Digital marketing strategy: How to structure a plan? (2023)

Improve your Digital marketing strategy with our hub page

Use our hub pages as a reference to get up-to-speed on all the main digital marketing techniques. They will help you quickly understand how to make the most of the technique through definitions and recommendations on our member resources and blog articles covering strategy, best practices and the latest statistics.

How to structure a digital marketing strategy?

We believe that an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential for marketers to take advantage of the growing digital marketing opportunities for acquiring and retaining customers - so you can win more sales. Our digital marketing framework for growth, the RACE growth system, helps you structure your digital marketing plan around your customers.

Your 5 step digital marketing plan

We recommend using the RACE Framework to structure your marketing strategy, integrated across Plan, Reach, Act, Convert and Engage.

As you can see via the marketing funnel below, building an effective digital marketing strategy requires these 5 steps which nurture the customer through their experiences of your business while influencing their decision-making process and lifetime value.

The RACE Framework is a streamlined, practical, marketing framework that can be scaled up or down according to your business goals. If you're still not convinced, or need help getting buy-in from your team, check out 10 reasons why you need a digital marketing strategy.

The benefit of our digital marketing framework is you can start to see results from your marketing activities instantly, and you can use data and insights to adapt your plan to meet your objectives as you can see below.

5 stages of planning a digital marketing strategy with examples.

The 5 stages of strategic digital marketing planning include plan, reach, act, convert and engage. In this section, we will summarise the key success factors for each stage of your digital marketing strategy, with examples, integrated acrossthe Smart Insights RACE Framework.

(Video) What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy? How to structure a plan?

1. Plan

Every successful digital marketing strategy starts with a plan! We recommend you use a data-driven approach, review your current digital marketing effectiveness, and plan to improve from there.

Omnichannel planning opportunities include customizing analytics, setting up KPI dashboards and setting SMART objectives to create a strategy of prioritized improvements to how you deploy digital marketing media, technology, and data to increase leads and sales.

To ensure your digital marketing strategy is working efficiently and effectively, we recommend taking a digitally-focused approach to strategy and planning. Our RACE Framework is designed for marketers and managers to create a fully integrated, data-driven, practical digital marketing funnel to support their business' overall vision.

Our 5-step digital marketing plan guides you through reaching new audiences, to nurturing interaction, converting customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy. That's why we call it the R-A-C-E Framework.

Digital marketing strategy structure example: 5 minute how-to video

Our digital marketing strategy framework gives you 5 steps to practical strategic business growth.

Here's a clip from our recent Digital Marketing Summit, during which Amelia took 5 minutes to outline our RACE Framework and why it's an increasingly popular strategy tool for marketers today.

Visit our website and sign up for free to catch up her full webinar 'Be adaptable: Optimize your business strategy for growth in a challenging market'.

(Video) How to Create a Marketing Plan | Step-by-Step Guide

2. Reach

Strengthen your marketing funnel by reaching more customers and building awareness. Inform your digital marketing strategy with the latest key online marketing techniques to drive visits to your site.

Smart Insights members can keep up to date with the latest marketing techniques across each stage of the RACE Framework. For example, find three steps below to improve your organic search in 2022, taken from our digital marketing trends.

3. Act

Encourage interactions on your website or social media to help you generate leads for the future. Having reached your audience, it's crucial you influence their next steps to move down the funnel towards a purchase decision.

Content marketing

Here, strategic content marketing comes into play. Use content marketing to entertain, inspire, educate and convince potential converters during their customer lifecycle.

Digital marketing strategy: How to structure a plan? (2)

User experience (UX/CX)

To influence customer behavior on your site or social media platforms, you should also look into the current wide range of innovations in interaction design, proven to boost engagement with your content. Taff has published this useful summary, with examples, of what they see as the latest interaction design trends which we can see continuing into 2022.

4. Convert

The pinnacle of your structured digital marketing strategy is, of course, to convert more customers. Use retargeting, nurturing and conversion rate optimization to remind and persuade your audience to buy online or offline if phone and face-to-face channels if these are important to you.

