get in touch to discuss your businesses aspirations and how a digital strategy can help you achieve them.

Connect with Fiona Simpson on LinkedIn.

Suggested next reads: