7 Step Guide For Creating Your Digital Marketing Strategy
It doesn’t matter if you are new to digital marketing or if you’ve been doing this since somebody first said ‘content is king’. It is simply good business to create, review, or improve your digital marketing strategy for each new year. The following is a step by step guide that you can follow to create a powerful, digital marketing strategy for 2017.
- Know Your Core Values And Passions as an Organization
Ultimately, digital marketing should focus on storytelling. Your stories communicate your values, your history, and your goals to the rest of the world. However, before you can effectively tell stories, you have to have a strong sense of brand identity. This begins with making a simple determination.
Define why you exist. Why did you launch your company? Surely there’s more to it than profitability. After all, there are much easier ways to make money than starting a business. Also, don’t confuse what you do with why you exist.
For example, the following answers what you do:
We create motorized bicycles so that people of all fitness levels can enjoy cycling.
This answers why:
We are passionate about fitness, the environment, and the great outdoors. We understand that lack of skill and fitness level can be real roadblocks for some people when it comes to getting outdoors and getting into shape. We want to knock these roadblocks out by making cycling an activity that anybody can enjoy.
What if you’ve already done this? That’s okay. It’s still a good idea to revisit this. Time, changes in organizational structure, and shifting focus can create changes in your overall mission statement.
Now that you have created your core story, this should become your gold standard. Whether it’s an ad, landing page, social media update, or blog post, everything that you post for public consumption should in some way speak to your mission and your passion.
- Create And Modify Your Customer Personas
The importance of creating well-defined customer personas cannot be overstated. If you don’t know who you are marketing to, how do you know what to say to them? Where can you find them?
Customer profiles contain a variety of information that describes the people who are most likely to connect with your brand and to have an interest in your products or services. Well defined profiles contain basic demographic information such as gender, education, age, and location. However, that is just the beginning. You will also want to answer questions about their values, concerns, and interests.
The best way to gather this information is through market research. Paid research is great if you can afford it, but it is certainly possible to do this on your own. It begins with researching brands who sell the same products and services that you do. Ask the following questions:
- Who is engaging with this brand online?
- What are they responding to?
- What do they talk about?
- Where are they spending time online?
- What common interests and hobbies are emerging?
You can repeat this process with companies that sell products and services that you think to compliment your offerings.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have come up with one or several persons. Write a profile for each one. Give them a name, define their characteristics, and why they would be interested in doing business with you. Be specific and personal.
If you’ve already developed buyer personas, now is the time to give them a second look. Are there some you need to eliminate, change, or add?
Just like your digital content should be consisted of your mission statement, it should also target the personas you have developed.
- Take a Close Look at The Social Media Platforms Available to You
One of the things that you did while creating and revising your buyer personas is to figure out where potential customers spend time online, and where they get their information. Now, it’s time to consider which platforms are worth your time, which you should drop or avoid as they are not places where you will be able to create engagement, and which platforms stand out as being particularly valuable for you.
Of course, choosing the platforms you are going to target is just the beginning. You’ll also need to decide the amount of focus each platform will receive in your digital marketing efforts, and which features you will use most. Remember that where and how you participate on any platform should tie back to your mission statement and customer personas.
- Set Goals And Then Break Them Down
Now you will want to set your goals for the year. The best way to do this is to establish larger goals that you hope to accomplish by year end. Then, break these down into quarterly and monthly deliverables you can use to ensure that you are on track.
Let’s say that your overall goal is to increase social media engagement by ⅓. The first thing you will want to do is define what exactly you mean by social media engagement. If you don’t do this, you cannot measure your progress.
Let’s say that you define the following as acts of engagement:
- Subscribing to a blog or email list
- Commenting on content
- Sharing content
- Tagging others
You’ve decided to leave liking content off of your list because it’s too easy and doesn’t require much from the user to indicate they are interested in further engagement.
Assuming that each action carries equal weight, ie commenting on content is as valuable as sharing content, your next step is to establish a baseline. Basically, you will define where you are right now. The best way to do this is by looking at existing data.
Let’s say your analytics show that you receive on average 100 new social media followers each month. To increase that by a third, you’ll want to earn 33 more new followers each month. Of course, as you look at your analytics, you’ll want to examine possible trends. For example, did you truly receive 100 new followers each month? Or, did you receive several hundred new followers during special events or high demand seasons, and sparser numbers throughout the rest of the year?
What if data isn’t available for you? If you are too new to have enough useful data, or simply have not been collecting it, you’ll need to start in order to create your baselines. This means finding a tool to collect, store, and analyze data.
- Decide Which Tools And Technologies You Will Use in The New Year
You have defined your customer personas, established your goals and broken them down, and you know the values and branding that your digital marketing content reflects. Now, it’s time to pick out the apps, tools, and other technologies that you will use in your online marketing efforts in 2017.
Depending on your specific situation, this may mean selecting an entire arsenal of tools to meet your needs. It may mean simply adding a few new utilities or getting rid of some that are no longer useful to you.
As mentioned above, your first priority should be to find a great analytics tool that you can use to ensure you are making progress towards your goals. Of course, Google analytics stands out as one of the best and most well known. However, you might also consider using Facebook insights or another platform specific analytics. The following is a list of content marketing related jobs that can be made easier through the use of technical tools:
- Conducting A/B Testing
- Creating Interactive Content
- Getting Feedback From Customers
- Improving SEO
- Researching Topics For Blog Posts
- Tracking And Moderating Comments
- Creating Visual Content
- Publishing And Promoting Content
- Keyword Research
- Managing Communications
- Pitching to The Media
If you are willing to spend time exploring your options, you can even find online tools that are very niche specific. For example, eLearning company tools and advice on creating great educational content on topics such as augmented reality in the classroom, pass SAT test or creating device specific training software.
- Start The Year Grounded in Reality
Every few weeks, it seems as if a new story begins making the rounds about a brand making a big social media blunder. The common thread in many of these stories is an utter lack of self-awareness. One recent example of this is Cinnabon’s Tweets relating to the tragic death of actress Carrie Fisher.
When companies are unaware of how they are perceived by their audience, they can make some big mistakes when it comes to predicting the type of content they can produce. They also miss opportunities to repair any misconceptions that could be damaging their ability to reach their audiences.
The best way to ensure that you are always aware of your standing and reputation is to listen to what others have to say. Create Google Alerts using your business name, URL, your products and services, and the people in your company who are known to the public. Then, read product reviews on Yelp, Amazon, and other similar sites. Even if the news is bad, you will at least have an accurate picture of where you stand.
- Content is Still King in 2017
Everything you have done so far leads to this point. You know who you are. You know who your target audience is. You have established goals and have found the tools you can use to reach those goals. You’ve even developed insights into the perception of your brand. Now, you can use all of this information to create a working content strategy for the next 12 months.
No matter what you create or curate, or where you choose to share your content, you are lost if the quality is not a priority. Quality, of course, means ensuring that your content is thoughtful, free from error, and relevant to your audience.
In addition to this, it is key that the content you curate and create helps you to meet your digital marketing goals. For most brands, this means raising the bar and creating content that is more engaging from year to year. This might mean creating more visual content for some brands. Other brands may need to focus on creating more in-depth content such as whitepapers or ebooks.
By following the seven steps in this guide, you will be able to develop a winning content marketing strategy for the new year. You will be able to create content that is driven by data-based research, audience insights, and a commitment to quality. This will increase the likelihood that the audits you conduct in 2018 will show that you easily met the goals you established.
Eliza Medley is a marketing specialist, guest contributor, and blogger from Orlando. She writes about social media, internet marketing, and web design. You can contact Eliza via Twitter.