Why is a digital marketing strategy important?

Introduction

Ever been sat in a Zoom call, or in a boardroom listening to people talk about digital marketing, and think no-one really knows what they are talking about?

You might be wondering: "where should we focus our efforts, blogging, social media, SEO, paid advertising?"

But have you stopped to consider what you are trying to achieve? And who are you trying to reach? If you don’t have clear answers, then your digital strategy will suffer.

What the heck is our website about?

Another scenario would be a member of staff looking at their company website thinking ‘what the heck is our website about? This isn't us!’ It could be the case that no one really knows in your organisation what your website should be used for.

The net result is confused potential customers, staff that lack clear direction and a massive mismatch in what you do as a business and how the digital landscape portrays you.

Having identified potential problems created by failing to plan and execute a digital marketing strategy, we need to talk about what one is. 

What is a digital marketing strategy?

In short, it’s how you use digital channels (your website, email, social media, Google etc.) to reach the right audience. The more you know about that audience, the better you can target those people.

In a constantly evolving digital landscape, this means designing and executing a carefully organised plan which, if done correctly and effectively will breed positive results and revenues. To achieve this, your business should be willing to invest, as you would any other member of staff or asset you feel is required to grow your business.

Why is having a digital marketing strategy important?

Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Provides a clear direction about why your team is doing something
  • Helps form a solid understanding of who your company deals with
  • Provides confidence in organisations  they’re heading in the right direction
  • Prevents wasted effort working on ideas that don't yield any results
  • Achieves results you can measure 
  • Motivates departments with clear objectives backed up with clear results
  • Opens opportunities with audiences relevant to what you’re really doing
Analyse and report on the performance of your marketing

Traditional forms of marketing becoming less effective 

The days of advertising in print and on the radio are surely numbered. At a time when attention spans are limited and everyone has a digital device in their pocket, digital marketing is essential for any business that wants to grow.

The range of channels involved in digital marketing can be daunting to many people. If in doubt, talk to an expert.

Where do you start?

We always recommend you start with the users, then move through the steps those users would take when interacting with an organisation like yours. You can have numerous personas. For example: some might be potential customers, potential employees or strategic partners you want to talk to. 

Establish your business goals

Start with aligning your marketing objectives with your overall growth goals.  

For example - SMEs might need immediate revenue; Enterprise clients might want to build brand relationships or awareness. Areas like SEO and social media usually require very similar tactical applications - write content designed for the user, post it up and build an audience. Social media and paid advertising are good for immediate return, while SEO is great for long-term objectives. But everything needs to work together. 

When you know what the business needs to achieve, then you can immerse yourself in the tactics associated with customer engagement.

Stop the scattergun approach

The world of digital marketing is rather vast. Unsurprisingly, it’s really easy to ‘dig in the wrong hole’ as they say. This means to work like mad on a certain channel or piece of content which attracts the wrong kind of people. Now this might sound easy, but actually it isn't so straightforward. You need to know what your target audiences objectives are - then make content to appeal to them.

Create user personas

Make a list of the main user groups and job titles of people your organisation wants to talk to. New staff members, senior decision makers, suppliers or people to help grow your network.

Create user personas by job title, then fill out their priorities and objectives. This will inform the type of strategy you need based on the goals of your target users. It will also help you discover where you might find them on the web.


Creating top tasks

  • What do your customers want to do? 
  • What’s important to them? 
  • Why do they need what you’re offering? 
  • How do you reach them?

Making a list of the main objectives is a great way to understand the priorities of your customers. Again, think lean. Making a relatively short list of 10 high priority items helps you whittle down tasks with highest priority. 

Please keep your user personas and top tasks handy and readily accessible by everyone. They are your go-to place when making decisions about direction.

- You might find useful our article on The Lean Approach To Digital Marketing.

Choose channels to fit user personas

LinkedIn for professionals. TIkTok for under 25s. Instagram for cool products. SEO for everyone. Pay Per Click for some but only if you have a solid landing page strategy. These are a few obvious examples of how certain channels work for demographics. This also varies from country to country so do your research and think about where your target audiences might be.

Traps to avoid

I would always advise you work on audience and top tasks before jumping into designs, colours, photos and tag-lines. 

While brand guidelines are important, they shouldn't be discussed when you are setting out an initial digital strategy. That should come after you know who it is you're approaching. Understand your users’ needs and the tone and message becomes simple.