Our digital marketing trends highlight three tips for increasing your conversions

(Video) How To Make a Digital Marketing Campaign Plan // Step by Step Guide to a Successful Campaign Launch

  • Consider your use of structured always-on optimization. The options for testing are one of the biggest strengths of digital marketing, yet there are still many businesses that don't take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Review the sophistication of your website personalization. According to a SmarterHQ report, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized content.
  • Don't underestimate social commerce. North American e-commerce agency Absolunet has identified the following key signs of the popularity of social commerce:
    • 87%of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision.
    • 1 in 4business owners are selling through Facebook.
    • 40%of merchants use social media to generate sales.
    • 30%of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms.

5. Engage

Finally, after you're worked so hard to get them, did you know you can increase sales from existing customers by keeping them engaged after their first purchase? Improve your personalized communications using web, email, and social media marketing using the data you already have about them to create hyper-personalized marketing campaigns.

Customer engagement research and testing options for digital marketers today include:

  • A/B testing
  • Customer personas
  • Customer journey and content mapping
  • Voice of customer surveys
  • Path analysis
  • Website customer intent surveys
  • Usability studies of digital experiences
  • Multivariate testing

Moreover, machine learning enables unprecedented insights into consumer behavior. For example, predictive analytics can be used to identify:

  • Best send times to engage an individual (can be based when they originally bought or subscribed, but this can be refined through time)
  • Best timing and offer for follow-up communications based on analysis of latency (average interval of response)
  • Best product or category combinations from cluster-based segmentation

Download a free digital marketing template to optimize your customers' journeys

Digital marketing channels play a key role in your customers' experiences of your brand. But in today's demanding digital landscape where customers' expectations are outpacing martech developments, failure to plan your omnichannel journeys can lead to a disconnect. Our RACE Framework can help you structure your plan.

Here, you can see how paid, owned, and earned media, alongside digital experience, take roles in reaching new audiences, nurturing interaction, converting more customers, and encouraging engagement and advocacy.

Get started today using our tried and tested step-by-step process. Apply the Smart Insights RACE Framework to optimize your marketing and win more customers.

Do you have a defined digital marketing strategy?

Did you know many companies don't have a digital marketing strategy?

(Video) How to Plan a Digital Marketing Strategy in 2022

Our recentManaging Digital marketing research report showed that almost half (45%) of companies don't yet have a planned strategy:

Digital marketing strategy: How to structure a plan? (4)

Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?

Our blog, 10 reasons you need a digital marketing strategysets out the 10 most common problems that in our experience arise if you don't have a strategy. This can help you hone the scope and purpose of your digital marketing strategy, and make the case for investment in digital marketing. Examples include:

You don't have a powerful online value proposition

A clearly defined digital value proposition tailored to your different target customer personas will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal. Savvy marketers tailor their marketing techniques to attract B2B, B2C of D2C sales and leads effectively.

Developing anomnichannel marketing strategy is key to this for many organizations, since the content is what engages your audiences through different channels like search, social, email marketing, and on your blog.

You're not integrated ("disintegrated")

It's all too common for digital marketing activities to be completed in silos whether that's a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT, or a separate digital agency. It's easier that way to package 'digital' into a convenient chunk. But of course, it's less effective. Everyone agrees that paid, owned and earned digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.

That's why we recommend developing an integrated digital marketing strategy, so your digital marketing works hard for you! With your integrated plan in place, digital will become part of your marketing activity and part of business as usual. Find out more.

You're wasting money and time through duplication

Even if you do have sufficient resources, they may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.

(Video) Digital Marketing Plan Template & Example | TeamGantt

That's why you need to invest in a marketing strategy that works for you and your team, to plan, manage and optimize your digital channels and platforms. Drive the marketing results you need to achieve your business objectives, and boost your marketing ROI.

