How to build a digital marketing strategy in 12 days

Jenny Thai contributor headshotJenny ThaiApril 25th, 201910 min read
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Digital marketing has evolved rapidly. From social media and email to consumer insights and analytics, digital marketing provides more opportunities than ever.

Do you need help building a digital marketing strategy? Every great digital marketing initiative starts with a powerful digital marketing strategy behind it. Surprisingly, 49% of organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy. Without a defined strategy in place, your plan loses purpose and team members will have difficulty understanding how their tasks tie to the larger objective.

Don’t be a part of the 49% that is unequipped. Whether it’s your first time or one hundredth time building a digital marketing strategy, our tips will help you build a strong foundation for your marketing team.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is your plan of action to achieve a goal, which includes a series of online marketing activities. It focuses on explaining the what and the why behind what you're trying to accomplish. For example, when determining your digital marketing strategy, you want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my goals?

  2. What are my objectives?

  3. Who is my target audience?

  4. What are my  Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

  5. What is my timeframe?

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These are just a few of the key questions that you should be asking yourself when building a digital marketing strategy. We'll get into more detail on these type of questions below.

Not only is your digital marketing strategy the framework that informs your plan, but it also helps you determine which digital platforms, media, data, and tech will be required. If you're thinking about executing a digital marketing campaign or larger initiative, having a strategy in place is critical to success.

The digital marketing mix

Before diving straight into how to build a digital marketing strategy, let’s first walk through the digital marketing mix. You can’t build your strategy without first understanding the key components that contribute to it.

Have you ever heard of the digital marketing trifecta? The digital marketing trifecta highlights different areas that contribute to your digital marketing strategy. The trifecta is broken down into three categories: earned, owned, and paid media.

  • Earned media includes article mentions, social media shares, reposts, and reviews.

  • Owned media includes websites, mobile sites, blog sites, and social media channels.

  • Paid media includes pay per click ads, display ads, retargeting ads, paid influencers, paid content promotion, and social media ads.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the digital marketing trifecta, it’s time to dive deeper into the digital marketing mix. The digital marketing mix includes the following:

1. SEO and SEM

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) determines where your website and web properties rank in a search engine. SEO brings in traffic organically whereas SEM brings in traffic via ads and online marketing. If you’re looking for a toolkit to help with SEO research and reporting, check out SEMrush.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing encompasses all the online content you produce. This includes everything from the videos you host online to the blog posts and e-books you write and design. Companies of all sizes and types, including Discovery Digital Studios, is delivering new content across digital channels.

3. Social media

More than one million new people are joining social media every single day. Social media includes any type of social network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat to name a few) that acts as an online community to share information.

Read: 7 steps to complete a social media audit [with template]

4. Email marketing

Email marketing is the faster alternative to the traditional snail mail approach. Marketing by email is a quick and low-cost method to reach your prospects and customers.

5. Online Ads

Online ads can get expensive, but they’re effective for driving traffic to your website and web properties. With online ads, you can choose what to display and on which channels.

6. Website and web design

Your company website is your home base on the internet. It deserves to get as much attention as possible and needs to have a unique web design to stand out from the crowd. You website directly reflects your brand and company. It’s one of the first places prospects visit when they want to learn more about your company and product.

7. Analytics

Analytics can be gathered from various digital channels to provide valuable data and insight. These learnings can help you improve both your current and future digital marketing strategies.

8. Mobile experience

We can’t forget about the mobile experience, especially when up to 70% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Any time you’re thinking about doing anything digital marketing-related, always think about how it looks and feels on mobile. You want your mobile experience to be as flawless as your desktop experience.

With the digital marketing mix in your back pocket, let’s get started on building your digital marketing strategy.

Build your digital marketing strategy in 12 days

Are you ready to build your digital marketing strategy from beginning to end? Below is a step-by-step guide on how to build your digital marketing strategy in 12 days:

Days 1-7: Create

Define your goals, audience, and positioning

The most important first step to building any digital marketing strategy is identifying your Goals, Audience, and Positioning (GAP). What are your goals for building this digital marketing strategy? And how do your goals tie back to the larger company objectives? You need to have a clear understanding of how your digital marketing strategy contributes to the bigger picture. Once you write out your goals, you want to determine who your audience is and what your positioning is going to be. Below is an example of how to draft a high-level GAP:

  • Goal: Increase Marketing Qualified Lead (MQLs) by 20%

  • Audience: Sales managers and above in the tech industry located in North America

  • Positioning: Use a competitive positioning strategy to highlight our key differentiators and reposition the competition in the minds of our target audience.

