This is the time of year where people naturally begin to reflect back on the past 12 months and look forward to the year ahead. When it comes to business, it’s a great time to draw up a detailed business plan for 2020, which must include a digital marketing strategy to support your growth strategy and increase your online presence.
We’ve put together some advice on creating a detailed digital marketing strategy that will enhance your business strategy.
Your strategy document will be the centre point to all the activities that you do, so it is important that this is watertight. Once the strategy has been written, it should be referred to on a regular basis to ensure that every activity you do is moving towards the targets you have set. There are many things to consider when putting this together, but the main ones are outlined below.
The marketing objectives for your business should be decided first. What do you want to achieve from your marketing activities? How much do you want to grow your business’s revenue over the 12 month period? Is there a particular area of the business you want to grow? How would your brand to be seen by your target market? Is your aim to move to a different sector? Every objective you have will determine which activities you focus on and how. Once the objectives have been set, the next step is to drill down and set your KPIs.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Off the back of your marketing objectives, KPIs are your measurable targets (think SMART goals). Now is the time to think about what you want in terms of numbers and time-specific targets. You want to grow your revenue as a result of your marketing activities, but by how much and over what period of time? Do you have a long, medium and short-term objective in mind in which to measure revenue growth (e.g. quarterly targets, 10% increase month on month etc)? If you are looking to move to a different sector, when is your target completion date? What measurements are being put in place to ensure this is done? Your KPIs should be watertight, and most importantly, achievable within the scope of your overall marketing objectives.
Target audience and buyer personas
Whatever business you are in, you must always have people who are prepared to buy your products or services. Who are these people and where do they live? Sometimes having a broad target market can really blur the lines of your overall strategy. Think back to your marketing strategy and the KPIs. Who do you need to get in front of and where are they? It may be that you have a niche market which makes the answer easy, but if you have a “mass market” product, you need to segment your target audience certain demographics. This is where Buyer Personas come into play. If your ideal customer/client could walk through the door now and instantly buy from you, who would they be? You may have multiple personas you need to target. In which case write them all down. It always helps if you create your own target personas as they will give you a solid foundation for your marketing activities.
The thorn in any business’s side is the competition. Competitors are always lying in wait, trying to get the business you want. So the more you know about them the better. Do your research, look at their USPs and carry out a SWOT analysis of each one (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). The more you know about them the better, as it will help you find the ‘edge’ you’re looking for.
Once you have your overall marketing objectives, KPIs, and competitors in check, you will have a great understanding of how you will need to talk to your target market. How do you want to come across and what tone of voice to you want to use? This will apply to your website as well as blogs and social media and needs to be defined in your brand guidelines. Do you want to come across as professional thought leaders by producing clear and concise content, or do you want to be little fun, edgy and engage in areas that your competitors don’t? You don’t want to be delivering a mixed message, so ensure that your content strategy alines with your business ethos and, most importantly, with your main marketing objectives.
Lastly, you need to measure how well your strategy is working. How you measure will be determined by the activities you are doing, and how long you do them for. Measuring the social media activities (the business analytics tools of each platform will give you a good overview), for example, you can see which ones get the best response (engagements) from your target market. You may spend all day sharing photos of your products, but if these are not being interacted with, you may need to review the content you are putting out to you target buying personas.It’s a great time to draw up a marketing strategy for 2020. #DigitalMarketing Click To Tweet
This overview is the basis for any strategy, and the last part is the execution of the campaign and your strategy now needs to get more granular for the activities you wish to undertake. Click the headers below to be taken to that section.
- Paid advertising
- Content (posting)
- Link Building
Social media strategy
When it comes to your Social Media strategy, you need to think about KPIs, competitors, company analysis, posting, and Paid For Advertising.
- KPIs – Firstly, think about the key performance indicators you can achieve through social media platforms, whether it’s organic growth or numbers of inbound enquiries, and set yourself goals per month, e.g. 200 page likes per month on Facebook.
