How to Start a Digital Marketing Strategy to Guide Online Marketing

Do you have a digital marketing strategy to guide your online marketing? If not, you are likely not clear what you are doing or if it is having the right impact. It’s never too late to develop a strategy to set yourself up for success.

The digital strategy process begins with a discovery phase. During this initial phase of the process, the goal is to gather the information needed to develop the right strategy for the needs of your business.

Collect Marketing Information

Review materials you already have on hand, such as your business and/or marketing plan.

You may also need to conduct some research:

  • Interviews with key stakeholders, including internal staff, partners, and or customers
  • Review of available research related to your industry
  • Focus groups
  • Competitor research

Ask the Right Questions


  • What are my marketing goals? Leads, sales, exposure, etc. Be as specific as possible.
  • Do my online goals differ in any way?
  • What are the valuable target keywords for my business?

General Marketing

  • How do I market my business? Review any related documents such as marketing plans, market data, etc.
  • What makes my business unique? What makes people become customers? Repeat customers?
  • What are my current sources of new clients?
  • What is my desired style, tone, voice, messaging, brand positioning?


  • Who is my target client/audience? Be as specific as possible.
  • Ideally, what should my target client say about me?
  • What do I provide that is of the greatest interest/need to my audience?


  • Who are my top competitors?
  • What are the components to their digital strategy?
  • Is there anything that my competitors do online that I know or think helps them? Hurts them?
  • What makes me different from my competitors?


  • Do I need to change my website, including adding or deleting any current content or features?
  • What tools are used to provide content and functionality for my website?
  • What does Google Analytics tell me about how my website is currently used?

Social Media

  • Which social media do I currently use? Document how often and what you post at each.
  • What does my following look like on each social media channel? (Include follower numbers, types of people, and anything else that defines who you are engaging with.)
  • What types of posts result in engagement (comments, likes, shares, emails, etc) from my followers?
  • Which social media do I want to consider?

Online Marketing

  • Where else am I online? (Google it!)
  • What opportunities are available at each location?
  • Considering everywhere I am online, what is working and what is not? How do I know?


  • What financial resources do I have to apply to my digital marketing? Human resources? Other?
  • How much time can I reliably invest in digital marketing activities?
  • What content sources can I draw from for my digital marketing – That I create? That others create?

Online Marketing Success Starts Here

If this seems like a lot, it is. The more insightful information you collect, the better the digital marketing strategy to guide your online marketing will be.

Of course, I am here to help!

How to Save Time and Money Online

Using social media means much more than posting content on one or more social channels. To see results–and save you time and money–you need to be strategic.

Develop a social media strategy

The first step is always to develop a detailed social media strategy. Without a strategy you are just spending (wasting?) time with no purpose.

A solid social media strategy should outline your goals and the specific measurable ways you will work to achieve them. Your goal(s) should be specific to your business and can include brand awareness, generating website traffic, increased sales, or engagement around a specific issue or service.

The strategy should define the specific activities you will take. Take time to define the resources needed, how often each item will be done, and the content that will be leveraged. The more time you put into your strategy, the more success you will see with your social media efforts.

Mind your branding

Review your branding, including words, images, and colors to ensure it is clear and consistent across all of your social media channels. Use your logo for your profile pictures and ensure all profile images reflect your business.

Create an editorial calendar

Structure your posts by creating an editorial calendar. Define categories of content that will support your strategy and plan posts that target each category. Research dates and events that are relevant to your business and audience, and plan content around them.

Schedule posts 

Using a tool that allows you to schedule your posts is a great way to save time and make sure you post according to your plans. Hootsuiteand Buffer are great scheduling tools. There are others. Find one that you find easiest to use.


Your social media activities should not just be about creating and posting your content. Respond to messages or comments from followers within a reasonable time frame. You can create template responses to help speed up the process. However, always ensure that every response is personalized in some way.

You should also be looking for relevant conversations that are happening without you. Search for keywords related to your business, industry and competitors. To help, try using tools such as TweetDeckHootsuite and Sprout Social.

Evaluate and measure

The great ideas you write into your social media strategy may be great or a flop. Take time to evaluate your activities. You should have written measures of success into your strategy. There can be unexpected measures too, like when a post generates a great deal of conversation. Make sure you take time to regularly assess your social media activities and adjust to maximize successes.

This post originally appeared as a guest post at Young Design.