5 simple steps to creating your first digital marketing strategy

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As a small business owner, you must have heard many times that you need a digital marketing strategy to thrive and grow. This is absolutely true. A digital marketing strategy is essential for businesses — big and small. However, it is even more crucial for smaller entities as it helps them increase reach and sales in a cost-effective way.

As a business, you need to be present where your customers are. Today, your customers are online.

They are:

  • Spending all their free time online
  • Shopping online
  • Socialising online

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed buying behaviour from offline to online.

According to a survey on Indian online shopping behaviour conducted by Rakuten Insight, 59% of respondents said they relied on digital buying during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard their health and avoid stepping out of their homes.

This behaviour is unlikely to change after the public health situation stabilises, which means having an online marketing strategy is paramount.

5 steps to creating an effective digital marketing strategy

Here, we have charted simple steps you can follow to create your own online marketing strategy.

1. Define your brand story

Person leafing through a graphic design catalog
Look through graphic design catalogs to see how other businesses present themselves.

The first step is to define who you are as a business and how you want to be seen by your audience. This is what will help you create an impression among the hundreds of brands people interact with every day.

It helps to write a brand promise — why customers should choose you above others. Few examples of impactful brand promises include:

  • Asian Paints’ “Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai” 
  • Apple’s “Think Different”
  • Fevicol’s “Jod Ke Rakhe Hamesha’”
  • BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine”

Aim to create a brand promise that is as short and memorable as these.

2. Define your goals

Why are you creating a digital marketing plan? What is the end result you wish to achieve? These are the questions you need to answer next. A strategy without a goal is doomed from the start.

For example, your goal could be to:

  • Increase the number of followers on Facebook from 100 to 200 in two months
  • Turn more casual visitors into actual customers (again, putting a number on it)
  • Increase the number of your email readers who click on a link

Whatever your goals, you need to define them so they are measurable. You can find tips on how to set goals in this post.

3. Describe your most likely customer

This is one of the most important steps in your digital marketing strategy. You need to understand who your target group is. This means developing your audience persona.

A persona is a detailed description of the type of customer likely to buy from you.

You can conduct online surveys to understand:

  • Who your likely customers are (e.g. age, career, marital status)
  • What is their background
  • Decision-making tendencies (e.g. price-sensitive, prefer luxury brands)

You’ll use this information to determine your key digital channels, selecting those favoured by your customer persona.

It is a misconception that you have to be present everywhere — Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and more. If your customers are not on YouTube or Twitter, leave those channels alone. If they are primarily on Facebook, then focus on doing organic (aka free) and paid activities on Facebook itself.

4. Create a content strategy

It is the age of content marketing and this entails understanding what your audience wants and giving it to them. It is as simple as that.

For example, a mobile phone vendor can write blogs on the latest phone launched or best budget phones.

You need to provide interesting, quality content, and at regular intervals. For this, you will need to build a content calendar that will include topics, content formats (e.g. blogs, videos, social posts), the medium across which it will be published and the date it should go live.

Woman looking at a calendar

Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite helps you manage your Google My Business listing, monitor your Google reviews, send great-looking emails out, even manage your Instagram and Facebook — all from one dashboard.

5. Measure progress

It is imperative to track your online marketing efforts to see if they are effective.

Most platforms that provide website-building capabilities such as GoDaddy offer web analytics that are easy to understand. These insights will help you figure what is working and what is not.

For example, analytics can tell you if a blog you published helped in getting more subscribers or followers on social media or if a Facebook ad helped in selling more products.

It is important to note that it is a gradual, step-by-step process. You will not see results overnight, but building and executing an online marketing strategy is a proven formula for success in the digital era.

Related: The business owner’s guide to social media analytics

The key elements of digital marketing 

Now that we’ve explained how to develop a digital marketing strategy that is unique to your business, let’s delve into what are the key components of the same.

When you are creating your first digital strategy, you need to take a five-pronged approach:

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Ensure that your website is search-engine optimised.

This means that if anyone searches for a product that you sell, your website should show up in the top Google searches.

This has to be done via keywords embedded in your website. For example, if you sell Disney toys, a search for Mickey Mouse should throw your website to the customer to increase sales.

This is called improving reach organically. Unless you hire an SEO professional to do it for you, SEO is free. Learn how it’s done here.

Online advertising

This is a paid form of digital marketing wherein you can place ads for your business on Google, YouTube or social media sites. Think of it as the digital version of ads placed in newspapers or magazines. You will have to pay a small fee per click (i.e. every time a customer clicks on your ad and goes to your website).

Social media

This is the easiest form of marketing and it is free (mostly)! This entails creating your business page on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, etc., and promoting your products.

You will also need to make visual images with the right text to post them on relevant social pages. Majority of smartphone owners are glued on to social media so using it is a no-brainer. Just be sure you focus on the social network your likely customers prefer.

Content marketing

Marketers call content marketing the most effective type of digital marketing. With this, you essentially need to create and share content online in forms of:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Videostorefront with sign above it

Whatever you share, it must be valuable to your customer, without directly selling your products. This helps establish you as a market leader in your field.

Email marketing

One of the least expensive types of business promotion, email marketing is when you reach out to your customers with personalised and targeted emails to engage and nurture them.

In summary

A digital marketing strategy is vital for any business to increase reach, create brand awareness and boost sales in a cost-effective way. To review:

  • You need to define your brand story and message. Something that consumers will remember you by, such as Fevicol’s Jod Ke Rakhe Hamesha.
  • Next you need to define your goals and the end result you are looking for with this digital marketing strategy.
  • Next step is creating an audience persona of who your customers are and where they spend time online. You then need to use this information to target them on those specific media. Do not try to be on every digital medium as it will backfire.
  • You will also need to optimise your website for search engines. This means ensuring all relevant keywords are in your content descriptions, so that your website shows up when someone does a Google search for those keywords.
  • The next is the most important: content marketing, which is creating the right content in forms of blogs, infographics, videos, etc. that add value to your customers’ lives.

Lastly, measure progress by studying your website and social media analytics, easily made available by website-building providers such as GoDaddy to see what digital initiatives are working and what aren’t.

A media professional with over 12 years of experience in print and online space, Maneka has strong writing and editing skills. She has worked as an editor in large Indian media organisations, as well as tech media startups across the Asia-Pacific region. The English language is Maneka's first love and words make her happy. Writing is her passion and she can write across verticals such as technology, finance, health, travel, etc. Connect with her on LinkedIn.