• The Creative Side

7 Steps to Build a Digital Marketing Strategy

In 2020 Digital platforms and digital marketing are some of the most beneficial ways to market businesses and get in front of customers and leads. The first step for any business looking to expand their digital profile and reap the rewards of digital marketing, is to build a digital marketing strategy. This can feel like a daunting task, and many may not know where to start… As a result, we wanted to make a helpful list to give business’s an idea of how they can begin to build a successful digital strategy and grow their business online.

1. Identify Overall Goals

This is the most important thing we need to do when devising a digital strategy. We need to have a goal. We need to have an end point so we can know if the strategy ha been successful or not. These goals should link back to the main goals of the company and the wider marketing strategy, then expand on them and specialise them for use on digital platforms.

An example of this could be:

Say your wider business goal Is to increase revenue by 10% over the next 6 months.

This would mean your marketing goals would be based around either bringing in new customers or keeping hold of existing ones. In this case, a goal for the digital strategy could be to increase digital leads generated on digital platforms by 50% in the next 6 months. This goal is specific to the digital platforms and will help build towards the greater business goal.

It goes without saying that a common focus and common ideology is paramount when concepting the goals of the company. Everyone in the business needs to know what the business is, where it is headed and what they can do as an individual to help out.

Quick Tip Number 1: Make sure your digital strategy goals are realistic, they should be SMART goals and should always bear in mind the goals of the company as a whole. If the company’s goals are brand awareness, the digital goals should be based around increasing digital reach, if the business goals are customer service improvements, the digital goals should revolve around improving the customer experience etc etc….

2. Build Buyer Personas

This is where we get into the meat of the planning stage. We have our goals and we know where we are headed, now we need to know who we are selling to. This is determined by the goals we have laid out. Are we looking to bring in new customers or maintain existing ones? Are we looking to expand into new markets or double down in a market we are thriving in?

Once we know the answers, we can go about building the buyer personas. It is important that these are as detailed as possible, we want to have as much information about the ideal customer as possible, because this information will be the catalyst of the whole marketing strategy. We need to know the ideal customers age, gender, location and income so we can tailor make a strategy for them. After we have the quantitative date, we need to look a little deeper and find out some qualitative date to help us plan the strategy. We should explore the ideal customers goals, interests, hobbies, pain points and what the important elements of their lives are. We use this information to literally build a picture, build a profile of the ideal customer.

You might be wondering what the point of all this detail is, simply the devil is in the detail. The information informs you as to where the best places to market to these ideal customers are… Do they spend more time reading emails? Do they prefer a certain social media platform? Do they read blogs? Do they watch videos? All discovering the main point which Is, what gets their attention?

A good example (in my opinion) of how buyer personas can greatly impact digital strategies and aid in achieving a company’s goals would be the fast food chain McDonalds. You’re going to have to bear with me on this one, but it should be a good bit of fun….

Back in the day McDonalds TV adverts were mainly aimed at kids, some say to brainwash but I’m not discussing the ethical issues behind pre-2000s TV adverts, I’m trying to portray an example of buyer personas… So, in earlier times McDonalds targeted their ads at kids, Ronald and all the other kid based shenanigans were designed to make kids beg their parents to bring them to McDonalds, The buyer persona was the kid and McDonalds banked on the parents giving in to the kids demands… Check out this compilation of old McAdverts to see what I mean…. Though in hindsight they are creepy as hell and play very differently, so try and cast your mind back to a time before killer clowns and IT (the movie).

Ok, so we have seen what they used to do, who they used to target. Now we are at the important part, because McDonald’s tactics have changed, they aren’t targeting the kids anymore, they are targeting the adults, and a very specific segment of adults. Below is a more recent McDonald’s TV advert which portrays the their golden arched restaurants as a haven away from the kids, a place where you don’t have to do the work and you can escape normal life for a little bit. McDonalds gross profit for 2019 is reported as $21.077 Billion (£16.82Billion) … Their profits have increased year on year almost constantly. I’m not saying this is all down to the buyer personas changing and the marketing changing as a result, but their ability to devise and target specific customer groups and tailor make content to them specifically Is a big reason for there success….And it is a bit of fun to compare their old adverts to these newer ones.

Quick Tip Number 2: Buyer personas can and do change, you should review and update your personas as often as possible, and use data gathered through trial and error of the marketing strategy to make the personas even more specific and make the strategy even more geared towards catching the ideal customers attention.

3. Audit Current/Past Digital Strategy & Content

We have a plan and we know who we are targeting. Now is a good time to look back into the archives for any existing content, strategies or ideas the business has used previously, to see if they can be re-implemented or re-purposed into the new strategy. This can work out well as a way to save some money on marketing as you are using content which is already made/owned and can inspire ideas for the new strategy you are putting in place. Analysing the impact of the old strategies can also help determine what has worked and what hasn’t in the past, which helps make sure you are on the right track for the future strategies.

