June 3, 2023

What is a Marketing Strategy, Really?

Imagine trying to plan, book, and pack for an entire summer getaway the night before you’re supposed to leave … Are you imagining it? This is what it would be like trying to run a marketing campaign with no strategy—a vacation without any planning.

HECTIC! CoNfuSing. And downright more expensive than you were hoping for.

In both scenarios, you virtually have no idea where you’ll end up—for better or for worse. Your marketing strategy is like the blueprint for your campaign, and a clearly laid out marketing strategy is key to the campaign’s success. But why are marketing strategies so important?

What is a Marketing Strategy?

Marketing strategies are a tool used by marketers to reach target audiences through various channels. Strategies are overarching, and those that are most effective consider every aspect of the marketing flow—from audience personas to marketing channels to budget. 

Understanding your audience

If you want to develop a marketing strategy, you first need to ask, “Who are we talking to?” This is crucial because you can’t develop effective and compelling messaging if you don’t know the people in your target audience—and know them well.

Understanding your audience is about more than just knowing where they are or how many can be reached through a particular channel. To understand your audience, you need to dig beneath the numbers and look at psychographics. What are their motivations? How do they behave? What are their pain points? Remember: in marketing, you aren’t selling a product; you’re selling a solution. This means creating value for your audience by clearly communicating the problems your product or service is capable of solving.

Choosing your marketing tactics

At Marketwake, we focus on the core digital marketing tactics: content marketing, email, social media, paid media, and SEO. 

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on producing useful content relevant to your audience with the ultimate goal of driving profitable consumer action. This can be done through blogs and other website content and also distributed through social media and email.

Email marketing continues to be a staple in digital marketing strategies, and for good reason. 91% of American Internet users regularly use email, making this a prime channel for directly communicating with your target audience. Email marketing can also be automated with tools like Hubspot and Mailchimp, making it easier to deliver targeted content to various audience segments.

Social media marketing is by far the most affordable marketing tactic for brands and businesses. This is because creating and running an account on nearly all social platforms is free. Compelling social media marketing keeps a brand top-of-mind for consumers and also facilitates two-way interaction between brands and their audiences.

Paid media are external marketing efforts that involve paid media ads. These can be pay-per-click (PPC) ads, display ads, and sponsored posts on social media platforms. Paid media ads are a great way to get your message seen among the influx of organic content that exists online.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy that has taken off in recent years. This tactic involves implementing techniques that allow your brand’s website and content to appear higher on search engine results pages like Google and Bing. A high ranking can demonstrate authority and legitimacy and generate more organic traffic.

Any or all of these digital marketing tactics can be included in your marketing strategy. You can determine the best tactics for your campaign based on your audience, competitors, goals, and budget.

Working on a budget

In terms of parameters, your budget is probably the most important thing to consider when creating your marketing strategy. You may have to make tough decisions about which tactics and channels to use since nearly every aspect of your campaign will incur some sort of cost.

While your budget needs to be considered, it’s important not to let budget alone determine what your campaign will look like. Senior Digital Strategist at Marketwake, Sammy Akoubian, had this to say about brands and their marketing budgets:

A lot of marketers, brands, or businesses get hung up on budget, thinking they need huge budgets to hit their goal. As a marketing agency, it’s OUR job to meet you where you are with your budget and show you it’s still achievable—whatever that dollar value is.

Sammy Akoubian

Senior Digital Strategist

At the end of the day, it’s the ideas and action that make a marketing campaign successful—not a budget. If you need proof of this, just take a look back at Kendall Jenner’s controversial Pepsi commercial, which cost millions of dollars and drew seemingly nothing but negative press and public backlash.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy

Now that we have a solid understanding of marketing strategies, it’s time to actually create one. The following four steps should be included in any digital marketing strategy. 

1.Develop Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer. This is your chance to illustrate the type of people you’re speaking to by creating realistic but fictional representations of your target audience based on data and research. Descriptions of your created personas should include demographic and psychographic information like age, income, geographic location, primary interests, and challenges. Buyer personas are extremely helpful when it comes to understanding who you’re talking to, when and where you’re talking to them, and how to tailor your messaging accordingly.

2. Define Goals

Your marketing goals should reflect the brand’s or business’s goals. Some of the most common marketing goals are:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate quality leads
  • Increase web traffic
  • Acquire new customers
  • Boost brand engagement
  • Build industry authority

What about increasing revenue? All of these goals actually feed into the bottom line of earning revenue, but you can’t have the end without the means. Determine what your primary goals are for each quarter and build your strategy accordingly. Your goals can (and in most cases, should) change too. Goals should be dependent on the market, the state of the business, and the priorities of a company’s leadership.

3. Establish Marketing Channels

Once you have your goals established, you need to decide which marketing tactics and channels you will use to achieve them. These days, marketers can reach consumers in more ways than ever. You should select channels based on your target audience—where do they hang out digitally? Refer to the channels listed previously if you want a better idea of the top marketing channels. Both understanding your audience and choosing your marketing channels require heavy research. 

Marketing channels can be broken down into two main categories: paid and organic.

  • Paid marketing is simply when marketers pay for online traffic. These tactics can include Google Ads, TV spots, display ads, and paid social.
  • Organic marketing (also sometimes referred to as inbound marketing) is essentially the modern marketer’s spin on word-of-mouth messaging. This form of marketing is all about content, and it includes organic social, email, blogs, and SEO.
  • Earned media is another form of marketing that is born out of successful organic marketing and involves people volunteering their own experiences with a brand.

4. Define Channel Metrics

What good is a strategy if it isn’t measurable? Defining your channel metrics is essential to evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and tracking your progress along the way. Each marketing channel will ideally have its own set of metrics for evaluation. Metrics and KPIs should be based on your goals. Some of the most commonly tracked metrics are:

  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Cost per lead (CPL)
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Engagement rate

Measuring the success of your campaign in real-time is extremely important because sometimes, you have to pivot. Bin Cochran, VP of Marketing at Marketwake, puts it best:

Digital strategists are like scientists. You’re experimenting. You may try twenty different things, but only five of those things are going to work.

Bin Cochran

VP of Marketing

As you develop your digital marketing strategy, remember to be flexible. For more on the different types of metrics and how to decide what you should be using, check out this Complete Guide to Marketing Metrics.

Key Takeaways

Your marketing strategy is the rosetta stone of your campaign. Without it, you’ll be lost and confused. Hopefully by now, you have a better understanding of what makes a successful marketing strategy. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:

  • Your marketing strategy is overarching and ever-evolving
  • Digital marketing strategies are about capturing digital real estate
  • No budget is too small (for the most part)
  • Don’t be afraid to pivot if something isn’t working
  • Make your messaging emotive but provide value

At Marketwake, digital marketing strategies are our specialty. If this blog got the ideas flowing and you’re looking to upgrade your marketing efforts, hit us up!

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