We get our fair share of clients who come in looking for a new website. Or a radio spot. Or a brand video. They know what they want and they need someone to help execute it. That’s all well and good, but my favorite clients of all the clients—and the ones that we move the needle for the most—are the ones who come to us looking for a strategy. A partnership. The ones who trust us to be great marketers and strategic thinkers and to advise them on what they should be doing, rather than the other way around.
Maybe you have the need and budget for a marketing partner, or maybe you have the team to do it all in house. Whatever the case, there are many times when a marketing department realizes they can’t just tactic their way out of a hole or into success. They need a new strategy. But that is no small feat.
So how do you arrive at this decision to overhaul your whole marketing plan and get a new strategy in place? And what does that strategic planning process look like? We think it looks something like a 12-Step Program. So here you have it:
The 12 Steps to Revamping Your Digital Marketing Strategy
- Admit you need help. In order to rebuild, you have to recognize that what you’re doing isn’t working, or that it could be working better. Digital marketing involves a lot of moving pieces, and it can be really hard for a small team to generate meaningful results on their own. And that’s okay.
- Find a partner whose values align with your own. Maybe it’s an agency partnership or a new hire. Maybe it’s a whizbang tool you didn’t have access to before. Whatever it is, find something or someone who will shoot you straight and align with your goals. If any agency tells you they’re experts in everything, they’re probably not telling the truth. If a tool claims to do all the things, it’s probably bogus (or crazy expensive). It’s important to find the right tools and partner with a team who has experience with your industry, audience, or market and make sure their strategic vision and methodology are things you can get on board with.
- Set goals as a team and trust your partner. Establish goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) together with your agency partner (or software program or new hire) and decide up front that you’re going to give your strategy some time to work before calling time of death and changing directions. Good, strategic marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, and many elements of digital marketing take time to gain traction and generate results—especially content marketing and SEO.
- Audit everything. Once you’ve got the team in place and goals established, it’s time to dig into the work. Now’s the time to take inventory of all your past and existing marketing efforts, online content, audience engagement, and competitor activity. You can’t figure out where you’re going unless you acknowledge what’s been done.
- Identify issues. Identify the errors and inconsistencies in everything from content to architecture. What’s broken or not ideal that could be negatively impacting the health of your website or digital marketing efforts?
- Analyze everything. Ask a million questions, and find the gaps and opportunities of everything you’ve audited. What keywords are people searching for that you aren’t addressing in your online content? Which competitor sites are performing the best, and why? What are the most engaging forms of media on the social network where your audience spends time, and how could you be creating content to fit these formats and topics?
- Identify your audiences. Many businesses have a decent understanding of who their audiences are and what they need, but often those conclusions are based on assumptions rather than research and data. Even if you’ve properly identified your audiences, you may be missing opportunities to reach them through topics they care about or places where they’re spending time online—both of which can be uncovered through free and relatively simple research tools and methods.
- Bring order to the chaos. Start to organize your findings by assigning pain points, questions, keywords, and content to each audience, and develop segments for your audiences based on where they are in the decision-making process. People who are just beginning to research your product or service may be turned off by a hard sell on a landing page, so try to get educational blog content in front of these folks, instead.
- Create an editorial calendar. Now that you’ve determined who your audience is, what they need, and where they’re spending their time, plan out the content you’re going to create to reach them, and where that content is going to live. This typically involves an editorial calendar to make sure your content efforts across channels are in sync with your audiences and any important dates for your business or industry.
- Don’t forget about a promotional plan. The promotion and distribution plan is important, but often overlooked. You could create the greatest content on the web, but what good is it if no one ever sees it? Figure out how to get your work in front of your target audience in a way that compels them to engage with it, share it, and eventually seek it out from you intentionally.
- Make the stuff. You’ve done the research and planning, now it’s time to execute. Here’s where your team gets to work writing blog posts, making website updates, shooting video, or running ads. Create the campaigns, then promote and distribute them according to your plan.
- Measure, adjust, rinse, and repeat. The beauty of digital marketing is that we can know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t just set your plan on autopilot—pay attention to how it’s performing, and make adjustments along the way to optimize for your goals. Unlike a brochure or a billboard, your digital marketing should be constantly evolving. Use digital channels as a method for conversation, rather than one-way distribution, and pay attention to online behavior to constantly improve upon and revise your tactics.
You may have noticed that tactical execution doesn’t come into play until the very end of the process. The old adage, measure twice, cut once applies to marketing as much as it does carpentry. The more you can learn about your audience and plan accordingly, the better chance you have to actually grow your business through your marketing efforts.