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Digital marketing strategy forms the backbone of effective online lead generation. Learn which approaches work best. We’ll cover how to structure your digital marketing plan through a 5-step procedure:
We’ll also lay out 12 types of marketing strategies and tactics you can use to put this plan into effect:
After explaining these strategies and tactics, we’ll illustrate them with some digital marketing campaign examples you can emulate to promote your own brand.
Simply put, a digital marketing strategy is a plan consisting of individual methods or sequenced steps that employ digital tactics and tools to achieve marketing and sales objectives.
Examples of objectives a digital marketing strategy may aim to achieve include:
Some technical discussions distinguish marketing strategy vs. tactics, although in everyday speech these terms are often used interchangeably. Marketing strategies are plans for achieving objectives that support an overall goal. Marketing tactics are a means of implementing these methods through specific actions.
For instance, an overall goal might be increasing online revenue. Strategies for achieving this might include building digital traffic from search engines and increasing email opt-in rates. Corresponding tactics might then include content marketing and offering a free, informative e-book as an incentive for opting in to an email list.
As this example illustrates, strategies and tactics go hand-in-hand. A strategy becomes actualized through a tactic, and a tactic is a way of implementing a strategy. Because of this close relationship, many discussions don’t sharply separate these terms but use them synonymously. Our focus is not on abstract strategies separated from tactics, but on strategies implemented through tactics that get concrete digital marketing results.
Why is developing a marketing strategy and plan so important? One major advantage of having a digital marketing strategy is that it helps you focus your online promotional activity on specific objectives. You can use these objectives to select activities that steer you in a direction aligned with your business goals. This keeps you from diverting your resources into nonproductive channels.
Knowing how to create a marketing strategy can provide you with benchmarks to evaluate your progress toward your objectives. If you quantify your goals, you can track and measure this progress. This lets you know whether the strategies for your marketing plan are working effectively. If something isn’t working, you can find out before you waste more of your marketing budget on it.
Being able to measure the success of your marketing efforts also helps you to make effective adjustments. Instead of guessing whether a change represents an improvement, you can track and test your results. This allows you to progressively improve your marketing performance by making adjustments that bring you closer to achieving your objectives. If a change isn’t getting the results you want, you can try something else instead of continuing on a fruitless course.
Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is a marketing strategy?” the next thing you need to know is how to create a marketing campaign. You can take a step-by-step approach to create a marketing strategy by developing plans for each phase of the process.
As we mentioned above, a comprehensive digital marketing approach involves:
You don’t necessarily need to implement all these elements at once. You can get results by working on one piece at a time.
Here’s more about what each of these pieces of your marketing strategy means and how they fit together:
If your marketing decisions are going to be driven by data instead of guesswork, you need measurable metrics. The KPIs you select define the numerical objectives of your marketing campaign and allow you to set benchmarks for measuring success.
Some of the most commonly used digital marketing KPIs include:
These are some of the most important KPIs, but you can track other metrics relevant to your marketing and sales goals. Analytics software typically allows you to create customized KPIs. Decide on your goals first, and then choose the appropriate KPIs.
To attract visitors to your website, you first need to make them aware of your brand. This means the first objective of a marketing campaign is to build brand awareness. You can achieve this by using various digital marketing tools, which fall into a couple of main categories:
In general, digital advertising costs more but can bring quicker results at a larger scale, while digital promotion delivers long-term results at less expense. Which type of tool you emphasize depends on both your goals and your budget. Many campaigns use a combination of advertising and promotional methods.
You can measure the success of brand awareness building through metrics that track how much exposure your campaigns get. For instance, you might track how many views or clicks an ad gets, how many visits a blog post attracts or how many “likes” a social media post gets.
Building brand awareness serves to generate leads for your database. You acquire a lead when someone who encounters your ads or content shares their contact information with you or otherwise gives you permission to communicate with them. They may do this by means such as:
You can track your success in this phase of your marketing campaign by measuring the frequency of the above types of actions.
To encourage interaction, the ads and content you use to build brand awareness should provide enough relevance and value to audiences that they want to learn more about your brand, products and services. You can do this by using market research to discover what your audience is interested in. You can then gear your ads and content toward what your audience wants.
Your content should also include an explicit or implicit invitation for your audience to interact with you. This invitation is known as a call to action (CTA). A CTA communicates what action you want your audience to take.
