As more enterprises go online, the competition to be recognized and capture the market share has increased. More organizations have realized the importance of digital marketing and have resorted to various internet marketing tactics while leveraging digital channels to gain more leads and customers for their business. While millions of dollars are being spent on acquiring customers via online channels, very few have been successful in cracking the digital code.
Achieving digital marketing success depends on different elements and having the right strategy comes at top.
Introduction to a digital marketing strategy
A digital marketing strategy, also sometimes called digital strategy, is a plan to achieve maximum results utilizing the digital assets available at the organization’s disposal and technology-focused initiatives. A good digital strategy involves combining marketing and information technology to provide a reliable digital experience to the audience, acquire more customers and achieve return on investment (ROI).
A good digital strategy is customer-focused and looks at ways to improve the organization's organic search results, social media footprint, brand recognition, and customer engagement, acquisition and retention.
Why is a Digital Marketing Strategy important?
Very simply put, having a digital marketing strategy solves a lot of problems that commonly arise during your marketing exercise. Here are the problems a good strategy can solve and the reasons you need a strategy.
It gives you direction: For starters, having a digital strategy gives you a proper direction. Organizations that don’t have a strategy often lack clear strategic goals for the final goals and objectives they want to achieve. And without goals, they are less likely to commit the necessary resource, put efforts and evaluate their performance. Understand your online customers: Sometimes, you may be able to evaluate certain metrics such as number of page visits using certain analytics tools. However, without a strategy, you won’t be able to gain an insight into your customer sentiments as to what they like or what they don’t about your offerings. A strategy helps you identify tools that can help you gain better insights about your customers. Understand your marketplace: Having a clear strategy enables you to understand your online marketplace and the demand for your services from the customers. Without having the knowledge of your marketplace, you won’t dedicate the appropriate resources and there is a high chance that your competitors will eat up your market share. Set clear value proposition: A strong digital strategy helps you define a clear value proposition for your online customers. This allows your customers to engage with you to start with and become loyal to your brand. Set proper budget and resources: Digital marketing requires a specific set of funds, resources and skills to ensure that you achieve your ultimate goal. However, by not having a clear strategy, you will become oblivious to what resources are needed and hence, will not be in a position to effectively combat competitive threats. Save money: Let us assume for a moment that you have sufficient funds for your digital marketing efforts. However, without a proper strategy, you will just end up wasting money either through duplication or by performing unnecessary activities. Stay agile: If you look at some of the top brand names such as Amazon, Google, Dell and Tesco, all of them are agile in catering to what the customers want and need. Having a strategy helps you constantly look out for trends and change your approach to keep up with your audience. Optimize your efforts: Having a good strategy compels you to continuously improve and optimize your digital marketing assets and efforts so that you can enhance user experience and ensure that they come back to you.
Categories of digital Marketing strategies
The digital space offers plenty of channels, platforms and technologies which businesses can use to market and advertise their services, and attract more customers. Some of the common channels and platforms include social media, blogging platforms, organization web pages and other knowledge platforms. While some of them require you to pay for promoting your brand and services, others allow you to do it organically by attracting customers to your web assets. Hence, your digital marketing strategies can be broadly divided into organic digital marketing and paid marketing.
Organic Digital Marketing
So, what is organic digital marketing? Simply put, it is the act of attracting more customers towards you naturally over time rather than paying channels and platforms to boost marketing campaigns and advertisements to acquire customers in an artificial manner.
Organic digital marketing plays a critical role in your digital marketing efforts. While it appears slow in showing your expected results, it offers several advantages over paid marketing activity and is a worthwhile effort. Here is why.
There is no substitute to the effort you put on your own website’s content, its flow and the user experience it provides.
Paid advertising has its place, which is an important one as well. However, when a visitor comes to your website following your campaign, it is ultimately your own website which has to do the job of converting the visitor into a sales lead. If your website does not deliver the user’s expectations, the person will just walk away, making your paid campaign worthless. Organic marketing may take time but will eventually lead to more and better engaged leads and customers.
Out of the three forms of media - owned, earned and paid, organic digital marketing focuses on making the best use of both owned and earned media. Owned media includes the web properties you own such as your company and brand website, content, social media channels and mobile platform, while earned media includes third party channels and platforms that help you share, post and repost your content and campaigns. Earned media essentially helps you engage your potential customers as well as boost your customer shares and engagements, which is why a good digital marketing strategy is necessary.
Paid digital marketing
Though the discussion is about achieving organic digital marketing success, it is necessary to briefly touch upon paid digital marketing.
As already mentioned, any paid efforts to promote ads or marketing campaigns on social media and other digital platforms can be considered as paid digital marketing. This may include paid Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) model for search engines and even paid influencers.
