Here is a 6 step framework to craft a winning Digital Marketing Strategy for your business

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Guest Post
  Published 16 Jun 2017
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{Guest Post byRoy Morrison}

Google. Bing. Facebook. Twitter. Whatsapp. Email. Linkedin. Instagram, API’s and countless others.

These digital marketing channels have emerged in the space of only the last 20+ years. And with the pace of business increasing in light of accelerating technological change it is reasonable to expect that more marketing channels will arise in the near future. Especially with another three to five billion people expected to come online by 2020.

Compare this to your parent's generation with TVs, radios, billboards, snail mail, newsletters, and magazines. In many ways, the marketing world was simpler back then. Marketing channels were limited to handful channels.

But today?

You could be forgiven for asking yourself what the best digital marketing strategy for your business is in face of an overwhelming amount of different marketing channels.

There is no silver bullet that can answer this question. But there is a framework that you can use in determining the best digital marketing strategy for your business.

Let’s take a look.

Audience

One of the advantages of 21st-century marketing compared to 20th-century marketing is that your customers generate a tremendous amount of data. As such, it presents an opportunity to really get know your target audience on a very intimate level.

This means you need to understand your target audience very, very well. In particular, the needs and behavior of your target audience as everything flows from this.

Understanding your audience means knowing how and where they spend their time online:

These are things you need to know so that you can pick the right marketing channel. After all, it does not make much sense to use Twitter if your target audience is more active on Linkedin.

Furthermore, you need to ask yourself whether your business or product is something that your target audience would actively search for or whether a push marketing channel is required to generate awareness of your brand and products.

In other words, would somebody search Google for your product online via keywords like “best mobile payment app” or does the awareness about the solution you offer still have to be generated? In that case, using social media channels where people can be reached via the newsfeed may be a better choice.

This is why knowing the behavior of your customers is crucial in picking the right marketing channel(s).

One key factor that is overlooked when thinking about target audience is who owns the access to the desired target audience?

Don’t make the mistake to believe that the fans and followers you have built up on the various social media channels are your assets. They are not.

Your fans and followers are the assets of the big boys like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. If they decide to terminate or severely diminish your access to your audience there is not much you can do unless you pay for that access to your audience. A few years ago, Facebook decided to dwindle the impact of organic reach to below 2% of total fans. Businesses that relied heavily on Facebook back then were in for a rude awakening.

When your business is at the mercy of somebody else setting the rules you will always be at risk to sudden changes. So think carefully about how you build your audience online and how you can own the access to your audience yourself.

This is one of the big advantages of email marketing. You own the email list your business builds and you can access your audience whenever you need to by simply sending emails. No extra fees involved to access your audience.

Brands in Kenya and around the globe are starting to realize the importance of building audiences they own and so should you.

Budget

Money is one of the key factors that will determine what digital marketing strategy you can adopt.

The reality is that for most businesses money is not available in unlimited supply which means developing the right digital marketing strategy requires some thought.

Advertising on all the marketing channels costs money. Some channels cost more than others. For example, if you decide to incorporate a pay-per-click strategy then you will need the necessary financial muscles to do so. Pay-per-click can easily cost a lot very quickly and eat up your budget very fast.

Even so-called “free” marketing channels like inbound marketing cost money as employees need to be paid for their time and efforts involved in executing inbound marketing.

Therefore, it is important to evaluate what the best marketing channel is within the limits of your budget. One of the advantages of today’s marketing landscape is that with some creativity you can acquire a lot of new customers without spending too much.

There are countless examples from Airbnb, Dropbox, Whatsapp and others that acquired millions of users through ingenious ideas such as cross-posting their offering to bigger platforms, incentivizing referrals and simple word of mouth.

It does not hurt to have an irresistible product that meets a big market need. The point is that creativity inspired by budget constraints can take you very far. So if your budget does not cater for your desired digital marketing strategy, it is time to get your creative juices flowing and come up with Kenya’s and Africa’s first world-famous growth hack!

Capacity

When you think about marketing your business online what is the first thing you do? Chances are that, like many others, you sign up for accounts across the spectrum including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube and many others.

But have you ever asked yourself how many businesses really are dominating their various digital marketing channels? Not many, and even less small businesses or startups.

It takes skill, continuous learning, resources, an intimate understanding of the target audience and a good strategy to really execute digital marketing well. Yet, when you look at the digital marketing efforts by many brands you notice that their approach is just too scattered. They just throw against the wall and see what sticks.

What does this mean for you?

In order to succeed in the digital economy and crafting an effective digital marketing strategy, you must be aware of your capacities and the skillset you have available in your company.

