14 min read
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which One Reigns Supreme in the Digital World?
Are you starting a business and exploring what marketing strategies work best? If so, you've likely heard of inbound and outbound marketing - two...
21 min read
Rana Irfan • Published: January 18, 2023
Your company won't sell itself, no matter how much you want it to. A successful digital marketing strategy is essential for a startup to grow and reach its sales targets.
For many entrepreneurs, especially those who don't spend most of their time online, diving into the world of digital marketing might feel like venturing into uncharted waters. But relax. The good news is that getting started is probably cheaper and quicker than you would expect and that no one jumps in feet first or knows all the answers before they begin.
After reading this article, you will have a comprehensive grasp of a marketing plan. You'll also get highly effective examples of digital marketing strategies to help you create one that's suitable for your business and add it to your marketing strategy.
A solid digital marketing strategy assists your startup in achieving its digital objectives via the careful selection of digital channels. One definition of digital marketing is "the process of promoting a product, service, or brand entirely through digital channels, including, but not limited to, organic search engine results, social media, paid advertising, and your website." Digital marketing strategies aim to boost brand recognition and acquire new consumers.
A digital marketing strategy also includes an evaluation of particular, realizable objectives using online platforms. A successful digital marketing strategy is increasingly essential for businesses in an era when more and more customers are spending most of their free time on social media and other digital platforms.
In an environment susceptible to frequent and unpredictable change, you might be questioning the need to create a long-term plan in the first place.
Well, the answer is that we lack repeatability and scale in the absence of a well-defined strategy.
A well-thought-out digital marketing strategy will help you reach your business objectives and grow your customer base. In fact, companies with defined strategies are 313% more likely to reach their objectives. This exemplifies the significance of planning out the entire marketing strategy in advance instead of merely winging it.
For every business to succeed, an efficient digital marketing strategy must be put into action, and without one, it may be easy to lose sight of the big picture. Without focus, you may fail to meet any of your predetermined aims and priorities. If you don't prepare, it is almost like you intend to fail.
Digital marketing is not a singular, isolated phenomenon. It consists of several parts that are vital at all times during a company's operations, from well before a sale is made to well after. Given the severity of the process, it is crucial to establish a plan.
While your digital marketing strategy may require periodic revisions or tweaks, it gives a starting point. It makes it simpler to achieve comparable or better results with each effort without having to start again from scratch. Additionally, it provides consistency and predictability inside the marketing department.
Christopher Penn, a renowned marketing expert, makes an astute analogy between a marketing plan and a menu, which both consist of guidelines one may follow repeatedly. For instance, if your Thanksgiving dinner menu regularly consists of turkeys, stuffing, apple sauce, rice, and pumpkin pie, it is probably safe to predict that this will remain relatively consistent each year. Yes, you may modify your methods and recipes or even add or remove a few items, but the fundamental plan remains the same.
As digital marketing strategists, our marketing "menu" probably doesn't change much from quarter to quarter, with the same staples like email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), PPC, etc., all serving to achieve the same end goal of increasing brand recognition or generating new leads. While our recipes are versatile and may be tweaked, the menu remains relatively constant, allowing us to devote more time to refining our recipes rather than altering them every week/month/quarter.
Once you have a good, repeatable digital marketing plan, you can use it to grow. Thus, you might share it with another colleague, team, or division of the firm. In this way, you can ensure that all of your products and services are promoted in the same way across the board. With everyone on the same page, you can more easily maintain the company's reputation across all your marketing initiatives.
Let's look at Penn's Thanksgiving example again…
Imagine you were so busy in the days leading up to Thanksgiving that you didn't have time to arrange your Thanksgiving dinner, so your neighbor shared theirs with you. This would be really beneficial and save a great deal of additional worry and time. Instead of focusing on why and what, you may concentrate on how. If you found this menu satisfying, you might wish to recommend it to the people in your circle of friends and relatives. Thus, this single menu currently assists several households in preparing delicious dinners.
Referring again to your marketing plan…
Once you have a digital marketing strategy that is both repeatable and scalable in place, you can stop wasting time worrying over the best course of action and instead concentrate on implementing and refining the process to make sure it is successful.
Even though it's a term made popular by the world's well-dressed entrepreneurs and seems difficult to understand, the strategy only requires you to think about why you're doing something before you do it—so launching your digital marketing strategy is as basic as selecting what to do, how to execute it, what to expect, and when and how to evaluate success.
