What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?

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You’ve likely heard the phrase “digital marketing strategy” surface in plenty of conversations and will have certainly read about the concept a few times during this training.

The popularity of this phrase is no coincidence — having a digital marketing strategy is crucial.

Although you might think of “strategy” as a buzzword, and “digital marketing strategy” as a jargon phrase, the term plays an important role in every online campaign and isn’t to be dismissed as a fancy marketing phrase with no substance.

Not only should you understand what a digital marketing strategy is, but you should also know how to create one.

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Defining the Phrase ‘Digital Marketing Strategy’

We all know what a strategy is.

A strategy is an intelligent plan designed to reach a long-term goal.

So, a digital marketing strategy is an intelligent plan designed to reach a long-term campaign goal.

When strategising, people tend to look at data, external sources and previous experiences to come up with a sensible plan of action.

For this reason, the word “strategy” also seems to be a word professional people say to impress other people around the table or to make out they know more than they actually do.

And we hear you.

The thought of watching other people strategising for hours on end seems cringe-worthy, confusing and well, unproductive.

The truth is, creating a strategy should be fairly simple so long as you’ve got the right information at your fingertips.

Strategising doesn’t require overtime on a Friday night or bin full of screwed up paper.

So, what’s the right information? We mean research, planning skills and fundamental knowledge about your profession.

With these ingredients thrown into the mix, you should form a strategy quite easily. Throw some butter, sugar, flour and eggs into a bowl and pretty soon you have yourself a cake. You get the picture.

Now you know what a digital marketing strategy is, let’s remind you of what it’s definitely not.

Digital marketing strategies and digital marketing campaigns often get mistaken for one and other. But the two are distinctly different.

HubSpot clears this up by saying:

“Your digital strategy is the series of actions you take to help you achieve your overarching marketing goal. Your digital marketing campaigns are the building blocks or actions within your strategy that you move toward meeting that goal.”

The last thing to note about digital marketing strategies is that they aren’t static. Like so much in digital marketing, strategies rapidly change depending on new developments, new platforms and of course, new marketing goals.

Despite a strategy acting as a vital structure for your marketing team’s activity, this structure will need to be flexible and able to adapt to your company’s changing needs.

Why You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy

If you have a basic understanding of what a marketing strategy is, you’ll instantly know why having one is important.

If a digital marketing strategy is a way to achieve a long-term goal, having one is important in succeeding within your online marketing campaigns.

Shockingly, a whopping 45% of digital marketers don’t have a strategy in place. (Maybe something to do with how douchey the word strategy sounds). As a result, these marketers will struggle to:

  • Track progress
  • Calculate cost
  • Justify their actions
  • Unite a team
  • Send out a cohesive message

Basically, you need a digital marketing strategy to keep your campaign focused.

Otherwise, your online marketing activity will feel totally random to you, as well as to your customers. Ouch.

Different Types of Digital Marketing Strategies

Of course, there are different types of digital marketing strategies because there are different types of digital marketing.

Each vein of digital marketing can, in theory, have its own strategy. Such as:

  • Social media
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing

You get the picture.

Your strategy in PPC might be to retarget customers who have previously shown interest in your ads. Whereas, your strategy for SEO might be to rank for local keywords in Google.

Both types of digital marketing strategy — your SEO strategy and your PPC strategy — are part of your overall digital marketing campaign.

Digital marketing strategies can also be differentiated by how long these strategies will run for.

For example, you could have a short-term social media strategy for a one-week event or a long-term content marketing strategy for your website’s blog. Both types are classed as a viable digital marketing strategy as they each work to fulfil a long-term goal like increasing brand awareness or driving conversions.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy Step-By-Step

1. Identify your long-term marketing goal

To create a digital marketing strategy, we have to work backwards. Remember, digital marketing strategies exist to help us achieve long-term goals.

It’s not rocket science then that you’ll need to identify your long-term marketing goal first.

This is the core of your strategy.

Every person who follows or works on your strategy should be aware of this goal.

2. Select your digital marketing channel(s)

Now you have your goal; you’ll need to choose a digital marketing channel that feels best paired with it.

You can pick multiple digital marketing channels, if appropriate.

Let’s say your long-term goal is:

  • To increase the number of people buying things on your website.

To reach this goal, you might choose both SEO and PPC as your digital marketing channels.


Both SEO and PPC can drive more visitors to a website, in turn, encouraging more sales. Thus, helping you to reach your long-term marketing goal.

While SEO can help to give your website more visibility by raising your profile in search, PPC can instantly boost your site visitor numbers as a form of interruptive marketing where customers don’t have to search to find you.

3. Choose marketing activities

Now you know which digital marketing channels you’ll be focusing on, you can pick your activities accordingly. These activities directly translate into the tasks you’ll be asking your team members to complete.

For example, if your digital marketing channel is social media, you might choose the following activities:

  • Boosted posts
  • Instagram stories
  • Facebook lives
  • Video marketing
  • Collaborative posts

This isn’t an exhaustive list of social media activities, but it should start to give you an idea of the tailored route you can take within your digital marketing strategy.

When cherry-picking these, remember your long-term goal and keep your customers in mind. Which activity will prove most fruitful for this customer type and how do these activities help you to get to where you want to be?

4. Find ways to measure progress

Even those who do have a digital marketing strategy sometimes make the fatal mistake of writing it down, following it and then failing ever to test whether it works.

A strategy is never foolproof, even if it’s based on lots of data.

You’ll need to measure the performance of your strategy to see if it needs tweaking or at worst, completely changing.

That means regularly checking your insights on socials, using search software to measure your changing position or taking a deep dive into Google Analytics to see if your activities have the desired result.

Whatever digital marketing strategy you create, you must be prepared to track it and change it if it fails to make progress towards your goal.

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