A digital marketing strategy is not something that you build once and then execute. In fact, it’s important to view your strategy as something to develop while things are already in motion.
You cannot shut down your website when developing a strategy because customers still need information, products/services, and support. You also can’t afford to stop spending money on acquisition efforts or time on automated marketing to retain or re-engage existing customers. You have to build your digital marketing strategy while existing digital marketing efforts continue to hum along.
The question is: how can you see the finished puzzle while still putting the pieces together?
An iterative process can make all the difference in bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to go. By creating your strategy and implementing it iteratively, this process is not only easier but also adds value along the way.
How does iteration begin? Identify the quick wins before doing your deep data dive. You can use iterative data to continuously refine and grow your plan. Apply a process iteratively to individual channels first and then use data to optimize.
You need to know when and how to apply iteration to adjust your strategy or tactics. For example. when a campaign isn’t producing results, or you discover that one of your business goals is unattainable due to over-inflated KPIs or a saturated market.
Start with Data
Data is the “why” behind the “what.” It will inform your business goals and strategy as well as validate growth. If you have historical sales and marketing data, that’s a good starting point. And if you’re not collecting data, start now. You want to make sure that every action, engagement, and event derived from your marketing dollars is directly associated with a measurement plan and captures the necessary data to align with your business goals.
Data should be used to answer or validate an already existing KPI, assertion or question. Start with the questions, not with the data.
To get your data, you can use Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or other quantitative measurement platform. But remember, while these quantitative metrics are certainly valuable in telling us what visitors are doing, they don’t tell us too much about the “why” or “why not.” To get the full story, pair your quantitative analytics with qualitative insight to understand real users’ behavior. Use polls, surveys, heat maps, and user recordings to understand how the user how the user behaves on the site and how that behavior ties into the metrics.
Test to Inform Next Steps
A compelling digital strategy aligns customer experiences, business execution, and the right technology as the market and your competition constantly evolve. Our Digital Essentials highlight the most compelling aspects of all three to help you react and respond to this ongoing evolution.
Testing goes beyond A/B testing of an email campaign or performance of a landing page. It helps inform your strategy. Everything hinges on the ideal customer journey, and in order to understand what that looks like, you need to have carefully crafted personas and specific experiences for each. Inspect the elements or touchpoints along your customer journeys. Analyze the the tactics around these touch points so you understand which have worked well and why.
You want to understand conversion and engagement data to improve the user experience, and be able to manipulate calls to action and conversion opportunities in a way that will continue to increase conversion rates on your site.
The goal of all testing is to improve the customer experience. But more than anything it is to improve user conversion. The whole purpose of your site is to create an experience that enables the user to easily do exactly what they want – which is exactly the thing you want them to do.
Define Your Channel Attribution Models
In a perfect world, you would have insight into each customer journey, fully understanding why someone converted and what influenced them the most. But, at least today, that’s just not possible.
What we can do, however, is set up an attribution model, tracking as much of the journey as we can and assigning weights to the interactions we think are most important. This allows you to identify and optimize your most successful channels and, more importantly, tells you where to invest your marketing budget.
Creating an attribution model isn’t easy. It’s one of the more challenging aspects when creating a digital marketing strategy. You’ll likely need to pull in a partner experienced with defining attribution models and creating specific channel mixes.
Here are a few types of attribution models to consider:
- Last Interaction – The last direct touchpoint receives 100% of the credit for the sale.
- Last Non-Direct – 100% of the credit goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through before converting.
- First Interaction – The first touchpoint receives 100% of the credit.
- Linear – Each touchpoint in the conversion path shares equal credit.
- Time Decay – The touchpoints closest in time to the conversion get most of the credit.
- Position Based – 40% credit is assigned to both the first and last interactions, and the remaining 20% is distributed evenly to the middle interactions.
Putting All the Pieces Together
After gathering your data, testing, and creating your attribution model, it’s time to see what the completed puzzle looks like, prioritize business and marketing goals, and unite your organization behind them. Bring together stakeholders and business units to answer the following questions:
- Are the necessary tools and resources available to execute your marketing tactics?
- Do these tactics align with the mission and vision?
- How are these goals weighted against each other?
If your business has multiple product lines and business units, then you will have a significant number of goals. Identify the ones that are most important to your business and that can be achieved with available budget and current or newly acquired resources with the least relative effort.
Once your goals are identified, create next steps on how to achieve them, with corresponding KPIs to measure, necessary channels to fulfill these goals, and the strategy that will drive campaigns to fulfill your goals. Take this information and “sketch it out” over a road map based on priority per channel. Then, get to work!
Remember, creating your digital marketing strategy isn’t a task you can just check off of your to-do list and forget about. It is crucial that you and your company are regularly revisiting your strategy and goals, identifying successes and failures, and making adjustments where needed.
For more information about creating an effective digital marketing strategy, take a look at our free guide.