3 steps to building your business’ digital marketing strategy
Whether you’re starting a digital marketing strategy from scratch for your business, or you need to overhaul it to drive better performance; we’ve put together three core exercises to complete to ensure you’re utilising the right channels and generating long term results.
There are so many channels to consider when it comes to a digital marketing strategy that it can be quite overwhelming to know where to begin. Throw into the mix that this is a fast-paced industry where quick-win tactics that may once have worked are now worthless; and it’s even trickier…
The best place to begin is always with your goals and objectives. Marketing goals should be completely aligned with business goals, so for example, if your business goal is to increase year-on-year revenue by 10%, your marketing goal might be to increase the average order value (AOV) on your website.
What we’ve often found with some of our clients however, is that working backwards from a business goal to create your marketing objectives can be difficult, especially if you’re a business owner and not a marketer. How do you know what marketing goals to set when you’re unsure of where the opportunity lies?
Working in-house in any business can make it difficult to get your head out of the task at hand and take a step back, but it’s so important for giving you focus and redefining what you’re working towards. We recommend putting aside half a day, grabbing a chunk of post-it notes and following this exercise…
1. “I Keep Six Honest Serving Men” post-it exercise
We know that using Rudyard Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men verse as a method for problem analysis is nothing new, but it really does work, especially when applied to marketing.
Go through the following six parts – either on your own or as a team – and spend some time jotting down whatever comes into your head.
Why are you using digital marketing for your business? Is it to drive more leads and sales? Is it to reach a new audience? Is it to grow your staff? Is it to strengthen your reputation? It might just be as simple as “to grow our business”; or you might find yourself with 10 different goals, but just write down whatever comes to mind.
Who needs to be involved to achieve the above? Just you, a team, an agency? And importantly – who is your audience, who do you need to reach to achieve your goals? Who is your ideal audience? Write down as many demographics as you can whittle this down to.
What products or services do you want to get in front of your audience? And what features or unique selling points (USPs) do these have that would make them choose yours over the competition? What budget do you have for achieving the above?
When do you need or want to have achieved your goals by? There might be a deadline for a business reason, perhaps an event or lining up with your financial calendar. This will give you a timeline to work your activity plan back from.
Having a good idea of your desired audience will make this one easier – where do you need to have a presence to target them? This could be geographical locations, it could also be specific online publications that you know they will read, it could be social media platforms you know they use. Jot down as much detail as you can here, but you might need to do some further audience analysis to really understand where and when (day of the week, times) is best to target them.
And finally, how – how do you think it would be best to communicate your above product or service features and USPs to your desired audience? You might think a video would work well if your audience is short on time and likely to be on a social media channel at key times, you might think a detailed piece of content on a specific trade publication would work best – or you might think of a long list of things that could work! Get it all down on paper.
Once you’ve done the above, you’ll probably have a desk or room covered in post its! But hopefully you’ll find it quite a cathartic exercise – some of these things you never write down because they’re just assumed but seeing them on paper can spark new enthusiasm and proactivity.
The next stage is to group the post its into common themes; for example, there might be some objectives which group together into an overarching objective. Or some features and USPs that overlap into one message. Importantly, you’ll now have a good idea of what you want to achieve, the next part is padding out that plan with activity to help you get there.
2. Audit your current activity to identify the right opportunities
To work out where the opportunities for you might lie, it’s a good idea at the start of any strategy to do a full audit and review of how you’re performing currently. As well as throwing up some good ideas, it also gives you a benchmark for your current position in the market and helps you set more granular goals for activity moving forwards.
PPC and paid social
Now that you know your goals and desired audience, delve into your PPC and paid social analytics to analyse what’s working towards these and what isn’t.
It’s useful to look at performance over at least 3 months (a year is best), so you’ve got enough data and statistical relevance to audit. With the objectives that you’ve brainstormed above in mind, use these as a checklist to assess how your PPC and paid social campaigns are performing – this is important to make sure you’re focusing on the metrics which really matter.
Focusing on your USPs and key features as well, are these well communicated in your ad copy? Consider if ad extensions would help your desired audience get what they need from you more conveniently.
There could be a number of reasons why an ad isn’t performing – so whilst it’s useful to try and replicate the ones which are performing well, don’t totally discard the ones which aren’t – it could be too far-reaching or the bid could be set too high or low.
With paid social, you can do the same as above and also check to see if your ads are reaching the right audience – does that match with the target audience you identified in the above exercise? And does the ad creative effectively communicate your brand and USPs?
Remember that testing is key when it comes to paid advertising so don’t turn anything off in haste, prioritise a list of actions to take and if you’re unsure why something isn’t working – get in touch with a PPC expert to delve deeper into the account structure.
Your existing owned and earned content
With any blog content, landing page content, externally published content etc. – export it all out into a spreadsheet and use Google Analytics to delve into which pieces have performed against your goals. For example, which ones have generated traffic to your site? Which ones have been engaged with most? Which ones have led to a sale or lead?
