Digital marketing is a concept that means something much different today than it did 30 years ago. We have gone from an era of keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks to a much more sophisticated practice of big data, personalization, and a whole host of different strategies.
The practice is now more complex than ever and you will get left behind without a solid digital strategy framework. With everything you need to keep an eye on when engaging in digital marketing, it can be easy to miss certain elements that may make or break business success. This is why one of the most important things you can do before delving into the nitty-gritty of strategies and campaigns is to have a clearly defined digital strategy framework.
If you are still trying your hand at systematizing your marketing process, you will not have to start a digital strategy framework from scratch. There will be basic models you can pattern yours after.
Definition of Digital Strategy Framework
So what exactly is a digital marketing framework or digital strategy framework? Pur simply, it is a document that outlines the flow of the marketing process, identifying critical requirements and key touchpoints. It will ensure you miss nothing in the process.
There are many different digital strategy frameworks, tackling an assortment of aspects, from communications to planning to strategy. Some will integrate all, while others target a specific aspect. When creating your own, you need to know your business needs and priorities to come up with a model that suitably accommodates objectives. Use basic digital marketing models to guide you through the process of creating yours.
1. RACE Planning
Created by learning platform Smart Insights, RACE stands for Reach, Act, Convert, Engage. The four steps refer to online marketing activities a person must have to engage with customers in different channels in different stages of their journey.
- Reach involves building awareness and visibility of a brand, driving traffic to a website and social media pages. Some key performance indicators are website traffic, external links, online engagement, and earned media, among others.
- Act involves encouraging people to perform a certain action on the website or social media page. Some key performance indicators are bounce rate, time on site, and the number of newsletter sign-ups, among others.
- Convert is converting loyal fans to paying customers. Some key performance indicators are the number of leads, conversion rate, sales, and revenue, among others.
- Engage is building strong relationships with customers to promote retention. Some key performance indicators are customer churn rate and repeat customer rate, among others.
What is it good for?
At its core, RACE Planning helps draw up an effective digital marketing strategy as it identifies key activities for each step in the customer journey.
How can you adopt it?
Plan your action steps for RACE:
- Reach. Improve digital communications, including press releases, search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and influencer outreach. Place a brand in social media channels a target audience visits.
- Act. Create a content campaign plan involving a mix of different types of content. Dedicate a huge amount of resources on video because people are consuming more of this content. It is one of the top digital marketing trends of 2021 that needs to be focused on. But whatever type of content, make materials the go-to source of relevant, inspiring information for your audience.
- Convert. Set up a conversion rate optimization program. Include text-based calls to action in blog posts and high-converting pop-ups. Use A/B tests to determine the most attractive designs and content features for web visitors.
- Engage. Map all customer touchpoints and deliver personalized messages.
2. Marketing Funnel
One of the most used digital strategy frameworks, shows the journey customers take when engaging with a brand, starting with finding out products and services to buy. A marketing funnel has four levels:
- Awareness. Involves a potential customer seeing a social media post or banner ad or hearing about a brand from an influencer or a friend.
- Interest. A potential customer is hooked on a brand, visiting other online platforms, or checking reviews to learn more about it.
- Consideration. A potential customer acknowledges their problem and the brand as the solution.
- Action. The potential customer takes action, buying a product or booking an appointment with you.
On an e-commerce platform, the stages are highly trackable. A potential customer visits the website (awareness), clicks on a product and reads through the description (interest), adds an item to their cart (consideration), and checks out (action).
What is it good for?
RACE Planning identifies key action points in the digital marketing process but the Marketing Funnel summarizes the customer journey and therefore helps identify roadblocks to conversion. It all informs a digital marketing planning framework, enabling you to list opportunities in leading people to your desired action.
When a company is getting only less than half of the people who added the item to their cart, it may have to send automated messages to remind them of products in their shopping bag.
How can you adopt it?
