Keys to defining a digital marketing plan
You already have a website and you are on the Internet, so what now?
If a few years ago we were hearing the statement “the company that is not present on the Internet, does not exist”, now the wheel has turned even further to the point that directly many companies only exist online. There is no longer a debate about the value of social media, but rather that a digital marketing strategy is simply indispensable.
According to the Digital 2022 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite, the number of internet users in the world has reached 4.95 billion people, representing 62.5% of the world’s population. For a company, reaching all these people may seem impossible, but actually, who do we want to reach? One of the key characteristics of digital marketing is segmentation or the possibility of creating defined, delimited and selected audiences in such a way that the information reaches those who are truly interested in receiving it.
As in any marketing strategy, digital marketing involves setting a series of steps to achieve specific objectives. In this case, the concept “digital” refers to the channels through which these goals are to be achieved. These channels include the company’s website, its social networks, its blog, its email…
The first step in planning a digital marketing strategy is to assess the existing state of the company’s media. But what are these media? We talk about “owned media” when referring to the website, blog, podcasts or video channels owned by the brand. On the other hand, there is the “paid media”, ranging from collaboration with influencers to digital advertising or branded contents. Finally, “earned media” includes the content that is 100% independent of the company or brand, such as awards, reviews, user-created content or mentions in the press.
The decision to focus more on some media types will depend on the company’s size. The most urgent thing is to take care of the company’s own media, maintaining a unified argumentation and aesthetic in all of them. The brand manual must be present in all channels and the same key messages must be repeated on all platforms. It is also important to maintain a strong personality that allows the brand to be easily identified.
When investing in paid media, it is important to consider the objectives being pursued. For example, if we want to acquire new customers, will it work better to link with an influencer, or investing in Google advertising? On the other hand, earned media is directly dependent on users and customers. We will only get positive feedback from a consumer if our company does its job well, offers a quality product, or provides a practical service.
The difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing campaign
A key point to be able to develop a successful digital strategy or planning is to differentiate it from a marketing campaign. Campaigns are the fundamental elements or actions that make up the strategy. For example, a digital marketing strategy may be about generating more leads, whereas a marketing campaign may focus on creating a whitepaper or in-depth content and offering it to users through a media, asking them to register for the file. In this way, leads are generated when users request the download.
We can say that each objective pursued by your marketing strategy can have a specific campaign associated. Among the main marketing tactics, we can mention:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): a set of optimisation techniques that are applied to a website with the aim of positioning it in search engines such as Google. SEO tries to ensure that the results shown by search engines are as faithful as possible to the user’s search intention. To achieve this, it is necessary to work on the selection of keywords and include internal and external links.
- Social Media: the brand can use its social networks to communicate corporate messages to customers and potential customers.
- Online advertising: refers to all types of advertisements on websites, either through search engines (such as AdWords), social networks or specific websites through banners.
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC): this concept is a part of digital advertising and differs in the fact that the companies that use it only pay when the user clicks on their links.
- Content marketing: consists on designing, creating and distributing content of interest to the audience on the company’s own channels with the aim of attracting customers. The platforms used can be the blog or the corporate website, as well as its social networks. The format can be written, but also audio, video or infographics. It is also worth mentioning downloadable content as another tactic to attract potential customers, offering them valuable information for free in exchange for their contact (lead).
- Email marketing: this is the type of communication with customers that is carried out via email. It consists of sending personalised emails to the company’s database. In order for this tactic to be really effective, it is necessary to have a precise and segmented database.
4 keys to defining a digital marketing plan
A digital marketing plan can vary greatly from one company to another. Even so, all plans must include four steps that cannot be missed:
- Analysing the starting point: when we plan a trip, we study the destination we want to go to, and with marketing strategies, our recommendation is the same. Developing a SWOT analysis, which stands for weaknesses/threats/strengths/opportunities, we can observe the inside and outside of our organisation and determine what is being done well and what could be improved, while detecting those factors that help the good development of the company and those that are causing difficulties.
- Define objectives: following the simile of a traveller, before embarking on an adventure, we usually prepare an itinerary in order to maximise the time available. This is also true in marketing: we must be clear about where we want to get to. A well-known acronym in the marketing world is SMART, by which we refer to the fact that the objectives we set are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Specifically, the ability to measure is another of the differentiating characteristics of digital marketing. In order to be able to analyse how did the strategy work, we must monitor the results. In this sense, an important concept is ROI, which stands for Return of Investment. This is a metric used to know how much the company earns in comparison to what was invested.
- Understanding the target audience: another important aspect when going on a trip is to know the culture and inhabitants of the country we are visiting. The same goes for digital marketing, where it is necessary to understand precisely who we are targeting. An interesting practice is to create so-called “buyer personas”, i.e. profiles of ideal customers for our company. If we know who we want to reach, it will be easier to think about how to achieve this. When creating a buyer persona, we must pay attention to all the details. Therefore, we must consider different types of data: demographic in B2C environments (personal characteristics of the buyer such as age, gender or education), firmographic in B2B (characteristics of the organisation such as income, industry, location or employees), psychographic in both contexts (factors such as personality, opinions or lifestyle) and also behavioural for both (purchase history, brand loyalty or usage patterns). In short, we must get to know our potential customers, their preferences and also their needs as well as possible. Marketing does not stop trying to satisfy desires or solve problems, so we must define and know well what they may be.
- Identify the customer’s stage of purchase: once we know our ideal customer, we will have to know that the way we address him/her will depend on the stage of purchase he/she is in. Communicating with someone who does not know us is not the same as communicating with a customer who has already consumed in our business. To do this, it is essential to understand the stages of purchase in which each person may find themselves:
- First the customer experiences the recognition phase, i.e. they become aware of their need. In this phase, we as a company must offer the customer information that helps them to know how to satisfy that need.
- Then the customer goes through the consideration phase. At this stage, the consumer already knows his desire or problem and looks for information to satisfy/solve it. At this stage, the consumer looks for references to help them make their final purchase decision. It is now when we must show ourselves as experts in the field and offer valuable information that helps them to take a decision and differentiates us from the competition.
- Next, the customer reaches the decision stage. At this point they decide whether to buy or not. If we are the customer’s choice, we must try to make the process as easy as possible. If we are not, we must analyse the whys and wherefores in order to implement improvements.
- Finally, the customer buys. However, we should be aware that our only objective is not to sell the product or service, but to create a good relationship with the buyers.
- Then comes the after-sales phase in which, in order to keep the buyer satisfied, we must carry out an effective follow-up and attend to any needs that may arise. The entire buying experience will determine whether the consumer becomes a brand ambassador or not.
We have already seen how to set up a digital marketing strategy and the key steps to be successful in online communication, now there are no more excuses to innovate and become experts in this field.
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