It’s important to note that not all content has such easily attributable metrics however, PR coverage for example may not have directly led traffic to your site, but consistent relevant coverage should make an indirect impact on brand awareness metrics, such as increased brand search volume, brand searches or direct traffic.
Categorise the content pieces in the spreadsheet by which ones have worked best and then look at these in more detail, do they share common themes? For example, are they all a certain length, or on a certain topic, or a specific publication? Make a list of these attributes and use it as a basis for your content moving forwards.
Your website performance
Whilst you’ll have done the content audit, it’s also really important to take a look at your technical performance as well as SEO visibility. Your website’s success will determine on the amount of relevant traffic you can drive to it, and then how your website performs once they get there.
Starting with SEO visibility, take a look in your Google Analytics account to check your keyword performance, which keywords are giving you the most traffic and best performance in terms of conversions? Are there relevant keywords and search terms that don’t drive traffic to your site? This could be an opportunity to feed these into your content plan.
Next, use a tool like Moz or SEMrush to check how your website ranks for key terms – you can take a look at how you compare against your main competitors, which will give you an idea of where the opportunity is.
The technical performance of your site can often be overlooked as it’s difficult to know where the issues are, but it is so important that your site is well optimised. You can take a look at some top-line performance issues to at least understand where you might need some more help.
A big factor in people leaving websites is site speed, use Google’s tool here to check how fast your site is and for some instant recommendations for how to improve it. People entering your site through Google and then leaving quickly when they can’t find what they want makes Google think your site isn’t the best answer for that search term, and so impacts your visibility for that term.
Also check in Analytics how much of your site traffic is from a mobile device – you might find it’s the majority, in which case, your site needs to be completely mobile friendly. Test it yourself on your phone and see if any text cuts off, if you can add items to your basket easily, if you can pay easily etc.
Whilst a full SEO audit should be carried out by a specialist to identify the full opportunity for your site, a few of these tests yourself could uncover some really quick wins.
3. A strong brand foundation should form the basis of your strategy
If you are starting a digital strategy from scratch or refreshing your current one, it’s essential to make sure you have a strong brand foundation and identity before you start any activity. Planning campaigns throughout the year that aren’t tied together with one identity will only drive short term performance.
The strength of your brand is growing in importance, especially when it comes to being visible online, so even when planning a short-term performance campaign, you should be considering how this links to your brand strategy.
Having a strong brand foundation also makes the rest of your activity so much easier; you have a defined tone of voice and look and feel, so you don’t have to start every piece of messaging or creative from scratch, because it should all be consistent with your brand identity.
The most important elements to define here, are:
- Your vision: This should be inspiring, something you might not even be able to necessarily measure or track, and something which has no set deadline or timeframe, but it should encompass what your business is ultimately trying to achieve.
- Your mission: This should articulate why your business exists and the purpose behind why you do what you do, it can be measurable, and it can have a timeframe and change in time – as long as it’s tied to your vision.
- Your audience: Define your audience in detail, potentially even create user personas if this helps you visualise who you’re trying to reach. Whilst before we were discussing how to reach them, this should focus on their wants and needs – try and think more emotional based than transactional.
- Your USPs: You’ll have made a start on this in the exercise above, but define what your USPs are – why would your audience choose you over their competition? And do these tie up with their wants and needs?
- Your brand story: The story of who you are, how you came about and why you exist helps your customers to authentically connect with you. Once you’ve created it, you can use this to create messaging and campaigns, all underpinned by this story. This is what will help you differentiate your company from your competition.
- Your values: The core of who your business is and what you believe in – your values are so much more than a list of words painted on your office wall. These values should shape your whole brand experience – from how your customer service staff speak, to the tone of voice on your website. Try and involve as many people across the company as possible in creating these, and make sure they feed into as many internal and external processes as possible. Your business should live and breathe these values.
From this, you’ve now got the makings of a brief for your creative team / designer to build a brand identity that reflects who you are, what you stand for and what your message is.
The importance of creating the above as well is that is helps you focus on what matters; it’s easy to have an idea for a campaign and run with it, but does it really reflect who you are and what you stand for? Does it really target the audience you need to connect with? Bring everything back to your core brand identity and it’ll help your individual campaigns work towards a bigger goal.
What to action now
- If you don’t already have a strong brand foundation, put aside a few days either on your own or with your team to have a brand workshop and define the most important elements outlined above.
- Define your marketing objectives – work back from your business objectives (or mission) and work out the smaller goals you would need to hit within a defined time frame to work towards it.
- For each smaller objective – carry out the “Six Honest Serving Men” exercise above, so you have the framework of a strategy for each one.
- Audit all of your marketing activity to conclude what’s working for your newly defined goals and what isn’t – decide what to stop, what to continue with, and what to do more of.
- Create a list of quick wins identified in the audits – and a list of bigger fixes you need to work on and prioritise by which would have the biggest impact.
If you’d like help with any of the above actions – whether it’s facilitating a workshop for the above exercises, or performing an initial (free) audit of your current marketing activity to uncover missed opportunities, please get in touch with us.
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