It’s frustrating to be present on the Internet and social networks, but not to derive any income from it and know how to measure it.
What’s the point of investing your time and money to create a website, start a blog, and post 3 times a week on social networks if not to attract customers?
This is the trap of digital marketing.
It’s very accessible, but without a well-established strategy, you risk losing track and doing it all for nothing (or almost – visibility will not finance your growth or your rent, unfortunately).
If you want to find customers on the Internet, you are going to have to actively seek them out and show them that you exist. The only way to do this is to put in place a profitable digital marketing strategy.
You will tell me that it makes sense.
A strategy is a precise and detailed plan of actions to be carried out to achieve a long-term objective.
Yet, according to this Smart Insights study, only 45% of companies surveyed say they do not have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy.
This means that almost one in two businesses does not have a defined plan for finding customers online predictably and continuously.
Without a strategy, you run the risk of wasting time and money in unsuccessful marketing channels and letting your competition take over your potential customers.
Unfortunately, not all of the blog posts and YouTube videos in the world will help you discover which marketing channels are best suited for YOUR business among Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, etc.
Fortunately, building a digital marketing strategy is not a difficult exercise in itself. In this article, I’ve prepared a 5-step action plan to help you define a digital strategy that’s right for your situation (and how to continuously improve it).
1.Know your target customers
First essential step in defining your digital marketing strategy is purely and simply to identify your target customer.
Be careful, I am not talking to you about identifying a market.
Example: pregnant women aged 25 to 38.
I’m talking about defining a customer avatar, also called a buyer persona.
If I use the definition of Hubspot that popularized this name, a buyer persona is a “semi-fictitious representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your current customers.” “
Note that your buyer persona is not defined only by basic socio-demographic characteristics such as that person’s age, gender, location, occupation, and salary.
Quite the contrary.
Buyers personas are also characterized by:
- Specific behaviors (including purchasing behaviors and digital activities)
- Interests (hobbies, interests, brands he or she likes, etc.)
- Culture (common experiences – millennials do not have the same culture and have not had the same life experiences as young people from Generation Z)
- The beliefs
- Fears and frustrations
- Objectives and motivations
The principle of this methodology is to know your ideal customer better than he knows himself to talk to him about what interests him (which allows you to orient your content strategy), to write marketing messages aligned with his beliefs, position your offers as potential solutions to its problems and aspirations.
This way, the marketing you are going to employ will reach them, more than the messages used by your competitors because they will feel understood and even appreciated.
It also explains why you love a tech brand like Apple, while others hate it.
This also explains why you decide to be accompanied by this young consultant, rather than with his biggest competitor who has greater notoriety!
And it goes even further. Knowing your ideal customer and their behaviors will help you think about where they are most likely to spend their time on the Internet.
Let’s take an example.
Young women aged 18 to 25 obsessed with their physical appearance and fans of makeup are more likely to spend time on Instagram than on Twitter …
They’re also big fans of Kylie Jenner and her cosmetics brand, so you already know what to talk to them about and what words to use.
Now that you understand the importance of precisely defining your target customer, let’s take a look at the questions you should ask yourself to define your buyer persona.
Hubspot recommends answering these questions to build a fictitious profile of your ideal customer.
Age and gender: What are their age and sex? (ex .: 35-year-old man)
The location: Where does he or she live?
Family situation: What is his family situation? (Married? Single? Children?)
Education: What is their highest level of education?
The position: What position does he or she occupy?
Salary: In which salary bracket is it?
The interests :
- What magazines or blogs does he read?
- What websites does he visit?
- What are his hobbies?
- What does he like to do with his days?
- What brands does he like?
The challenges and objectives: What are the motivations and objectives of this person? What does she want to accomplish or achieve?
Frustrations: What frustrates this person? What bothers her in her current situation?
Buying motivations: What are the reasons that would make him buy your product or service?
Objections to the purchase: What are the reasons that could prevent him from purchasing your product or service?
Depending on the articles you read, you will find other questions, but the ones I have just provided are more than enough to establish a typical profile of your ideal client.
Now you are probably wondering how to find the answer to these questions.
Depending on how well you know your target market, you should have more or less difficulty making educated guesses about your buyer personas.
For example, if you were yourself in the same situation as your ideal client and you are the representation of your ideal client freed from his problems or frustrations, you will have no trouble answering these questions.
But, this is rarely the case.
While empathizing and making assumptions is a good place to start, you’re going to need to confront those assumptions with reality by performing both quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Quantitative analysis will let you know a lot about your ideal client.
For example, Google Analytics provides me with fairly detailed graphs of the people who visit my site. In this example, I was able to get a fairly accurate overview of the age and gender of people who visited my site.