With the marketing funnel, draw up your action steps for each stage:
- Awareness. Talk about the problem being solved with your products and services on a regular basis. Let people know that by using your brand, they can easily solve their problems. Similar to the Reach in RACE, be present in social media channels a target audience uses. More importantly, invest in SEO and PPC. Google is often the first site people go to when they want to solve their problems. You want to show up among the first results when they type their query related to your brand. Use these essential website evaluation frameworks in your assessment.
- Interest. Let customers know more by being the best source of information about specific problems. Some good signs that you have hooked them in are ranking high on the search results for topics related to a brand and having a sizable amount of followers on your social media pages.
- Consideration. Give potential customers a more convincing reason to do business with you. You will likely not be the first business to be in the field you are in. Why should people choose you over others? Zoom in on your unique selling proposition to make them more likely to consider doing business with you.
- Action. Make the buying process attractive and the experience easy. Offer discounts at checkout. Let people know that stocks are quickly running low. Ensure that checking out is simple with only a click of a button.
3. Flywheel Model
The Flywheel is a model created by Hubspot and puts customers at the heart of all business processes. It is better understood in contrast with the marketing funnel. In the funnel, the customer is the end-all-be-all, but the Flywheel makes it the driving force. It will be the thing that “spins” or energizes the entire strategy.
When customers are at the center of a digital strategy framework, they will be surrounded by sales, marketing, and support teams, each one aiming to enhance the purchase experience, which largely includes minimizing “frictions” or anything that slows down the spin of the flywheel. Similar to other models, it shows the buyer journey, summarized in three phases:
- Attract. Earn people’s attention and reduce barriers to awareness.
- Engage. Build rapport and make it easy for customers to talk with you.
- Delight. Support and empower customers to reach success. When they achieve it, they are more likely to talk about their experience with others, which expands business opportunities.
What’s it good for?
Because the Flywheel model is designed to create synergy among business teams, it minimizes gaps in handoffs. Moreover, it speeds up digital marketing because it reduces friction at every stage of the customer journey.
How Can You Adopt it?
- Identify frictions in each phase of the customer journey. Examples include misleading marketing messages, confusing pricing (or pricing that does not match up with the perceived value), unavailable customer service. If you notice, these are problems in marketing, sales, and support, which is why it’s important to take the next step, which is to:
- Ask yourself how each team can support one another. Are there marketing to-dos that can make people more qualified for sales? How can you improve customer service and ensure repeat business? What are the common concerns and questions of customers after the sale (this should be addressed not only in support but also in marketing and sales)?
Our very own adoption of the Flywheel in the Propelrr digital strategy framework puts the objectives in the center of our approach as the force that will dictate the movement of the various levers. From there, take a multi-pronged or multi-channel approach to achieve and communicate your objectives and brand message, and then integrate these into the strategy and execution.
Such executions, once rolled out to an audience or customer, should provide the most optimal customer experience, guaranteeing a pleasant and seamless customer journey that will keep them delighted with your brand and business.
The right digital strategy frameworks can help people come up with better strategies and make success consistent. As you choose or create your own, these are the things you must remember:
- Know your audience. The best way you can map out an accurate customer journey is to know your audience well. For this reason, it is recommended to collect data from surveys and social media analytics to create buyer personas that represent your target audience accurately. With a profile, you can be able to know which social media platforms you should be on, what kinds of marketing messages you must put out, and how you can improve customer service and increase the likelihood of a sale.
- Keep in mind the audience’s needs. This will inform the strategies you assign to each step in the digital strategy framework. SEO for those who are simply looking at their options (awareness), product launch emails for those who are intent on buying (consideration), etc. Measure each tactic to know if you’re effective in meeting your audience’s needs.
- Have a clearly defined framework. All the three digital strategy frameworks featured here have a simple, logical flow. Each step outlines what a marketer must do. The framework you must have should be exactly like this, easy to follow and highly transferable so that teams working on online campaigns will be on the same page even though they’re focusing on different aspects of the strategy.
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