Foundations of a Digital Marketing Strategy

It‘s 2015. If a digital marketing strategy isn‘t a key component of your overall marketing plan, it should be. There have never been more ways for your brand to reach out to customers, and with the social web, there are just as many ways customers can reach out to your brand.

Getting started can be daunting. You need to build the right foundation, be aware of the expectations of the audience and know where your best opportunities exist. Here are our five tips for building a strong digital marketing strategy.

1. Define your goals

It may seem like common sense, but some marketers tend to forget what their overall business goals are before developing a digital marketing strategy. Without a clearly defined “big picture” to drive your team towards, time and money end up being wasted on minor details. The end result of any ill-defined campaign may be measurable, but it will be a quantifiable failure.

Instead, take the time necessary to develop an integrated campaign that aligns clearly to your business strategy, then identify and prioritize tangible objectives. If you‘re convincing people to fill out a lead generation form, are you complementing it with an email campaign to drive sales? If you‘re attracting more followers on social media, how will you use that new reach to drive brand awareness? Think past the details of how to execute your campaign, and always remember the “why”.

2. Be responsive to mobile

It‘s no secret that consumers are moving away from desktops and towards their phones and tablet devices – but are you aware of how fast it‘s happening, and is your brand adapting to this shift?

According to Litmus, an email analytics company, 51 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device at the end of 2013. That‘s already up from an astounding 42 percent in the beginning of that year. With this compelling data in hand, make sure your design and development teams are working together to create fluid layouts that adjust to a variety of screen sizes. Don‘t force users into viewing a desktop version of a website or email if they‘re using a mobile device. Instead, craft your message to fit the medium. You‘re more likely to get conversions from a campaign that adjusts for the environment it‘s being viewed in.

3. Optimize your content

How are you driving traffic to your websites? Can search engines easily index them? What do you want visitors to do once they arrive? Are your web pages designed so that a call-to-action is readily apparent? If you find yourself getting nervous thinking of the answers to those questions, it‘s time to take a look at optimizing your content.

Content optimization means crafting a digital campaign that‘s easily discovered, eagerly consumed, and readily actionable. Make sure your content — old and new — is aligned with the search criteria your target audience is using. Adopt a multi-channel strategy: downloadable PDF reports, shared presentations decks and video webinars. Empower people to share your content in order to extend its reach beyond your website. And last, but certainly not least, take the guesswork out of the conversation and always guide your reader/user towards a clearly defined call-to-action.

4. Build engagement

Traditional marketing tends to focus on talking to the customer, but in the age of social media and instant communication, people expect a conversation, not a presentation. It‘s time to approach your digital marketing efforts as the enabler for real dialogue and connection with other members of the online community, especially if they take the time to reach out to you. A great example can be found in Dutch airline KLM. According to travel intelligence company Skift, 93.2 percent of the tweets from KLM are replies to other Twitter users. KLM also updates the header image for their Twitter account every five minutes to inform customers of the expected time they can receive a response.

You now have an unprecedented ability to gather data about your customer. Take the time to leverage it by customizing your campaigns based on specific demographic information. Start small by personalizing the greetings in your email campaigns with a recipient‘s first name. From there, build towards a triggered campaign that deploys emails based on important milestones, such as birthdays or anniversaries, or when a certain item a customer routinely purchases goes on sale.

5. Measure and adjust

With a host of analytics tools at your fingertips, there are more ways than ever to quantify the successes and shortcomings of a campaign. Seize on this unique opportunity to measure advertising efforts, and immediately adjust campaigns based on what‘s working and what‘s not.

Take an active approach with these tools by reviewing the data on your digital marketing efforts at regular intervals, especially shortly after the campaign has been launched. Loop back to the goals you defined earlier in your campaign, and compare them to the metrics you‘re collecting. Are your clients receiving the results that they‘ve expected on their investment? You may end up finding opportunities to cut ad spend on a part of the campaign that doesn‘t work, and shift those resources towards doubling down on what does.

There‘s no doubt that technology continues to change the way in which brands relate with their customers, and vice versa. These changes present new challenges and opportunities that shouldn‘t be left to various team members to handle in their spare time. Instead, recognize the importance of digital marketing, and capitalize on the opportunities it presents by assembling the right group of internal and external partners to execute your strategy.

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