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The Definitive Digital Marketing Strategy Guide

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World Map: What is Digital Marketing?

In one sentence, digital marketing is just all the things we do to grow a business through different internet channels.

That can mean a bunch of different things, like:

  • Getting more website visitors
  • Attracting more leads
  • Generating more sales
  • Driving more repeat purchases

You can accomplish these things in a number of different ways, and each way is a skill of its own.

For example:

Want to get more website visitors? Great! You could:

  • Increase your rankings on search engines and drive more free, organic traffic
  • Post great content on social media and get more people visiting your site
  • Send more emails to your existing users and get them visiting you more often

Want to get more leads? Awesome! You could:

  • Create some great new content and give it away, in exchange for an email address
  • Set up a sales funnel that asks users to enter their phone number to receive a free quote
  • Launch an Adwords campaign with the goal of getting prospects to schedule a call

Want to get more sales? Super! You could:

  • Create a page that ranks on Google for “<competitor name> alternative”
  • Set up a remarketing campaign for users that visited your site but didn’t purchase
  • Create an abandoned-cart email that reminds users to complete their purchase

That, is how digital marketing for business, works.

Digital Marketing Strategy For Business

Sounds simple, but these are all difficult things to achieve.

Just because you have a Facebook profile doesn’t mean you’re a social media marketer. The fact that you know how to write and send emails doesn’t make you an email marketer.

Unless you can generate growth, you are not a digital marketer.

Sales Funnels: Growth by Building a Powerful Conversion Path

I don’t need to tell you stories about YouTubers or influencers who make less than minimum wage.

Over the years, I’ve met dozens of people like that:

People who are great at things like generating tons of traffic or creating super interesting content…

…yet, they’re unable to use those skills to build a business or get a job in digital marketing.

100% of the time, the reason is that these people don’t understand sales funnels or how to build them.

A sales funnel framework can easily turn any of these people into a very dangerous (in a good way) digital marketer.

Building a sales funnel is the process of systematically turning strangers into customers and advocates.

It’s important for you to learn this before diving into any specific digital marketing channel.

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Sales Funnels Strategy Guide

Web Analytics: Growth by Figuring Out What Works (and What Doesn’t)

This is the most fundamental skill a digital marketer must have.

While analytics is a specialization on its own, every digital marketer must develop at least a basic level of web analytics skills to be any good.

Simply put, digital marketers rely on data to determine what works and what doesn’t.

With that said, digital marketing data is definitely a double-edged sword.

With hundreds of metrics and thousands of ways to slice and dice them, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the data—believe me, I’ve been there.

But guess what? I’ve got really good news for you.

Most businesses can get away with just FIVE metrics or less.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In most businesses (and I’m talking even massive venture-backed companies), you’re much more likely to track too many metrics, than you are to track the ones that are most important for your business.

You just need to figure out which are the right five metrics to track.

A.k.a you need an analytics strategy.

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Website Analytics Strategy Guide

Content Marketing: Growth by Delivering the Right Message at the Right Time

9 times out of 10, when you hear someone say they will “invest in content marketing”, what they really mean is “we will start a blog and promise to write regularly”.

Just to be clear: That is not content marketing.

In reality, content marketing is much more complex (and fun).

In the past, content and advertising used to be entirely separate. Content creators created content, and advertisers, well, advertisers advertised:

Nowadays, the content IS the advertising

Content marketers can’t work on their own and marketers specialized in a specific channel (e.g. SEO, digital advertising, email marketing, social media) can’t do their work without content marketers.

Content marketing is woven into every digital marketing channel—it’s the input for every campaign.

It’s a highly strategic skill that every digital marketer should hone (even if they don’t plan on specializing in content marketing).

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Content Marketing Strategy Guide

SEO: Growth by Attracting Massive Traffic From Search Engines

Most people I’ve talked to who start looking into SEO say the same thing:

I tried to learn SEO but couldn’t figure it out—there’s too much information. Maybe I should just hire someone to do this for me.

