Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy
Posted on 31st March 2020
In today’s digital world, online marketing is a ‘must’ for any business, whatever its type or size. However, if you’re trying to get your voice heard over all that online ‘noise', you need to take a strategic approach to digital marketing. Throwing out the odd blog post and tweeting every other week simply isn't enough. You need a planned, targeted, and cohesive approach.
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of building a robust and effective digital marketing strategy, step by step.
1. Situational analysis
Before you decide where you want your digital marketing activities to achieve, you need to assess where you are now. This is called situational analysis and there are 4 key activities to undertake.
Review the digital marketing tactics you’re currently using (if any) and how well they’re working. Use tools such as Google Analytics, social media insights, and email marketing campaign reports to work out what’s working well and what needs improving. You might find that some tasks are no longer worth doing, which means you can channel the time and effort saved into more fruitful areas.
Look at what your competitors are up to online. What channels and platforms are they using to communicate with their target audiences? What are their key messages? How effective are the digital tactics they’re using? Are there any examples of good practice you can learn from, or mistakes to avoid? We’re not suggesting you copy what they’re doing, but you can certainly make use of the principle that ‘what works for them might work for us.’
PESTLE analysis. PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental. This type of analysis involves looking at these 6 factors and identifying how they might affect your business, positively or negatively. E.g. a forthcoming election could lead to a change in your MP who might alter the grants and funding available to start-ups, or increase/decrease business rates.
SWOT analysis. This involves listing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing your organisation. The results of your PESTLE analysis will help inform your SWOT analysis. When looking at threats, think about how these could be turned into opportunities. There may not be much you can do about weaknesses, but you can still consider how to maximise your strengths.
2. Set your digital marketing objectives
The key to success here is to align your digital marketing objectives with your wider business goals. What part can your online activities play in achieving success? Looking at your organisation’s mission, values, aims, and 2 or 5 year business plan will help with this process.
For example, a museum aiming to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with corporate supporters could translate this into a digital marketing objective as follows. ‘Use social media to research and connect with 20 local businesses that support the heritage sector and persuade them to subscribe to our fundraising emails. Achieve by 30 September 2020.’
Remember that, as with any business objectives, your digital marketing goals will need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. The above is a good example.
3. Identify your target audience and where to find them
If you’re not sure who your ideal client is, now’s the time to find out. A useful exercise is to create one or more client personas which will help you work out how best to communicate with your target audience(s) online. This may involve carrying out some research.
Things to think about include:
Name and job title
Demographics (location, education level, life stage, income level etc)
Hobbies and interests
Challenges and goals
Values and fears
Preferred social media channels
Favourite blogs and websites
Other online and offline platforms used.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, consider the key messages you want to communicate and the best online channels, platforms, and content types to achieve this. It’s important to align your key messages with what you want to achieve from your digital marketing activities, and your wider business goals.
4. Create your digital marketing strategy and action plan
Once you’ve gathered this information, you can create your digital marketing strategy and an action plan to make it happen. This means producing a document that sets out each activity within your strategy, complete with timescales, project milestones and interim deadlines, resource requirements (internal and external) and, if required, budgets.
This might sound daunting, but there are lots of tools available that can help, such as Gantt charts and critical path analyses. These will help you keep track of what needs to happen and when. Gantt charts can also help with budgetary monitoring.
5. Align your offline and digital marketing activities
You may find you need to use multiple channels and targets spanning online and offline media to communicate with your target audience effectively. If so, you’ll need to set out how your digital marketing activities will work alongside traditional marketing tasks, so they complement each other effectively.
Today’s marketing campaigns will almost always have digital at their heart. Your offline activities therefore need to be closely linked with what you’re doing online, with your website and social presences acting as the ‘hub’ of your marketing.
6. Evaluate, review, and improve
Once your digital marketing strategy and action plan are in place, they’re not set in stone. Your business and the online landscape will continue to evolve, so it’s important to factor in regular evaluations and reviews to make sure your activities are on track and identify any changes or improvements to make. You can use the same tools as for situational analysis –making the evaluation process the last stage in closing the digital marketing ‘circle.’
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