Creating a digital marketing strategy should be grounded in research about your industry, understanding what the competition is doing, what your business goals are, and what is needed to achieve them – and with a view to optimal use of budget and time.
There are several steps to creating a strategy, but each has a significant amount of work and research associated with them. However, executing tactics without an overarching plan means efficiencies might be lost. For example, you might waste money on PPC because of poor SEO; or miss high-converting customers by having no email marketing list. The things that set campaigns apart can all be achieved by taking the time to create a strategy.
1. Identify your goals
The goal of SEO is not usually just to increase rankings. Normally, the improved rankings are a means to an end – increased visibility results in more clicks, which ideally leads to more sales or leads.
But if there are more clicks on a search result without conversion rate optimisation (CRO), those visitors might not only never convert, but they might never come back. Understanding the ultimate goal helps tailor not only the plan itself, but also the order in which things are done.
2. Ensure all teams have visibility
Creating a digital marketing strategy is too often hurried, left to the end or not done at all.
By having a visible plan everyone can buy in to, not only do you create clarity for everyone involved, but you also enable everyone to spot something missing or even contribute outside their speciality, helping staff grow beyond their roles.
Understanding all parts of a plan isn’t necessary for everyone, but if the UX designer knows that SEO needs certain things that dovetail with their work and the needs of the PPC team, it can save development time. Visibility is critical!
3. Create Clear Personas
Creating a clear strategy isn’t going to work without understanding who the customer is. On one project, we included not just buyers but also students, journalists, the IT person implementing the solution and search engine spiders, so all teams had visibility on the critical paths for Google, Bing, and so on.
Personas do need to encompass a group – but try not to get too bogged down in the specifics. If you create a persona of “Judith, 45, married, no kids, spends excessively on flights and hotels through apps, can be upsold to through email marketing, significant disposable income invested for retirement, hangs out at co-working spaces, and has more than one degree” – representing 32% of your cohort – you may miss “Cathy, 46, married with no kids, spends excessively on package holidays, isn’t too tech savvy, significant disposable income spent on experiences, hangs out at co-working spaces and coffee shops, and has only one degree” – representing 68% of your cohort – simply because you’ve missed the forest for the trees.
4. Map personas to pre- and post-purchase behaviour
Once you understand the cohorts or personas, you can map their needs to each stage of the sales funnel.
At different times, different people need different things – remember my example of the IT person who implements the solution? They’re post-sales support and need to have the information they require readily available and easy to find.
They may enter through the home page, a search engine, or even through a social link. Each journey each cohort takes should be considered – and the right content, information and conversion to the next step should be implemented.
5. Optimise Everything
Optimisation isn’t just about search engines – there’s user journey, conversions, content, cost per click, user experience. Everything should be optimised.
Understanding where in the sales cycle your customer is when they potentially hit a page will enable optimisation of a number of things. For example – content towards keywords; the page itself towards conversion and excellent user experience; the page for lower-cost pay-per-client advertising, and more.
Each page of the site, which should be mapped to a point in the user journey, should be optimised across all channels – not just SEO.
6. Measure Everything
There’s no point in doing all the work if nothing’s getting measured. Ensure analytics is in place before work starts so that as work progresses, there’s a benchmark of where the site was and where it has progressed to.
Doing the work without being able to quantify outcomes won’t work in the long run.
Creating a comprehensive digital marketing plan is an important and necessary step that often gets missed. Giving all teams full visibility and shared ownership, and with that shared accountability, is key for ensuring buy-in, but also enabling everyone to work across disciplines and learn more about other disciplines.
Judith will run the Digital Marketing Strategy course taking place on March 31st, tickets for which are available now. Sign up to the course to get to grips with various marketing channels and efficiently create your own plan.