The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Strategy for Success

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Mia Updated: April 13, 2021

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The world of marketing is literally changing by the minute since it’s no longer confined to traditional selling and advertising. The new marketing model is dominated and driven mainly by technology and digital platforms.

It’s more digital-focused, dynamic, interactive, and multi-channeled. Along with the significant impact of the digital world on businesses’ marketing ways, the role of digital marketing strategy is indispensable.

Thus, this post will give you an in-depth and ultimate guide to digital marketing strategies. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of contents:

What is Digital Marketing?

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What is Digital Marketing?

Simply put, digital marketing encompasses all businesses ‘ online marketing efforts or assets, from social media marketing to email marketing or PPC advertising.

In other words, digital marketing is the effort of businesses to connect with current and potential customers via the Internet and electronic devices.

2 primary terms related to digital marketing:

  • Digital marketing assets

  • Digital marketing strategy

Definition of Digital marketing assets

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Definition of Digital marketing assets

As mentioned above, organizations leverage their digital marketing assets online to better approach an enormous customer base on the Internet.

In the online world, a person or organization’s digital marketing assets can be anything that makes the online presence. And others can find, connect, and do business with you.

Here are some examples:

  • Brand assets: Logos, icons, acronyms, company websites, domain, and so forth

  • Video content: Video ads, product demos, etc.

  • Written content: Blog posts, eBooks, product descriptions, etc.

  • Images: infographics, company photos, product shots, etc.

  • Written content: Blog posts, eBooks, product descriptions, etc.

  • Social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Reddit, etc.

  • Online advertising accounts

  • Email address and finally, data

They are just the iceberg’s surface (most common assets) and don’t represent every business’s assets.

Definition Digital marketing strategy

Basically, a digital marketing strategy is a plan that describes a course of actions towards achieving marketing goals through online marketing channels. The channels here includes:

  • Owned: Any property owned and controlled by a business, for instance, blogs, websites, or social media channels

  • Paid: Involve any marketing channels you pay for using them. Paid media is used via a third-party platform. Some paid media’s common form as display ads, commercials, and PPC

  • Earned media: Any conversation that mentions your brand. And these mentions are totally voluntary, and you don’t need to pay for things like Paid media. Some most common types include press releases, good feedbacks, or social media mentions

These 3 channels are major marketing buzzwords for businesses, especially in the digital space - One of the determining factors to every successful strategy.

An actionable digital marketing strategy typically involves 2 main things:

  • Which online channels and digital marketing tactics you’re about to implement

  • How much of your budget can be used for the digital marketing strategy

In the nutshell, digital marketing is how you distribute your available resources to the business’s digital assets for achieving a specific goal.

Digital marketing: Strategy vs. Campaign

When talking about marketing strategies and campaigns, many people tend to use them interchangeably. In fact, they differ in both applications and functionality.

This misconception between a digital marketing strategy and the campaign is a significant reason for the failure of a business strategy through online marketing.

A digital marketing strategy refers to:

  • Part of a business plan, which includes an overview of how you will promote your digital marketing assets to achieve long-term or macro goals

  • The foundation for an actionable digital plan afterward with proper online marketing channels that helps the business achieve specific business and digital goals

Typically contain the detailed analysis of the market, customers, competitors and the business resources plan

While digital marketing campaign:

  • Involve the execution (specific tactics) of the digital marketing strategy through all business’s digital channels

  • Happen after the development of the business’s digital strategy

  • Considered as the detailed actions within your digital marketing strategy towards achieving more micro, short-term goals

For instance:

Let’s say that your digital marketing strategy’s final goal is to generate more leads through owned and paid channels.

Then, you might decide to run a digital marketing campaign on Twitter and Facebook. To be more specific, you will create and share some of the best-performing rated content on 2 platforms for more leads.

4 Pillars of a digital marketing strategy

After a long period of development, digital marketing and the Internet have developed into different specialized forms of marketing, for instance, content marketing or social media marketing, etc.

Astute digital marketers need to understand the usage of the top 4 pillars in digital marketing in order to adapt to the competitive landscape.

In fact, these 4 legs of digital marketing can stand without the others. They are all needed to gain traction with a business’s online goals.

