Improve your Digital marketing strategy with our hub page

Use our hub pages as a reference to get up-to-speed on all the main digital marketing techniques. They will help you quickly understand how to make the most of the technique through definitions and recommendations on our member resources and blog articles covering strategy, best practices and the latest statistics.

How to structure a digital marketing strategy?

We believe that an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential for marketers to take advantage of the growing digital marketing opportunities for acquiring and retaining customers - so you can win more sales. Our digital marketing framework for growth, the RACE growth system, helps you structure your digital marketing plan around your customers.

Your 5 step digital marketing plan

We recommend using the RACE Framework to structure your marketing strategy, integrated across Plan, Reach, Act, Convert and Engage.

As you can see via the marketing funnel below, building an effective digital marketing strategy requires these 5 steps which nurture the customer through their experiences of your business while influencing their decision-making process and lifetime value.

The RACE Framework is a streamlined, practical, marketing framework that can be scaled up or down according to your business goals. If you're still not convinced, or need help getting buy-in from your team, check out 10 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy.

The benefit of our digital marketing framework is you can start to see results from your marketing activities instantly, and you can use data and insights to adapt your plan to meet your objectives as you can see below.

2022 RACE Diagram

5 stages of planning a digital marketing strategy with examples.

The 5 stages of strategic digital marketing planning include plan, reach, act, convert and engage. In this section, we will summarise the key success factors for each stage of your digital marketing strategy, with examples, integrated across the Smart Insights RACE Framework.

1. Plan

Every successful digital marketing strategy starts with a plan! We recommend you use a data-driven approach, review your current digital marketing effectiveness, and plan to improve from there.

Omnichannel planning opportunities include customizing analytics, setting up KPI dashboards and setting SMART objectives to create a strategy of prioritized improvements to how you deploy digital marketing media, technology, and data to increase leads and sales.

To ensure your digital marketing strategy is working efficiently and effectively, we recommend taking a digitally-focused approach to strategy and planning. Our RACE Framework is designed for marketers and managers to create a fully integrated, data-driven, practical digital marketing funnel to support their business' overall vision.

Our 5-step digital marketing plan guides you through reaching new audiences, to nurturing interaction, converting customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy. That's why we call it the R-A-C-E Framework.

Digital marketing strategy structure example: 5 minute how-to video

Our digital marketing strategy framework gives you 5 steps to practical strategic business growth.

Here's a clip from our recent Digital Marketing Summit, during which Amelia took 5 minutes to outline our RACE Framework and why it's an increasingly popular strategy tool for marketers today.

Visit our website and sign up for free to catch up her full webinar 'Be adaptable: Optimize your business strategy for growth in a challenging market'.

2. Reach

Strengthen your marketing funnel by reaching more customers and building awareness. Inform your digital marketing strategy with the latest key online marketing techniques to drive visits to your site.

Smart Insights members can keep up to date with the latest marketing techniques across each stage of the RACE Framework. For example, find three steps below to improve your organic search in 2022, taken from our digital marketing trends.

3. Act

Encourage interactions on your website or social media to help you generate leads for the future. Having reached your audience, it's crucial you influence their next steps to move down the funnel towards a purchase decision.

Content marketing

Here, strategic content marketing comes into play. Use content marketing to entertain, inspire, educate and convince potential converters during their customer lifecycle.

Content Marketing Matrix

User experience (UX/CX)

To influence customer behavior on your site or social media platforms, you should also look into the current wide range of innovations in interaction design, proven to boost engagement with your content. Taff has published this useful summary, with examples, of what they see as the latest interaction design trends which we can see continuing into 2022.

4. Convert

The pinnacle of your structured digital marketing strategy is, of course, to convert more customers. Use retargeting, nurturing and conversion rate optimization to remind and persuade your audience to buy online or offline if phone and face-to-face channels if these are important to you.

Our digital marketing trends highlight three tips for increasing your conversions

  • Consider your use of structured always-on optimization. The options for testing are one of the biggest strengths of digital marketing, yet there are still many businesses that don't take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Review the sophistication of your website personalization. According to a SmarterHQ report, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized content.
  • Don't underestimate social commerce. North American e-commerce agency Absolunet has identified the following key signs of the popularity of social commerce:
    • 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision.
    • 1 in 4 business owners are selling through Facebook.
    • 40% of merchants use social media to generate sales.
    • 30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms.

5. Engage

Finally, after you're worked so hard to get them, did you know you can increase sales from existing customers by keeping them engaged after their first purchase? Improve your personalized communications using web, email, and social media marketing using the data you already have about them to create hyper-personalized marketing campaigns.

Customer engagement research and testing options for digital marketers today include:

  • A/B testing
  • Customer personas
  • Customer journey and content mapping
  • Voice of customer surveys
  • Path analysis
  • Website customer intent surveys
  • Usability studies of digital experiences
  • Multivariate testing

Moreover, machine learning enables unprecedented insights into consumer behavior. For example, predictive analytics can be used to identify:

  • Best send times to engage an individual (can be based when they originally bought or subscribed, but this can be refined through time)
  • Best timing and offer for follow-up communications based on analysis of latency (average interval of response)
  • Best product or category combinations from cluster-based segmentation

Download a free digital marketing template to optimize your customers' journeys

Digital marketing channels play a key role in your customers' experiences of your brand. But in today's demanding digital landscape where customers' expectations are outpacing martech developments, failure to plan your omnichannel journeys can lead to a disconnect. Our RACE Framework can help you structure your plan.

