How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

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Are your digital marketing campaigns underpinned by a strong campaign strategy? Recent research from Smart Insights shows that almost half (45%) of companies still don’t have a digital marketing strategy. If you are in that group and running a digital marketing campaign, you are unlikely to be seeing the high level of success from your advertising activities that you deserve.

Exposure Ninja’s Content Marketing Ninjas are here to help you master the basics of designing a strong marketing campaign strategy, from the initial planning and creating a roadmap to hitting every milestone on time to achieve your end goals.

In this guide, we discuss:

  • What Is a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy?
  • Who Needs a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy?
  • Successful Small Business Marketing Examples
  • How to Create a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy

What Is a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy?

Your digital marketing campaign strategy is the overall plan for your campaign. It should consider your target audience and include your approach, the actions you will take and your campaign goals. This strategy needs to be realistic, achievable and practical, based on your budget, available resources and business objectives.

A good campaign makes a company memorable to its target audience — but you want to be remembered for the right reasons. It’s vital to start by reflecting on your goals and company mission so that these can inform your entire marketing strategy before you start drawing attention to your business with advertising.

Exposure Ninjas are experts at planning effective digital marketing campaigns. If you’d like our help planning your next big advertising push, why not contact us for a free marketing review of your website and to discuss your campaign objectives?

Who Needs a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy?

Every business planning to run a digital marketing campaign requires an effective campaign strategy to ensure the success of the campaign. As Medium aptly explains in its Marketing Playbook, “…practical strategies and tactics are vital in launching high ROI marketing campaigns. Before building any marketing campaign, companies need to have a solid marketing foundation.

Even if you’re a small business or startup with conflicting priorities and many demands on your time, it’s still important that you draw up a meaningful marketing campaign plan before commencing any advertising for your business. Without it, you risk running lacklustre campaigns that don’t stand out or convert audiences into the new customers your business needs to grow.

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Successful Small Business Marketing Examples

Looking at your past marketing successes as well as those of others is a useful way to learn about what makes a good campaign and how to create an effective digital marketing strategy. The examples below provide some insight into the impact of a carefully considered strategy on all aspects of your small business, from website traffic to revenue.

Using Blogger Outreach and Content to Turbocharge Revenue

The Challenge: This US eCommerce store was on the brink of collapse when the Exposure Ninja team was brought on board. The business was unprofitable and investing too much time for not enough return. The nature of the business meant that paid ad campaigns weren’t possible, leaving content marketing and SEO as the only options.

The Strategy: A highly contentious market resulted in a wealth of online coverage relating to regulations and laws in the industry. Exposure Ninja identified an opportunity here and planned a year-long content marketing strategy that included guest posts, sponsored content, blogger and vlogger outreach, sponsorships and social media giveaways.

The campaign Ninjas wrote articles to debunk the “junk science” around the products, often taking a controversial stance, which helped to create a strong following and establish the business as the market leader. The Ninjas grew the backlink profile of this business by publishing content in authoritative business and industry publications and organising reviews with influencers — securing features of the brand on high-profile YouTube channels.

The Results: By capitalising on the contention and lively debate around the industry, the Exposure Ninja team hooked the target audience and delivered a 1,340% increase in website traffic within a year and top positions in Google for the majority of its most profitable keywords. The result was an increase in revenue of 14,374%!

 

Boosting Social Media Engagement with User-Generated Content

The Challenge: Burger Revolution is a small burger restaurant in Ontario, Canada. How could they build brand recognition and increase social media engagement on a small budget?

The Strategy: The restaurant introduced an ongoing “comment of the day” social media campaign, where customers are invited to leave a comment on a post-it note in-store to describe their experience. The Burger Revolution team shares their favourite comments on social media each day, including a photo of the post-it, and post updates on the number of burgers remaining for the day.

The Results: The “comment of the day” has become a popular tradition among Burger Revolution fans. It’s a low-cost strategy that has helped humanise the brand and dramatically boost social follows and engagement, all while helping them stand out from their competition. This has increased the company’s reach beyond the local area and boosted customer loyalty.

The burger availability updates create a sense of urgency and allow the company to increase sales of a particular burger. This is a great way to make the most of user-generated content; not only is it highly effective, but it is also a low-cost initiative every small business should strive to take advantage of.

