Digital marketing strategy
Improve your digital marketing strategy with our hub page.
Use our hub pages as a reference to get up-to-speed on all the main digital marketing techniques. They will help you quickly understand how to make the most of the technique through definitions and recommendations on our member resources and blog articles covering strategy, best practices and the latest statistics.
How to structure a digital marketing strategy?
We believe that an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential for marketers to take advantage of the growing digital marketing opportunities for acquiring and retaining customers - so you can win more sales. Our digital marketing framework for growth, our RACE Growth System, helps you structure your digital marketing plan around your customers.
Your 5 step digital marketing plan
We recommend using our RACE Framework to structure your marketing strategy, integrated across Plan, Reach, Act, Convert and Engage.
As you can see via the marketing funnel below, building an effective digital marketing strategy requires these 5 steps which nurture the customer through their experiences of your business while influencing their decision-making process and lifetime value.
The RACE Framework is a streamlined, practical, marketing framework that can be scaled up or down according to your business goals. If you're still not convinced, or need help getting buy-in from your team, check out 10 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy .
The benefit of our digital marketing framework is you can start to see results from your marketing activities instantly, and you can use data and insights to adapt your plan to meet your objectives as you can see below.
5 stages of planning a digital marketing strategy with examples.
The 5 stages of strategic digital marketing planning include plan, reach, act, convert and engage. In this section, we will summarise the key success factors for each stage of your digital marketing strategy, with examples, integrated across the Smart Insights RACE Framework.
Every successful digital marketing strategy starts with a plan! We recommend you use a data-driven approach, review your current digital marketing effectiveness, and plan to improve from there.
Omnichannel planning opportunities include customizing analytics, setting up KPI dashboards and setting SMART objectives to create a strategy of prioritized improvements to how you deploy digital marketing media, technology, and data to increase leads and sales.
To ensure your digital marketing strategy is working efficiently and effectively, we recommend taking a digitally-focused approach to strategy and planning. Our RACE Framework is designed for marketers and managers to create a fully integrated, data-driven, practical digital marketing funnel to support their business' overall vision.
Our 5-step digital marketing plan guides you through reaching new audiences, to nurturing interaction, converting customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy. That's why we call it the R-A-C-E Framework.
Digital marketing strategy structure example: 5 minute how-to video
Our digital marketing strategy framework gives you 5 steps to practical strategic business growth.
Here's a clip from our recent Digital Marketing Summit, during which Amelia took 5 minutes to outline our RACE Framework and why it's an increasingly popular strategy tool for marketers today.
Visit our website and sign up for free to catch up her full webinar ' Be adaptable: Optimize your business strategy for growth in a challenging market '.
Strengthen your marketing funnel by reaching more customers and building awareness. Inform your digital marketing strategy with the latest key online marketing techniques to drive visits to your site.
Smart Insights members can keep up to date with the latest marketing techniques across each stage of the RACE Framework. For example, find three steps below to improve your organic search in 2023, taken from our digital marketing trends .
- Continue to monitor core updates and EAT, this is particularly important in 2023 since many marketers are still experiencing significant traffic differences from the May 2022 updates .
- Continue to look at opportunities from structured data and the SERPs features, plus, the latest SERPs Features summary from Moz highlights areas of focus, such as Related Questions.
- Changes in keyword behavior prompted by rising local voice queries are important to optimize for if you target local buyers.
Encourage interactions on your website or social media to help you generate leads for the future. Having reached your audience, it's crucial you influence their next steps to move down the funnel towards a purchase decision.
Here, strategic content marketing comes into play. Use content marketing to entertain, inspire, educate and convince potential converters during their customer lifecycle.
User experience (UX/CX)
To influence customer behavior on your site or social media platforms, you should also look into the current wide range of innovations in interaction design , proven to boost engagement with your content. Taff has published this useful summary, with examples, of what they see as the latest interaction design trends which we can see continuing into 2023.
- Micro-interactions to promote engagement
- Immersive 3D visuals
- Design for speed - prompted by Google's new Core Web Vitals metrics
The pinnacle of your structured digital marketing strategy is, of course, to convert more customers. Use retargeting, nurturing and conversion rate optimization to remind and persuade your audience to buy online or offline if phone and face-to-face channels if these are important to you.
Our digital marketing trends highlight three tips for increasing your conversions
- Consider your use of structured always-on optimization. The options for testing are one of the biggest strengths of digital marketing, yet there are still many businesses that don't take advantage of these opportunities.
- Review the sophistication of your website personalization. According to a SmarterHQ report, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized content.
- 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision.
- 1 in 4 business owners are selling through Facebook.
- 40% of merchants use social media to generate sales.
- 30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms.
Finally, after you're worked so hard to get them, did you know you can increase sales from existing customers by keeping them engaged after their first purchase? Improve your personalized communications using web, email, and social media marketing using the data you already have about them to create hyper-personalized marketing campaigns.
Customer engagement research and testing options for digital marketers today include:
- A/B testing
- Customer personas
- Customer journey and content mapping
- Voice of customer surveys
- Path analysis
- Website customer intent surveys
- Usability studies of digital experiences
- Multivariate testing
Moreover, machine learning enables unprecedented insights into consumer behavior. For example, predictive analytics can be used to identify:
- Best send times to engage an individual (can be based when they originally bought or subscribed, but this can be refined through time)
- Best timing and offer for follow-up communications based on analysis of latency (average interval of response)
- Best product or category combinations from cluster-based segmentation
Download a free digital marketing template to optimize your customers' journeys
Digital marketing channels play a key role in your customers' experiences of your brand. But in today's demanding digital landscape where customers' expectations are outpacing martech developments, failure to plan your omnichannel journeys can lead to a disconnect. Our RACE Framework can help you structure your plan.