You must first determine the reasons why you require a digital marketing strategy.
If possible, establish a precise objective with associated indicators and a deadline. These could consist of the following:
Follow these steps to develop an efficient digital marketing strategy for your startup.
Any goals you set must be quantifiable and well-defined. Every aspect of a digital marketing strategy is measurable (from beginning to end). You must take advantage of this by developing a digital marketing plan with measurable milestones and objectives.
In general, some digital marketing goals are:
While the above ideas are a decent starting point, they remain ambiguous. A better version would be:
Enhance brand awareness by:
Enhance organic site traffic by:
The top-down strategy is an effective method for developing quantifiable objectives. Start by defining your business objectives, then transform them into digital marketing objectives.
The SMART framework is one of the greatest approaches to establishing marketing goals.
Image Source: hurree
What precisely do you want to accomplish?
Try to be as explicit as possible when defining goals, and concentrate on a single statistic that is well-defined. Those who establish vague and unclear objectives are less likely to attain them. With well-defined marketing objectives, you can remove distractions and make your ultimate aims glaringly obvious.
How will you determine when you have reached your objective, and how will you quantify it? Is it measurable?
It is essential to have a digital marketing strategy framework in place that enables the measurement of results. Marketing in the past was mostly a game of chance. However, there are hundreds of data collection, analysis, and reporting technologies accessible today. Ensure that you understand precisely how you will obtain the necessary data and how you will analyze it.
Is the goal really reachable?
The most successful objectives are ones that are tough but still attainable. Do not set goals based solely on what your supervisor wants to hear. To others, you'll sound fantastic until you have to break the news that you failed miserably to meet your objective. Failure to achieve goals is highly demoralizing to you and your team, so avoid making things more challenging than necessary. Of course, this does not imply that you should set too simple objectives; you still need to continuously challenge yourself and push your limits, so strike a balance.
Is the objective valuable and congruent with the company's larger objectives?
The key to defining relevant objectives is ensuring that the goal matches the company's overarching strategic approach. In other words, the objective must be something that will grow business or improve the relationship between your company and its customers.
For instance, you could establish a goal to grow a huge following on the newest emerging social network, TikTok, in order to generate new leads and increase your ROI by 3%. So you implement the necessary strategies, and hey presto, you now have a TikTok account with one thousand followers.
But then you realize that you're a business-to-business (B2B) company selling North American office space and that the TikTok following you've built is absolutely worthless to your business. Even if you have partially attained your objective by amassing a huge following, you have not generated any valuable leads. Therefore, boosting your return on investment (ROI) via this platform is meaningless for your business.
When is the deadline for the objective?
Every objective must have a deadline for when it is expected to be accomplished. Timing is vital to the achievement of the objective. You must ensure that you have allowed yourself sufficient time; otherwise, you may write off your marketing efforts as a failure before giving them a chance.
How will you determine if the plan has been a failure or a success if there is no time limit? Without deadlines, it is easy to lose concentration and become diverted by other tasks that appear to be more pressing.
For any marketing strategy – digital or otherwise – you must identify your target audience. If you don't know enough about the audience you're attempting to target, it will be challenging to offer a sufficiently relevant message to stand out. The most effective digital marketing strategies are based on in-depth buyer personas; therefore, the first step is creating them.
The image below shows a B2C buyer persona for an online music streaming service.
Image Source: Hubspot
Some marketers regard identifying the target audience as the initial phase of the process, which is not incorrect. There is no doubt that this is a task that needs to be completed before moving forward with the rest of your marketing plan.
What does it mean to determine your target audience? Specify in depth the traits of individuals interested in your products.
It is vital to remember that, if feasible, the buyer's information should be based on actual facts, as making assumptions about your audience might lead to a misguided marketing plan.
But how do you know what information to acquire for your own buyer persona(s) to guide your digital marketing strategy? That's a question only you can answer; it's likely to change depending on whether you're a business-to-business or business-to-consumer operation or if you sell a cheap or expensive product.
Here are some guidelines that can be adjusted to fit your company's needs.
By collecting all of this information, you will be able to construct precise and extremely useful buyer personas for your company. Want more information on creating buyer personas? Use these free, downloadable templates from HubSpot to get started quickly. These free, customizable templates for buyer personas can help you organize your research and construct your own buyer personas quickly and efficiently.
