These days, everyone is doing digital marketing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it well.
Digital is continuing to grow and change rapidly and remains one of the most effective ways for businesses to hone in on new customers and expand their reach efficiently. But, if your digital marketing efforts aren’t grounded in a strategic approach and framework, you may find you’re wasting resources, money, and missing potential opportunities.
Six steps to creating a strong digital framework
Determine your overarching goals and objectives.
Many times marketers start the conversation with, “We want to be on social media…” A bottoms-up planning approach skips some really fundamental steps in the process. How can you select a tactic before you’ve taken the time to understand who you are trying to reach and the ultimate goals of your campaign?
Begin laying the foundation of your digital framework by identifying your business objectives. What are your goals? What outcome are you trying to achieve?
Focus on setting objectives for your digital efforts that are S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Using these criteria to set clear goals will kick-start you on the path to success.
Identify your primary target audience.
There are 7.7 billion people in the world and you certainly shouldn’t try to reach them all with a given campaign or message.
Take the time to identify and truly understand your target audience. Who are they? What stage of life are they in? What challenges do they face? How do they use digital media? And, how does your company or organization fit or add to their life?
This knowledge of your target audience is invaluable and will not only inform the other elements of a strong digital framework but will enable you to think smarter and more creatively about the best ways to reach and engage with them.
Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Develop a Measurement Plan
So, you’ve identified your campaign objectives, but how will you measure success? What metrics will you monitor? And, at what frequency will you report on the progress towards your goals?
Consistent tracking and reporting on key metrics will allow you to continually optimize and ensure you stay on track throughout the lifecycle of your digital campaign. It also allows you the ability to pivot and course-correct along the way, if needed.
Determine the right mix of digital tactics.
Now it’s time to turn your strategic vision into an actionable plan. You’ve set campaign goals and taken the time to understand your target audience – now you have enough information to select the right mix of digital tactics.
There are many digital channels at your disposal, so it’s important to assess and understand each channel, how it works, the assets needed to effectively implement a campaign, and if it all works within your budget.
Create a compelling content strategy.
The saying “If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams, but it won’t necessarily work for your digital strategy. Digital channels are fueled by content, yet content tends to be one of the most challenging aspects of creating an engaging digital framework.
So how do you get started?
Understand your consumer journey
Identify content themes that will provide value to your audience throughout their consideration journey. Think about content areas that will address challenges or resistance points, answer questions, provide guidance, and truly give your audience a reason to want to learn more and engage with your brand.
Develop a content roadmap & distribution strategy
This is a pivotal moment in the development of a content strategy. Many times, marketers get excited about diving straight into the launch of their digital tactics and don’t take the time to strategically map out how they’re going to realistically keep their content engine in motion.
When this happens, you run into the day-to-day panicked thinking of, “What are we going to post today?” or “We should probably send an email…what should it be about?” When this happens, plans sometimes begin to fall apart. You have a million things to do. You get busy. And you may not have time to figure out your content on a whim.
Take the time to develop a strategic roadmap that plans out your topics, assets, tactics, and content frequency upfront. Creative and messaging needs are different for each digital tactic, so it’s important to plan ahead and think through how all your content and creative messaging will adapt to each channel effectively. And don’t forget to think about a measurement model to help you benchmark and improve your content as you go.
Continually analyze performance.
The work is not done once your digital strategy is in place – it’s just beginning. You’ll want to regularly monitor and optimize your campaign towards best-performing partners and placements based on the goals and KPIs established early in your digital framework development.
Be willing and ready to make changes, learn from mistakes, and test new opportunities/initiatives. One of the greatest opportunities with digital is your nimbleness to test, learn and optimize, so don’t be afraid to do so!
Janet is RDW’s Director of Digital Services and is passionate about finding unique and effective ways for brands to tell their stories, build brand trust, and create customer loyalty. In her spare time, she can be found crafting innovative marketing strategies to entice her two tiny humans to eat their vegetables and clean up their toys.