Behold the vast wilderness that is the Internet. If you’ve spent some time in nature – say, scuba diving – you’d be familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed: one minute you’re zooming in on vibrant corals teeming with life, but make one quick turn and suddenly there’s nothing in front of you except for the boundless, dark expanse that is the deep ocean.
Working in the digital world is like that sometimes, but with fewer crustaceans.
For a brand to stand out online in a vast sea of other brands that are just as smart, innovative, engaging, etcetera etcetera etcetera, they need a strategy. A digital marketing strategy. Luckily, these days, you don’t need to enlist the help of a tentacled sea witch who’ll steal your voice in exchange for a few website clicks. This is the True-approved guide to setting up a successful digital marketing strategy.
First things first. Wikipedia gets real technical with the definition, but basically, it’s a strategy to market your brand through digital technology, a.k.a. an electronic device. Not just online, but also offline. When you mention digital marketing, most people will think of the Internet, and of course, online marketing will play a major role in your strategy, but don’t forget about the offline digital touch-points, like in-store digital activations and interactive displays.
When Simon Sinek’s TED talk went gangbusters, it became obvious that brand purpose is where it’s at these days. In his talk, Sinek invites businesses to ‘start with why’, to ask themselves why they do what they do, arguing that the only businesses to survive in this economy are ones with a clear purpose.
What does this have to do with digital marketing, you ask? Having a clear brand story and voice is essential to your brand’s communications, and ultimately, your content and strategy. It sheds a pragmatic light on your marketing strategy – would your brand “speak” to its followers via Snapchat or LinkedIn, or somehow both? What words would you use for your Google AdWords? What’s the length and frequency of your marketing communications?
For many, the brands they associate or advocate are what they perceive to be extensions of their own personality, uniqueness and style. What is your brand saying and
This is essential Marketing 101: you need to understand who your customer is, and not just through your own assumptions. Create three or four user personas, be as detailed as humanly possible with their stories, and if possible, get real data through interviews or surveys.
Go outside of your social circle and contacts database – get on reddit, ask on Facebook, send a HARO call-out; get creative with your researching skills.
Start with compiling the following types of data:
Even though your personas are fictional characters, infuse as much reality as you can into their story. Give them names (for example, Cassie), pick out their wardrobe (Cassie is in active wear most days, and if not, she’s wearing comfortable staples made by local designers), map out their day (Cassie’s daily schedule revolves around yoga and running) and their online habits (Cassie is on Instagram, but nothing else), and – well, you get the idea. Have fun.
Now that you know who you’re talking to, you need to identify two important things in your persona’s journey: touch-points and pain points. Create a map to track their interaction with your brand:
Hopefully, at the end of this very short Q&A session, you’ll be able to understand your audience’s habits and behaviours. The more detailed the journey map, the more actionable insights you can use for your marketing strategy. If you can collect this data from real sources through interviews, surveys or even through a user experience consultancy, do so.
If you’ve figured out your brand purpose through some blue sky thinking, good for you. Now it’s time to get back down to earth – a purpose and a goal are different. While a brand purpose might be something like: “To end deforestation in Borneo”, a goal needs to be measurable; something like: “To plant a tree in the Borneon rainforest for each item sold, and reaching at least 250 trees each month”. See the difference?
Set yourself three alternative goals and don’t be afraid to use numbers. A handy guide is for your goals to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Your digital marketing channels and tools go hand-in-hand. First, select the channels you’ll be using based on your target audience and goals. This will inform what tools you’ll need. For example, if your brand is primarily on Twitter, you’ll want to invest in tools that will optimise that channel – from planning, to delivery, to analytics, and everything in between.
Having clear-set goals means you’ll need to be able to actually measure the results, and a digital tool can come in handy for that.
In digital, there exist three types of media: owned, earned and paid.
Go through all your media and place each asset within a category. This will give you a great overview of what you have, and what you need to achieve your goals. Sometimes, all you need are owned and earned media, without having to pay.
For example, you might create a blog post intended for lead generation (that blog post is owned media). You might also put in extra effort to make it shareable, in the hopes that people in your network will share it on their own social media profiles (earned media). This increases traffic to your site, but you want to narrow the targeting, so you then pay Facebook to amp up visibility of this blog post among your chosen target audiences (paid media).
Understanding this framework can help you map out your content strategy, which brings us to the next point…
A content strategy outlines all your content channels, your target audiences, content types, content calendar, and your resources. To make sure the content itself is up to par, check that it’s:
And rinse and repeat. It’s an on-going process. Map out your strategy for the next 12 months or more (depending on your business), and have regular check-ins to ensure the health of your strategy. Track and measure everything, make improvements as you see fit, prepare content at least a month in advance, stick to your content calendar, and don’t be afraid to change your approach throughout the journey.
Ultimately, your strategy is a list of actions that is meant to get you closer to your goal, so as long as you keep your eye on the prize, you’ll do great.