In the dynamic digital realm, where competition is stiff and change is rapid, a digital marketing strategy operates as a compass, connecting a brand’s current situation with a future desired state using distinct, actionable steps to achieve marketing objectives. You can also think of a digital marketing strategy as a blueprint, sketching the big picture of a brand’s online initiatives.  

In the digital era, new challenges have arisen. Brands must now compete with a deluge of online content, and the struggle for user attention is intense.  

To navigate this landscape, you need a clearly defined strategy designed to reach, engage, and motivate audiences to act.  

The digital marketing strategy process

Of course, every strategy should be unique, balancing both business needs and objectives with the audience’s needs and expectations. But in general, an example of the digital marketing strategy process includes: 

  • Research phase – use data-driven tools to better understand the core problem to be solved, understand the broader competitor and audience landscape, and set goals. 
  • Insight phase – develop findings into insights, which are built into the strategy. 
  • Implementation phase – explain the content, key tactics, or activities that will be used to achieve the strategy’s goals.  
  • Measurement and optimisation phase – create a measurement framework to continuously monitor performance and adjust the strategy or tactics as necessary  

Decoding goals and audiences

The first part of the digital marketing strategy process is to define goals and understand your audience. 

Always be 100% clear on the brief and intended outcome of the strategy. Goal setting forms the bedrock of a strategist’s work and digital marketing goals and objectives should be informed by business goals. Are you striving to elevate brand awareness? Amass leads or boost sales? Perhaps growing a list of email subscribers is the focus? These goals will mould the digital marketing strategy.  

Where resources are tight and business demands are increasing, a digital marketing strategy with well-defined goals assists with deciding where to spend money or focus energy to deliver results. A strategy should be designed to drive actionable outcomes and have a tangible impact on a business. 

Understanding a business’s audience is intertwined with goal setting. The process of defining an audience involves a detailed study of their characteristics, online behaviours, interests, and pain points. This granular insight forms the backbone of the digital marketing strategy, informing everything from channel preference to message and content design. And to achieve these goals and engage the audience effectively, strategists rely on a range of tools and strategies. 

The strategist’s toolkit

Everything begins and ends with content in digital marketing. Content is both the message and the experience in digital and should be a big part of a digital marketing strategy. What a brand says and how it says it is at the core of a content strategy – it enables brands to cut through and differentiate by capturing the audience’s attention, or even imagination.    

To ensure that content is compelling and that it will reach the right audience, strategists balance organic and paid strategies, deciding among channels like PR, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and social media marketing, considering not only the budget but also audience behaviour and brand objectives.  

A strategist has various tools in their arsenal for market research, social listening, and analytics. They use resources like GWI for audience segmentation, Brandwatch for social listening, and SEMRush and Answer the Public for SEO. They analyse client analytics to understand channel performance and explore AI tools to process data quickly. Tools for content creation, keyword research, SEO analysis, social media management, pay-per-click management, and email marketing software are also key components of the toolkit. Once these tools and strategies are in place, the process of measurement, analysis, and adjustment becomes key to refining the strategy. 

Refining the blueprint: Measurement, analysis, and adjustment

Crafting a strategy is merely the starting point; refining that strategy based on measurable outcomes is a critical part of the digital marketing strategy process. A clear understanding of desired outcomes lays the foundation for a measurement framework that tracks progress. 

Live dashboards help with real-time monitoring and optimising of goals. These dashboards should display the performance of each digital marketing initiative and serve as a confluence where strategy meets data. 

By leveraging data analytics tools, strategists can monitor performance metrics across platforms. Beyond just recording past performance, this data offers valuable insights for fine-tuning the digital marketing strategy, highlighting opportunities for adjustments or changes in tactics. 

This ongoing process of measurement, analysis, and adjustment ensures a digital marketing strategy’s efficacy in the ever-changing digital landscape. It equips strategists to be responsive, adapt to new trends, and build successful digital marketing initiatives. While adjusting the strategy based on current performance is crucial, strategists must also keep an eye on the future, preparing the digital marketing strategy for emerging trends and technologies. 

Future-proofing the digital marketing strategy

Strategists must consider current trends like personalisation, automation, and an increasing emphasis on user privacy. However, it is the anticipation and effective incorporation of emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning that truly differentiate a forward-thinking strategist. These technologies, having shown their value in areas such as ad operations, chatbots, and creative development, offer novel ways to personalise marketing efforts, automate routine tasks, and refine strategic insights. Using AI, in particular, is an exciting prospect for strategists in the realm of data processing and strategy development. 

Prioritising the digital marketing strategy

A digital marketing strategy is not a luxury – it is vital for a brand’s survival and success in the online world. To keep pace with a changing digital landscape, the strategy must adapt to new trends, consumer behaviours, and technological advancements. The future of digital marketing lies not just in the ability to adapt but also in the ability to anticipate, remaining flexible and innovative in the face of change. This dynamism and foresight are what set successful strategists apart in the vibrant world of digital marketing, enabling them to guide brands towards a future where they are not just reactive but proactive too.