Digital Strategy is the theme of the mini-guide I want to offer you today. You can use it to build the marketing strategies of your business or to develop the digital marketing of your customers.
My goal is to guide you, step by step, through the essential phases for building your work plan and your marketing tools, but, above all, to leave you with an integrated, useful, and practical communication plan.
The purpose of the Digital Strategy is to understand the critical success factors of digital businesses and identify all the channels through which to contact the audiences we want to reach. It is important to have digital strategies, to understand both how to integrate digital and social levers and tools to maximize the results obtainable and to integrate offline actions (retail, sales, events, and customer service) with online ones.
Building the digital strategy serves to:
- entrepreneurs, newbies, or experts, who want to consolidate or expand their businesses
- freelancers, who want to intercept new customers
- business managers who need to create value through innovation.
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In the video I tried to answer the most common questions, let’s see in detail:
- What is Digital Strategy?
- Why do digital strategy?
- Who is the Digital Strategy for?
Digital Strategy: What It Is and Why It Matters
Digital Strategy definition: it is a digital strategic plan that allows you to decide which online tools and channels to use and, above all, how to integrate them, to maximize your business objectives.
To set it up, three basic levels must be implemented:
- ONLINE STRATEGY: Studying consumers’ online behavior and their customer journey to define effective market strategies
- DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS: Understand the role of the different channels, which allow you to intercept the consumer online and interact with him
- DIGITAL INTEGRATION: Understanding how to optimize the different channels and integrate them thus obtaining the pre-set result.
Keep reading, and step by step, you will gain a clear understanding of how to bring a digital marketing strategy to life.
It seems impossible to me but it is not at all… There are still many people who wonder what a digital strategy is for. For this reason, even in my video, I decided to use the football metaphor to make people understand the need for a personal digital strategy for one’s company.
Imagine the Digital Marketer or the entrepreneur as a coach, who before being able to fill the role will have to:
- understand how “this sport” works, what are its rules, and the dynamics that influence the results. In other words, he will need to train, and study everything related to the digital world in great detail. Once he has analyzed the context and the scope in general, it will be essential for him to focus attention on the customer’s journey, i.e. study the behaviors of online customers. It is precisely the users’ attitudes and decisions that determine the strategies and choices that they will have to make.
But, why is it of “vital importance” to design a marketing strategy? To cover the entire “online field” is obvious!
What is the online field? They are all the places and channels on which users could find themselves: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Google, the search engine, both organic and sponsored, emails, etc. In short, all the occasions, in which there is a point of contact between the digital marketer (or entrepreneur) and the user, they form the field of action that must be hit with the players of one’s team. All players must be fielded, since using only 1, 2, or 7 of them means losing “digital games”, since the opponents know how to grasp the weak points and take advantage of difficult situations.
So, what needs to be done to be able to win?
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Digital Strategy in 11 Steps
How to build a digital marketing strategy? Let’s see, in summary, the phases of the Digital Strategy:
- Define the project objectives;
- Identify your consumers and build buyer personas;
- Identify the strong and weak elements of the competitors and do a digital competitive analysis;
- Assign roles to people involved in the project;
- Analyze web searches and monitor conversations;
- Create the content editorial plan ;
- Choose the most coherent social strategies with the activity;
- Plan lead generation activities ;
- Do mobile marketing;
- Design an affiliate plan;
- Measure, measure, measure, and correct in progress what you have achieved.
For each of the phases indicated it will be advisable to:
- define intermediate and specific objectives;
- build processes;
- monitor results;
- apply the learnings obtained through actions.
The first phases of the Digital Strategy are the analysis and organization of the team.
What goals do you want to achieve with your digital strategy project? Let’s take some examples:
- launch a new brand with a distinctive positioning,
- reposition an already known and tested brand by creating a new, more dynamic image,
- acquire new customers online, combining this method with traditional channels,
- create niche e-commerce,
- increase relationship and service with your social media communities,
- give a new approach to your branding.
These few examples do not exhaust all the possible options, but what I would like to underline is that the digital business strategy is always indispensable. Whatever your projects, immediately define and write the goals you want to achieve and, above all, the time frame within which you want to achieve them.
Identify your consumers and build “buyer personas”
Consumers no longer go online but live online.