Here, you can see how paid, owned, and earned media, alongside digital experience, take roles in reaching new audiences, nurturing interaction, converting more customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy.
Get started today using our tried and tested step-by-step process. Apply the Smart Insights RACE Framework to optimize your marketing and win more customers.
Do you have a defined digital marketing strategy?
Did you know many companies don't have a digital marketing strategy?
Our recent Managing Digital marketing research report showed that almost half (45%) of companies don't yet have a planned strategy:
Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?
Our blog, 10 reasons you need a digital marketing strategy sets out the 10 most common problems that in our experience arise if you don't have a strategy. This can help you hone the scope and purpose of your digital marketing strategy, and make the case for investment in digital marketing. Examples include:
You don't have a powerful online value proposition
A clearly defined digital value proposition tailored to your different target customer personas will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal. Savvy marketers tailor their marketing techniques to attract B2B, B2C of D2C sales and leads effectively.
Developing an omnichannel marketing strategy is key to this for many organizations, since the content is what engages your audiences through different channels like search, social, email marketing, and on your blog.
You're not integrated ("disintegrated")
It's all too common for digital marketing activities to be completed in silos whether that's a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT, or a separate digital agency. It's easier that way to package 'digital' into a convenient chunk. But of course, it's less effective. Everyone agrees that paid, owned and earned digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.
That's why we recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy , so your digital marketing works hard for you! With your integrated plan in place, digital will become part of your marketing activity and part of business as usual. Find out more.
You're wasting money and time through duplication
Even if you do have sufficient resources, they may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.
That's why you need to invest in a marketing strategy that works for you and your team, to plan, manage and optimize your digital channels and platforms. Drive the marketing results you need to achieve your business objectives, and boost your marketing ROI.
RACE ahead of inflation with a proven digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing strategy quick guide, digital marketing strategy success factors.
An effective digital marketing strategy will help you take the right decisions to make a company successful. A strategy process model provides a framework that gives a logical sequence to follow to ensure the inclusion of all key activities of strategy development and implementation.
A marketing strategy should involve a review to check that all of your capabilities are in place to help your organization manage all of the digital touchpoints. But which capabilities are important, which do you need to review?
A successful strategy should be built on reviewing 7 core capabilities which are:
- Strategic approach
- Performance improvement process
- Management buy-in
- Resourcing and structure
- Data and infrastructure
- Integrated customer communications
- Customer experience
In our Business Tranformation Learning Path for Business Professional members we show these in our capability visual:
Digital marketing strategy definition
First, a marketing strategy is a proactive, data-driven approach to marketing and communication activity across all channels and touchpoints. The marketing strategy informs all marketing activity taking place for the business since all marketing plans stem from this overarching structure and vision. Once the strategy is set and communicated, marketers use tactics to put into place their actions that drive to the result.
A digital marketing strategy is a channel strategy stemming from a marketing strategy. The digital marketing strategy must...
- Be informed by research into customer channel behaviour and marketplace activity = intermediaries, publishers and competitors
- Based on objectives for future online and offline channel contribution %
- Define and communicate the differentials of the channel to encourage customers to use it,
- BUT, need to manage channel integration
So put another way, digital marketing strategy defines how companies should:
- Hit our channel leads & sales targets
- Budgets for Acquisition, Conversion, Retention & Growth, Service
- Communicate benefits of using this channel to enhance brand
- Prioritize audiences targeted through the channel
- Prioritize products available through the channel
Recommended member resources for Digital marketing strategy
- B2B startup digital marketing plan workbook and case study
Ebooks on Digital marketing strategy
- Competitor benchmarking guide and template
- Digital marketing strategy guide
- How to avoid these 10 SMB digital marketing mistakes
- Integrated marketing megatrends
- Marketing forecasting techniques for marketing planning guide
- SOSTAC® Digital Marketing Planning Guide
Online training on Digital marketing strategy
- Digital marketing e-learning course
Marketing templates on Digital marketing strategy
- Digital marketing plan example
- Digital marketing plan workbook
- Digital marketing planning infographics
- Digital marketing strategy audit/healthcheck
- Free digital marketing plan template
- Inbound marketing Quick Wins template
- Lifetime value spreadsheet
- Online customer acquisition budget spreadsheet
- Online customer acquisition guide
- Online marketing adoption statistics compilation
- Online startup business model template
- PowerPoint digital marketing strategy planning template
- Mobile marketing statistics compilation 2023
- How important is digital marketing for businesses in 2022?
- Forecast e-commerce growth in percentage of online retail / e-commerce sales 2017 to 2023
- How can marketing drive business growth in 2020?
- 100+ must-see digital marketing research statistics for 2019
Tools & Software
- Revenue model options: 10 revenue generation techniques for digital businesses
- A full compilation of essential digital marketing tools
- A review of software and services for collaborating on feedback for page designs
Best websites on Digital marketing strategy
There are surprisingly few quality digital marketing strategy sites since most focus on the strategy. We like to think we're different in our focus on strategy too. These are our top sites to learn more about digital marketing strategy:
- 1. BCG Perspectives - The Boston Consulting Group of "BCG Matrix" fame has recently improved its articles and research on multichannel marketing and customer insight
- 2. Econsultancy reports - The Econsultancy blog mainly covers tactics, but there are sound research reports on managing digital channels and ecommerce teams.
