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What a high performing digital marketing strategy should include
With something as complex as digital marketing, it is hard to imagine how any brand would see consistent high performance without a forward-thinking strategy in place.
With multiple cogs turning at any one point to achieve organic traffic, engagement, reach and leads without a clear plan it is chaos.
Having a comprehensive digital marketing strategy in place makes it easier to ensure all the platforms you are using in your digital efforts complement and enhance one another.
At OlsenMetrix, we have recognised a considerable gap in the market when it comes to providing help to digital marketers everywhere in creating such a strategy. So here it is, a blog post detailing how to create a digital marketing strategy that aligns to core business objectives and allows for a streamlined, successful and well-oiled digital approach.
- Digital marketing strategy steps
- Which platforms should you include in your digital marketing strategy?
- Who needs to contribute to your digital marketing strategy and who’s buy-in do you need?
- Measuring the success of your digital marketing strategy
- Top tips when putting your digital marketing strategy together
Digital marketing strategy steps
Building a digital marketing strategy is not something that can be done overnight. There are hours and hours of research that are poured into this carefully crafted piece of work – and that is precisely how it should be. This document is going to be the centre of your future digital success, and it’s essential to get it as close to ‘right’ first time, as possible.
Without having a clear objective for your digital marketing efforts, it is impossible to create a strategy and get going with successful marketing. Every single piece of work you or your agency complete should have a clear objective that all parties are aware of, and that can be measured easily and accurately at regular points during the campaign/strategy period.
When setting your objectives, remember the SMART methodology for objective setting:
S – Specific.
A good objective should be clearly defined and outlined for all stakeholders. It is vital that everyone involved understands the objective and why it is important.
M – Measurable.
The objectives you set need to have clear KPIs (key performance indicators) than can be reported accurately and continually monitored throughout the campaign.
A – Achievable.
Although it is always productive to strive to be better and achieve more, it can also be counter-productive to set unachievable objectives for your team and business. Setting the bar high is advisable, but not so high that you are setting up for failure.
R – Relevant.
This may seem an obvious point to make, however we often see objectives being set that are not aligned with broader business goals. If this is the case, then your digital marketing strategy is irrelevant and useless, and we don’t want that.
T – Time-bound.
It is always a good idea to have a clear timeline that indicates when an objective begins and when it ends. This provides a sense of productive urgency and enables you to measure effectively along the way.
It is also essential when setting objectives not to spread your focus too thin. Choosing 2 or 3 key goals to achieve at any one point is enough to challenge and engage your team without overwhelming them.
Who are you trying to target and convert with this strategy?
Leading nicely on from setting your objectives is the mention of the audience. It is essential to include your customer personas and audience data in your digital marketing document.
By the time you come to create your digital strategy, you should have an obvious idea of who you are trying to target with all your marketing efforts. Make sure your personas feature at the start of your plan so that everyone in the team knows who you are trying to reach before they lead on to the ‘how.’
Refer to your customer journey at this stage too – ensure you understand what that looks like. It will have an impact on how you piece together your strategy. You need to know where you can find your target audience at each stage of their user journey.
Which platforms should you include in your digital marketing strategy?
Website – SEO, Content and User Experience (UX)
For the vast majority of brands across all industries, their website is now their main shop window. Due to the diversity in the modern-day user journey, your website could be the first impression potential customers have of your brand in the awareness stage or the last impression before they convert in the decision stage. Both stages are essential in customer conversion, and therefore your website is critical to digital success. So, before you start using other platforms to drive users to your website, you need to make sure it won’t be turning visitors off when they arrive.
There are three key things to consider when assessing what works on your website needs to be done as part of your digital marketing strategy:
- User experience
Search engine optimisation best practices must be followed for your website to be visible in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are many elements to SEO that are important in the back end of a website during its development, but also front end too, to make your site as visible as possible. Think about keywords that are targeted and ranking, clear and simple-to-use navigation, backlinks coming into the back end of the website and much, much more. There is a misconception in the industry that SEO is hugely complicated and can only be done by highly technically trained members of staff; this isn’t true, and the core components of SEO are very simple. A lot of your digital marketing efforts will have the objective of driving users back to your website; it is crucial to ensure all of the SEO basics on your site are up to scratch so that it can genuinely benefit from your marketing efforts on other channels.
The core content on your website can generally be categorised into two main types: hygiene content and hub content.
Hygiene content – content that adds relevancy and depth to the more commercial pages on your website and should always be rooted in terms you know are searched for by your target audience with the objective of educating them on your business, products and services.
Hub content – blog-style content that will inform, engage and entertain your visitors.
The content on your website is a key ranking factor when it comes to how your site is viewed by search engines and also a primary way that users will find you. If your website lacks content entirely, or if the content is thin, copied from elsewhere or factually incorrect, all of these things will impact how Google and other leading search engines choose to deliver your website in the SERP. Not only that, but it will make users and potential customers question the integrity and authority of your brand.
Ensure all of the content on your website is fit for purpose, clear and concise and is in line with your brand’s tone of voice document. This will help your website rank well, become visible to users and nurture relationships with potential customers, progressing them further along the sales funnel.