Your brand is the reason and means by which your consumers select you above your competition. You might think of it as the individuality of your organization. Therefore, it is essential to define explicitly what you stand for. What are your most prominent personality traits? And how does it transfer into your online appearance, from the graphics you use on your website to the tone of your emails?
Looking at the big picture before diving into the details can help you avoid being overwhelmed or confused when you evaluate your current digital marketing channels and assets to select which to add to your strategy.
Collect your current owned, earned, and paid media and organize them in a spreadsheet according to their respective categories. To accomplish this, you may classify the digital strategy, assets, or channels you are already employing into owned, earned, and paid media and determine which ones are best for your plan. You can save a lot of time by downloading this list of important spreadsheets and templates that every marketer should have in their toolbox.
This refers to the digital assets owned by your business or organization, such as your website, social media accounts, blog articles, and images. Owned media is that over which your company has total control. This can also contain content that you own but is not published on your webpage (e.g., your article published on Medium).
Below is an example of owned media. The website and blog are both owned by StartupGeek, and are therefore examples of owned media.
Earned media is the exposure you receive via word-of-mouth advertising. This sort of exposure typically takes the shape of excellence awards, testimonials, reviews, or user-generated content in the digital realm. Whether it's the guest posts you've written for other sites, the press releases you've issued, or the service you've provided to your clients, your reputation is built on the job you perform.
Below is an example of earned media.
Earned media is the acknowledgment you obtain for your work. You may gain media coverage through receiving newspaper mentions and favorable reviews, as well as by others sharing your content through their social media channels.
The term "paid media" encompasses any kind of public presentation that requires financial investment in order to reach the target audience.
Any method in which you exchange money for more exposure falls into this category: Google AdWords, paid social media postings, native advertising (such as sponsored articles on other websites), or something else entirely.
Below is an example of paid media.
If you have a firm grasp on the basics of owned, earned, and paid media, you will have no trouble seeing how they may all fit together to form a powerful marketing strategy.
A digital marketing strategy will ultimately strive to optimize the effect of owned, paid, and earned media within a digital environment. Consequently, such marketing strategies will incorporate many channels and methods, including webpages and blogs, internet advertising, testimonials, and reviews.
Let's look at an example.
Let's imagine you've got an owned piece of content on your website that's meant to assist you in bringing in new customers.
To increase the number of leads generated by the content, you ensure that it is shareable so that your audience may share it via their social media networks. This will result in more visitors to your website. This is the element of earned media. Below is an example of a shareable article.
To promote the success of your content, you may publicize it on your Facebook page and pay for it to be viewed by more members of your target demographic. Below is an example of this.
This is how the three components of the framework may collaborate — albeit it is not necessary for success. You may not need to put money into paid channels, for example, if your owned and earned media are doing well. Evaluate the finest approach to achieve your goals, and then include the digital marketing channels that perform best for your company.
Owned media is the backbone of digital marketing, and it nearly always exists in the form of content. Almost every message your brand sends out can be considered content, whether it's an "About Us" page, a description of a good or service, a blog post, an eBook, an infographic, a video series, or a post on social media.
Creating engaging content is a significant first step in increasing your website's traffic and increasing your chances of gaining new leads and customers. Additionally, SEO-optimized content can increase your search and organic traffic.
Owned content should be a part of any digital marketing plan regardless of your end goal. Determine what content will assist you in attaining your objectives in the beginning.
Here is a brief procedure for determining what owned content you need to achieve your digital marketing strategy objectives.
List the content you already possess and prioritize it based on how well it has done in the past in relation to your present goals. If you want to increase your lead generation, you may, for instance, sort your content based on which articles brought in the most leads in the past year. Using tools like SemRush, Google Search Console, ahrefs, and Ubersuggest, you may analyze your website's statistics to see which content creation strategies are effective and which are not. The objective is to determine what is working and what is not so you can design future content with goals in mind.
Use your buyer personas to find out where your existing content is lacking. For instance, if you're a tutoring agency and you've learned via analysis that a major problem for your personas is discovering efficient study methods, you should develop them.
Your content audit may reveal that e-books housed on a specific landing page have a high conversion rate (better than webinars, for example).
In the example of this tutoring business, you may add a guide on "how to make studying more productive" to your content production plans.
