Some time back, I submitted a 2-year digital marketing roadmap to a client, so I can share the things I did for that project to get you started in creating a digital marketing strategy for your brand.
A little background on my client
They are a global publishing house and they have been an industry giant for decades now. But with the boost in digital readership and awareness among the competition about digital marketing, this brand was beginning to miss the good old glory days. And that’s when I was hired to bolster their position as an industry giant in a digital world as well.
Our focus was completely on organic growth. However, even though I am not discussing about paid growth in any manner here, do keep in mind that SEM is still yet another digital marketing strategy, so the roadmap still remains the same.
Before we continue, I would like to address a popular question :
Why should a brand hire someone new to create a digital marketing strategy for them, instead of asking their own in-house team to do that work?
As a freelance Digital Marketing Strategist, I’m asked this question a lot. And this is how I reply..
While in-house teams have a more in-depth knowledge of their brand and company, having someone new (like me) create a digital marketing strategy or roadmap with specific goals brings in fresh perspective on how things can be better for the brand.
In-house teams are usually too close to the product or their own set of work that they might not be stepping back every once in a while to look at the big picture.
So hiring me (or someone else) to do this helps a lot because we are not so familiar with the company, as compared to the rest of the team. We will try new things, analyse stats from a different angle, or get more ideas on how to get things done from a different perspective.
Okay, let’s get started on the roadmap to create a digital marketing strategy for your brand.
The Digital Marketing Strategy Roadmap
In brief, my roadmap usually works out in this manner, irrespective of niche or industry:
- Know Your Customer (KYC)
- S.M.A.R.T. Goals Setting
- Deep-Dive Brand Audit
- Know Your Rival (KYR) — Competition Analysis
- Strategy Planning — SEO, Content, Social Media
- Analytics & Reporting
- You have your brand message, mission, vision, et al all set
- You have the resources (or willing to find the resources) to implement this roadmap
KYC — Know Your Customer
To begin, I have at least 3–4 meetings with the client and the rest of their in-house team members to know more about their customer. This helps build the Customer Persona.
(This step can be done in lesser amount of time if you are already a part of the in-house team!)
Sometimes, if you are starting from scratch or don’t have access to customer data for any reason, try using Customer Persona Templates found online. Even though it will be quite basic to start off with, you will be able to at least start off somewhere.
Once the Customer Persona is set, you can move onto the next step.
Next, I listed out some S.M.A.R.T goals that I could draft based on the interactions and meetings with the key stakeholders of that company.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are basically Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based goals that gives direction to what an individual (or team) wants to achieve.
E.g. increase the Average Time on Website by 7% can be a good S.M.A.R.T. goal for your brand to start with.
Try to keep precise goals, even if you’re making assumptions. Having precise goals will help you in the analytics part of your work to check how much your over-achieved or under-achieved, or if it was all on point.
Then it’s time for a deep-dive brand audit to see what digital marketing strategies have been employed and which ones seems to be working. Calculating current ROI at this stage helps a lot to move forward.
“Deep dive” basically means going beyond the standard analytics that tools like Google Analytics, etc. provide.
E.g. in Google Analytics, I used Custom Reports to find answers to know more about the customer, instead of simply relying on the stats from the dashboard.
My focus was mainly on:
- website performance
- overall brand awareness
- SEO strategy
- content strategy, and
- social media strategy.
For each of the above, I used related tools to find stats and more in-depth knowledge around those stats. This helped in getting a clear idea on what the brand was lacking at that time. And what to do to fix that.
For in-depth social media, try Likealyzer for Facebook and the analytics tools provided by the different social media platforms, like Facebook Insights for Facebook and so on. And don’t forget Buffer Analytics!
Also, keep in mind that for most of the deep-dive analysis, you WILL have to put in a good number of hours for manual scanning. Just opening up the pages and looking at content and stats, without the use of any tools.
Takes a lot of time, but totally worth it.
Competition Analysis — Know your Rival
Next, I did the same deep-dive audit on the direct and indirect competitors of that brand. Direct competitors are the ones you are aware of, while indirect competitors are those which tools like SEMrush, Alexa, etc. tell you about.
While I obviously didn’t have access to the rivals’ Google Analytics accounts, I still was able to do a similar brand audit on them using tools like GTMetrix, Nibbler, SEMrush, Alexa, and others.