Another free tool, Facebook Audience Insights , allows you to analyze the profile of your Facebook Page fans (or those of your competitors).
Unfortunately, the quantitative analysis only gives superficial information such as basic socio-demographic characteristics, areas of interest, and some behavioral information.
We have seen that this information alone gives only a superficial glimpse of your buyer persona.
Two identical people from a socio-demographic point of view (age, sex, place of life, salary, job, family situation) do not have the same motivations and purchasing behavior.
For this reason, you are going to have to dig a little. You have no choice but to talk to your customers (or potential customers who look like your typical customer).
Without going into details, you can offer them a simple 15-minute interview or respond to a survey.
Find a way to entice them to answer your questions by potentially offering them a discount or a free product.
Do not neglect the interviews you have discovered with potential prospects either since you will be asking them all kinds of questions such as:
- What is your current situation?
- What challenge (s) are you currently facing?
- What would make this project a success?
- What do you expect from this product?
If you are lucky and have good relationships or regular contact with your customers, you will get the answers to your questions by having “normal” conversations with them or by watching them.
(I am in this case.)
Above all, don’t neglect this exercise and tell yourself that you will never know enough about your customers. Just listen and show empathy
Now that you know your ideal customer a little better, we can move on to the following of our 5-step plan to define your digital marketing strategy.
2.Do a competitive analysis
When you were younger, your parents and teachers probably told you that it was wrong to watch what the neighbor is doing and write down his answers.
In a way, they were right: don’t stupidly copy out what your neighbors are doing without thinking.
On the other hand, nothing prevents you from skillfully observing your competitors on the Internet and reproducing the strategies that work for them or finding unseen opportunities.
Besides, let me tell you a little anecdote.
When I created my site 3 years ago now, the first thing I did was take a close look at the site of the entrepreneurs, consultants, and trainers who were already doing what I wanted to do later.
I knew everything about them:
- How they communicate on their website and social networks
- How they sell
- How their website is built (and with what tools)
- Etc., etc.
I knew a lot about them and it helped me build my website and communicate on social media. I also had ideas for topics to cover on my blog.
And if I had to do it again, I would do it again.
Watching your competition is NOT a bad thing. It’s even essential when developing your digital strategy and I’ll show you how.
On the Internet, you can find out all about what your competition is doing. This is good news and bad news because your competition can do the same thing as you.
Also, there are many competitive analysis tools (free and paid) to do a competitive analysis.
To begin your analysis, list 3 to 5 direct competitors that you want to observe and who serve the customers you want to target (that goes without saying!).
Be careful to select competitors with different “levels”:
- Close to yours
- At a higher stage, but achievable
- The stars of your market
In this article, I will not be able to go into details on competitive analysis, but simply give you a series of competitive analysis methods and the corresponding tools.
Observe their SEO strategy
First, I advise you to find out if your competitors are present on Google and on which keywords they are positioned. After all, there are over 6.9 billion queries made on Google every day. Just that.
The purpose of this analysis is to find out where their customers are coming from on Google? What keywords are they looking for and then go to your competitors’ site?
The information you are going to find is incredible.
You will be able to easily observe the pages that generate traffic on their website and above all, the keywords on which these pages are positioned.
It’s a gold mine of information.
You can do this work for all of your competitors and analyze the results for different countries or regions.
Do not forget.
A competitive analysis allows you to discover:
- What works for your competitors … you’re going to have to do a lot better than them (in the case of SEO, I’m talking about writing content that better response to SEO queries that lead to that content)
- Opportunities not seized by your competitors… You just have to seize them before them!
Observe their content strategy
Do your competition publish blog posts, podcasts, or videos?
What subjects do they address on these different media?
If your competitors write blog posts, Ubersuggest lets you see their “Top Pages”
On social media, you can also find out how your competition is communicating.
Take the case of an e-commerce site.
Do the brands you are competing with compete? If so, what type (s) of competition? And with who?
How do they collaborate with bloggers or influencers?
Are they doing special promotions for their fans?
What does their Instagram feed look like? How are their products promoted?
Simply answering these questions will help guide your social media content strategy.
Analyze their advertising strategy
Do you also advertise and don’t know where to start?
Facebook lets you know EVERYTHING about your competitors’ ads:
- What types of advertisements do they do?
- What do they look like?
- How long have your competitors been advertising?
- Where do they advertise in the Facebook app network?
- What offers do they put forward?
To find out this information, simply go to the Facebook advertising library and search for your competitors’ Facebook Page.
You will be able to observe all of their active advertisements.
SEMrush also allows you to observe your competitors’ active ads on Google (but it’s a paid service)!
Observe their email marketing strategy
So far, I’ve shown you how to analyze the tip of the iceberg: Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc.