A clear direction to go forward

Make your website findable

Having a website without visitors is pretty pointless. Having people on your site that aren't your user personas is also not ideal. So do some research into the areas your user personas move in. What websites they use, what blog posts they will find interesting. Then get yourself in the same digital marketing spaces.

There's nothing for me here so i'm leaving

Make visitors interact - The all important user journey

All digital marketing starts with a journey. The user journey describes the steps that your users’ take while they interact with your company. If you don’t understand these customer journeys and design appropriately, the users of your website or app will lose interest.

Presenting a user with something unexpected can result in a poor experience, and they are more likely to drop off your website.

“A customer journey needs to be enjoyable as well as functional.” Paul Boag - UX guru.

Someone may have seen an advert on the TV, on Google or on a social media post. They will take action by clicking, calling or sharing.

- If you are in doubt about how to approach customer journey design. Talk to a User Experience Agency like us.

Competitor analysis

A review across the Social Media and other digital channels of your main competitors can quickly reveal some aspects of their digital strategy. 

What kind of posts are they pushing and why? Their website may also give some clues. A well designed blog section should have been directed by a digital strategist, so a quick scan around some competitors blog areas also provide ideas to help with your planned approach.

Maintaining your strategy 

Analyse and review

Once your team are happily directed and beavering away working on amazing video or blog post content, you should set time aside to analyse performance. 


On blog posts you should look at ‘bounce rate’ and time on page. For social media likes and shares. These are all usually quite obvious to identify.

If you need assistance locating the bounce rate of a page, talk to our website analysis team.

For paid advertising, problem areas can often be harder to identify. Some of the usual suspects might be spending on the wrong keywords for your service or product, or the location you’re targeting may have the wrong audience. Or there could be a step in your sales funnel that throws your visitors off, totally destroying all the hard work your PPC and landing page team have done. 

If you need to get more from your PPC advertising, it's worth hiring a Conversion Rate Optimisation specialist to help.

Continuous optimisation

When I say this I don't mean every hour of every day. Although that’s easily done.

Continuous optimisation means you should be reviewing your digital marketing strategy regularly and keep working forward by gathering insights from online tools such as Google Analytics for websites, Ahref for SEO, Iconosquare for Social and Google Adwords for paid advertising.

The performance of your marketing channels should always be gathered and presented in a slide deck for stakeholders to review. This way you can collaborate and make informed decisions about your next round of work. 

If you need help with analysing your website talk to our team today.

Update user personas

Users change periodically and with market shifts. You only think about TikTok, Facebook and Instagram to see how users move channels as trends change. So it’s worth every few months revisiting your user personas and check if they're still current.

Find new opportunities

Performing regular keyword and social post analysis can help you keep growing in new areas most relevant to your business. 

Quotes from the business world

“Without one it’s practically impossible to succeed digitally & even determine what will constitute success. A good digital strategy will also help drive any tactical decisions that are needed and will essentially serve as the torch that shines on your path & direction in  an increasingly online world.”

- Declan O’Boyle - Partner at Strategic People

“Placing information on a website will only get you so far, and that’s because there are so many possibilities in respect of the way in which information can be structured and presented. It's very easy to get it wrong and limit performance in the process. 

Digital strategy in the context of the services and advice that we've been given, has meant applying logic to the site in a number of ways, from the way in which content is written, to page layout, to site structure, all with consideration of SEO. So 'strategy' equates simplistically to a better, higher- performing site, with which we can win more business.”

- James Hockey - Trace Basement Systems

“Having a digital strategy is like looking into the future. For instance, you can edit and adapt ad campaigns or SEO campaigns depending on current results to achieve the end goals. Your digital strategy prevents any second guessing or mistakes.”

- Billy Mushet - Catchfish Online

“The worst thing people do in digital marketing is scattergun approach” 

- Ben Jarrold - Head of Content Creation 

“A digital strategy gives your team a ‘North Star’ enabling everyone to move in the same direction of travel - confident they’re heading the same way”

- Alex Smith - Senior UX consultant

"Start with aligning your marketing objectives with your overall growth goals.  When you know what the business needs to achieve, then you can immerse yourself in the tactics associated with customer engagement."

- Andrew Thomas - Digital Transformation Coach

This article was written by Robert Hufton, a User Experience consultant at Higher Ground Marketing.

About us

Higher Ground are a UX and CRO agency. We bring you useful articles and guides to help you get more from your websites, apps and marketing campaigns.

Feel free to ask us anything about User Experience Design or Digital Marketing.
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