At this point, I didn’t really need the exact state. I just needed to know which brands were doing better and why. And you can do that too.
So at this point, I had the following information at hand:
- Customer Persona
- Brand Audit
- Competition Analysis
Based on the above, I listed out all possible digital marketing strategies I could use for that brand, keeping in mind what is relevant for their audience as well as their industry.
E.g. App development is a marketing strategy was not applicable for my client, given that they are a publishing house and they are not ready to get into apps as of yet. However, SEO is good strategy to work on for them.
The digital marketing wish list is a very tempting world, so mind the clock here. Don’t spend more than 2–3 days at this step.
Go for the most-used digital strategies first, like SEO, content, social media, and once you’re up and running and looking at positive results from your roadmap, bring in new strategies like outreach efforts, new content upgrades, video marketing and so on.
Armed with my wish list of digital marketing strategies, I did a comparison study. Crunched some numbers to see what will work, not work and may work.
While you should definitely try to replicate the strategies and efforts that have worked for other brands, don’t ignore the ones that didn’t work. Try for a different angle on those strategies instead. But don’t waste too much time on them.
Next, design the timeline for the strategies you have chosen from above, keeping in mind the following:
- Content and SEO work hand-in-hand, so keep those strategies regular and consistent
- Less is more on Social Media these days. Don’t publish on social media because you have to be online. Publish when you have something relevant to say, even if you’re sharing others’ works.
- Set a goal for each of your Content, SEO, and Social media strategies, preferably by quarter. You can also choose short-term goals to act as milestones for team morale.
- Analytics and reporting is an integral part of your digital marketing roadmap. If you’re starting from scratch, do an intensive analytics and reporting schedule of 1–3 months in the beginning and coming down to once a month after that, unless your site undergoes a major update.
(Take a breather at this point because next comes the actionable part of this roadmap..)
Execution & Training
I’m a freelance Digital Marketing Strategist, so I get to execute my list of deliverables on the roadmap and then turn over the remainder to the in-house team. But I do realise many a times, the in-house team is responsible to create the digital marketing strategy for the brand and follow the roadmap on their own. So here goes..
Now is the time to talk to your team members who will be working on this roadmap to create mini-goals or milestones every month or quarter to check your team is on the right track. Resource Allocation, if you want to call it that.
You have to make sure your team members are capable of following the strategies you’ve listed in your plan. If not, either outsource or hire a trainer.
E.g. If you don’t have any team member who can work on SEO (search engine optimisation) since it needs a certain level of technical expertise, you can either outsource it to a SEO agency, or get a SEO Expert to train your team member(s).
In my case, I drafted a list of tasks I could perform without any assistance from the in-house team, and my part was done. The rest was (and still being) implemented by the in-house team, with me acting as an advisor.
When I felt the milestones were not getting achieved in a timely manner, I scheduled a training session (or two) on that particular task or strategy. And then assisted the team members for a couple of weeks to effectively follow my roadmap.
Analytics & Reporting
As I said earlier, Analytics and reporting is an integral part of your digital marketing roadmap. Analytics is particularly tricky because you’ll have to track, measure, analyse, report and tweak ALL your efforts. That’s why goal-setting is so important. Tools like GTMetrix, SEMrush, Alexa, etc will help a lot.
Once you’ve that timeline set up for your roadmap, those milestones will keep you going. Be sure to add analytics and reporting to every month/quarter and there won’t be any extra need for follow-ups.
I usually set up reporting once a month, quarter and year. But keep your boss/client involved with your planning to know what they want. Keeping your boss in the loop is also helpful because sometimes the vision of what you’re working for and what your boss wants from you can be different. This helps in avoiding any confusion at the end of the project.
Over to you..
The above is pretty much what I follow every time I get my hands on a new brand to work with. This roadmap is easy to understand as well as easy to follow, though the tools mentioned here can keep on changing, given that so many tools and technologies get introduced to the world every day.
So give it a try and share your experience with me in the comments below ↓
If you have more tips to tweak this roadmap to create a digital marketing strategy for your brand, do share with me.
About Ankitaa: She is a digital marketer, writer, trainer and branding consultant at AnksImage.com. Her mission is to help brands deliver high-quality frictionless customer experiences, in order to win at business in a digital world.
Note: This article was published by Ankitaa in Medium on 13th December, 2018. You can follow Ankitaa’s Medium here.