A digital strategy (which is an anglicism, we should say “digital strategy, “but the word digital is already too entrenched) is absolutely essential for any business, whether it’s a small business or a large company. As you would not cross the Alps without good preparation, equipment, maps, plans, and established stages of the route, embarking on communication and marketing on the web requires a little preparation.
A digital strategy is intended to be global; it will consist of various actions, tactics, and operations on different marketing channels. Whether via a website, a blog, social networks, email campaigns, influencers, or advertising, you have to know where you want to go. Otherwise, you risk wasting time, human resources, and budget.
If we come back to each of the following points in more extensive dedicated articles, here are already the basics, the roadmap that will allow you to limit the damage.
Table of Contents
1. Identify your goals and objectives
What do you want to achieve with your digital strategy? Whether you want to increase sales, improve customer loyalty, or enter new markets, make sure your goals are specific and measurable. There is a method that the Anglo-Saxons call SMART.
What is the SMART method?
The SMART method consists of defining suitable, clear, and time-bound objectives to help you plan, carry out and monitor a project. It’s an acronym:
- S pecific: the objective must be clearly defined, nothing vague or imprecise.
- M easurable: we must be able to have quantifiable data measures to follow the evolution towards the objective (KPI).
- A chievable : the objective must be coherent and achievable. You must be able to deploy the time resources (human or budgetary) and not aim too high.
- R elevant : the objective must have a defined role in your overall strategy, it must really serve your business.
- T emporally defined: you must set a deadline, with key stages, in order to articulate your efforts.
Here is an example of a SMART goal:
“I want to increase my turnover by making +30% sales via my future e-commerce site in the next 6 months “.
It’s specific and measurable: the figure is +30% in sales via the website. We assume that you have analyzed the market and that online sales are made on your domain; 30% is a consistent figure for a launch; it is Achievable. It’s relevant because it will clearly help your business, and you have set a time limit of 6 months. You know the data to follow, can define what budget you are going to put in to make it profitable, and can plan your operations.
2. Define your target audience
Who are you trying to reach with your digital strategy? Knowing your targeted audience is key to creating effective marketing campaigns and content. A common mistake is to say to yourself, “just about everyone” or “all adults”. You have to define your main target, the “core target”.
Defining your target will completely depend on your company, your services or what you sell. If you’re already in business and going through the digital transition, you should already have a good idea of who your top customers are. If you start, you should already have carried out a market and competition study in which you will have determined your targets and operated a customer segmentation.
It is one of the pillars of communication or digital marketing strategy. The message, the channels, the timings, the tactics, and the means will completely differ depending on your target customers. This is why it is strongly recommended to establish personas. “Typical customer” files. The further you go in this definition of typical customers, the easier it will be for you to determine the best ways to talk to them.
At a minimum, here is what you need to determine about your target customers:
- age range
- Sector of professional activity
- Financial resources
- Lifestyles (nomadic, sedentary, sociable, cultural)
- Buying habits (online, delivery, drive, small regular purchases, all of a sudden, flâneur, knows what he wants, etc.)
- Typical geographical location (urban hyper-center, periphery, small town, big city, countryside, etc.)
- Digital habits (connected, hyper-connected, poorly connected, which networks or platforms, which devices, etc.)
- Centers of interest (ecology, animals, health, economy, politics, high-tech, etc.)
- The problems your services/products will solve for him.
- Anything that seems interesting to you to better understand your target
If you have at least this base on a few typical customers, you will see that the rest of the establishment of your digital communication strategy will be much easier to put in place. Here is an example, but it’s up to you to find the shape that suits you best. You can go deeper or less in detail, depending on your business.
You can completely create a persona for BtoB: it can be the persona of the person who will decide whether or not to buy (CEO, HR, Purchasing Manager, IT, Sales Manager, etc.) or a company profile “type”, their habits, needs, limitations and how to help them.
3. Choose the right channels.
Not all channels will be appropriate to reach your target audience. Thanks to the personas (or business profile) that you will have created in the previous step, you will be able to very quickly determine through which channel you will be able to reach your targets.
The main digital marketing channels
- Google Search (SEO optimization)
- Social networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn…)
- Online PPC advertising (like Google ADS )
- Influencer marketing (influencers on social networks, affiliations, etc.)
- Content marketing (blog articles, video, studies, etc.)