Increasing Traffic with SEO and Improved Website Design

The Challenge: This London law firm saw a sudden drop in traffic conversions at the start of 2018 and tasked Exposure Ninja with finding out why and, of course, reversing it. The SEO and Content Marketing Ninjas went on to develop a new strategy that would improve search engine rankings and increase organic traffic without compromising the client’s established branding.

The Strategy: The Exposure Ninja team started by conducting a thorough site review to identify how the design and layout of the website could be improved to reach the right people and encourage them to convert. We added more room for copy above the fold, improved the contact forms and made the call to action (CTA) messaging more prominent. Our SEO team identified the keywords most likely to attract relevant and qualified visitors, while the Content Marketing Ninja created on and off-site content — including laser-targeted long-form blogs — targeting these terms. Finally, we encouraged the client to sign up for an independent review platform and display client testimonials on the site to build credibility with prospective clients.

The Results: Within three months of the new website design going live, the client saw a 23% month-on-month increase in organic traffic. The client also received several five-star reviews via the independent review platform, which improved website authority and boosted traffic further. The introduction of long-form blogs led to an increase in organic traffic for high-value keywords, with overall blog traffic increasing by 151% compared to the previous period. The client now enjoys position one to three rankings for a significant number of their primary keywords, as well as featured snippets (position zero).

Reducing the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) with an Effective PPC Strategy

The Challenge: An eCommerce store specialising in bespoke indoor and outdoor lighting had been running a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign with little success, achieving an unprofitable average cost per conversion (CPA) of £76.94. The company’s main goals were to increase sales and reduce the CPA on its PPC campaigns.

The Strategy: The client had set up a Google Ads campaign to target many different products, resulting in high expenditure and low return on investment (ROI). We narrowed the focus to the top-level keywords and broader terms that the Google Shopping campaign might not have picked up on.

The PPC Ninja re-wrote the ads, ensuring they were keyword-targeted and engaging to users. Rather than running Shopping ads for a high number of products, we split the products into several groups and focused on the bestsellers. We also adjusted the bids to make sure that the bestselling product group ads — the ones most likely to lead to conversions — were the most visible in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The team continued to tweak and optimise the campaign to schedule the ads at times that were most likely to generate sales.

The Results: In month one, the Exposure Ninja team increased sales by 63.25% and lowered the average cost per conversion by 54.1%. This was the highest level of continual sales the company had seen from any of its paid search campaigns. The CPA has continued to reduce and is now £14.41, down a massive £62.53 per conversion.

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How to Create a Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy

Reviewing examples of business success is a great way to learn about what makes an effective digital marketing campaign. But how do you put this into practice for your business? The experts at Exposure Ninja have broken down the task of designing a successful digital marketing strategy into 12 easy-to-follow steps.

  1. Choose a Campaign Goal
  2. Choose Which KPIs to Measure
  3. Set a Campaign Budget
  4. Review Your Previous Digital Marketing Campaigns
  5. Analyse Your Competitors’ Digital Marketing Campaigns
  6. Define Your Target Audience
  7. Decide a Campaign Message
  8. Choose the Right Medium
  9. Choose the Best Networks
  10. Convert Your Traffic
  11. Measure Your Results
  12. Go Back To Step 1

Step 1: Choose a Campaign Goal

Successful marketing strategies start with a clear goal. It’s impossible to achieve success if you haven’t defined what success looks like to you. Do you want to increase conversions, or are you looking to hit the number one spot on Google for a highly competitive but lucrative keyword? The possibilities for digital marketing goals are almost limitless, but goals generally break down into brand awareness, conversions, lead generation or social media followers.

Think carefully about your business objectives and prioritise the digital marketing goals that support your wider business plan. It’s a fruitless exercise investing your time and resources into increasing your social media reach on Facebook when your customers are hanging around on Twitter. It’s a good idea to limit goals to one or two per campaign. If you try to achieve too many different outcomes at once, your campaign will be unfocused and the potential results diminished.

Step 2: Choose Which KPIs to Measure

Once you have established campaign goals, you need to select an appropriate way to track your progress and measure success. How will you know when you have achieved your goal? As Maeve Hosea, Commissioning Editor of Circus Street, explains in Marketing Week, “Measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns is an integral part of engaging, exciting and efficient marketing.”

Digital marketing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are quantifiable metrics that align with your goals. KPIs may be channel-specific or relate to your wider business goals. Examples of useful digital marketing KPIs include traffic from a particular source, cost per lead, returning visitors, click-through rate and online conversion rate. Whichever KPIs you choose, they should be specific and measurable to allow you to monitor the success of your campaign.