- 3. Figaro Digital . Unusual since it's an online magazine, but these editorial articles often cover digital strategy and are accessible by industry.
- 4. Forrester Marketing Blog . Forrester analysts write about developments in technology and consumer behaviour .
- 5. [email protected] . The Marketing section often covers online marketing issues and cases.
- 6. Financial Times Connected Business . Monthly articles based on case studies.
- Harvard Business Review blog . Quality commentary on the intersection of marketing and technology strategy, but unfortunately, not a well-tagged blog.
- 7. McKinseyQuarterly . Articles regularly cover digital marketing strategy.
- 8. The Web Strategy blog . A personal blog by Jeremiah Owyang, previously a Forrester analyst, now at Altimeter. Mainly covers social media strategy.
Key techniques for Digital marketing strategy
These are the related techniques which we recommend as important for managing Digital marketing strategy effectively. View these hub pages giving details on best practices, statistics and examples for these techniques:
- Customer acquisition strategy
- Customer conversion strategy
- Customer retention strategy
- Customer segmentation and targeting
- Digital strategy development
- Inbound marketing strategy
- Online business and revenue models
- Online marketing mix
- Online value proposition
View all blog articles on Digital marketing strategy
The Digital Marketing Strategy And Planning toolkit contains:
- Digital marketing models guide
- View the Toolkit
FREE marketing planning templates
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More From Forbes
How to create a digital marketing strategy: eight steps to laser focus your plan.
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Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital , a 6X best-selling author, international speaker & recognized digital marketing thought-leader.
Digital marketing continues to grow in importance. People are spending more time online, and marketing budgets continue to shift toward digital. With so many opportunities in digital marketing, it is easy to get into execution mode and just start doing. However, investing in your strategy is one of the best ways to grow your digital return on investment. A clear strategy reduces waste, adds focus to your efforts and builds on what is already working.
Here's how to create a solid digital marketing strategy:
1. Explore the landscape and analyze your results.
A solid strategy starts by analyzing and examining. This gives you a clear idea of your starting point and how you stack up against your competitors and a deeper understanding of your customers.
• Analyze your performance. Start by evaluating your performance over the last year. Dive into analytics to determine what worked and didn’t work and why.
• Evaluate your competitors. Spend some time looking at your competitors' digital presence. The great thing about digital marketing is that it is easy to see what your competitors are doing because it is all public. Use competitive research tools like SpyFu to get a free analysis of their strategy.
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• Get to know your customers. Facebook Audience Insights is a free tool by Facebook that you can use to uncover details about your audience size, demographics, behaviors and interests. Google Trends is another free tool to see topics people search for and search trends over time.
2. Map out your strategy.
Build a clear strategy based on what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. The GSOT strategy framework stands for goals, strategies, objectives and tactics and will help you align your plan.
• Goals are what you want to achieve on a high level. For example, it could be to grow sales by 5% or generate 200 signups for an event.
• Strategy is the approach you’ll use to achieve your goals. This is usually defined by the stages of the marketing funnel — you can choose to focus on awareness, interest, desire and action.
• Objectives are measurable numbers that link to your goal. For example, if I want to grow sales by 5% this year, I may have an objective of establishing 200 leads or reaching 400 people.
• Tactics align with your objectives. For example, if I need 200 leads, I may use a landing page with a webinar and social media to entice prospective new clients.
Setting a clear strategy will help you focus your efforts on the areas that are most likely to drive business growth. In digital marketing, there is no shortage of what you could do; the challenge is deciding what you should do.
3. Define your target audience.
In digital marketing, you have the opportunity to execute campaigns with very precise targeting. Go beyond traditional demographic targeting and be as specific as possible. Create buyer personas for your ideal customer to really get to know who they are.
4. Build your content strategy.
Based on your marketing objectives and your target audience, map out a content plan. This should identify the main topics or buckets of content to include in your execution.
Here are five ways to get content inspiration:
• Go back to step one and look for ideas from your competition and customer analysis.
• Check out Answer the Public to see the questions that people are asking in search engines.
• Search hashtags on Instagram to see what is trending. Instagram is highly visual, so it is a great source of inspirational content.
• Look at Google Search suggestions . This shows what people are searching for related to your category.
• Explore Pinterest, which is full of viral, visual, highly shared content.
5. Choose your channels and tactics.
Once you know the content that resonates with your audience, choose the channels that are most likely to give you the best results.
Consider all the potential digital channels, tools and tactics that you could use. Then prioritize based on the strategy you created in step two. Think about how each channel contributes to meeting your objective and goal.
6. Set key performance indicators and benchmarks.
Too often, businesses start executing but struggle to answer the question of whether they are really getting results. Each activity that you invest in should have a clear KPI, which is your measure of success. Next, set benchmarks. Your benchmark is what you want to achieve. For example, with email marketing, my KPI could be my email open rate, and my benchmark could be reaching 25% or better.
7. Execute with best practices.
Often the devil is in the details. If you miss executional steps you may find that you aren’t getting the results you expect. Take some time to make sure that you are using best practices. Digital marketing changes frequently, and something that worked on last year may require tweaking to work now. Keep in mind that it is better to do a few things well than many things poorly.
