How to Come Up with a Kickass Digital Marketing Plan

The marketing playbook has undergone a drastic metamorphosis, shifting from branded swag, printed handouts, and in-person trade shows to digital-first marketing strategies.

And now, the covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated this shift, and if the current trend is anything to go by, then it’s highly likely that it will have a lasting impact on the industry.

So, as digital marketing continues to grow in importance, marketers are left with no option but to rethink their digital marketing strategies.

Digital marketing opportunities abound.

But the only way to grow your digital ROI is by investing in your digital strategy.

You need a kickass digital marketing strategy to reduce waste, add focus to your marketing effort, and, most importantly, build on what’s already working for you.

What’s a Digital Marketing Strategy?

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A digital marketing strategy is a well-thought-out and calculated set of tasks performed using various online channels to achieve specific business goals. 

By channels, we’re not talking about online platforms but a mixture of paid, owned and earned media.

It involves laying down a consistent set of actions and the right time to perform them using the most suitable online platforms to improve your relationships with your customers and ultimately increase your revenue.

Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy?

Strategising allows you to make more conscious moves and to be confident in what you do.

In digital marketing, developing a strategy may help you out with the following:

Motivation to Learn: When developing a digital marketing action plan, you have to think about your business from every imaginable angle. Think about every aspect of marketing your business. 

You have to thoroughly analyse your target audience, competitors, neighbouring niches, and trends to develop a more polished and updated digital strategy. 

This comes as an amazing opportunity for you to develop an in-depth understanding of your business and the forces surrounding it. 

Provides Real Data: While developing a digital marketing strategy, you might want to start by analysing your business. Find out what works for your business and what doesn’t. 

In other words, you’ll be dealing with a lot of comprehensive data, which, when put together, leaves you with a catalogue of options of what to do to improve your business. 

It Organises Your Actions: Without a proper plan, you’ll be dealing with the chaos of blind guesses. Imagine being in a situation where you don’t know what to do next, and going with the first random thing that pops up in your mind. 

A digital strategy allows you to combine various marketing channels to make the most of your marketing resources and efforts.

Increase Your Revenue: Structuring your actions means you get to make fewer mistakes. It also allows you to detect your weakness, predict problems, and react quickly. 

In the end, you’ll be saving much of your resources, time, and efforts. 

Reconsider Your Relationships with Your Audience: A digital marketing agency lets you have a fresh look at the relationship you have with your prospective customers at each stage of your buyer’s journey. 

When preparing a digital marketing strategy, your focus should be on the customer. You have to find more ways to add value to the relationship you have with your customers and come up with new ways to engage them. 

Now that you know why you need a digital strategy, here’s a sketched diagram of how everything ties in together: 

How to Come Up with a Kickass Digital Marketing Plan 1

With digital marketing, you have to factor in all these marketing channels and make sure they’re all balanced. 

So forget about the fancy definition. A digital marketing strategy is nothing more than your conceived action plan. 

Say you’re planning to generate about 500 new leads that month or double your current customer base, then that’s the basis of your digital marketing strategy.

You begin by looking at what you wish to accomplish, and then formulate an action plan on how you’re going to get there.

5 Key Components of a Digital Marketing Strategy

Before you begin working on your digital marketing strategy, you have to check and make sure the following five components are all in place:

Target Market

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You need a customer segment to which you’ll be directing all your marketing operations. You have to begin by defining your target market for your marketing strategy to hold off.

For example, let’s assume you’re a medical doctor. You first have to understand your speciality instead of targeting every sick person out there.

This will allow you to only focus on a small group of patients that you’re in a position to help and who actually need your services. It could be pregnant women or patients with arthritis. 

The more knowledgeable you’re of your target market, the more your digital marketing strategy is likely to succeed. 

Understand what triggers and motivates them. What challenges do they face? What are their barriers to purchase? And how exactly do they measure success?

Understanding all these things will help you figure out how to best communicate with them, as well as craft a digital marketing campaign that they’re likely to respond to. 

Your Business Offering

You also have to look into your business offering.

What’s your business offering to your target market?

Are you selling a product or offering services?

Is the product tangible or digital?