- Email Marketing
- Relationship marketing (also called conversational, direct communication with the prospect/customer)
Please note that we are only talking about digital channels here. There are many other marketing channels outside of the web. The most important: word of mouth. It is by offering a good experience to your customers through the use of a multi-channel (or even omnichannel) strategy that this will take off, with a nice snowball effect.
Measure results and refine if necessary
Integrate digital data tracking tools to track your KPIs. The digital channels allow for the vast majority to obtain real reliable data on what it brings to you. Calculate the audience, the engagement, the conversion rate. In short, define the ROI of each of your channels as you carry out campaigns in order to better adjust your budgets. Each channel has its own tracking methods.
For example, Google tools (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Ads, etc.) will allow you to follow everything that happens on your site:
Example of Google Analytics data, here the sources of traffic on a site over the last week
Each platform, each channel can have its own KPI monitoring tools. There are also tools that will aggregate everything to give you all the information in one place. We will go over all of this in detail in a future article.
4. Analyze your resources.
A digital strategy takes time, money, and effort to implement successfully. Assess your resources and determine if you have enough time, money, and other assets to create a successful digital strategy.
You have to take many elements into account: are you alone, several, do you have a team behind you, do you call on an agency to manage your communication or on service providers. Who will create articles, infographics, videos? Who will track the data and interact with the community on social media? What budget are you going to put into PPC, Display, Affiliate, or Sponsorship ads?
Establish the list of your actions channel by channel to have an overview of all the costs that this will represent, but also the expected results. Putting resources into marketing and communication is not a cost but an investment. Like any investment, it is necessary to establish forecasts, calculate the expected ROI and follow the evolution in order to add budget (and human time) where the ratios are the best and stop the costs when the results are much less important than expected.
Be careful, though: each channel has its own time frame: the results of a Google Ads campaign will be visible almost immediately. On the other hand, the publication of a good blog article will only give results after days, weeks, or even months if your site is very young: natural referencing is a game of patience.
Conversely, money spent on an Ads campaign will only bring traffic while you are paying, but a good article on an evergreen topic will continue to bring organic traffic as long as your site is healthy. You can even update it regularly with new data if the subject lends itself to extending its lifespan.
Know how to take a step back and question yourself: if a channel does not give the expected results, ask yourself the question of whether it is because the channel is not adapted to the target or your product or because did you word the message incorrectly? Maybe a few tweaks can straighten things out.
5. Watch the competition.
An important part of creating a digital strategy is knowing what your competitors are doing online. Monitor their strategies, marketing campaigns, and other social media activity to see how they approach things compared to you.
If you have similar services or products, you probably have similar strategies, targets, and messages. Analyze what your competitors are investing in marketing, look at their history, their successes, their failures. Doing exactly the same thing is obviously not the method, but drawing inspiration from everyone in your sector will help you better position yourself, get new ideas, and reassure you about the methods to use.
There are many methods and tools to monitor your competition; we will soon devote an article to it, if you don’t have any, know that Google can already be of great help to you!
You can use search to uncover competitors you may not have known about, then search operators and Google tools to refine. You can also program alerts (Google alert) on certain important keywords in your sector, follow their social networks and newsletter, look for case studies on their communication, etc.
At Web Tribe, we work with Best SEO tools company Ahrefs, our favorite tool for performing digital benchmarks and SEO analysis and strategy. Here is an example of the data we can obtain if for example, you are looking to sell garden decorations:
Here is an extract of the 139 websites that will appear on Google for the search “Garden decoration” with the volume and share of traffic and position in Google. So many potential competitors to analyze.
Then, for each of them, we can pull thousands of data, such as what keywords they appear on Google:
Extract from the list of 33.4K keywords on which the animated garden site is positioned, with its estimated traffic, the estimated monthly search volume for this keyword, the position of the site in question in google for this query, and the estimated cost of a click in case of Google Ads.
It is this type of tool that we use to study and analyze our clients’ competition to help them define their sales, marketing, and communication strategy. However, these are expensive professional tools that are not suitable for everyone. Some free tools (Ahrefs also offers some ) will still give you information, less numerous and less advanced.
6. Analyze your data.
Look at your sales numbers, customer support records, and other business metrics to see what’s working well for you and what’s not. Analyzing your data will help you identify opportunities for improvement in all areas of your business.
This is called a “data-driven” approach. The digital age makes it possible to track a lot of very precise data at different levels of granularity. As we saw above, many tools exist, and we will devote an article to them very soon.
