Beginners Guide: How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

Today, it seems like we don’t need to use the word “digital” when we talk about digital marketing. Everything is online, right? Well, did you know that only 66% of businesses use online advertisements? If your business hasn’t committed to a serious digital marketing strategy, then it’s time to catch up. It will never get easier than it is today. Here’s how to design a digital marketing strategy that works for your business!

Set a Budget

Before even considering which digital marketing strategies to use, it’s very important to have a clear budget in mind. Generally speaking, most small businesses spend between 7% and 8% of their revenues on marketing. However, that doesn’t work for everyone.

This is because different industries and different locations will have completely different standards. For example, law firms in New York City typically have to allocate a lot more than 8% because the competition in the area is too steep. However, a local bakery in a small town may not have any competition at all, allowing them to spend 2% or less!

To determine a fair marketing budget, conduct a little competitor research in your area and consult with a marketing agency to get a rough idea of the costs. Try to set a reasonable budget for the next three to six months and reevaluate it from there. Then, you can prioritize where your marketing money is going based on your marketing goals.

Build a Brand

Branding and marketing go hand-in-hand on nearly every front.

Of course, you want to get the most out of your marketing strategy. In that case, building a unique and recognizable brand is the best way forward, as it will help solidify your brand’s identity in the minds of your target audience.

Brand Building words typography lettering concept

We can all recognize brands like Google or Facebook from a mile away but don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you need to compete with tech giants. There are millions of brands in the world that have the same level of recognition within their target audiences, no matter how niche the industry is!

There are plenty of cruelty-free cosmetic brands, rock climbing brands, and so much more that have built such strong recognition within their target market that they’re as easy to recognize as Google for them. Your brand can benefit from the same level of recognition with the right branding services!

Just remember that a brand is not just a logo. Everything your company does, from the font and colour scheme to the tone of voice, should emulate a clear and consistent persona for the best results. This is across your entire digital marketing strategy, in your store, on your packaging, and with your daily operations.

Build or Rebuild Your Website

Building a website is one of the most essential tips on this list. Your website is the center, home base, and the majority of the funnel for your entire marketing strategy. Your social media, SEO, emails, ads, and everything else will likely attempt to draw traffic to your website.

Concept of industrial cranes building a web page

For that reason, your site needs to be optimized for user engagement and retention. You could have the best ad campaigns in the world, but if you’re drawing traffic to a site with poor usability, you’re likely to lose them along the way. A quality website with a clear funnel will help you boost conversion rates.

With PPC ads, let’s say you’re spending $1.50 per click with a conversion rate of 1.5%, which is close to the average. In that case, you’ll need to earn $100 (after other expenses) from every customer just to break even on your ad campaign. Building a strong website could help you reduce these costs dramatically.

Even if your website is updated, there’s always room for improvement. You can always track your performance in Google Analytics or other free tools to give you insights into what needs improvement!

Also, a strong website will ultimately help you establish a strong brand, as it’s a blank slate for you to fill. Unlike social media or other platforms, you can control the font, colour scheme, and everything else on your website, so use it to your advantage!

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is, without a doubt, one of the best marketing tools available if you know how to use it. Essentially, SEO is just optimizing your existing website content for Google’s algorithm so you can appear higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some of the most important factors include:

  • Mobile-friendly web design
  • Fast page loading times
  • UX features
  • Clean navigation system
  • Quality page structure
  • Relevant meta information
  • Optimized images
  • Quality, relevant content
  • Proper keywords

The list goes on, but this is a good start. With a strong website and a strong content strategy, you will see results over time. 

Yes, you can buy paid ads and skip the line. However, most users skip over the ads in favour of the organic results. This starts users’ interactions with your brand on a note of trust, which is great for building positive brand awareness and user retention.

Vector illustration of web designers building webpage

When you appear on the second or third page of a Google search, how many users do you expect to find you organically? Very few, if any at all. Ranking on the first page of a high-traffic Google search is enough to keep a business afloat for years to come.

To be fair, there is one fault with SEO, just like with every other organic marketing strategy; it takes time. However, the rewards tend to last for a long time, and the returns tend to be higher than with paid ads. Over time, SEO can help make you less reliant on ads, expand your reach, build trust, and so much more.

PPC Ads

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements should be used in every digital marketing strategy to some extent, especially in the early days. PPC ads offer nearly instant returns, and if you use them wisely, they can be very profitable. However, with a low conversion rate, even the savviest digital marketers find it challenging to break even.

Pay per click ads diagram

It’s always important to choose the right type of ads for your goals, optimize the ad itself, and have a clear funnel with optimized landing pages on your website. With all of that, you should see success in your PPC ad strategy.

When choosing a type of PPC ad, we recommend either going with what’s most natural for your industry or diversifying if possible. For example, a video game will benefit more from video ads, as they’ll need to display the features of the video. On the other hand, a blog would benefit more from search ads.

Most brands would benefit most from a diverse set of ads. Over time, as you notice which are most effective, you can allocate your funding accordingly. Just remember to continue measuring your performance throughout your campaign for the best results.

Organic Social Media and Email Marketing

Like SEO, email and social media marketing are great ways to boost your organic reach.

In marketing, getting customers is half of the battle; keeping them is the other half.

Did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can result in up to a 95% increase in profits? Well, organic social media and email marketing are the best tools for this, and they’re entirely free if you know what you’re doing. You can also build a mutually-beneficial relationship between these tools and your website.

For example, your website should have prompts for users to follow you on social media and sign up for your newsletter. From there, your social media bio and content sharing can help draw traffic to your site, as can the calls to action in your email newsletters!

It’s very important to start using free and organic tools as soon as possible. They take time to build, and they don’t cut into your budget much. Building them now will help you become less dependent on paid ads and more diversified in the long run!

Launch Your New Marketing Strategy Today

Now that you know how to design a marketing strategy that’s geared for today’s age, put these tips to use as soon as possible. The marketing world is only becoming more competitive, so it’s important to get ahead while you can. For the best results, follow these tips, diversify your strategy, and get the help you need!

Stay up to date with our latest digital marketing news, and feel free to contact us with any questions or for help with your marketing efforts!

About Robert Burko

Robert Burko is CEO and Founder of Elite Digital, a leading digital marketing agency. As one of Canada's chief digital marketing specialists, Burko has appeared on national television, radio, podcasts, and in countless print publications and blogs across North America. Burko is also a professor of Digital Marketing & Social Media at Seneca College in Toronto. Recognized as a thought leader in his industry, Robert is often invited to speak as an expert in his field at high-profile events across North America.

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