Step 3: Set a Campaign Budget

Digital marketing spending rises year on year, with websites and social media profiles becoming increasingly important — if not the definitive — sources of leads and revenue for most businesses. According to the Digital Marketing Institute’s 20/20 Vision report, 95% of the organisations reviewed have increased their digital marketing budget in recent years, and 9 in 10 marketers expect their budget to increase again next year.

Digital marketing is vital for any business and you should allocate sufficient funds to achieve your goals. However, it is important to be realistic about the budget you have. Don’t forget that not all digital marketing is created equal when it comes to budget. PPC advertising can run into the thousands per month if you’re targeting highly competitive keywords, whereas a savvy social media campaign may deliver a great ROI at a relatively low cost.

The good news is that digital marketing is often much more cost-effective than traditional marketing, so your budget should go further if you plan carefully. There are plenty of free budget planning templates available online, including these from Smartsheet.

Screenshot of one of Smartsheet's free templates

Image property of Smartsheet

Step 4: Review Your Previous Digital Marketing Campaigns

Reviewing past marketing activities is one of the best ways to start planning future campaigns. Analysing successes and failures will allow you to save budget by cutting the marketing strategies that are not delivering an ROI, and you can reinvest these funds into the activities that have proved successful. It’s not enough to simply identify the campaign that did or didn’t perform well, though; you need to dig into the why. If you didn’t achieve your goals because of unfortunate timing or poor campaign execution, it could be worth revisiting the idea, addressing any weaknesses and running the campaign again.

Larger businesses that run new campaigns every three to six months, for example, may find it overwhelming to file through every metric for every campaign. Instead, choose a period you want to analyse — perhaps when you saw a spike in leads and conversions — and review the impact of your campaigns using Google Analytics. It can be useful to review a time that aligns with your planned campaign, such as reviewing the stats for Q1 2019 when planning your Q1 2020 campaigns.

Step 5: Analyse Your Competitors’ Digital Marketing Campaigns

Competitor analysis helps you to identify trending topics, popular channels and effective marketing strategies within your industry. It also helps you to benchmark your brand against your competitors, allowing you to determine where you are excelling and where you could do better, and whether there are any opportunities to outperform a competitor. Knowing this will help you to design an effective strategy that stakeholders will buy in to.

First, identify the metrics you want to compare. These might be audience growth, social media followers or content engagement. Next, choose which marketing channels to analyse. Are Twitter and Instagram most popular in your industry, or should you focus more on email and website traffic? You also need to know who you’re going to compare. When selecting competitors, consider their success, how similar their offer is to yours and their reputation as an industry influencer. Keep an eye out for aspirational brands that may not yet be on your radar as a realistic competitor but have the potential to become one.

When investigating your competitors, you won’t have access to back-end data such as traffic and conversions, but you can certainly glean insights such as how many followers they have on social media and how well followers are engaging with their updates. Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes: what would they make of your competitor’s email marketing campaign, for example? Is it effective? Why? Is it too pushy, or not pushy enough? Do you read the email and wonder what it is they’re trying to get you to do? Use this data to create a report of your findings and highlight how your brand is performing in terms of your agreed goals and KPIs — along with how you can do better.

For more tips on How To Spy on Your Competitors’ Digital Marketing Campaigns, check out Head Ninja Tim Cameron-Kitchen’s latest video.

Step 6: Define Your Target Audience

One of the most important steps in designing a successful digital marketing strategy is defining your target audience. This is the group of people who are most likely to be interested in your company’s services or products. Target audience analysis allows you to identify the characteristics, needs and preferences of these individuals, which enables you to create buyer personas and plan effective marketing campaigns.

Begin by defining your product or service — what problems do you solve for customers or clients? Are you Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C)? There are multiple tools at your disposal that allow you to identify the similarities between people who have responded positively to your brand.

Google Analytics and most social media channels provide insight into the people who interact with your business. In Google Analytics, set up demographics reporting and head to the In-Market Segments, which will categorise visitors into sections based on their search behaviour. This allows you to pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for, determine if this aligns with your perception of your business and make changes to your content and overarching strategy based on your insights.

Step 7: Decide a Campaign Message

Your campaign advertising materials should contain strategic messaging that has a defined purpose and is designed to attract your target audience and prompt them to action.

