The first thing to remember before undertaking your digital marketing efforts is to determine the strategy itself. Here is a series of questions to guide you through it.

Goal: What is your goal? Are you looking for immediate sales or cultivating awareness and doing branding? Your business goals must be tied to your marketing goals. If you’re looking for an increase in sales, then your digital goal would relate to the number of leads.

Buyer Persona: Who are you trying to reach? Is there a single consumer type or are there several? If it’s everyone, it’s no one. Who is your ideal customer? What traits do you expect most of them to share in terms of age, profession, interests? Can this be gleaned from actual data and not assumptions? It’s crucial that this be accurate. Can you use your web analytic tools to help figure this out? Spot has a form to help you complete to help define who you’re trying to reach. And the more you can zero in and make the message specific and relevant for them, the better your results will be. Remember – a message targeted to a 30 yr. old businessman is much different than what a retired couple would respond to.

Budget: How much do you have to spend to acquire a customer?

Competitive Landscape: Who are you competing with? What are they spending? What keywords are they using?

Existing Resources: What are your existing digital channels and assets? Is your website optimized? Do you have the ability to continue to add fresh content in the form of blogs, etc.?

Have you claimed all your directory listings including Yelp, Google My Business, Alexa, etc.? Do you have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter accounts (and others), if they are applicable to your business?

The answer to all of these questions will be your guideposts in determining your strategy or for the direction you give to the firm that is helping you.

Depending on your budget, you will then work to determine the ratios between paid, earned, and owned media. And the more you can coordinate between them so the same piece of content can be used to amplify your message, the better.

Owned media are digital assets that your company owns like your website, social media profiles, blog content and photos/infographics, etc.

Earned media is like digital word-of-mouth. Press mentions, reviews, people sharing your content on their social media and the like.

Paid media are tactics like Google AdWords, boosted social media posts or paid social media ads, sponsored posts on other websites (native advertising), etc.

If you do the hard work up front, and understand what has worked for you in the past, you increase your chances of success exponentially. And don’t forget tracking devices in everything so you know what’s working. Put it all on a calendar and create your marketing matrix so you understand what you’ll need when. Then put it into play and keep an eye on the analytics so you can continue to update it, test new ideas, and maximize your results.