User Experience (UX)
Having good user experience (UX) on your website is an essential box to tick before you explore digital marketing platforms further away from ‘home.’ As previously mentioned, you only want to start sending users to your site via social media, emailing and advertising platforms once it is worthy of their attention – meaning that the UX on your website needs to be right from the word go.
You want every visit to your website to be meaningful and valuable to the user; this confirms to the user that your business is the one they want to convert with and encourages good engagement metrics across your website – a well known Google ranking factor. Therefore, it makes sense that to create a top-rate website, according to users, you need to ensure that it is:
Does your blog or news section, home to your hub content, look good? Can it be searched? Is content categorised and easy to find? If not, it should be. There should be a variation of straight, informational content and more entertaining and fun content within your blog space as well as a variation of content types. When reading a print newspaper or magazine, you would quickly become bored if every page looked the same – a blog or news space on your website is no different. Variation is essential, and this needs to be thought about when creating your digital marketing strategy.
Public relations, PR, is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy and can be used to achieve many objectives. It is excellent for raising your brand’s profile by shouting to relevant media outlets about company achievements, news and milestones. Another tactic is to promote content marketing pieces that may appeal to other websites – if they link to your content, this will boost your domain authority, your ranking appeal, and promote your brand for free. The purpose of PR is to gain third-party endorsement for your brand, increasing its reputation and making it known as honest, successful, relevant – and increasingly important – that it is a good corporate citizen. Excellent media relations, engaging news stories and great press releases are essential, but without content (news/blog/campaigns), your PR team may not have much to work with. So, bear this in mind when creating your digital marketing strategy.
Social media has evolved into a massive opportunity for brands to have direct access to potential customers, while they undertake their purchase research, and often, convert. Made up of various social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to name a few) it is vital that you include this necessary medium in your digital marketing strategy. A blanket approach to social media is not usually a successful one – it needs to be far more strategic than this. You can find everything you need to know about social media strategy in our blog post, here.
Who needs to contribute to your digital marketing strategy and who’s buy-in do you need?
In our experience, there is a delicate balance between needing an expert in each relevant area to contribute to your digital marketing strategy and having too many contributors to the point where responsibilities and areas of focus are muddied.
You’ll need a clear manager; someone who is responsible for briefing, collating and overseeing the strategy to ensure it meets your objectives and that each individual element links together well.
If you are working for an agency or a large-scale business, the chances are you will have experts in each area: SEO, social media, PR, content – all of whom will need to contribute at some level.
For the best results, every stakeholder needs to feel that they have been consulted and involved.
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Share objectives company-wide and ask for ideas/data from each team before the process begins.
- Provide regular updates to the company on your digital strategy creation process. This is a massive piece of work that takes weeks to collate – so keep all colleagues updated with progress and opportunities may be spotted along the way.
- Ask questions of the key stakeholders when required. You are not bothering them; they will be pleased to be asked.
- Present your first draft to the business and allow feedback to be sent before refinements are made.
Measuring the success of your digital marketing strategy
A failure we see all too often in the digital marketing industry is lack of measurement. We get that professional life is busier now than ever, but if you do not measure the performance of your digital marketing strategy, you could be wasting a tonne of resource (and effort!) on an approach which, as it turns out, just isn’t working for you.
Knowing how well your overall approach, campaigns, and even individual pieces of content are working is essential to achieving optimum results and really, it is straightforward.
If you have set SMART objectives for your digital marketing strategy, as suggested much earlier on in this blog post, you will have set easily measurable and time-specific objectives that are very easy to measure against.
Standard metrics for measuring the performance of a digital marketing strategy might include:
- Website traffic
- Traffic by source/referral traffic
- New and returning visitors
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
- Social media following and engagement
- New backlinks/brand mentions
Remember: While some areas in digital marketing can provide almost instant results, such as social media or some elements of SEO, a lot of them, such as content marketing and PR can take time. So, make sure that you are giving your strategy in these areas enough time to work their magic when setting your objectives and reporting deadlines.
Top tips when putting your digital marketing strategy together
- Involve key stakeholders from the beginning. Chances are, you need these guys to support you and to help you execute your significant plans. Involving them from the start, a little or a lot is going to make them valued and passionate about your digital marketing project. You are bound to get the best results when your team feel included.
- Use any data you can get your hands on. So many people struggle to see how data and creative match together, but here at Olsen Metrix we struggle to see how such an important document, such as a digital marketing strategy, can possibly be formulated without it. Get data on existing performance and that of competitors for opportunity spotting, following on social media platforms for benchmarking, use audience data to perfect your personas and target your efforts as accurately as possible.
- Know your USPs and use them! You should know the advantages to customers of using your company over and above competitors – so use them. Shout about them and sell them into everything you do marketing-wise. It’s a competitive world out there, so make sure your USPs can be heard.
- User first. In everything you do, you need to think of the user first. Is this campaign relevant to them? Do you know that they like to read a white paper or are they more likely to watch a video? Is your website easy to navigate for them? Does your content answer all of their questions? If not, reset and go again. It always has to be about them.
So, there you have it, a post to help you navigate your way through one of the most important documents your business will ever create when it comes to marketing. Hopefully, this piece will have provided you with the roadmap you need to create a strategy that will accelerate your company’s digital marketing successes and reap all of the rewards that come with it.