Define the typical profile of the consumer categories you want to reach and the needs you can satisfy with your product/service. You are well aware that, online, new habits and behaviors have developed on the part of B2C and B2B customers.
Based on the company data, already in your possession, you can build the typical profile of your consumer. Do a thorough analysis considering:
- The sales;
- Assistance requests;
- Comments and opinions on your social profiles.
By following your digital strategy, you will understand exactly the processes that guide your customers towards the purchase (advice: also evaluate consultative selling in your strategy) and the sources of origin from which you acquire them.
Instead, if you launch a new project, and you have no information, you will start with a study that will examine:
- the ideal profile of your consumer;
- his characteristics;
- his information needs.
You can analyze industry research and data to help you.
Thus, you will be able to create so-called “buyer personas”. The simple subdivision into socio-demographic targets, which characterized the previous decades, is now obsolete online.
To build the Digital Strategy, the most important aspect of the customer profile is its detectable behavior. The keywords at this stage are:
We start from the assumption that every potential customer has different needs, expectations, and objectives, both in the phase preceding the purchase and in the following one.
According to Adele Revella, the process of building “buyer personas” can be traced back to 5 steps, which will allow us to give a clear profile and a fancy name to segments of consumers with the same needs.
For each profile, we will then be able to propose our digital strategy. Let’s see the 5 insights that are suggested to us:
- “Priority initiatives insight” – The main reason they can invest in our proposition;
- “Success Factors” – The results they expect from purchasing a solution like ours;
- “Perceived Barriers” – The perceived barriers, and resistances, that they may encounter before making a decision;
- “Buyers’ journey” – which leads them towards the final decision and all the stages they go through to evaluate the different options available;
- “Decision Criteria” – the relevant decision criteria.
As you can see, the definition of these profiles requires extensive analytical work that involves the historical information already available, the direct interviews with potential buyers that you will have to carry out, and the analysis of sector data and statistics.
In building the Digital Strategy, this process is essential and requires deep collaboration between internal and external teams of the company.
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Identify the strengths and weaknesses of competitors
What value does the digital benchmark of the reference sector have?
A punctual analysis of the main competitors in the sector will allow you to evaluate how big the business opportunity of your project is, proceeding according to the best digital strategy, case by case.
I advise you to prepare an accurate checklist of the evaluation parameters and analyze in-depth the websites and social profiles of your competitors.
Thus, you will be able to build a positioning map, i.e. a synthetic comparison scheme from which to derive their key factors, gaps, best practices, to be taken into consideration, and their content/communication strategies.
Carefully study their web and social positioning; evaluate what spaces are available to be successful, the level of competition you detect, and, consequently, the marketing investments you deem necessary to compete.
Do you have enough strength to act or do you need more resources?
Assign roles to the team involved
A digital innovation project requires a team. Choose the people you trust and assign each one a role by expertise. Keep the team informed of every progress, and collect all the contributions from the various professionals involved. The organization and efficiency of your team are crucial to achieving success. Define a meeting calendar and process times.
Analyze online searches and monitor conversations
Once the analysis phase on one’s digital territories and/or on that of the main players or competitors in the sector has been completed, it is advisable to focus on preparing the contents of your site and your social profiles. Let’s see what to do to get started.
When preparing the content, based on the digital strategy, it is necessary:
- analyze online user research related to your type of product/service;
- choose the reference keyword field for the content;
- monitor the chats of your audiences on social media, to evaluate their opinions about your brand and competitors.
Based on these searches and the results you will find, you will be able to build both a content strategy and an SEM, which will be able to support them, thanks to the advertising tools made available by Google Ads and Social Ads. Several online tools can help you with keyword analysis and social listening work, for example, Google Ads and Google Trends are great tools and can offer you a lot of tips and tricks.
If you need to work on a competitive analysis of the keywords and on listening to conversations for web reputation purposes, I would also like to point out:
- Search Metrics,
- Social Mention,
- Google Alerts.
Without prejudice to the last one, the services of these tools are offered in “Freemium” mode: this means that they offer some free services and others for a fee.
Build the content editorial plan
This is a crucial phase in the Digital Strategy. It is both a creative and an organizational moment, in which all the information collected previously must be structured into a positioning and a communication strategy.
It is in this phase that you can reconnoiter all the content you have available and make the strategic positioning choice of your corporate communication plan. First of all, you will need to check if you have previous performance, or, successful case studies available that can help you.
