Table of Contents
How to make a digital marketing strategy that works.
This guide is for you if you want to:
- Learn the benefits of digital marketing
- Define and achieve success via digital marketing KPIs
- Design and implement each stage of a strategy
- Track, evaluate, and refine your strategy to ensure continued success
What's in the digital marketing guide?
These eight sections cover the digital marketing process from start to finish -
Who is this guide for?
👍 Complete beginners looking for guidance through the whole process.
👍 Experts looking to brush up on certain areas.
👍 Anyone and everyone in between.
This guide is focused on B2B digital marketing, but the insights are applicable to B2C as well.
If you need a primer before we jump in, here's a primer on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing
Let's dive in.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is defined as -
"The marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones and other digital mediums"
Digital marketing is the interplay between disciplines sharing the common objective of attracting, retaining, and converting visitors to your site.
These include -
- Website development and design for an intuitive, easy to use, and sales-oriented site.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) for full search engine visibility.
- Content marketing for attracting and retaining users.
- Conversion rate optimisation for guiding users towards a purchase.
- Digital PR & outreach for maximising engagement with your content.
- Social media marketing for further expanding your audience.
- Pay per click (PPC) for targeting your reach to specific segments.
- Marketing automation for automating repetitive tasks and improving efficiency.
Why is digital marketing important?
Because, put simply, effective digital marketing is the difference between succeeding and failing online.
Interest in digital marketing has sky-rocketed in recent years. You need to be up to speed to ensure you're not left behind.
In an increasingly digital world it makes sense that marketing follows suit.
How to Define Your Audience
Knowing your digital marketing audience is a crucial part of ensuring your strategy targets the right people.
Over 4.5 billion people were active on the internet ⬈ in July 2020. And let's face it: only a tiny fraction of them will qualify as prospective customers.
So for a digital marketing campaign to be effective, it must be tailored towards a specific audience.
Defining your audience comes down to four key areas:
Understanding the stages of the buyer journey.
Understanding where your prospective customers are in their buyer journey.
Identifying their needs and challenges at each stage.
Finding out where they spend time online.
What are the Stages of the Buyer Journey?
Here's a top-level definition of each:
- Awareness: The prospect is trying to understand, frame and define a problem they're facing, but are not yet looking for a solution.
- Consideration: The prospect has a better understanding of their problem and are weighing up potential solutions.
- Decision: A prospect is prepared to make an investment in order to resolve their problem.
Marketing methodologies vary between stages.
The next step of defining your audience helps to crystalise your understanding of the needs of your prospects at each stage.
Buyer Personas: What are they?
Buyer Personas are fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customer, based on market research and insights from your actual customer base.
Used properly, they're an invaluable part of your digital marketing.
There's no limit to the number of buyer personas you can create. As long as each represents a viable segment of your prospective customer base, they are a great way to -
- Tailor your marketing efforts toward the exact challenges a prospect is facing.
- Create content that a prospect is most likely to engage with.
- Target the platforms and publications where a prospect spends time.
- Attract more prospects to your content, website, and your product.
Investing time in creating personas representative of your prospective customers is the difference between effective marketing, and slinging mud at a wall until something sticks.
Buyer personas: What do Your Prospective Customers Need?
Part of building accurate and useful buyer personas is understanding the needs and challenges your prospects are facing. This is true at every stage of the buyer journey.
At this stage, you should look to understand -
- The undefined challenges your prospects may be facing
- The direct questions your prospects are asking
- The potential solutions your product offers
With these things defined, you pave the way for a strategy that addresses the needs of your prospects and guides them toward purchase.
How to Prepare Your Site for a Digital Marketing Campaign
The goal of digital marketing is to attract prospects to your website, then to guide them along their buyer journey toward making a purchase.
But here's the thing -
Regardless of how good your marketing efforts are, they will fall flat if one or both of these things are true:
- People can't navigate through your website.
- People can't find your website in the first place.
Search engines know that poorly configured sites will be difficult to navigate, and they rank these sites poorly as a result.
This is why a well-configured website is a bedrock for any digital marketing campaign: get it wrong, and you won't rank. Don't rank, and people won't come to your site - simple as.
To get it right you need to learn about technical SEO.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is all the stuff under the bonnet of your website that makes navigation quick and intuitive. This includes things like -
- Title elements to clearly communicate the role of pages.