RACE ahead of inflation with a proven digital marketing strategy


How do you structure a digital marketing plan? ›

Here's how to create a solid digital marketing strategy:
  1. Explore the landscape and analyze your results. ...
  2. Map out your strategy. ...
  3. Define your target audience. ...
  4. Build your content strategy. ...
  5. Choose your channels and tactics. ...
  6. Set key performance indicators and benchmarks. ...
  7. Execute with best practices. ...
  8. Analyze and adjust.
25 Feb 2021

What are the 3 questions that a good marketing plan should have to answer? ›

(The first three questions should be directly informed by your business plan.) Only you can answer them but they should give you focus and help you think about what it is you do, why you do it and therefore why you are relevant.
These are:
  • What?
  • Who?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • When?
13 Dec 2016

What are the 7 elements of a marketing plan? ›

It's called the seven Ps of marketing and includes product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence.

What 5 main things are needed in a marketing plan? ›

The style is up to you, but it should include the following elements.
  • Marketing Goals and Objectives. ...
  • Define Your Target Audience. ...
  • Research Marketing Tactics. ...
  • Plan Your Marketing Tactics. ...
  • Develop Your Timeline and Budget.
12 Jan 2021

What are the 4 P's that you can focus in your marketing plan? ›

The four Ps are a “marketing mix” comprised of four key elements—product, price, place, and promotion—used when marketing a product or service. Typically, businesses consider the four Ps when creating marketing plans and strategies to effectively market to their target audience.

What are the 6 most important features of a marketing plan? ›

6 main elements of a marketing plan
  • Description of your product or service.
  • Market analysis.
  • Marketing goals and objectives.
  • Pricing details.
  • Advertising plan.
  • Marketing budget.
28 Oct 2022

How do you develop a strategic marketing plan step by step? ›

The elements of a plan
  1. Set your marketing goals. ...
  2. Conduct a marketing audit. ...
  3. Conduct market research. ...
  4. Analyze the research. ...
  5. Identify a target audience. ...
  6. Determine a budget. ...
  7. Develop marketing strategies. ...
  8. Develop an implementation schedule.

What are the 12 steps to a marketing plan? ›

12 Step Marketing Plans
  • Purpose. ...
  • Describe Product or Service and Market. ...
  • Identify the Competition. ...
  • Setting the Price. ...
  • The Advertising and Promotion Mix. ...
  • Develop a Budget. ...
  • Location. ...
  • Estimate Your Sales.

What are the 10 main parts of a marketing plan? ›

Learn about the 10 basic components of a marketing plan here.
Marketing Plan Basics
  • Market Research. ...
  • Target Market. ...
  • Product. ...
  • Competition. ...
  • Mission Statement. ...
  • Market Strategies. ...
  • Pricing, Positioning, and Branding. ...
  • Budget.
1 Sept 2022

What is a digital strategy example? ›

These include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). As these technologies dramatically reshape industries, many companies are pursuing large-scale change efforts to capture the benefits of these trends or simply to keep up with competitors.

What is an example of a digital first strategy? ›

Digital-first companies focus on delivering their service through digital mediums. MuleSoft is an excellent example of a digital-first company, as they have developed an integrated platform that allows customers to manage their business processes in one place.

What makes a good digital marketing strategy? ›

Build your core ads and service offerings first, and then write content with CTAs that lead users towards a purchase. But make sure that it's relatable, relevant and useful to your audience. You'll also want to have a clear understanding of how your content is working with regards to SEO and analytics patterns.

How do I create a simple marketing plan? ›

Develop your marketing plan
  1. Analyse your market. Market research can help you to understand your strengths, weaknesses and the opportunities that you can take advantage of. ...
  2. Set your goals and objectives. ...
  3. Outline your marketing strategies. ...
  4. Set your marketing budget. ...
  5. Keep your marketing plan up-to-date.
6 Aug 2021

What are the 8 elements of a marketing plan? ›

Start with a solid marketing plan with these 8 components:
  • Market Research. First, you need to understand the environment that you are selling in by using tools like a SWOT Analysis. ...
  • Target Audience. ...
  • Market Strategies. ...
  • Goals & Objectives. ...
  • Media & Tactics. ...
  • Budget and Action Plan. ...
  • Metrics. ...
  • Content Plan & Schedule.
30 Jan 2017

What makes a successful marketing plan? ›

Create an actionable marketing strategy.

