In the internet era, marketing has expanded into a vast world of possible digital marketing strategies. But what exactly is a digital marketing strategy and what does it entail?
Generally speaking, marketing is the process of pairing goods and services with their target audience, using a combination of advertising and other tactics. While traditional marketing takes place in spheres like print media, and public advertisements like billboards and storefronts, digital marketing primarily takes place online, through websites and apps.
A digital marketing strategy is a goal-oriented process that makes use of various online tools and third parties to connect with and build audiences. The opportunities available online are vast, with the ability to boost conversion rates and revenue. A strategic approach with clearly defined goals is essential for any business to market itself competitively in the digital arena.
Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy
There are common approaches in marketing that work well in establishing the foundation of a successful digital marketing strategy. The strategies we outline below can be exercised in order, but as is the case with any strategy, can and should be revisited and revised as the strategy is tested in real-time.
Start With SWOT Analysis
A classic marketing strategy, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When establishing a digital marketing strategy, SWOT analysis can help you see the forest for the trees. The purpose is to help a business assess marketing assets that are within and without the organization’s direct control. Simply conducting a SWOT analysis can be telling, as aspects of the business can fit into more than one of the categories. It’s always good to remain flexible and responsive to input, as a digital marketing strategy takes place in an ever-shifting landscape.
A company’s strength is its prime locus of control, so it makes sense to start the assessment here. These are internal attributes and unique selling propositions that help to distinguish the business from its competitors.
‘What do we do best?’ is the leading question for strength analysis and can lead to answers like great customer engagement, consistent revenue, and loyal and motivated employees. All businesses are different, so what makes them particularly successful will differ.
For instance, your company might not have many customers and would like to expand. However, a loyal and engaged long-term customer base is a highly desirable strength that can be built upon, no matter how small. It’s all about seeing the potential behind the existing strengths.
Further to this point, a competitor with a large but fickle customer base might assess your ability to retain existing clients over a long period and modify their marketing strategy accordingly. Savvy digital marketing managers always have their fingers on the pulse of their industry, constantly the evaluating strengths and weaknesses of themselves and their competitors.
Keeping this in mind, evaluating a company’s weaknesses is where blind spots become a hindrance. When competitors are analyzing a company’s weaknesses, they are doing so with a calm, objective eye, looking to exploit the opportunity that this weakness creates.
Internal aspects of a business that directly impact its ability to accomplish its goals are weaknesses. When analyzing weaknesses, objectivity can be difficult. Particularly during tough times in a business, objective outside analysis and input are invaluable, as internal stakeholders are often too close to an issue to correctly identify it.
Poor leadership, employee dissatisfaction, and customer complaints are among the possible weaknesses that a company needs to honestly address. A constructive question to ask to evaluate weaknesses is ‘What makes us vulnerable to our competition?’ Here you can look at a competitor’s strengths and ask why this is your company’s weakness.
Somewhere between strength and weakness lies opportunity! ‘What can we take to the next level?’ is a good question to start with and probably comes up easily in the strength category, as well as the less serious weaknesses. Aside from internal possibilities, opportunities are overwhelmingly an external consideration. Especially in the digital marketing sphere, third parties are always in flux.
For instance, there might be changes in Instagram’s algorithms (again) that match your company’s strengths. Or perhaps a pandemic comes along and opens doors previously unconsidered (hopefully not anytime soon!). This is a creative area where ideas and brainstorming company-wide can be enlightening and productive. Evaluating internal realities and contrasting them with current events can be a great way to uncover previously unknown opportunities to strengthen your company’s digital marketing strategy.
Inevitably, when evaluating a company’s weaknesses, threats will become apparent. When a company has internal vulnerabilities, it will be left open to harmful external factors that could degrade the company’s ability to accomplish its goals. Just as the pandemic offered economic opportunities to some, it threatened many more and certainly reduced many companies to bankruptcy.
Of course, the business landscape is full of threats that come along more regularly than once in a lifetime. These threats can include labour market shortages, supply chain disruptions, and direct, aggressive competition.
Clearly Define Digital Marketing Strategy Goals
In its entirety, the SWOT analysis is intended to help a business gain a conciliated understanding of its marketing environment to score some goals! But it’s impossible to score when the goal post shifts, right? This is why it is useful to conduct a SWOT analysis before defining digital marketing strategy goals.
Once a company has put every internal and external factor under a microscope, previous goals may need to be reevaluated and tweaked. It is important to create clearly defined goals based on reality before moving forward with an executed digital marketing strategy.
In classic marketing approaches, a SWOT analysis is paired with a SMART approach to setting goals. Like SWOT, the acronym is intended to unearth all available information regarding a company’s business goals according to how Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely they are.
