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Digital Marketing Strategy: Everything You Need to Know for Long-Term Success

Hedley Swann

Hedley Swann

Digital Strategist at Dash
Hedley Swann

Hedley Swann

Digital Strategist at Dash

Ask any successful business or professional service organisation how they got from where they started to where they are today, and they’ll tell you that they had a clear goal (or goals) and then took the steps they needed to achieve those goals. Their path may have been direct. Do Thing A, then Thing B in order to get this final result.

Or it may have involved many different paths. They need to do Thing A and Thing B to achieve Goal 1. But before they can move to the next stage of their growth, they also need to achieve Goal 2, which involves doing Thing C and Thing D. What this means at the end of the day is that they had a strategy.

Where marketing fits into your overall digital strategy

No matter how small your business is, it involves many moving parts working in sync in order to generate a profit from your idea, product or service. Whatever your definition of profitable is in terms of your professional service organisation, this means having multiple strategies designed to achieve your final goal in place.

Where things can get complex is when two different strategies intersect, as is the case with a digital marketing strategy. Everyone knows what marketing is about. You need people to invest in, buy or use the product or service you’re offering. And marketing is how you let them know you exist, then convince them to do exactly that.

But the world today is very different than it used to be. Technology is becoming a staple of the day-to-day. And with your consumers embracing the digital world in every aspect of their everyday lives, this means your business needs to do the same if you want to keep up with and stay relevant to them.

Your digital strategy examines and plans the evolving role of technology across the entire organisation. This can involve automating mundane and repetitive tasks and investing in equipment that leverages the IoT (Internet of Things). It can also be as complex as managing the shifting of your entire business operation to the cloud, or — you guessed it — reaching your potential customers through digital platforms.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

The internet and email as we know it today have been around since 1995. Google started redefining how search engines worked in 1996, SMS has been used as an advertising tool since 2000, and Facebook became available to everyone (not just specific schools, colleges and universities) in 2006. Four of the most recognised digital marketing platforms in use today have existed for 15-25 years.

So can you believe that despite marketing being one of the very first things to ‘go digital’, 44% of businesses still don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy? This might be because digital marketing is hard to fully define and is often just lumped under the marketing banner as a whole.

But a digital marketing strategy describes how you plan to leverage digital marketing channels as one part of your overall marketing strategy. Digital marketing channels can refer to online marketing, mobile marketing and even digital billboards. And these channels can be ones your professional service organisation owns, has paid for or has earned the right/ability to use.

Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?

1. Focused

Having a clearly defined digital marketing strategy in place helps you keep track of what you’re trying to achieve, what you have already done and what you still need to do. It keeps your efforts organised and helps you stay focused on the final goal because you don’t need to worry about forgetting an important element of your strategy.

2. Affordability

Digital marketing costs far less than other forms of marketing. How much more affordable it is varies based on what type of advertising you’re using. But your ad spend is generally a lot lower than other traditional forms of marketing.

3. Mobile Access

In Australia, there were 32.89 million mobile connections in January 2021 or 130% of the total population (due to many having multiple devices). Research has found that Aussies spend around 5.5 hours a day on their phones. With digital marketing, you are able to put your brand, business, product or service in front of all those potential customers while they’re using their phones.

4. Flexibility

High-quality digital marketing can take many forms, and it can be used for pretty much anything. Whether it’s SMS reminders about account balances, customer support offered through various direct messaging platforms, email marketing or adverts in mobile games — learning how to be creative with your digital marketing leaves you with a wide range of marketing possibilities and increases your reach.

5. Multimedia

We’ve known for decades that potential customers tend to engage more with multimedia content, meaning adverts that combine multiple types of content including audio, video, photos and more perform better overall. Creating marketing material that people can easily interact with is far easier with digital marketing than any other form of advertising.

6. Monitoring

With traditional marketing, you often have to wait weeks or even months before you can really measure how successful a marketing campaign was. With digital marketing, you can get those results in as little as a few hours of launching the campaign. Conduct A/B testing, refine and adapt your efforts with the click of a button. That’s all possible with digital marketing.

Digital marketing strategy vs tactics

When it comes to talking about digital marketing, people often get confused between a strategy and a tactic. They are two distinctly different things, though. And, this difference becomes more important the more complex your overall marketing strategy is.

The simplified explanation is that a digital marketing strategy is your entire digital marketing plan or a blueprint. Your digital marketing tactics are the different digital marketing techniques and tools you use to achieve your final goal. You could say then that they are the individual rooms of your blueprint!

To break it down further, here are some more features that distinguish strategy from tactics.

Digital marketing strategy defines your competitive advantage

Sun Tsu was the first to write about the difference between strategy and tactics, and his thinking on strategic thinking fits marketing strategy well.

‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat’.

Your strategy helps you to measure where you stand in comparison to your market competitors, then helps guide you when you are making the decisions designed to improve that position.

Digital marketing strategy establishes your top-level resource requirements

Your budget, people available and time at your disposal are all limited resources in your professional service organisation. Your strategy helps you decide how to use the resources you have to drive the biggest impact. By knowing exactly where you DON’T want to invest time and effort as well as what you need to focus on, you are able to make decisions and execute tactics that achieve your final goal.

