Here’s how to create a digital marketing strategy that uses your marketing budget and resources to make the biggest impact with potential customers.
Marketing is vital to achieving goals like boosting sales, attracting more customers and raising brand awareness. A digital marketing strategy helps you determine which are the most effective online marketing tactics for your business and how to put those strategies into action.
People are spending more time online than ever before. This creates more opportunities than ever for marketers to connect with consumers. In a typical week in 2020, 27 per cent of Canadians spent 20 hours or more online, up from 19 per cent the year before. If you’re hoping to grow your business, you need a well-defined digital marketing plan to reach customers using their favourite channels.
When done well, digital marketing can help you compete against more prominent brands online. However, without a well-defined digital marketing plan guiding your decisions, you’re likely to waste resources and fall short of your goals.
Steps to create a digital marketing strategy from start to finish
- Create a business overview
- Clarify your marketing goals
- Choose the best marketing solutions for your business
- Align your marketing strategy and budget
- Download the digital marketing strategy template
Examples of digital marketing
Let’s talk about a marketing strategy versus marketing tactics. Your marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to get you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. Marketing tactics and digital channels are the tools you use to achieve your plan.
Here are a few examples of digital marketing tactics:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) or organic search
- Search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Responsive web design
- Affiliate and influencer marketing
How to create a digital marketing strategy in 4 easy steps
With some effort and planning, you can create a digital marketing strategy that pulls together everything you know about your business and your customers into one achievable plan.
Taking time to create a strategy will help you get the best return on your digital marketing investment and prevent the waste of time and money. You’ll build on what’s already working by adding elements that will move you toward your business goals.
Here’s how to create a digital marketing strategy:
1. Complete a business overview
Before you build a strategy, you need to understand what your business is about, what you offer and who your customers are.
Create a mission statement
A mission statement defines what your business is and what purpose it serves. If your company doesn’t have one, this is an excellent place to clarify what your organization is all about and why it exists. In addition, a mission statement can give you a solid foundation for making other decisions, like what you sell and what types of customers you serve.
Define your business objectives
Now is the time to decide where you want to go, so you can make a plan to get there. Without a clear idea of where you want to end up, you’re likely to waste resources or feel your marketing isn’t effective. Setting clear objectives and getting buy-in from all stakeholders and departments can help you build your marketing strategy on a solid foundation.
Identify your target market
Every business has a target market made up of its ideal customers. It can be overwhelming to market your products or services too broadly. If you can identify your ideal customers and what they need, your marketing is more likely to gain traction. You can develop buyer personas to help understand their buying decisions.
2. Clarify your marketing goals
Many companies start marketing without setting goals first, but this can hurt your business in the long run. Without clear goals, you’re likely to spend money on ideas that don’t make sense for your business.
Define your marketing goals
Instead of forging ahead by trying to follow trends or your instincts, stop to clarify your marketing goals. Decide early on if you’re hoping to increase sales, raise brand awareness or generate leads. You’ll find it easier to make subsequent decisions quickly.
Break out responsibilities by department
The marketing goals you set out for your company will sometimes involve multiple departments. You’ll have more success if you recognize this and get commitment at the beginning from the necessary department heads and teams.
Set objectives for each goal
Each goal you’ve set now needs clear and measurable objectives, so you can track your progress and spot where you need to adapt your tactics. You’ve likely heard these called key performance indicators (KPIs) or benchmarks. The idea is to put a number to your goal so you can map your performance against it.
3. Choose the best marketing solutions for your business
Now you’re in a much better position to choose which marketing channels and tactics will be most effective for your business. With a clear understanding of what you’re trying to do and who you’re hoping to reach online, you can start choosing which solutions will get you there. You’ll also need to mindfully step back from channels that aren’t currently a fit for your brand.
Review current marketing solutions
It’s likely that you already have active digital channels where you’re connecting with customers. You may also have a robust library of underutilized marketing assets. You can save time and money by doing a quick inventory of what you have, what needs updating and what you need.
Compare current solutions to company marketing goals
Decide which of your existing marketing solutions are helpful. Will they move the needle on your objectives? Consider pausing the ones that don’t seem relevant to your goals. You don’t need to use every marketing solution out there, and your resources will go further when poured into effective channels.
Create updated solution objectives
For any existing marketing solution, take a moment to refresh your objectives to be sure they fit into the larger strategy you’ve created. A digital channel you set up five years ago may not be serving you in the best way. Set new objectives for everything you’re doing to ensure progress moves you along the path you’ve chosen.
Commit appropriate resources to each solution
Anything you undertake in marketing will require expertise, resources and time to succeed. Outline the resources needed to implement and execute every marketing solution you include in your strategy. This step includes identifying which departments are involved, whose expertise and time you need, and necessary tools.
Add new solutions for a balanced approach
You may find you don’t have a current solution or approach to help you reach a specific objective. New platforms launch regularly, trends change and your ideal customer may be spending time in places online you couldn’t have predicted the last time you drafted a strategy. Flag those gaps and consider adding solutions if needed.
4. Align your marketing strategy and budget
One crucial step remains before you roll out your new ideas and begin work on new campaigns. It’s time to figure out how to create a digital marketing strategy within your budget. If you don’t take the time to align your strategy and budget early on, you’re likely to overspend.
Outline all expenses associated with each marketing solution
Include all salaries, software, tools, outsourced work and promotional items related to each marketing solution. Doing this at the beginning will give you a better idea of what each channel might cost you upfront and in ongoing fees.
Compare planned spending to your actual marketing budget
Next, compare your estimates to your budget. Do they go wildly beyond your budget, or were they too conservative? Make the necessary adjustments before proceeding. Once you complete this step, you’ll be free to experiment and see what works.
With nearly all businesses marketing online, you can be sure your competitors are already working hard to get their brand in front of as many customers as possible. Consider digital marketing the solid foundation you need to grow a successful business.
Download our digital marketing template and dive into creating a thoroughly detailed and actionable digital marketing strategy for your business.