8. Analyze and adjust.
One of the things that makes digital marketing so powerful is the ability to pivot and adjust. You don’t have to create a set plan and stick to it. For example, if an ad isn’t delivering results, pause it and try new creative. If your website isn’t converting visitors, run an A/B comparison test with different calls to action. For example, you can test a "learn more" call to action against "sign up now" to see what performs best.
It can be easy to focus on tactics with digital marketing — you likely get pitched new ideas or tools every week. The key to growing your results is to build a clear plan and stay focused. A laser-focused strategy means that you clearly know how each part of your plan is building toward your objectives and driving your business forward.
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How To Structure and Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy in 2021
Here’s what you need to set goals, know your audience, and measure success for an effective digital marketing plan.
A good digital marketing plan should start with a solid understanding of your brand and its value to your audience. It should set priorities for short-, mid-, and long-term business goals and articulate a well-defined path to achieving them. While a digital marketing plan is primarily meant to organize your marketing team, it should also be cross-functional and incorporate the work, milestones, and objectives of other teams, and align with the organization as a whole.
What is a digital marketing plan?
Definition: A digital marketing plan is a document that details all of the planning for your digital marketing initiatives and activities. This plan is focused on how you will reach your target audiences and engage them in the digital space.
2020 brought a global pandemic that shifted the way we live and work, and created unprecedented obstacles. What does that mean for 2021? Marketing professionals need to reflect on what we’ve learned and set themselves up for success. How can you create a marketing plan that works? We’ve got a few ideas.
Here are some areas to focus on to help structure your digital marketing plan for 2021.These tactics, architectures, and methodologies will help ensure your plan is clear, actionable, and measurable. Most importantly, your digital marketing plan will set you up for success in 2021 and beyond.
Set goals for your digital marketing plan
Structurally speaking, your plan should include three levels of detail:
- Goals. These should be meaningful and aligned with larger business objectives. To set the right goals for your team, use a methodology like the S.M.A. R.T method (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-based).
- Strategy. This is the topline approach to how you’ll try to achieve those goals. Break down your annual objectives into achievable and stretch quarterly milestones.
- Tactics. These are the specifics about how you’ll execute your strategy.
Another methodology is the V2MOM method, a Salesforce acronym for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. This method was developed by our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Marc Benioff , and it is used by our organization to drive company alignment. If you’re curious about creating organizational alignment in your own business, learn how to do it by taking the V2MOM Trail on Salesforce’s free learning platform, Trailhead.
Regardless of how you set your goals, you should take the time to set strategic priorities. While you may want to achieve them all, not every goal should have the same weight or importance to your team.
Lastly, check in with your goals often. Use a data visualization tool , preferably one with a dashboard where you can see all of your KPIs at a glance. This will help you easily see how to attribute success to specific efforts so you can focus more on what works.
Create personas of your audience, and act on them
Once you’ve established your overall goals and tactics for the year, it’s time to shift your focus to your audience. Who are you speaking to? What do they want to hear? What problems can you solve for them?
A well-planned digital strategy should incorporate what you know about your audiences’ wants, needs, and behaviors. How do they like to interact with your brand? What do they rely on you for? What do they need to move forward at various points in the buying process? Segmentation is key to creating targeted activations that connect in a meaningful way and drive action with specific cohorts within your audience.
Strong data visualization tools help spot trends that let you form educated assumptions about your audience.
Develop and make use of user personas to help you understand your audience better. These profiles combine demographic and psychographic information about different segments of your audience to create more specific target segments. Strong data visualization tools help spot trends that let you form educated assumptions about your audience. When combined with broader market research, this information can help you craft these profiles.
User personas can also help tailor your content strategies to connect with specific audiences in ways that are meaningful to them. Your messaging, the channels you use, how often you communicate, and even when – these can all be informed by a digital marketing plan that uses strong segmentation and the right reporting tools . You’ll learn more about your audiences over time. And as you do you’ll be able to make your efforts even more relevant.
Measure the success of your digital marketing plan, and learn from it
To evaluate your plan and its efficacy, make sure you’re looking at the right metrics. Analyze your data and look for trends. Do you understand the KPIs? While conversions are the ultimate goal, understanding your audience’s full ecosystem of actions and behaviors will allow you to reach success. The more granular you can get with your reporting, the more insight you’ll have. With the right data visualization tools , you will easily be able to see if you’re reaching your objectives.
Doing business under COVID-19 has taught us that adjusting with agility and grace is essential. Your digital marketing plan is a roadmap for success that requires some flexibility; a plan that’s too rigid becomes irrelevant fast. While we can’t yet predict what lessons we’ll learn this year, with the right plan in place, we’ll be ready for anything.
Advance your marketing strategy
Learn to assess your marketing program and develop your marketing roadmap. Take this four-part Trailhead – our no-cost online course in digital marketing – today.
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What Is Digital Marketing Strategy — And What Are the Keys to Its Success?
A digital marketing strategy sets and designs initiatives to build differentiated digital engagement with a target audience in service of business goals., table of contents, what is digital marketing, what is a digital marketing strategy framework, what is key for a successful digital marketing plan, what are the most effective digital marketing strategies, what are the roles of digital marketing leaders and teams, what role does technology play in digital marketing strategy, additional resources for digital marketing strategy leaders.
- Conferences for Digital Marketing Strategy Leaders
Digital marketing relies on a set of integrated digital techniques, technologies and data that enables marketing to improve the ways in which it engages in dynamic conversations with influencers and buyers, and targets, acquires and retains customers.