It beats any logic to develop a digital marketing strategy when you’re not offering any product or solution to your ideal customers. 

What problem does your product or service solve? What’s the added benefit of using your product? And most importantly, what makes it different from any other available solution on the market?

Value Proposition

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You probably have competition, regardless of what industry you’re in – even if they’re not competing with you directly.

Your value proposition is your unique value. It’s what differentiates you from what everybody is doing.

It’s the sweet spot between what you’re offering, your marketing options, and what the customer needs. 

Here’s a diagrammatic representation of what it looks like:

How to Come Up with a Kickass Digital Marketing Plan 2

Your value proposition must be unique, realistic, and relevant to your business offering. The last thing you want is to make a promise you can’t keep or a claim that you’re not planning to fulfil. 

Goals and Objectives

Think of your goal as the main reason you’re developing a digital marketing strategy in the first place.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of it all?

Your goal must align with your overall marketing strategy. 

Every single one of your marketing activities must have a hand in helping you achieve your goals. 

Even more important, your goals must be smart and realistic. You also want them to serve as a benchmark for evaluating the success of your digital marketing activities. 

Audience Engagement Strategy

You need a strategy for telling your brand story.

Many companies struggle to sell their products or services because they still haven’t figured out how to best tell the captivating story behind their offer.

They have a hard time engaging with their target market, which is why it’s important to work on your engagement strategy before you develop your overall digital marketing strategy.

Part of working on your engagement strategy is figuring out what communication channel is best suited to your target audience. It should include both online and offline communication channels.

3 Iconic Examples of Digital Marketing Strategies

In this section of the post, we’ll try to dive into three iconic digital marketing strategies, the thought process behind them, and the results they generated:

Example 1#: Sephora

About the Company: Sephora is an internationally known beauty and skincare brand. It specializes in selling top-of-the-shelves beauty and skincare products.

Their Target Market: Their target market is women – and not just women, but women who are willing to spend the top dollar for the best quality beauty products. 

Their Value Proposition: Sephora personalized their beauty experiences for each customer. That’s what makes them unique. 

They try to connect with their customers in a way that other brands can only imagine.

Their Digital Marketing Strategy: Sephora focused on addressing each woman’s core beauty needs. To do this, they had to collect a lot of their customers’ data that they would use to make well-informed marketing decisions. 

Having deeper insights into the customers’ beauty needs also helped them improve their online shopping experiences.  

By carrying out exclusive customer research and analyzing their competitors, the company would soon find that a majority of women who bought skincare and cosmetics products became frustrated after the products failed to deliver on claimed results. 

Sephora decided to create used and interesting posts on their website to address some of these concerns and the reason all this was happening. 

They were also allowed to visualize what these products could do for them before buying. 

Their Execution Strategy: They would start by producing a variety of tutorials on how to effectively apply or use each one of their beauty products. 

They also created a Virtual Artist feature that allows their customers to experiment with some of their products online to see what they could accomplish with them.

They focused on distributing both text and video-based content to their prospective customers on social media, mobile app, and email. 

They also tried to rank some of their keyword-rich posts that answered some of the questions their customers had. As a result, they were able to generate a lot of organic traffic, leads, clicks, and sales. 

Why the Strategy Worked? This strategy worked because of the diversification. Sephora didn’t just focus on marketing on one particular channel but any available channel.

They first had to identify what channels did their customers frequent the most. They understood earlier on that their customers watched reviews on YouTube before deciding what product to buy.

That motivated them to start posting video tutorials. Try checking Sephora’s YouTube channel and you’ll notice that they have uploaded hundreds of beauty video tutorials. 

Their strategy has evolved such that they’re now partnering with influencers and other celebrities to showcase their products to qualified customers. 

Example 2#: Philips 

About the Company: Philip used to be one of the world’s largest electronics brand. But currently, their focus has shifted to health technology.

They, however, still stand as one of the most strategic and iconic brands to ever exist, especially so if you can remember their “Better Me, Better World Campaign.” 

Their Strategy: It was an initiative that offered customers so many benefits while also allowing them to support varied healthcare causes via their Philips Foundation. 

They wanted to support at least 3 billion people every year. 

