Digital marketing strategy for beginners

If you don’t have a digital marketing strategy, we can give you 4.4 billion reasons to start planning one today.

That’s the number of the world’s active internet users as of April 2019. As you know, we live in an age where shopping, ordering food and dating online has become second nature. Despite this evolution in behaviour, many businesses still don’t have an effective web or mobile marketing strategy to reach their customers.

What’s digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the practice of using search marketing, social media, mobile marketing, email and websites to attract customers to your product or service. If you’re using the internet to talk about your business, you’re probably using some form of digital marketing.

What’s a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is online marketing with purpose and measurable goals. It’s a balancing act between using different marketing channels like paid search, email marketing and social media campaigns.

Having a glossy website doesn't have much weight unless you've got a strategy and a way of measuring and optimising your efforts.

Even if you had the budget to slap your company name on the side of every bus, you probably wouldn't reach the people you want. As the saying goes, when you're targeting everyone, you're targeting no one.

How do I get started?

There is no one size fits all strategy for everyone; it depends on what you're selling and who your audience is. Before getting started, have a little brainstorm. Jot down the answers to these questions:

  1. What are your business goals in the next quarter? Next year?
  2. What is your objective? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Educate your customer? Increase sales? Generate sales from existing customers?
  3. Which metrics are you using to show growth?
  4. What’s your unique selling proposition?
  5. Who are your ideal customers? What are their pain points?
  6. How much is one customer worth to you? How much are you willing to spend per conversion?
  7. Which channels are you using now for marketing? What areas need to be improved?
  8. How much of your marketing budget is allocated to digital marketing?

The first step of any digital marketing strategy is to set SMART goals. This will add structure to your strategy. Measurable goals help you assess your objectives and set realistic marketing targets.

For example, a SMART goal would be, “Plan and do five webinars in the next quarter with at least 10 attendees per session and with 80% exceptional reactions regarding the content."

Revisit these business goals every quarter and optimise your campaigns accordingly.

Who is your customer?

Personas represent real people who use your product or service. The characters are hypothetical, but the data and representation of your customers are real. Personas make it easier to craft your message and target the right pain points.

For years the “Is the persona dead?” debate has been off again and on again. If created and used effectively, the persona is still very much alive as a tool for digital marketing. Three personas are the standard, but you can have as many as you need depending on your business.

You can find the information for personas through:

  • Web and social analytics
  • Anonymised customer data
  • Customer surveys and polls
  • Interviewing customers
  • Customer journey mapping

Synthesise this information into different segments of potential customers.

For example,

Persona 1: "Andre is a 32-year-old sales manager at a kitchen appliance store who's biggest challenge is acquiring new customers."

His completed profile should have:

  • An exemplary photo
  • A name
  • Short biography
  • Age
  • Family
  • Job title
  • How he/she found us
  • Company description and size
  • Tools used (e.g CRM tools, Slack, Office)
  • Pain points
  • Who he/she reports to

Use these personas as a guide when you’re writing email messages, social media posts, writing blogs or creating ads. In the same way it's hard to buy a gift for someone you've never met; it's hard to create a marketing strategy for someone you don't know.

Which channels should I use to reach my customer?

If you don’t already have a website or landing page, invest in a good, clean design. Take the time to write clear and engaging copy that explains your unique selling point.

Here are some primary channels to kick off your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Email marketing
  2. Social media campaign
  3. Content marketing strategy
  4. Paid search ads

...and an overview of each one:

Channel: Email marketing campaign

Purpose: Get customers coming back

We hate to break it to you, but your customers probably aren’t thinking about you.

Despite the fact that most people’s inboxes are filled to the tee with junk, the newsletter is still relevant in 2019. When done well, it has the power to bring your potential and existing customers back to you.

You can achieve success by sending newsletters with compelling headlines, valuable content, and a voice that shows you appreciate their interest and loyalty.

