Here’s a common scenario, a marketer knows digital tools and his product, but has no idea how to create a long term plan for product development and promotion.  In this article I will explain how to create a great digital strategy for your product.  After reading it you will know:

  • How to set-up goals for your digital strategy
  • What types of strategy exist
  • How to conduct research
  • How to create a digital strategy

Also, I have the presentation that will guide you through this article.

STEP 1

Firstly, you should highlight the main goals that you plan to achieve with the aid of this strategy.

This is the most crucial part of planning; therefore I’ll try to explain it in detail.

Goals can be different and some of them are more important than others, for this reason I listed them by importance.

  • The most important are goals of business owners. They established this business, invested their money and time. You should know the main reasons why their business exists and what goals it should achieve by the owners’ opinion. The most common goal is create a stable income or increase profitability of an existing business; however, there can be many different reasons. For instance:  a company might be preparing itself to be absorbed, it might be and so on.
  • The next are business goals of a company.  An owner of a company (or a board of Directors) sets up main business goals for a company.  Examples: Increase sales by 20% for the next quarter, increase market share by 15%, decrease expenses by 15% etc.
  • The next in importance are goals that are set up for a marketing department. We have to sell our products to new audience segments, increase quantity of sales per each client; we launch our product in new countries, etc.
  • After marketing goals we plan communication goals. What we will tell our target audience and what channels we will use.

For example:

We have a business goal: increase sales by 5%. It transforms to the marketing goal – create a new product consumption situation. This in turn is transformed in the communication goal: Launch an advertising campaign via TV and Digital channels, where we inform our target audience that our yogurt is a great choice for men at lunch.

Other example:  Snickers – You’re not you when you’re hungry.

  • When we know communication goals we have to set up main goals in digital channels. It is easy to do when you know the main marketing and communication goals.  Example of a digital goal: create and launch an advertisement campaign through social media channels with our core message.  The same goals in accordance with the SMART methodology:

Set up and launch an adv. campaign on Facebook and Instagram.  A target audience:  men 22-30 years, country: Canada. Duration of adv.: 2 weeks. Goal: inform them about our core message and stimulate them to visit our landing page.

Again, I repeat these goals in a reverse order:

  • A digital goal – launch an advertisement campaign with the message “Snickers – You’re not you when you’re hungry” on Facebook and Instagram for a target audience of 2 million people.
  • A communication goal – Inform the audience about a new product consumption situation(core message – “You’re not you when you’re hungry”
  • A marketing goal – Increase quantity of product consumption by 20%
  • A business goal – Increase sales and net profit by 15%
  • An owner’s goal – get more dividends from his shares

This hierarchy of goals is used in big companies, but I personally think that you can adapt it for any business, including e-commerce projects.  If you work for a small company, it’s most likely, that you will combine all types of goals in your digital strategy simultaneously.

STEP 2

Mapping out a digital Strategy

When you know the goals you should decide how you will reach them, what resources you need and how you will track results.

How will you reach your goals?

The main questions that we should answer in this section are:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • How our product will be promoted?
  • What online channels will be used?
  • Why our target audience will make required actions (registration, sale, like& shares etc.)?
  • What resources do we have?

For a quality answer we need to go through these steps

  • Competitor analysis: characteristics of their products, positioning (a communication platform), what digital channels they use for promotion (mobile apps, web sites, social media, email marketing, paid channels etc.) and what consumers say about their products. More about competitor analysis in the digital environment read here.
  • Market Analysis: trends, limitations, insights.
  • Audience Analysis: Segmentation of our target audience, their socio-demographic characteristics, what problems are solved with the aid of our product, where we can find them in the digital environment, their main patterns of behavior in digital, what values are important for them. Ideally, it’s when you create a good buyer persona profile.
  • Why a target audience has an interest to your product:  our core message, reasons to believe in it, what arguments we can provide to support a decision to buy our product, how we will support a customer after he bought our product, etc.
  • Our current status: what resources we have on the Internet (owned or earned), what our limitations are (time, money, connections, knowledge), legal aspects, etc.

Mapping out a Digital strategy

 A digital strategy mapping out process

When you know the positioning of competitors you can find a way of standing out from them.   What unique features does your product have?  If you don’t have physical product benefits then we will use emotional benefits that your product can offer.

With the aim of making my explanation easier, I will use an example.

Your competitors sell watches. You don’t. You sell respectability and taste – only Swiss watches, limited editions. Your buyers are people with perfect taste.  So we are not a shop – we are school of refined taste for men.  This is our positioning and our playground for digital activities.

Potential buyers: TOP management of big companies, businessmen, celebrities.