If you’ve been keen on following Philips, you must have noticed that they’re always supporting a range of causes — from supporting at-risk mothers to caring about children with cleft palates from all over the world. 

Their Execution Strategy: Their “Better Me, Better World Initiative” was a stroke of genius. Through the campaign, they were able to inspire so many other brands to also consider extending a helping hand to at-risk mothers and children with cleft palates. 

Philips was closely working with a digital marketing agency that helped them leverage a variety of marketing channels, including email marketing, digital PR, press releases, events, live streaming, social media, blogs, and paid advertising. 

They were everywhere you dared to look.

What to Learn from this Marketing Strategy? If you’re planning to make the most out of your marketing strategy, don’t make the mistake of overlooking any distribution channel. 

It doesn’t matter if your audience has a predilection for visual content or videos, you still have to create a blog and write articles for the group that prefers to read texts – regardless of how small the audience is. 

Example 3: GoPro

About the Company: GoPro is one of the leading technology companies in the world, best known for manufacturing adventure cameras. 

Their Value Proposition: GoPro noticed that many photographers, adrenaline junkies, athletes, and YouTubers were disappointed by the quality of imagery delivered by the cameras they bought. 

Traditional cameras were a disappointment. They had a limitation that GoPro looked forward to eliminating. 

Their Strategy: GoPro started creating high-quality content on Instagram and YouTube. They wanted to be an example of what their customers wanted to achieve. And mind you, they made it clear that they were using their products to pull that off.

That aside, their strategy was centred around user-generated content. All they needed to do was share the content shared by some of their users (and which they had shot using their cameras). 

Through this campaign, they managed to grow a cult following of more than 7 million followers on Instagram alone. 

This campaign also saw that they grew so many brand advocates that, to date, remain engaged with the brand. 

Their Goal: GoPro’s initial plan was to make their users part of their cause. They didn’t just want them to sit on the fence, but to be part of the content they shared. 

To do this, all they needed to do was share some of the content their users shot using their cameras. 

One of their most successful campaigns was the #GoProHero7 hashtag, where they managed to generate more than 25, 000 submissions from users. 

According to Stackla, 56% of consumers say they find user-generated content more inspiring. It’s what they want to see from brands.

When your products have unique features, you don’t just let them sit and grow organically. Instead, try to figure out how to drive and amplify them by getting your users involved. 

For example, GoPro knew their editing program stood superior over that of their competitors. It allowed users to easily create HD videos with recognizable start and end frames. 

But instead of waiting for their users to discover this on their own, they decided to place their best foot forward by sharing videos that highlighted their best qualities. 

How to Create a Kickass Digital Marketing Strategy in 7 Easy Steps

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Here are the seven steps to follow:

  • Develop Your Customer Avatar or Buyer Personas
  • Identify Your Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) and the Digital Marketing Tools You’ll Be Using
  • Evaluate Your Current Digital Channels and Business Assets
  • Plan and Audit Your Paid Media Campaign
  • Plan and Review Your Owned Media
  • Plan and Audit Your Earned Media 
  • Put them all Together

Step 1: Develop Your Customer Avatar or Buyer Personas

Customer avatars are the fleshed-up version of your visualized customers. How well can you imagine your customers and fill them up with well-researched details?

These are the people you’ll be marketing to. They’re your target market and the main reason you’re even developing a digital marketing strategy in the first place. 

We can all learn from Burma Shave Company, one of the biggest shaving companies in the US. A few years ago, they created a huge billboard and posted it on old route 66. 

And that’s because they knew their prospective customers drove this route. 

Think of a customer avatar as your ideal customer. The more you research about them the more accurate your mental picture of them will be. 

You might already have a good idea of who your target customers are, but research will help you hammer them down. 

Learn to work with real data, and not assumptions. Take a deeper look at the people interacting with your brand or content. Are they the people you were targeting? 

If not, why so? What gender are they? What’s their income? Where do they live? What’s their lifestyle? Where do they hang out? And what makes them tick?

What type of content do they prefer, and so on? 

That’s not all, you have to narrow down to specific details about the audience.

There are two types of data you can collect on your customers: 

  1. Quantitative Data
  2. Qualitative Data

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data refers to any data that can be assigned a numerical value. In digital marketing, it’s the same as your customers’ demographic data. 