Make content strategies detailing the content that is required to assist you in achieving your goals based on your findings and the gaps you've found. Make a detailed content creation plan beforehand. A basic spreadsheet will do; be sure to include cost estimates if you want to outsource the content creation or time estimates if you intend to create it yourself.
Use the following table to help understand in more detail.
Spreadsheet link: Content Creation Plan
Comparing your prior earned media to your present objectives will assist you in choosing where to concentrate your efforts. If you're hoping to increase traffic and leads, take a look at where they're coming from and rate the efficacy of each earned media source from best to worst.
The Sources reports in HubSpot's Traffic Analytics tool are an excellent example of how to collect such data.
Image Source: Hubspot
You may discover that a particular article you provided to an industry publication attracted a substantial amount of quality traffic to your website, hence increasing conversions. Or, you may learn that LinkedIn is the platform where most people share content, hence focus on generating content there to increase website traffic.
Similar steps are involved in this process: You must examine your present paid media on each platform (e.g., Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to determine which will help you achieve your current objectives the most effectively (ROAS). At the conclusion of the procedure, you should know exactly which paid media channels you choose to keep in your plan and which you wish to improve.
If you've put a lot of time and effort into AdWords without seeing the returns you were hoping for, perhaps you should reconsider your strategy or abandon it in favor of a different platform that appears to be more successful.
Download this free eBook to learn more about how to include AdWords into your digital marketing strategy.
You need to know the landscape, and you may get insight by seeing the successes and failures of others. Get motivated by your competitors' successes, and leverage your differences to showcase what makes your business distinctive.
Not Certain How to Gather Data? Here's How to Get Initially Started:
The capacity to pivot and change is a factor that contributes to the effectiveness of digital marketing. You are not required to design and adhere to a specific strategy. For instance, if an advertisement is not producing results, it should be paused and replaced with a fresh concept.
If your website is not converting visitors, conduct an A/B test comparing multiple calls to action. For instance, you may compare "learn more" with "sign up now" to see which works better. Continue to evaluate your digital marketing plan and make improvements as necessary.
You should now have a clearer understanding of the necessary strategies and procedures to get started, but if you are finding any of this even slightly bewildering, maybe a few examples will help.
Here are two examples of well-known firms that aced their marketing efforts with the help of effective digital marketing strategies.
The name “Buffer” is synonymous with “content marketing” since it is the go-to app for scheduling posts across many social media platforms. They are regularly mentioned as a model of effective content marketing.
Image Source: Buffer
They initially accomplished that by depending on guest blogging, at least in their formative days, writing content that was published on several websites to increase their visibility. In fact, according to the co-founder of Buffer, this is how they got their initial 100,000 clients.
However, they weren't happy to disregard their own site. Since then, they have earned influence in marketing by publishing high-quality blog posts.
You may have noticed that the preceding statement referred to blogs and not a blog. Indeed, they have two distinct blogs that cater to various interests:
And although content marketing often conjures up images of blog posts and eBooks, Buffer demonstrates that this marketing technique extends far beyond written content. In addition, they established a podcast entitled "The Science of Social Media," in which they discuss social media observations and concepts.
Glossier's evident success is due to a multitude of contributing elements. However, social media has unquestionably played a significant role. The marketing team focused on social media as a jumping-off point, amassing 13,000 followers before launching a single product.
But how? Their excellent social media following may be attributed in part to their in-depth familiarity with their target demographic, which allows them to create posts that make a connection with their followers.
Image Source: Glossier Instagram
All of their posts reflect this characteristic of their personality. Images are never unduly stylized or unapproachable; instead, they depict genuine people in authentic circumstances (babies, puppies, airplane windows, and all). And while some firms pay millions to have prominent influencers tweet about and endorse their products, Glossier takes a different strategy by connecting with its loyal consumers and admirers.
A marketing campaign is a set of coordinated efforts to increase awareness of a brand, its products, and services, to achieve one or more particular organizational objectives. This strategy might include growing brand recognition, enhancing internet presence, boosting engagement, obtaining customer reviews to understand their perspective better, or boosting conversion and sales. Typically, the objective of a marketing campaign is to acquire as many customers as possible in order to expand the company.
We may categorize marketing campaigns into three broad categories according to their primary purpose:
Digital marketing campaigns are more dynamic and lasting than traditional marketing campaigns. It's a type of marketing that employs the Internet and other digital channels to raise brand recognition and strengthen a company's digital footprint. Using digital marketing initiatives, a company has a greater possibility of reaching its intended audience through various channels. These include email marketing, social networking, search engines, PPC, blogging, and e-commerce websites.
