4 Steps to Building a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

Katie Cartwright, Inbound Marketing Manager

Katie Cartwright, Inbound Marketing Manager

Katie Cartwright has worked in the digital marketing industry for 8 years, developing expertise in inbound strategies, automation, and local business marketing. Outside of the office, she enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors (except in winter), and quilting.

There’s no denying that the marketing world is undergoing rapid changes, especially when it comes to digital marketing. It’s no wonder that many companies struggle to keep up. Other companies have trouble finding time to create and manage successful digital marketing strategies because they’re stretched too thin, thinking that having a digital presence everywhere they can is a top priority.

With so many ways to get your company’s message out into the world, and so many people to reach, figuring out a marketing strategy that delivers results for your brand is a challenge, but also essential to the success of your business.

One of the keys to a successful digital marketing strategy is figuring out what works and capitalizing on it. Wasting time with marketing tactics that don’t yield results is just that, a waste of time, and often money.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for digital marketing success because every business and every buyer is different. So how do you figure out a successful digital strategy for your brand and stop wasting time with what doesn’t work?

Read our step-by-step guide and follow the path to finding what success looks like for your business. While there are no quick fixes, knowing how to determine a winning strategy will put you ahead of the game as the digital marketing industry continues to evolve.

Step 1: Who do you want to reach?

To start, you might have to back up and look at the big picture of your business. What are you offering and who are you offering it to? Different products or services appeal to different groups of people. And those different groups of people digest the world around them in different ways.

Successfully reaching the group of people who could benefit from doing business with you involves first identifying who they are and what motivates them. This means doing a little research into your target audience, or buyer persona.

Knowing your buyer persona enables you to provide them with the right message at the right time to convert them into leads or customers. Your research should uncover key information that will help you understand who they are, and how to speak their language.

You will want to determine your own questions that you need answered to better know your personas, but here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What's their profession and industry?
  • What problem do they have that your product or service is able to address?
  • How do they get their information?

The idea behind this research is to find out as much as possible about your persona. You don’t have to nail down each individual, but you do want to have a good idea of your target audience and what makes them tick.

Example of persona-based marketing:

Wrong Way: If your company’s main target demographic is teenagers and you want to gain more awareness of your brand, would you want to focus your promotion on LinkedIn?

Right Way: If you discover that your persona values fast customer service and wants to be able to talk to a real human, would you want to consider using a pop-up chat window on your website?

Step 2: What’s your goal?

You’ve done your research into your personas. The next step in getting the right marketing message in front of the right people is to determine what your goals are. This can work best if you break up your marketing efforts into individual campaigns. Whether you have vastly different persona groups or want to market to your leads based on where they are in the sales cycle, separate campaigns is a way to segment your efforts.

Here are a few questions to consider when thinking about goals for a campaign. Are you looking to gain brand awareness? Are you looking for new leads? Do you want to focus on converting existing leads into new customers? Or are you looking to keep current customers engaged?

Depending on what you want to achieve, your goal will influence everything from content and design of your marketing campaign to how you ultimately distribute the message.

Example of aligning goals with strategy:

Wrong Way: If you run an ecommerce site and are looking to convert more existing leads to customers, would you want to start a new pay-per-click campaign to reach them with a special offer?

Right Way: If your company sells a product that has a steep learning curve and your goal is to delight your current customers, would part of your marketing strategy involve sending an e-newsletter with tips in how to best use your product?

Step 3: What can you learn from your past?

You know who you want to reach and what you want to accomplish. The only step left is setting the specifics that get it done. Here’s where you will want to take a look back at other marketing campaigns you have done in the past. Keep an eye out for any particular successes as well as any failures.

As you’re looking into the past, try to pinpoint why a certain campaign worked (or didn’t) while keeping your personas and goals in mind. If successful past campaigns line up with what you discovered about your personas as well as with your goals, try to repeat your success in a new campaign!

Taking a second look at marketing campaigns that you’ve marked as failures is not a waste of time - it can be a learning experience. Now that you know a little bit more about the process of creating successful marketing campaigns using personas and goals, can you figure out why something you tried in the past didn’t work? Is there a way to apply what you’ve learned to create a winning campaign from the failed one?

With a general idea of what works and what doesn’t work, you can begin to fine tune and test. When you combine your past marketing efforts with the information you know about your personas, you’ll be able to make an educated guess at what will show positive results. But you won’t know until you try it out!

Example of learning from the past:

Wrong Way: If you saw success with a persona-targeted email the first time you sent it, but declining performance the second and third time you sent the same email to the same list, should you send the same email again?

Right Way: If you hosted, but didn’t promote, a webinar with valuable information in the past that didn’t get a lot of attendees, would you want to consider re-doing the same webinar but put more emphasis on advertising it?

Step 4: How can you scale your success?

Just because you’ve found a few digital marketing strategies that work for your business doesn’t mean that you’re done. The digital marketing world is changing all the time, and you need to be ready to adapt or face a potential stall out of your growth. Make it a priority to keep up with not only trends in your industry, but with digital marketing trends as well.

Grow your reach. After you’ve narrowed in on a few successful marketing paths, try something new. Always think through the reasoning for new strategies you want to try - just doing something because you can is not usually reason enough to put in the time and effort.

Don’t be afraid to abandon something that has run its course. What works one day may not work the next. If you’ve had a surge of success with one strategy, but over time you see results decline - change your approach! Revisit your personas, goals, and past efforts to come up with something new.

Example of growing your digital reach:

Wrong Way: If you have a solid facebook following, but know many of your fans don’t use other social platforms, would you want to spend time developing a presence on all available platforms at once?

Right Way: If you write a blog that has dedicated followers, would you want to promote social sharing of your articles to reach new people?

Don’t waste anymore time sending the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time. When you put in some time up-front to learn about your target audience, set your goals for a particular marketing campaign, and base that campaign on what you have learned from your research and past campaign performance, you’re sure to see the results you’re looking for.

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Topics: Sales & Marketing Strategies