Digital Marketing: A Complete Guide to Creating Effective Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

By Tamon

“The world is going digital, marketing is going digital, and digital marketing is the new game changer in online businesses world” In the marketing world today, digital marketing has become the essential tool to grow a business. It’s the perfect tool to stay ahead of competitors and meet target prospective customers who are basically online. Although it may be intimidating for newbies or small business owners, it has great potential to propel business growth thus it’s worth investing in.

A strategy is a plan of actions taken to achieve desired goal(s) thus digital marketing strategy is a series of planed actions that will help you achieve desired goal(s) using online marketing.

This guide is therefore constructed to help you plan those marketing actions that will help you achieve your desired goal(s) and objective(s) in a rapidly changing digital environment (with most competitors and prospect customers online).


Digital Marketing Strategy (DMS)

In today’s changing digital environment, success in business may depend on the actions taken in terms of marketing your business online.

From content marketing to SEO and digital marketing analytics, it can be frustrating figuring out where to start or what’s going to have the biggest impact on your business thus the need for an effective digital marketing strategy.

Your digital marketing strategy may involve goal(s) and objective(s) depending on the scale (marketing budget) or size of your business and your marketing campaigns. But a simple focus plan digital strategy may help you achieve those objectives.

Digital Marketing Campaign (DMC)

These are the actions within your digital strategy that move you towards achieving your goal(s).

For instance, in order to generate more leads, you might decide to run a campaign by sharing some of your best performing content on Facebook or Twitter channel. That campaign is simply part of your digital strategy to generate more leads through social media channels.

It’s important to note here that even if a campaign runs over the course of a couple of years, it doesn’t make it a strategy; it’s still a method or action that together with other campaigns form your strategy.

These are the basics of every digital marketing strategy. Let’s start looking at how to build an effective digital marketing strategy.


                                           How to Create an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy


1.   Build a Customer Personas

For any marketing strategy to be effective, you need to know your customers are. Thus effective digital marketing strategies are built upon detailed customers personas, and your first step is to generate them.

This represents your ideal customers and is usually created by surveying, researching, and interviewing your business’s targeted audience. The information you gather for your customers personas for your DMS will depend on your business, and may also vary depending on whether your product is high or low cost or whether your business is B2B or B2C. Here is a summary of some essential information for customer’s personas; Age (best use to identify trends), location (use web digital marketing analytics tools like Google Analytics to identify the location your website traffic is coming from), income, and job title. Also for qualitative analysis, you need goals, challenges, hobbies and interest, and priorities.

Using this information, you can create more compactable personas like HubSpot’s marketing platform and ensure they’re at the core of your digital marketing strategy.


2.   State your Goals, Identify a Digital Marketing Tool

Whatever your marketing goals, they should always fall in line with your fundamental business goal. For example, if your business’ fundamental goal this year is to increase online sales by 30 percent, your marketing goal might be to drive 60 percent more traffic or generate 40 percent more leads through your wedsite this year to contribute towards that success.

You definitely will need to know how to measure your goal(S) and more importantly, actually be able to measure it using the right digital marketing tool(s). How you measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy will be different for each business and depends on your goal(s). Whatever be the case, it’s important to ensure you’re able to do so, as it’s these analysis which will help you adjust your digital strategy in future. Therefore being able to identify the right digital marketing tool is of great important.


3.   Create and Evaluate a Marketing Funnel

Most successful businesses have an effective digital marketing funnel in place. This is a map of a customer’s journey from when he first visited your website to when he make a purchase or become a lead together with the strategies put in place to encourage or ease their journey through the funnel. A marketing funnel will include lead magnets, opt-ins, call to action and offers. We can partition it into awareness, interest, desire and action.

Awareness: A visitor to your website at first may not be aware of your products and services. They are in search of something and landed on your site. It’s your opportunity to attract them, educate them on your offers, convince them you’re the best preferred choice and convert them to your customers or leads. Use a call-to-action or a lead magnet to give the customer a valuable resource related to your product or service in exchange for their information like name, email address and phone number. Find out why they come to your website and who they are.

Interest: At this junction, you have provided them some information and they are interested in your products or services, you have collected their information (from awareness), it’s now a good idea to provide them with further information that is more tailored to their specific interest. Let them know you have something specific to your customer’s needs and that you are attentive and care about your customer’s needs.

Desire: After capturing their interest, invite them to schedule a consultation using a call to action or an email. At that junction you may want to tell them more about the product or service they shown interest in, telling them why they need it and exactly how it will benefit them.

Action: At this junction, you have gotten them aware about your products and services, capture their interest and make them desire your offer. It’s time to turn your potential customers into a lead. All you may have to do is talk about things like price, payment and other aspects like delivery that are relevant to your customers.

When considering your available digital marketing channels to incorporate into your strategy, it’s best to consider first the bigger picture to avoid getting confused. The various media (owned, earned and paid) framework helps to categorize the digital channels, ‘vehicles’, or assets that you’re already using.

Owned media refers to the digital assets literally owned by you (like your website, social media profiles, blog content, or imagery), owned channels are the things your business has complete control over.

