How to Develop Digital Marketing Strategy as a Start Up

The first thing you are likely thinking to do as a new start up or small business is to get customers! Customers are, after all, the lifeblood of a thriving business. You need to make money, right? Yes, we will agree with that – obviously, customers are important whether you are a B2B/B2C//B2G firm or otherwise.


Yet, one of the areas that small business start ups seem to mistake the most is where and how to get those customers – and not creating the digital marketing strategy necessary to acquire them. You are likely a small business with limited capital and human resources. Thus, making huge strategic plans probably do not fit into your business model just yet.

That’s great (we recommend that you stay agile).


However, a digital marketing strategy will do you great justice in the pursuit of high profit yielding customers and achieving customer retention.


As you read this blog, and your small business continues to grow, feel free to add greater detail to your digital marketing strategy, as well as adjust it as new customer data trickles in.


What is Digital Marketing?


Digital marketing is a broad practice that combines quality content, data analysis, and tools and technologies to leverage pull marketing strategies that attract buyers. Digital marketing can include multiple organic or paid digital marketing methods, and often occur simultaneously for an organization. It continues even after your customers are acquired.


Your small business can use digital marketing strategy to gain a competitive advantage and secure market share at a lower cost point.


However, if digital marketing is done ad hoc or outside of a defined digital marketing strategy, the result can be costly with limited results.


How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?


Shift your thinking away from “getting customers” and start looking at the bigger picture. Before you venture into marketing and sells pitches galore, begin with understanding your business model and long-term vision for growth. It is important for small businesses to use this overall vision to drive business outcomes across company segments – including its digital marketing initiatives.


Ask these 3 questions to start:

  • What problem is my small business solving?

  • What value is the service or product bringing to the market?

  • What is required to communicate that value to stakeholders?

When these questions are solidified for your small business and clear to the digital marketing team you are ready to develop a digital marketing strategy for start ups.


To develop your digital marketing strategy, execute these steps: Determine Your Goals, Determine Your Target Audience, Define the Platforms, Determine the Budget, and Establish a Monitoring and Control Schedule.


"You won’t know where to go until you understand why you’re going."

1. Determine Your Goals


Understand what you want to accomplish in specific terms. Thus, “acquire customers” is not necessarily a great goal, though it can be the overall objective for a lead generation campaign, for example. Your digital marketing strategy must have clearly defined goals.


Have you heard the saying “you won’t know where to go until you understand why you’re going”? You can apply that same frame of thinking to goal creation for your digital marketing strategy.

  • What are you trying to accomplish and why is it necessary? Remember, you are adding value and maximizing cost – avoid unnecessary efforts.

Use SMART marketing goals to help determine your goals for digital marketing strategy and achieve objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Hint: Sometime this step is done simultaneously with Step 2: Determine Your Target Audience.


2. Determine Your Target Audience


Perhaps one of the most important steps, and conversely biggest digital marketing mistakes small business start ups make, in developing the digital marketing strategy is being very clear on who is in the target audience. Your audience and target customer is not everyone. Therefore, casting a wide net to see who bites is not a wise tactic when implementing digital marketing.


Understand your target audience through market research and customer segmentation. Four customer segmentation areas include:

  • Demographics. Age, Income, Ethnicity, Gender, Education, etc.

  • Psychographics. Lifestyle, Interests, Values, Personality Traits, etc.

  • Geographics. Location, Region, Country, Proximity, etc.

  • Technographics. Technology Usage, Technological Literacy, etc.


There are other customer marketing segmentation areas too. Customer segments allow you to effectively communicate the value of your products and services to the respective segment with digital marketing, as well as understand customer purchasing habits in the long run.


Define your target audience and secondary audiences so that your content marketing strategy and retargeting campaigns (all within the digital marketing strategy) engage the right people.


3. Define the Platforms


Now that you have identified your target audiences, define the right platforms to use for your digital marketing strategy. Your target audiences will demonstrate an affinity for certain digital and online platforms. Likewise, conduct an internal tools assessment. Customer experience automation tools like Active Campaign, for example, may be the best way to manage new customers and automate processes.


Think of it this way: digital marketing efforts on TikTok may be the best way to attract Gen Zers, while geofencing mobile display ads may be the best avenue to entice localized shoppers into a nearby store.


You’ll come to find that defining the right platforms for digital marketing strategy does not solely revolve around social media. Listen to Brand Strategist Ramatu Kandakai speak on this in the Digital Riser Series held April 22, 2021 on Digalyne’s Facebook page.



4. Determine the Budget


Your digital marketing budget should maximize itself in sales and continuous profit. Determine the budget, budget constraints, and potential management reserves for risks.


Your budget includes costs for advertising, setup costs, implementation costs, labor costs for digital subject matter experts, and costs of acquisition.


Small businesses can start with an overall budget and perform top-down analysis to align all activities with maximum allotted costs. Otherwise, you can use the goals in Step 1 to align the costs required to achieve them.


For instance, suppose you require 300 event sign ups. According to a previous effort, it took $5,000 in spend to achieve that amount. Thus, if your goal for a similar effort were to obtain 325 sign ups, the budget would be: X/$5,000 multiplied by 300/325, where X = $5,416 in spend.

5. Establish a Monitoring and Control Schedule


The key to a successful digital marketing strategy is knowing when to adjust. A constant flow of customer information and data will come in as the strategy unfolds and it helps shape the development of digital marketing strategy that adds value.


Create the expectation to regularly monitor the data that your platforms capture, analyze the information, and adjust the strategy accordingly. Based on your small business’ needs, weekly, biweekly or monthly adjustments usually do the trick.


4 Tips to Create Digital Marketing Strategy that Converts for Small Business


A digital marketing strategy provides structure and helps guide the digital marketing team’s efforts, as well as maintain costs. Your digital marketing strategy is most effective when you implement these 4 tips:

  1. Start small then expand. You do not have to be everywhere for everybody – just yet.

  2. Create quality content. Prioritize quality over quantity.

  3. Leverage digital narrative. Use digital narrative to increase lead conversion.

  4. Be Patient. It is a myth that you will receive instant results – even with all the right components in place. It may take longer than you anticipated to see profit and scale, and that is ok.

Hire niche talent with digital skill sets, like a Digital Project Manager, or outsource to a digital agency to help you navigate the tools, technologies, data, and creativity required for an effective digital marketing strategy.


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