- Competitors – It is always a good idea to check out what is happening with your competitors as this will give you an idea of where they are at in their growth journey and what kind of content that has been posting for the past few months. It will also help you to distinguish if you have any new local competitors.
- Analysis – It’s always a good discipline to analyse your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Not only does it give you an idea of the weaker areas you can work on in the coming year, it’ll also highlight where you’ve done well, enabling you and your team to give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back! You may find that one of your company’s strengths is that your team attend a lot of interesting industry conferences, but your weakness is they find it hard to remember to document these events through photography or videos on your socials. Now you know what you need to work on in 2020! The reason why it’s good to post photos and videos when you’re at a conference is that it makes your company more engaging, as well as giving you the opportunity to show your clients that you’re keen to stay up to date with news and learning in your industry.
- Posting – Now look at your posting strategy. Work out how many times per week you need to will post on each social media platform. Work out what kind of content you will put out, and also what your copy and tone of voice will be on each separate platform, as they’re all aimed at different audiences.
- Paid advertising – Finally, consider your 2020 paid for advertising. Work out how much you will be willing to spend on advertising per month, and which platforms will give you the best ROI. For example, you may decide that spending £150 per month on Facebook advertising will boost traffic to your website, increase your page likes and increase your brand awareness to your desired client.
The beauty of organic search is that you can actively target your intended audience at all stages of the sales funnel.
To plan an effective SEO strategy, as with any marketing channel, you need to start by defining your objectives and target audience. What are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to reach? These are key questions that must have clear answers before any strategies are devised and implemented.
Some common SEO specific objectives are:
- Increase website traffic for targeted search terms
- Improve search rankings for specific keywords
- Increase leads/sales from organic search
These are all worthy aims, but they are not specific enough to be measured effectively. Setting specific goals as part of your objectives will allow you to measure whether your efforts are working or are off course. While aiming high is admirable, the goals need to be realistic and achievable, otherwise, the campaigns will be futile.
Examples of these same objectives with specific goals would be:
- Increase website traffic from organic search by 50% YOY within 6 months
- Achieve page one ranking in Google for 10 chosen search terms
- Increase leads/sales from organic search by 25%
Using the above objectives, there are three key areas which need to be focused on when looking at SEO achieving the targets:
- Onpage: This focuses on the optimisation on the actual website, including headings, page titles, meta descriptions and content.
- Off-page: This focuses on factors which help your website to rank, but are external from your website, including, link building and competitor research.
- Technical SEO: This looks at the more complicated aspects of SEO, including sitemaps, schema markup and website speed.
The list of tasks will need to be prioritised from quick wins to the longer burners. To dictate this order, it would be beneficial to start with an SEO audit, to outline any immediate problems with the current website and begin with these tasks.
But remember, each website is different, so the priority order will change from website to website depending on the issues faced.
Content is one of the most important aspects of SEO, as the content is what helps Google to rank your website. So you need a clear content strategy.
To create a good content strategy that aligns with the SEO strategy, you need to begin with keyword research. There are many tools out there which offer this such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush and the Surfer SEO Keyword Extension.
If you want to be ahead of the game, we have just discovered the Exploding Topics website that analyses the keywords that have become extremely popular in a short period of time. Scroll through the recent exploding topics to find relevant keywords and phrases that will be useful to you because they’re topical.
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential keywords, you can then use them to help you think of a compelling blog or landing page ideas. We have brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas for blogs (we call it ‘blog storming’) and involved everyone working on the account in order to ensure that all our blog topic ideas fit in with the client’s marketing strategy, planned social media posts, as well as business strategy and brand.
Once you have the content for the blogs or landing pages, you need to think of compelling titles for them. Make sure they’re clear and about the subject matter to make them visible to people searching for products, services or topics that relate to it. We find that writing Top Tips are always popular blogs as they show expertise and are helping to solve problems.
The next thing to do is create a content calendar so everyone knows which blogs are due to be written and when they are due to be posted on the website.
