How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy


When starting to plan a digital marketing campaign, many companies often go straight to tactics. They get swept up in the vehicles they want to use before they articulate the overall strategy. They’ll think, “we’re going to run banner ads, paid search and social media advertising” before knowing what they need or want their users to do.

While those channels may end up in your campaign, there is a lot of information that needs to be considered before making final decisions on media placements.

Some questions you should ask before getting started are:

  • What are my goals?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What actions do I want users to take?
  • For lead generation campaigns, how will leads be nurtured?
  • How will I measure success?
  • What is my budget?
  • And, how will this campaign move my business forward?

These answers will determine your strategy.

Once your strategy is defined, you can identify the optimal media platforms, audience targeting and campaign budgeting.

If you do not take a strategy-first approach to your paid digital marketing campaign, you will end up serving the wrong types of ads to the wrong audiences resulting in wasted time and wasted money. And, nobody wants that!

4 Steps To Developing Your Digital Marketing Strategy

As Julie Andrews once sang, “let’s start at the very beginning.” Take into consideration everything necessary – all of those questions we asked above - before you outline a strategy and start executing a campaign.

Here’s how we do it at S/B:

Define Your Goals

It may seem silly to not consider defining goals, but this can often end up as an afterthought.

The first thing to consider before getting started is to identify the objectives of digital campaign and how it will move your business forward.

Is the goal to drive reservations or purchases? Get someone to download a whitepaper or sign up for a newsletter? Interact with the brand or simply increase reach and or brand awareness?

Once you’ve defined the objective(s) of the campaign, you’ll need to consider your audience.

Define Your Audience

When defining a target audience, it is important to go beyond demographics (e.g. age, gender, location). The audience’s lifestyle and behavior will be critical to the success of the campaign. Most importantly, you need to consider how your audience is consuming media in the digital space.

Take a look at the user data from your website’s analytics and your social media platforms for insight into who’s already engaging with your brand presence online. Take into account any relevant sales data to understand who your customers are.

Once you know who your audience is (demographics), it’s time to learn about their interests, hobbies, lifestyles, attitudes and preferences (psychographics) for valuable insights into how you can make a genuine connection.

Create a Digital Media Plan

Now that you’ve defined your objective(s) and understand your audience, it’s time to start building your media plan. Think about your budget and timelines and take into account your digital sales funnel.

Consider a multi- or omni-channel approach to reach your audience with enough frequency and at the right point of their customer journey to see campaign success.

For example, someone who might spend a week at a ski resort will be in a different audience set than someone interested in skiing for a single day.

It is important to target audiences like these differently so that the messaging can speak specifically to each audience and the campaign can receive the best possible results overall.

Which digital channels will guide your audience to reach your goals?
If there are budgetary or timeline restrictions, prioritize the tactics that will get the best return on your ad spend. Don’t spread your media dollars too thin by trying to promote everything, everywhere to everyone.

How will you measure success?
Establish your success metrics (aka. key performance indicators or KPIs) for each part of the campaign. This could be anything from impressions to purchases. Each tactic should have a success metric.

For example, if you’re trying to reach a new audience, you may need to focus on reach or video views to get new consumers familiar with your brand. Not all campaign objectives revolve around clicks.

Develop the Creative

Once a media plan is established, it is time to develop the creative.

Discuss your goals/objectives, target audience, media plan and placements with your creative team, whether it’s in-house or an agency. They will determine what the creative looks like, what copy is used and the call-to-action (CTA) based on the strategy.

You may also need to work together to design campaign landing pages, create downloadable assets for lead generation or develop an email campaign to nurture leads.

Whatever your campaign needs, work closely with your creative team to ensure campaign success.