As digital marketing strategy relies on various media to accomplish its goals, a company will need to evaluate its existing media and incorporate these into its SWOT and SMART decision-making.
What Media Does a Digital Marketing Strategy Consist Of?
Digital marketing strategy aims to achieve goals using online methods. We all know that no store or business can thrive in today’s online world without a website. And more than 60% of websites are being viewed through mobile devices. This sprawling network offers many profitable connections and opportunities and a digital marketing strategy works to make that happen.
When developing a digital marketing strategy, it is necessary to assess what media the business already implements or has access to. The goal of a successful digital marketing strategy is to artfully and profitably synchronize and maximize the impact of these media to build ongoing brand awareness and customer engagement.
From an overall marketing perspective, these media are generally grouped into the following three categories: owned, earned, and paid media. Once a business has a clear understanding and outline of its available owned, earned, and paid media, a digital marketing strategy can begin to take form.
In digital marketing, owned media represents any advertising or communication channels that a business owns and controls entirely. When a business has many diversified branches of owned media it can reach more potential customers.
Examples of owned media include but aren’t limited to a business website, email marketing campaigns, and a company blog. You may be wondering if social media counts as owned media. While a business might technically own and operate a social media platform, how, when, and even whether that media is viewed at all is entirely controlled by algorithms whose goals are independent of the business.
Ultimately, owned media is what can be precisely controlled by the business concerning marketing efforts. Digitally speaking, this puts the company website at the centre of its owned media digital marketing strategy.
When they say there’s no such thing as bad press, it’s earned media they’re talking about! Earned media is press coverage of the business, known as PR or public relations. Standing in direct opposition to owned media, which is fully under control, earned media is not. This is unpaid, third-party content that is completely separate from the business. However, press coverage carries a great deal of weight and is highly valuable in a digital marketing strategy. Examples of earned digital marketing media include testimonials, reviews, user-submitted content, and even awards.
Building on a solid owned media foundation, paid media externalizes these efforts to grow brand awareness. A third party is paid by the business owner to place an advertisement in their online environment. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a popular example of paid media. However, paid media can get creative and branch out into many areas like branded or sponsored content and influencer marketing, to name a few. Paid media allows a business to advertise in a less invasive manner, by creating digital marketing content that someone opts to consume voluntarily.
Branded content, for example, does not directly mention the products or services associated with the business, but rather offers value and expertise about the market it exists within. Likewise, it doesn’t come in the form of a mandatory pop-up ad that a customer has to sit through, but rather something they decide to click on and view.
Buyer Personas and Market Segmentation
Conversation flows naturally when you have something in common with the person you are speaking to. Building buyer personas is all about finding ways to communicate effectively with an audience by gaining well-rounded knowledge about who they are to create common ground. Simply put, a buyer persona is a description of the type of person who will buy the product or service, the person you are conversing with.
Breaking down real, discoverable buyer personas into useful categories like market segments helps to facilitate an effective digital marketing strategy. It also helps to uncover a more authentic brand narrative and discover gaps in target audiences that may have been previously overlooked. By implementing surveys, research, and interviews, a company can source real information about its prospective or current customer base.
Assumptions are never the right way to go. For instance, assuming that an older demographic isn’t technically savvy represents a major blindspot, just as assuming that a younger generation is. Objective research is crucial when building effective buyer personas.
The following categories of information are generally considered and collected during market segmentation research for building buyer personas:
Quantitative and Demographic Information
- Job Title
Qualitative and Psychographic Information
Within these categories, there are ample opportunities to discover nuance about a company’s prospective customers. Building these buyer personas using real stories can also go a long way in fleshing out meaningful branding narratives that engage effectively with unlikely audiences. When common ground can be discovered, creative opportunities and additional streams of revenue may become apparent where they weren’t before.
Launch Your Digital Marketing Strategy With SmartWeb Canada!
When you’re a small business owner, all of this can be a lot to consider. While it will be instructive for any business to engage in SWOT analysis and SMART goal execution, using this information to construct a digital marketing strategy is a full-time job! In addition to doing what you do best, you may not have time to be a marketing strategist. Having that objective eye to help evaluate your company’s weaknesses can help to elevate its strengths and seize profitable opportunities.
At SmartWeb Canada, we help small businesses and dental practices launch digital marketing strategies. In our next article, we will outline the digital marketing tactics and tools that can be implemented in your digital marketing strategy, which we have been using for almost 20 years.
If you’re eager to get started before that, get in touch with us anytime to discuss how we can help you implement your digital marketing strategy today!