Huw Neale
Huw Neale 14 June 2018

How to Design the Most Impactful Digital Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses

Digital is a key part of modern day businesses marketing plans. Yet most small businesses do not carry out any form of strategic marketing. Most leap straight into marketing tactics and promotion and wonder why their campaigns are not delivering the results they would expect.

Strategy before tactics is fundamental to build any successful marketing plan or campaigns. This blog article will show you how to shape your digital marketing strategy to create maximum impact.

Digital marketing strategy is a must in todays business landscape

Any marketing plan that does not incorporate digital is doomed to fail. There would only be very special circumstances or a unique business type that would not need to embrace digital in todays modern business world.

This is not to say that you should allocate all of your marketing budget to digital marketing and neglect traditional forms of marketing. The most well though out plans I have witnessed is when there is a good blend between digital and traditional forms of marketing that support each other.

Make sure it forms part of your overall marketing strategy and plan

Therefore, my first bit of advice is to ensure that you do not develop your digital strategy on its own. It has to be integrated into the bigger picture of your business and marketing plan.

The alarming issue is that many small businesses don’t even have a marketing plan.  They are simply conducting marketing activities on an ad hoc basis or reacting to marketing opportunities as and when they see appropriate.

So, I have provided you with a free step by step guide to build the ultimate marketing plan for your business. Just click here to access the guide.

What is a digital marketing strategy

The digital marketing strategy should identify how you are going to promote and reach your target audience through the use of digital channels and touch-points.

Most small businesses digital strategy is just about having a website that explains their business and social media profiles that pushes out content.

Companies will spend large sums of money on a website without even giving one minute thought to their digital marketing strategy. If they had, they may not have had to build such an expensive website or they may have wanted it to serve a different purpose.

Your website is often at the core of your digital strategy so you need to make sure it serves the purpose you require to execute your strategy. But if you don't have a strategy then you won't maximise the potential of your website.

Everything begins with the customer

In marketing I have a philosophy to first begin with the customer and work backwards to your products and services. Building out your digital marketing strategy is no different.

Develop your typical buyer persona. You may have carried out a similar process when developing your marketing plan and when identifying your target market, however, it might be that your online customers have different buying behaviours or demographics to those who will buy from you offline.

Or if you do not sell online, you will need to understand the online behaviours of your customers, how they will find you and then make the leap from e.g. research your products and services on your website to buying from you offline.

Know What Your Customers Want From Digital

The next step is to know exactly what your customers want from digital. This might be difficult for some companies who do not have the exact data or insights, so you may have to start with some assumptions.

However, if you have done your market research and developed a buyer persona or ideal customer profile to fully understand their needs then you can make more educated and informed assumptions.

The type of questions you want to ask are: 

  • Do your customers want to buy through digital?
  • Do they want to educate and research ideas online?
  • Are they looking for a unique digital experience? 
  • Do they want to be able to interact with the brand or company representative online? 
  • Do they engage in social media?

Once you know exactly what your customers want to achieve from their digital experience you begin to align their behaviours with developing the right type of digital assets and being active in the right digital channels to create relevant touch-points for your customers.

Take a look at the competition online

Digital has made it much easier to track what competitors are doing to engage with customers online. Understanding and tracking their activities can help to shape a strategy that enables you to position and differentiate your brand from the competition.

Your digital strategy should communicate why your customers will engage with your brand instead of your competition. 

Again, researching competition may have been carried out sufficiently when developing your overall marketing plan but you need to ensure you have taken a deep dive on how your competition presents themselves online to ensure you are promoting your point of difference or can leverage your digital strategy as a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Take for example Dropbox, a leading cloud storage provider. They adopted a digital strategy of creating value to their customers by providing extra storage space for free if they referred their product on to friends, colleagues or affiliates. They made sure their digital assets made it very easy to refer their cloud based application which meant that Dropbox could grow quicker than their competitors.




This is a great example of where digital strategy can provide a real edge for you business to generate sales.

What resources are available to me?

I’ve witnessed this faux pas on quite a few occasions. A brilliant strategy has been put in place but there has been no thought given to whether they have the resources to be able to execute the strategy.

For your digital strategy you need to look at resources both internally in your business and externally.

Let’s take a look at factors internally first as these will be most identifiable:

  • People
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Time

Now lets take a look at factors externally that relate to digital:

  • Digital Tools and apps
  • Software 
  • Social media
  • Advertising platforms
  • Hardware
  • Industry specific platforms
  • Bloggers and news sites

Each business should consider what resources they currently have internally, what resources they can add and what resources they can leverage that are external to their business to exploit their digital strategy.

It’s important you stay realistic particularly in terms of what you can afford and the man power you have to deliver.

Creating the customer experience

This is the heart beat of your digital strategy. Many businesses will begin their digital strategy with thinking about the customer experience first. I recommend that this is the last part you think about.

The reason being the experience has to be aligned to the customer needs, behaviour and experience they expect to receive.

If you start with this process first you could fall into the trap of developing an experience that you think your customers want but really it’s your own idea of an engaging customer experience. Let’s face it, it’s only a good idea if the customers want and like it so it’s best to make sure they do by looking at it from their perspective.

The customer experience may sound like a complex process or something that just big companies provide but it is also something that small businesses should give great attention to also.

The customer experience can be very simple. It can be as simple as how you present your content in social media. It can be about the first page that potential customers land on your website. In fact, as a small business I urge you to keep this process simple. Simple yet effective is what we are aiming for.

If we go back to the Dropbox example, it’s a simple strategy of creating a customer experience that rewards users for referring their product. It was no more complex than that but how they designed their digital assets and content to execute the strategy was where they sprinkled the magic dust.




A customer experience is the value that your customers or potential customers will receive by reaching your digital touch-points.

Concisely communicate your strategy

The next and final step is to develop your strategy into a concise paragraph. It should clearly explain what you are going to achieve, how you are going to achieve it, who you will target and why they will buy from you and no-one else.

Using the Dropbox example one more time, their digital strategy could have looked something like this:

Dropbox digital strategy will increase its customer base through referral marketing from business professionals and home workers who require additional cloud storage. We will maintain customer loyalty by offering free additional storage capacity in return for a successful referral.”

Based on this strategy Dropbox set about making the referral feature a central feature on their website, through the development of landing pages and content and developing email marketing funnels that reminded users of the referral offer.

The net result was a growth of 4 million new users in 15 months. If this example doesn’t highlight the value of putting in place a digital strategy and aligning with the bigger picture of your company’s marketing plan then I’m stuck to really know what will.

If you would like support on how to develop and implement a marketing plan for your business then just click here.

promise ezike
promise ezike

Thanks for sharing such an informative article!

Huw Neale
Huw Neale

Thank you Amandeep, glad you enjoyed it and found the article useful

Amandeep Singh
Amandeep Singh

Thank You so much for sharing such a useful and informative article. I own a small <a href="">web development company in Noida </a>. This article will help me in growing my own business and increase their reach among people.

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