How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien Christel Vella
8 min read
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Digital marketing now dominates the marketing landscape with a predicted spend of nearly $680 billion US dollars in 20231. As a result, ‘digital marketing strategy’ has become a well-used phrase in the business arena. But what exactly does it mean, why is it important, and how do you make a start on a digital marketing strategy for your business?

What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is a plan that directs various types of digital marketing in any digital media, including websites, social media, email and search engines. It includes objectives, approaches, goals and metrics, and uses these to decide which digital channels to use, how much to spend in each, and what results to expect for your investment.

So a digital marketing strategy is neither a digital marketing campaign nor digital marketing tactics, which are both ways of implementing the strategy. And at the other end of the scale, it isn’t an overall marketing strategy – as this would be at a higher level and also include offline media.

Why is a digital marketing strategy important?

While you may already be doing some digital marketing activity, such as digital advertising or social media posts, without a digital marketing strategy you’re not making the most of your investment.

A digital marketing strategy gives your activity a clear direction by having strategic goals for success and a way of measuring them. For example, is your digital marketing activity aimed at gaining new customers or do you want to deepen relationships with existing ones? Are you trying to understand your customers better, in order to target more compelling messages? Or do you need to discover the best way to reach new prospects with a distinctive and compelling proposition?

Once you’ve defined your goals, you can choose the right channels and decide how to measure success.

Of course, the endgame will always be to sell more of your products. So it’s important to have reliable logistics to back up your marketing activity. There’s nothing worse than running successful digital marketing campaigns to deliver your strategy and then letting down customers with poor fulfilment. Plus, it can severely damage your online reputation.

Getting started on your digital marketing strategy

Here are some of the first things to consider when you’re formulating a digital marketing strategy.

Set SMART goals – for your business and your strategy

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. In fact, your first consideration is the ‘relevant’ part. You need to align your digital marketing goals with your business goals – because if your marketing goals don’t help you achieve your business goals, then they’re largely irrelevant.

So what are your business goals? You need a mix of short-term goals and longer-term goals. To increase sales by x% over x months, might be a short-term goal. Or to successfully launch x new products in the next x years might be a longer-term one.

Your business goals depend on what’s happening in your industry, your particular brand situation and the overall economic climate. And they may change as these other factors change too. But you need to set business goals with specific data points and deadlines, before you set your digital marketing goals.

Once you’ve set your business goals, then you can set your digital marketing goals. So, for example, if your business goal is to increase revenue, then two digital marketing goals that support this would be to drive more traffic to your website and to increase conversions from your product selling pages. Make sure your digital marketing goals are SMART too. Once you’ve decided upon them, you can allocate your marketing budget and staffing accordingly.

As you implement your digital marketing strategy, you need to track your progress. To do this, you should establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), so you can identify what is working and what isn’t.

Eight examples of general digital marketing goals

These are examples of general marketing goals. But remember, you need to make a goal SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – before including it in your digital marketing strategy.

  1. Increase website traffic
  2. Improve conversion rates
  3. Grow your email list
  4. Boost lead generation
  5. Improve brand awareness
  6. Improve customer loyalty
  7. Improve customer satisfaction
  8. Increase social media presence

Understand your target audience

An important aspect of a successful digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive understanding of your target audience. Only then can you make informed decisions about the types of digital marketing you employ, the media you use, and the messaging and timing of your communications.

Your target audience depends on your product. Some products have very broad target audiences, others are much more niche. You can define your target audience using factors including age, gender, interests, location, income, education level, profession, and marital status.

You should also look into who is currently buying your products. You can do this by engaging with them on social media, especially through surveys, and by using Google Analytics to get data on who visits your website.

At the same time, take a look at trends for similar products and investigate who your competitors are targeting. The more you find out about your target audience, the more closely you’ll be able to define them, until you can define your ideal buyer or buyers. Then you can create a persona – or several – to have in mind, when you are marketing.

Optimize your online presence

According to a Salesforce survey, 85% of consumers conduct research before they make a purchase online, and among the most used channels for research are websites (74%) and social media (38%)2.

These statistics alone show why you need a strong online presence. Your brand needs to be sufficiently visible online to be seen by your target audience. That visibility builds brand recognition and awareness. This leads to increased trust which, in turn, helps drive sales and gain new customers. Conversely, a lack of online visibility can lead to potential customers questioning whether your business is even legitimate!