Content marketing

People these days are assaulted with more adverts and messages than ever before, thanks to the Internet. As a result, this makes them have serious difficulty in focusing. Or worse, weaken the effect of businesses’ digital channels.

Basically, content marketing publishing helpful blogs, social media posts, and e-newsletters - A way to bring people to your website organically.

If your content is just a copy from others or unattractive, your advertising effort on social media or Google is totally worthless.

Communications

If the content is the heart of any digital marketing strategy, communication is a core pillar providing a conduit for your content or message.

On the surface, digital messages can be distributed in 3 ways:

  • One-to-Many Communications: The messages are delivered in one direction from the business to the mass audience (for example: via traditional advertising)

  • One-to-One Communications: Typically known through personal communication or direct marketing. The information will be delivered from the business (one person) to a targeted individual (Via email marketing or Inbox feature on Instagram or Facebook)

  • Many-to-Many Communications: In this communication type, the message goes in multiple directions simultaneously in an open system. The core of social media marketing

The type of communication you choose will depend significantly on the business’s goal, market data, and targeted customer data. At the same time, your decision of the communication type affects:

  • How you design your message for the highest efficiency (personal or broad)

  • Your budget and communication channels that are used to distribute the business’s messages

If One-to-One Communication requires the personalization and specification for the message, then One-to-Many Communication targets a much larger number of people. Thus, its message needs to be more general and broad.

Community

After defining the communication type and core message, the community is one of the 3 most vital pillars for a successful digital marketing strategy.

Through digital platforms like social media, businesses can now connect and engage easily with their prospects. Most importantly, social media is also a conduit where brands can build and develop their own communities.

Major social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) offer an excellent chance for businesses to promote themselves where their customers spend most of their time every day.

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Most popular social media platforms worldwide

Digital advertising

Paid advertising is the final leg of a digital marketing strategy you should not overlook. It covers the bases that your website and content marketing can’t reach.

To expand the reach of the digital message, advertising is indispensable.

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A promotion of Jcrew on the website

Typically, the initial step to planning an effective digital advertising campaign is thoughtful and well-thought-out keyword research.

Once you’ve determined the keywords you’re after, it’s time to set the ads to spend. Usually, running ads make up the bulk of a business’s digital marketing budget.

Of course, by making the right decisions on content, communication types, digital channels, and keywords, you can easily optimize and reduce the digital marketing costs with good returns from the strategy.

Why does Digital Marketing strategy matter to your business?

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Why does Digital Marketing strategy matter to your business?

Without the leading of a digital marketing strategy, that business is directionless. Via the definition of digital marketing strategy, we know:

  • Have a more depth understanding of the online marketplace, the business’s positioning, and competitors

  • Then, select the right platforms to advertise the business by understanding what works best for the type of offered products and services and the types of targeted customers

Simply put, companies need digital marketing strategies to guide them in achieving their channel leads & sales targets (for instance, increasing brand awareness or lead generation to a website).

A well-thought-out and written digital marketing strategy gives you a clear picture of each step you need to go through in reaching your final goals (the direction and focus). Furthermore:

  • Ensure everyone on the team is on board to support and implement the business’s digital activities seamlessly

  • Estimate and set the proper budgets for the whole digital marketing strategy, and reduce the possibility of having unwanted extra costs

  • Limit the duplication and wastage incurred during implementation

  • Help you benchmark your activity against other rivals to optimize and become or remain competitive

Critical elements of a digital marketing strategy

Critical components of a digital marketing strategy include:

  • Define brand core value: Using brand guidelines to define the unique selling points (USPs) of your business - One of the first foundation for the strategy

  • Customer personas: Build the customer persona with specific segmentation (including demographic information, interest, habits, etc.). Know what entices them to take online actions (purchase, interact, comment, etc.)

