We’re halfway through the year, but also at the beginning of a new financial year.
This is a great time to review your strategy, assess what’s working, what’s not, and steer the ship so you can grow your business and reach your desired destination (your goals).
First things first, let me explain what a digital strategy is.
What is a marketing strategy and how it can help your business?
Often, when I talk to clients and business people, whenever I say the word “strategy” they react as if I'm talking about something foreign and complicated, probably some 30-page boring document.
But it really doesn't have to be.
A digital marketing strategy, in a nutshell, consists of setting up your business goals, doing a bit of research, and deciding which marketing tactics will help you achieve them with the time and resources you have available.
It can be as long or as short as you want it to be. And I'm always in favor of simple.
What should be included in a digital marketing strategy?
Digital marketing involves SEO (search engine optimization), social media, email, webinars, podcasts, online sales funnels, videos, online workshops, paid online advertising, basically any type of marketing done through the internet.
It doesn't mean that your particular strategy will have all of the above elements. A few tactics done really well will often produce better results than lots of tactics done "half-arsed".
To develop or review your current strategy, I recommend going through the following steps.
Step 1 - Review The Past Before You Move Forward
Take a good moment to review your progress and results so far. Sometimes we feel like we’re not moving fast enough, but when we look back we can be surprised by how far we’ve come.
Review things like:
Are you happy with your business model and your offerings?
Do you enjoy what you’re doing and the clients you’re working with?
How have your sales been in the past 12 months? How much revenue and profit have you generated?
Have you grown your email list and social media?
Are you totally stressed or overwhelmed, or are you growing your business with ease?
Check your Google analytics to see how much traffic your website has been receiving and where this traffic comes from.
Perhaps you’re attracting a lot of traffic, but you haven’t been able to convert them into clients. This will hint you that you need to improve your website conversions, and probably your sales funnels.
You may have the opposite problem. You may have great conversion rates, but not enough traffic, so your sales suffer. That’s a case of increasing your traffic.
You really want to note these numbers, as they will tell you where you need to focus your efforts.
Have you created mutually beneficial partnerships?
Have you set systems in your business that allows you to have more time and freedom?
All these questions are important. They will help you assess how you’re tracking, and how much progress you’ve made so far.
They will also help you spot your strengths and weaknesses. You will quickly see what needs to be improved so you can take your business to where you want it to be, and feel happy and at ease (which I consider highly important).
Don’t skip this step. It will be eye-opening!
Step 2 - Research Your Market
It’s super important to research your market and your competition to help you decide how you will stand out from the crowd, what strategies seem to be working well for them, what is worth modeling, and what you want to do differently.
After all, you don't want to be a copy of your competitors. You want to stand out and attract your ideal clients.
Ask questions and take note of your customers feedback, complaints, compliments and requests.
You should be looking at opportunities to improve what you already offer, develop new products and services and even ditch some of your current offerings if they're not profitable or no longer aligned with your vision.
Step 3 - Get Clear On Your Target Market
The second step is to get clear on your target market and different segments, so you can truly connect with them individually.
Go above and beyond demographics, and really get down to their emotions, frustrations, and desires. You can read more about how to attract your ideal clients here.
Fab tip: Review your ideal customer avatar once a year, then write down some of the main points about her or him on a piece of paper leaving some blank space to add more as you discover more about her or him. Find a photo in a magazine or on the internet of someone who resembles your ideal customer, cut it or print it, give her a name, and place her on your desk next to a short list of adjectives that describe her well.
Every time you create, design or write your communications, products, promotions, social media posts look at her, read it, and create it for her.
This may sound crazy or exaggerated, but it really helps you connect with your market, and stay focused on who you want to attract. Trust me, it makes a world of difference.
If you read my previous blog posts you will notice that every marketing activity starts by getting clear on your target market.
Whether you’re running a Facebook campaign, setting up your funnels, creating an email strategy, content or social media posts, everything starts with your ideal clients. So don’t underestimate this step.
I also find beneficial to review and clarify your brand values and positioning, to ensure it's aligned with both, you and the people you want to attract.
Remember: If you want to attract high-end clients, your brand can't look cheap.
Step 4 - Set Clear, Measurable, Timed Goals
This may sound obvious, but often I hear the following: “I want to make more sales.” When I ask for a number (how many sales, how many clients, etc), many people don’t know.
