Develop A 5-Point Digital-Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing is all the rage, with a growing number of companies increasing their digital marketing budgets and investing more time, energy and focus on interactive tools. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of digital options such as social media, video, search, email and location-based marketing.

However, with Facebook, Google and Foursquare adding new features seemingly by the minute, many people become overwhelmed by all the options.

Slow down! While it's great to go digital, it's critical to first have a strategic plan in place. To that end, follow the five steps listed below to develop a bullet-proof strategy that delivers a rockin' experience to your audiences and rock-star results for your business.

1. Bullet-Proof Marketing Strategy

The most essential driver of great business results is strategy. Look at successful companies like Apple, P&G and Nordstrom, and you'll see how their clear strategies get results.

The core of a marketing strategy is actually quite simple:

*What's the essence of your brand?

*Who are your audiences?

*How do you solve their problems or help them achieve their goals?

*What's your positioning and differentiation?

*Why are your audiences compelled to buy from you?

Develop an unbreakable marketing strategy that answers these fundamental questions. It's not a "digital strategy," but rather a "marketing strategy that's digital." Keep the big picture in mind and you'll become a hero to your customers.

2. Bullet-Proof Marketing Integration

We often talk about mobile, social, search, email, video, and PR as if each is in its own silo. Instead, integrate them, ensure that each tactic ties back to your overarching strategy. Successful campaigns are integrated, delivering consistent messages through multiple channels to engage your customers.

Think about the NFL's marketing. It's tightly integrated, with more than 10 Web sites, a fantasy football league, online shop, contests, games, social media, and online videos -- not to mention TV and on-site stadium marketing, which all showcase the NFL brand consistently. All of your marketing should also be demonstrating teamwork through coordinated blocking, tackling and touchdown passes.

3. Bullet-Proof Funnel

Full-funnel coverage is important, regardless of the marketing tools you use. Therefore, your digital marketing should cover everything from awareness-building to lead capture, nurturing, conversion, ongoing support and relationship building. Don't judge the capabilities of a single marketing vehicle myopically. For example, display media is often thought of as a branding tool, yet it can also be used for direct response, behavioral targeting and retargeting.

4. Bullet-Proof Technology

Don't overlook technology. Use technology in full alignment with -- and support of -- your strategy, not the other way around.

With an open rate of 97%-98%, SMS marketing can be a great way to reach an opt-in database. The restaurant chain Houlihan's understands this. Houlihan's has empowered each of its restaurants to leverage its homegrown "Foody Call" mobile club that alerts local diners to immediate offers, specials and promotions.

This is a win for the restaurant, looking to fill seats on slower days, and a win for loyal customers, who appreciate the incentives. It's not the technology that Houlihan's diners (and staff) love. It's the use of the technology that thrills them.

5. Bullet-Proof Data Analysis

Data collection capabilities are becoming more sophisticated. There's data for every channel, campaign and touchpoint. Data alone, however, is useless. It's data analysis that empowers change. Measure everything holistically and not in isolation. Perhaps your display ads don't seem to be producing online conversions. However, with attribution measurement, you may find that they're introducers or influencers for your conversions and may be doubling the impact of your search campaigns.

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