5 Steps to a Practical Digital Marketing Strategy

by Sonja van den Bosch

5 Steps to a Practical Digital Marketing Strategy

There are great opportunities with digital marketing for any size business. But where does your business fit in? How can you benefit without burning through time and money?

Most businesses are undertaking some marketing activity, whether it is using the most popular social media platforms, email marketing, or getting right back to basics with setting up or redesigning their website.

Regardless of the stage you are at, consider these 5 steps in this order, and you will be on your way to a strategic, practical, and cost-effective approach to your digital marketing.

Step 1 – Objectives

Consider the direction you are taking your business as a first step. Your goal may be to grow the business by revenue or number of customers. It may be to increase the average value of a customer, or you may have an exit or succession strategy in place. No matter what your business strategy is, any digital marketing strategy needs to align closely to your business goals.

This means that if your business strategy changes, your digital marketing strategy must move along with it. Alignment ensures that marketing will work effectively and together with all other parts of your business, including sales, operations, HR, and IT.

At this stage it is a good idea to consider how you will measure results – for example, website visits, email open rates, customer enquiries, and referrals.

Step 2 – Audience

digital marketing strategy audienceYour audience is at the core of your digital marketing strategy. They are the people who will consume and engage with your message. Every business needs to have a deep understanding of their audience, including customers, strategic partners, and staff. It is not only important to understand basic demographics like age, gender, and profession, but also get into the heart of what motivates them, what is their pain, what do they value, why would they want to engage with you, and why they would not.

The rapid evolution of the digital landscape means that understanding our audience is more important than ever. Changes in technology can influence customer behavior – customers tell us how they want to be communicated to and where we can talk to them.

For example, the evolution of mobiles from phones to computers meant that websites needed to be optimized for mobile viewing – there was no escaping that – the alternative was losing customers. Keeping an eye on emerging technologies is important, as well as observing whether or not your customers embrace it.

Finally, consider how your audience prefers to consume information. Is it written, audio, visual, or a combination?

Step 3 – Messaging

digital marketing strategy messagingCrafting messages that cut through all the clutter in today’s landscape is the key that unlocks the door to having that initial conversation with your potential customers. Doing this effectively consists of two things. On the one hand you want to be clear about what value you bring to your audience and on the other hand you want to be clear about how you want to be perceived.

Defining your value proposition and matching it to what attracts your audience is that sweet spot we call ‘relevance’. To define your company’s value proposition, you need to ask yourself – what do we do for whom, and why should anyone care?

To clarify how you want to be perceived, you need to think about your brand’s personality and the values that bind your business with your audience. This will ensure that your audience connects with your business on a subconscious level – this is the level at which their buying decision is ultimately made.

Step 4 – Channels

Of all the digital channels out there, the most important channel to focus on first is your website, followed by your email marketing. This is for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, your website and your email marketing are the only two channels that you truly own. Although you have some influence over the presentation of your company and brand on search and social channels, the reality is that these channels can (and have) changed the rules about who sees what and when, overnight.

digital marketing strategy channelsSecondly, no matter which digital channels you choose to participate in, your goal is to lead people to your website, followed by taking an action (like buying a product, or making an enquiry). If your website is not where it should be, this is often where time and money on digital marketing activities on outside channels is wasted. Sure, you may get the leads, but what is your audience’s perception when they get there? Are your messages right? Is what you stand for and your value proposition to your audience clear? If the answer is ‘no’, the first step is to update the content on your site and all supporting marketing materials to reflect your messaging.

Finally, never forget email. While our inboxes are often out of control, taking a focused, consistent, and relevant approach to your email marketing will ensure high engagement with your contacts.

From here, you will look out at the landscape of all the social channels and have a better understanding of which to focus on. The question of which channels to use would have already been answered, as you will know how best to reach your customers.

Step 5 – Content


digital marketing strategy content

Once you have written down your objectives, have an in-depth understanding of your audience, have awesome messaging that defines your brand, and you know which channels to focus on, the time has come to produce your content. This is the final stage of your digital marketing strategy, and where the implementation of your strategy begins.

In content creation, consider these 6 principles:

1. Plan & schedule – this will make your life easier and will set you up well for any automation tools that you may consider.

2. Educate & story tell – engage with your audience by teaching or telling stories.

3. Create & curate – demonstrate leadership in your industry by sharing great stories from others.

4. Make it shareable – make it easy for your audience to show their contacts what interests and is important to them.

5. Become part of the dialogue – the digital landscape is a multiway conversation, so build in time to respond and keep engaging.

6. Consistency & repetition – the golden rule of strong brands of any sized business, taking a consistent approach to digital marketing and repeating relevant, engaging messaging will ensure cut through, and contribute to the snowball effect of shared content.

Please beware – content can be a beast. Do less and do it well!

The beauty of digital marketing is our ability to measure everything we do. If you regularly test and measure your digital marketing efforts, and adjust as you go, your ROI will most certainly improve over time.

We’ve created a digital marketing strategy workbook to help you get started. If you are interested in receiving this, please send us an email and a complimentary copy will be emailed to you.

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  1. lia zalums says:

    wonderful tips here many thanks!
    I would love a copy of your marketing strategy workbook

  2. Hi Lia, I’ll send you a copy of the digital marketing strategy workbook. Sonja

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Inspirational marketing is about being true to yourself, being aligned with your core values and doing something you truly believe in and are passionate about. It is about creating meaningful relationships with everyone you encounter. It is about thoughts from the heart.

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