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Or perhaps the better question to ask is, what’s an excellent digital marketing strategy? After all, the business world is full of fad buzzwords a flashy consultant will throw at you to dazzle. But before we write them off, these buzzwords usually refer to valuable concepts we can utilize to improve our business processes. This is especially true with digital marketing strategies. Without a doubt, your modern business will need an efficient and effective online presence to compete. With the help of qualified help, growing companies can experience upwards of 1000% returns on marketing and online media buys. But trying to jump into the world of Internet apps, software, social media, and SEO without a unified plan is like riding rapids without having a river map or a paddle.

The Simple Definition

A digital marketing strategy is exactly how it sounds. It is a long-term action plan outlining how to manage all facets of your online presence to achieve (and surpass) your business objectives.

Think of a digital marketing strategy like a New Year’s resolution.  A good one is specific, well thought-out, and critically reviewed, and comes with actionable items—or tacticsthat are specific and achievable.  A goal that is too generic or ambiguous will lend itself to failure. A plan without concrete steps to achieve it will seem overwhelming and be given up on quickly.

Success is King

But what truly sets digital marketing strategies apart is the measurability of the success of your digital business tactics in achieving your business objectives. There is a plethora of data about consumer interactions with your marketing tactics that can be collected with a myriad of applications, and an excellent digital marketing strategy includes the tools and techniques to measure the results of your marketing tactics in a comprehensive and scientifically rigorous way.  Then, of course, you can interpret the success of your current tactics and adjust in real time as needed until you achieve your business objectives.

What’s a Good Digital Marketing Plan?

A thorough and successful digital marketing should do the following:

  1.      Identify your target audience and current audience

Of course, you already know your target audience, but it may be more vague or expansive than is practical for digital marketing. After all, you don’t want to close doors to potential consumer audiences, no matter how improbable! But trying to pursue all consumers’ audiences will leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, and overextended. The appeal of digital marketing is the unfettered access to nearly unlimited consumers—for you and every other business. To be competitive and efficient, you must be mindful of your target audience and how to focus your existing business objectives on that target. Additionally, your current audience may not match your target audience—you could be trying to expand to new target audiences, or your current marketing could be missing the mark. Before we can improve this, we have to identify it.

  1.      Specify unique demographic information about your target audience.

This means ages, locations, incomes, and preferences between mobile or desktop platforms—just the tip of the iceberg. This is how we begin using data analytics to our advantage. The more you understand the demographics of your target audience, the more you can start to comprehend their behavior and trends. And most importantly, the more you can cut to the front of the line in online visibility for your target audience (we’re looking at you, SEO!) without over-expending your energy trying to be the most visible for consumers unconnected to your service or product.

  1.      Help clarify and define business objectives significantly.

Even if you have business goals, they may need to be reconsidered through the lens of online marketing and your target audience. Additionally, if your existing business objectives aren’t very quantifiable, you will not be able to benefit from the data analytics prevalent in digital marketing strategies. Digital marketing organizations will use their knowledge of the online marketing industry to reframe your existing business objectives for digital use. Do you want to improve relationships with existing customers to build loyalty? Convert site interactions to actual business? Or increase the volume of site interactions? If you don’t have these clearly defined before designing your digital marketing strategy, all the bells and whistles in the world won’t help.

  1.      Analyze how well your existing market channels are working.

If it’s not broken, we won’t need to fix it!  There may be a lot of helpful marketing tactics you are already employing, and instead, the strategy can focus on how to add to those tactics, expand them, or make them faster and more efficient. However, you may be unable to tell which tactics are working and which are not depending on your existing data analytics capabilities. An excellent digital marketing strategist should take inventory of what you are currently doing, what content and media you now have and use, how much you spend to do this, and what the returns are before suggesting any big plans.   

  1.      Create a list of the most effective digital tools you’ll need

All the many moving parts of your online presence—website, social media channels, SEO efforts, PPC buys—can be augmented and improved with various tools.  This can include integrating multiple applications into your website, applying additional web services like SalesForce, determining data storage options like Cloud services, or utilizing database or data API management programs to your web presence.  Rather than purchasing unnecessary add-ons and applications, have an expert identify which tools will get you the most bang for your buck.

  1.      Develop more rigorous ways of measuring and analyzing the results of your efforts.

Let’s say it louder for those in the back—research is rigorous if it is comprehensive, exact, collected, and analyzed using objective techniques!  Digital marketing strategies aren’t helpful if you can’t measure results and evaluate success for yourself.  Excellent digital marketing strategies include reporting, reporting, and more reporting of your desired online marketing tactics and their effects on your target audience.  As you can see, we are synthesizing all the data we’ve collected in the previous steps and mining those data for patterns. This is how your business benefits from the digital world of endless data at your fingertips.

  1.      Build a specific plan of action using everything from steps 1-6!

At this point, this might feel like overkill, but we mean it.  We’re talking budgets outlining how much your new and improved digital toolkit and tactics will cost, actionable items to put a big-picture strategy into bite-size pieces, and expectations of each actionable item to compare to their performance analytics.  This is the “how” of how you achieve your digital business strategy.

If anyone tries to offer you superb, ambiguous goals as your “digital marketing strategy,” but they don’t follow it up with concrete action items and metrics, walk away.  If anyone tries to saddle you with a fancy online battle plan without taking the time to understand and delineate your business objectives clearly, walk away. An excellent digital marketing strategy should feel intuitive to most business owners, similar to what you’ve been doing in other facets of your business, just tailored to the new world of Big Data and your online presence.  There’s nothing wrong with hiring a translator to bridge the divide between what you want and the digital marketing world; make sure they speak your language as fluently as they speak digital marketing!