Today, when we talk about marketing strategies, we usually mean actions and ideas targeted at engaging consumers via digital media. South Africa has 21 million internet users, most access the web on their mobile devices.

You have the opportunity to begin a relationship with customers online and move them along the sales funnel, at a much lower cost than traditional advertising channels.

Digital marketing not only helps you generate sales but also enables you to foster customer loyalty. You can design digital marketing strategies aimed at achieving a specific goal. A focused approach will help you track results, make improvements and/or move to a new strategy in an easier and more informed way.

You need an overarching marketing goal before you can put together a marketing strategy. Here are some examples of online marketing goals:

  • Increase sales
  • Improve your online visibility
  • Boost your local search presence
  • Build a strong social media community
  • Increase your blog/ebook/whitepaper subscriber count

What are marketing strategies expected to achieve?

Marketing strategies describe the actions that are needed to meet the established marketing goal. They are planned, executed and iterated in service of that goal.

Businesses often brainstorm digital marketing strategies after defining SMART goals:

Specific: Specific enough to communicate the exact customer pain-point or business opportunity (Example: Increase email sign-ups to 5k, comprising of 3k existing customers and 2k opt-in email addresses)

Measurable: Can the results of marketing efforts be captured in quantitative or qualitative terms to choose metrics and make assessments without difficulty?

Actionable: Can you realistically achieve the outcomes you seek? Do you have the resources, time and knowledge to meet the goal?

Relevant: What is the objective behind the goal and what will it help you achieve?

Timely: What is the timeframe within which you can achieve the goal? Setting deadlines add urgency and pressure to meet the goal (Example: Increase landing page conversion rate from 2.0% to 2.4% within the next six months)

What are the different types of marketing strategies?

Digital marketing channels or assets are at the centre of online marketing strategies. There are three types of media that you can or are using already:

Owned media: The digital assets you already own or intend to own: your company website, social media pages/handles, blog and content that you own but which is hosted off-site on a trade journal or industry website.

Earned media: The publicity you have gained through means other than paid advertising: your guest posts on authoritative websites that have earned you social shares, comments and website traffic; mentions of your company in the press; good reviews of your product/service on review sites; and social shares across your social media channels.

Paid media: All paid channels through which you can reach your target audience: sponsored posts, Google AdWords, paid social media posts. While paid media offers benefits of scalability, immediacy and control, it is less credible than visibility gained through earned and owned media.

3 solid digital strategies to implement:

#1: Digital marketing strategy for Twitter (goal: increase sales generated via social media)

  1. Find your brand voice to differentiate your company, reinforce your core values and resonate with your target customers
  2. Create an editorial calendar to plan content in advance and ride the wave of key industry trends or relevant developments
  3. Schedule tweets to ensure that they reach your audiences at prime times and they view and engage with the content
  4. Participate in Twitter chats to share your expertise and establish connections with prospects

#2: Digital marketing strategy for your new local pay per click campaign (goal: generate new leads and increase brand awareness)

  1. Optimize for phrase match or exact match keywords
  2. Use Advanced Location settings in AdWords for highly location-specific copy
  3. Use reviews, promotions and call extensions to bring in more leads
  4. Ensure that effective search advertising is also in place
  5. Assess if the time is right to include voice search (Gartner predicts that, by 2020, 30% of web browsing will be screen-less)

#3: Refresh your existing email marketing strategy (goal: to improve customer loyalty and boost revenue through increased cross-selling and upselling)

  1. Segment lists and identify which customers have bought multiple times from you
  2. Identify customers with a need for additional services or products
  3. Plan the timing of your emails strategically
  4. Create a more powerful call to action

Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan (along with a marketing plan example)

A marketing plan offers a framework to build from and direction to pursue in order to meet the main goal. A strategy is a blueprint to meet the goal. You can tweak and change strategies more flexibly than a plan, which should ideally be ‘set in stone’ after research, deliberation and consensus.

A digital marketing plan can look like this:

  1. Review the current impact of digital channels on business and set future objectives after a thorough review of the market and competitors
  2. Develop strategies focused on customer acquisition, conversion and retention
  3. Define the specific actions and details necessary to implement the strategy

You can break down your plan further in these ways:

  • Know your audience intimately (also decide if you’re ready to target new demographics)
  • Do a deep dive into how competitors are using digital marketing channels
  • Assess and prioritise digital channels
  • Set milestones and aim for quick wins
  • Measure results and make improvements/refinements as needed
  • Review digital marketing campaigns from time to time

Businesses that impact their bottom line using effective digital marketing strategies regard marketing as a system with many moving parts and are quick to embrace relevant technology. In addition to this mindset, successful digital marketers plan ahead, take calculated risks and capitalize on intent-rich moments. Take more in depth look into content marketing strategies for business.