Of course, there are generalists that know a little about many different channels. But to really get the most from a particular channel you have to really have a deep understanding of it.

For example, Google Adwords alone is such a big marketing channel that offers you a tremendous amount of different possibilities from retargeting to display ads and more.

Therefore, you need to ask yourself what capacities you have at your disposal and if you don’t have any then it is important knowing which one is worth building.

This does not mean that your business should only be present on one marketing channel. It is, however, essential that you have one or two marketing channels as a foundation upon which the rest is built. Dominate one channel before you add other channels to your mix.

In designing your digital marketing strategy, think about the capacities that you do have. If you do not have the desired ones available, outsource it to a digital marketing agency or know which one is worth building. Nowadays, there are plenty of resources online where the necessary skill sets can be learned.

Time

Time is one of the most valuable resources available. If you are a startup you need to generate revenue even faster than an established business with reserves. As such, you are unlikely to succeed with a digital marketing strategy that is known to be very effective but takes a lot of time to generate the necessary results.

According to Campaign Monitor, Email marketing generates a ROI of 4400% with a return of $44 for every $1 invested. Clearly, Email marketing is very powerful in driving revenue for your business.

However, if email is your only marketing channel then it will most likely take a long time to build up your Email list. Creating a healthy email list requires you to drive traffic to your website where people can sign up to your newsletter. Traffic won’t come by itself which is why you need to combine it with another marketing channel.

This goes to show that not every marketing channel by itself can generate quick returns. If that is what you are after then perhaps Google Adwords or Facebook Ads might be a better option. Bear in mind though, that they cost money and they can cost a lot fast. There is a trade-off to make.

Therefore when you are conceptualizing your digital marketing strategy think about how much time you have until you need to see concrete results and factor this into your planning. Otherwise, you run the risk of undermining the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy.

Tracking

A big advantage of digital marketing compared to the traditional offline marketing is the ability to track user actions. In light of the rise of Big Data, this is becoming more important and easier to do at the same time.

Today it is possible to track a large number of different user behaviors. Whether someone signs up for your newsletter, watches a video or clicks on an outbound link all of this can be tracked and gives you valuable information about your customers.

Compare this to traditional marketing. You can pay for an advertisement in a newspaper, tv or radio but you don’t really have a clear idea of how many people see that advertisement and what they do with it. You can only guesstimate.

Not so with digital marketing. Thanks to sophisticated tracking technology you can very clearly identify how many people saw a particular ad and whether there was any form of engagement.

However, not all digital marketing channels offer you the same tracking abilities. For example, a great advantage of email marketing is that you can track whether a subscriber visits a particular product or sales page. As a result, you can send them a series of emails to help them make the purchase decision in your favor. It is much more difficult to something like this on Twitter.

That is why you should determine what behavior you would like to track and then evaluate whether the channel of your choice offers those tracking capabilities.

Taking advantage of sophisticated tracking not only helps you to get to know your target audience intimately but also boost your revenue as a result of the actions you can take made available by tracked insights.

Return path

If you plan on having a successful business, then you need to have a plan on how you keep your users and customers returning to your website or app. Otherwise, you will be out of business very fast.

Consider that it can cost anywhere between 5 -20x as much to acquire a new customer vs keeping an existing one. After all the effort you have put in to get new users or customers you don’t want to neglect them. As part of your digital marketing strategy, you should think about what will keep them coming back and how you will inform them about updates, new products, and promotions.

Will it be:

  • Push notifications?
  • Tweets?
  • Retargeting?
  • Email automation series?
  • Facebook updates?
  • Anything else?

Thinking about the return path at the outset of your digital marketing strategy can pay dividends throughout the customer lifecycle while increasing the revenue you can generate. It obviously helps to have a great product, but having a well-defined return path for your customers is key to an effective digital marketing strategy.

Conclusion

There is no one size fits all approach to creating the perfect digital marketing strategy for your business. It will be different for every business and dependent on a variety of different factors such as the ones outlined above as well as the type of industry. At the same time, the digital marketing landscape is changing at a breakneck speed that it can be difficult to keep on top of it all. What worked yesterday, won’t necessarily work today and what works today will not necessarily be effective tomorrow. Nonetheless, the framework outlined here will be a good guideline to craft a winning digital marketing strategy for your business to succeed.

About the Author

Roy Morrison is passionate about emerging technologies, digital marketing, and social innovation. He also runs a blog Rise Africa Rise focused on scaling (social) innovation across Africa and beyond using digital technologies. If you have enjoyed this post, you will find more thoroughly researched, in-depth and actionable insights on Rise Africa Rise.

@RiseAfricaRise7

 

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