Today, there are almost 4.5 billion people online – around 58% of the global population – and a world without the internet is simply unimaginable. In North America and Northern Europe, internet penetration rates are at 95% (2019), so it’s only logical that digital marketing makes up huge part of the modern marketing landscape.
This means that companies who want to survive and ideally thrive need a solid digital marketing strategy. But what is digital marketing, and how do you go about creating a digital marketing strategy?
What are the biggest challenges for digital marketers? How do you know if your strategy is bringing bottom-line value, and if not, what can you do about it? And what about new technologies, will they necessarily impact your strategy?
Read on to find out more!
What is digital marketing and why is it so important?
Digital marketing is a broad term for all of your company’s online marketing efforts. But more than just adding digital channels to your marketing mix, successful digital marketing is all about truly integrating digital technologies, channels and media into all facets of your overall marketing strategy.
While digital marketing can encompass a huge range of activities that drive lead generation and conversion, some of the most common are:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA): SEO is about optimising your web content so that it appears at the top of search engine results pages for specific keywords, while SEA is paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising where your ad appears when specific search terms are used, and you only pay when your ad is clicked. Ofen the best results are achieve when you combine both SEO and SEA.
- Content marketing: creating quality content to bolster your SEO strategy and contribute to your website ranking, respond to your customers’ needs, help improve brand awareness and drive engagement through sharing on social media.
- Email marketing: still a tried and trusted way of delivering targeted content to customers who have signed up, or agreed in some other written way, to receive emails from you.
- Social media marketing: channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn offer huge possibilities for engagement and sharing, which can help you drive brand awareness.
The main advantage of digital marketing is that by weaving various tactics into your overall digital marketing strategy, you can reach a targeted audience in a way that is much more cost-effective and measurable than traditional marketing methods.
And with over half the global population online, digital is the place to be!
7 Steps You Should Follow For a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy
Crafting an effective and agile digital marketing strategy might sound like a challenging task, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Here’s an overview of the main steps you need to take.
- Define your digital marketing goals: The first step, which will be the compass to your whole strategy, is to define your goals. Once you have clear goals in mind, you will be able to identify the actions needed to achieve those goals, and decide on which metrics to track so you can measure your performance.
- Identify and understand your target group: Create personas to help you better identify the values, motivations, needs, wishes, frustrations, and dreams of the ideal customers you’re trying to attract, and help you understand how they make decisions.
- Choose your digital marketing channels: Use your web analytics to identify and analyse which channels your target group uses. You most likely have plenty of data to work with, and mapping it out will ensure that you can use it to your advantage.
- Use the right tone of voice per channel: While you want to keep a unified brand voice across your digital and non-digital marketing channels, it’s worth remembering that the tone of voice can change depending on the situation and channel.
- Create a content plan
Think about what your customer will want to read and what valuable content you can develop. Create a content calendar so that you have an overview of the what’s needed for the coming months.
- Measure the performance of your digital marketing strategy: Unless you measure and monitor all the steps in the process, you’ll never know whether your strategy was good or whether something was missing. So make sure to gather and analyse the data.
For a more in-depth look, discover 7 steps you should follow for a solid digital marketing strategy.
The Biggest Challenges for Digital Marketers
A decade ago, digital marketing was a relatively simple concept, focusing on online content and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). But times change, and with every shift in trend, legislation and technology, digital marketers are faced with new challenges.
Here are just two of the challenges that digital marketers need to address:
- Creating true and trustworthy content
“Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it”. Consumers have all the tools and information they need, at their fingertips, to do their own research in seconds, and make emotion-driven decisions.
This phenomenon highlights the increasing importance of high-quality, true and trustworthy content in creating long-lasting relationships with consumers and generating brand loyalty.
- Safeguarding privacy
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has and will continue to have an impact on digital marketing, notably in terms of data access, data permission and data focus.
While this means that marketers will need to rely less on behavioural data collection, it can also be an opportunity to offer different consent options to customers who are already engaged with their brand, and enhance their experience.
For more details on these challenges and on the challenges of personalising content, ensuring marketing and sales alignment, and embracing Industry 4.0, take a look at the 5 biggest challenges for digital marketers.
Why SEO and SEA Make A Winning Team
Whatever kind of company you run, whether B2B or B2C, potential customers are most likely using search engines like Google to find solutions to their needs, and hopefully find the product or service you provide. Therefore, making sure that your website ranks well on engine results pages should be a hugely important element of your lead generation strategy.