Finally, once the blog has been written, make sure it’s fully optimised (see SEO section below) to ensure when potential new customers are searching for keywords and phrases, your blog is as high as possible on the search results.
Be a trusted thought leader
Your blog section is your chance to position your brand as a trusted thought leader. To earn this status and gain brand ambassadors, your blogs must always be well researched, well written truthful, objective and not salesy. If you use blogs to advertise and sell your products or services, you will quickly lose trust in your brand.
It is hugely important that all blog content is original. If you do a lazy cut and paste, Google and the other search engines will pick up on it and penalise your SEO standings. The algorithms will also recognise badly written copy, spelling and grammatical errors, so you must ensure your blogs and your website pages are readable and accurate.
Once you have strong content on your website that is ranking well, you can create a link building strategy to help with your domain authority.
A backlink is a link that comes from an external website, which gives you greater authority as a quality website. Think of it as a review, the more 5 star reviews you have, the better you look as a company. So as far as Google’s concerned, the more quality backlinks you have, the better your company looks, which helps you rank higher.
To begin a link building strategy, you need to research domains which have good domain authority and reach out to them for a link to your website. Tools which will aid this are Ahrefs or Majestic.
Once you have planned your content strategy and obtained quality links, you need to ensure that your website is fully optimised. You need to look at keyword rankings and use the higher volumed ones to optimise your key landing pages. This will kickstart a strong foundation for your website and the initial rankings.
As soon as you have laid down the SEO foundations, you need to think about the technical SEO including schema markup, website speed and sitemaps. These need to be included in the SEO strategy as secondary plans, once the basic SEO has been implemented.
To recap, the most important things you need to think about when devising an SEO strategy are:
- Onpage SEO
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Keyword research
- Offpage SEO
- Link building
- Competitor research
- Technical SEO
- Schema markup
- Website speed
Pay Per Click (PPC) Strategy
Before you begin to plan out your marketing strategy for paid search, it’s crucial that you define your objectives, target audience, and budget.
Your objectives should be both clear and measurable, and easy to communicate with all parties involved in the implementation. Any decisions made regarding channels and tactics must align directly with those objectives.
- Increasing sales/revenue
- Driving more sales leads
- Raising brand awareness
While these are all worthy objectives, they are not specific enough to be measured effectively. Better examples of these same objectives would be
- Increasing sales/revenue by X% YOY
- Driving X inbound sales leads per month
- Increasing direct website traffic / social media engagement by X%
Specific metrics are a far better method of measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. These metrics are commonly referred to as key performance indicators or KPIs.
Know your audience
Once you have decided on your objectives, you can then move on to planning your strategy, and the specific tactics you will employ to achieve your objectives.
Whether you are an established company or a new startup, you should (hopefully!) know who your target audience is. Using this as a starting point, you can begin to work out how to reach them effectively – the websites they visit online, the social media platforms they engage with, and the search terms they actively use.
Armed with these insights, you can make an informed decision about the platforms and campaign formats it will be best to concentrate on in order to achieve your objectives.
Now that these fundamental points have been established, you can move on to the specifics of your paid search strategy for 2020.
If you’re currently running PPC campaigns, or have done in the past, the first step should be an audit to determine the following points:
- Did they achieve their objectives?
- Have they yielded a positive return?
- What have we learnt from these campaigns?
- What aspects have worked particularly well?
- What hasn’t worked as intended?
- Have you overlooked any optimisation opportunities?
- Are the budgets for these campaigns adequate?
- Are the campaigns being throttled/limited by the budget?
- Do the budgets for these campaigns still fit within the overall marketing budget?
- Do they need to be raised or lowered?
- Do these campaigns still align with our objectives and focus for 2020?
If the answer to the last point is yes, and there aren’t any new areas of focus for the new year, then your PPC strategy will be to maintain and optimise.
While auditing your PPC account to determine the points above, you should have been reviewing your account for opportunities and quick wins. Even if the account has been running well and hitting all KPIs and objectives, there will usually be small adjustments that can improve its performance.