When we talk about an audit in a digital context, we are referring to a detailed inspection on any current or previous digital content or platform use. Social media channels, website content, blogs etc. Anything which is out in the world and representing your company digitally. As we look through these channels, we need to streamline the content and focus the voice of the company. This means deleting any imagery or posts which no longer represent the strategy the business is following now and ensuring the company’s image is consistent across all digital platforms. E.g. same logo and colour scheme across all social platforms and the website, same tone of voice for all written content.

The audit and any re-usable archive content act as the platform/bedrock for the new digital strategy, making for the strongest possible launch point and keeping everything consistent.

Quick tip Number 3: Consistency is key! You need to be spreading the same message across all digital platforms, selling the same story. This increases confidence and trust in the company as customers are more comfortable with who you are and what you do.

4. Plan Digital Campaigns

This is where we look at the best areas to focus on. The best channels to pursue and platforms to use. We need to look back at the information we have collated on buyer personas here, this information gives us a clear idea of where our target market spends its time, and hopefully, what content gets their attention.

For example, if our buyer persona research shows that most of the target market mainly use Facebook as there go to social media platform, then more effort should be put into creating a campaign specifically for these Facebook users. you could implement Facebook Ads or seek to make content which will increase organic traffic.

Quick Tip Number 3: These days on Facebook it is hard to stand out and build organically. In the saturated market of Facebook only really stand-out content can succeed. As a result, it is no longer about that 1 ‘Viral’ video… It becomes a matter of making a lot of content which works together to be greater than the sum of individual parts. It is still 10000 views, even if it is split over a number of different pieces of content, and the different content can attract attention from different facets of the market.

Your research may have found that many of your customers prefer to find businesses off social media, through Google searches etc (This may be true if your buyer personas are an older demographic), if this is the case then the campaigns should be based around SEO, pushing your website higher up in the search engine results. The campaigns are decided and inspired by the buyer personas, and the wider goals of the business.

5. Identify the Main Tools You Will Use

We have touched on some of the tools already, Social media channels, email, websites, landing pages are all platforms you can use. In this case, when we say tools, we are referring to the content you are putting out on the platforms, and how it is specialised and targeted to give it the highest chance of reaching the right customers and getting their attention.

Some tools you can use are:

· Video

· Photography

· Blogs/Copywriting


· PPC/Ads

· Webinars

· Podcast

· Competitions

· Email Marketing

And more… This is the content which will go out into the world with the hope of helping to achieve your goals. Again, we use the buyer personas (this is why they are so important) and the overall goals to decide what tools to use, and indeed what content to focus on. If the buyer personas spend most of their time on Instagram and are interested in photography, then photographic content becomes a valuable tool to deploy, and we should spend time finding ways to improve photographic output and quality. If the personas respond better to written content such as blogs, this is a tool we should develop and use.

6. Plan Content & Give Yourself a Timeline

We know what our goals are, we know who we are trying to reach, we know the platforms we are focusing on and we know the type of content we should be making. Now, we need to plan and make the content itself. This is the crux of the whole strategy, this is where the great marketing campaigns and the lacklustre ones are made obvious, this is the final frontier. Content is king, but context and clarity of message are what gives the king its power. The content needs to be focused and pulling in the same direction, it should be interconnected to encourage further engagement, it should be creative and different and targeted.

Burger King have been a great example when we talk about standout creative content. Their end of 2019 advert grabbed headlines with is reveal that every Whopper advert for the whole year had a Big Mac (From previously discussed competitor McDonalds) hidden behind the Kings Burger. This makes every previous bit of marketing content that much stronger and even makes people re-look at and re-visit the content in a whole new light, ‘Really… behind every single Whopper there is a Big Mac? Wow… I guess Big Macs isn’t really that big’… Pretty inspired marketing content.

The Burger King example show the power of a well thought out, meticulously planned content strategy, and can act as a great source of inspiration for companies new to the digital marketing landscape. But it is important not to run before you can walk, start simple, start slow, build on the successes, learn from what doesn’t work.

7. Analyse Results and Double Down

As with most strategies and campaigns the post-mortem is essential. It will focus you for the next round, inspire the future campaigns and highlight what is working and what isn’t. Then re-think, re-plan and double down on the successful elements of the strategy.

It is important to remember that marketing is not an exact science, you cannot truly predict human behaviour and what will work or not. That is why it is beneficial to experiment and try new things, to be innovative and different. When something doesn’t work there is always a silver lining and a lesson there, so embrace the knock-backs because eventually they will lead you down the successful path, and your digital marketing strategy will be a winner.

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