This isn’t entirely their fault.

There IS a lot of information…but most of it is unnecessary noise and bad advice.

I’ll save you the time and tell you the only thing that really matters in one sentence:

To be successful in SEO, you just need to understand what users are looking for, and then create awesome, relevant content that answers their questions.

It’s that simple.

Click here to check out the ClickMinded SEO Strategy Guide

Email Marketing: Growth by Helping Users Move Through the Sales Funnel

Once you spend a bit of time reading digital marketing content, you’ll start seeing a variation of this phrase as the introduction to any blog post about email marketing.

Email marketing is the most underrated digital marketing channel.

This needs to stop.

No one believes that.

No serious digital marketer underestimates email marketing—only people who have no idea about what they’re doing undervalue email marketing.

It has been proven time and time again that email marketing works.

Massive businesses have been built on the basis of gaining subscribers and sending emails.

Email marketing, however, is about more than just writing a newsletter and hitting SEND.

If you want to be one of the top email marketers in the world, you need to learn how to:

  • Use your data to send users extremely specific, relevant messages
  • Find the right moment to send each message
  • Build systems to segment users, track their actions, and automatically send messages

Once you have those three things figured out, you’ll have a world-class email marketing strategy.

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Email Marketing Strategy Guide

When you’re a beginner, going into digital advertising poses a real chicken and egg problem.

  • To learn digital advertising, you need to have a budget to spend on ads.
  • But for people to trust you with their budgets, you need to have experience.

The first time I launched an ad campaign, I made a mistake that cost my client $22,362 in 18 hours.

It was a rough first week. And it almost cost me my job!

I promise you: You don’t need to learn this the hard way like I did.

I’m not going to lie: digital advertising is hard and it takes a lot of trial and error (or tons of experience) to get a positive ROI.

Almost all campaigns start off being unprofitable.

What’s important is that you learn, adjust, and optimize to take your campaigns to profit.

Fortunately, we’ve developed a framework for that.

(No “secrets”, “hacks”, or “tricks”— just a super straight-forward framework that you can use to launch and optimize any ad campaign).

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Digital Advertising Strategy Guide

Social Media: Growth With Powerful, Metric Driven Social Media Campaigns

Every business wants to “be on social media” or “develop a social strategy.”

Only a few of them know what that means.

We’ve been there.

When we got started, this is what we did:

  1. We created accounts in a few social networks.
  2. We looked up “best times to post” for each social channel.
  3. We posted the same message+hashtag+image+link combo everywhere.
  4. We got zero results and abandoned our social accounts.

Sound familiar?

We made a common mistake:

Because we use social media in our daily lives, we thought we automatically knew how to use social media for business.

A lot has changed since those days.

To be successful at social media marketing, you need a strategy that covers three main components:

  • Monitoring social channels (even when you’re not actively participating)
  • Creating and distributing world-class social media content
  • Converting social media audiences into leads and customers

Click here to check out the ClickMinded Social Media Strategy Guide

Characters: Your Digital Marketing Journey

Here’s what your path towards becoming an expert will look like.

Noob

At first, you’ll be a noob—we all were at some point.

This step is about making a lot of mistakes and learning from them as quickly as possible.

There will be no other time in your career where you’ll grow as much as when you’re a noob—it’s very tough, but it’s exciting!

Think of this stage as your trial by fire. This is where most people give up.

  • You’ll have no traffic or audience
  • You’ll generate no sales
  • You’ll get no jobs

You just need to get started. Don’t focus on being good, just focus on improving.

You’ll read that a great digital marketer needs to specialize and we agree with that…but you’ll be better off as a generalist when you’re just a noob.

Try to learn about different channels before specializing in what you like the most—this will come in handy later in your career.

Professional

Once you start making a living through digital marketing, you can consider yourself a pro.

At this point, you’ll probably be part of a company’s marketing team, working at a digital marketing agency, or freelancing as a digital marketer.

