The modern marketing world is awash in technology. Mobile devices and near-ubiquitous Wi-Fi connections have been the major drivers in shaping strategic marketing in the emerging digital economy, but that only scratches the surface of potential marketing utility.
With widespread broadband internet has come mountains of user data. That data provides insights into the preferences, habits and desires of consumers.
It is one thing to know that your customers are using a particular app or exploring your product at a particular time of day; it’s another thing entirely to know how best to use that information to create customers for life.
To accomplish that, business owners must have a strategic marketing plan that takes advantage of the digital tools at their disposal.
Strategic marketing means making and implementing a plan based on goals and the available data. The strategy is the overall basis of the plan; its implementation is accomplished through the tactics chosen to support the strategy. Then, using the data collected during tactical implementation, adjust the plan to better serve the overall strategy.
The Strategic Marketing To-Do List
The tactics used to support the digital marketing strategy will vary, depending on the goals. Choosing the strategy and tactics are only the beginning.
Therefore, the strategic marketing to-do list will look like this:
- Establish your goals.
- Develop a strategy to achieve your goals.
- Choose tactics to support the strategy.
- Measure and analyze the effectiveness of the tactics to determine what works and what doesn’t.
- Adjust the tactics accordingly.
Strategic Digital Marketing Foundations
Of course, the above to-do list is only a general overview of a strategic marketing plan. Each step will require a lot of brainstorming based on the available data, the size and scope of the organization, the time frame established to achieve the goals, the available financial support and the skill and knowledge of the people tasked with developing and implementing the plan.
Here are a few details about how to develop a strategic marketing plan based on digital capability.
Create Buyer Personas
There is virtually no way to proceed with a marketing plan of any kind until and unless you know who you are trying to reach with your message. That means creating virtual versions of your ideal customers, based on traits and other information that can be accessed through data gold mines such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and other reliable consumer data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center and Data.gov.
To create accurate personas, you will need information such as household income, gender, geographic location, interests, motivations, professional history and other relevant details specific to your industry. The personas should reflect your entire potential customer base, not merely a small segment of it. Today’s personalized messaging requires a thorough knowledge of your potential customers, and that’s where well-defined personas come in handy.
Identify Challenges and Obstacles
This will require a deep working knowledge of the industry you’ve chosen, and it should include historical knowledge as well as an understanding of the current events and technological innovations that could affect the life cycle of your product or the demand for your service.
Until you know what obstacles you’ll need to overcome, you won’t be able to identify the digital tools you’ll require to implement your marketing tactics.
Choose Campaign Types
Now that you know where to find your potential customers and you’ve identified why they might respond well to your marketing effort, it’s time to select a type of campaign. Because there are so many options in the digital marketing world, many campaigns incorporate more than one device.
In general, the campaigns are conducted across three main platforms:
- Owned media – This is your company’s website, its social media properties, blog content or any other creative or advertising effort that is completely owned and, in most cases, operated by your company.
- Earned media – This includes mentions on the radio, on TV, in newspapers, in magazines or on industry websites that have chosen to give attention to your efforts. This often requires a targeted public relations effort, but a company that expends energy on publicizing its successes on its owned media also might receive attention from earned media sources.
- Paid media – This includes pay-per-click advertising on search engines, social media advertising, paid blog posts written by digital influencers in your industry, sponsored posts furnished to large websites that promise favorable placement, and other paid channels.
Analyze the Data
Once your goals are set and you have selected the platform or platforms for your campaigns, you will need to make sure that you know how to measure success. Determine what will be considered a legitimate sales lead and what will be considered a “converted” sales lead.
Track your leads and conversions carefully. This is the information that will help you determine whether your strategic marketing efforts are working, or whether you need to make adjustments.
Stay Open to Change
Flexibility also is a vital component in any strategic marketing effort. If your post-campaign analysis reveals that your tactics did not adequately support your strategy, always be willing to try other approaches.
Consider whether your goals are attainable, and always be evaluating whether the ongoing strategy is geared toward reaching those goals. If it is not – change it.