How they use the Internet:

  • Sites: Forbs, Luxury blogs, luxury e-commerce etc.
  • Social Networks: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Mobile apps for IPad, IPhone

How we can reach them:

  • Targeting through advertisement networks by device (IPad, IPhone 7 etc), geo-location and interests.
  • Targeting through Social networks by Job title, geo-location, and interests.
  • Email lists of buyers of luxury products
  • Paid advertisement on Luxury websites and Apps
  • SEO traffic
  • Referral marketing

Own resources:

  • A website
  • A Facebook Page

What we have to do in product marketing:

  • Update our site – make an adaptive design; add video about our company and products, every page with a product can be used as an independent landing page.
  • Create a blog – content about style for men, luxury products, recommendations of stylists, interviews, etc.
  • Create an account on Instagram – publications about our products, men’s style, etc.
  • Create a referral program – for example: if you recommend our store to your friend and he bought a watch, you’ll get a certificate “5 Master Classes – Yachting” or get a bonus on your account.

A promotion Strategy

What we have to do in promotion (mapping out a digital strategy in accordance with promotion channels)

A content strategy – What you will say to your audience on a site, social media, other channels.  A corner stone of this strategy is a content plan.  It includes:  types of content (articles, infographics, lessons, videos, etc.), timeline of publications, examples of posts and visuals, a budget and the people who will create this content (a copywriter, a designer, freelancers, etc). Also the content plan shows channels, where this content will be published or distributed (our sites, social media, educational resources, guest posts, forums, personal blogs, apps, etc.)

An email Marketing Strategy – what information will be translated through emails. More information about an Email strategy you can read here.

A SEO Strategy – what semantic core your website needs, what is included in an Onsite optimization process, a link building strategy (KPI, timing and a budget).

A Social Media Strategy – where we will conduct our activities (Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, etc.)? What content will be published (related to the content strategy), how we will interact with our audience (competitions, quizzes, quests, expert’s opinion, etc.) the main KPI’s, timeline of activities and a budget.

A PR Strategy – a list of sites where we plan to publish information about our company and products, who will be our opinion leaders and how we will work with them, what software will be used to monitor mentions about our brand, sponsorship (KPI, timeline of activities, a budget).

Media Strategy – where we will place ads about our products, SOLO Ads, paid placement in catalogs, aggregators, apps.  What landing pages will be used?  The main document of a media strategy is a media plan that includes: a list of placements, period of advertisement campaigns, budgets, KPI’s (Coverage, clicks, cost of click, cost of registration, cost of consumer acquisition, etc.)

Recommendation: It’s hard to plan effectiveness of a media strategy without previous experience in this field. So, I recommend organizing a two weeks test period, where you can launch ads on different digital channels and get the first results of their effectiveness. After getting them you can plan own media strategy more accurately.

STEP 3

A buyer’s journey

A user can not only visit our site to buy a product, but he can also visit a blog and subscribe on updates or he can visit some pages and leave the site without any actions. For this reason you can create a “lead magnets” (special landing pages that have useful information that user can receive in return for his email address) with the aim to get a users’ email address. Also, you should set up remarketing codes that can mark a user (In the future we can launch remarketing ads for these users). So, we can have many places where a user interacts with our content and we should plan his future journey to a final goal (buy a product).

A buyers journey

How we will work with existing customers?

  • A thank you letter for buying our product
  • Get customer feedback and ask if he need our help
  • Provide information about our referral program
  • Create a VIP customer club, etc.

The main point is that you should always remember your clients because they are the most valuable asset that your business has.

STEP 4

A Digital Strategy

The final version of your digital strategy should include:

  • Information about a product (key features)
  • Competitors (How they are represented in digital)
  • Audience (A buyer persona, where to find them online)
  • Our Core message (positioning, a creative concept, a content plan)
  • Our resources (production and support costs, timing)
  • Digital channels, where we conduct our activities ( SEO, PR, ORM, SMM, Paid channels, Timing, Budgets, KPI)
  • Report templates (General and for each digital channel)
  • Responsible employees (who will conduct digital activities)
  • Overall Budget, Timing, KPI for a digital strategy
  • Pivot points where a digital strategy can be changed (at least first three points)

I recommend creating a half-year digital strategy where you describe its the crucial points (At least the first four points). Another document is a monthly strategy where you describe in detail your working plan and the final result that you want to achieve at the end of month.  Here you can be more specific in digital channels and tools that you plan to use.  Working in such way helps create an adaptive strategy that can be easily changed in the process of its implementation.

Final Advice

  • Firstly, you should set up an analytic system for all your web projects, because it’s impossible to create and change a strategy without relevant data.
  • Everything that can be automatized – must be automatized (email sequences, post publications, etc.)
  • Set up real goals (I know it’s a funny piece of advice, but many marketers set up desirable, but not real goals)
  • Prioritize launching the campaigns that can provide the most operative clients feedback.
  • Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time
  • Refine your strategy when you receive contradictory feedback from your representative data.

That’s all. I hope you like this article and now you can create the first digital strategy without problem. Do you have any questions? Ask them – I will be happy to answer.