Most people know that digital marketing is important in today’s world. A lot of businesses try it. But many struggle to get it to work for them. Often, it’s because of a lack of clarity and direction.
There’s so many different digital marketing tactics, tools, and platforms. The digital landscape is constantly changing. So if you’re not well-versed in digital marketing, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed or get lost down the wrong path.
Through learning and experience, I’ve come to realize that digital marketing works best when you develop and operate from a cohesive strategy.
Strategy is a higher level focus on what to do. It looks at the big picture and incorporates your goals and objectives. It helps you determine what you need to do to get the results you want.
Tactics focus more on the details and specifics of how to implement the strategy and achieve your goals. Once you have a cohesive strategy, you can use it as a roadmap or framework to guide your actions.
Prioritize Strategy Over Tactics
Early in my digital marketing career, I started as a podcast producer. At one point, I worked with a coaching company to relaunch their podcast. We embarked on a massive effort, publishing three episodes every week. In just four months, their show grew from under 2,000 to over 10,000 downloads per month.
Despite all the successes from that project, there were still lessons to be learned and things we could’ve done better. For example, while sales went up slightly over the following year, it didn’t increase in the same proportion to the podcast audience we had built up.
There was a bit of a disconnect, and I noticed it with other large podcasts as well. This is why I ended up transitioning from podcast production into full-stack digital marketing. I wanted to have a bigger impact on helping clients actually grow their businesses and not just an audience.
Podcasting can be a great content stream. But in the big picture of digital marketing, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Content is meant to build awareness and grow your audience. But it’s also important to consider where you’re directing that audience. You need a system to get people to take the next step and interact more directly with your brand.
Additionally, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing is not a winning formula. It might work occasionally or temporarily, but the results likely won’t be consistent or sustainable. Every business has its own unique needs, goals, and challenges. What works for one may not necessarily work for another.
Doing something just because “everyone else is doing it” or it “sounds like a good idea” isn’t a wise approach. Without a cohesive strategy, you can end up wasting time, money, and effort on the wrong tactics, with little if any results to show for it.
3 Phases of Successful Marketing Campaigns
There are many different pieces to the puzzle of your online presence. It includes your website, funnels, email, SEO, social media, content, paid ads, backlinks, PR, and everything in between.
Think of your online presence as a machine with all the parts working together. Just one or two faulty parts can cause the entire machine to fail or go off track.
An integrated digital marketing strategy considers all of these factors to successfully grow your business online. Prioritizing strategy over tactics will enable you to plan, build, and optimize an efficient and effective marketing machine that creates sustainable long-term growth.
Here at Layer Digital Solutions, we follow a three-phase process: Plan, Build, and Optimize. While digital marketing is not a magic pill or quick fix, by modeling this approach, you can start to see measurable results within 3-6 months and more significant growth within 6-12 months.
Phase 1: Plan
In order to get to where you want to go, you need to clearly define your goals, assess where you are now, and develop an action plan. Taking the time to carefully plan before you act will end up saving your business tons of time, money, and effort in the long run.
Define Your Goals
Map out all the components of your business and where you want to take it. Define your company mission and vision. Create a detailed profile of your target markets and customer bases. Inventory all of your service offerings, including the tangible solutions and results that they provide for your customers.
Establish specific and measurable goals and objectives. Don’t get overly attached to exact numbers, but setting approximate benchmarks and timelines will set you up for success. These numbers may change as you move forward, and that’s okay. Having them on record will make it easier to adjust when you need to.
Below are some examples of specific marketing and business goals. These are just examples to give you ideas and inspiration. Set your own goals that align with your specific situation.
- Exceed 1000 monthly website visits by the end of the year
- Double inbound leads over the next six months
- Increase your landing page conversion rate by 50%
- Rank in the top 10 Google search results by end of Q2
Along with goals, it’s important to account for obstacles and constraints. This helps you manage expectations, keep your goals reasonable, and not bite off more than you can chew. Maybe you’re limited by time, budget, available resources, or certain marketing regulations.
Documenting this information will help you develop the right strategy and action plan. It helps you stay focused and accountable when implementing new marketing projects. It also comes in handy when you’re tracking your results and looking for ways to improve.
Assess Where You Are
After defining your goals, the next step is to audit your marketing. Before you can develop an action plan, you need to assess where you are now.
Conducting a comprehensive audit will reveal:
- What’s working and what isn’t
- Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- How you measure up to the latest guidelines and best practices
- How you measure up to your competitors
- What can be improved and how
Evaluating your online presence is both a qualitative and quantitative process. While going through the entire process is outside the scope of this article, we’ll have future articles that cover this in detail. You can also get our free Guidebook to audit some of the key aspects of your website and funnels, or learn more about our digital marketing audit service.
As we mentioned before, digital marketing is like a machine. There are many different parts, but they all work together as a team. When auditing, it’s important to consider all of your digital assets and touch points.
For example, when it comes to your website, evaluate the design and layout, technical features and functionality, the quality of your copywriting and content, and overall user experience.
Look at the marketing funnels you have set up. Assess the quality of your offers and how you present them, calls-to-action, and your follow-up system through email or other means.
