5 Steps to Creating a Successful Online Marketing Strategy

Most marketing activity happens online, especially in this day and age where customers spend hours on online platforms for both their personal lives and their jobs. This is why an online marketing strategy matters to your business, as it allows you to directly reach your customers by building robust online communication channels.

Let these 5 steps guide you through creating a successful online marketing strategy for your business.

What Is Online Marketing?

As discussed in our previous article, online marketing is the use of digital technologies to communicate information about your business, products, or services in order to yield positive outcomes for your business.

The Advantages of Online Marketing

There are plenty of reasons investing in online marketing is good for companies and business owners. Not only does online marketing cost much less compared to traditional marketing strategies, but it also allows you to reach customers around the world 24/7.

Moreover, social media helps you build a sustainable relationship with your customers and ensures that the information about your business, products, or services is easily accessible. When compared to traditional marketing techniques, digital marketing channels also allow you to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, so you can always adjust your approach to reach your target audience more effectively.

What Is an Online Marketing Strategy?

An online marketing strategy involves thoughtful and detailed planning to ensure the most effective performance of your marketing campaigns. 

The strategy you implement should help analyse the key factors that influence your business and customer base to determine the initial steps of your marketing journey. In addition, it should also allow you to evaluate the outcomes of the strategy to make adjustments to best support your online marketing campaigns.

We have covered what a digital marketing strategy is and why it matters to your business. Now, let’s dive into the details of creating an effective online marketing strategy.

Step 1: Set Your Marketing Goals

First off, you need to identify the goals you want to achieve. You need to know where your business sits in the market right now and where you want it to be in the future. If you have set long-term goals for your company’s growth and development, make sure that the online marketing goals you have set will foster and support your existing goals.

The following are some questions you should consider when identifying your goals:

  • Do you want to reach out to a new customer base or expand it?
  • Do you want to increase revenue?
  • Are you looking to rebrand or increase brand awareness?
  • Are you promoting your products, services, or special promotions?
  • Do you want to improve customer satisfaction?
  • Do you want to increase your website traffic?
  • Are you looking to boost your current sales?

How to Set SMART Goals

It is important to be specific when setting online marketing goals as it will help you turn your goals into actionable strategies.

You can set effective marketing objectives using the ‘SMART’ goals technique as follows:

  • S (Specific): Be specific about the goals you want to achieve.
  • M (Measurable): Your goals must have criteria to measure their success.
  • A (Achievable): Make sure that your goals are attainable for the company.
  • R (Relevant): Your goals should meet your business context and the company’s needs.
  • T (Time-bound): Determine a clear deadline for achieving your goal.

It is an absolute must to record the goals you set yourself. It allows you to revisit them later and assess the outcomes achieved.

Examples of SMART Goals

Here are some examples of specific and actionable goals that you can use for your online marketing campaigns:

  • Improve the company’s Google rating by at least 1 star within the next month.
  • Gain 100 more social media followers in the next 2 weeks.
  • Increase website traffic to 500 visitors/week in the next 2 months.
  • Boost sales by 15% within 3 months.

Step 2: Research Your Target Market

Once you clearly define the goals you want to achieve through your digital marketing campaign, you need to research the market to understand your target audience and their online behaviour.

Understand Your Customer Base

The foundation of market research is understanding your customer base. Who are your actual customers? Which online platforms do they use? How do they engage with businesses they follow or buy from? And what kind of marketing content attracts them?

You can get the answers to these questions in many ways, for example:

  • Customer surveys
  • User statistics research
  • Existing customer reviews
  • Website and social media traffic data

Research Your Competitor

Another important aspect of market research is to observe your competitors’ online presence. Not only does following your competitors allow you to understand what you are confronting, but it provides you insights into what works well in your market.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when analysing your competitors.

  • What are your competitors’ strengths? You should take note of successful competitor strategies. You can learn from their strategies and get to know your market better.
  • What are your competitors’ weaknesses? If you can discover weak points, you can take advantage of them by adjusting your own strategy to make your business stand out in the market.
  • What is the value of your business? When looking at your competitors, what makes you unique? How can you add value for customers in a way that other businesses cannot? These elements should be the highlight and focus of your online marketing campaign.

Digital Marketing Tools

Here are a variety of digital marketing tools for you to choose from:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Website optimisation and A/B testing
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Virtual events
  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

Use the Right Tools for the Job

You should select the tools that best suit your business, your current skills, and your budget. On top of that, you need to consider which tools will be most beneficial and appealing to your target customers. 

Step 4: Write a Detailed Online Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve gathered all data, you should finalise your marketing strategy, goals and the marketing tools you’ve selected. It is time to put your marketing plan into action.

To get a clearer idea, let’s take a look at the example of this small hand-made soap company. Although the business already has a physical shop, they also want to promote their products online in order to increase brand awareness and expand their customer base. The company has set the following goals:

  • To ensure that their online shop provides a simple and intuitive UX (user experience) and UI (user interface).
  • To promote new products on Mondays and Thursdays by posting on Facebook and Instagram with at least 1 photo and a caption of about 30-50 words.
  • To send monthly emails to existing customers offering special online promotions.

Test Your Strategies before Taking Action

It is important to test your digital marketing strategy because it will be costly in terms of both time and money. By testing your strategy, you’ll see how effective your techniques are before you roll them out on a larger scale.

Businesswoman checking her emails on cellphone

Step 5: Execute and Evaluate Your Plan

You now have your complete strategy ready to be executed! This is probably the most exciting step of all, but it doesn’t end here. The key to an effective online marketing strategy is to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy and adjust it as needed.

Once your strategy is executed, you should set time aside to record weekly and monthly results. By doing so, you will see which techniques work well and which don’t so that you can adjust your approach accordingly. 

Be Patient and Stay Focused on Long-term Goals

As with all marketing campaigns, your online marketing strategy may take some time to produce results, especially if you decide to do it yourself. The world of online marketing can be quite complicated, and it’s always evolving, so it’s important to be patient.

Even if you take time to research and plan your campaign, there is much more about digital marketing to learn after executing your strategy. Trial and error play an important role in discovering what does and doesn’t work for your business to foster sustainable and effective results. If you don’t see instant results, keep striving and stay focused on your long-term goals.