Adjustments to consider
Your first task needs to be to review the targeting settings for each campaign – have these been set as optimally as possible? Some key settings that tend to be overlooked are locations, ad scheduling, bid adjustments by devices, and demographics.
Next, review your ads and ad extensions. Is there room for improvement with the ad copy or display creatives? Are there relevant ad extensions that aren’t being used? Creating and testing new ads on a regular basis should be done for every PPC account, even established ones.
Cost per conversion
The key thing with an established account will be to review the historical data and evaluate the account performance at a granular level. Assuming you have conversion tracking working accurately you should be able to narrow down which campaigns, ads and keywords are delivering conversions and the rate and cost of each one. Using this data you can make informed decisions as to where your optimisation efforts should be prioritised.
The ultimate aim for an established PPC account is to optimise to a realistic target cost per actions that make sense for the business and then scale the breadth of the campaigns to the limits that the targeting and platform allow.
If your marketing objectives focus on new product or service offerings, then new PPC campaigns will need to be created, in which case your PPC strategy will be to test and optimise.
Based on your objectives and insights into your target audience, start by researching the keywords/search terms that are relevant to your objectives, offering, and audience. It is crucial to make sure the keywords are relevant for all three aspects, otherwise, you will simply waste money on traffic that won’t convert or align with your objectives.
In addition to keyword research, you need to spend time researching other advertisers competing within your space. By using specialised tools like Semrush, or by doing a manual search and taking notes, you can gain valuable insights into the search terms they are targeting and messaging they use in their ad copy. With these insights and your own knowledge of the industry and target audience, you can use this information to create your own compelling ads.
Making your budget go as far as possible
This initial research should be used to guide your strategy in line with your objectives. While compiling your keyword research you should have been noting the estimated cost per clicks (CPCs). The CPC of the keywords you intend to target will factor into the other important consideration of your PPC campaigns – your budget.
If your available budget is somewhat limited, then targeting expensive keywords will limit the number of clicks/traffic you will be able to afford. With a limited budget, you will be better served to focus on cheaper keywords so that you can gather more traffic and data. This will expedite the learning period where you are trying to ascertain what is working.
The actual process of setting up the PPC campaigns go beyond the scope of this guide, although the points below summarise it:
- Choose the campaign format best suited to your objectives and offering – such as search for lead generation, shopping for eCommerce sales, and so on
- Make sure the campaign settings and targeting are in line with your objectives and target audience – location targeting, interests, demographics, ad schedules, etc
- Ensure all ads and creatives align with your objectives and have clear calls to action
- Make sure your campaigns are set up according to best practices and are well organised – this will make them easier to manage and optimise
- Make sure the website and landing pages you are directing PPC traffic to are geared towards receiving and converting the visitors
- Most importantly, make sure your analytics and conversion tracking are set and working correctly!
Once your PPC campaigns are running and have gathered data, you can begin to optimise the account and improve its performance. The key tenet with new campaigns is to be continually testing – your aim is to discover what combinations of targeting, keywords, and ad copy are working. Once you have established winning combinations, you can replicate this across the account, while optimising for further improvements.
- Decide on your marketing objectives and goals
- Clearly define your target audience in line with these objectives
- Decide which ad platforms and formats are best suited to your objectives, goals, and audience
- Audit and evaluate any PPC existing campaigns
- Carry out keyword and competitor research
- Set up and launch any new campaigns
Integrate your digital marketing with your overall strategy
Your digital marketing strategy must not be made in isolation because it’s an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. With a single cohesive strategy, each strand will complement each other to increase brand awareness and sales.
For example, if you produce a promotional video, you need to run it on your website and social media channels and even on AV equipment in your office or store. You can also use associated images as memes as well as offline marketing, i.e. as promotional materials in-store and at point of sale promotional materials. As long as there is consistency across your digital marketing and other marketing, there will be recognition, strengthening your brand and helping to increase sales.