This data needs to be analyzed to draw the right measurements and conclusions. Be careful, however, to choose which ones and how you are going to compile them, and what you are going to compare them to. In English, the measures are called “metrics”, and there are what are called “vanity metrics”, vanity measures, which look “pretty” on a report but have no use or are poorly taken into account.
For example, in a measure that is very often useless in SEO, there is the bounce rate: when a user clicks on your page in the search result but, once on your site, no longer interacts with it (does not click on another page for example). Some people will tell you, “my god, they are leaving our site; what a horror”. But let’s think for a moment: if the user doesn’t look any further, it may be precise because he found exactly what he was looking for on your page, right? As a web user, think about how many times you clicked on a search result or an article shared on networks, read it, found it very interesting and moved on. Does this make the site in question less good? On the contrary.
On the other hand, if the page in question is a landing page which aims to convert the user by making him register, buy or request an appointment and he does nothing about it, then the bounce rate goes problematic.
Each data, each measure, must be considered in its context and not on a global scale.
Is it better to have 100 visitors per month and 30% convert or 1000 visitors and 1% convert?
7. Stay on top of industry trends.
Digital marketing is constantly evolving. Using technology to keep up to date with the latest trends in digital marketing is essential.
This is called digital monitoring; there are several tools, often free, that will help you do this easily. Google alerts, for example, are easy to set up and very effective. You can also use a feed aggregator like Feedly or Netvibes to pick up articles on your topics of interest and group them together in a single interface.
This is what my Feedly board looks like
But these aren’t the only ways to keep up to date: find podcasts in your industry (Google search: [your industry] podcast), sign up for newsletters from the best blogs in your industry, follow the leading of the market on Twitter, and LinkedIn, sometimes take a look at Google trends or What’s trending to stay on the lookout for changes in your market or what news you will be able to “surf” in your communication and marketing.
8. Be prepared to fail.
You can learn a lot from your failed experiments and strategies, so don’t be afraid to try new things!
If something does not work as expected: analyze in detail what could be the reason for this lack of success. this can give you clues on how to get back on the right track, better prepare your next campaigns, or, sometimes, spot a change in the behavior and habits of your customers. If it’s the latter, you may have the opportunity to be one of the first in your sector to take the right turn to convert them before your competitors.
This is why it is important to try new methods regularly. Not necessarily on a large scale, don’t commit a huge amount of time or colossal resources to a hunch. But alongside your long-term marketing efforts, try some new tactics, replicate a competitor’s and see the results.
A campaign failed? Extract all the information you can, analyze the data, and determine if it is because of the way you designed it or if the market is not receptive to this channel or method.
One thing is crucial and often forgotten by companies: talking to customers! If a campaign does not work, do a survey of your customers or your usual audience; what did they think of it, was it clear, what did or did not please, did they even see her?
It’s time to come out with an extremely crude sentence: There is no failure, just more or less painful learning opportunities. If we can obviously find exceptions, the idea is there.
9. Plan for your success.
Plan everything before you start implementing anything online. By planning for success, you will reduce your risks and increase your chances of achieving your goals.
Don’t happily embark on your first ad campaign because you can’t wait to see your return on investment. We do not go to battle without having prepared everything. It is better to launch your campaign a month later but having scrupulously planned all the parameters, the different means by which the channels will support each other, having warned all your teams (sales, support, after-sales, editors, etc.) to explain to them the ins and outs, their roles and the issues.
Make a real precise schedule in the way that seems most natural and understandable to you (here we like the Gantt format, which allows you to clearly see the simultaneity of events). The idea is that there is no doubt about who should do what, when each element of your strategy, each campaign, each post is sent and works together in order to achieve your objectives.
This is what a Gantt schedule might look like
10. Have fun!
A digital strategy is not easy to put in place, but it is rewarding. Stay motivated by remembering why you wanted to implement a digital strategy in the first place.
It’s the best time to be creative daring, to try new things, to learn new things. By carrying out your strategy, you will have to better understand your potential customers, your audience, your teams, your products or services, even! By analyzing the competition, you will have the opportunity to adjust your positioning, strengthen your weak points and gradually take the market share you are missing.
The creation of a digital strategy is an important step for any business or organization, and the Internet is increasingly becoming the first source of leads and visibility for your business; you should not stay on the side of the road.
And if all this seems too long, risky, or complicated, trust our team of professionals to help you.