As a CMO, you understand how important digital marketing can be to driving growth. In today’s economy, an effective digital marketing strategy is essential to the success of your business. But what exactly does an effective digital marketing strategy framework look like? As a CMO, how can you ensure that your digital marketing is executed effectively?
According to Philip Kotler, regarded by many as one of the fathers of modern marketing, a traditional marketing plan serves: “to document how the organization’s strategic objectives will be achieved through specific marketing strategies and tactics, with the customer as the starting point. It is also linked to the plans of other departments within the organization.”
A digital marketing strategy is a document that gathers all your marketing operations in one place. A complete strategy defines your marketing goals, target audience, channels, and metrics so that you can measure your performance.
This article is designed to provide you with a framework for developing and executing a successful digital marketing strategy. Let’s get started.
Know Your Company
The first step to developing a strong digital marketing plan is to carry out an internal and external analysis of your company. A helpful model to accomplish this is the SWOT analysis, which allows you to look at your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and the market at large.
You cannot understate the importance of knowing your digital ecosystem, your consumers’ needs, and where they turn in order to get them addressed. Research undertaken to this end can be both qualitative and quantitative, particularly when you examine different factors such as your consumers’ online habits and influencers.
An internal study is also a key part of this stage to understand your organization’s situation in the current digital space. You can evaluate your website’s user experience, analyze usability and browsing, check on update frequency, and the strength of your social media presence.
A common practice that many companies use to identify best practices is to implement benchmarking whereby you compare your company with your competitors. You can then pick the most applicable examples to incorporate or emulate into your digital marketing plan. Let’s take a closer look at the competition.
Know Your Competition
It can be difficult for your brand to stand out in the digital realm. Countless companies are constantly jostling for attention from audiences that, more often than not, are the same. Running a competitor analysis is an effective and practical way to define your company’s standing against competing brands. It is also a great way to identify other market players’ strengths and weaknesses.
Competitor analysis is the process of researching and analyzing the marketing strategies of the companies operating in a given market. Many companies opt to run this process as part of their SWOT analysis to scope out how other brands are reaching and retaining their clientele.
According to Magdalena Andreeva, “The analysis evaluates as many factors as possible to bring insights into what drives traffic to your competitors’ pages and leads to their ads. It highlights the gaps and estimates your potential and opportunities to fill them.”
Another outcome of running a competitor analysis is to identify which channels are saturated and which ones are suitable opportunities for you to take advantage of and reach your audience effectively.
While it may be tempting to replicate strategies that your competitors are executing successfully, it is important to keep your marketing goals in mind and select a course of action that best aligns with your brand. Speaking of goals…
Define Your Goals
It’s imperative to clearly articulate the goals you want to accomplish with your digital marketing campaigns. What objectives have led you to your advertising decisions? What, in quantifiable terms, do you aim to achieve with your digital marketing plan? It is very important to have clearly defined goals when developing your marketing strategy. One way to achieve this is by aligning your goals with the 5 Ss of Marketing:
Making sales is THE goal – it’s your bottom line. This goal is a cornerstone of any business and must be reflected in your digital marketing strategy framework. If your business does not sell online, the leads that your online marketing will deliver will convert into sales at your physical establishment.
Digital channels are not just for making sales, they are also a great way to speak directly and get closer to your audience. As a brand, your company can actively engage with users and encourage them to participate. Using your digital channels for this purpose is an excellent way to influence sales, build your brand, and increase loyalty among your customers. Here is more on building your brand voice.
Your company’s website and social media accounts should be designed to be a place where your customers can get their questions answered, share feedback, and even complain. Pay attention to your service quality and the overall user experience so you can offer more value to your customers. This will help bolster your company’s capacity to Sell, Speak, Save, and Sizzle.
As a CMO, you should be able to demonstrate the value your company gains from using online channels and how that can help with reducing costs in traditional marketing such as print and post.
This is about building and extending your brand online. For this goal, you need to think about what constitutes a positive online brand experience for your company as well as for your customers.
According to Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights, “If the experience you create is effective, the benefits of engaging with your digital presence will be clear; the interactions within the site and with other channels will be smooth and the visitor will want to use your online services again and tell their friends and colleagues about it.”
The key ‘sizzle’ goals to aim for are gauging levels of customer satisfaction and instances of customer recommendations and advocacy.
According to Smart Insights, the 5 Ss of digital marketing were developed by PR Smith in the early 2000s. While sometimes considered somewhat rudimentary especially given just how much marketing has evolved since then, it’s still used today by many organizations when planning their digital marketing strategy framework.
SMART – The Goal Setting Framework
A good set of digital marketing goals covers a range of different measures to help set, review, and control performance across all digital marketing activities. The SMART method is a proven goal-setting framework and stands for:
Specific: Broad or vaguely defined goals can lead to undesired outcomes and even difficulties in measuring results. Specificity is key when it comes to setting your digital marketing goals.
Measurable: Define your success and use key performance indicators to track results.
Attainable: Break down overarching goals into smaller goals and make sure each of them is achievable.
Relevant: Focus on goals that are relevant, important, and valuable to your brand.
Time-Bound: Set a clear timeframe for each goal and ascertain that it’s reasonable.
