Digital Marketing Strategy: Getting Started

Build your plan for digital marketing and customer service.

Chapter 01: Introduction

Creating a digital marketing strategy can seem like a big hairy deal, especially for small businesses. You know you need a marketing and customer service plan, but you may not know where to start―or whether you'll have the time and money for it.

Good news: getting started doesn't have to be difficult. At heart, the right approach helps you do three things:

  1. Find your customers in the digital world
  2. Deliver customer-centric content made just for them
  3. Entice them to take action

You can tackle digital strategies yourself, or you can use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to help make them happen. Whichever way you go, let's take a deeper look at each step.

Chapter 02: 1. Find your target audience online

Whether you're building your digital marketing strategy for ecommerce, for an auto repair business or for a taco truck, step one is to make sure you're speaking to the right people. You don't want to shout at a random crowd of millions when you can talk directly to people who are really interested in your product or service.

Who are they?

Is your typical target customer male or female? Old or young? How much do they earn? What are their interests? Knowing your customer in detail is the first step to finding them online.

A good CRM tool can help you build a profile of your average customer. CRMs gather extensive contact information for your customers, which you can use quite easily to learn what they have in common: how many use which social media platforms, how many prefer to be contacted by email or text, and so on. The more data you have, the more successful you’ll be with your digital strategies.

Where are they?

If you’re a high-end restaurant, your target audience is probably on Yelp, TripAdvisor, or on similar food-and-hospitality review sites. If you’re the taco truck, your younger target audience may also be on Snapchat and other social media apps.

Don't know where to start? Look at your competitors’ digital marketing strategies. Where are they engaging their customers? What looks like it's working (and not working) for them when it comes to marketing and customer service? Have they left any gaps that your brand could fill?

Once you find your customers, keep looking for patterns in their behavior. If your digital marketing strategy includes email, look at open rates and click-throughs to see if email is a good place to find your target audience and learn what moves them.

What's the best way to reach them?

Your marketing plan (and then your digital customer service strategy) should be heavily influenced by the "who" and the "where." Once you know those two things about your customers, the question of how to reach them becomes clearer.

Some platforms and practices you may find useful:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

If you're creating a digital marketing strategy for ecommerce, you’ll probably struggle without a solid SEO plan. Search engines like Google and Bing are where we all start today. A website built with SEO in mind, reflecting the things your potential customers are most likely to search for, is like a big “OPEN” sign set to its brightest setting.

Social media

You know how social media works: you likely use it everyday! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms give you the chance to interact directly and instantly with prospects and leads. Done right, it's a great way to boost loyalty, engage prospects, and win business. But here, too, a customer-centric approach is vital: know your audience and where you'll find them. Whenever you can, make your content fun and share-worthy.

Email marketing

Most businesses have some form of email marketing in their digital marketing strategy. Email might feel old-fashioned next to texts and mobile apps, but it remains a pivot point for billions of people worldwide. Email shows up on their digital doorstep, personal, and doesn’t cost a lot. (A CRM can help make your emails even more personal and timely.)

Review sites

Sites like Zomato, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and (many) others are common haunts for everyone from tourists who need a room to homeowners who need emergency furnace repairs. Pay attention to what reviewers say about your business and take it to heart. One of the best digital strategies is to respond directly on the same sites to all reviews of your business, both good and bad. You'll seem human and engaged—and you'll give your business some easy marketing.

Chapter 03: 2. Deliver personalized customer-centric messages

Once you know where to reach your audience, think about what you have to say to them.

Or more precisely: what do they want to know? What do they need to know? How can you serve them?

Figuring out this piece—and nailing it—will build a great relationship before any money changes hands. That's why it's customer-centric: your first transaction is one where your company freely serves the prospect, priming them for future business.

Here are some helpful content types to consider:

Videos are user-friendly and engaging. These days they're easy to produce and very popular, thanks to platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and even Instagram. If you're a one-person or two-person company, it's a great way to help people see your smiling face. Video is great for instructional and Q&A content, too.

Instructional content helps customers accomplish something. Are you an Indian restaurant? Send out your fabulous recipe for palak paneer. Are you a social media management company? Publish a series of blog posts on which Instagram photo filters to use. Plumbers can teach customers how to diagnose a garbage disposal problem. It's good for everyone: your customers get information they need, and you establish yourself as an authority in your field.

Questions and answers help with both marketing and customer service. A Q&A series is fun to read, solves problems, and reminds people of your expertise. How does a clean workspace boost productivity? Why is your computer battery draining so quickly? How do you get six-pack abs?

Lists have taken the internet by storm. Why not try some yourself? “Five reasons to (blank).” “11 things to remember when (blank).” This works particularly well for a blog-based digital marketing strategy, but can also be a series on social media.

Chapter 04: 3. Entice them to take action

Calls to action (or CTAs) are too often forgotten by new marketers. What's a call to action? Simply what it sounds like: directly asking your potential customer to visit your site, sign up for a newsletter, make a reservation, or buy your product. (How else will they know what you want them to do, after all?)

Calls to action typically come at the end of the email, blog article, social media post, or whatever you're using to reach potential customers. You've already delivered customer-centric content, now you want to make sure they know what they should do next to take advantage of it.

Useful calls to action might be:

  • "Sign up for Shazam, our free monthly guide to the latest comic books."
  • "Get 20% off on your first order when you visit our site and use the code SUMMER FUN."
  • "Watch our video on how to choose the perfect puppy"
  • "Find your soulmate today"
  • "Try us for free" or “Buy now”

Remember that calls to action can be graphic buttons as well as text links. A colorful and well-designed "Learn More" or "Buy Now" icon will often draw more clicks than a text link.

Read this article if you want to learn more about CTA's.

Chapter 05: Turn strategy to action

That's it: go ahead and start building your own digital marketing strategy. To recap, just remember to 1) find the right customers, 2) give them helpful content, and then 3) call them to action.

(Here's our call to action: See how small business CRM from IKeap can help you with all three phases.)