Here’s the quantitative data to collect on your ideal customers:

  • Location: Where are your customers visiting you from? You can check with your web analytics tool like Google Analytics to find this information. 
  • Age: Again, Analytics will help you out with this. Understanding your customers’ age will help you understand their browsing habits, trends, purchase habits and so on. 
  • Income: Analytics will also supply you with a good amount of data on your customers’ spending habits. It can’t tell you how much your customers earn in exact, considering no one provides this information online. 

But it can help you make a rough estimate based on your customers’ purchase history, browsing habits, and location. 

For instance, if a majority of your customers are from a suburban region, then it’s an easy guess that most of your customers have a decent income stream. 

  • Job: Facebook can be a great source of information for this.  

Not to mention, this particular information is even more important for B2B marketers, as you want to make sure you’re targeting decision-makers and not mere employees in an organization. 

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data refers to the descriptive data you gather on your ideal customers.

It’s the psychographic information you collect on your target audience.  

It covers the following:

  • Your Customers’ Goals: Your customers have goals too. They’re interested in your product or service because they have a specific goal in mind that they want it to help them solve.

As a marketer, it’s your job to find out what this goal is. 

At some point, you might be required to hear it directly from the customer. Try locating a few of these customers and consider interviewing them. 

  • Your Customers’ Challenges: What challenges are your customers dealing with? 

You have to find a few of your customers and talk to them directly about this? 

Find out about their specific problems?

Find out what keeps them awake at the wee hours of the night? 

Is there a way that you could help them out with this problem?

  • Hobbies: You have to understand your customers’ hobbies or their way of having fun. 

With this knowledge, you’ll know how to approach them in a fun way. You’ll also know whom to partner with and which relevant industries could help you expand your reach. 

  • Priorities: Find out what makes your customers tick? What do they consider important? 

For example, as a digital marketing agency, we have come to understand that our clients fancy three things — quality, time, and pricing. They want a quick turnaround, cheap services, and, most importantly, top-notch quality.

Any customers looking for these three things know we run a mile. 

What’s that one thing that could make your customer backpedal on any decision? Is it price? Level of customers support? 

Take all this information and bring them together, and you’d have created a buyer persona. If you find it necessary, consider giving each persona a name. 

There’s a fair chance you’ll be creating not just one but a series of buyer personas. 

The personas you create should be your centre of focus in your digital marketing strategy. 

Step 2: Identify Your Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) and the Digital Marketing Tools You’ll Be Using

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Your digital marketing strategy must be goal-driven. 

What do you hope to achieve at the end of it all? 

You have your fundamental marketing goal and the small milestone leading towards it. 

If your goal is to increase sales, then your first goal should be to drive more visitors to your site. 

If your goal is to increase profits, then perhaps you should consider working with a digital marketing strategist to help optimize your site for conversion, cut on waste, and stretch your profit margins. 

Whatever goal you decide to go with, you have to make sure it’s measurable. 

Do know the right tools to use for this? If not, research.  

How you measure your goals will always vary depending on the nature of your business. 

Expect it to also vary with each campaign you run. 

However, it’s still important that you measure it. Otherwise, you won’t know how to adjust your digital marketing strategy as time goes. 

Step 3: Evaluate Your Current Digital Channels and Business Assets

Look at the big picture.

Remember the three different channels of marketing — earned, paid, and owned. 

Think of them as three vehicles you could use to get to your destination. 

Now, let’s break each one of them down so you can get their difference: 

Owned Media

Owned media is like your personal car.

You own the car, which means you can drive it when you feel like it and to whatever place you want to go. 

In the digital field, owned media refers to all the digital assets (your website, blog, social media accounts, etc.) you own as a brand or company. 

Also included in your digital assets are the articles you write for your blog or website (any piece of article or post owned by you, even if it’s written for another blog). 

Earned Media

Think of paid media as a friend who decides to drive you to work in their car. They’re doing you a favour and it’s mostly because you earned it. It’s either because you’ve been so kind to them, you have been friends for so long, or they’re just doing you a favour. 

In digital speak, earned media refers to earned exposure. A random reader may decide to share your post, or a customer may decide to leave behind a positive review of your brand or recommend you to one of their friends and families.