- Lang tags to ensure delivery of content in the right language.
- Metadata to give clear information on on-site content.
- XML sitemaps to give clear information on site structure.
- Structured data markup to show how content maps onto the structure.
- Thread management to ensure optimal delivery of content and assets.
- Image optimisation to ensure visuals load quickly and efficiently.
- Alt tags to attach non-visual meaning to visual elements.
- Internal links to connect content together intuitively.
- Responsive design to optimise content for any device.
This list is not exhaustive, but if you get these things nailed you'll be in good stead. Our SEO cheat-sheet for web developers is another helpful place to start.
How to Make your Site Fast
This means that if your site isn't fast, you will be penalised.
Think about it: you're looking for the answer to a question, but the website you arrive at still hasn't loaded after ten seconds...
Do you wait, or do you hit 'back' and try the next search result?
Most people will wait about this long 👆
Your site needs to load quickly on any device. This means -
- No huge image files
- Streamlined code
- Adequate hosting that can handle expected traffic volumes
How to Make Your Site Responsive
Responsive design means your site renders properly on any device, regardless of screen size, aspect ratio, or orientation.
Google introduced mobile-first indexing a few years back. Here's what that means -
"Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking"
Here are the core tenets of mobile-first indexing -
- Give Googlebot access to all mobile content
- Keep content the same on desktop and mobile. Layout can change.
- Check your structured data is configured correctly.
- Put the same metadata on both versions of your site.
- Check ad placement.
- Check visual elements render properly.
You can find full responsive design best practice guidelines on the Google Developer blog ⬈.
And if you noticed some overlap with technical SEO points from the previous sections - this is a good example of why it's so important to get technical right.
Also bear in mind that often, a full site redesign isn't necessary. Fine-tuning the backend of your existing site and tweaking front-end pages with growth-driven design principles in mind can deliver huge gains.
How to Build Landing Pages with Compelling CTAs
In digital marketing, landing pages serve a special purpose.
Rather than a page built around your normal website template, with a top nav, footer, and various content competing for your attention, a landing page has one function:
To guide visitors toward a specific CTA.
When a prospect clicks a link from a piece of content you've shared - whether it's an email, tweet, blog post, or anything else - a landing page gives them all the information they need to move towards the next step of the buyer journey.
Such pages should be clutter-free and laser-focused on the CTA in question.
Here are the basic components of effective landing page design:
- A laser-focused description of your offer
- Clear and eye-catching headlines
- No more than three related images
- A testimonial or equally powerful trust signal
- A clear call to action (CTA)
- Simple layout: Bullets work best
- No clutter: Remove site nav
- A form that asks for as little info as possible
Landing page design is an ongoing process. Best practice dictates that you should build multiple landing pages and use A/B testing to determine which works best.
You can read our full guide to effective landing page design here.
How to Use CRO to Streamline User Journeys
CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimisation.
What is CRO?
Here's our full guide to that question but, put simply, CRO is the art of increasing the number of prospects who convert when they arrive at your website.
Conversion can mean two things -
- A prospect takes a desired action on a page: They sign up for a newsletter, request a resource download, ask for a product demo, or similar.
- A prospect makes a purchase.
CRO is the unsung hero of digital marketing and represents the fine-tuning of each and every step of your marketing funnel to invite and encourage increased conversions.
After all: Bumping up your conversion rate by even a fraction of a per cent can translate to huge increases in ROI.
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy
Once your audience is defined and your site is ready, it's time to put together a strategy.
Here's what a digital marketing strategy covers -
- What you want to do
- Why you want to do it
- How you're going to do it
- How to track what happened
- How to decide what you'll change for next time
At each step of the strategy, you gain insight that will refine and improve future marketing activity.
How to Set Strategic Goals
The first step is laying down some goals - "This is what we want to do".
Your goals can range from broad ("get more sales") to narrow ("increase conversion rate at the awareness stage by 12% this quarter"), but the most useful goals are SMART.
Now, you've probably heard about SMART goals a million times. But hear us out: there's a reason this framework is useful.
Here's what a SMART goal looks like -
- Specific: Focussed on one area, and clearly stated
- Measurable: Attached to a quantifiable metric you can track
- Achievable: Something your business has the resources to actually achieve
- Realistic: Something grounded in reality
- Time-bound: Attached to a timescale
61% of marketers have a documented strategy ⬈, and those people are a whopping 313% more successful than those who are winging it.