Earned media refers to the exposure you’ve achieved or earned through word-of-mouth campaigns. You may earned exposure through contents you've shared on other websites, public relation work you’ve been doing, or the customer experience you've acquired, earned media is the recognition you receive as a result for your efforts.

Paid media refers to any channel that you spend money on to catch the attention of your audiences and generates your customers’ personas. This includes things like Google AdWords, pay per click advertising, paid social media posts, native advertising, and any other funnel which you directly pay for in exchange for visibility.

The best DMS will incorporate elements of all three channels, all working together to help you achieve your goals. If your owned and earned media are very effective or successful, you might not need to invest in paid media. It’s all about evaluating the best solution that takes you to your goal, and then levering the channels that work best for your business into your digital marketing strategy.

Creating an effective digital marketing funnel won’t just benefits you with new leads, but will also help you turn leads into repeat customers. If the customer has a good experience they might return to purchase from you again or even recommend others they know about your business.


4.   Plan and Audit Owned Media

Owned media is the center point of focus for every digital marketing strategy which in most cases takes the form of content. Everything written about your brand (home page, landing page, product description, blog posts, eBook, infographics…) is considered content. It helps convert your site visitors into customers and leads, and raise your brand’s profile online. Whatever your goal and objectives maybe, you’re going to need to use owned content to form your digital marketing strategy.

The essential part of your digital marketing strategy is deciding the types of content to create that will help you achieve your goals.

For example, an Ebook that’s hidden behind a form on your website is far more likely to drives more leads. Thus you’ll probably want to create more eBooks.

Below is a brief process to follow to work out what owned content you need to meet your digital marketing goals:

Create a Content Creation Plan

Based on your goals, make a content creation plan outlining the content marketing strategy that’s needed to help you achieve your goals. This include:

  • Title
  • Format
  • Goal
  • Promotional channels
  • Why you’re creating it (e.g., creating a template editorial calendar)
  • Priority level (to help you decide what’s going to give you the most ‘bang’ for your buck)

This should also include budget information if you’re planning to outsource the content creation or a time estimate if you’re producing it yourself.

Audit your existing content

Go back to your existing owned content, and rank them in accordance to what has previously performed best in relation to your goals. If your goal is to generate leads, rank them according to which generated most leads in the previous year.

The objective here is to figure out what’s currently working, so that you can set yourself up for future success.

Identify gaps in your existing content

With respect to your customer personas, identify any gaps in the content you have. If you’re an eLearning company and have discovered in your audience research that one of your persona’s biggest challenges is finding interesting ways to study, and you haven’t provided any content that speaks to that concern. You may go back and create some.

By referring at your content audit, you might discover that webinars hosted on a certain type of landing page convert really well for you (much better than eBook, for example). In the case of this eLearning company, you might make the decision to add an ebook about ‘how to make studying more interesting’ to your content creation plans.


5.  Plan and Audit your Earned Media.

Evaluate your previous earned media against your current goals which will help you get an idea of where to focus your time. If your goal is leads and traffic generation, identify where your leads and traffic are coming from and rank each earned media source from most effective to least effective.

You can get this information from your digital marketing analytic tools like Google Analytics.

Your findings might go a long way to help you plan your next earned media campaigns for future success. However, there may be new things to may want to try, don’t put it out just because you have never tried nor tested it.


6.  Plan and Audit your Paid Media.

This involves much the same process as your earned media. It’s important to evaluate all your existing paid media across each platform (Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to identify what’s likely to help you meet your current and future goals.

For example, if you’ve been spending a lot of money on paid social media and haven’t seen the results hoped for, you may refine your approach, or stop it altogether and focus on another platform (Google ads for example) that seems to be yielding better results.

At the very end of the process, you must have identified which paid media platforms you want to continue or stop using.


7.  Bring it all together.

You’ve done the planning, the research, and now have a solid vision of the elements that are going to make up your DMS. Here’s a summary of what you should have:

  1. Clear profile of your customers persona(s)
  2. A spreadsheet of your existing owned, earned and paid media
  3. One or more marketing-specific goals
  4. An audit of your existing owned, earned and paid media
  5. An owned content creation plan or wish list

Now, it’s time to bring all of this together to form a solid strategy document.

Your digital strategy document should be able to provide the series of actions you’re going to take to achieve your goals based on your research. An Excel sheet or spreadsheet is probably the best format to use. For consistency sake, you’ll probably find it easiest to map out according to the owned, earned and paid media framework we’ve discussed so far.

Most importantly, you may need to map out your digital strategy for an extended period of time (generally 12 months or longer, depending on your business set up) therefore it’s helpful to plan when you’ll be executing each action.

By taking this approach, you’re also be creating a structured timeline for your activity which will help communicate your plans to your colleagues.

Your digital strategy document will be very unique to your business, which is why it’s almost impossible to create a one-fits-all digital marketing strategy template. Note that the goal of your strategy document is to create or provide the actions you’re going to take to achieve your goal over a defined period of time as long as it communicates that, you’ve nailed the basics of creating a digital strategy.

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