A strong online presence also gives you a good platform from which to engage with your customers. For example, on social media channels you can quickly respond to inquiries and, on the other hand, ask for feedback which you can use to improve your service. This will help increase trust even further.

4 Tips on how to optimize your online presence

Select a reliable logistics partner

Increasingly, delivery is being included in digital marketing strategy as a key part of a positive customer experience. And e-commerce customers are valuing reliable, efficient delivery more than ever before.

For example, 91% of consumers look for a webstore’s delivery options before reaching checkout. And 63% of basket abandonment is caused by limited shipping options.

So clearly, meeting customers’ delivery needs is important. On the other hand, if you don’t meet their needs, you not only risk losing the trust of customers you’ve worked so hard to build up, but the growing power of reviews and social media means you could also damage your online reputation.

Apart from affecting customer satisfaction and your online reputation, reliable logistics is vital for any successful business, ensuring the efficient and cost-effective flow of goods through the supply chain4. Logistics also allows for greater flexibility in the supply chain, enabling your business to quickly and easily adjust to changes in customer demand or market conditions. In addition, you can track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, ensuring they arrive at the right time and place.

However, if you’re trying to grow your business, logistics can take up a disproportionate amount of your time and attention. That’s why it’s a good idea to enlist a third-party logistics provider. While this is true for small to medium sized businesses, it’s also true for larger ones. In fact, according to Armstrong and Associates, 90% of the Fortune 500 rely on a third-party logistics provider5!

Manage your inventory to support your digital marketing strategy

Inventory management, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, involves ordering, stocking and effectively utilizing a business’s materials or products. It can include your sales forecasting, product ordering, supply chain management, warehouse management, and customer fulfilment solutions. 

Good inventory management involves a tricky balance that many businesses struggle to achieve. If you stock too little inventory, you run the risk of disappointing customers and driving them away. If you overstock, it can cause you cashflow issues. In either case, poor inventory management can severely compromise the positive effects of your digital marketing campaigns – so it’s important to do everything you can to get the balance right.

Top 10 tips for better inventory management

This can help you understand your ideal ordering quantities and frequencies. Group A can be higher-price items you need fewer of. Group B are moderately priced items that move faster than Group A. While Group C are lower-cost, fast turnover items you need plenty of.

Keep product information for all items in your inventory, including: SKUs, barcode data, suppliers, countries of origin, lot numbers. You could also track each item’s cost over time, so you’re aware of factors that affect pricing, such as scarcity and seasonality.

This involves counting your inventory regularly, to ensure it matches what you think you have. You could do this annually, monthly, weekly, and even do daily checks of the most popular items.

An unreliable supplier can cause inventory problems and disappointment for your customers. If a supplier often delivers late, shorts orders, or causes supply chain delays, be prepared to switch. It’s a good idea to diversify your suppliers anyway, adding some in different locations to give you options when needed.

Generally, 80 percent of a business’s profits come from 20 percent of its stock. Prioritize managing this 20 percent of your inventory, understanding how many of these popular products you sell per week or per month and monitor them closely.

If team members processing incoming stock all use slightly different methods, you can end up with discrepancies between your stock numbers and your purchase orders. Train your employees so they all receive stock in exactly the same way.

Understand, on a daily basis, what items you’ve sold, and how many, and update your inventory totals. You can analyze this data and discover, for example, if there is a particular day of the week or a season when certain items sell well, or when sales of certain items drop, or which items sell best together. This will also help you with your inventory.

Some vendors offer to reorder inventory for you. However, they will have different priorities, wanting to move their items, whereas you want to stock the most profitable items for your business. Time spent checking inventory and restocking it yourself is time well spent.

Good inventory management software makes inventory tasks easier and gives you more time to spend running your business. Before choosing a solution, ensure you understand your needs and that the product is easy to use with essential analytics features.

Choose systems that work together, such as mobile scanners and POS systems that communicate with your inventory management software. Then you won’t have to transfer data from one system to another and risk inaccurate inventory counts.

Benefits of a well-executed digital marketing strategy

There are many benefits to a well-executed digital marketing strategy, which vary depending on what that strategy sets out to achieve. Among them are improved brand awareness, increased customer engagement, a higher level of customer trust and satisfaction and, of course, growth in sales.

But crucially, don’t forget that your strategy needs to be supported by logistics that makes good on the promises of your digital marketing campaigns. If your logistics partner delivers, then so can you – and your customers will have a seamless, positive experience, will leave good online reviews and, most importantly of all, come back for more.