For most organizations, digital marketing plays an increasingly strategic role in driving business growth. Best-in-class brands focus relentlessly on optimizing digital marketing channels, blending digital and physical experiences, and embracing emerging technologies that can provide a competitive edge. (Also see “ What role does technology play in digital marketing strategy? ”)
Marketers have long juggled the objectives of customer acquisition and retention, but the pandemic radically shifted customer engagement preferences and elevated digital experience to a pivotal role in social and business relationships. Digital is no longer just a means of enhancing customer relationships; it is also a primary medium for building new connections with target audiences, whether that’s employees, business partners or social influencers.
Digital marketing’s expanding remit now has a major influence on overall strategic marketing objectives, budgets and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Digital marketing strategy articulates the goals and execution tactics for digital experiences, channels, campaigns and media — and the performance metrics to measure progress and success.
There is no single framework for crafting strategy, but key components of any digital marketing plan include:
- A vision for the role that digital marketing strategy and execution plays in driving enterprise growth. For example, an impetus to increase profit could translate into a business objective of increasing customer lifetime value. A resulting marketing objective might be to drive customer engagement or cross-sell/upsell customers.
- A clearly scoped and defined set of responsibilities for the digital marketing team and leadership. Digital marketing leaders, for example, set and oversee budgeting , hiring, technology selection and campaign planning in support of strategy execution. (Also see “ What are the roles of digital marketing leaders and teams? ”)
- A detailed roadmap that lays out near-term digital marketing program objectives as well as longer-range performance achievements. Improving lead quality, driving increased sales among identified leads, and increasing brand awareness are all key digital marketing objectives tied to the goal of new customer acquisition.
An assessment of team skills , tools and processes needed to support digital marketing objectives — and a plan for closing gaps in performance.
To maximize the value of digital channels and engagement, and their impact on customers’ shifting digital behaviors, marketers need to plan, execute and evaluate the impact of digital marketing efforts holistically.
Best-in-class digital marketers drive business growth through coordinated customer engagements that span a growing array of touchpoints with target audiences. These include websites, paid and organic social media, search and display advertising, TV, over-the-top (OTT) streaming media, digital video, email and mobile marketing (e.g., SMS, push notification, in-app messaging and consumer messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), and voice-enabled endpoints (e.g., smart speakers and smartphone-based virtual personal assistants).
This type of integrated digital marketing strategy requires a coordinated, iterative multichannel approach and performance measurement against peers, especially in the following three areas:
- Channels and campaign management . Lead and scale digital marketing campaigns in and across channels.
- Advertising . Optimize media, formats, targeting and messaging for brand and performance goals.
- Digital performance benchmarks . Compare best practices across industries and learn from leading brands to uncover brand-specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to improve the business impact of digital initiatives.
Marketing teams can orchestrate a range of digital marketing strategies and techniques to ensure customer interactions meet and exceed expectations, and increase satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
For example, Gartner research shows that digital marketers favor social marketing and digital advertising at the top of the purchase funnel — specifically across brand awareness, demand generation, conversion to sales, and customer loyalty and advocacy. But it takes the right tools, customer data, targeting and testing to align the best channel with target audiences and specific goals.
The major digital marketing strategies include:
Digital advertising comprises display, video, mobile and social ads. To succeed, digital ads must communicate with audiences using appropriate timing, context, content and tone across relevant channels.
Paid search specifically refers to advertising on search engines and other websites; ads are presented based on the content and context of a specific search query.
Digital marketing leaders accountable for advertising are on the front lines of rapid change in consumer behavior, such as the rising adoption of nonlinear TV and new social media platforms. However, advertisers face a continuously evolving landscape of adtech, service providers and agencies, new formats and platforms, and data and measurement partners. They also must confront issues such as changing privacy regulations , cookie deprecation and fraud.
The use of the email channel to deliver marketing messages is a fundamental touchpoint throughout the customer life cycle. It includes brand newsletters and/or contextually relevant, real-time and personalized communications with target audiences. However, customer churn, upended consumer journeys and changing consumer habits have created hurdles to successfully executing email marketing.
Digital marketing leaders must adjust to new challenges spanning privacy, data capture and targeted content deployment. Given pandemic-driven changes in customers' digital habits, leading performers are leaning more heavily on customer data and segmentation tactics to deliver high engagement. They avoid quantity in favor of quality and emphasize targeted, personalized messaging that improves conversion and boosts email effectiveness.
Social marketing refers to the creation, curation, consumption, promotion and distribution of marketing content for purposes primarily related to building and nurturing communities. It excludes paid advertising on social channels but includes influencer marketing, social seeding and social activations.
Digital marketers can no longer afford to view social media as a channel exclusively for raising awareness and consideration. The impact of social platforms extends across the entire purchase funnel, particularly as more consumers turn to social commerce. Digital marketers today must exercise caution in messaging regarding social issues, like public health and racism, given heightened consumer scrutiny over brand actions. Long-term brand health and equity, as well as revenue, are on the line.
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to techniques used to improve qualified traffic to web pages by understanding the nature and intent of searches and developing highly relevant content and experiences. An integrated digital marketing strategy requires a holistic approach across paid and organic, so it’s important not to pit SEO against search engine marketing (SEM), as one elevates the other’s performance.