Set your ROI and KPI targets

Start number crunching and determine what your total amount spend and Return on Investment (ROI) will be. You want to take a close look at how your investment matches up against your reward to ensure your digital marketing strategy is worth pursuing. After breaking down the numbers, begin setting your KPI targets. Ask yourself, “What KPI targets am I trying to hit for each activity? What are we going to test and when in the year?” These KPI targets will guide how you measure and track the success of your digital marketing strategy.

Detail your investment

How much money will you need to execute your digital marketing strategy? Will you need any outsourcing, such as agencies or vendors? Detail your investment early on so you can quickly determine which vendors you’ll need to work with and get the gears moving on paperwork and creative briefs. It’s important to understand what will be made in-house and what will be outsourced so you can allocate resources appropriately when it comes to planning.

Perform research and analysis

Research as much as possible before taking any action. By performing research and analysis, you can better prepare and formulate your digital marketing strategy. Research includes looking at your company, industry, and even competitors.

There are numerous benefits to looking at your competitors specifically. By seeing what your competitors are doing, you can find creative ways to differentiate your brand and dominate your competition. The more research the better when it comes to your competitors. If you’re curious about what your competitors are up to, check out Moat, a tool that gives you a peek at what your competitors’ ads look like.

Create a customer journey

Have you ever put yourself in the shoes of your customers? Document their full experience by creating a customer journey. A customer journey outlines every step the customer goes through when they interact with your company or brand.

By creating a customer journey, you’ll be able to map out what it’s like for a customer to go from point A to point B. You’ll want to make sure the customer journey is seamless and easy to walk through. When mapping everything out, make sure to find opportunities to improve the experience. To get started, ask yourself, “Which channels and content are along the path?” This question helps you determine which channels you want to invest in and which ones take priority.

Below is an example of a customer journey. Let’s say you’re a customer of Apollo Enterprises.

  1. You see an Apollo Enterprises online ad

  2. You follow Apollo Enterprises on LinkedIn

  3. You visit the Apollo Enterprises website

  4. You submit your email address to download an Apollo Enterprises e-book

  5. You read the Apollo Enterprises e-book and find the content engaging

  6. You get an Apollo Enterprises promotional email with an opportunity to sign up for an Apollo Enterprises product demo

  7. You sign up for the Apollo Enterprises product demo

  8. You walk through the Apollo Enterprises product demo and love the offering

  9. You purchase the Apollo Enterprises product

  10. You’re so excited about your new purchase and leave a positive review online

We just walked through a customer journey from beginning to end. We’re able to see the exact path a customer would take, from the first step of seeing a company name to the final step of purchasing a product. Building a customer journey will help you envision how your digital marketing strategy can come to life.

Customize your digital marketing mix

We walked through the digital marketing mix together, and now it’s time to pick and choose what pieces make sense to include in your plan. It’s important to establish which activities will be involved in your digital marketing strategy beforehand. After determining which pieces of the digital mix will help you accomplish your goals, you’ll want to ask yourself two questions, “What will each piece encompass? What will the frequency of each piece be?”

For example, do you want to focus primarily on email marketing and online ads, or do you want to include every piece of the digital marketing mix? If you want to include every piece, then you need to map out where each piece fits in your timeline and how everything integrates with one another.

Days 8-11: Implement

Get price quotes

Make sure you solidify your budget by getting price quotes. You can’t move forward with your digital marketing strategy without first securing your budget and price quotes. These major details can ensure you’re on target and that you can accomplish your goals with the current budget in hand. Once you’re confident you and your team can accomplish every activity with the current budget, then you can move towards building an implementation plan.

Map everything out with a work management tool

Set your digital marketing strategy on a clear path of action by running your entire marketing process in an advanced work management tool.

You might be taking advantage of digital tools such as email and docs already, but what about work management tools? The right work management tool can be your competitive edge. With a work management tool, you can improve team alignment and increase productivity. Mapping everything out with existing tools, like spreadsheets or docs, can be a pain; they don’t stay up to date and can be easily forgotten. With a work management tool, you can plan and view your entire digital marketing strategy in various ways, whether as a timeline, calendar, or kanban board. Housing your entire digital marketing strategy and plan on one platform will make work and collaboration much easier for you and your team.

