What is digital strategy? It’s is the integration of multiple forms of marketing, where the sum is greater than its parts. Suddenly, you’re educating, convincing, and selling to audiences through a multi-pronged approach – video, social, blog, website, etc.
Digital strategies are designed to move audiences through the 3 stages of the buyers journey:1. Awareness: where audiences first learn about your company, to
2. Consideration: knowing what you offer, and considering your products over a competitor, then
3. Decision: choosing to buy your product/service
This post is an overview of digital strategy – we want to show how marketing elements integrate and align with the buyer’s journey to form a digital strategy.
Elements of a Digital Strategy
1. Research & strategy development
2. Website & e-commerce branding
3. Social media marketing
4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
5. Search engine marketing (SEM)
6. Email marketing
7. Video marketing
8. Digital marketing
9. Inbound marketing & marketing automation
10. Analytics & optimization
1. RESEARCH & STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT
This is where we design your custom digital strategy. But plenty of research is needed first:
- Competitive analysis
- Messaging (unique value proposition, differentiators)
After gathering data and sifting through research, you can identify the most effective strategies and tactics with your audience. This is where the digital strategy plan takes shape – it answers the who, what, when, where, how and why of your digital marketing strategy: who you’re talking to, what you’re saying, when you should publish messages, where are you posting these messages, how often you’re communicating and why audiences should care.
2. WEBSITE & E-COMMERCE BRANDING
Now you have your digital strategy, it’s time to put it in motion. We like to position the website as the centerpiece of the digital strategy. This means funneling audiences to your website through all other marketing efforts.
Why? Because that’s where your best content should be (like blogs or whitepapers), your unique value propositions (value you bring to your customers), as well as primary lead-generation tools (like landing pages with contact forms). The goal is to turn a website from an informational tool into a lead-generating machine.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Maybe you already have great content on your website, but no one’s finding it. Or maybe your audience needs a better way to ask questions or discuss problems.
Social media marketing is another great tool in your marketing tool belt to raise awareness of your services, or engage current audiences until they’re ready to buy from you. You can even use it to spur existing customers to purchase again.
In the Research & Strategy development, we identify the key channels to utilize to reach your target audiences.
4. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization has gone through a lot of changes in recent years (thanks, Google algorithms). The one constant is the fact that SEO is crucial in organic traffic – and whether your content is found by search engines . . . or not.
This is where your research and planning stages really pay off. At Axiom, we blend keyword research, Google trends, your website analytics and much more to identify which search terms you can rank for, and how to ensure your best content is found by the right people. After all, qualified traffic leads to more conversions.
* SEO is more than meta data. Check out our user experience blog to see how website architecture and structural SEO affects your search engine ranking.
5. SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM)
If SEO is for organic growth, Search Engine Marketing is used for paid growth. Assuming you’ve ever used Google, you’ll recognize these as the “paid” search results.
SEM campaigns (also called Pay Per Click [PPC] campaigns) allow you to pay for top placement in search engine results pages for specific keywords. SEM is effective, as it can be used for every stage of the buyers journey. It’s effective for smaller organizations without much visibility, or for companies who want to rank higher than competitors in search engine results pages.
To see these marketing elements combine in a digital strategy, check out this case study.
6. EMAIL MARKETING
Since we’re on the topic of leads, serious question: does your company truly use their leads effectively? For many companies, leads are gained but only a low percentage turn into sales – so what’s the problem? These leads aren’t being nurtured.
Email marketing is a great tactic for lead nurturing. You can pepper audiences with marketing messages, new products or special discounts to transition audiences through the buyers journey. Most leads aren’t ready to buy from you just yet. They need more info, reminders and maybe even special offers to convert them.
With your digital strategy in-hand, you’ll understand your audiences’ needs and their place in the buyers journey – so you can offer the right content at the right time, turning leads into sales.
7. VIDEO MARKETING
Video marketing is huge, and only expected to get bigger by 2020. We see this change happening now: YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, just behind Google. Fact is, most people prefer video over long-form content.
Luckily, digital strategy supports this by maximizing the value of every video. This goes beyond uploading your video to YouTube or Vimeo – video marketing can be placed on website product pages to help close a sale, edited into bite-sized chunks for sharing on social media and used as great trade show tactics, presentation materials or product explanations.
And best of all, video marketing can be designed for any stage of the buyers journey.
8. DIGITAL ADVERTISING
Defining digital advertising can be a little nebulous. It’s an umbrella term that covers many forms of marketing through digital channels. (Basically, every form of marketing discussed above).
These tactics are used to position marketing messages in front of audiences – whether these messages are relevant or expected. I.e.: online ad banners on popular websites.
Note that we said “whether these messages are relevant or expected”, because this approach relies on “pushing” messages onto audiences, whereas the next section discusses a marketing approach that “pulls” or attracts audiences based on content that is helpful to them.
9. INBOUND MARKETING & MARKETING AUTOMATION
Here’s the big marketing buzzword of the last few years: inbound marketing. Inbound marketing represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about marketing (more on that here). In this blog, we’ll leave it at this:
Traditional marketing (or outbound marketing) involves creating marketing materials, then blasting them out to audiences.
Inbound marketing involves creating marketing materials, then creating pathways / lead flows for audiences to discover your content at their own pace.
By using marketing automation, people find and engage with content on their own terms, in their own time. This leads to more sales, greater lead generation and timesavings, since you’re not manually deploying these marketing materials yourself.
See? Inbound marketing is totally different than outbound marketing.
At Axiom, we use HubSpot, an inbound marketing platform. Check out our work with HubSpot in our digital strategy case study.
10. ANALYTICS & OPTIMIZATION
Digital strategies are never “done”. Every new strategy and tactic should be analyzed for effectiveness. And that’s where analytics and optimization comes in.
To see what’s working, and what needs improvement you need to gather analytics for every form of marketing – blogs, emails, social media, etc.
These analytics also reveal your performance compared to industry benchmarks and your own KPIs. This data is quantitative, but a great digital strategist can interpret the data to reveal the why behind audience behavior.
The insights are invaluable: what content is most engaging to users, which products have the highest conversion rate, what marketing channels gain the most leads and much, much more.
A digital strategy can incorporate all 10 forms of marketing, or just a select few. What’s most important is aligning each digital marketing element with your buyers journey.
Every digital strategy is different depending on business goals and audience – but the results should be consistent: every person receives the right message, at the right time – moving them from being aware of your business, to considering your product to eventually deciding to buy your product or service.