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Are you looking to understand how to create a digital marketing strategy for a client, or even for yourself? If you’re just starting out in the industry practicing on your own is a great way to get experience.
The way you approach a digital marketing plan will vary based on an individual business’ goals, but there are definitely a few things to bear in mind that will keep you on the path to success. If you’re involved in digital marketing and you’re looking to a strategy, follow this guide to keep you on track!
1. Create a Realistic Framework
Before you do anything, you’ll want to map out your plan. You can do this in a number of ways, including content mapping, timelines and editorial calendars. There are plenty of tools to help with this level of content management and planning.
The important thing is to establish several ideal (realistic) outcomes while leaving some room for uncertainty. And you want to do this based on a set of chosen key performance indicators (KPIs) that are related to your strategy and goals.
If you don’t choose a subset of metrics to base your strategy on, it’s likely that you’ll veer off track and not make it to your end goal. Keep the process as simplified as possible when communicating and delegating, and establish a clear timeframe so that everyone on the team stays focused.
2. Identify Appropriate KPIs at the Outset
How are you setting goals? You’ll have to find the right metrics to focus on in order to understand how you got your end results. Choosing the right KPIs – the ones that most closely represent your key target areas – will help you to stay on target and understand which of your marketing actions are actually working and which need improvement.
Here are some points to ponder as you figure out what KPIs are best to use:
- How is a given KPI related to your goal?
- What exactly are you measuring?
- Is what you are measuring related to actual user experience and if so, how?
- How much do you need to monitor/report on certain metrics and have you included this in your plan?
The trick with setting these up appropriately is to remember that it’s data, but it’s also human experience. This is the key to setting up a decent sales and marketing strategy on the whole – you are viewing your traffic as numbers, but also humans. You’re going to want to home in on numbers that truly tell a story about what your customers are doing, and using this data to shift things around in the future.
The bottom line is that human behaviour is really what’s affecting your ROI, so remember to approach it from a UX (User Experience) point of view, always.
3. Know How to Build an Effective Funnel
Those of you who have experience in the traditional marketing field (or any business background) should already be familiar with the concept of a sales funnel, which is a step-by-step outline of each phase of the buyers’ journey. It breaks down into something like this:
- Outreach: Facebook ads, landing page, explainer videos, infographics, content marketing
- Conversion: Social media, informational blog posts, case studies, quizzes
- Closing: Email series, reviews, questionnaires
- Retention: Exclusive offers, whitepapers, e-mails, contests, surveys
The widest part or top of the funnel is where outreach, engagement and brand awareness happen. This is key to capturing new traffic as well as re-engaging repeat traffic. The top of your funnel is where the marketing happens and you’ll want to ensure that this is highly engaging – it’s not so much about the sale as much as it is about relationship-building.
A great content strategist or digital marketing specialist will know what it takes to bring customers through every phase of the funnel and have a high percentage rate with conversions – but in most cases, this takes practice, so if it doesn’t happen right away, don’t panic!
4. Understand What Makes for Effective Content
Content is so much more than great blogs, Tweets and Facebook ads! There’s a lot you can do to get creative with it and to that end, you’re going to want to be up-to-date on technology and the latest methods of getting to your audience.
What makes for truly effective outreach and engagement is your ability to tell a story, and to that end, your strategy should centre around an effective advertising campaign that is high quality and of value.
What do we mean by this? Build your core ads and service offerings first, and then write content with CTAs that lead users towards a purchase. But make sure that it’s relatable, relevant and useful to your audience.
You’ll also want to have a clear understanding of how your content is working with regards to SEO and analytics patterns. Everything that you put out into the world ends up being “data,” so tracking it in the right way is crucial. This also means understanding the user experience.
5. Plan Strategically but Flexibly
Whatever your overall plan is, it should leave room for flexibility. Just like giving “fake” deadlines as you delegate tasks or direct clients, you should leave ample room not only for time fluctuations, but unexpected events that can affect your core workload, as well as the business as a whole.
This means leaving some “blank” spots on your timeline to fill in as you go. It also means leaving some room to incorporate things like relevant current events, viral articles from competitors, or unexpected investments in new technology that could sway your plan in a certain direction.
As you work through your plan, you should be continually monitoring and checking in, asking questions like:
- Where is there room for improvement?
- What KPIs are truly relevant at this phase?
- Where is the majority of traffic flowing?
- What tools are working better than others to keep everything organized?
6. Create a Library of Evergreen Content
Different types of content have different purposes and to that end you’ll need to incorporate various ideas as you work on your content marketing strategy. While this may sound complicated, it’s actually not if you can gather the bulk of your content together ahead of time and keep it organized according to keywords and tags.
Evergreen content is a term for content that you only have to create once and is valuable for multiple purposes and even across multiple channels. It is typically not time- or event-relevant but it is a key part of your brand storyline, core message and key offerings.
Here are some ways that content can be developed to last through different uses:
- A PDF e-book can be developed out of old blogs
- An in-depth article can be turned into a whitepaper
- Slideshows can be incorporated into simple explainer videos
The idea here is not to bore your audience with repeat content or plagiarize (even “plagiarizing” from your own content can cost you regarding SEO), but to build a library of core pieces that you can develop alongside your business message and goals.
7. Visualize a Clear Direction
Is your content is going in a specific direction in accordance with traffic and overall engagement? This is what you’ll have to put into place at the outset and as you progress through each phase of your strategy. You’ll have to keep an eye on how well each phase of your funnel is working, and look to re-engagement activities if your conversions are fluctuating.
The whole point is to make a flexible plan to have a clear understanding of how the process will follow through from the ground up, starting with SEO-friendly and highly shareable content. At the end, you’ll want to compare your expected results with the actual results, so that when you create a new strategy you’ll understand better, what works and what doesn’t.
In order to build an effective content marketing strategy, you need to have a solid understanding of project management, which includes a solid vision of the plan as well as each step, and the bits and pieces involved in having each step be successful. To this end, a content marketing strategy is a good representation of the art and science of what goes on behind the scenes.
Successful digital marketing strategies are never cut and dry, but with a little practice, you can make them work to your advantage. Just remember that the idea is to step away from profit and conversions and focus on the human element – the buyer’s journey, your brand story and engagement. When you can authentically engage a broad audience, you’ll no doubt impress your clients and colleagues.