In today’s thriving digital marketing landscape, there’s an array of marketing strategies, plans, and tactics to consider. More so than ever before, different strategies employ different tactics to help businesses reach their desired outcomes. However, it’s this wealth of choices that may leave you undecided – marketing decision fatigue, in a sense. With that in mind, then, let us use this article to lay down some fundamental questions. Going through them will help you choose the best marketing strategy for your business and its unique goals and needs.
Marketing strategy vs. marketing plan vs. marketing tactics
But first, let us briefly untangle and distinguish those 3 terms. They frequently see somewhat interchangeable use, which, while convenient, rarely helps in a practical sense.
In brief, these terms do relate, but each refers to a specific aspect of the marketing process:
- A marketing strategy defines a business’s goals, and juxtaposes objectives with resources. It pinpoints the tactics it will use, and sets the foundation for a marketing plan.
- A marketing plan, then, puts the strategy’s theory into practice. It maps out the exact tactics it will use, in adherence with the established overall strategy.
- Finally, marketing tactics are specific, individual tactics a business takes up to achieve its goals. Those can range from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Pay Per Click (PPC) ads and anything in-between. Moreover, they may expand to on-page practices such as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), Landing Page Optimization (LPO), and so forth.
Using those definitions should help clarify that your exact tactics should always adhere to your strategy and plan. Put simply, you cannot have a solid plan without a sound strategy, or pick tactics that don’t explicitly serve both.
How to choose the best marketing strategy for your business
Now we may delve into the fundamentals of building your marketing strategy. To do so, we will pose a series of questions for you to answer, leading you to optimal choices.
1. What are your goals?
As highlighted above, no two businesses need to follow the exact same strategy. Rather, your unique goals, resources, circumstances, and timetables will determine the optimal route for you. Thus, the very first step should be to establish S.M.A.R.T. goals – namely:
- Set specific goals; pinpoint exact desired percentages, phrase them in unambiguous terms, and so forth.
- Ensure you can measure your efforts’ success; identify specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track your progress.
- Set goals that are achievable; consider your budget, market position, and so forth.
- Keep your goals realistic; keep your current framework of operations in mind.
- Time-bound. Set specific deadlines for your goals; this will help you gauge your strategies’ success regarding time.
Simply examining your goals under this lens should help steer your strategy in the right direction. Moreover, it will be of immense help in the steps to follow.
2. Who are your audiences, and what do they need?
With your goals in hand, you may now identify your audiences. Understandably, to choose the best marketing strategy for your business, this step is crucial. For the sake of simplicity, you will need to answer 3 key questions here:
- Who are your audiences?
- What do they need?
- How can you best reach them and address their needs?
These questions do relate, of course, but require different approaches. First, to pinpoint your audiences, you may begin by using such tools as:
- Google Analytics
- Social media audience insights
- Website analytics tools such as heat maps
Then, you may use analytics to inform customer segmentation and deduce their exact needs. Customer segmentation will typically split customers into actionable groups based on such factors as:
Finally, the two fronts will converge to determine your audiences’ needs and the optimal way to reach them. Consider, for example, social media platform demographics; different races, genders, and age groups dominate different platforms. Thus, your choice of platform, your copy, and your overall marketing approach will need to adhere to your findings.
3. Who are your competitors?
Next, you should identify who your competitors are. This step is equally crucial, as it ties into your S.M.A.R.T. goals as regards “Achievable” and “Realistic” goals. Moreover, competitor insights also fuel S.W.O.T. analyses; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
In this regard, consider such questions as the following:
- Do you have local competitors? Local businesses will typically need to focus on Local SEO, and thus, Google My Business (GMB) and Google Maps marketing.
- Who are your digital competitors? Not all digital competitors may belong to your specific field. For example, as regards SEO, professionals of other fields may be targeting similar keywords as you.
- What can you learn from your competitors? Your competitors’ successes and failures may offer invaluable, actionable insights for your strategy to benefit from.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to acquire such insights to help you choose the best marketing strategy. From simple Google searches to marketing agencies’ services, options abound. Examples of tools to get you started as regards SEO would include:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner
What’s more, many such tools will also typically offer other SEO benefits for your website as well.
4. How will you measure the success of your marketing strategy?
Finally, returning to the “Measurable” component of S.M.A.R.T. goals, you will need to pinpoint your digital strategies’ appropriate KPIs. The metrics you should pay attention to will vary depending on your exact tactics but will typically include:
- Website metrics
- External KPIs, such as social media metrics
- Campaign-specific cost and conversion metrics
To address these in order, then, website metrics should typically include:
- Website traffic; how much overall traffic are you getting?
- Traffic by source and type; where is your traffic coming from? How much of your traffic is organic, paid, referral, and so forth?
- Sessions; how many unique sessions do you get per day? What’s the average session duration?
- Pages; how many views do individual pages get? Which are your most and least visited pages?
- Exits and bounce rates; where do visitors typically exit your website from? How many visitors bounce, and where can you attribute this to?
Then, as regards external KPIs, you may consider the following:
- Impressions; how many people see your ads for any given campaign?
- Social reach and engagement; as regards social media campaigns specifically, how many people see your content? More importantly, how many engage with it, leading them down your sales funnel?
- Email open rates; as regards email campaigns, how many people open your emails? Can your aforementioned insights augment your open rates?
Finally, you may consider such invaluable cost and conversion metrics, regardless of your tactics, like:
- Click-Through Rate (CTR); how many of your impressions lead to actual clicks?
- Cost Per Click (CTC); how much does each click cost you?
- Cost Per Conversion (CPC); given your conversion rates, how much does each successful conversion cost you?
- Cost Per Acquisition (CPA); how much does the overall acquisition of a new customer cost you?
- Return On Investment (ROI); given all of the above, how much is your strategy’s overall ROI?
Evidently, then, the importance of “Measurable” goals cannot be overstated. Only if your goals are clearly defined and readily measurable can you effectively pinpoint, analyze, and use such metrics. Fortunately, between marketing tools, platforms, and agencies, there is a vast array of options in this regard as well.
To summarize, it’s far from easy to choose the best marketing strategy for your business. The process takes due diligence, planning, and research. First, you will need to establish your exact, unique, specific goals. Then, you will need to identify and analyze both your audiences and competitors, settling on seemingly optimal tactics for both. Finally, you will need to consistently gauge the success of your chosen strategies, and adjust them accordingly over time. Hopefully, this article should help you through the process as you make this crucial choice.
About the author
James Jacobson is a freelance digital marketer, copywriter, and web developer in the making. As an SEO practitioner, he has collaborated with dozens of local businesses over the years, helping them acquire meaningful traffic.