Paid advertising and marketing efforts help in generating brand awareness in a quick way and drive instant traffic to your website. The moment your social ad goes live, you can start seeing visitors on your web pages. Additionally, well optimized paid ads can help in targeting the right audience. However, the resulting is not long-lasting as the moment you stop paying for the advertisements or campaigns, you will start seeing a dip in your website traffic. While paid advertising takes up money upfront, it is really helpful when you are launching a new product/service or making a new announcement.
Components of successful organic digital Marketing strategy
When it comes to digital marketing, there are a few key components that make up a successful organic digital strategy. These include content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and influencer marketing. All of these components together form a strong organic digital marketing strategy. The individual components that make a greater strategy are explained in detail below.
Content marketing is a major component of an organic digital marketing strategy. While your web page and blog do a good job of presenting content, content marketing is absolutely important for your audience and potential customers to take notice of your content. Content marketing closely ties up with social media as social media channels are the popular way of sharing content and engaging people. Having said that, there are also other ways one can successfully market their content.
Here are a few forms of content as well as a few ways in which you can market your content effectively.
Social Media posts: When one thinks of content marketing, the first thing that probably comes to mind are the social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. As these platforms have thousands and millions of active members, it is easier for organizations to reach out to more customers with simple social media posts. Social media posts can be as simple as a blog post, an image, a video or an infographic about your brand, product or service. To utilize social media effectively, it is always advisable to develop a social media strategy. Images: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is a common adage and this holds true when it comes to marketing. For example, if you are telling a success story about your company, adding a beautiful picture that is relevant to your post can strengthen your message. Images and videos are in fact some of the most commonly shared content in comparison to plain text. You can choose to brand the image with your logo so that when someone shares your post, your company/brand logo will be visible. Videos: Using a video is an attractive, powerful and effective way of driving your message across to your target audience. In fact, creating a corporate video today has become a common form of delivering your message. Having said that, caution should be maintained to strike a balance between creating an entertaining and a professional looking video. You can post your videos on your blog, website as well as social media. Infographics: An infographic is another popular way of spreading your message in an attractive manner. Infographics combine graphical images and textual content to deliver your message across to your customers. Just like images, you can opt to brand the infographics with your company logo so that people will identify it to be yours. Guides and whitepapers: While your blog posts carry relatively shorter form of content, your guides and whitepapers comprise a longer form of content. These are effective resources that help establish your expertise in the subject matter and build authority. A guide or a whitepaper also helps decision makers consider and take decisions based on the information it contains. A guide is usually placed strategically on certain pages of a corporate website where information of the lead can be collected while allowing the person to download the resource for free. Guest posts: A guest post is usually an authoritative article posted on a third party digital platform such as blog or a popular digital magazine. Similar to guides and whitepapers, they help establish your authority on a particular subject matter. The right way to write a guest post is to address one aspect of the relevant industry and not to promote oneself. The article may either solve a problem commonly faced in the industry or provide information that may help others. Emails: Most people underestimate the ability of emails as a powerful marketing tool. It is true that many emails end up getting marked as spam or viewers end up unsubscribing from them on a day-to-day basis. However, if done well and in a proper way, emails can act as powerful conversion tools. An email newsletter is a popular way of sending mails to your customers. An effective way of making an email newsletter an effective tool is to provide valuable information rather than filling it up with a sales pitch.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing (SMM) simply refers to the process of gaining more traffic on the organization’s website and other properties and creating active engagement using social media platforms. SMM is a powerful way of reaching out to a large number of audience and prospective customers for organizations. Social media has a close relationship with search engines as social media feeds into the discovery of content and this discovery is essentially a ‘search’ activity. Social media also helps build valuable links which enable to gain SEO points.
Here are a few tips on how you can make the best use of social media to boost the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.
Plan your social media content: Before launching a social media campaign, it is necessary to first build a social media marketing plan. Consider keyword research as well as competitive research as they will help you brainstorm content ideas that may interest your target audience. It is also a good practice to see what other businesses in your industry are doing to improve customer engagement on social media. Have great social content: Just like any other area of digital marketing, content is the key when it comes to social media marketing. You need to make sure that you post regularly and offer information that is really valuable, helpful and interesting to your customers. The content you share on your social media platforms may include blog posts, images, infographics, videos, and more. Social media is a very good platform to share your blog posts, best website content and any exciting news pertaining to your organization with online readers. Share well-curated links: While using social media is a great way for promoting your own original and unique content to acquire fans and followers, it is also necessary to keep them engaged with other useful information that may not necessarily belong to you. You can use social networks to share outside articles that will provide great, valuable information to your target audience. Sharing reliable outside sources and links improves trust and reliability among your customers for your own brand, and you may even get a few good links in return. Have a consistent brand image: Using social networks for marketing helps your organization project your brand image across a wide range of social media platforms. While each of these platforms has its unique voice and environment, your organization and brand’s core identity should stay consistent. Track your competition: While you may be doing an excellent job at using social media for your campaigns, it is always important to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, as it can help you gain valuable data and social media marketing insights. If your competitors are seeing success by using a specific social media marketing channel or technique, then you can consider doing the same thing and in a better way. Measuring your social media success: The only way you can really determine your social media marketing strategy’s success is by tracking data. There are various analytics tools available such as Facebook analytics and Google Analytics, that will help you identify your successful marketing techniques as well as techniques that are better off abandoned. Besides using the standard analytics tools, be sure to utilize the analytics available within each social networking platform for more insights about the performance of your social media campaign.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
For an organization to have more traffic to the website, people must be able to find it when they type a search query. For this to happen, the website should appear on the top of search results and search optimization (SEO) helps you achieve it. A website that appears on top of the search page has more traffic and can attract more conversions and sales.