How to Establish KPIs
The next step is laying out some KPIs - Key Performance Indicators. This is the "Why we want to do it".
What are KPIs?
KPIs are the outcomes that determine whether your digital marketing strategy is working.
Here are some examples of broad, business-oriented KPIs -
- Revenue growth
- Return on investment
- Profitability over time
- Cost per acquisition
Other KPIs have a more narrow focus, specific to the platform(s) being used -
- Open rate
- Bounce rate
Here are some more KPIs to consider for your digital marketing campaign.
Attaching KPIs to each of the goals at the heart of your digital marketing strategy allows you to track and evaluate progress.
How to Build a Content Plan
A content plan is the "How we are going to do it" part of your digital marketing strategy.
It contains all the content you'll create, split out into -
- The stage of the buyer journey each piece of content will target
- The people each piece of content will target - think back to your buyer personas
- The topic(s) that each piece of content will address
- The platform(s) where each piece of content will be published
Choosing the best format and platform for your content is important. Text-based blog posts are great, but you also have the option to use infographics, videos, podcasts, ebooks, downloadable guides, checklists, whitepapers, and so on.
As a general rule, B2B companies place a higher value on educational formats such as blogging, webinars and infographics.
Think about which stage of a prospect's journey the content targets: your content should be aimed at providing value; helping to attract customers (Awareness stage), offering them informed assistance (Consideration stage) and finally helping them make a purchase (Decision stage).
How to Build an Outreach Plan
Having a content strategy is great, but guess what?
Content is useless if nobody ever looks at it.
And while search engines crawl through millions of websites to decide what content to rank for millions of queries, you can't rely on organic search traffic to all of your content.
This is where manual outreach comes in. You may hear this called PR, digital PR, outreach, or any of various names. But it all comes down to one thing -
Letting people know that your content is out there.
Here's what an outreach plan involves -
- Identifying people who may be interested in your content
- Putting together a pitch that will attract their attention
- Contacting them, usually via email, to let them know about it
How to Build a Social Media Plan
Social media serves two main purposes:
- Amplifying your content 📣
- Engaging your audience 🤼
A social media plan is your roadmap for social activity off the back of your content plan.
In it, you'll figure out what to post and when in order to give your content the best chance at being seen and engaged with.
Here are some specific goals for social media -
- Attract prospects into the funnel
- Build brand loyalty
- Build brand awareness
Ask yourself -
- Who am I trying to attract through social media?
- What content do I distribute?
- How do I measure the success of my social media activity?
- Who is responsible for implementing the strategy?
Alongside content promotion, remember to engage with your audience within the social media platform they use to reach out.
How to Decide Whether to Incorporate Paid Marketing
Paid marketing includes PPC (pay per click) advertising, promoted social media posts, and more.
Some people consider it a vital part of digital marketing; others ignore it completely.
Depending on the scope and nature of your strategy, paid marketing may have a lot to offer.
And if you do incorporate PPC, here are the metrics you need to be tracking.
How to Create Content and Collateral for Your Digital Marketing Strategy
You've got an overarching digital marketing strategy prepared, with subsidiary content, outreach, and social media strategies backing it up.
The next step?
Create your content.
This is where you and your team get to flex their creative muscles and create truly excellent content to target your prospects.
The broad goals at the content creation stage are -
- Research the keywords your prospects are using.
- Create content that addresses their needs at every step of the funnel.
- Optimise that content for search.
Let's take a look at each.
How to do a Comprehensive Keyword Audit to Target Your Content
Keywords are a critical part of getting your content seen.
When someone types a word or phrase into Google, the results they see at the top are the ones deemed most relevant to that keyword or keyword phrase.
So, optimising your content around relevant keywords that people are searching for is vital.
What are keywords?
There are several types, each with its own benefits:
A comprehensive keyword audit is the first step. This involves using great SEO tools like AHRefs, Google's Keyword Planner, SEMRush or many others to do the following -
- Find keywords relevant to your offering
- Ascertain their search volumes to see which are worthwhile
- Understand how competitive each one is
- Build lists of keywords to incorporate into your content (here's how to do that)
How to Find out which Questions your Prospects are Asking
Equipped with keywords, it's much easier to target your content and increase search visibility.
