Digital marketing strategies lay the foundation for all successful online marketing plans, and they can be implemented at different levels of a business. From the earliest stages of planning a startup to re-evaluating a digital marketing plan that just isn’t working, this is one of the most important steps you can take as a digital marketer. Market segmentation is a key part of the strategic process for any online marketer, and it pays to invest the time it takes to understand your chosen market segment.
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What Is a Digital Marketing Plan?
A digital marketing plan is similar to a business plan, except that it focuses on building an audience online through sound marketing strategies tailored for the digital consumer. Digital marketing strategies are essential when it comes to growing your brand online and connecting with leads in a meaningful way. Nonetheless, a Smart Insights research study shows that only half of all companies surveyed reported having a clearly defined strategy for digital marketing. Among those who had a digital marketing plan in place, only 16 percent devoted a separate document to digital marketing while the other 34 percent simply integrated digital marketing into their overall marketing strategy. This oversight can be turned into an opportunity for your brand, putting you well ahead of the competition.
Digital consumers behave differently online. From the use of smartphones and tablets to conduct transactions with digital merchants to the way they reach out for customer support, digital consumers require an extensive amount of research to properly understand. Making a digital marketing plan will help you address the unique needs and challenges of your digital consumers. Don’t simply assume that those needs are the same as those of your offline customers.
Creating a Digital Marketing Plan
In order to engage in effective digital marketing planning, you should first begin by establishing a customer profile. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is my ideal customer?
- Where does he or she live?
- What is the biggest challenge this customer faces relative to my field?
- What are the qualities most important to the customer when making a purchase?
- Is price a major factor in deciding whether the customer makes a purchase, or is this an inelastic market?
Think about the digital consumer you are trying to reach with a specific service or product. Factors such as age, geographic location, gender, hobbies and interests, career, and income are just a few of the consumer metrics you should consider putting into your digital customer profile. Ask yourself not only questions related to how you can get that customer to connect with your brand online, but how your brand can answer a meaningful problem that customer has as well. Answering problems is the key to driving traffic to your website and turning website visitors into customers. With effective problem-solving strategies in place, you can also begin converting customers into loyal brand advocates who will market for you online.
The Digital Consumer
The best way to begin understanding the digital consumer is to look into market segmentation. Market segments are even more valuable in digital marketing than they are in traditional marketing. Traditional marketing mediums such as print and Television advertisements rely on crafting campaigns that will appeal to broad audiences. Even if you manage to isolate a prime time slot for advertising to a general demographic, the results of your marketing efforts are still going to be difficult to gauge with such strategies. The digital landscape has changed the face of marketing, allowing marketers to create highly targeted campaigns designed for smaller segments of the market.
In addition to knowing which market segments to target with your advertising campaigns, it is also important to understand how digital consumers behave. Research shows that a staggering 30 percent of all e-commerce transactions in the United States are now mobile. This means that consumers are choosing to research and shop on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets more than ever before. The way consumers use these devices is dramatically different from the way they use desktop computers. Convenience is the name of the game in mobile marketing. Your website should be responsive, meaning that images and features are adjusted to fit the user’s mobile display. This not only increases your conversion rates but helps establish your company as a savvy, mobile-friendly brand.
Ignoring the mobile market is one of the greatest mistakes you can make when conducting digital marketing planning for your business. Investing in a website that is designed to work well on mobile and desktop devices may cost more in the short-term, but it grants access to a widening segment of the e-commerce market. The mobile trend is estimated to keep growing well into the future with many consumers opting to use more than one smartphone.
In basic terms, market segmentation simply means dividing a larger market into smaller, targeted segments. This allows you to focus on the unique needs of each smaller segment of customers your brand serves. Targeted marketing is the greatest benefit of digital marketing, so your advertising efforts are likely going to waste if you aren’t already making it work for you. The effort it takes to identify your targeted market segments pays significant dividends in the long run. The more specific a marketing campaign is, the better it is able to address a specific problem common to that segment of the market. Consumers are more likely to engage with brands they view as having a specific purpose that is relevant to their unique situation, so targeted digital marketing campaigns can result in higher conversions than broader campaigns filtered through traditional marketing mediums. Some basic criteria for market segmentation include:
- Income level
- Marital status
When building a market segmentation strategy, it helps to consider practical examples. If you have come to realize that there are two distinct market segments that value the goods and services your company provides, it makes sense to target them separately. For example, middle-aged men from middle-income families generally respond to different marketing methods than college-aged men and women. Identify what makes your product or service appealing to each demographic you would like to target and tailor your digital marketing efforts to that appeal.
One of the greatest benefits of digital marketing planning is the ability to get specific about your marketing efforts. By understanding your customer base, you are in a better position to address their problems and offer tangible solutions. The more specifically targeted those solutions are, the better your chances are of converting a visitor to your site into a customer and, in the long run, a brand advocate. Digital strategising works at all levels of your business, from analysing which products sell and why to creating marketing campaigns that generate a high return on investment. Market segmentation is a process that allows you to hone your marketing efforts even further through continual trial and error. With time and patience, your digital marketing strategy will allow you to convert more leads into customers with less time and less money spent on advertising.
Digital marketing also offers the benefit of being easier to analyse than most traditional marketing mediums. It is often difficult to come away with a clear understanding of how many actual sales your last radio campaign generated, but with campaign tracking software and analytics, digital marketing is a gold mine of valuable data you can use to make your marketing budget stretch further. Despite the obvious benefits, businesses that choose to develop distinct, targeted digital marketing strategies that are separate from their overall marketing strategies are still in the minority. This means that with a bit of planning, you can easily give your brand an edge over the competition.