Every business, from brick and mortar stores to online businesses, requires a comprehensive digital marketing strategy as part of their overall marketing strategy in today’s continually shifting marketing landscape. As the world utilizes online technologies ever-increasingly, digitization of businesses becomes equally as crucial. The majority of marketers today understand how indispensable digital marketing is for continued growth and profitability of a business. According to the Marketing Budgets 2014 Report, 71% of companies surveyed intend to increase the amount they invest in digital marketing this year.

A Results-Driven Digital Marketing Strategy is Key
Creating an effective digital marketing plan requires an overall vision for the future of a business, as well as measurable outcomes to help clearly define goals. Understanding who the key demographics are, and even creating personas to define those target audiences, is a very useful approach. While there is no completely standard strategy, there are certain necessary components that need to be properly incorporated into each and every digital strategy in order to produce successful and sustained growth.

1. Design a High-Converting Website
The website sets the tone for every digital strategy because this is typically where all channels are directed towards. This means it needs to be captivating to the target audience, highly intuitive, and impeccably designed using evidence-based UX/UI design principles. Poorly designed websites will squander the hard work that is being put into the other channels. That is why having a website that is optimized to convert the highest number of visitors into leads is of utmost importance. Ways to do this are to make sure the website is:

-Responsive for all devices and browsers
-Search Engine Optimized
-Equipped with a myriad of lead capture points and calls-to-action
-Copywritten with clear and concise content
-Easy to navigate and fully comprehend within only a few seconds
-Visibly able to contact a business via clickable email and phone links
-Readily linked to Social Media pages

2. Put in the Effort for Search Engine Optimization

SEO is one of the most complex components of digital strategy, but it is worth the effort in that it often plays the biggest role in customer acquisition and sales. There is no silver bullet to having good SEO, and the landscape is always changing – making strategists have to stay on their toes. SEO is certainly not a short term solution to gaining traction, but rather an orchestrated puzzle with long term benefits. Afterall, nearly every customer begins their search for a product or service on a search engine, therefore, ranking high in search results with the right keywords can drive incredible volumes of organic traffic to websites.

Organic traffic means unpaid traffic. And that’s why putting forth the effort with SEO is worth it, because paid advertising is rapidly getting more expensive across channels. For a business to not have to keep shoveling out money into paid aids, it is essential to invest in SEO up front for that desirable, hefty percentage of organic traffic. The direct results of SEO frequently take awhile to notice, but the reward is that it reduces overall customer acquisition cost and even increases profitability.

3. Incorporate Social Media
There is always buzz around this aspect of a digital strategy, and within good reason. Social media is a highly effective space for branding and visual identity along with lead/customer generation, and there are so many engaging platforms to choose from. Crafting an advanced and innovative social media plan is a must-have focal point of any digital strategy. Be sure to clarify objectives for social media; this will determine which social media outlets your business needs to focus on; this is informed by the product or service you are selling, as well as who your target audience is. Make sure to have the proper bandwidth before extending across multiple social media platforms; it is better to have a strong presence in the right platform than to be spread too thin across many different social media outlets. A good place to gauge this, and to plan for having excellent presence across select social medias, is to curate a content calendar with engaging assets (photos, posts, etc.). The content plan can include audience analysis, post frequency, post timings, content categories, promo campaigns, etc. Keep in mind that the assets need to cater to the specific platform that they will be used on. Also, determine the main metrics and KPIs that should be used to set targets and measures of success.

4. Get the Word Out Through Paid Advertising
This most typically includes Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Retargeting and Bing Ads, but is certainly not limited to there! Many businesses also find success in LinkedIn Ads, Pinterest Ads, and so forth.
Paid advertising is particularly important for new businesses or businesses wishing to expand to a new sector/service/product-focus. There is certainly an irony that as a new business (on a new business budget) the most important time to pay for advertising is now, but this is the quickest way to increase awareness and extend products/services to a greater audience. It aids in getting frequent, valuable traffic to a website when other components of the digital strategy, such as SEO and offline efforts, are yet to show the fruits of labor. Even for established businesses, paid advertising is a no-brainer for customer acquisition and for the branding channel.

Paid search campaigns on Google Adwords are for people actively looking for a specific product/service; the benefit here being highly-targeted in nature. There are also retargeting campaigns, as well as campaigns on the Google Display Network, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others that provide an expansive range of targeting that effectively reaches the best audience possible for your business. By promoting posts on Facebook and sponsored ads on Google, the message can easily get out to a larger audience.
The applicability and effectiveness of each medium must be relevant to your particular business and analyzed continually to ensure ad spends are being well-allocated. Seeing what performs best and has the desired deliverables is key so that spends can be re-allocated and optimally utilized.

5. Maintain a Blog
Keeping up with a blog can be a pain in the neck, but being consistent and having this source of generated content is well worth it. Having engaging, informative, relevant, well-organized, and original content puts valuable information out there to attract an audience to your website. In addition, a good blog is a great way to drive inbound traffic and leads with content to support SEO. Furthermore, having a well-executed blog sets a business apart as being experts in the field, even thought leaders. This is excellent for building trust with a customer base and increasing awareness to prospective customers.

6. Utilize Email Marketing
Email marketing may sound primitive and outdated, particularly with how popular and influential social media is, but it is still a maximally effective digital marketing channel. Statistics show that it is as effective as ever, with 95% of consumers using email and 91% of them checking their inbox at least once a day. This is some of the lowest hanging fruit. A recent study by McKinsey found that the rate at which emails prompt purchases is over three times that of social media and the average order value, too, being 17 percent higher. This means email remains a significantly more effective way to gain customers. So do anything and everything you can to build up that email list (and yes, that often means giving into having smart pop-ups on your website), and then get into gear on planning out a dynamic email campaign.

7. Constantly Tweak with Analytics & Reporting
While the digital strategy is underway, it is of absolute importance to continually analyze results and compare them with KPIs. This way it is clear whether or not each campaign is going in the right direction and generating the best results. Having a defined list of decisive metrics is essential for each channel across every campaign so that they can be well-monitored and measured at predetermined intervals.
Having automatic (or even real-time) reporting setup makes it all the easier to keep a close eye on analytics data and to make sure all resources are being put into the best places. This helps drive strategy in the optimal direction and fix errors early on.

8. Putting it All Together
Now, how to put the right pieces in the right places? Every component in the digital marketing plan has particular benefits and, for real value to be gained, they must be seamlessly integrated while accounting for longstanding goals of the business. This perfectly balanced integration is what inevitably determines the success of the strategy and how rapidly it shows wanted results.

9. Don’t Forget About Offline Integration
Offline integration matters, too. Good digital marketers know that while digital marketing has its newfound place in the marketing sphere, the benefits of offline marketing are still not at a point of being completely replaced. Having an integrated offline and online marketing approach is key for campaigns to have a potent and lasting influence. An example of this carefully crafted integration is that of online check-in; this helps customers communicate a physical touch point with your business to the online world. Keeping a digital strategy integrated with offline efforts goes a long way in enhancing the bottom line of a business and ensuring ROI.

Does your business have a digital marketing strategy that is working well? Contact us for a free consultation of your online marketing activities.