Instead, if you set off on a new path, you will focus on these 3 aspects:
- Choice of channels on which you want to distribute content and apply social strategies: corporate website, e-commerce, social media, blogs, digital pr, online events, webinars, and/or other;
- Type of content you want to communicate with textual, photographic, video, audio, infographics, presentations;
- Preparation of the strategic editorial plan and the timetable.
When the strategic plan then translates into day-by-day activities, you will have to make continuous and constant experiments and corrections. Only in this way will you be able to understand if the selected content achieves the engagement and conversion results you expected, based on the pre-set goals.
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Choosing Social Media
The choice of social channels, more consistent with your business, will take into account:
- the conditions of the competitive context: if your competitors are present on a certain social media or if the communication strategy of that sector uses a particular method, you will also be able to make your voice heard in that channel, and with that content.
- of the reference targets and the “buyer personas” outlined: are they familiar with social channels, and which do they prefer? On which do they act more often and which content do they prefer; are they companies or individuals? What age group are they in?
- the type of content you already have or create.
- of the target numbers you need to get your communities to reach.
Designing a new lead generation
What is Lead Generation? Why is it important to design it?
Lead Generation is an intermediate phase of the Inbound marketing process; has the goal of generating new master data that could become future buyers (prospects).
The term Inbound Marketing refers to a business methodology thanks to which the potential buyer is attracted to us rather than being interrupted while doing something else. It consists in knowing how to propose interesting content to a precise target, at the right time and in the right place (marketing channel), to attract and convert it into a customer.
During the strategic planning of your site or your Apps, you will have to define the ways of relating with your users and the “data exchange” base that you will want to set up.
You can choose some tools such as contact forms, newsletters, interactive chat, and free content resources to send as a gift. The objective will be to gradually acquire your contacts’ e-mails, build a database, and dialogue with them, studying the best ways to lead them toward your product/service.
From which online marketing channels can I generate leads?
Below I propose a list of all the channels from which you can generate leads and activate conversion processes.
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing): it is an excellent channel but with high competition and high costs;
- SEO: an activity that does not give absolute certainty of the result, it is easier to do on a limited number of keywords;
- PPC on social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn): the quality depends a lot on the social network and the product. The cost varies greatly depending on the social network and user profile;
- Proprietary lists and email marketing (autoresponder–lead nurturing): good, relevant, and inexpensive. However, they require a job that offers results in the medium to long term;
- DEM (Direct Email Marketing) on non-proprietary, “rented” lists: They can be considered for mass-market products and large volumes;
- SEM (display): the quality depends on the portals of origin. It is preferable for mass-market products;
- Social Media: (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter): they require large audiences, quality content, and continuity of action;
- Blog/content marketing: excellent and not expensive but it should be considered that blogging is a medium-long-term choice;
- Different referrals online: they depend on the portal of origin and the quality and consistency of the traffic within our business;
- Remarketing: good but medium-high cost;
- Affiliate Marketing: It depends on the industry;
- Price Comparators and Offers: Require you to be extremely competitive on price.
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Making mobile strategies
Is it right to invest in furniture?
Official statistics confirm this direction. Today most of the connections are from mobile and the time spent on devices such as smartphones and tablets has come to occupy between 2 and 4 hours a day.
Just look around to see how people are spending their time online. Much of this time (84.5%) is spent on apps and the rest on actual browser browsing. Social networks, instant messaging services, search engines, and online games are mainly used by mobile”.
What do you want to get from your mobile strategy?
- visibility growth, brand awareness;
- creation of user databases;
- relationship and direct communication with users, loyalty, and engagement;
- provision of free and premium services and content;
- increase in traffic to the store and website.
What technological solutions exist for my mobile strategy? And on which platforms do I want to make them available?
Some options you can consider are for example:
- the “native” development: it has the highest quality and freedom, but it is the most expensive;
- cross-platform development (hybrid HTML5 or other), in which you can reuse skills, has lower costs but also has lower possibilities and quality;
- mobile web apps.
What content do I want to offer with my mobile strategy?
- provide a service,
- give information,
- and build entertainment.
Your content can also be a mix of these three variables. Remember that the most important aspect of your design is the User Experience. Making an app means designing an experience.
