7 Steps to Building a Digital Marketing Strategy

Understanding your target and setting goals are important. So is clarifying what you need to get there.

Digital has become increasingly integrated into who an organization is, what it does and how it grows. As a result, a digital transformation strategy becomes more interwoven in a company’s marketing approach. However, even in these digital times, it would be a mistake to not also plan for digital as its own separate entity.

While all marketing has a digital layer, all-digital encompasses more than just what’s apparent in traditional marketing. For this reason, we’ve put together a complete guide to building a powerful digital marketing strategy in 2020. We’ll cover what digital marketing is, its key elements and how to get started.

What is Digital Marketing Strategy?

Digital marketing strategy defines how a company can achieve its business objectives using digital channels, platforms and thinking. It asserts clear targets, prioritizes audiences, recognizes customer needs and behaviors, and details channel use and platform requirements. Put simply, it sets out how you plan and use digital to remain relentlessly relevant.

“All-digital encompasses more than just what’s apparent in traditional marketing.”

Intersections of digital marketing exist not only within branding and CRM but also in user experience (UX), customer experience (CX) and customer care as well:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) embed the brand into our product experience.
  • Content strategy includes not only traditional marketing assets, but all content that can be levers for growth.
  • Digital innovation is creating new services, products and experiences – things actually worth marketing.

How to Create an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

In our work with clients across industries and markets, we’ve identified the seven steps needed to form a modern digital marketing strategy.

1. Determine the Potential

The status quo has changed and digital is imperative to be current, competitive and attractive in the market. On which channels are your customers engaging with you? What are your competitors doing to be transformative in digital? How discoverable is your brand and how many inbound leads have been converted to sales? If you don’t know, you’re probably already behind.

2. Define the Role of Digital Marketing

How does digital marketing contribute to the business? This shouldn’t be a laundry list of marketing objectives, but instead a deliberate vision and series of intentional choices that indicates what digital marketing can and should do for the organization.

Ensure that you recognize the relationship digital marketing has with related elements in your ecosystem, which often include: brand, data, marketing, content, CX, UX, CRM, support/customer care, product innovation and media. By simply writing out what is at stake and which opportunities are available, you can quickly clarify your focus. Based on this assessment, you can then develop key performance indicators (KPIs) that clearly communicate to your executive team how digital is impacting the business.

3. Understand Your Target Audiences

Create robust digital profiles (what they want, how they behave, how to engage with them and with whom else they interact), map the customer journey in detail and identify value exchanges all along with it. These profiles often start with traditional segmentation, but you need to go steps further to recognize behaviors, interactions and content, functionality and experience needs.

With many clients, especially in B2B, digital profiles aren’t necessarily built around precisely who the customers are, but rather which objectives the target audience is trying to solve. Goals versus roles. Doing this early on keeps you cognizant of customer needs and allows you to match your objectives to meet them.

4. Take a Multi-Channel Approach

Create a modern channel strategy by taking advantage of and activating key channels like search, web, social and email. Specific platforms and touchpoints may beg for unique ‘channel charters’, identify how to best use them for the brand and the business, and what’s needed internally to pull it off.

  • View social as a sales driver, not just a media or customer care channel. How can social be used to meet your business objectives?
  • Be clear about search. Can incorporating organic or paid search engine optimization (SEO) help build brand credibility, drive web traffic or fend off competitors?
  • Think fresh about web. Is your website positioned to attract, obtain and convert leads?
  • Do you nurture former, existing or potential clients effectively using email or marketing automation platforms.

5. Identify the Resources Needed

Use all of the information charted above to determine what you need to execute against this strategy – include headcount, budget and your marketing technology system (platforms, APIs, services and data integration points). As Mayur Gupta of Spotify said, “Technology is the interface of marketing” and “the pipes connecting the different pieces together.”

Governance is crucial – build guidelines and playbooks for people (roles, responsibilities and skills), processes and tools. Many companies don’t pay enough attention to governance, yet it’s needed so people know their role and how they contribute to the success of the program. Plus, if you’re a global or complex organization, you’ll need to establish “market types” to help local leaders see where they are and understand what’s needed to grow in a new direction.

6. Create a Roadmap for Execution

Organize and prioritize initiatives into a roadmap that takes you from strategy to execution, even if it’s paced and phased over six, twelve and 24 months. Don’t be too slow or too cautious, don’t wait for annual planning cycles; be ready and agile with alternative scenarios available. Organizational digital transformation may take time, but marketing should be the nimblest driver and ready to act on available opportunities.

7. Support Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Identify how digital marketing can go beyond doing its day job efficiently and act as a powerful lever in this new era of digital transformation. It could be by using creativity in storytelling, innovating digital services or allowing the customer voice to influence media spend, uncover engagement opportunities and discover new audiences. Embracing digital in your marketing function can serve as a catalyst internally, as your culture becomes more comfortable and emboldened by the opportunities of digital transformation.


Constructing a digital marketing strategy that includes all seven of these components will allow your digital team—and the executive suite—to have a clear understanding of how digital can impact your business, plans for how to best do so and appropriate measures in place to benchmark and assess the effectiveness of your efforts.

If digital is a priority in your organization, as it should be, you’re likely going to need some experts in strategy and execution to assist with creating your digital strategy, identifying opportunities for digital disruption or driving digital transformation in your organization.

Contact our team and learn how we can help jumpstart your digital transformation journey.