According to the Smart Insights ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ report, 46% of brands do not have an established digital marketing strategy, while 16% do have a strategy but have not yet incorporated it into their marketing activities. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a strategy in place, how do you hope to evolve and innovate, track measurable results and learn from past mistakes?
It’s time to stop panicking next year or next month and start figuring out a strategy that can provide a powerful boost. We have chosen the five most critical guidelines that you, the decision-maker, can take to ensure that your digital marketing activities have a real effect on your bottom line.
1. Know What You Want and Set Your Objectives
Nail Your Mission:
- First, define the overall purpose/objective of your company – your digital marketing mission must fit into your grand plan.
- Answer this question: what is the overarching goal you want your digital marketing activities to accomplish (for example, do you want to place your business as an online provider for computer parts in Africa)? This is your mission.
Set and Measure Your KPIs:
- Get precise with your KPIs by specifying the percentages that will be kept accountable for achieving.
- Get objective with your KPIs by first analyzing your previous digital marketing activities – this will ensure that you look for a positive improvement in your current performance while helping you avoid setting your goals too high.
- Identify a system to help you quantify each of your KPIs – for example, can you use Google Analytics to measure your conversions, your individual social media analytics to monitor your interaction or a tool like BuzzSumo to determine the effectiveness of your content marketing?
- Here’s a handy KPI prototype for you to steal from: (Insert goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’) by (insert figure) percent (insert the number of months).
- Before you start planning your KPIs find out which metrics matter most to your CEO.
2. Analyze Your Past and Learn from Your Mistakes
You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to go through the preparation period in the dark. The study of the past achievements and failures of your digital marketing campaign will allow you to concentrate on the optimum KPIs for your business. Therefore, you might want to complete step one and two together.
Choose a time period that you would like to analyze (it is better to set this time period to the same amount of time that you prepare for your current marketing strategy) – for example, whether you want to analyze the previous year, quarter or month.
How to Analyze:
- Determine the time frame that you would like to evaluate and set your Google Analytics calendar to fit the timeline.
- To equate your results with your competitors, try Google’s Benchmarking Reports in your Analytics account.
- Don’t forget to analyze the marketing strategy of your competitors – build a spreadsheet study of their online activities (you can use SEMrush to determine a competitor’s SEO strategy, i.e. what keywords are driving the greatest amount of organic traffic to their website. It can also be used to compare the organic and pay-as-you-go traffic of various websites so again that it is very useful to see how competitive they are in their paid spending.)
- Ask yourself this question at regular intervals: is there anything else I need to examine that I haven’t thought about before – e.g. should I test the times when I post my content or the types of images I use?
3. Always Remember Who You are Talking to and Speak Their Language
Don’t let the planning get away from the people you are trying to attract. You already know who your customer is (at least we hope you are) but sometimes it’s the first thing a digital marketer might forget about KPI settings, budget fretting and channel selection.
You are not going to make that mistake, not this time. Instead, you can place your audience at the center of your digital marketing campaign, listen to their emotional needs and fulfill their deepest desires. How is that? By creating characters well fleshed out and well thought out, of course.
Develop Useful Personas:
- Start with the basics and take note of all the demographic details you know about your target consumers, such as age, gender, and location.
- Then dig a little deeper and identify the issues that you can help your target persona solve.
- Learn about their emotional needs, interests, dreams, and fears, and log all the factors that could make them tick (think about their conscious and unconscious desires).
- You can dig deep into the ‘Audience Reports of your Google Analytics account to identify the main characteristics of your target user, such as age, sex, occupation, etc.
- When designing your persona, this is the ideal time to find the people who will influence them – these will be the influencers that your marketing campaign should be aiming for.
4. Identify Your Means and Stick to Your Budget
Three items are essential to describe your means: your budget, your digital platforms and your team (or people). It is important to take stock of all your resources before deciding what else you may need for the next cycle.
For example, now is the ideal time to perform an audit of your current digital platforms and determine whether to outsource particular parts of your digital marketing and whether to set aside a budget for a new hire or two.
How to Identify Your Means:
- Define the total budget for your digital marketing campaign.
- Look at the historical data on what has worked before (for example, have any particular channels brought you low-cost quality leads?).
- Decide whether or not you can use the paid promotion (for, example Adwords or paid ads on social media).
- Allocate a separate portion of the budget for each digital platform that you choose to use for paid promotion (delve into your Analytics to help you assess the most cost-effective digital channels with the largest reach and conversions and the lowest Cost Per Click).
- If you don’t get the results you want from a certain aspect of your paid promotion plan, review it and spend the allocated budget figure in the channel that brings you the best results.
- Look at your team to see what you are capable of achieving (be realistic here and ensure that no-one will be overstretched or overworked).
- Identify if you need to recruit more staff and have the means to do so.
- Decide whether any of your digital marketing activities will take place at home or whether you will need to outsource those elements to a third-party agency.
- Get each of your team members to review their digital marketing activities and brainstorm a few ideas for their future marketing campaign (the more autonomy your staff will have in their position, the more they will be on board with your new plan).
- Check your existing digital marketing platforms and decide which channels you want to retain and whether you want to invest in some new ones (this depends on where your customers are and the time you have available).
- Clearly express what each digital platform is trying to achieve.
- Make sure that you have at least one KPI connected to each of your digital platforms.
5. Make the Plan and Don’t Stick to It
‘Create a strategy, don’t stick to it? But, what do you mean by that?” Before the fear spreads to the most coordinated digital marketers, let me explain… Your strategy would never be flawless from the start. Not every assumption you make will be right.
And even though you have taken every care to design a carefully crafted strategy based on a collection of insightful assumptions and analysis, you still can’t predict exactly how your customers will behave. It is therefore important to constantly track and monitor the success of your digital marketing strategy and to adjust the elements where appropriate.
Create Your Digital Marketing Calendar:
- Use Google Calendars to build your timeline, so you can share it with your team members and allow them to edit it if necessary.
- Highlight the main initiatives that you will build and support during the year and assign a timeline for each.
- Document the digital platforms needed to ensure the effectiveness of each campaign.
Review Your Marketing Strategy & Identify Changes Need:
- Create a strategy for measurement and tracking (this should fit in with your KPIs).
- Check the success of each of the elements of the digital marketing plan at continuous intervals.
- If something doesn’t work (i.e. you don’t get the KPIs you have set up) isolate the various elements and try to find what doesn’t work (e.g. is it the time you post content or the taglines you are using for your ads?).
- Revisit your previous research, people, and budget allocation and try something different.
- Create a clearly specified KPI for your new company.