However, reaching to the top of search results is not a simple task as search engines have their own algorithms which will decide your page ranking after evaluating your website against set of parameters. Moreover, there are other organizations in your industry and other industries that are vying for the top spot for the same search terms. Hence, to succeed in ranking at the top, you must follow a solid SEO strategy.
If your organization is finding it hard to reach to the top of the first page of search engines, here are a few tips that can help you reach there.
Ask a question to find your keyword: Most of the search queries today start with a question. For example, a user may ask a question about finding a good restaurant in a particular area. You may have noticed that content that answer such questions appear on the top of search page as their organic ranking is higher. Answers to those questions typically contain the keywords or keyword variations that can help the content rank higher. This means that you need to stand in your audience’s shoes and leverage their possible questions for identifying your keywords. You can then use these keywords in your content and its title so that they can be easily detected by the algorithms. Target long-tail keywords: Google and other search engine algorithms are evolving and hence, your SEO strategy should evolve as well. It is the time where long-tail keywords that are 3-4 word phrases carry more weightage than short keywords of one or two words. As per HitTail, over 70% of website traffic comes from long-tail keywords. Using long-tail keywords enable you to target less competitive and more specific search terms. These keywords help you connect with customers in an easier way. When incorporated properly into your website content or blog post, they can drive up your website traffic. Get your on-page optimization in place: There are certain elements on your website that should be in place so that search engine algorithms can rank your website higher. WIthout these in place, you will end up ranking in a place where your audience won’t even notice you. Some of the elements that should be optimized include your website URL, page title, multimedia elements, H1 and H2 tags, placement of social media sharing options, keyword placement and meta description. Attract high-quality links: ‘Backlinks’ is a common term heard in the SEO circle. These are basically external links from other websites that link back to your website. However, having any backlink won’t help your search rankings as the wrong approach and the wrong links can damage your rankings. To achieve higher rankings, you should obtain high quality backlinks from websites that are relevant to your industry. Backlinks from industry experts and authority provide your website additional points. Write for your audience first: This is an important factor you should always keep in mind. As already mentioned search engine algorithms are changing and becoming search friendly and only the content that is relevant and contextual to the user query will rank higher. This means that you should start writing for your human audience rather than focusing on content that ‘search engine-friendly’. How do you do this effectively? Focus on topic clusters where you can gain authority on topics people usually search for. Topic clusters are explained in detail further down this article. Monitor your website performance: This may sound repetitive but no marketing strategy is complete without monitoring your results against your goals and objectives. In order to come out on top of search engine rankings, you should dive deep into your analytics and understanding which strategy is working well, which is not and how you can make things better to achieve a higher ranking. Keyword and topic research, content marketing and building quality backlinks are some things you should always do and continue to do even if you have reached the top of search rankings.
Having influencers promote and talk about your website and content has a huge impact on your website’s organic search ranking. Consumers often trust recommendations from a third party about a certain brand rather than the brand talking about itself. The recommendation carries more weightage when it is been given by someone who is an authority in the particular industry or an influencer. Getting an influencer on your side can make a significant difference in the success of your brand and organization.
When you and an influencer align with each other, the influencer not only brings his/her followers but also their entire audience’s network with them. Due to the influence they command, they will improve your social media exposure, drive traffic to your website, and enable more conversions and sales on your website.
So, how can you create a successful organic marketing campaign using influencers? Here are a few tips that will help you.