  • SMART goals: Stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each works together to create a goal that’s well-planed, clear, and trackable

  • Market analysis: Utilize some market research tools (Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and Facebook Audience Insights) to access the potential level of target markets

  • Competitive analysis: Conduct competitive research via major web and social analytics tools (Similarweb, Semrush, and SocialBakers)

  • SWOT analysis: Stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Help you better develop your strategy

  • Resource allocation: Include in-house team or outsource external marketing agencies and budget to achieve objectives effectively

  • Testing and optimization: Use digital marketing analytics tools to track, measure digital marketing effectiveness for further modifications

How to develop a digital marketing strategy [A step-by-step guide]

Step 1: Define your brand identity

Having a solid brand identity is critical for businesses to develop customer loyalty, customer retention, and long-term competitive power in the marketplace.

Brand identity allows a business to differentiate itself from competitors and appropriately position its brand.

Let’s take Coca Cola for example. This brand built its brand image so that when talking about fizzy drinks or carbonated beverages, Coca-Cola is the first thing that comes to mind. Or their red color is distinctive and highly-recognized.

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Coca-Cola Visual Identity

Brand identity is like a marketing strategy’s backbone by maintaining a consistent and clear brand across all digital channels. Furthermore, it’s the central premise for further digital marketing campaigns that support the whole digital marketing strategy.

What you should do are:

  • Think about your unique selling points (USPs), brand voice, and value proposition

  • Highlight the key points of your brand characteristics. They’re helpful when you create messages for actionable plans and campaigns in the future

  • Identify visual brand in order to create a sense of unity and brand cohesiveness for the digital marketing strategy

Thus, all the afterward actions should convey exactly your brand characteristics and visual identification (logo, color patterns, tone of voice, etc.).

Step 2: Define your audience and buyer personas for the digital strategy

Till now, digital marketers take advantage of technology power to gather qualitative and quantitative info about their target audience (like demographic details, interests, and behavioral traits, etc.).

And the essence of this step is leveraged into another level with the term “Buyer personas.” Most effective marketing strategies are incomplete without them.

The buyer persona is not a real customer but a fictional person who describes all the characteristics of a business’s best potential customers. This step requires heavy upfront research since it’s a determining factor of your digital marketing strategy.

What should you take into consideration?

  • The market size: Identify vital points about your market — whether it’s new or over-saturated, niche or mainstream. Next, figure out the giants and minor players in the market, market potential, the financial upside in your specific market

  • Targeted customers: Who you’re targeting? — Our advice is to focus your attention on a particular niche and describer your targeted group as detailed as possible

  • Platforms where targeted groups spend their time:** By knowing exactly where your customers like to spend their time in the digital world, you can easily define the ideal digital channels to target as well as the suitable messages

  • Platforms where they consume: Next, you need to dig deeper into the target audience’s shopping habits across different channels. For instance, your customers can spend several hours on Reddit but usually make online purchases on Facebook

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What is the shopping behavior of your targeted group?

Some questions related to the targeted group’s shopping behavior:

  • Reason for purchase actions: For more in-depth research, you need to find the main reasons customers make purchase decisions. Read the feedback of similar products of yours on popular eCommerce sites. Remember what you’re looking for customers’ mutual needs and expectation, not an individual viewpoint

  • Where and how they buy: Customers refer to find products online then order from Amazon or other shopping behaviors? Via this information, you can have more ideas on how to adjust your marketing strategy around expectations and persuade customers to do your wanted actions

  • What they need to buy: Go through your competitor reviews or feedback of similar products of yours on major eCommerce sites to make a list of concerns brought up in each review (customers’ complaints, unsolved issues)

By showing your potential customers your attention to their pain or need, customers will be more open to exploring what you offer?

Step 3: Establish SMART goals and objectives

In this stage, you need to define specific goals and objectives that you want to accomplish and achieve through the digital marketing strategy. They can be, for instance:

  • Build brand recognition

  • Generate more leads

  • Get more sales via website

  • Gain more email subscribers or followers on social media accounts

If you set a plan with no idea what the final goal and objective are behind this action, you might settle down with unwanted results and marketing wastage costs.

Establish SMART goals and objectives
What are SMART goals?

Goals matter, and for a highly effective and actionable digital marketing strategy, you need to take it as specific as possible. You can develop this part of your strategy with the SMART framework, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time

For instance:

  • The objective with the SMART method: Use social media advertising and email marketing to get 50.000 traffic to the website by X (month), Y (year)

  • The objective without the SMART method: Increase the number of traffic to the website

Just bear in mind that all your actions within the strategy and further plan have to work towards meeting those goals.

