Whether launching a new business or revamping an existing one, it’s important to be sure that we have defined a digital marketing strategy and that it will help us meet our business goals. Marketing strategy affects the whole company, and therefore is an exercise best done in the company of your entire team. Whilst a marketing plan is more tactical and focused on specific actions, your marketing strategy should establish your marketing goals.
A sound marketing strategy will:
- Clearly and realistically summarize what your business, services and products offer.
- Explore the position and situation of your services or products in your market as it currently stands
- Present a profile of your consumers and of your competition u
- Build a marketing plan that contemplates the specific tactics that will be used
- Establish how you are going to measure results
We won’t get into all the variables that can impact your online marketing strategy here, but rather we’ll review the main aspects to keep in mind when defining a digital strategy for your business:
Establish your business objectives
Especially online, it’s key to have a clear handle on your business objectives and be sure that everyone in your organisation understands and shares that vision. These objectives should be concrete and measurable: for example “double billing in the next two years” or “get 25% of market share quota in the women’s sportswear market”. Objectives should be realistic and relevant to your sector and your business. They should also be sufficiently specific and concrete so that they can be measured in numeric terms within an established timeline.
Decide what your marketing goals are
Based on your business objectives, you can establish additional goals for marketing. These goals will serve to guide your team and know how to measure the success of your actions. Marketing objectives frequently cover intentions like increasing market share, developing a specific section or facet of your business or a shift in your offer or target audience. Often marketing strategies are long term projects; a driving force that is not fully realised in say a year, but requires time to be completed. Obviously, if the market, industry technology or competition changes radically, you’ll probably need to adjust your strategy and goals.
Any marketing objective should be specific and measurable, especially in the digital space where we have no excuse not to measure! Marketing objectives should also carry deadlines: this way we dont fall into the trap of creating ethereal goals without a deadline and instead, we are forced to focus on achieving our goals within the established timeline.
For example, a marketing objective could be “achieve our business objective of capturing 10% of the total female sportswear market and considering the popularity of our sportswear line with women over 50 years-old, we will focus on this target, dedicating 50% of this year’s marketing budget to the goal of increasing sales.”
Know your ecosystem
Many times we act and make decisions based on past experience or instinct. In order to have a solid marketing strategy, it’s important to do market research and competition benchmarks. This is the only way to get a handle on what is going on in your local market: its characteristics, user gender, age, lifestyle, trends, buying habits, etc. Let’s say you discover that your market is losing buying-power; perhaps it is time to expand to more affluent markets or evaluate if you should be offering products at a more economic price-point.
The same applies to the competition. By evaluating your competitors- their products, services, prices, shipping / returns policy, key messaging, results and reputation- you can figure out what your business’ USP (Unique Selling Point) is or what areas you can work on in the future to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Another important aspect to the ecosystem in which your business operates are your clients, both real and potential ones. It’s advisable to develop personas, or marketing profiles that represent the consumers you have and wish to have. Personas usually include information such as what this prototype consumer buys, when and where, as well as additional information concerning the type of people they are and what influences their buying decisions. It’s important not to forget about your existing clients, as you need to keep satisfying their wants and needs or they will find another business to do it.
Create strategies that support your objectives
Knowing your business objectives, your marketing goals, market, target audience and competition, you can start creating strategies to attract and retain customers. For example, if we say that our sportswear business wants to boost sales of our most expensive luxury products, and we already know they are favoured by women over 50, then it’s time to create a strategy that focuses on selling these products to those women. Knowing that Facebook is the most popular social network with this particular audience, we might raise our advertising budget and activity on that channel. Tactically, we may run publications and campaigns segmented to women over 50 who like brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton or Vivienne Westwood and activities such as yoga or pilates. We may also decide to change our imagery and creatives entirely, focusing on positive images and messages that celebrate active, older women. Finally, we may opt for working with several influencers who all promote health, wellness and activity among older women.
Test and evaluate
The great thing about digital marketing is that we can measure our results and modify specific tactics according to outcomes. Through web analytics and other tools, we can see how well the actions we’ve taken are working. Maybe there is a specific type of creative message or call-to-action that is off-putting to our audience or a certain product that is selling much better than expected and has an extremely high ROI. This type of information helps us to correct our course, building on what is successful, and change what is not.
It is worth dedicating some time to thinking about how to create a marketing strategy will serve you for several years in the service of that which is most important to business: your objectives.
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