SEO and SEM strategies must be designed in service of brand objectives, whether those are traffic-, engagement- or conversion-driven. The most effective way to achieve these goals is to ensure your brand is in front of and serving relevant content to appropriate prospects.
Digital marketing leaders are responsible for defining and meeting strategic marketing objectives through connected conversations that engage target audiences and market segments across digital channels.
They and their teams need expertise across a range of functions, from core marketing channels to analytics to content creation and management to media planning and buying, and, increasingly, digital commerce. They must also be adept at using technologies that support orchestrated customer engagement through these different touchpoints. (Also see “ What role does emerging technology play in digital marketing strategy? ”)
Digital marketing leadership is increasingly becoming synonymous with marketing leadership overall. The Gartner Digital Marketing Survey 2021 found that 36% of responding digital marketing leaders now hold the title of CMO, and 85% hold the title of vice president or higher.
Digital marketing leaders have a broad remit to set the strategy and establish the KPIs that align digital marketing objectives to business goals.
Digital marketing leaders need to plan for and execute in an environment that requires strategic prioritization, agility, an emphasis on longer-term initiatives that can propel their marketing organization’s digital transformation, and an unstinting focus on achieving results. Among their responsibilities are:
- Digital content marketing strategy and execution
- Digital brand advertising strategy and execution
- Integration of mobile marketing into the digital mix
- SEO/SEM strategy and execution
- Email marketing strategy and execution
- Media strategy and execution
Digital marketing leaders use a vast array of technologies to deliver business results, scale operations and address the intricacies of the modern customer journey.
The remit of marketing technology ( martech ) and digital marketing leaders is expanding to include customer data management and customer lifetime value analysis . Organizations realize that their martech platforms are only as good as their data and analytics capabilities and the customer insights their teams uncover. Common projects in this domain include:
- Integrating martech solutions with an enterprisewide data architecture and strategy
- Managing the flow of customer data from disparate systems into a system of record for marketing activation
Under pressure to build first-party data-capture capabilities, most companies are also ramping up investments in technologies such as customer data platforms (CDPs) to build a 360-degree view of the customer.
Content management is another priority for martech and digital marketing leaders, because most organizations have now realized they cannot achieve omnichannel personalization at scale without an agile and connected content operations ecosystem.
Emerging and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) promise to transform marketing capabilities such as personalization of advertising and marketing engagements. Marketing platforms such as multichannel marketing hubs (MMHs), CDPs and mobile marketing platforms are already integrating both AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities, and the appetite for such tools continues to grow. However, deployment of AI and ML is still in the incipient phase as marketers struggle with complex technology rollouts, a lack of resources (people and technology), and a certain amount of distrust by marketing and the business in these underlying technologies.
Some technology deployments sped up in response to the effects of COVID-19, when marketers doubled down on martech to accelerate incomplete digital transformations. Technologies such as event-triggered marketing, mobile wallet marketing and MMHs progressed more quickly toward maturity. Mobile marketing analytics — a profile Gartner expected to see mature and graduate off the Hype Cycle™ — will probably extend for at least another year as marketers grapple with the practical impact of Apple’s app tracking transparency framework on mobile advertising dollars and optimizing campaigns with less data.
The Digital Transformation of the Modern Marketing Leader
Top marketing predictions for 2022 and beyond, the state of marketing budgets, leadership vision for 2021: chief marketing officer, the new era of digital commerce, gartner marketing symposium/xpo™.
Connect with CMOs and marketing leaders to get the latest insights on marketing technology, trends, innovation and more.
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7 Steps to Create a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2023
Published: December 08, 2022
Creating a marketing strategy is essential to effectively nurture your customers, improve the bottom line at your business, and increase the ROI of your efforts.
A marketing strategy is especially critical if you want to leverage the highest-ROI trends for 2023 : short video, influencer marketing, and branded social media. To get powerful results, you must carefully weave both emerging trends and proven strategies into your plan.
Let's dive into the critical components of a complete marketing strategy in 2023, followed by some examples for inspiration.
A marketing strategy is a detailed, structured plan of a company’s promotional efforts across a wide range of platforms and channels. A marketing strategy typically includes objectives, target audience profiles, content creation steps, key performance indicators, and other components.
A marketing strategy will:
- Align your team to specific goals.
- Help you tie your efforts to business objectives.
- Allow you to identify and test what resonates with your target audience.
- Empower you to capitalize on emerging trends.
The last one is especially important for this upcoming year. Keeping up with marketing trends is important for your strategy, but could be a full-time job.
Why? Because in one year alone, we've seen a major shift to short-form video content ; the rise and fall of new platforms (looking at you, Meta); and the continuing impact of the global pandemic. In short, what worked for your marketing strategy in the past might not fly today.
To succeed in the fast-paced marketing world — and maintain a sense of relevance with your audience — it's vital to stay ahead of the curve.
To help ease some of that uncertainty, we've going to show you step-by-step how to create a marketing strategy that leaves no stone unturned. But first, let’s go over the individual components that make up a strong marketing strategy.
Free Marketing Strategy Template
Fill out the form to access your free strategy doc., marketing strategy components.
- Marketing Mix (4 Ps of Marketing)
- Marketing Objectives
- Marketing Budget
- Competitive Analysis
- Segmentation, Targeting, & Positioning
- Content Creation (Including Trending Content)
- Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
1. Marketing Mix
The marketing mix, also known as the 4 Ps of marketing, is the preliminary document you must create to understand what you will be marketing, where you’ll be marketing it, and how you’ll be marketing it. The following P’s make up this framework:
- Product : What are you selling?