Your competitors are probably also doing email marketing.
Email marketing is a marketing channel used in the consideration (familiarization with the brand) and conversion (purchase decision) phases of the conversion funnel.
The best way to find out how your competition goes about building interest in their offers and selling them by email is to subscribe to their mailing lists and download their free resources (if they have any).
You will then discover:
- The emails they send to introduce themselves
- The emails they send to generate interest in their brand and their offerings (every industry is different)
- The emails they send to sell their offers (and when)
- The promotions they do by email
You will also have a front-row seat when they do a product launch, and if so, how do they go about it? What does their launch email sequence look like? How many emails do they send?
Note that I did this work to build my email sequences and, more generally, my email marketing strategy.
3.Choose your marketing channels
On the Internet, there are dozens of ways to reach your target audience.
You are already familiar with these different channels and supports:
- Google (SEO)
- Social ads
- Email marketing
- Press relations
If you listen to marketers, all of them will tell you that should take a multi-channel approach and be present on multiple platforms.
But, that doesn’t mean you should be everywhere.
This is the nuance.
You should be present where YOUR CUSTOMERS are.
And if you are just starting, you just need to avoid dispersing yourself and being everywhere at the same time. You can do this later when you have a team.
To get a return on investment from your digital marketing strategy, it is essential to make thoughtful and informed decisions. about the channels that offer you the best chances of reaching your future customers.
You now understand why I advised you to observe your competition. If you know where your competition is most often (and where they aren’t), know that this is where you need to be too!
If your competition is ALL on YouTube and Instagram, then this is where you need to be.
If they tend to blog, post podcasts, and build their brand on LinkedIn, so do the same.
But, it’s not that simple in practice.
The best way to find the most suitable marketing channels for your marketing strategy is to separate all potential marketing channels into 3 categories: Owned, Earned, and Paid media.
Logically, you should invest as much as possible in owned media since they belong to you, but you should also not neglect paid and earned media which are very powerful when used well (you just have less control over these media).
So which allowance to choose?
Unfortunately, I cannot do it for you. It all depends on your situation and the maturity of your business.
If you’re just starting, you still need to stay focused on just a few marketing channels by following an allocation like this:
- 2 communication channels that belong to you ( owned media )
- 1 communication channel for which you pay ( paid media )
- 1 communication channel that you “earn” ( earned media )
Let’s take my example, as an (ex-) marketing consultant, so you can situate yourself.
How did you know me?
There is a good chance that you discovered me via my blog on Google or by discovering one of my re-shared articles on social networks.
Since my beginnings, I have invested hundreds (if not thousands) of hours writing on my blog and improving my website.
Let me tell you 2 things about social networks that are certainly owned media, but that you do not fully control because of the very capricious algorithms of Facebook, Instagram or even, Linkedin.
First, I only invested time after seeing the first concrete results thanks to my blog and my Newsletter.
Also, publishing on these networks is not the heart of my strategy. As proof, half of the content that I (re) publish on these networks is not even created by me anymore!
Which marketing channel (s) are you going to focus on in the first place?
Remember, start with one or two channels and develop other relevant marketing channels later when you feel comfortable with your current marketing channels.
We have seen it.
Paid media is simply media where you pay to deliver a marketing message. At first glance, one might think that they are only reserved for SMEs and large accounts.
This is not completely true as soon as you start digital advertising, especially advertising on Facebook or Google, two networks that remain affordable for most companies.
What business can not afford to invest € 300 per month to promote itself on a social network?
Since I started my activities, I have invested in Facebook advertising and it is only today that I start to increase my investments.
The bottom line is that you can start with smaller amounts and then increase based on the profitability of your campaigns.
After all, if you invest $ 1 in Facebook advertising and get $ 2 back, why not invest more?
By paying what communication channel ( paid media ) will you start investing your money?
Finally, I end with earned media, those for which I have the least experienced, but which are powerful!
I am in a good position to tell you because, from the start, I made myself known by publishing guest articles on blogger sites or media specialized in digital.
In total, I think I wrote about 20 guest articles in the space of 18 months on other blogs and media.
Unfortunately, I stopped this strategy in 2019 because I found it less profitable and wanted to avoid reinforcing my competition with articles that would have the potential to get good positions on Google.
Today, I am very happy to see my articles re-shared, my clients recommend me, work with business partners, or even appear on podcasts as a guest!
Maybe you have experience with traditional media, then it is surely worth taking advantage of it to market your business and gain perceived credibility.
Remember that you should also choose your marketing channels according to your preferences and your affinities with them.
Which earned media are you going to use first to promote your business?
4.Define your sales funnel
Now you know which marketing channels to communicate with and find your customers.