Design an Affiliate Plan
What is affiliate marketing? Below we see a clear and concise definition and what are the main platforms available for planning an affiliate marketing project.
Affiliate Marketing (AM) consists of a commercial relationship between three subjects:
- The advertiser recruits publishers (or affiliates) to promote their online business through an “affiliate program”.
- The publisher participates in the program by placing advertisements on their site.
- The affiliation platform, acting as an intermediary, provides technology and know-how to manage the relationship at a technological, consultative, and reporting level.
Affiliation is a performance-only channel. The advertiser pays only for the results generated by the affiliate program based on the goals he has set himself. The AM remuneration model is mainly the CPA (cost per action) and CPL (cost per lead) model.
Among the main platforms in the first place, we find Amazon, Tradedoubler, Zanox; Commission Junction, Netaffiliation, and Public Ideas. Each of these platforms has its peculiarities. My advice is to study them in depth or to rely on an expert in the sector who can help you with the choice and, if you decide to proceed, in the management.
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Measuring your Digital Strategy
Now, having concluded the process of analyzing how to make your Digital Strategy, you can start to implement it concretely. Your main job will be to experiment with the activities every day and continue to develop new variations, to test the response of users to your proposals. Google Analytics data and social insights will help measure each performance metric.
Digital Strategy: how to optimize it
A Digital Strategist must know how to buy intelligently, that is, try to get excellent players for each role. However, once he has great players, he has to worry about optimizing their performance.
- believe, motivate, and finance their players;
- invest in different channels and instruments;
- optimize the performance of the single channel.
But, will all this be enough?
Not. If we call it “teamwork” there will be a reason! Indeed, as the last level of the digital strategy, we must obtain the result by integrating all the channels and tools of digital web marketing. Optimizing individual performance never leads to an optimal result.
Often, therefore, the coach will find himself giving up improving the performance of some players for the benefit of the entire result of the group.
Specifically, in the online world: the contribution of each channel must be optimized with a view to “group play” in which everyone is functional to a higher-order result.
Therefore, the digital marketer will assign different roles, responsibilities, tasks, and expectations to each tool.
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A practical example of Digital Strategy
An example of digital strategy, which I often report, develops around the decision-making process that a user makes to choose online car insurance.
What are the steps to take?
Choose the right tools
Attribute to each channel a percentage of importance that, in our opinion, it holds in the user’s decision-making moment. At the same time, let’s choose how much to invest in each of our “players”. To be able to do this, it is necessary to have carefully studied the market where we want to position ourselves and our competitors.
Create the marketing funnel
In the first step, we have seen what the user does, therefore, we have understood in which moment of his “online journey”, we must be. At this point, the online entrepreneur must create the sales funnel, that is, a guided path for the user that includes the tools and channels, in the order that he thinks are the most suitable, to reach the final goal of the sale.
An example of an insurance funnel could be:
- I try different traffic sources;
- whatever the source, I land my user on an easy landing page, which immediately points to the action I want my user to take;
- sending an automatic email with a quote;
- remarketing for 1 week, because after analysis, I assume my client will decide within that time frame;
- call from an operator 2 days later, which gives the possibility to customize the offer and apply a 5% discount.
Here is a digital marketing strategy designed, aimed at directing the user toward the established goal. But that’s not all.
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The testing phase
Nothing in this area can be considered “definitive knowledge”, so you have to learn to test the different sources of traffic to see which is the most effective and above all which is better suited to the normal decision-making process of the potential customer. Based on these tests, then, I’ll find myself allocating more budget to one player than another.
Optimize your online channels
Once you have found your effective Funnel, which involves the transition of your potential customers from the awareness phase (i.e. knowledge of the product) to that of interest, consideration, and finally purchase (i.e. the actual purchase), what remains for me to do, is to always optimize the performance of the tools, remembering however to find a balance between them to be able to achieve the common goal.
Digital strategy course
If you are looking for some digital strategy lessons, I recommend the Digital Strategy Course, with exercises and practical examples that will accompany the theory to facilitate the learning of a subject that is in itself complex and structured as it is. the implementation of digital in one’s market logic or rather web marketing.
To further explore the topic, you can choose to attend the Digital Marketing Master, which will allow you to acquire all the skills necessary to address the issues we have seen in this mini-guide on how to create your Digital Strategy.
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