One way to drive as much organic traffic as possible to your site it through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). As well as the main goal of making your site more visible, a good SEO strategy will also result in a better user experience.
For example, as well as appropriate use of keyworks, your site needs to load quickly have a well-structured navigation in order to be ranked well – all important elements for user experience.
The other way to achieve high search engine visibility is through Search Engine Advertising (SEA), i.e. paid advertising. While SEO is a longer-term strategy that can take time to show results, SEA can help you reach more users faster.
It’s important to keep in mind that SEO and SEA marketing not mutually exclusive. SEO techniques can have a positive impact on your SEA actions and vice versa.
Read more on the strengths and synergies of the two strategies in our article why SEO and SEA make a winning team.
How Social Selling Can Maximise Your Success
Social selling is a process that focuses mainly on forming, and developing relationships with leads online so that when your customer reveals their problem to you, you are ready to offer your solution. As social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Jab, jab, jab, right hook”!
The approach works as following: based on what you know about your ideal customer, you identify potential leads, build a relationship with them by demonstrating your expertise, keeping the conversation alive, and by showing interest in the person (i.e. jab, jab, jab).
When that person finally vocalises the challenge they hope to solve, you are already close enough to them to serve your solution on a gold platter (i.e. your right hook).
Gaining trust, nurturing relationships and offering genuine help are they key elements of social selling, and you can do this through various online channels. For B2B in particular, LinkedIn is a great place to focus your social selling efforts as 80% of B2B leads come from this channel.
Learn how social selling can maximise your success in just 5 steps. This way, you could be closing deals by truly meeting the needs of B2B customers who don’t even feel like they’ve been ‘sold to’.
Ready to Supercharge Your Digital Marketing Strategy?
So you have a digital marketing strategy and digital marketing plan in place, but you know that there is still room for improvement. Here are some ways you can further improve your strategy to make sure that you are getting the most out of your budget and resources.
Set digital marketing goals that are SMART and audit them regularly
The goals of your digital marketing strategy should always be linked to the overall business goals of your company. To make sure you can assess them objectively, they should be expressed as SMART goals, i.e. specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound.
This way, there should be no debate about whether or not certain goals have been achieved.
Learn from your competitors
However mature your company is, keeping an eye on your competitors is essential to maintaining, and ideally growing your market share. Gaining an insight into your competitors’ strategies – even from observation – to help you appreciate where you’re doing well, and where you need to place your focus.
Ask yourself if you really understand your audience
Is it possible that you’ve made assumptions about your ideal customer, and that your strategy could be better adapted? Or that your strategy doesn’t take into account key differences in targeting a B2B audience?
And in-depth understanding of your customers needs and decision-making processes is key to any digital marketing strategy.
For more on optimising your digital marketing strategy, get to know more about digital marketing KPIs.
How New Technologies Are Disrupting Digital Marketing
Since the term was first coined in the 1990s, ‘digital marketing’ has always been a dynamic, fast-moving field, constantly reinventing itself to keep up with the latest in trends, technology and legislation.
What works well one year is outdated the next, making it key for marketers to keep on top of developments, understand their impact, and adapt, scrap or create new strategies and action plans.
With the pace of change faster than ever, here are two of the big game changers:
Big data and big data analytics
While collecting data is nothing new, the volume of data generated has dramatically increased, and companies can easily be overwhelmed. In itself, raw data may not have much value, but with the right analytics tools, valuable insights can be revealed, allowing you to make strategic decisions backed up by data.
As well as helping you get to know and understand your customers at a much more granular level, big data can also help you keep a much closer track of exactly how cost-effective and efficient your strategy is.
Speech technology has seen an exponential growth in recent years, and as consumers we are increasingly seduced by being able to simply say what we want, rather than have to type it. With huge increases in the number of voice searches, and projections that there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, this is a technology that cannot be ignored.
For a closer look at these and other trends to watch out for, including Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented Reality and chatbots, discover how new technologies are disrupting digital marketing.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit hugely from a well-thought-out and adapted digital marketing strategy. After all, both your customers and your competitors are online, so you need to be too! Digital marketing, when used skilfully, can help you reach a much wider audience in a way that is more cost-effective and measurable than other forms of marketing.