Here, you can see how paid, owned, and earned media, alongside digital experience, take roles in reaching new audiences, nurturing interaction, converting more customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy.

Get started today using our tried and tested step-by-step process. Apply the Smart Insights RACE Framework to optimize your marketing and win more customers.

Lifecycle Diagram - Paid earned Owned media

Do you have a defined digital marketing strategy?

Did you know many companies don't have a digital marketing strategy?

Our recent Managing Digital marketing research report showed that almost half (45%) of companies don't yet have a planned strategy:

Does your organization have a clearly-defined digital marketing strategy?

Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?

Our blog, 10 reasons you need a digital marketing strategy sets out the 10 most common problems that in our experience arise if you don't have a strategy. This can help you hone the scope and purpose of your digital marketing strategy, and make the case for investment in digital marketing. Examples include:

You don't have a powerful online value proposition

A clearly defined digital value proposition tailored to your different target customer personas will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal. Savvy marketers tailor their marketing techniques to attract B2B, B2C of D2C sales and leads effectively.

Developing an omnichannel marketing strategy is key to this for many organizations, since the content is what engages your audiences through different channels like search, social, email marketing, and on your blog.

You're not integrated ("disintegrated")

It's all too common for digital marketing activities to be completed in silos whether that's a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT, or a separate digital agency. It's easier that way to package 'digital' into a convenient chunk. But of course, it's less effective. Everyone agrees that paid, owned and earned digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.

That's why we recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy, so your digital marketing works hard for you! With your integrated plan in place, digital will become part of your marketing activity and part of business as usual. Find out more.

You're wasting money and time through duplication

Even if you do have sufficient resources, they may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.

That's why you need to invest in a marketing strategy that works for you and your team, to plan, manage and optimize your digital channels and platforms. Drive the marketing results you need to achieve your business objectives, and boost your marketing ROI.

RACE ahead of inflation with a proven digital marketing strategy

Digital marketing strategy quick guide

Digital marketing strategy success factors

An effective digital marketing strategy will help you take the right decisions to make a company successful.  A strategy process model provides a framework that gives a logical sequence to follow to ensure the inclusion of all key activities of strategy development and implementation.

A marketing strategy should involve a review to check that all of your capabilities are in place to help your organization manage all of the digital touchpoints. But which capabilities are important, which do you need to review?

A successful strategy should be built on reviewing 7 core capabilities which are:

  • Strategic approach
  • Performance improvement process
  • Management buy-in
  • Resourcing and structure
  • Data and infrastructure
  • Integrated customer communications
  • Customer experience

In our Business Tranformation Learning Path for Business Professional members we show these in our capability visual:

Digital Marketing Capabilities Model

Digital marketing strategy definition

Marketing strategy

First, a marketing strategy is a proactive, data-driven approach to marketing and communication activity across all channels and touchpoints. The marketing strategy informs all marketing activity taking place for the business since all marketing plans stem from this overarching structure and vision. Once the strategy is set and communicated, marketers use tactics to put into place their actions that drive to the result.

Digital marketing strategy

A digital marketing strategy is a channel strategy stemming from a marketing strategy. The digital marketing strategy must...

  • Be informed by research into customer channel behaviour and marketplace activity = intermediaries, publishers and competitors
  • Based on objectives for future online and offline channel contribution %
  • Define and communicate the differentials of the channel to encourage customers to use it,
  • BUT, need to manage channel integration

So put another way, digital marketing strategy defines how companies should:

  • Hit our channel leads & sales targets
  • Budgets for Acquisition, Conversion, Retention & Growth, Service
  • Communicate benefits of using this channel to enhance brand
  • Prioritize audiences targeted through the channel
  • Prioritize products available through the channel

Best websites on Digital marketing strategy

There are surprisingly few quality digital marketing strategy sites since most focus on the strategy. We like to think we're different in our focus on strategy too. These  are our top sites to learn more about digital marketing strategy:

  • 1. BCG Perspectives - The Boston Consulting Group of "BCG Matrix" fame has recently improved its articles and research on multichannel marketing and customer insight
  • 2. Econsultancy reports - The Econsultancy blog mainly covers tactics, but there are sound research reports on managing digital channels and ecommerce teams.
  • 3. Figaro Digital. Unusual since it's an online magazine, but these editorial articles often cover digital strategy and are accessible by industry.
  • 4. Forrester Marketing Blog. Forrester analysts write about developments in technology and consumer behaviour .
  • 5. [email protected]. The Marketing section often covers online marketing issues and cases.
  • 6. Financial Times Connected Business.  Monthly articles based on case studies.
  • Harvard Business Review blog. Quality commentary on the intersection of marketing and technology strategy, but unfortunately, not a well-tagged blog.
  • 7. McKinseyQuarterly. Articles regularly cover digital marketing strategy.
  • 8. The Web Strategy blog. A personal blog by Jeremiah Owyang, previously a Forrester analyst, now at Altimeter. Mainly covers social media strategy.

Key techniques for Digital marketing strategy

These are the related techniques which we recommend as important for managing Digital marketing strategy effectively. View these hub pages giving details on best practices, statistics and examples for these techniques:

View all blog articles on Digital marketing strategy