Caleb and Jennifer, two of our Inbound Marketing Executives, recently had the privilege of speaking to the members of the American Marketing Association at the University of Florida on the topic of how to create a successful digital marketing strategy. Here is what they shared with the attendees:
Question: Why is creating a successful digital marketing strategy such a challenge for many marketing professionals?
According to a study by the Digital Marketing Institute, nearly half of marketers in the US, Ireland, and the UK rated themselves in a survey as being fairly competent in digital marketing, but when they took a competency-based skills test, only 8% achieved the entry level skills!
Clearly, there’s a skills gap in digital marketing abilities.
Is that the fault of the marketing professionals? Not really. Chances are, they’re not receiving the critical training they need to develop their skills in this ever-changing industry.
ClickZ conducted a survey asking marketing professionals why they weren’t receiving more training in the strategic use of digital marketing components such as pay per click (PPC) ads, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing, and content marketing.
Some of the top reasons included:
- No budget
- Couldn’t get internal approval
- Difficult to find the time to attend the trainings.
If you feel embarrassed by what you don’t know about digital marketing, don’t be! You’re not alone. At PHOS, we’re digital marketing experts because we do it all day, every day. We want to help you by sharing the steps we follow to create a successful digital marketing strategy for our clients.
Step 1: Establish Your Goals
Before you can bring your plan to market, you have to consider your ultimate objective. Are you primarily concerned with building brand awareness? Generating more leads? Increasing sales? Increasing the number of your email subscribers? Think of what success means to you before you design your digital marketing campaign. That way, you’ll know how to measure success after the campaign has ended. Your goals will vary depending on your organization and type of business. Are you a brick and mortar store? An online clothing retailer? What does success look like for you?
Step 2: Understand Your Customers’ Journey
To reach the ultimate goal (a customer who makes a purchase, another fan on Facebook, or a new email subscriber) you’ve got to understand how your customer ultimately got there. They went on a journey. You can think of this journey like a classic story. Put your buyer as the hero of the story and you as the guide to reach that success. For all you Star Wars fans, think of Luke Skywalker. To win against the Dark Side, Luke had help from guides like Yoda and Ben Kenobi. Your buyer is Luke and you’re just guiding him to success. Most businesses want to make themselves out to be the hero, but great marketing makes your customer feel like the hero! There are many variations on the customer journey but for the most part, all customers move through the same stages:
- In the discovery phase, your customer doesn’t know you, but they know they have a problem or challenge. How can you help them with this problem/challenge?
- In the research phase, you’re on their radar… but now you have to stand out from the competition. Why should they choose you? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of what you might be feeling at this point.
- In the purchase phase, Okay, great…they believe in you enough to give you a shot to solve their problem. How do you repay them? Does your customer service rock and make them want to buy from you again?
- In the loyalty phase, You’ve won! You’ve converted them and now they’re on your side. Now you want them to be asking, “How could I ever live without you?” Don’t take this phase for granted! Many businesses make the mistake of being focused almost exclusively on gaining new customers, but It’s easier (and cheaper!) to keep the customers you already have than to make new ones.
Step 3: Identify Your Buyers
Congratulations! You’ve successfully mapped out the journey your customers take to complete a goal but do you really know who your buyer is? Your marketing efforts won’t be as effective if you don’t understand what makes your customers tick. This is why it’s crucial to create a buyer persona.
Your buyer persona is basically a mini snapshot of your ideal customer. It helps to humanize them which makes it easier for you to craft a message to them that sounds like you’re speaking just to them and no one else. You can get a good head start on creating a buyer persona by using data you already have on hand such as Google Analytics website data, Facebook Insights data, etc. These reports include important information you’ll want to include in your buyer personas such as demographic information, what kind of content they’re interested in, and how they found you. As you build your buyer personas, you’ll want to think about your ideal customer’s motivations, their criteria for selecting a product like yours, and their concerns and frustrations. You’ll want to explain all of those things in their own words. You might even want to give them a name!
Step 4: Select Your Channels
Google My Business, your website, email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok…With so many digital marketing channels to choose from, how do you know which channel is the right one for you to focus your energy and precious advertising dollars on?
Your digital marketing efforts should strategically drive customers to where they can easily learn more about you and buy your product or service. In most cases, that’s going to be your website. Here at PHOS, we follow an inbound marketing methodology. The goal of inbound marketing is to attract leads to your website or online platform. Once you do, you’ll engage them with helpful content to convert them into customers. Once you’ve converted them into customers, your goal is to delight them with an excellent customer experience so they want to keep doing business with you and send you more leads!
But you don’t want to sit around and wait for customers to find you. You need to take your marketing messages to where your potential customers are already having a conversation about the products or services you offer. That’s social media.
Your buyer personas can help you narrow down your options here. Is your business primarily B2B? You’re going to want to grow a following on LinkedIn and position yourself as a thought leader there. Are you B2C? Do the demographics of your buyer persona match with that of a woman in her 20s-40s? If so, Pinterest and Instagram are great options for you. Facebook is the largest social media channel and has a mix of all ages and interests. We think it’s right for just about everyone.
If you’re a local business, Google My Business is crucial. You want to build trust with potential customers in your area with reviews and ratings that are incorporated into Google’s algorithm.
Step 5: Create a Content Strategy
You’re on your way! You know why, you know who, you know where, you know when, now you’re finally ready to pick HOW!
How will you persuade your potential customers to call you, visit your website, or subscribe to your email?
As you did when choosing the channels to market on, you want to craft the type of content that will resonate best with your unique audience. You want to hook people with your initial content to help move them along that customer journey we went over earlier so they move from initial discovery to the next phase..and the phase after that. If you’re an established company, you probably have some content assets. Go through and assess all of your articles, blog posts, interviews, etc. to figure out what you already have at your disposal that could be repurposed. Moving forward, you’ll want to develop good practices and processes that ensure sure you’re properly creating, saving, and publishing the content in a way that is clear and easy for all of your content producers to follow.
Step 6: Implement and Refine
Once you put these items together and bring your marketing plan to life, your work is far from over!
You still need to:
- Adjust your tactics based on the feedback you receive. You’ll want to target certain customer segments with personalized messaging based on what you see in the marketplace.
- Monitor the performance of your strategy (but we highly recommend taking taking the stress off your shoulders and automate your processes while you do so.)
- Measure, adjust, and repeat as your marketing strategy plays out in the market.
Every digital marketing strategy is different. So treat these 6 steps as more like the guardrails or recipe to help keep you and your team on track. Just like a recipe, the version your mom makes versus the one your grandma makes might vary slightly. Your digital marketing strategy is no different. Find what works best for you and the team.
Still unsure? Whether you’re not sure where to start or how to go to market, that’s what we’re here for. Our team of digital marketers here at PHOS live and breath these types of strategies and are happy to help you and your business push forward.