For most businesses, finding and engaging with consumers takes place online. It’s a fast-paced market that places a premium on ease of use, relevance and immediacy. To keep up, a robust digital presence is an absolute necessity. In fact, in many ways, your business can no longer survive without one. To grow and meet the demands of a global online audience, digital marketing should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts.
But what is digital marketing, and importantly, how do you implement an agile marketing strategy for your business? In this ebook, you’ll learn the definition of digital marketing and why it’s important, how to develop a holistic marketing strategy and get a step by step guide to content analysis that will help you effectively target your online audience to generate and convert leads, and ultimately grow your business.
The definition of digital marketing has evolved over the years, but the core concepts remain the same. The best digital marketing strategies not only create awareness for your brand or business but also convert website traffic into sales.
Organic search is the core of digital marketing, and content is the core of organic search. In other words, if you don’t have relevant content, your customers are less likely to find you through organic channels. The goal is to optimize your website and online content so that major search engines will display it higher in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). To do this, you must create quality and helpful content that users need. This way, a business or brand can attract attention and grow naturally, hence the term ‘organic.’
This works by building trust and authentic connections with users by providing them valuable information that they will continue to seek out. Because of that, organic marketing is the most effective way to drive traffic, increase click-throughs and grow your brand and business online. Content fuels demand generation, product marketing and sales, as well as every other channel in the digital marketing industry. In fact, content strategy is the backbone of digital marketing. If your content isn’t working, then none of your other channels will work either.
Like most things, building comprehensive digital marketing starts with a set of goals and an execution plan. Although this may sound simple, many companies overlook or under-prioritize this step. Before you jump into keyword research or writing your first email campaign, start with a set of clear and actionable goals. By knowing your goals, you can better assess how to achieve them. A great way to accomplish this is by making SMART marketing goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Here is how you use it:
Specific: Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to sell something? If so, how much revenue do you want to make, and in what time frame? Maybe you want to increase traffic and lead conversion. In that case, where do you want to target your leads and how much of an increase do you want to see? The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to create an effective strategy.
Measurable: You need to figure out how to measure your goals. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? How will you track it? A great way to approach this is by setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You should have one KPI for each of your goals. An example of a measurable KPI may be the amount of customer leads you receive in a month or a percentage of new visitors to your website. By implementing quantifiable goals, you ensure that you can properly track your success and, in turn, hone your strategy.
Attainable: Your goals should be challenging but attainable. If you don’t have the budget or assets, don’t set yourself up for failure. This has a lot to do with creating quality goals and generating motivation with your company. Set your goals using a baseline of something you have already accomplished. That way, you can use past successes as a way to predict future results, keeping steady progress and morale intact.
Realistic: Reality is important when creating goals, which is especially true for digital marketing. You want to set yourself up for long-term success, not short-term failure. Consider factors such as demand, competition, resources and overall market forces. These all play a part in how realistic your goals are. If you aren’t sure, talk with your team and come up with something everyone feels good about achieving.
Timely: Lastly, be sure to set a time frame for your goals. Depending on the specific goal, this could be one month, six months, a year, or more. Creating short-term and long-term goals will help you maintain a healthy cycle of setting, tracking and reviewing your metrics. By setting both small and large goals, you can focus on each step of the process, confident that each accomplishment is setting you up to achieve the larger vision.
Once you have established your goals, you can begin focusing on how to attain them.
The first step here is identifying your audience. After all, creating the right content becomes a shot in the dark if you don’t know who you are targeting. You should aim to have a concrete grasp of the unique needs of your target audience. That way, you can effectively tailor your digital marketing strategy to fit their preferences.
Start by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your target customers. This includes information such as age, location, job title and income. The more details you have, the more specific and impactful your digital marketing strategy can be.
The best way to build these personas is to create them from research, beginning with quantitative research and finishing with qualitative research.
Good quantitative data will give you real insights that help you craft helpful buyer personas. Consider metrics like search and conversion data.
Search data is one of the most direct ways to learn about your target audience. By looking at the number of monthly searches performed on keywords relating to your niche, you can see what topics are most popular among your audience. Extend what you learn to who performs those searches. That way, you get a clear picture of what a specific buyer’s needs are and if those needs are being met.