Medium provides a helpful Strategic Marketing Map template that can help you to define the messaging for your campaigns across channels and formats, ensuring you are consistent throughout.

You should have a clear messaging plan in place for your campaign that covers above-the-line, online advertising and value-messaging content. Remember that consistency is key; you may need to adapt the execution to suit each channel, but the tone and purpose of your message should remain the same.

Screenshot of Medium's Strategy Messaging Map

Image property of Medium

Step 8: Choose the Right Medium

Once you have defined your target audience and decided on a message, you will be able to choose the right medium for your content. Don’t try to achieve everything with one campaign. Instead, use your buyer personas and competitor research to identify the most popular mediums for your target audience. Consider what your customers respond best to, be that emails, display ads or social media content. You don’t want to waste hours crafting the perfect piece of long-form content if the people most likely to buy from you are much more interested in watching a brief, to-the-point video.

You should also think about the content and objective of your campaign. If your message is highly personalised, or you have several user segments each after a different thing, an email marketing campaign would be much more effective than a social media post targeted to the masses.

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Step 9: Choose the Best Networks

When it comes to choosing the best networks for your campaign, the adage “meet your audience where they are” holds. During your competitor and audience research, you will have noticed that some networks are more popular with your buyers than others. You could create the most awesome Facebook ad campaign, but it will fall on deaf ears if your target audience loves nothing more than uploading selfies to Instagram or falling down a YouTube rabbit hole.

Buzzsumo is a great tool for gaining insight into what type of content is proving popular in your industry and where this content is being shared. Try searching the current hot topics in your industry and see which channels are driving the most engagement.

Step 10: Convert Your Traffic

So you’ve done everything right: you’ve researched your target audience, analysed your competitor’s activities and delivered your campaign via the most appropriate networks. You’re even starting to see results — great! — with more traffic landing on your website. What now? What should you do with all those lovely spikes and upward trends in Google Analytics?

There’s no point getting lots of people to visit your site if they bounce straight off and head over to a competitor. Conversions are what count. A “conversion” is a desired action, whether that’s making a purchase, downloading an eBook or booking a free consultation.

To convert your traffic, you need to make sure your Unique Selling Point (USP) — the special thing that tells users why they should choose you and not someone else — is clear. Every piece of copy, from your product or service page copy to your blog posts, should be easy to read and in line with a visitor’s expectations. High-converting web copy is easy to read, uses plenty of white space, includes positive reviews and testimonials and is generously sprinkled with calls to action, leaving no doubt in the visitor’s mind what step you want them to take. If your conversion rates are dwindling, check out Search Engine Journal’s helpful guide to giving them a boost.

Exposure Ninja has helped thousands of businesses convert traffic into sales. Check out Tim’s video on increasing online sales for a small business.

Step 11: Measure Your Results

Running a campaign — no matter how successful — is pointless if you don’t take the time to dig into how well it worked. A comprehensive post-campaign analysis (PCA) allows you to evaluate what worked well, what may be worth repeating and where the campaign didn’t work out as planned. This is important for determining the ROI of your campaign and helping you plan future digital marketing activities — remember that step four is to review your previous campaigns? Measuring the results of your campaign will also continually develop your understanding of the target audience, market and current industry trends.

First, review the campaign goals and KPIs you set in steps one and two. Were these achieved in the time frame agreed for the campaign? It’s useful to gain an overview before drilling down into the results at a more granular level. Review each network and medium used — perhaps some performed better than others; maybe the outright winner wasn’t what you expected! Did conversions increase during the period of your campaign and, if so, can you attribute this to your marketing efforts?

Take a look at your Google Analytics data and review metrics such as overall site traffic, new versus returning visitors, traffic by source, number of sessions and average session duration. Did traffic significantly increase but your bounce rates hit the roof? Compare this to your conversion rate — a high bounce rate and low conversion rate indicates that visitors weren’t finding the content they expected to and that they didn’t stick around to find what they were looking for. Likewise, if you targeted both Twitter and Facebook but all of your social traffic came from Twitter, you can deep dive into your Facebook metrics to see why this was the case. Spend plenty of time during this step — you’ll gather super-valuable information to inform your next campaign.

Step 12: Go Back to Step 1

When you have completed this cycle once, you’ll have a good grasp of how to design a marketing campaign and measure its success.

Now, it’s time to gather all that you’ve learned about the process, your audience and the market and start planning your next campaign!

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