Step 4: Evaluate and select Digital Marketing assets

The easiest to choose suitable digital assets for your digital marketing strategy is:

  • First, list out all the digital marketing assets you’re already using at the moment

  • Then, evaluate the effectiveness of each asset in the previous year. Get rid of those with poor performance

  • Select the channels or assets that are the most effective by now that fits the predetermined marketing goals and objectives

For example, if a landing page you recently created has been effective in lead generation, and your targeted marketing goal is to get more leads, don’t hesitate to use it again.

Consider both paid and organic marketing channels and, based on your buyer data to determine which marketing channels you should use in each part of your strategy.

Step 5: Choose digital marketing strategies and tactics

Once you’ve defined your SMART objectives (attraction, conversion, lead, or loyalty), and other factors, you already have enough building blocks to develop a digital marketing strategy. Start by carrying out different digital strategies.

Our question now is: Which types of digital marketing strategies work best for achieving your goals? You can start by considering top digital marketing trends for more strategic ideas.

Some common digital marketing strategy you can focus on:

Read more: 10 Types of Digital Marketing Vital to Your Business

Step 6: Optimize your digital strategy for mobile usage

According to Statista, the number of smartphone users worldwide is 3.8 billions in 2021, and this figure is likely to increase in the coming years.

Optimize your digital strategy for mobile
Via Statista

Apparently, we’re living in a mobile-first era. Thus, there’s no excuse for not taking mobile optimization seriously within our digital marketing strategy. And mobile devices now dominate a significant portion of the online space.

Mobile optimization will be evaluated through:

  • The loading speed of your website
  • Design and display of the website, email content, posters, brand’s photos on users’ mobile devices
  • Mobile optimization refers to the process of adjusting a business’s web content to make sure visitors who come to your site have an experience customized to their devices. Still, this concept is expanded when we talk about digital marketing.

In other words, the term “Mobile optimization” doesn’t stop at the optimization process for web content but different types of content across the business’s digital channels. For instance:

  • Visual email content
  • Digital posters or videos
  • All your digital ads
  • Images for posts on social media channels and so forth

They all need optimization so that when a mobile user gets to your sales funnel has a flawless user experience. Hence, it’s easier to convert.

Step 7: Incorporate Automate Marketing and Personalization

Once you put your campaign into practice, it comes as no surprise that you’ll want to find ways to make it as impactful and effective as possible.

Typically, there are 2 possible ways you can do:

  • Personalization
  • Automation

In many cases, these 2 can even overlap for higher performance.

For marketing automation, businesses can use different automation platforms to automate activities like content marketing, email, lead generation, and so forth.

Under the development of technology, they can even be integrated with your company’s sales CRM, improving the entire sales process.

Along with automation, personalized marketing works best on creating a specific experience for individual users. In other words, you will design and show people different landing pages, ads, messages, and emails according to their particular actions, such as:

  • Different advertisements that focus on retargeting by marketing to users products they’ve viewed on your site
  • Send triggered email autoresponders to show customers similar products to what they’ve seen before
  • Personalization (along with audience segmentation) and automation can take your strategy one step further. As a strategic planner, you should ensure your current marketing technology platform can handle all the data, segmentation, and automation that effective personalized campaigns require.

Step 8: Set the digital marketing budget

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Set the digital marketing budget

When it comes to any marketing strategy, it’s essential to define from the start how much you can spend and what resources you get for the campaign.

Apparently, no one wants to set an online marketing strategy that goes beyond the means. It works best if you break down your whole digital strategy into small campaigns, then create a budget for each one.

This division makes sure that:

  • You give each method a clear budget, hence, having a defined budget for your whole digital marketing efforts
  • Not end up over-investing into one digital marketing tactic and allocate your budget effectively

Moreover, any paid digital marketing tool that assists you in running and analyzing your campaign should also be taken into account towards your budget and means.

Step 9: Set KPIs for your strategy

KPIs (also known as Key Performance Indicators) are quantitative benchmarks marketers set to measure and track their performance towards the predetermined marketing objectives.