- Price : What is the price?
- Place : Where will you be selling the product?
- Promotion : Where will you be promoting the product?
You can then extrapolate this information into a full-fledged marketing plan for each promotional channel. It’s important to lay out the information in broad strokes so that you understand the overall direction of your marketing strategy.
2. Marketing Objectives
You can set your marketing objectives in conjunction with your 4 Ps, or right after. Either way, you should outline your marketing goals before building upon your strategy. Why? Because your goals will inform other components of the plan, including the budget and content creation process.
With every objective, you should aim to be as specific as possible. Try to create SMART marketing goals divided by channel or promotional tactic, and don’t forget that you can always come back and revise your goals as your priorities change.
3. Marketing Budget
A marketing budget is an essential element of your strategy. Without allotting funds to hiring the right talent, using the right software, advertising on the right channels, and creating the right content, your marketing strategy won’t have a powerful impact. To get a high return on investment, you must first invest.
Remember that you can always start small — hyper-focusing your budget on one or two efforts — and build upon them once you generate an ROI.
4. Competitive Analysis
Knowing your competition is key when creating a marketing strategy. Otherwise, you risk “yelling into the void” without measurable results. Worse, you won’t know whether you’re differentiating yourself enough from the competition and effectively drawing the attention of your intended audience.
You might already have an idea of whom your competitors are, but it’s still essential to sit down and identify them. You might end up uncovering a surprise competitor who’s vying for your target buyer’s attention and engagement.
5. Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning
Segmentation, targeting, and positioning (STP) refers to the process of delivering “more relevant, personalized messages to target audiences.” In other words, rather than publishing posts and advertisements on a whim, you’ll go through a methodical process for creating content that resonates with your target buyer.
During the segmentation, targeting, and positioning process, you’ll take three steps:
- Identify your target audience . This process not only entails interviewing your current customers, but carrying out market research and creating buyer personas .
- Target a segment of your target audience . It’s best to speak to a narrow group of highly qualified buyers than to send your message out to everyone.
- Position your brand relative to other brands . What do you do better than your competitors? It’s essential to map this information when creating a marketing strategy.
6. Content Creation
Once you have your budget, competitive outlook, and STP information, it’s now time to take the most critical step: Creating your marketing content . But it’s essential to undertake this effort strategically. For one, you don’t want to publish random content that doesn’t solve for the customer, and for two, you must aim to capitalize on emerging trends so that your brand enjoys high visibility in the marketplace.
The competition is fierce across all formats. According to HubSpot Research , "half of marketers are using videos, with 47% leveraging images, followed by 33% posting blogs articles, infographics (30%) and podcasts or other audio content (28%)." Of these, video has the highest ROI.
It’s even more essential to invest in trends that have a high ROI, such as short-form video, influencer marketing, and social media DMs.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in blogging , one of the most proven content marketing techniques. It’s simply important to know where to allot the most resources, especially if you have a limited budget.
7. Metrics & Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Last, but certainly not least, your marketing strategy must include metrics and key performance indicators to understand how well your strategies are working. The KPIs you choose will vary depending on your business type and preferred customer acquisition channels . Examples of KPIs include:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Organic Traffic
- Conversion Rate
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
Now, let’s dive into why it’s important to follow the steps of a marketing strategy.
The Importance of Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy Steps
A robust marketing strategy will reach your target audience — this includes those who have never heard of your brand all the way to repeat customers.
Without a defined strategy, you’ll essentially be throwing things to the wall to see what sticks. And it’s costing you cost, time, and resources.
There are seven key steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy: Build your marketing plan, create your buyer personas, identify your goals, select the tools, review your existing resources, audit and plan media campaigns, and lastly, execute your strategy.
Let’s get into the details of each step in the next section. Or you can jump to the section you're most interested in.
- Build a marketing plan .
- Create buyer personas .
- Identify goals .
- Select the appropriate tools .
- Review your media .
- Audit and plan media campaigns .
- Bring it to fruition .
Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies
- What to Do After Following Your Marketing Process Steps
7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Process
- Build a marketing plan.
- Create buyer personas.
- Identify goals.
- Select the appropriate tools.
- Review your media.
- Audit and plan media campaigns.
- Bring it to fruition.
1. Build a marketing plan.
Wait, I have to make a plan for my strategy? What's the difference?
Your marketing strategy provides an overview of the reasons why your marketing team will need certain resources, take certain actions, and set certain goals over the year. Your marketing plan is the specific actions you'll take to achieve that strategy.
Not sure where to start? This free marketing plan template can help.
Download for Free
The right template can help you build a marketing plan that identifies your budget for the year, the initiatives your marketing organization needs to tackle, and the marketing channels you'll use to implement those initiatives.
Plus, it’ll tie everything back to a business summary, to keep you aligned with overarching company goals.
2. Create buyer personas.
If you can't define who your audience is in one sentence, now's your chance to do it. A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer.
For example, a store like Macy's could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.
With this description, Macy's Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in mind.
Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information, including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all of those attributes in her description.
You don't have to create your buyer persona with a pen and paper. In fact, HubSpot offers a free template you can use to make your own (and it's really fun).
You can also use a platform like Versium , which helps you identify, understand and reach your target audience through data and artificial intelligence.
Buyer personas should be at the core of building your strategy.
3. Identify your goals.
Your marketing strategy goals should reflect your business goals.
