In 2017, having a digital marketing strategy is not so much a luxury as it is a necessity.
In order to grow your business, connect with your audience and stay relevant online, it is crucial to integrate a digital strategy into your overall marketing plan.Don’t know where to start? Follow these five steps to be on the path to digital marketing domination. Click To Tweet
Step 1: Devise a Plan
Let’s face it—you want to see success come from your online marketing efforts. But even the top athletes rely on a well thought-out strategy to win games. Marketers are no different.
To get the best results, you need to have a plan. An integral part of putting together an effective plan is research.
Who is your audience?
Developing a specific target consumer will help you decide where to focus your digital efforts. Pay attention to demographics:
- Level of education
Then after you have a basic idea of who, think about what interests these people. Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of lifestyle do they live?
- Where and how do they spend their time and money?
Note: You might discover your audience is more familiar with your competition than they are with you. Find out why and leverage that information.
Where is your audience?
Next, determine your audience’s online behavior. Do some digging into your users’ habits.
Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Snapchat? These platforms generally have different audiences, plus your tactics will need to be different depending on the channel.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
Great, you know the who and the where—now let’s nail down the why and the what. Why are you running this campaign? What are your goals? As with any goal setting, you’ll want to be realistic:
What are you trying to accomplish?
Sticking with your owned media is the best way to start, so consider these three possible goals:
- Awareness—Does the general public know what your brand does? If not, you’ll want to tackle awareness.
- Traffic—Are you looking to drive conversions? Then you’ll need to direct traffic to your site.
- Engagement—If you already have some fans and followers, how can you increase engagement in a meaningful way?
No matter your goals, define them clearly, prioritize them, and have the self-discipline to get things done.
Step 3: Execute Your Strategy
Your brand has a voice. Are you using it?
Talk to consumers through your own website and social channels, and get creative with your content. This is the time to think outside the box.
In all industries and businesses, there is always a way to be inventive:
- Blog about a “day in the life” of an employee or manager
- Create infographics with stats about your industry
- Relate to current events
For some inspiration, take a look at both a large and small companies who market themselves as more than a product or service.
Coca Cola’s blog, Unbottled, features articles written about the company’s environmental efforts, workplace, community service, and social media campaigns. The dynamic site conveys their brand voice and gives visitors a chance to understand and feel the company’s culture.
Datz, an eclectic restaurant for Tampa Bay foodies, built its social following by using the brand’s sense of humor. For example, an April’s Fools Instagram post showcased the restaurant’s impressive dessert skills with a holiday twist.
The key to creating content that resonates with your audience is to talk about something that interests them. It is just as important to be consistent in your efforts as it is to share quality content.
For example, if you’re blogging, set up a calendar and schedule a post once a month—or better, once a week. The same goes for social media.
If you don’t have a team helping you, carve out time once a week to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry and the world.
Step 4: Measure Your Efforts
ROI is the name of the digital marketing game. You worked hard and spent money. You deserve to see the results.
A key component of any digital marketing strategy is measurement. How else will you know if you’re on the fast track to success or the highway to time-wasting town?
Leverage these tools when measuring campaigns:
Google Analytics will help determine who is coming to your site, how they get there, how long they spend on the site, and why they leave. Take note of these metrics:
- Pageviews: the total number of views on a website
- Unique visitors: the number of individuals visiting your site (repeat visits aren’t counted)
- Pages per visit: the number of different pages visited in one session
- Session average: the average time visitors spend on your on site
- Bounce rate: how often are people leaving your website after visiting the homepage
Social media is a world of its own. Its presence and influence in society demand measurements specific to its unique format. Keep an eye on these three points:
- Shares—When your audience shares your content, consider it free and valid publicity. You can use a tool such as Hootsuite to measure how often your content is shared and which pieces perform best.
- Comments—Comments indicate that your content prompted a response from your audience, which is proof your strategy offered room for two-way communication. Opening this dialogue allows you to personalize your brand and show appreciation for consumer feedback, whether good or bad.
- Follower growth—Building your following doesn’t happen overnight. Keep tabs on your growth rate and use that growth to determine whether your content is providing value to your audience.
Step 5: Reflect, Revise & Rebound
Now that you have the data, it’s time for some self-reflection. It might be helpful to put together a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of your brand.
A SWOT analysis gives you a great perspective on what you’re doing right, where you can grow and what—or whom—to watch out for in the future. Using the data you gathered in your evaluation, identify your strengths and be honest about your weaknesses.
Reference your original plan and performance reports when looking for opportunities to explore and threats to avoid.
It’s only up from here. After your first campaign, you’ll have a good idea of how to improve your strategy and continue growing as a business.
Take that first step, build that plan, and bravely enter the digital world. Your bottom line will thank you.
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