When you’re a pro, you’ll focus on improving your skills further. If you’ve been a generalist so far, you’ll probably end up specializing in a single channel.

If you don’t know how to decide, pick the channel where you can have the biggest impact for a business.

Expert

Few people reach the level of expert.

 

Avoid a common mistake: Experts are not those who have the most Twitter followers or who speak at industry conferences.

True experts are those who can consistently generate massive results for businesses they’ve worked on.

Period.

At this point, you’ll likely be managing a team of other digital marketers, running an agency, or growing your own business.

Strategy: How to Create a Powerful Digital Marketing Strategy

Every industry, company, and digital marketing channel is different.

That’s why it’s not enough to know about the latest trick or hack to be successful—what works for one company might not work for the other.

If you want to create a powerful digital marketing strategy, you need to understand the fundamentals.

We’ve created a framework that will help you get results as quickly as possible.

The ClickMinded Digital Marketing Framework has five components:

Let’s get started.

Persona and Funnel

First, you want to figure out who you’re targeting (a.k.a. your target persona) and which stage of the funnel they’re in.

This will make every later decision 10x easier to make.

A target persona is a representation of your ideal customer.

It’s a combination of demographics (age, gender, language, location, etc.) and psychographics (interests, desires, opinions, values, etc.)

For example, a target persona might look like this:

Creating a target persona will help you better understand who you’re marketing to—beyond just numbers like visitors, users, or sales.

Imagine if you had to write ad copy for camping equipment company based on one of these descriptions:

  • Description #1: Males between 30 and 45 years old living in the US who like camping.
  • Description #2: John Jones, a 40 year old business owner, father of a 10 year old, who enjoys traveling around the US in his RV going from one rock climbing spot to the next. He is deeply concerned about global warming and tries to reduce his carbon footprint as much as possible—some of the things he has done include going vegan, installing solar panels on his RV, and only buying recycled-fiber clothing.

It’s pretty clear which of these will make your work easier, right?

And it’s not just writing copy—ad targeting, partnerships, channel selection, budgeting, pricing…and many other decisions will be easier once you have a target persona.

The process to do this typically looks like this:

  1. Find demographic data about your target customer
  2. Find psychographic data about your target customer
  3. Build a target persona
  4. Share with your team and keep tweaking based on new learnings

To get started with persona creation, check out these resources:

Next, you need to figure out which stage of the sales funnel your target persona is in.

A sales funnel is just a model for how a person goes from being a complete stranger to becoming a customer, repeat buyer, and advocate for your product.

The typical sales funnel looks something like this:

There are many different versions and variations, but this is the most basic one—and we’ve found that it works for almost every business.

At a high level, this is what each stage means:

  • Top-of-the-funnel: This is where you seek to attract or get the attention of as many people belonging to your target audience as possible. Think of it as your “mass market” stuff.
  • Middle-of-the-funnel: At this stage, your objective is to convert visitors from the top-of-the-funnel into leads. This usually consists of gathering an email or some other piece of information that will allow you to contact them again.
  • Bottom-of-the-funnel: This is where you convert leads into customers. Simple.
  • Retention, monetization, and love: The stage a lot of beginners forget about. This is where you try to retain customers (in subscription-based business, for example), get them to purchase the same product again or purchase a different product, or just refer other potential customers.

Your job as a digital marketer is to design, implement, and optimize tactics that take the most people from one stage of the funnel to the next.

Let’s look at some examples.

Let’s say your company that sells camping equipment just launched a new loyalty program.

Which of these tactics would be a better idea to promote it?

  • Launch ads on national radio.
  • Launch an email campaign to people who have already purchased a product.

The latter will clearly be more targeted and is likely to generate a higher return on investment.

If you haven’t yet, check out the ClickMinded Sales Funnels Strategy Guide to get started.

I know this all sounds very theoretical so far.

But trust me.

By combining personas and sales funnels you will be able to create better digital marketing strategies that ultimately generate more customers and sales.