For best results, offer a benefit as an incentive for taking the action. For instance, if you’re asking visitors to opt in to an email list, you might tell them what value they’ll get out of your email newsletter.
Getting leads into your database forms a step toward converting them into customers. In some cases, this may happen immediately after they land on a sales page. More often, you will need ongoing interactions with a lead to persuade them to make a purchase. This is why establishing ongoing interaction in the previous step is so important. It allows you to make follow-up marketing touches, increasing the odds of an eventual sales conversion.
Your follow-up content can serve several functions that promote conversions:
For your sales offers to be compelling, you must first persuade your lead that your product or service represents a value they want. The bulk of your communications should lay the groundwork for this by educating your lead. A good practice is to balance regular content laying a foundation for a sales offer with periodic, less frequent direct sales pitches.
The success of your sales pitch depends largely on the strength of your offer. A good offer should include a package of benefits your lead wants, offset by a price and risk they find acceptable. You can use several methods to strengthen an offer:
A strong offer should present your lead with a value that outweighs the price you’re asking them to pay.
Converting a lead into a customer can be a long and expensive process. Once you’ve acquired a customer, your most cost-efficient marketing strategy is to leverage the effort you’ve invested by retaining them so that they become repeat buyers.
You can take several steps to promote repeat business with your customers:
Taking these steps to market to your existing customers will help maximize the return on investment of your marketing dollar.
Knowing how to create a digital marketing strategy requires practical know-how as well as an understanding of the overall steps.
To implement the approach outlined above, professional marketers have developed some basic marketing strategies and tactics to build brand awareness, generate interaction, convert leads and promote repeat business. Here are 12 of the most important methods for achieving your digital marketing goals.
Creating content for your blog provides you with a highly efficient tool for building brand awareness, promoting interaction with leads and generating sales.
Blog content lets you position your brand as an informative resource for search engines and social media users seeking information on a topic. It creates opportunities for you to invite audiences to calls to action such as subscribing to email lists, following you on social media and purchasing products. Blog content can also be shared with email subscribers and social media followers on an ongoing basis to drive sales and promote repeat business.
SEO promotes your brand by increasing your search-engine rankings and making it more likely that visitors searching a keyword phrase will come to your site. This can promote brand awareness as well as increase the likelihood of visitors opting in to your email list or following you on social media. You can improve your SEO by taking steps such as placing keywords in strategic locations on your site, optimizing your site navigation and making your site mobile-friendly. You can combine SEO with blogging and other methods by building keywords into your blog posts and other content.
Social media provides a powerful platform for building brand awareness and inviting interaction from leads. You can create original content for your social media profiles, and you can also use social media to distribute links to other content such as blog posts. Another advantage of social media is that audiences can like and share your content, multiplying the results of your content marketing efforts.
An infographic visually summarizes information such as statistics, steps in a process or how-to advice. Creating an infographic can help build brand awareness by positioning you as an authoritative source of information. You can post infographics on your blog or social media. Other bloggers and social media users may share your infographic, generating additional traffic.
Ads offer another way to build brand awareness and attract interaction. Advertising can be relatively more expensive than other marketing methods, but it can achieve results more quickly.
You can place digital ads both on search engines and on social media. Search engine ads, such as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, target audiences by keyword. Social media ads target audiences based on demographic criteria and interests.
Video adds a multimedia appeal and personal touch to your marketing campaigns. Videos can build brand awareness by informing, telling interesting stories or entertaining viewers with humor. They can be embedded in your blog with keywords to improve your SEO results. They also can be linked to your site from social media platforms to draw traffic. Viewers frequently share videos, making them a good choice for deployment on social digital marketing channels.
As with videos, webinars give your marketing a multimedia dimension. Unlike videos, they allow you to interact with audiences in real-time, which can increase engagement. Since users usually need to register for webinars, they create natural opportunities to invite participants to share contact information. Presenting an informative webinar on a topic can also help you build your brand’s authority or give you a forum to make a sales pitch.
Podcasts allow you to reach audiences with the sound of your voice. This lends a personal tone to your marketing and enhances your message with audio reinforcement.
Posting a series of podcasts on a topic or hosting a regular podcast can build both brand awareness and authority. Podcasts also create opportunities to invite visits to your website or to pitch your products and services.
You can embed podcasts in blogs and use them to support your blogging and SEO campaigns. You can grab the audio track from videos to create podcasts, or you can upload podcasts with screenshots to use them as videos.