To be honest, I see a lot of entrepreneurs and consultants using social media wonderfully to increase awareness, but they are inefficient when it comes to convincing their many fans (or “followers”) to buy from them.
Most often, the problem is with their offer. It is not sufficiently interesting and different from the competition.
- “Ask for a free quote and I’ll get back to you tomorrow!” “
- “Book a 12-minute discovery call with me”
- “Buy my shoes 3 times more expensive than those of my direct competitors”
I’m not kidding … I had the same problem (more or less).
In other cases, the problem is also with their sales funnel. There isn’t a definite strategy for moving a simple interest from a prospect to a transaction.
Be careful, I’m not talking about placing a big yellow button like this on all the pages of your site.
We all know it doesn’t work …
So this is the next question I ask you: what are the different stages (or phases) through which your potential customers go before taking action?
When you think about it, our customers are all the same!
They ALL have a problem that needs a solution. You market this solution. It is the reason for living your business.
Here is another thing that is common to all businesses.
No matter what market you are in, between 1% and 3% of your potential customers are ready to buy now. These people have a problem or a desire that they want to fulfill NOW.
They will therefore respond favorably to marketing messages such as:
“Buy now before it’s too late!”
“Take advantage of our exclusive promotion. Please note, this offer expires in 2 days! “
“Try our awesome new software for free!”
The remaining 97% will NOT be responsive to these marketing messages, although I wish they were too!
So you need a successful conversion funnel to reach the majority of people in your market who don’t know you or are not even aware that they have a problem and convince them, slowly but surely, that your offer has the potential to solve this problem.
Hence the fact that good marketers have this rare ability to help their potential customers identify their problems and sell them their solution (offer). The best marketers even manage to “create the need” in their customers and create a strong desire for their offer.
Back to conversion tunnels.
A conversion funnel is subdivided into 3 parts :
- The upper part of the funnel (TOFU) in which you seek to educate your target audience about your brand and the problem your business is solving
- The middle section of the funnel (MOFU) where you familiarize your target audience with potential solutions to their problem (including yours)
- The lower part of the funnel (BOFU) where you try to convince your target customer to buy your product or service.
The good news is that marketers have already documented the different “offers” (free and paid) for each step of the conversion funnel. Here they are.
I also come back to the marketing channels.
Each marketing channel that you will use will have a role to play in your conversion funnel.
For example, blog posts, podcasts, and media relations will help you market yourself and “plant a seed” in the mind of the consumer.
Your Newsletter will have the role of creating a closer relationship with your target audience (consideration) and selling your offers (conversion).
Digital advertising can play the role of awareness, familiarization, or conversion at the same time!
Nothing is stopping you from advertising in the familiarization and conversion stages. This is also called advertising retargeting.
Of course, you can combine different marketing channels to reach your target audience multiple times throughout their buying journey (also known as the buyer’s journey. ).
Let us take two examples to finish.
OptinMonster sells Saas software to create pop-ups that trigger in different places on your website according to a defined scenario.
Read the title of this article.
In your opinion, what is the role of this article?
It surely aims to show the target customer of OptinMonster what a pop-up is and the benefits that can be derived from it ( awareness ). In short, this is not an article that will be of interest to people who already know what a pop-up is.
People who know them will be more interested in concrete use cases of pop-ups (consideration).
I’m sure OptinMonster must have shown examples of pop-ups that one can create with their software.
Finally, some know what a pop-up is, how to use it to boost their conversions, but don’t use it yet.
They will tend to read case studies like this one to take the plunge and, finally, afford a subscription to OptinMonster (conversion).
I just showed you an example of a content strategy to turn a stranger into a customer.
No doubt OptinMonster needs to use dozens of other marketing channels to market themselves and convince their target audience to subscribe to their software while implementing this content strategy.
In the e-commerce sector, many online shops use Facebook advertising (paid media) to be discovered by their target audience and, at the same time, to present their brand.
There you have it, you have reached the end of this article. I hope you enjoyed it and that it will help you build your digital marketing strategy. After all, why read an article as long as this and then do nothing about it?!
We saw it in this article. Building a solid marketing strategy is essential if you want to find customers online or digitize your business.
You can’t go in with your eyes closed and hope to find clients by luck.
No matter how good your product or service is, if no one finds out about you, you won’t make any sales.
Your ideal customer won’t magically come from Facebook or Instagram because you’ve created a Page, you have to gain their attention.
It can take you an afternoon or even a whole month to create your strategy. All I can tell you is that when this strategy is in place, you will know where to go.
You will have the compass in hand to achieve your SMART goals.
However, don’t forget to analyze your marketing efforts and regularly evolve your marketing strategy!