The Digital Asset

This is just a fancy way to say “the content the user will consume.

Most people immediately think of a blog post, but it doesn’t have to be just that.

The digital asset you use could be a bunch of different things: an email form response, a product review, a social media post, a video image, a podcast, or an ad on social media.

Maybe it’s even a digital tool that you created or a product demo.

For example, if you’re targeting young gamers who also enjoy watching epic fiction series, you might decide to create a quiz titled “To which Game of Thrones family do you belong?

Choosing a digital asset depends on who the target persona is and the stage of the funnel they’re in—your job is to use this information to pick the best digital asset to use.

To learn more about creating your digital assets, check out the ClickMinded Content Marketing Strategy Guide.

Medium and Channel

Once you’ve decided what your digital asset is going to be, the next steps are to decide where it’s going to live (the medium), and how to distribute it (the channel.)

In general, the most common medium will be your own website, but it doesn’t have to be.

Your medium could also be YouTube, Google Places, Yelp, Amazon, Pinterest, or maybe the App Store.

Each medium is usually fit for a specific type of digital asset.

For example, a long video is probably a better fit for YouTube than Twitter or Instagram.

When you know the medium, you need to pick the way you’re going to get this asset on this medium to its target audience—in other words, pick the channel.

Like anything else in your strategy, your channel selection depends on decisions you’ve previously made.

If you picked YouTube as your channel, the ways to get traffic to your video could be YouTube SEO, YouTube Ads, getting your video embedded in other sites, or even getting other YouTubers to create videos about your video.

However, your digital asset is not the only thing that will influence your medium and channel selection.

Once again, you need to think of your persona and funnel stage.

For example, if you’re targeting people who are concerned with their online privacy and looking for a secure chat service…

…it might be a bad idea to create a social media ad for them since a lot of them are probably using ad blockers and privacy plugins.

Optimization

This is, very simply, just doing everything you need to do to maximize the number of users who get your asset through the channel you picked.

If you pick digital advertising to drive traffic to a landing page, optimization will include things like testing ad graphics, copy, placement, targeting, budget, etc.

If you pick SEO to drive traffic to a blog post, optimization will include things like performing keyword research, optimizing your post content, building links, and fixing technical issues.

If you pick email marketing to drive webinar registration, optimization will include things like testing subject lines, calls-to-action, send times, and subscriber segmentation.

You get the point.

Each channel is a different animal—you need to learn how to get the most out of the one you choose to use.

Once you’ve picked a channel, get started by checking out its corresponding guide:

The Nudge

This is the most important aspect of the framework.

In simple terms, the nudge is how you push users to the next logical step down the funnel.

The nudge is about getting results.

It’s not enough that you get people to consume your asset.

A great digital marketer always has to think about what the next step is.

If you have a blog post that’s attracting a ton of new traffic (top-of-the-funnel), a nudge could be a call-to-action to download a bonus in exchange for an email address (middle-of-the-funnel).

If you have a webinar with a lot of attendees (middle-of-the-funnel), a nudge could be an offer to enroll with a limited-time discount (bottom-of-the-funnel).

Whatever digital asset you create, you need to think about how it will help you get your users closer to purchasing.

To get started and learn more about nudges, check out the ClickMinded Sales Funnel Mini-Course.

Putting it All Together

So how does all this work together?

Here’s how you can use this framework to create an entire digital marketing strategy:

  1. Pick one target persona and start at the top-of-the-funnel
  2. Define the digital asset you’ll use
  3. Decide your medium (where you will put your asset) and channel (how will you get people to view your asset)
  4. Determine the steps necessary for you to optimize and get the most out of the channel and medium you chose
  5. Figure out the nudge you’ll use to take people to the next stage of the funnel
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for the other stages of the funnel
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 for your other target personas (if you have more than one)

If you want to learn how we do these seven steps and get a template to create your entire strategy, check out our free Digital Marketing Strategy Masterclass.