It has to be earned. You have to work hard and maintain a certain high standard to get your customers or clients to review your product or put out a positive word for you. 

Paid Media

Think of paid media as getting a train.

You first have to purchase a ticket to where you want to go.

Every time you board a train, you’ll have to purchase a ticket. 

A train can get you to your destination faster. But you can’t always depend on it.

The digital marketing equivalent of a train is paid advertising such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Sponsored Ads, Syndicated content, and boosted Facebook posts. 

The traffic generated is not organic. You have to pay for visibility. 

And to get better results, then perhaps you should consider purchasing a first-class ticket.

How the Three Channels Tie in Together

You need all three channels to run a successful digital marketing campaign.

You can begin by collating what you have. Be sure to categorize every piece of content you have into either owned, earned, or paid media. Use Google spreadsheet. 

How to Make the Three Vehicles Work Together

You first have to ensure you have a lead magnet on your website. This should help you generate or amplify the number of leads your content generates. 

Next, try to make your content easy to share. 

You’re doing this for earned media.

At this point, we’d like to assume that you’ve been posting about yourself on social media, and even included a few CTAs on your website. 

You also might have attended an expo and directly engaged with your target audience, signing some of the people you meet to your content.

You’re also running a paid campaign to direct prospective customers to your content, landing, and product page.

As you can see, all three vessels are working together to cohesively help you achieve your digital marketing goal. 

You don’t necessarily have to work with the three channels, but you have to look at the potential that each one of them presents. 

If two of them bod well together, then there’ll be no need to include the third. 

Step 4: Plan and Audit Your Paid Media Campaign

This is where you plan and audit your paid media campaign.

For example, Google Ads, Facebook marketing, and Twitter ads. Find out what’s working and what isn’t. 

Which of the paid media ads is likely to get you to your goals?

If you’re losing too much money on Google ads, then perhaps you should try to find out what you’re doing wrong and if there’s any way you could turn things around.
There’s nothing like a one-size-fits-all strategy. What works for a particular business might not necessarily work for you. 

So, we suggest you begin by auditing your campaign to see why it’s not working and if there’s anything you can do to increase the generated yields. 

If you can’t get a clear picture of what paid media can help you accomplish, then you might want to consult a PPC expert for some suggestions on how to make it work. 

Step 5: Plan and Review Your Owned Media

Think of your owned media as your baby, and not just blog and articles.

You also want to note that everything you see on your website is content. From your delivering information to your contact form.

Everything you sit down to create for your business is part of your owned media. That includes your logo, images, and the posts you make on social media. 

This content is what will ultimately drive visitors to your site and even convert them into paying customers. 

Remember to also optimize your content for search engines. It’s the only way to grow your organic rankings. 

Learn about SEO and all there’s to know about long-tail keywords. 

Not only that, but the content you publish will also establish you as an industry expert, an authority figure in your niche. That’s how you win your customers trust and become even more credible. 

Lastly, you want to analyze your content and decide which one gets you closer to your goals. For example, let’s say your goal is to increase your number of generated leads by 2%%, then focusing on your “about us” page won’t help you much with that. 

Let’s say you find out that a particular piece of gated content has been driving much of your conversions. This might be the type of content to promote. 

The point is to try and decide which owned media is better positioned to help you achieve your goal. That’s the piece of content to focus on or go all hard for. 

Step 6: Plan and Audit Your Earned Media 

You can start by looking at where your traffic and leads are coming from.

Next, score your earned media from the most useful to the least useful. 

Google Analytics should help you with this.

It could be that you’re getting a lot of recommendations and referral from LinkedIn or the content shared by other people. 

Measure all this content, and in the end, you will know where to direct much of your marketing resources. 

Step 7: Put them all Together

By now, you should know how to properly execute a digital marketing strategy.

You know what’s required and how to proceed with each step.

We’ve summarized everything for you here:

  • A customer avatar or buyer persona
  • Measurable marketing goals
  • Owned, earned, and paid media
  • Plan and audit each of the three listed channels
  • Plan your content creation strategy based on the missing gaps

Put all these together and you’ll have created a kickass digital marketing strategy.


About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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