But to really appeal to human readers, content should answer questions.
There are some great ways to find questions people are asking -
Google's 'People Also Ask' box
You'll see this box on pretty much every results page. It shows all the questions people are asking related to the search term you provided.
This social media platform is based entirely on asking and answering questions, so there's a wealth of inspiration here.
How to Create Digital Marketing Content
You've got a content strategy, a comprehensive list of keywords, and accurate buyer personas. Now it's time to create the content.
The best content is engaging and effective. The idea is to attract people, provide real value, address their queries, and guide them toward the next step of their user journey.
There are hundreds of content creation tools and software to choose from, and the exact combination will depend on the content you're creating.
Here are some pointers -
- Grammarly ⬈: A text editor that edits and improves your writing as you go.
- GIMP ⬈: An open-source version of Photoshop with incredibly versatile image creation capabilities.
- Canva ⬈: A graphic design platform used for creating all manner of visuals.
- Animaker ⬈: A video creation tool with plenty of functionality.
- Pexels ⬈: One of many free stock image platforms. (Here's how stock images can lift your content.)
- Google Charts ⬈: A great tool for creating advanced data visualisations.
- Make a Meme ⬈: Sure they're silly, but a well-used meme can make a huge impact on content.
- Giphy ⬈: A tool for creating animated gifs, which are a great way to spice up the content.
How to Track and Evaluate Digital Marketing Performance
Back in the 'Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy' section we wrote about what a strategy does.
The last two points were -
- This is what happened
- This is what we'll change for next time
This section is all about tracking what happened when you implemented your digital marketing strategy.
There are two key factors at play here: Attribution and analytics.
After a while of active digital marketing you'll have content published on various platforms, and a gradual trickle of incoming traffic that will - hopefully - evolve into a healthy stream.
When this is the case, knowing how people arrived at your site is a vital piece of the puzzle.
This information lets you see where people are coming from, and indicates which marketing efforts are working best.
This process is called attribution tracking and is a key step in tracking and evaluating your performance.
Analytics software tracks peoples' journeys to and around your site.
This information is indispensable. It gives insight into everything from -
- How people found your site
- The links they followed to get there
- The search phrases they used to get there
- The relative performance of content pointing to your site
- The effectiveness of your landing pages
- How easy your site is to navigate
- Drop-off points where people abandon your site
From this, you can identify opportunities to improve your site navigation and structure to make it more conducive to ongoing buyer journeys.
You can evaluate which platforms and content types work best, letting you refine your future strategy.
You can see which content on your site generates leads, which generates sales, and whether this aligns with your plans and expectations.
How to Evaluate Performance Against Goals and KPIs
Earlier in this guide, we outlined the process of setting goals and establishing KPIs.
The purpose of this stage of creating digital marketing strategies is to give you reference points for success or failure.
As you implement your strategy and begin to see it perform, evaluating the performance is a vital step in ensuring ongoing marketing efforts are effective.
At this stage, look back to your goals and KPIs to see whether they've been achieved.
If so, pat yourself on the back and decide whether to keep them the same, or refine them upward.
If not, take a look at what went wrong and revise future goals to be more achievable.
This is the final step of the strategy: Deciding what we'll change for next time.
How to Troubleshoot Common Issues
Being aware of common issues is one way to defend against the chance of them happening.
But as the adage goes, "the best-laid plans go to waste."
These words should encourage rather than discourage you. No matter how carefully you plan and implement your strategy, things will go awry.
How to Outsource Your Digital Marketing Activity
As we said earlier, digital marketing is a huge umbrella.
And with so many disciplines falling under it, not every business has the resource to effectively design, implement, track, and evaluate their digital marketing efforts.
Which is where digital marketing agencies come in.
As trained experts with tons of experience in every aspect of digital marketing, agencies provide two invaluable services -
- Digital marketing consultancy and training to skill-up your team
- Full external oversight of your digital marketing activities
The former is great if you want to develop your in-house capacity. You can tap into a bank of expertise, and build internal skillsets to improve your capacity to deliver ongoing digital marketing.
The latter is great if you want to outsource and have everything taken care of externally. You'll still be involved in the process, signing things off and providing as much steer at each stage as you see fit.
When hiring an agency, here's what to look for.
Here are the questions to ask an agency to make sure they know their stuff.
And, finally, here are the questions a good agency will ask you.