How to Create a “Good Enough” Digital Marketing Strategy

Natalie Henley

Creating a comprehensive digital marketing strategy can be an intense endeavor. This type of effort can span several weeks and you might find yourself creating a document that reads like a short book. And, if you are like most companies, you might find yourself doing this effort about once a year. 

The big drawback is that giant plans of this nature rarely turn out the way you thought they would – the world of digital marketing just changes too often.

I’d go so far as to say that, sometimes, marketers don’t actually need to develop those intense plans. Instead, they might just need to get a “good enough” strategy written down so that they have direction and purpose, but can remain a bit more flexible. 

Going the “good enough” route might be good when: 

  1. You are 8+ months into a digital marketing strategy and need a course correction, but don’t have the time and resources to revamp the entire strategy. 
  2. You’ve never done digital marketing and you just want to get started and try some tactics. 
  3. You need to see movement on some specific metrics sooner rather than later. 
  4. The process of creating a full digital marketing strategy is daunting for you. 
  5. It feels like your digital marketing has been haphazard, and you’d like to give it more focus. 
  6. You’re a data geek who wants to start trying things but lets the results and data steer the ship long-term. 

In that vein, I’d like to share one of my favorite ways to set/reset a simple strategy for digital marketing, in about a day or less.

Create a “good enough” strategy in a day (or less) 

Step 1: Timing 

Pick a timeframe (e.g. between now and the end of the year). You get a gold star if your time frame is 6 months or less. If your timeframe is longer than 2 years, you are probably going too long.

Step 2: Goals 

Outline your goals for digital marketing. Not your crazy big 5-year goals. But instead, what do you want to see happen sooner rather than later? Try to add make it more specific and make it something reasonable. Also, less is more — unless you’ve got a giant team and a lot of moving pieces, you probably shouldn’t have more than five goals total. Many companies might only have one or two. 

  • Example of a great goal: Get more first-time purchases with [insert specific target audience] (or even a specific product).
  • Example of a goal that needs (a lot) more definition: Sell more.

Step 3: Audiences 

Outline the audience(s) you want to target. You get a gold star if you can get this down to 3 or fewer audiences. Also, you don’t have to launch an extensive persona definition program. Just take a few minutes to document who you think your audience probably is. Remember, for this exercise, we’re going for “good enough,” not perfect.

Step 4: Metrics 

Which metrics would positively influence these goals? The trick here is to pick your top few, not everything. Also, if you have a major KPI in there (like increase e-commerce revenue), it’s probably worth adding a few sub-metrics so you and your team are watching progress toward that goal.

So what you have at this point might look a bit like this:

 

Goal #1: Increase Product X Sales by the End of the Year 

 

  • Timeframe: Next 4 months 
  • Target Audience: Foodies, aged 45-65, with higher levels of income 
  • Metrics: Increase sales of the product, increased traffic to the product X page, Increased # of people watching the Product X video 

Up to this point, you’ve been getting yourself organized for the brainstorm. Now comes the fun part: putting together strategies and ideas around each goal.

Step 5: The Brainstorm 

If you are brainstorming with a team, my recommendation is to go the following route:

  1. Brainstorm ideas & tactics individually. Everyone should either bring a list of ideas, or you can give everyone about 20 minutes to write ideas down at the beginning of your meeting.  
  2. Group brainstorm. Have everyone toss out their favorite ideas from what they wrote, then get them all up on a whiteboard. Likely people will start riffing off of or coming up with additional ideas. Awesome! Write those down, too. 
  3. Prioritize. After the brainstorm, start to figure out levels of effort, complexity, and budget so that you can trim the first brainstorm list down to what you want to pull off. I wouldn’t do this during the brainstorm, as you might risk shutting people down. If you are worried that the team is getting too grandiose, ask them to add in lower-effort alternatives. 
  4. Example of how NOT to do this: “Hah no way, we obviously don’t have the time or resources to make a commercial. What else have you got?” 
  5. Example of how to do this: “Ok filming a company commercial is a really cool idea. I’m not 100% sure if we can pull that off, so if we can’t, what are some smaller ideas that we could have as a back-up that would help introduce prospects to our company?” 

If you don’t have a team, or feel completely overwhelmed in brainstorming ideas, here are some other options:

  • Take a Digital Marketing Strategist to coffee (we love coffee!) and ask for some advice on where to start.
  • If you are considering investing in an agency, they’ll usually do some of this work for you. If you can provide goals, audience, and your top metrics, they can usually provide strategies, tactics, and budget options for you. 
  • Attend a digital marketing conference to get inspired by sessions and speakers throughout the day, and try to ask for advice during networking sessions. 
  • Start smaller, and get down to one goal, one audience member, a handful of metrics. 

Still lost? Reach out to us on our contact form and we’ll help steer you in the right direction. 

Step 6: Finalize the Plan 

At this point, you should have a small handful of goals, metrics, and target audiences, with a bunch of ideas underneath. From here, the exercise is really to identify the tactics that will be the easiest to accomplish and have the highest potential impact. The big thing to keep in mind is to focus on the strategies and tactics that will affect the specific metrics you’ve identified. 

How many of the tactics you select will be up to your resources, i.e. time and budget? In general, I like to keep as many low-effort, high-impact tactics as possible, then try to pick out at least 1 bigger idea.  

When you are done, you should have about a 2-3 page document that outlines your simple, scrappy strategy. #YouareWelcome

This process has always steered me well when trying to help companies put together a strategy that is “good enough” to get started, and I hope it serves you well, too.