A good marketing plan is nine parts execution for every one part strategy. Make sure you can track progress via objective measurements. Avoid generalities like "be the best." Include who does what and when they do it. Make tasks and budgets clear.

What are the 5 C's of marketing? ›

The 5 C's stand for Company, Collaborators, Customers, Competitors, and Climate. These five categories help perform situational analysis in almost any situation, while also remaining straightforward, simple, and to the point.

What are the 4 C's of marketing management? ›

The 4Cs (Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, Competitiveness) is most often used in marketing communications and was created by David Jobber and John Fahy in their book 'Foundations of Marketing' (2009).

What is a marketing plan checklist? ›

A marketing checklist is a type of marketing plan that outlines different components of a marketing initiative. A marketing checklist can be a simple way to keep track of different marketing activities and components, including objectives and strategies.

What does a digital marketing plan include? ›

A digital marketing plan is like a blueprint. It should cover the steps and tactics to achieve the broader outcomes defined by your strategy. Your plan should cover all of the digital channels you use, including social media, email, advertising, public relations, and your website.

How does a good marketing plan look like? ›

Typically, a marketing plan includes: An overview of your business's marketing and advertising goals. A description of your business's current marketing position. A timeline of when tasks within your strategy will be completed.

What are the 5 promotion strategies? ›

Types of promotional strategies include traditional and online advertising, personal selling, direct marketing, public relations and sponsorships and sales promotions.

What are the 4 types of marketing strategies? ›

4 Types Of Marketing Plans And Strategies
  • Market Penetration Strategy.
  • Market Development Strategy.
  • Product Development Strategy.
  • Diversification Strategy.
6 May 2020

What are the 4 selling strategies? ›

The four basic sales strategies salespeople use are script-based selling, needs-satisfaction selling, consultative selling, and strategic-partner selling. Different strategies can be used with in different types of relationships.

What are the 4 elements of strategic planning? ›

Continue reading to better understand the process of strategic planning, and learn how business leaders use the four strategic planning process steps to reach their goals.
  • Environmental Scanning. ...
  • Strategy Formulation. ...
  • Strategy Implementation. ...
  • Strategy Evaluation.
4 Mar 2021

What are the 3 layers of digital strategy? ›

Let's look at those layers in detail.
  • Layer 1 – Cloud platforms are now mainstream.
  • Layer 2 – IT will underpin business agility and productivity.
  • Layer 3 – Technology will reshape the customer experience.
10 Feb 2021

What are the 10 steps to creating a digital marketing strategy? ›

How to create a digital marketing strategy in 10 steps
  1. Step 1: Create a customer persona. ...
  2. Step 2: Identify your goals and tools. ...
  3. Step 3: Focus on blogging. ...
  4. Step 4: Evaluate existing digital marketing channels. ...
  5. Step 5: Automate marketing. ...
  6. Step 6: Nail mobile optimization. ...
  7. Step 7: Make it easy for customers to reach you.
6 Sept 2022

What are the 6 steps for implementing a digital strategy? ›

6 Steps to implement an effective digital strategy
  1. Identify the Digital Marketing Goals and Tools you Will Need. ...
  2. Evaluate your Existing Digital Marketing Channels and Materials. ...
  3. Do an Audit and Plan your Own Resources. ...
  4. Do an Audit and Plan your Obtained Media. ...
  5. Do an Audit and Plan your Paid Media.

What is a digital strategy concept? ›

A digital strategy is your plan for introducing and using digital technology to meet your business goals. A clear digital strategy can help you make sure that your digital presence is current, future-proof and achieves your intended goals.

What are the six common steps for reviewing a digital strategy? ›

6 Steps to Digital Marketing Success
  1. Step 1: Invest in a Quality Website. ...
  2. Step 2: Get Started with PPC. ...
  3. Step 3: Add Display Ads to the Mix. ...
  4. Step 4: Work on Your Search Engine Optimization. ...
  5. Step 5: Look Into a Social Media Strategy. ...
  6. Step 6: Manage Your Online Reputation.

