The idea of implementing a digital marketing strategy from scratch is daunting for most businesses, but it is particularly overwhelming for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Marketing techniques that worked in years past are no longer as effective as they once were, and smaller companies often feel out of their depth when they sit down to craft a digital marketing strategy.
But don't panic, you can do it.
Let’s start with the basics. Digital marketing refers to all the activities you engage in online to attract prospects and customers to your brand. From search engine optimization (SEO) to content marketing to analytics, it covers a broad range of activities you can engage in to maximize your digital footprint and your reputation in your industry.
To avoid a beginner’s headache, plot a digital strategy for your brand in advance so you’re starting from a place of knowledge and not getting lost in the weeds. Getting overwhelmed is the biggest obstacle you’ll likely face.
Follow the guidelines below and you’ll be on your way to developing a successful digital marketing strategy in no time.
While “excel in a digital campaign” is a positive goal to set, what does that actually mean to your business? Are you hoping to get more leads, or attract more
visitors to your website? Do you want to improve customer engagement, or are you building the reputation of your brand? Are you trying to wrestle market
share from a competitor, or increase the average value of each purchase?
Get specific not only about your goals but also the metrics you will use to measure progress against these goals. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are
available for nearly all digital activities, but they’re likely to look different than what you’re used to. Figure out the important KPIs for your needs, and look at
some of the marketing analytics services you might use to see what’s commonly used. A Google Analytics account will allow you to measure your
conversions and traffic, rank your content’s effectiveness and analyze your social media engagement, for instance, and it provides several metrics you could
incorporate into your strategy.
While it’s nice to think that a digital marketing strategy can be low-cost and viral, the most effective marketers still spend money. Paid search is the single
biggest advertising market online, and it has a proven track record for delivering results.
To begin, first determine what percentage of your total marketing budget you plan to spend on digital endeavors (the average today is about 35 percent and
rising, according to Forrester Research. Then, you need to determine how you will allocate your digital budget across different media, such as paid search,
content creation, display advertising or sponsored social media content. Find someone who really understands Google AdWords so you can get the biggest
bang for your buck with keywords and avoid rookie mistakes.
Before you begin crunching numbers, evaluate your human resources, too. Do your current employees have the bandwidth and ability to reach your goals?
You may want to think about a new hire--if you can afford it--or outsourcing some of your efforts to an agency or freelancer. Also remember that it’s better to
focus your budget on areas you’re committed to improving (according your goal list) than to spread your budget too thin on channels you can’t support.
Rather than firing the gun and having everyone involved run at the same time, you’ll get more done and spend less effort if you have a realistic timeline for
everything you want to accomplish. Some actions may build on others, too. Most companies will need to optimize their website, consolidate their contact
lists and develop some content before they begin ambitious social media campaigns, for example.
Set your goals for both one- and three-month internals, allocate a budget for those activities and plotting individual tasks on your timeline. This way, it
becomes easy to do a health-check on the campaign and show the powers that be (who may still be thinking free viral marketing is the way) that you know
what you’re doing.
It is important to know who you’re addressing before you craft your messages. A buyer persona is a picture of your ideal customer (i.e., your most profitable
customer). If you don’t already know this information, use the audience reports tool in Google Analytics to identify the key characteristics of your target
persona such as age, sex, profession, etc. Build a profile of the person you want to attract to your brand.
To be truly effective, go beyond buyer personas and identify the people who would influence them.
Those people—influence marketers who will pick up your brand and run with it to their own audience—are the Holy Grail of digital marketing. If you can
impress a few of them, they can impress thousands of their followers on your behalf. So go beyond buyer personas and also map out the influencer
Next, get your core technology in place. Central to this should be marketing automation that ties to your CRM. You definitely don’t want your digital
marketing to be a largely manual process, and that’s where automation comes in.
While there are many marketing automation platforms on the market, we naturally recommend you give us at Agile CRM a look. Not only does Agile CRM
come with an all-in-one CRM for marketing, sales and support automation, it also is priced much more affordably for SMBs. If you’re not a Fortune 500
company (and even if you are), you should give Agile CRM a look when selecting your technology foundation.
Agile CRM helps automate email and SMS marketing campaigns, has form and landing page builders, and a social suite that helps you keep track of your
prospects on social media. It also tracks web page visits and ties them to contact records, among other marketing features.
Email is still one of the most effective and affordable marketing channels, and much of it can be automated. You can design individual emails and email
newsletters, and set them to go automatically based on trigger actions (a new visitor to your website, for instance, or an abandoned shopping cart or a
content download). You can also track email campaigns and measure their effectiveness down to nitty-gritty details.
By choosing a solution such as Agile CRM, you can customize your emails in a variety of ways based on data from your CRM. You also can better enable your
sales team to take advantage of the leads produced by your digital campaigns.
Be sure not to go overboard on your email frequency (the “spray and pray” method), or you’ll be faced with a wall of unsubscribes. There is no right number,
but more than four or five email blasts a month may be overdoing it.
Content is king for digital marketing efforts. But even if you haven’t built a formal digital strategy yet, you probably have content that’s been
published on your website, social media or third-party media channels, not to mention existing sales materials that can be repurposed.
Analyze this existing content and rank it according to its past performance. If nobody but your mother downloaded that white paper you spent eight months
writing, for instance, you might want to avoid white papers as the center of your marketing strategy!
Once you’ve identified your most successful content, you’ll know where to focus your content creation efforts. Try something new, visual and easily
consumable, like an infographic.
Also consider how you can encourage your customers to create content for you. A message board or chatroom on your website can help create a lot of
organic content with little to no effort from you. Do moderate the content for appropriateness, though, because customer content can be quite raw.
Finally, see what’s working for your competitors. Take some time to analyze their online activities and SEO efforts with a tool like SEMrush (the ultimate spy-
on-your-competitors tool). Determine what keywords are driving the most organic traffic to their website, and compare their organic versus paid traffic (in
case you still need ideas for budget allocation).
If your competitors are doing better than you with certain keywords, look at their content and find out why. Also look at what’s not there; a careful analysis
might clue you in to keyword or opportunities the competition has missed.
Look at firms not related to your industry, too; one of the best ways to get ideas for a digital marketing strategy is to start paying attention to content from
other companies. What catches your interest the most and why? What stands out and generates buzz?
Finally, ask your customers what they’d like to see. You might be surprised by their responses.
There’s a lot of on-the-job training with digital marketing, especially because it is always changing. So when crafting your strategy, don’t get overwhelmed. Start with these basics and build from there. A first stab at an organized marketing strategy is far better than being overwhelmed and running in all directions with no strategy at all.