A few of the top KPIs that’s data-driven for modern digital marketing:

  • Conversion/ churn/ attrition rates
  • Cost per conversion/ lead
  • Conversion rate per keyword
  • Click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Unique visitors per day/month
  • Pages per visit
  • New leads per day/month
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

Read more: 53 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It’s essential to keep all your marketing efforts focused on one or some certain goals and objectives. Specific digital marketing KPIs make it easier for marketing teams to determine targets, measure, and track the whole campaign’s performance.

Step 10: Track your process and optimization

All your marketing efforts still need to be proven via this last step - analyzing the results. It’s great when you already have a comprehensive and prominent digital marketing strategy. Still, the work doesn’t stop!

You need a plan to capture, report, and analyze all the relevant data. Luckily this stage becomes extremely easy thanks to the KPIs you set in the previous steps.

Tracking and measuring the effectiveness of all your activities within your digital strategy allows you to correct things doesn’t work in order to achieve the goals.

Here are a few good rules of thumb you can follow to track each KPI:

  • Weekly tracking: Apply for extreme vital metrics that change week-to-week in response to the market situation
  • Monthly tracking: Apply to see a percent growth month-over-month and to modify the monthly strategy for optimization
  • Quarterly tracking: Apply when you want to know whether your strategy is working after a few months

Analytics is a critical element for successfully optimizing digital marketing effectiveness and spending.

Digital marketing strategy example

To help you better understand how a business implements their digital marketing strategy in practice, we will discuss around some digital marketing strategy example below

Social media marketing strategy example: Promo.com

Promo.com is a popular visual content platform. Furthermore, it’s also a cloud-based service that enables users to create stunningly beautiful and professional video from stock photos, video clips, and music.

Promo.com built their social media profiles in all most popular social platforms:

  • Facebook (~ 184.000 followers)
  • Youtube (~4.800 subscribers)
  • Instagram (~101.000 followers)
  • Twitter (~191.000 followers)
  • LinkedIn (~ 8,682 followers)
  • Pinterest (~67 followers)
Promo.com Facebook Page
Promo.com Facebook Page

One clear thing we can see on Promo.com social media strategy is that they’re extending their online presence as much as possible via social media. And Promo.com did great to 4 Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter proved by the enormous amount of followers for each.

Which part of Promo.com’s strategy makes their social presence so impressive? There are 2 main reasons:

  • Promo.com understand who is their target audience - Businesses and agencies

  • Define the brand’s value proposition and brand personality from the start. Importantly, capture them in the all of their posts mostly via creative video form

  • Set a clear function for each platform

For instance, the content on Facebook and Instagram is mostly short videos of interesting news. Furthermore, they also share updated blog posts from the official website to generate traffic.

Meanwhile, the Youtube channel focuses on educational content related to Promo.com’s standout features (tutorials).

Email media marketing strategy: Crello

Crello is an online tool that allows its users to easily create appealing videos or graphic designs, for social media, prints, or any web-based graphics.

Email marketing is always on the favorite tool list of digital marketers since its personalization and flexibility.

However, it’s definitely challenging when you must communicate with your whole audience at once with the automation. The secret of Crello lies in 2 factors: Personalization and Segmentation.

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Monthly newsletters of Crello

In other words:

  • Offer brand’s subscribers dozens of various newsletters, which delivers personalized content from new templates (weekly), design tips, promotions and information about local events

  • Include CTA buttons on most sent emails that subscribers can select their own adventure and desired templates. This action enables Crello to track and understand specific customers’ interest, then segment them into specific, smaller groups

  • Have a proper email frequency (or email cadence): Around 2-3 bulk emails per week

  • Deliver great visually appealing emails instead of boring messages. A “no more perfect” way to transfer the brand’s value proposition as a design tool for professionals

The bottom line!

Digital marketing provides businesses with incredible opportunities for rapid growth. However, it’s up to you whether to grab and take advantage of them or not.

Hoping at the end of this post, you can have an overview of a complete digital marketing strategy and develop for yourself a unique one that fits your needs.

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Mia
Mia
As a content executive at Mageplaza, Mia Hoang understands the value of content marketing lies in the engagement between the customers and companies. Her wish is to bring a unique voice, different perspectives, and new light for every audience.
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