Despite the fact that many marketers have a specific goal, they might lack a comprehensive marketing plan for attaining it. As a result, they entirely disregard the strategy in between the goals and the tactics. When this occurs, you can expect the following:
A marketing strategy outlines a series of unambiguous decisions that determine what you will do (and what you will not do). Collectively, these decisions establish a distinct marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is necessary.
Now, we must outline tactics...
Digital marketing tactics are the precise actions you employ to implement your marketing strategy. There are potentially hundreds of digital marketing approaches, including providing tailored content on social media, writing blogs to promote website exposure, utilizing inbound links to increase search engine ranking, and a Facebook advertisements campaign that targets specific buyer personas. All of these marketing tactics, however, fit under a single marketing strategy.
Back in the days when ad-men smoked at their desks and 'sliced bread' was the standard to judge a product's quality, a rather sticky term was coined that is still employed today: the four Ps.
It didn't take long for the original "four Ps" of marketing to expand into the "seven Ps" we know today: product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence.
Image Source: assemblo
Here's how you can employ the 7 Ps of marketing to improve each component of your marketing mix:
Your consumer cares only about the benefits your product or service delivers. Therefore, it is essential to focus on product excellence and improve your product lines as a result. This method is known as "product-driven marketing." All aspects of the product being marketed are taken into account in the marketing mix. This consists of the following:
Product marketers must take into account the following five aspects of successful product-driven marketing:
Price refers to the maximum amount a buyer is prepared to spend on a good or service. Although it may seem straightforward, pricing is often a sore spot for companies. If a product is priced too much, people will likely look elsewhere. If the price is too low, your profit margins will suffer.
A pricing model includes several variables. You may:
Promotion is the most noticeable element of the marketing mix. It involves content marketing, the use of discount coupons, sales alerts, social media campaigns, email campaigns, digital campaigns, marketing communications, search engine marketing, and more.
Here are some excellent promotional strategies:
The same research methodology that influenced your products and pricing selections will also inform your placement, which extends beyond physical locations. Here are a few things to consider regarding location:
In this context, "people" may refer to anybody who interacts with your client in any way. Therefore, hiring top talent across the board is important, not just in customer service and sales.
Here are some steps you can take to guarantee that your employees have the desired effect on your customers:
The packaging of a product is one of the most important factors in attracting new customers and maintaining the loyalty of current ones. Here are some strategies to increase the effectiveness of your packaging:
Focus on processes that have a direct impact on the client's overall experience. The more precise and streamlined your procedures are, the more efficiently your employees can execute them.
Some processes to consider:
If you receive several client complaints about a certain procedure, identify the problem and devise a solution.
Digital marketing is, in its simplest form, a marketing strategy that utilizes online channels. It helps you to contact and engage with a broad range of places in a cost-effective manner, in contrast to other advertising methods. One of the numerous benefits of this is that it allows for more focused advertising, which in turn fosters more devoted customers.
The 5 D's of digital marketing are:
The 5Ds allow for more effective communication between the brand and its intended consumers, and they also provide light on consumer behavior, which may be used to inform a more effective business strategy.
Digital Devices include the nearly daily-utilized devices. You may use these to specifically reach your target demographic while advertising.
Digital Devices include
This category includes the most frequently used online services. They can be utilized for digital marketing. Digital platforms include
Digital Media are paid, earned, and owned channels via which you may reach your target audience. They consist of
It has all the information you need to get potential clients to buy from you or at least check out your business, including contact details and demographics.
In general, you may collect data on your target audience by:
When it comes to digital technology, it's all about how that tech can be put to use for promotional purposes. If you want your business to stand out, you could try using cutting-edge innovation to pique the interest of potential buyers.
Some examples are:
An effective digital marketing strategy will not be established overnight, but with patience, focus, and commitment, you will arrive at something that acts as the fuel to your growth.
Throughout this article, we have discussed a variety of important elements that must be taken into account. From identifying your target demographic to designing customer retention techniques and analyzing your marketing strategy, the entire process will involve substantial analysis, organization, patience, creativity, and enthusiasm.
Each marketing plan is unique. Nonetheless, the point of any effective plan is to outline the measures you will take to attain your goals. If you put in the effort, you'll soon start to see the benefits.
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