This is crucial for creating a strategy and plan. If you know you want 10 new clients per month, we can calculate how many leads you need to attract and how much traffic we need to send to your website or landing page. Then it’s easy to break it down into meaningful actions.
Beyond sales and clients, you can also set other marketing goals, for example:
How much traffic do you want to generate to your website?
How many e-mail subscribers do you want to have?
How many likes or followers do you want to have on social media? PS. Don’t get too attached to vanity metrics. Likes and follows don’t necessarily mean business and sales.
Do you want to launch a new product or service? By when?
Do you want to build new partnerships? How many? With whom?
When you set your goals, be very specific. It becomes so much easier to decide what to focus on, what your priorities are, and stop wasting time and money on things that don’t matter (aka, reduce stress and overwhelm).
Step 5 - Choose your Marketing Tactics
The next step is to decide which tactics are best suited to help you achieve your goals.
This will depend on your type of business, your industry, market, and your resources (staff, time, and budget).
Your digital marketing strategy may include some or all of the following tactics:
Website design and copy (make sure your website is converting visitors into leads and clients)
Optimizing your website for Search Engines like Google.
Content Marketing (blogs, videos, podcasts, images, etc)
Paid online advertising (Facebook ads, Google ads, banner ads, other).
If you’re wondering whether you need to use all of the above, the short answer is no. Often a few tactics well executed can produce great results.
However, you should think about your marketing short term and long term. It's useful to have some tactics that will produce immediate results and cash flow, and some that will help you build momentum and pay off in the future.
Preferably you want to use one or two main tactics and a few supporting ones.
Depending on your type of business, you may also want to use some traditional marketing such as direct mail, live events, networking, etc.
Whatever you believe will work well for your business.
Now, try these two things:
1 - Don't choose too many tactics. Focus on fewer tactics and do them well. This will reduce overwhelm and stress, and will also be more effective.
2- Try something different. If you've been using always the same thing, try at least 1 different tactic or approach, and see how you go. It's important to get out of your comfort zone.
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Step 6 - Create an Action Plan
Here’s where a lot of people fall behind. Don’t make this mistake. Lock in some time in your diary, and create a plan on a spreadsheet, word document, paper planner, Asana, Trello, whatever floats your boat.
I plan for 12 months, but I like to divide my plan into quarters. That’s because a quarter is enough time to implement a good set of tactics, but it’s not long enough to make me feel overwhelmed.
Each quarter I focus on a different part of my business. It doesn't mean I stop all other marketing activities, but I shift focus a little.
In your action plan you should include your goals, your tactics, and every action, step or activity you’ll need to do to achieve them. Also include who will be responsible for each step (your staff members, yourself, a third party), set a deadline and a budget.
>>> This is a living document. Open up every Monday morning before you write your "to-do" list for the week.
See which activities will be your priorities to move your business forward. If you have staff, they should have their own set of activities to go through and 'tick' by the end of the week.
Want a simple template to create that action plan we just talked about? Download mine here. for free.
Step 7 - Track, Measure and Adjust
Did I say that most people don't put together an action plan?
Well, this takes the trophy! An often overlooked part of marketing by many small businesses is tracking and measuring their marketing results, and it's possibly the most important thing you can do for your business.
Marketing isn’t a cost, or at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s an investment.
When you go to a bank and invest say $10K in shares, you expect a return on your investment. It may pay off as you expected, less than expected, or exceed your expectations, or you also may lose all the money invested. It’s possible.
Marketing works the same way. If you’ve invested $1000 in Facebook advertising, you need to track the return, compare to other marketing tactics, and decide if it’s worth it.
Before you decide that any particular marketing tactic is too expensive (advertising for example), you need to check how many leads, customers or sales you’re making as a result of that particular tactic, and compare it with how many leads, customers or sales you’re making from other channels.
>>> Here's an example. Let’s say you’re paying $500 for a banner ad, which is giving you only 2 new clients per month. However, each client is paying you $4000.
So far, your $500 investment is working well. Your return is $7,500. So, unless another channel is giving you a much better return, it's not a good idea to ditch this banner ad for the time being.
It’s also important to note that marketing, like science, involves some testing. So before you ditch any marketing tactic, you may want to test different images, copy, and approach. You may be surprised to see completely different results.
Make sure you always track, measure and assess the effectiveness of your marketing. Boost what’s working, and change or ditch what’s not.