The Foundations of a Digital Marketing Strategy

I recently ran a workshop for High Street businesses on how to grow their digital presence. We covered a lot of ground, from Google My Business, websites, social media, digital advertising, email marketing, content and analytics, but first, we had to talk about a few essential elements that influence your digital strategy.

1. Understand your customers

Who are your current customers and what do they think of you? Understanding what makes your current customers tick, and what your target customers are like is crucial to planning any marketing campaign. A customer profile for each customer group that includes key details such as average age, gender, the areas they live, what their interests are and how they shop and spend time online will help shape your digital strategy. Identifying who your super customers are, who not only support your business, but are your champions and cheerleaders can help develop your influencer strategy.

To grow your business, there may be a target customer that you need to know more about before you can decide how best to meet their needs. Once you understand your different customer groups, you can start formulating business plans and marketing campaigns that are targeted and therefore, more likely to succeed.

2. Understand the customer journey

Understanding the digital and physical customer journey and where in that journey you are relevant, interesting and useful is essential.

In our omnichannel world, we need to understand the journey our customers take before they even visit our store (bricks and mortar or online). Understanding what kind of research they do beforehand, what’s important to them, where they get advice from and the process they go through before clicking ‘add to basket’ or opening your door is something you should be reviewing every so often. Once you understand the journey, you can have the right content in the right place at the right time that answers the customer’s needs at that point in the journey. Fully understanding the journey can also lead you to adapting your business processes to make it more convenient and pleasurable for the customer to interact with you.

3. Define your customer offer

Once you understand your customers, you can review your customer offer and verify it delivers a good customer experience, positions you well versus competitors and meets customer’s needs. Defining your value proposition and your key messages makes it easier to develop targeted campaigns which customers respond to.

Understanding which elements of your products and services drive footfall, sales and margin helps focus on the elements of the offer you talk about within marketing campaigns.

Your brand story, personality and values also shape your customer offer. Be clear with your team what your brand story is, what your values are and what your tone of voice is like so that it’s delivered consistently.

4. Translate the numbers

There are so many ways we can analyse our performance, whether it’s how well a social media campaign has run, whether a Pay Per Click campaign is driving a return or whether the sales of a new product range are performing well. Successful High Street businesses understand which key performance indicators they should be reviewing when, but essentially, they have learnt how to translate the data, understand the story the data is conveying and then they act. Bringing the data back to the objectives of what you are doing and why and asking what the results are telling you to do next will help keep driving your business forward.

5. Connect with your customers

Connect with your customers, give them an experience and empower your team to do the same.

High Street businesses offer a service to people, and as people, experience and emotional connections to a brand build loyalty. Consistency is key so ensure your team understand your brand values, your key messages and your product range (so that they have exceptional product knowledge).

Blend strategy with innovation and taking opportunities

The above foundations help define your digital audience, your marketing strategy and your content plan for all your channels. Understanding who your customers are, where and how they shop and how your offer relates to them are the building blocks for everything else.

However, an independent High Street business has the advantage of being nimble. Independents are able to react swiftly to opportunities, to implement exciting ideas innovate. We should always be testing, learning and innovating to keep our businesses vibrant. Strategy and planning gives the solid base for trading well and having direction but grabbing opportunities with both hands keeps the independents one step ahead.

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