Look back at your SMART goals before starting your newsletter campaign. What do you want your emails to achieve?

Should they

  • drive foot traffic
  • drive online sales
  • increase social media presence
  • drive traffic to the blog or landing page
  • promote a new product or service

Look back at your personas. Should you separate your email list into different segments?

Your mailing list is the bread and butter of your campaign. If you’re a brand new company you probably don’t have a big list, don’t worry, we’ve got an article to help you get started. If you’ve been up and running for a while, chances are, someone on your sales team can dig up a  database of existing and potential customers.

Your newsletters should get people coming back to your website, purchasing your products and services or just engaging in your community.

Channel: Social media

Purpose: Get people talking about you

Social media is designed to create conversations. For any company, building a community is the key to generating a loyal following.

There’s no hard and fast rule about what kind of social platforms to use for B2B or B2C companies. Glossier, a makeup powerhouse, effectively uses LinkedIn to share news about their company’s open positions, new offices, conference appearances, and thought leadership articles. Hewlett-Packard has a beautiful Instagram account that showcases the fun and lively personality behind the tech giant.

For a small business, social media can feel intimidating at first. Use it to show your brands personality and offer the users on the platform value and insights. Here are some ideas for Facebook and Instagram stories or posts:

  • If you’re a retail company, poll fans on what they think about a new product
  • If you’re an agency, feature a new client you’re working with
  • Highlight essential topics you covered on your blog
  • Profile an impressive new team member
  • Share community events happening in the neighbourhood
  • Contests and giveaways

Sales and discount codes work fine for social media but use the platform to get people engaged in a conversation rather than coming just for the one-time offers.

Instagram and Facebook are all about creating pleasing visual effects and engaging conversations (remember people are addicted to these social media and see hundreds of posts a day - make them stop on yours).

Before publishing on social media, work with your photo editor or designer to set up a bank of high resolution, on-brand images that tell the story of your company.

There should be a consistent style for every image you post.

Channel: Content marketing

Purpose: Lead generation and trust in the industry

Educating potential customers about your product or industry is a great way to create value and build trust. Content marketing can come in the form of blogs, videos and social media posts. Here are some ideas to fire up your brainstorm:

  • Selling online courses? Make a video about the most in-demand job skills of 2019
  • Selling advertising services? Write a blog on digital marketing guide strategy basics
  • Selling furniture? Give tips on the best way to lay out a circle rug
  • Promoting a finance app? Give financial counselling on how to save money

Content marketing can make you an authority on the industry you’re in -- all you’ve got to do is hire a great copywriter and tap into your resources. Content can come in many forms:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Charts and graphs
  • White papers
  • Webinars

Content marketing is like that one gym workout that benefits all your muscle groups. It boosts SEO, gives you social media fodder, creates authority, and offers a great customer experience when done well.

Channel: Paid search ads

Purpose: Brand awareness and lead generation

Every campaign needs a little boost, and that's where paid search ads come in. When potential customers search for keywords related to your business, paid search ads make sure your business shows up first in their search engine. These ads are paid per click.

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an online advertising pricing model where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. Yes, you're spending every time someone visits your web page through one of your ads.

The beauty of this is, you only have to pay when someone clicks on it. If someone sees it and doesn't click it, the potential customer still got exposed to your company, so it's great for brand awareness if no one knows who you are.

If someone does click on it, you might have to pay EUR 2 (or however much you set as a cost per click), but if that leads to a new customer, it was a pretty good bang for your buck.

PPC requires a little time and effort. You need to make sure you've selected the right keywords and organised your campaign into different ad groups. The more relevant your ad is, the more the search engines will reward you by making you pay less for clicks.

This reward system ensures that the internet isn't just full of false advertisements and clickbait.

You can either begin your own PPC campaign or outsource it to an agency to do it. It's a full-time job, so make sure you've got the time and resources to optimise it regularly.

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Digital marketing strategy for beginners