Digital marketing strategy sets a specific long-term vision for your business

What sets a strategy apart from a tactic more than anything else is the fact that it defines your final goals. Once you have decided what exactly the final goal of your business is, you can shape your strategy and decide on the tactics that will help you achieve that goal. Then ensure your organisation stays on the same successful path even after your ultimate business goal has been reached.

Digital marketing strategy defines both long and short-term objectives

The tactics you use are meant to support the overall direction of your professional service organisation by contributing to its overall aims. Your digital marketing strategy makes sure you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and helps you pick tactics that align with your vision for your business.

Digital marketing strategy identifies priority markets, audiences and products

Your digital marketing strategy includes conducting market research that identifies where your product or service will be most successful, the best way to reach your target audience and which of your products or services to focus the most resources on. Once you have that information, you’ll be able to decide on the best tactics for delivering your marketing message.

Digital marketing strategy establishes your brand positioning

Once you know the characteristics, preferences and behaviours of your ideal target audience, you can work on defining how you want your brand to be perceived in relation to your competitors.

Digital marketing strategy is the roadmap guiding your major marketing investments

With a digital marketing strategy in place, you will know which data you need to exploit and which technologies will make your digital marketing tactics more effective. Trying to implement all these new technologies as they are developed isn’t cost-effective, though. With a digital marketing strategy, you’re able to build an integrated marketing tech stack that supports all your marketing goals.

Digital marketing strategy steers activities by making governance possible

A digital marketing strategy should provide your professional service organisation with an overarching control of the various digital marketing tactics you are employing to achieve your business goals. You need to make sure you’re using the best methods to ensure your tactics stay aligned with your overall brand message and business goals. A digital marketing strategy facilitates that at every level and for every tactic you may use.

How to build an effective digital marketing strategy

At the core of your digital marketing strategy is what we at Dash call the ‘3Bs’.

  • Buyer: Who is your buyer and what do they need? What does their buyer’s journey look like and how do they make their purchasing decisions?
  • Brand: What is your brand, and what is its message? How are you going to align your brand and products or services with your buyer while also reinforcing your brand at every stage?
  • Build: You want to showcase your brand and consistently deliver the right message that reinforces your brand at the right time as your buyers travel along their purchasing journey. So what does your marketing technology stack or core infrastructure need to consist of in order to achieve that for the long term?

When Dash is helping you craft your digital marketing strategy, we aren’t just creating content or a paid advert because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Your digital marketing strategy is the foundation of your marketing efforts, and we make sure that it is a strong one.

We will work to identify your audience, their pain points and challenges, identify keyword opportunities across multiple platforms and choose the tactics that will best suit the long-term goals for your business using this information.

Some of the digital marketing tactics we employ include:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Producing Webinars
  • Content Marketing (Writing Articles and Blog Posts)
  • Downloadable Content (Whitepapers, eBooks, Video Tutorials)
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website Development & Design (with A/B Testing)
  • Landing Page and CTA Strategy
  • Marketing Automation
  • Lead Nurturing Strategy

Our digital marketing strategy development process

Once our initial assessment and planning have been completed, we can provide you with a digital marketing plan that is tailored to our business, your audience and your final goals. Only then do we start building your foundation.

Step 1: Assessment

We start by auditing your current digital marketing activities and outbound marketing efforts to identify your buyers, where there might be opportunities for improvement in our efforts or tactics you’re not taking advantage of yet. Then we evaluate the digital marketing landscape of your competitors to identify what has given them the competitive edge.

Step 2: Planning

Now that we have all the information we need about your buyers and your competitors, we build on those insights to create a digital marketing strategy that is tailored to your business, your brand, your industry, your buyers, your competition and your goals. This will outline the tactics that need to be implemented over time.

Step 3: Implementation

Now that your digital marketing strategy has been developed, we can start building and upgrading your digital marketing foundation, from your website and social media presence to email and CMS. If it doesn’t exist, doesn’t work properly, doesn’t meet your needs — we will fix and optimise it.

That may mean building a new website, curating an email marketing list or implementing SEO and PPC advertising. You want to maximise your ROI, and this stage is about ensuring that’s exactly what your digital marketing efforts deliver. We will also put everything you need to monitor and track the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts in place at this stage.

Is your business ready to take advantage of everything that digital marketing has to offer?

Remember when we told you that many businesses don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy in place? As marketing technology continues to develop and evolve, those businesses will find they are always playing catch-up. No matter the specifics of your overall business goal, you want to be considered a leader in your industry or market.

A big part of that includes not being one of the almost 50% of businesses who can only react to an ever-changing marketing environment rather than blazing a trail for others to follow. With a comprehensive and actionable digital marketing strategy in place, your ability to attract more prospects, convert more leads and close more sales is improved a thousandfold.

More sales are what every business wants at the end of the day, isn’t it? And by aligning your day-to-day digital marketing decisions with your overall business goals, that is exactly what a clearly defined marketing strategy is designed to do.

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