What does a digital marketing strategy look like in practice in a work management tool like Asana?

  • Assign tasks to the right owners so everyone knows who is responsible for what. For example, you can assign specific design tasks to the appropriate designer and all final designs to the main approver.

  • List out every step of the process and map out how all your steps tie together. For example, create a timeline to see how tasks and deadlines connect.

  • Set time frames and deadlines to tasks. For example, email production will take four days and the deadline is set for Friday.

Everyone will be able to monitor progress, get visibility into each initiative, and stay on track when it comes to deadlines. Once your entire digital marketing plan is laid out in one spot, loop in stakeholders to encourage collaboration. Your entire team will feel connected to the plan, know what to prioritize, and see how their work contributes to the larger goal.

Improve agency collaboration

If you’re managing agencies, focus on improving coordination between teams. Your marketing team will be collaborating heavily with agencies, and you want to make sure tasks are delegated appropriately in your work management tool. By seeing which tasks will be completed in-house versus outsourced, everyone can see whos’ working on what.

Streamlining creative production between teams doesn’t need to be a pain. With work management tools, it’s easy to collaborate. You can take advantage of integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud and Litmus, improve the feedback and proofing process, build a smooth approvals workflow, and organize requests with easy-to-fill forms.

Start mapping out how your team and agencies will work together on your next digital marketing strategy with our free agency collaboration template.

Day 12 and beyond: Manage

Monitor and track regularly

You can never be too prepared when it comes to executing your digital marketing strategy. Make sure every activity stays on track and each team member takes accountability for their work. Always monitor your marketing initiatives before, during, and after their life cycles to ensure plans are moving as planned.

Remember to update your project status as you go and adjust due dates if needed. Always refine your strategies and shift priorities based on changing needs. By monitoring and tracking work on a regular basis, you can address any bottlenecks immediately to move faster.

Measure results

One of the best perks of digital marketing is having access to all the data that comes with it. You can get real-time insights on how your initiatives are performing and adjust as you go. You don’t have to walk in the dark every time you push out a new campaign, launch, or project. With analytical data at your fingertips, you can optimize as you go to improve results.

Remember when we set KPI targets on days 1-7? Now is the time to report on those KPIs and compare your results side-by-side with your initial targets. This can help you see if your results are hitting the mark.

If you missed the targets, ask yourself, “What didn’t work?” If you shot above and beyond the mark, ask yourself, “What contributed to the spike in performance?” Take your key learnings and apply them in the future. Sarah Charlton, Head of Performance Marketing at Asana, offers a pro tip:

“Package your insights for stakeholders to help demystify what can otherwise seem like a complex 'black box' process. Share what worked, what didn’t, and what you need to further test to learn more. Knowing what didn’t work is just as useful as what did to help you improve your next digital marketing strategy, and it helps create trust and transparency with your stakeholders.”

Essential digital marketing tools

With nearly 7,000 marketing technology (martech) tools to choose from, you need to focus on selecting tools that will support your digital marketing strategy and goal.

What are the must-have digital marketing tools? For starters, create and manage digital content with a Content Management System (CMS) or track data with an analytics platform. There are tools to support every piece of the digital marketing mix, from email marketing automation and social media management to video hosting and website testing. One critical tool you’ll need is a work management platform to help you build your digital marketing and creative processes from start to finish; this is your secret to standout marketing.

Get started with digital marketing plan templates

Once you’re ready to start your implementation phase, use one of our free digital marketing plan templates. You can easily customize each template according to your exact needs and wants. Whether you’re planning a digital marketing campaign or building out an editorial calendar, we have the right template for you. Choose a free digital marketing plan template and start planning:

  1. Marketing campaign plan

  2. Agency collaboration

  3. Creative requests

  4. Editorial calendar

  5. Product marketing launch

  6. Marketing project plan

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Ready, set, go

With our step-by-step guide, you’re on your way to building a digital marketing strategy in 12 days. There are three major phases you can’t lose sight of: create, implement, and manage. Complete all three phases and you’ll have a strong digital marketing strategy ready to go. Don’t forget to take advantage of martech tools and use one of our free digital marketing plan templates to get things rolling. Transitioning from traditional marketing to digital marketing just got a little bit easier.

Execute your digital marketing strategies with Asana, and turn strategies into campaigns and programs that deliver results. Learn more about how Asana’s work management platform is made specifically for marketing and creative teams like yours by signing up for free demo.

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