Digital marketing is undoubtedly the most effective way to market your business today, to target audiences that are consuming more and more information through smartphones and other handheld devices. The problem that many businesses encounter, however, is that they implement a variety of digital marketing efforts in a haphazard manner, not really knowing what will work best for their unique business as an online entity. They lack an overall digital strategy that will deliver tangible return on investment.
Because of this, their results are often unpredictable and inconsistent. It’s also quite difficult to measure the success of a digital marketing initiative if it isn’t based on a solid strategy. He’re, we’ll go through the steps required to create a good digital marketing plan.
1. Set Your Goals
The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with your digital marketing initiatives. These goals might include:
- Increasing social media engagement
- Getting more email subscriptions
- Driving traffic to your website
- Establishing thought leadership
2. Break Down The Sales Funnel
Existing and potential customers will engage with your brand with different goals and levels of interest. The sales funnel is used to describe the process that many customers take as they go through the buying process. For example:
- Top of Funnel: These are the customers who are just learning about your brand or the product you sell. Larger numbers, not yet ‘warm’ to your business or offering.
- Mid Funnel: This describes the point at which potential buyers are familiar with your company and products. Now they are considering a purchase, researching your products, and considering your competitors. Filtering ‘warm’ leads that are now engaged in what you have to offer.
- Low Funnel: This is the stage where customers have decided to make a purchase, and are taking action to do so with your company. Select numbers of ‘hot’ leads that have now chosen you over your competitors.
- Repeat Customers And Brand Ambassadors: These are customers who have made at least one trip through the sales funnel. Now, they are committed to making future purchases. Some may even be engaged enough with your brand to actively bring you new customers.
From a sales and marketing standpoint, there’s a crucial point to understanding here. Customers at different stages of the sales funnel are going to be attracted to different content, ways of being contacted, addressed and engaged. They may prefer to engage on different platforms as well. Your digital strategy must take all of this into consideration.
3. Know Your Branding
It’s important that your marketing efforts are honest and authentic. That’s the reason that digital marketing has so much more appeal than traditional advertising. It strips away all of the forced, hard sell tactics, and has an organic, conversational feel to it.
Having a solid, consistent brand identity is an important part of this. Customers are more likely to engage with a brand persona that feels genuine to them.
4. Build Customer Personas
Just like your company has a persona that is actualized in your branding, your target customers have shared traits. These traits can be used to create distinct customer personas. To reach your customers, you have to understand them, and you can start by developing a buyer persona for each target customer group. You can start by finding the answers to the following questions:
- Who would be interested in my products?
- What motivates them to buy my products?
- What unique problems or concerns do they have?
- What are their demographics?
- What are their hobbies, interests, and values?
- What are their online sources for information gathering, entertainment, and socializing?
Dana Martin, marketing manager at WowGrade.com says, “Keep in mind that generic personas are generally useless. In fact, it’s best to treat each customer persona like a character you might create for a book or movie.” For example, ‘male college student, around 19’ doesn’t really help you to understand your potential customer. On the other hand, this might:
- Male, college student, 19 – 22, involved in athletics and student government, B student, works part time, constantly stressed because of an intense academic load, burns off steam by playing MMORPG games and going to the gym, dates casually, follows a strict low-carb diet, cheats with beers and junk food on the weekend.
Don’t rely on assumptions to build your personas. This is where market research comes in handy, and where you can rely on analytics data.
5. Find Your Customers
You now have two key pieces of information. You know who your customers are, and you understand their needs as they relate to the different stages of the sales funnel. Now it’s time to identify the social platforms where you will be able to find your target audience. One way to do this is through customer journey mapping.
This is a process where you identify all of the potential paths a customer might take as they move through the sales funnel. You can use this to identify where and how you have opportunities to engage with potential customers.
Imagine that you own a small cooking school inside a high end grocery store. A potential customer journey might look like this:
- A thirty year old man interested in getting fit looks up ‘low carb recipes’ on Youtube. Here you can identify the kind of video content that you can share on your YouTube channel that he would find, and what you can do to encourage further engagement.
- A forty year old woman is looking for a fun Friday night activity for a group of her closest friends. She searches Google for ‘Group Cooking Classes near me’. To reach her, you’ll need to be sure that your website or landing page is at the top of the search results. This means optimizing for search, or considering a paid advertising campaign.
Of course, these are two very simple examples. You will likely have different customer personas at different stages of the sales funnel engaging with your brand on a variety of platforms. Most people who are considering your company are likely to make contact in more than one way through more than one channel.
Once you complete this step, you should have the social media platforms, advertising options, and some of the different types of content you’ll be using to create engagement.
6. Create Actions To Accomplish Tangible Goals
You know what you want to accomplish. You understand your customers. You’ve identified where and how they might encounter and engage with your brand. This step is all about the actions you will take to reach your goals. Here are some examples:
- Sending follow-up emails to customers after sales with links to leave reviews on Yelp and Google.
- Committing to creating and sharing 25 new pins each week.
- Adding social share buttons to blog posts.
- Creating a presence on Reddit and holding an AMA session.
- Implementing content promotion tools to increase your reach.
7. Establish Metrics & Measure Results
The last part of your digital marketing strategy is where you will set the metrics that will indicate whether you are successful or not. For example, if one of your goals is to increase traffic to your website, you’ll have to establish what a meaningful increase is. Then, you determine how you’re going to measure that.
Every marketing channel you use, every customer persona you target, has a different meaning when it comes to engaging with your business. Make sure your goals match your metrics and have relevance to what you are trying to achieve… More website visitors, more phone calls, more social followers, more partnership inquiries. Establishing the metrics that matter to your business are crucial to ensuring your sales and marketing efforts justify the expense and effort.
Linda Grandes had made a transition from a little, shy office clerk to an empowered and happy writer. Later she progressed to being an editor at Studicus.com. Linda is a writing fanatic and frantically stays on guard of beauty and meaning in the written text. She runs a blog where she shares tips and useful resources for fellow writers. Sometimes she holds tea parties with her followers. Contact her to find out about the next one 🙂