Conversion data tells you what works. When a user takes action, they are telling you exactly what is important to them. You can acquire this data through CTRs, newsletter sign-ups, social media follows, and anything that shows your audience’s response. The point of creating a buyer persona is to help you make content that your existing and potential customers will find engaging and that motivates them to action. Knowing what has worked in the past enables you to refine your process for the future.
Qualitative research for your buyer persona will allow you to delve deeper into your audience to learn even more about their motivations and concerns. Qualitative research can come in many forms. Start with communication between departments. Find out what your sales team is hearing back from customers or potential clients. What problems are they facing? What questions do they have? Then, speak to your customer service department. Customer service has a finger on the pulse of your business. After all, it’s a department designed to understand what your customers are feeling and troubleshoot any problems they may have.
Take all of this and put it together to create your buyer personas. Be sure to include demographic info but also extend to things like pain points and goals. That way, whatever type of content you’re creating, you can ensure that it will be highly relevant. Also, don’t limit this process to just your content creation team, but include everyone in the development process. Designers, developers, and analytics teams can provide valuable insight into making buyer personas and then incorporate that interdepartmental data into their unique work.
The next step in planning your digital marketing strategy is resourcing. Here is where you will determine what you will need to be successful. Refer to your SMART goals and be practical as you decide what resources you will need.
Of course, the one factor that will determine much of what you can do is budget. Find out your overall budget and how much you are planning to spend on your digital marketing efforts. Then, break down how much you will dedicate to each channel. A good rule of thumb for digital marketing budget distribution is to initially split the bulk of your spending on paid and organic search, with what remains allocated to efforts like email and social. But, this is only to start. The lion’s share of your budget should go to organic search efforts, as it provides the highest ROI of any channel. Don’t forget that great content is what drives organic search, so while you should plan for a prominent content marketing budget, you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot to see great results.
Content is the cornerstone of all digital marketing regardless of channel and strategy. This means that determining and organizing your content strategy should be at the foundation of your efforts. To maximize the effectiveness of your content, you should do a competitive content audit.
In the content audit step, you’ll explore your current assets and content to see what works and what doesn’t, so you can develop a plan of action to get it where it needs to be. Not only does this revitalize potentially low-ranking content, but it also serves to identify topics your audience is interested in so you can create more of what they like going forward. When you conduct a content audit, keep these four things in mind:
At the end of the day, content is the driving force of any digital marketing strategy, so conducting a thorough audit is an important step in creating a solid foundation for reaching your goals. Keep your content fresh, relevant, helpful and poignant, so that users will continue to engage with it. Whether you are just starting to create or have existing content, a content audit will help guide you in the right direction.
The age of digital content is an age of information and knowledge, and marketers need to produce quality, evergreen content that ranks well in the search engines and provides value to users. At the same time, the amount of content that users are exposed to has dramatically increased, making it more challenging to cut through the digital clutter. That’s why you need to be armed with solid research and a content strategy plan to develop engaging, helpful and competitive assets in the market.
This begins with conducting competitive research. You need to know what your competitors are doing in order to stay competitive and relevant. But you also need data on your own content so that you can continue to grow. It all comes down to doing the research. Here are a few ways to incorporate the data you collect from your competitive research and content audit into your content creation.
If your competitor’s content is poorly written or lacking somehow, you can create something more compelling and optimized to target the same keywords. Look back at your existing content and see if it aligns with your newly discovered keywords and targets, making changes as they are needed. This approach places you in the position of an expert in your space and allows you to educate and inform your audience with rich and thoughtful content.
Create two versions of the same asset targeting the same keyword or type of information and test the results. You can then develop the most effective content based on what received the most engagement. This is another great reason to use an SEO platform that delivers detailed metrics; you can see what content resonated with your target audience, what didn’t and why.
Use your data to create various content types that appeal to different user intents and use cases. For example, you can create a list post, an infographic, a video, an FAQ page and so on. This will help your site become less susceptible to falling in the search results for a single piece of content. If one piece doesn’t rank well or isn’t engaging with your audience, you still have a chance with the others; plus, you can keep learning from underperforming content to inform future iterations.