Know your goals: Before you even set out to talk to an influencer, you should know what exactly you want to achieve through the exercise and work backwards from there. This will give you a clear idea and a direction on how you should proceed on identifying influencers and successfully collaborating with them. It is also a good practice to set key performance indicators (KPIs) such as audience reach, engagement, increase in followers and conversions. Collaborate with the right influencer: Before you talk to an influencer, it is necessary to keep certain factors in mind. For starters, understand that a true influencer drives actions and not just awareness. The second thing is to determine whether the influencer is the right fit for your brand and service. This is because if the influencer does not align with your thought process or your organization values, he/she can end up doing more damage than good. There are plenty of platforms available in the market that will help you connect with suitable social influencers. Let influencers create content: When it comes to creating content, you don’t need to create everything for your influencers. Your influencers have a specific personality that grabs attention. They also know what resonates with their audience. Hence, creating the content as per their personality should be left to the influencers to handle. However, you can offer them help wherever needed. You can also share tips on what other influencers are doing that is giving them positive results. Don’t go for big names: While using influencer marketing, it is a good practice to avoid big names in the industry. When starting out, you should always focus on influencers who have more followers than going with big names who have fewer interactions. Smaller names many times may be more engaging and drive more ROI for your business. Measure and analyze: Influencer marketing is not something that you sit quite after allowing the influencer to drive traffic and engagement for your brand. You need to track the KPIs you set for yourself at the beginning, measure and analyze them. Analyzing the results helps you identify your success as well as problems you may be facing so that you can rectify them in the future.
Tips to achieve success in organic digital marketing
As incredible and innovative as your brand, product or service may be, if you are not ranking high on the search engine for a specific search query, you will be totally invisible to people. According to findings by the online ad network Chitika in 2013 indicate that the top ranking link on Google’s organic search enjoys 33% of the traffic while the second one gets 18% and the traffic drops down from there. This means that improving the ranking of your web pages becomes important.
The following are a few tips on how you can improve your organic page rankings and website traffic.
Optimize pages for user personas: When people land on your website or your web asset, they take positive action only if they see that what is present on the website is relevant to them. Hence, the first requirement of achieving success in organic digital marketing is to have web pages and content optimized for your user personas. The website content and other elements that are more focused on the buyer persona rather than being generic are 2-5 times more effective in achieving results. This brings us to the the next point, which is the second essential cornerstone of organic marketing success. Content is the king: Content is undoubtedly the king when it comes to succeeding in organic marketing. However, this cannot be any content. The content you present on your website, blog or social media page should be relevant, insightful, consumable and of high-quality. This kind of content compels visitors to take further action, share and provide quality backlinks. Great content often also stands a chance to become viral and ranks higher due to the search engine algorithms that give it higher weightage. Create compelling landing pages and CTAs: Besides persona-driven and high-quality content, your landing pages and calls-to-actions (CTAs) too play an important role in converting your website visitors to leads and then ultimately customers. A landing page allows you to communicate the benefits of your products/services to your potential customers in a clear way while capturing the necessary details of the lead. According to Neil Patel, founder of Crazy Egg, “a strong CTA compels people to click on it”. An attractive CTA placed in the right location of your web property grabs your visitor’s attention and encourages them to take further action. Create compelling meta descriptions: Your meta description may not be a direct search engine ranking factor. However, if written well and if it carries the relevant information, it can create an impact as your visitors click on your website link based on the description. This boosts your website authority, thus making it automatically rank higher for certain keywords during a web search. Besides having good meta-descriptions, it is also a good practice to use ALT tags for your web page elements as they have a strong correlation with SEO. Create topic clusters: The way search engine optimization and page rankings work have changed. This is because the way people perform a search query and consequently search engine algorithms have changed. Search engine optimization solely based on keyword search is dead. It is all about human readability, relevance and semantic search now and SEO needs to evolve accordingly. The best way to optimize your content to cater to semantic search is the use of topic clusters, which creates visibility across the topic rather than focusing on one specific keyword. Topic clusters are based on a premise of enabling a deeper and wider coverage across a range of core topic areas. Topic clusters have the advantage of providing a better user experience. Moreover, one high performing cluster content can improve the search rankings for all the other cluster pages linked to the same pillar. Plan your earned media: Identifying the earned media you already have at your disposal and evaluating it against your present goals allows you to get an idea where to focus your time. For example, identify the third party social media channels and how much traffic and leads they are generating for your business and rank them for effectiveness. Analytics tools can help you get this information. The idea is to identify which earned media platform can help you reach your goals and worth spending more time on using historical data. Having said that, be open to explore newer options. Track your efforts: This comes as a no-brainer. Tracking how your website and other web assets are performing in terms of traffic and lead generation helps you optimize them so that they rank higher. There are various analytics, call tracking and marketing automation tools available in the market that can help you track how your marketing efforts fare as well as help you tie back your sales and leads to the SEO.
Organic digital marketing is a long-term strategy that is proven to deliver significant returns. However, with the changing landscape of digital marketing, you need an expert who can help you create a successful strategy that enables you to make the optimum utilization of your digital assets as well implement techniques that deliver the desired results.
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Originally published , updated March 15 2018