Quickstart Guide: How to Get Started

I will never get tired of saying this.

The most effective way to become a digital marketer is by doing digital marketing.

Here are a few ways you can get some hands-on experience when you’re just getting started:

  • Create a digital marketing strategy for your own business. If you already have a business, you can simply use what you’ve learned to grow it.
  • Start your own website or blog. This is what we recommend and how I got started. By starting from scratch, you’ll have a better understanding of how everything works than if you were to walk onto something that’s already been built. Plus, you won’t have to worry too much about messing up.
    Protip: If you go with this route, just stick to a WordPress.org site.
  • Find a business you can help. Maybe there’s a business you already work for, a friend’s company, or a small business in the place where you live. Don’t go for the company of your dreams yet—you’re probably not ready. This option has its advantages since you will be able to see results (or lack thereof) faster and might be able to find someone to mentor you.

Once you’ve figured that out, here’s how to move forward:

  1. Finish reading this guide.

Outcome: You will have a fundamental understanding of how digital marketing works. The last section of the guide (“Traps”) is especially important if you’re new to this.

  1. Create a rough draft of a digital marketing strategy. Focus on just one or two channels and tackle one funnel stage at a time.

Outcome: You will have a clear game plan for how you will attract traffic, convert traffic into leads, leads into customers, and customers into advocates.

  1. Set yourself a goal and a timeframe. For each tactic you test, define a goal (e.g. traffic, followers, sales, etc.) and a period of time when you expect to hit the goal.

Outcome: You will have an easy way to know whether your efforts are working as expected or not. Plus, you’ll gradually get better at setting up goals and targets.

  1. Review what worked, what didn’t, how to improve, and revisit your digital marketing strategy.

Outcome: You will learn from your successes and failures and use that input to get better.

Traps: Avoid These Digital Marketing Traps

When you have little experience, this industry can be hard to navigate.

There is waaay too much (bad) information out there…

…so we put together a list of traps you should avoid:

Reading Too Many Shitty Blog Posts

It won’t take long before you’ll start to notice that there are way too many digital marketing bloggers writing about the latest “tactic you need to use”, a “mistake you’re probably making”, or a “secret hack that generated 300% growth in 7 days.”

You should avoid these.

I’ll write that again in all caps.

AVOID THESE AT ALL COSTS.

Most of these posts don’t aim to teach you something valuable…

…their objective is merely to get your attention.

If they succeed, you’ll probably end up wasting a lot of time just reading blog posts, and feeling anxious about missing out on the latest trick.

Bottom line: Stop reading digital marketing blogs. Start doing digital marketing instead.

Which makes for a good segway into the next trap.

Not Executing What You Learn

When you start learning digital marketing, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole, feeling like you need to know “just a bit more” before you’re ready to implement.

Digital marketing is a practical discipline.

If you want to be any good at it, you need to get your hands dirty and do the work.

The best way to learn is to just get started as soon as possible.

Whenever you hit a roadblock, research how to get past it, and then keep going.

You should eventually develop a healthy balance of execution and learning that you’ll maintain for the rest of your career.

Thinking Credentials or Degrees Matter

This is a mistake people who follow more traditional career paths tend to make.

Digital marketing is not a discipline where credentials matter.

It doesn’t really matter if you have a digital marketing degree or certification.

The only thing that matters is that you can get results.

If you’re planning on spending a lot of money on a master’s degree in digital marketing or certification, our advice is simple: Don’t.

You can get a better education online for a fraction of the cost—and use the rest of the money to start your own website and get some actual experience.

Disclaimer: ClickMinded does offer certifications. However, we’re very upfront about the fact that you don’t need them. We keep them because some clients use our courses for internal training and use the certifications as a way to check on their employees’ progress.

The Definitive Digital Marketing Strategy Guide

Enter your email now to get a permanent copy of this guide sent directly to your inbox.

Download Now

Check Out Other Strategy Guides