Digital marketing strategy is a tool to help you achieve your business goals from online or digital channels.
That goal could be
- sell products
- generate leads
- increase advertising revenue
A good digital marketing strategy focuses on channels and activities with maximum potential for your business. To succeed, your digital marketing strategy must focus on the three most important elements of an online business:
Every business needs customers.
In the offline world, businesses pay a premium for a location where they will get a large number of visitors. A mall, busy intersection or road with a lot of foot traffic can bring in lots of visitors.
In the online world, people need to visit your website to buy from you. But how do you get people to visit your site?
There is no equivalent of a mall or busy street online. You can build the fanciest website with the best collection of products but it will fail if people don’t come to it.
You need to build traffic to your site using traffic building techniques that are right for your business and target audience.
Even if you operate a shop on large ecommerce sites like Amazon or Flipkart, you still need a plan to build traffic to your product pages. Just because Amazon gets millions of visitors, it does not mean they will visit your Amazon shop.
Therefore, the first thing your digital marketing strategy needs to do is attract visitors to your site. Not just any kind of visitor but someone who is your target audience.
Read this wonderful post by Steve Hogan about How to Identify Your Target Audience for Better Marketing.
How to Build Traffic to Your Website?
As you learnt in the 4Cs digital marketing framework, customer is at the center of all digital marketing activities. So how you build traffic to your site depends on who you want to attract to your site.
Your customer persona should answer questions such as:
- How your target audience discover new products and services?
- Do they rely on friends and family?
- Are they more likely to search Google or Bing?
- Do they hang out on social channels? Which ones?
- Which magazines or news sites they visit?
- Do they watch videos on YouTube or Vimeo?
- Are they more likely to buy from Amazon?
Answers to these questions will help you chose the right channels for attracting your audience. For example, if your target audience prefers watching videos, then YouTube will be good fit. You can create videos to educate the audience, run video ads or partner YouTube influencers.
Google search is an important source of traffic for most sites. Most likely, it will be a good source for your site as well. But you should carefully analyze your target audience preferences to understand the importance of search.
Search is a good way to meet existing market demand. People search for things they already know about. If you are creating a new product segment or there is low awareness about it, people may not search for it in large enough numbers.
If your audience knows about your product, service or category of products, then they are more likely to search for it.
Search traffic is of two types – Organic or Paid.
Organic search traffic is people who click on a link in the search results. Google includes your pages in a search result if it is most likely to answer the search query entered by the user. You don’t have to pay Google to include the page in the search result. That’s why it’s called Organic traffic.
You have the option to show ads to people when they search Google for specific terms or keywords. If they click the ad, they will be sent to your website and you will pay Google a fee for that. This is called Paid traffic.
Organic traffic is free – you don’t have to pay Google every time someone clicks your page in the search results. But it takes a lot of effort to get your page to rank high in search results. So it’s not really free. But it is more scalable source of traffic since every additional click brings down the cost per click for you.
On the other hand, every time someone clicks your ad, you have to pay a fee. So the cost adds up as you get more traffic through this channel.
Whether you use one or both of these channels really depends on the behavior of your target audience and their context.
Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are other major sources of traffic. Again, your customer persona should capture which social network your target audience prefer. This will help you in deciding which social channels you should target.
Within social channels, you need to dig deeper and understand how your target audience behaves on a given channel. For example, a lot of marketing professionals follow big name marketers like Neil Patel on Twitter. If you want to target this audience, you can target followers of big name marketers on Twitter.
Your digital marketing strategy should focus on digital channels and activities that are most likely to send good quality visitors to your site.
As visitors start coming to your website and interacting with your content, you will collect data about their behavior. You can analyze this data to understand their behavior.
For example, you can identify:
- Traffic sources and channels that bring most profitable customers
- Pages on your site that move people closer to buying
- Pages that drive people away from your site
- What problems visitors face when interacting with your site
- Sections of a page people don’t look at because these are too far down the page
I call this Insights into your customer behavior.
Insights tell us which elements of our website and marketing campaigns are helping or hurting conversation with customers. Conversation is a two way interaction with your prospects or customers. You can read more about it in the 4Cs digital marketing framework.
Conversations build trust with your prospects and customers. Longer and deeper conversations are preferable over shorter and shallower ones. Insights help us understand how to drive longer and deeper conversations.
For example, if you are marketing a blog, you want people to read more pages and spend more time on every visit. This allows you to show them more ads. More ads equal more money for advertising driven sites. In this case, you want to replicate posts that get visitors to spend more time on the site.
Insights help you make your digital marketing activities more effective. But before you can start getting insights, you need to collect raw data that can provide these insights.
You can track almost anything in the digital world, provided you use the right tools. But the data you collect will depend on the type of business and your goals. So designing the right data collection model, or analytics implementation plan, is the first step towards getting insights.
Your digital marketing strategy must include an analytics implementation plan that identifies what insights and data you need and how you will collect it.
Conversion is the final goal of any online business.
A conversion is a desirable action a visitor takes on your site. This could be as simple as watching a product demo video or as complex as buying a product.
Your digital marketing strategy must identify conversions you need to track and how you will track them.
Different sites want users to take different actions. For example, an ecommerce site would want users to:
- Sign up to receive offers & promotions
- Look at product pages
- Add products to cart
- Buy products
Similarly, a blog site wants users to:
- Spend time on the site
- Read multiple blog posts
- Sign up for email
- Click an affiliate link
We can broadly categorize conversion activities into two types:
- Major conversation – an action that results in achieving the business goal of the site such as buying a product (ecommerce site) or filling a lead form (lead generation site)
- Minor Conversion – an action that moves the visitor closer to the business goal such as adding product to a cart (ecommerce site) or Clicking link to a related blog post (blog or publishing site)
To measure conversions, you set up desired actions as Goals in your web analytics software. You define triggers that tell the software when a visitor has completed the goal.
At the least, you want to know number and percent of visitors who are completing a goal on your site. But it’s even more important for you to understand
- Why visitors are completing the goal – by understanding the reasons why people are completing the goal, you can improve your site to get more conversions
- What’s common between those completing the goal – if you know this, you can focus on attracting more visitors who are similar to them
- The path they take to complete it – this tells you which pages are good at converting visitors. If you can get more visitors to visit those pages, you can get more conversions.
An effective digital marketing strategy must address the three most important elements of an online business – Traffic, Insights and Conversions.