When visitors arrive on your website, an excellent method to invite engagement is offering valuable content in the form of digital newsletters or e-books. Both these forms of content can be offered as an incentive for opting in to an email list.
Newsletters represent a shorter form of content that can be shared within emails themselves or as PDF attachments to emails. E-books tend to be larger and can be shared through a download link. Pages promoting these items can include keywords to support SEO marketing. Digital newsletters and e-books can be used to extend sales offers.
Once a visitor opts in to your email list, you can follow up with periodic emails. Email marketing can help you reinforce brand awareness. You can use emails to invite engagement with other types of content, such as blog posts and videos. You also can use emails to extend sales offers. A good way to deploy email marketing is to use it to follow up after a visitor opts in to your email list in response to your offer of a free digital newsletter or e-book.
Some promotional strategies leverage the success of others’ marketing campaigns. With guest blogging, you contribute blog posts to other sites that already have your target market in their audience. This can be a shortcut to reaching an audience that would take you much longer to reach on your own.
To guest blog successfully, reach out to the webmasters of noncompeting blogs that overlap with your target market, offering content of interest to their audience.
Another promotional strategy that relies on partners’ networks is joint venture promotions. Here you join forces with a partner who already has your market in their audience and is willing to promote your sales offer to their following. They may be willing to do this in exchange for a percentage of profits or some other consideration such as an exchange of services or a sharing of their promotion with your own following.
The digital marketing methods discussed above are used widely by successful firms. They can be used individually or in combination. Here are a few examples illustrating how these strategies can be employed in practice.
NerdWallet has used blogging effectively to position itself atop search engines as a leader in the personal finance space. Founded in 2009, NerdWallet provides its visitors with information and an app to assist with personal finance decisions such as choosing credit cards and considering mortgages. Providing this service generates traffic which produces income for NerdWallet when visitors click through to sites of NerdWallet affiliate partners, such as credit card companies.
To support this business model, NerdWallet has pursued a marketing strategy centered on using blogging for SEO. This strategy focused on creating unique content of value to consumers of financial services. For instance, NerdWallet conducted original research and compiled government data to provide accurate, up-to-date information on topics such as credit card debt and student loan debt.
This type of quality content attracted backlinks from authoritative sources such as news agencies and other financial sites. These backlinks in turn lent authority to NerdWallet in the eyes of search-engine algorithms.
NerdWallet made this strategy succeed through large-scale content production. Initially, their content team aimed to produce 500 pieces of quality content a month. Over time, as the site grew, this scaled up to a few thousand pieces a month. While this was a major content investment, it paid off by bolstering the site’s visits to millions of users a month and $500 million a year in revenue by 2016. As of late June 2020, NerdWallet ranks just shy of the top 2,000 sites in the world in engagement on Alexa.
Each December, streaming music provider Spotify offers its users a chance to look back on their year in music through a promotional campaign known as Spotify Wrapped. The Wrapped feature allows users to view a customized playlist of their top 100 most-played songs from the past year. It also provides a personalized quiz based on data such as the number of minutes of music streamed, new artists discovered and most-played artists and songs.
Wrapped creates a customized image to let users automatically share their information across major social media platforms. In 2019, Spotify expanded the Wrapped feature to include a user’s past decade of listening.
The Wrapped sharing feature has proven a huge social media marketing success. In the first week after Wrapped 2019 went live, more than 60 million users used the app to review their listening history, generating 3 billion streams from Wrapped playlists. During the same time, the app was mentioned in at least 1.2 million Twitter posts.
Wrapped users essentially became unpaid promoters for Spotify.
For years, SEO software provider Moz has hosted a weekly Whiteboard Friday educational video series. Initially narrated by Moz founder Rand Fishkin, the series provides viewers with training tips on SEO strategies. Moz also posts blogs that provide transcripts of Whiteboard Friday videos.
This type of information builds Moz’s reputation as a thought leader in the SEO space. It also attracts the types of audiences who need Moz’s SEO software products, inviting engagement and bringing viewers closer to considering a purchasing decision.
Whiteboard Friday videos have generated more than 121,000 views on YouTube.
Proven digital marketing strategies such as blogging, SEO and social media posting can help you grow awareness of your brand, drive traffic to your website and draw customers to your business. To put these methods into practice, you need to develop a customized marketing plan focused on objectives that align with your business goals.