This is a chance to try new things, break out of your comfort zone and develop an authentic style for you and your audience. Yes, compelling content is driven by analytics and data, but it’s also a chance to be creative, appeal to emotion and make connections. Don’t be afraid to try something new or incorporate your personality into your content. That’s what sets you apart from the competition and will help you develop a unique voice in the market. Just make sure you’re delivering something of value to your users and stay focused on your target audience.
Once you have your content fine-tuned and optimized, you need to get it out there for people to see. This starts with identifying promotional channels.
Promotion is as important as creation. If you don’t promote your content, no one will see it. As is the case with every step of your marketing strategy, everything should work together to maximize reach and results. And although you will obviously publish your content after it’s created, keeping your promotional channels in mind during the content creation process will ensure you are making the right content for the right channel.
For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you’ll create different types of content than if your goal is to generate leads. At the same time, the promotion of that content will be different as well. Boosted posts are a great way to let people know you exist, but organic search will generate more genuine interest and leads. The most effective strategy with the highest ROI will take all of this into account, making goal-specific content for channel-specific results.
There are many different types of channels to promote your content, but here are a few of the primary ones to explore:
While each of these channels can be successful, what is important is identifying which will be successful for you. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your choices:
The answers to these questions will point you toward the channels positioned with your goals and your audience.
Don’t forget to incorporate the results from your content audit as you make these decisions. Think about how you can repurpose existing and create net-new content to get the most out of your channel-driven efforts while making sure to push and adapt the organic performance of your blog and website.
In truth, whichever approaches you take, you want them to be synergistic. This goes back to the idea of taking a holistic approach in terms of employing a combination of organic and paid efforts. One productive strategy is to temporarily use paid search to build momentum while your organic efforts grow. In this sense, you can use paid ads to create brand awareness while you build out your organic assets. The SEO value of your website will increase with each visitor, and paid ads can be scaled down once there is sufficient traffic. This also provides you with added SERP real estate, and in the event of search algorithm changes, you will still have the organic results to fall back on.
If you are interested in taking charge of your SEO and digital marketing strategy, begin by learning the fundamentals in an interactive and engaging way. This free Conductor Academy course will teach you what the experts are doing and how they are doing it. Not only will you learn the best practices for integrating your organic and paid channels into a synergistic approach, but you will gain a deep understanding of what SEO is and how to make it work for you, covering topics like search engine functions, keyword research, creating backlinks, measuring ROIs and more.
As you may have noticed, the components of a digital marketing strategy are deeply intertwined. While each element is vital in and of itself, the real key is using them together comprehensively. By doing so, you will create a truly effective strategy that helps your business grow. That means keeping your team aligned and on the same page.
A comprehensive approach to digital marketing requires cross-functional collaboration amongst various teams that work together to create and maintain your online assets. This should include SEO, content creation, and web teams. It’s particularly essential for these teams to be aligned because they each play an integral role in the digital marketing process. For example, well-researched SEO can identify keywords and information gaps that can be incorporated into content creation. At the same time, the web team can ensure that the content and website are easily accessible and usable for the target audience.
It’s also essential to align your marketing team, including channel owners and key stakeholders. Consider who is responsible for managing your organic, paid, social and other digital channels, and be sure to get regular input from them. By keeping everyone on the same page, you will be able to easily coordinate efforts and make strategic decisions for the future of your business.
There’s a lot to consider when building your strategy. While it can be a lot to take in, it’s important to remember that a solid process will make things more manageable. The key to this is integration and agility. By strategically integrating your efforts and quickly adapting as needed, you can create an effective long-term strategy that helps grow your business. This ensures that all of your digital marketing efforts are synchronized to take advantage of opportunities that arise and provide a consistent experience for your customers, rank better in search engines, and continue to drive relevant traffic to your website.
A digital marketing strategy is vital for any business looking to establish a presence online and grow its audience. With the right approach and commitment, your business can achieve the growth you envision for it. Take the next step by signing up for a Conductor demo today.