For example, if one of your business goals is to have 300 people attend your annual conference in three months, your goal as a marketer should be along the lines of boosting online registration by 10% at the end of the month to stay on track.
Other marketing goals might be to increase brand awareness or generate high-quality leads. You might also want to grow or maintain thought leadership in your industry or increase customer value.
Whatever your goals, identify what they are and how your marketing organization can work to achieve them over the next year.
4. Select the appropriate tools.
Once you have your goals identified, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.
Online software like social media schedulers gives you analytics to help you keep track of what your audience likes and doesn't. Alternatively, you might consider Google Analytics to measure blog and web page performance.
Additionally, make your goals SMART – to do so, take a look at How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template ].
Here are a few tools that can help you track and measure the success of your marketing goals:
HubSpot Marketing Hub
The Marketing Hub allows you to consolidate all of your marketing tools into one centralized platform.
You can also transform data pulled from timeline and Gantt views to track your projects on Monday.com and ensure deadlines have been met. Plus, with more than 40 integrations — from SurveyMonkey to Mailchimp and, of course, HubSpot — you can visualize your data and ensure your whole company is collaborating.
Pricing : Basic, $8/month/seat; Standard, $10/month/seat; Pro, $16/month/seat; Enterprise, contact for pricing.
Crazy Egg also offers recordings, A/B testing, and more to help ensure your website is offering the best user experience.
Pricing : Basic, $24/month; Standard, $49/month; Plus, $99/month; Pro, $249/month; Enterprise, contact for pricing.
5. Review your media.
Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories – paid, owned, and earned media.
- Paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. This includes offline channels like television, direct mail, and billboard to online channels like social media, search engines, and websites.
- Owned Media refers to any of the media your marketing team has to create: pictures, videos, podcasts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
- Earned media is another way to say user-generated content . Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your brand are all examples of earned media.
Gather your materials in each media type and consolidate them in one location to have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate them to maximize your strategy.
For example, if you already have a blog that's rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers might then reTweet (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded marketing strategy.
If you have resources that don't fit into your goals, nix them. This is a great time to clean house and identify gaps in your materials.
6. Audit and plan media campaigns.
Cleaning house segues straight into this step. Now, you must decide which content is going to help you.
Focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the CTAs at the end of your blog posts help you increase RSVPs to your event?
Next, look at your buyer personas. Let's say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona's challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don't have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.
Finally, create a content creation plan. The plan should include topic clusters, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it's solving for your buyer persona.
For ideas on content creation or a more in-depth look at how to create a content plan, check out our post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation .
7. Bring it to fruition.
At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed – and by which teams.
The final step is to bring that all together and assign actions to your plans.
Create a document that maps out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.
Think long-term when creating this document. A standard strategy document is 12 months. This structured timeline should be the home base for your strategic marketing efforts.
To paint an example, let's go back to the video software company.
Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your buyer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.
Remember, your digital strategy is unique to your business, so the document should be as well. As long as the strategy includes the pertinent details outlined in previous sections, you'll be set.
Now that we've explored the critical steps of a complete marketing strategy, let's look at some "Why didn't I think of that?" strategies to inspire your own.
1. Regal Movies
Digital strategy: owned media.
Regal Movies took the Halloween spirit to a new level, even renaming its Twitter account to reflect the spirit of the season. This "Monster Madness" poll is a fun, interactive way to get followers invested in Regal's content:
In this case, the consumer is praising the brand’s product. Doesn’t get better than a fantastic review like that.
3. Small Girls PR
Digital strategy: event marketing.
Wait, is that Keke Palmer?
Small Girls PR is a boutique PR company based in New York, and one of the company's talents is throwing amazing events for their clients, like Olay. This event recap carousel on Instagram is an effective event marketing example, as it boosts awareness for your brand and offers social proof by featuring a public figure.
Digital strategy: paid media.
Design agency Superside launched an Instagram ad to promote a lead magnet: Their digital ad design guide. While the brand may have created the guide specifically for paid promotions, it’s also possible that they repurposed a high-performing blog post into a downloadable ebook.
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Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
The 5 stages of strategic digital marketing planning include plan, reach, act, convert and engage. In this section, we will summarise the key success factors for each stage of your digital marketing strategy, with examples, integrated across the Smart Insights RACE Framework. 1. Plan Every successful digital marketing strategy starts with a plan!
Here's how to create a solid digital marketing strategy: 1. Explore the landscape and analyze your results. A solid strategy starts by analyzing and examining. This gives you a clear idea...
Set goals for your digital marketing plan Structurally speaking, your plan should include three levels of detail: Goals. These should be meaningful and aligned with larger business objectives. To set the right goals for your team, use a methodology like the S.M.A. R.T method (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-based). Strategy.
How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy Build your buyer personas. Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you'll need. Evaluate your existing digital channels and assets. Audit and plan your owned media campaigns. Identify your goals and the digital marketing tools you'll need. Monitor and report. 1. Build your buyer personas.
Digital marketing strategy articulates the goals and execution tactics for digital experiences, channels, campaigns and media — and the performance metrics to measure progress and success. There is no single framework for crafting strategy, but key components of any digital marketing plan include:
7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Build a marketing plan. Create buyer personas. Identify goals. Select the appropriate tools. Review your media. Audit and plan media campaigns. Bring it to fruition. Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies What to Do After Following Your Marketing Process Steps 7 Steps of a Marketing Strategy Process