What are the 4 D's of digital marketing? ›

5 Ds of Digital Transformation

Digital marketing revolves around these 5Ds: Digital Devices, Digital Platforms, Digital Media, Digital Data, And Digital Technology.

What is your top 3 digital marketing strategies to attract clients? ›

Here are 10 common marketing strategies companies use to reach more customers, encourage repeat business and build brand loyalty:
  • Leverage social media.
  • Start a blog.
  • Maximize search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Create a call to action (CTA).
  • Engage influencers.
  • Build a mailing list.
  • Create an affiliate program.
4 Feb 2020

What are the 7 C's of digital marketing? ›

And a great approach to take is to implement the 7 Cs- customer, content, context, community, convenience, cohesion, conversion. Customers play a key role in the success of your company, and making them the center of your marketing efforts is the number one requisite for the 7 Cs model marketing to work.

What are the 4 elements for a successful digital marketing plan? ›

The 4 elements of digital marketing include 1) market research, 2) website development, 3) online advertising, and 4) social media marketing. Each of these elements is important in its own right and should be carefully considered to create a successful digital marketing plan.

What are the five steps to creating a digital marketing plan? ›

How to develop a Digital Marketing plan in 5 steps?
  1. Carry out a SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is an analytical tool focused on strategic planning. ...
  2. Establish your goals. ...
  3. Define your buyer persona. ...
  4. Define your marketing strategy. ...
  5. Measure results and KPIs.
24 Mar 2020

What are the 3 pillars of a digital plan? ›

3 Pillars of Digital Transformation Strategy
  • People. Without an intentional organizational change management strategy, organizations will fail as they help their employees cross the bridge from one operation to the next. ...
  • Processes. ...
  • Technology.
6 Apr 2022

What are the 7 P's of digital marketing? ›

Initially 4, these elements were Product, Price, Place and Promotion, which were later expanded by including People, Packaging and Process. These are now considered to be the “7 P's” mix elements.

What are the four C's of digital marketing? ›

The 4Cs (Clarity, Credibility, Consistency, Competitiveness) is most often used in marketing communications and was created by David Jobber and John Fahy in their book 'Foundations of Marketing' (2009).

What is a digital strategy plan? ›

What is a digital strategy? A digital strategy is a written plan that clarifies your online goals and helps you put the right technology and processes in place to achieve these goals. Your online goals relate to your overall marketing objectives and what you want your business to achieve online.

What are the key components of a digital strategy? ›

Key components of a digital strategy
  • Online presence. Your online presence refers to how and where the community and other businesses see your business online. ...
  • Digital marketing and advertising. ...
  • Selling online. ...
  • Digital communications. ...
  • Cyber security. ...
  • Supplier interaction. ...
  • Digital solutions for efficiency. ...
  • Cloud computing.
11 May 2022

What are the 3 elements that a plan must have? ›

Rather, she explained, at the most basic level it really only needs three key elements: a financial plan, a basic understanding of the competitive landscape, and a clear definition of the company's values, vision and mission.

What are the 4 strategic pillars? ›

The 4 pillars for strategy are: Vision, Analysis, Target & Plan. A strategy needs to built on the foundation of an overarching vision that it is meant to achieve.

What are the 3 principle digital marketing? ›

This methodology, which is central to the key components of digital marketing, comprises three principles: initiate, integrate, and iterate. Collectively, this is referred to as the 3i Principles. The principles are designed to get you to think about a digital marketing strategy or campaign from start to finish.

What are the 5 stages of the digital marketing life cycle? ›

Here are the expectations projected for the five stages of the Digital Marketing Life Cycle.
  • SETUP (0-3 months)
  • TRACTION (4-9 mo)
  • POSITIONING (10-15 months)
  • EXPANSION (16-27+ months)
  • VIRAL GROWTH (future)
15 Aug 2010


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