It is important to keep in mind that your marketing goals should align with your overall business goals to help you grow your brand online. Refer to your business plan, brand strategy, and communication strategy to confirm if they complement each other and, if needed, adjust your digital strategy.
Identify Your Audience
Knowing who exactly you want to advertise to is crucial to designing an effective digital marketing strategy framework. The most common approach to identifying your target audience is to carry out audience research. This includes hosting focus groups, conducting surveys, publishing social media polls, and even holding one-on-one interviews. These methods will help bring to light buyer personas, map out buyer journeys and create insightful conversion funnels.
As you research your ideal target audience, it is beneficial to your marketing team to include the following sets of data:
- Demographic data is basic data focused on your target audience and includes aspects such as age, gender, location, income, and marital status.
- Psychographic data focuses on understanding the consumer’s emotions and values, so you can market more accurately (eg. activities, interests, opinions, habits, behaviors, values, etc.).
- Transactional data of your consumers reveals how they interact with your business. This includes their purchases, returns, subscriptions, donations, and payments.
- Behavioral data centers on consumers’ preferences when it comes to shopping and compares online and in-store shopping as well as mobile or desktop devices.
Once you have clearly defined your target audience, you will have a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs, goals, expectations, and preferences, as well as the social platforms they spend most of their time on. This will help you choose your most appropriate marketing channels and enhance your customer experience.
Decide On Your Marketing Channels
Channels & tactics are essentially where and how you advertise your products or services in the digital realm. It is up to you and your team to adapt digital marketing tactics, techniques, platforms, and channels according to your chosen target audience, business type, industry, and goals in a manner that serves your brand best.
The digital channel at your disposal include:
- Social media marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Influencer marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Referral marketing
This section of your strategy can also include all the digital tools and software solutions you will use for marketing automation, personalization, customer retention, email, and messaging, as well as for online and offline campaign integration.
You can combine different tactics and channels, but keep in mind the differences between earned, paid, and owned media:
- Owned media is your social media presence, blogs, mobile apps, and websites.
- Paid media includes paid search and display ads, paid social media ads, and affiliate marketing.
- Earned media comprises partner publishers, influencer outreach, and referral marketing.
Measure Your Digital Marketing Performance
The first step to measuring your digital marketing performance is to define what success means for each of your strategic goals. Google’s HEART framework works well here. This system was made to measure user experience for web applications. However, it is possible to adjust the framework to measure the level of audience engagement, identify weak points and analyze your progress. HEART stands for:
Happiness: This metric is used to evaluate overall customer satisfaction.
Engagement: This measures audience response to your campaigns
Adoption: This metric tracks brand awareness and can help manage your online (and overall) reputation
Retention: You can use this metric to measure consumer loyalty and retention.
Task Success: This is an adjustable metric for tracking your KPIs for each of the campaign goals.
Next, track and analyze results using a host of marketing tools such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, HubSpot, Buffer, and Hootsuite. Using these tools you can get valuable insights about likes, shares, referring links, audience demographics, points of interaction, and more.
Social media tools are great for social listening and monitoring to let you know when, where, how, and how often your brand is mentioned across different platforms. Insights will help you track performance, measure results, and evaluate your success.
Make Improvements And Adjustments
The purpose of tracking and measuring your marketing performance is to identify the channels, tactics, and techniques that can bring you the biggest return on investment. It is also an excellent way to improve your strategy and get even more traction in the future. Here are 4 ways to make improvements to your strategy after execution.
Appraise Your Technology
With your budget in mind, appraise your strategy and team to identify any gaps in the workflow. When done correctly, this assessment can save time and money in the long run. Re-examining your tech can help you decide the best stack to accomplish your digital marketing (and ultimately, business) goals.
Optimize Your SEO
With a multitude of brands clamoring for attention in every corner of the internet, yours must be as easy to find as possible, particularly for your target audience.
Having an SEO Specialist as a part of your marketing team is an excellent way to ensure that your content is optimized with focus keywords, Google-friendly formatting, and URLs that align with your product or service keywords. Making use of SEO tools such as Google Analytics and Google Ads Keyword Planner can make big improvements to your SEO performance.
Track Your Social Channels
Social media marketing has become more prevalent in both B2B and B2C marketing. You can harness this growing popularity to bolster your overall online presence and reach. Tracking your brand performance on your chosen social channels must be a top priority. Moreover, tracking should extend beyond just likes and clicks.
Here are a few additional parameters to consider when tracking your brand’s social media performance:
- The number of shares or reposts by leads.
- The number of shares or reposts by your brand influencers.
- The number of engagements.
Measure your Content Reach
Keeping track of your reach and traffic can get complicated. However, there are a few factors that you can employ to make your reach audit more clear-cut.
- Count the number of engagements your brand receives per month categorized by type (i.e. downloads, open rates for emails, and page views.
- Identify the number of most engaged assets per set period (e.g. per every 3 months).
- Identify the most shared assets per set period (e.g. per every 3 months).
Technology can become your greatest ally when creating personalized, automated, and ultimately successful marketing strategies. Your strategy should be informed by data and tailored to the unique needs of your business and your customers. Once you have a plan, you need to execute it flawlessly. Get the best from our expert team – book a strategy session today and take your digital marketing to new heights.