With your email marketing, analyze your automations and list segmentation, as well as the actual content of your emails and key metrics like open rate and click-thru rate.
When it comes to SEO, evaluate your rankings and those of your competitors, the structure and technical settings on your website, keyword targeting in your content, as well as backlinks.
If you’re running paid ads, assess what platforms you’re on, your audience targeting, the design and content of your ads, and key metrics like impressions, click rate, and conversions.
Develop an Action Plan
The last step is to develop your action plan, taking into account your goals and what the audit revealed. Decide what weak spots and threats you need to address. Figure out what strengths and opportunities you can leverage further.
Decide what new assets need to be created from scratch, versus what existing assets need to be improved upon and how. Focus on what matters and weed out anything that’s not relevant or won’t have a major impact on your results.
As a rule of thumb, you should always build out and fine-tune your foundations — your website, funnels, and email — to maximize conversions. Then shift to traffic generation to reach more of your target market. From there, it’s just a matter of maintaining and optimizing.
This is where tactics come into play. Make your plan detailed enough so you know exactly how to implement it and what tools and platforms you need. Set your estimated timelines, priorities, and expectations for each project milestone.
Phase 2: Build
Once you have your step-by-step marketing plan, it’s time to put it into action. Rather than picking and choosing random tactics, they stem from a cohesive strategy. Each tactic serves a specific purpose to achieve a specific goal in the plan.
Start by building and optimizing your foundational digital assets. Then add the fuel by driving traffic. Implementing your marketing in this manner will enable you to do it more efficiently and effectively, and get a better return on investment.
Set the Foundation
No matter how people find you online, it almost always leads them back to your website, funnels, and email list. These are the places where your audience can learn about who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. This is where they make buying decisions.
It’s important to build and optimize these pieces of your online presence before driving traffic. A lot of businesses mistakenly jump straight to traffic generation. But if your foundations aren’t optimized for conversions, it’s kind of like pumping water into a leaky pool. You’ll waste time, money, and effort and get lackluster results.
While not an all-inclusive list, here is a sample of some specific tactics and considerations when it comes to your digital marketing foundations:
- Marketing tools and platforms
- Visual design and branding style
- Formulating content and messaging
- Optimizing your website SEO settings
- Developing your funnel offers
- Setting up email marketing automation
- Setting up tracking and analytics
Once your foundations are in place, it’s time to shift to traffic generation. Attracting more people from your target market will act as the fuel for your marketing machine. While this requires more ongoing effort, you’ll gain visibility and develop a more consistent flow of incoming leads.
Your overall goals and objectives, specifically your timeline and budget, will determine what tactics to use. Organic traffic methods include SEO via blogging, content marketing, social media, backlink acquisition, and PR. Paid traffic methods include ads via search engines and social media platforms.
While not an all-inclusive list, here is a sample of some specific tactics and considerations when it comes to traffic generation:
- Keyword research and competitor analysis
- Developing new blog content
- Finding backlink opportunities
- Creating social media posts
- Launching new content marketing streams
- Choosing the right ad platforms
- Setting up and optimizing ad campaigns
Phase 3: Optimize
Like any other type of machine, your marketing machine requires regular maintenance and adjustments. One thing to keep in mind is that digital marketing is a blend of art and science. It’s not about getting it perfect. Digital marketing is a continuous process of evaluating and tweaking.
Once your foundations are in place and the traffic is flowing, it’s important to monitor your marketing analytics and track your progress. Focus on key metrics around conversions. Use this data to determine what’s working well and what isn’t, and make any necessary changes.
Over time, you’ll start to stamp out more of your weak spots and optimize your marketing machine to function at its full potential. Most campaigns start driving results in 3-6 months if done right.
Beyond this, you can also brainstorm and implement new ideas. If everything is working well, you may not need to do much besides maintaining your current marketing efforts. But exploring new campaigns periodically can help you leverage new growth opportunities.
When implementing a new marketing campaign, it’s important to cycle back through this three phase process. Start with the strategy and planning, build it out and drive traffic, and again monitor the data to track your results and continue adjusting.
Sustainable Long-Term Growth
While jumping from one random marketing tactic to another may work sometimes, it’s a lot more uncertain and unpredictable. You might get lucky and see a brief boost. But doing digital marketing in such a haphazard manner usually doesn’t produce consistent or sustainable growth.
Prioritizing strategy over tactics will help you save time, money, and effort and get better results and a better ROI. Modeling our three-phase process of Plan, Build, and Optimize will enable you to build a successful marketing machine for your business.
In phase 1, we focus on the higher level strategy and planning. It includes defining your marketing goals, auditing your online presence, and developing an action plan.
In phase 2, we focus on building your marketing machine. It starts with setting up your website, funnels, and email. Then it involves driving traffic via organic and paid methods.
In phase 3, we focus on optimizing the machine. Use marketing analytics to track your results and make needed improvements. Brainstorm and launch new campaigns from time to time.
Creating and implementing a successful marketing campaign on your own can be challenging. If you’re looking for professional guidance with your marketing, then book a free consultation with us. We’ll show you how to get on the path to sustainable, long-term growth in your business.