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Digital Strategy – 10 Reasons Why you Need One

Digital marketing is a specialist area that can rarely be delegated to an in-house marketing department.

A lucid digital marketing strategy needs to include a plan of execution for each of the following areas:

1. On Page SEO

You could already be making the best products or providing the most useful service in your industry (like us of course) but your business will fail to thrive unless it can be found by the search engines – particularly Google.

Sometimes, great content is hidden from search engines by being locked away (e.g. in a members-only area), incorrectly labelled (e.g. using code that tells search engines to ignore) or poorly designed (e.g. placed within certain types of animations or sliders).

More often, it is weak content or a disorganised website that is the problem. From ensuring correctly formatted title and image ‘alt’ tags to creating an organised content hierarchy (think books in a library), a digital strategy has to include an expert website audit.

2. Touchpoints and the Customer Journey

The interactivity of the internet and the number of ways in which prospective customers can experience a brand has made the customer journey more complex than it has ever been. On the plus side, it is much easier to track online activities than those that occur offline, using cookies and powerful number-crunching software.

Your digital strategy should include listing all of the ways in which people can interact with your business (e.g. website, Facebook page, Twitter stream, shop) and where they might be on their buying journey at that time (becoming aware, discovering more, buying or bonding). This can sometimes be drawn up as a table.

Understanding the customer journey will help you to build on your strengths and turn weaknesses into opportunities for providing a better customer experience at every stage.

3. Content Mapping and the Customer Buying Cycle

Imagine going to an airport to buy a ticket and having to wait while the check-in person tells you about all the amazing things you will experience when you get there. Or walking into a travel agent and being asked to fill in a form with your credit card details before being allowed to look at a brochure.

It would be crazy. But this sort of thing happens all the time in the digital world due to a lack of understanding of the customer buying cycle. Just as in the traditional world, you have to present the right content to the right people at the right time – this is content mapping.

When a customer is in the awareness stage, informative content such as blog posts and white-papers are ideal tools for alerting them that they have a pain point they need to address. The consideration phase is the right time to be producing more in-depth guides and case studies as customers decide whether you are the ones to solve their problem. Then, when it’s decision time, a free trial, demo or special offer can give your customer the final push to choose you over a competitor.

4. The Sales Cycle and Customer Life Cycle

As well as nurturing customers through the sales cycle, a coherent digital strategy needs to encompass post-purchase care. This will increase customer retention, encourage brand loyalty and, in the best cases, turn customers into brand advocates.

5. Paid Advertising

In addition to boosting natural website traffic through great content, many businesses choose to use online advertising, usually pay-per-click (PPC). Although this is designed to be both affordable and user-friendly, newbie digital advertisers will often use default settings and bid for broad keywords with poor conversion rates. With a bit of digging, high value ‘long-tailed’ keywords can be unearthed which will both attract more relevant customers and cost you less money.

6. Landing Pages

Even a well-run PPC campaign will fall down unless the webpage your customers land on – your ‘landing page’ – is well-designed. This can be a ‘click through’ or ‘lead generation’ page but it has to have one clear goal and be isolated from the main navigation structure of your website. Landing pages are sometimes referred to as ‘squeeze pages’ because once they have landed there is only one way to go, like squeezing icing out of an icing bag.

7. Lead Magnets

‘Lead gen’ landing pages are designed to collect customers’ email addresses for compiling ‘the list!’ (see No.10). The enticement to provide this information is termed a ‘lead magnet’ and can be anything that will be likely to appeal to your prospective customer. Common examples include free guides; cheat sheets; video courses; free music; quiz results and software.
The more specific and valuable your lead magnet, the more likely you are to persuade the right visitor to part company with their email address.

8. Creative Copy

What do quality webpages, blog posts, PPC ads and landing pages have in common? Creative copy. This is a fancy term for the text that persuades visitors to research your products, trust your advice, click your ad and accept your bribe – uh, I mean lead magnet. If visual design elements form the eye candy that captures attention, creative copy is your smooth and seductive voice, leading your prospect onwards.

9. The Call-to-Action (CTA)

The creative copy on your landing page works together with bold visual elements to create a compelling call-to-action (CTA). The best CTAs use a combination of persuasive language, colour and space to tempt you to sign up and make sure you know exactly how to do it. Evernote, Dropbox and Netflix are among the brands who have got this down to an art.

10. Email Marketing

Digital marketers understand the value of ‘the list’ that has been distilled from all previous activities. A well-planned email marketing campaign to qualified leads is still probably the most effective means of driving sales there is. Emails should be informative but not too pushy, gently leading readers to relevant service pages on your website. But as you can see, there is a whole sequence of elements that need to come together to build that list in the first place. That is why a digital strategy is an absolute must – and one that is driven by industry specialists.