Digital Marketing Strategy—True North for Digital Marketers

An effective digital marketing strategy brings your online marketing clearly into focus.

Allie Grace Garnett


  • Digital marketing strategy establishes your digital marketing priorities
  • A digital marketing strategy isn’t complete without a detailed action plan
  • Your digital marketing strategy can and should evolve over time

What is digital marketing strategy? A core component of digital marketing, or just a lot of added work? Nice to have, or absolutely necessary? A digital marketing strategy is a living, breathing tool that’s designed to make your organization better and more efficient at digital marketing.

If digital marketing strategy feels like an intriguing but somewhat abstract concept, then you may have many questions about this crucial tool for digital marketing. Keep reading to get the clarity that you need about digital marketing strategy.


What is a digital marketing strategy? 

A digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive action plan for your digital marketing. The key purposes of a digital marketing strategy include—

  • Define your digital marketing goals
  • Identify potential digital marketing activities
  • Establish your digital marketing scope of work
  • Develop a measurement and analysis plan
  • Identify your available resources for strategy implementation

Digital marketing strategists are a lot like urban planners. Just like city planners decide where roads, government buildings, and parks should go, digital marketing strategists develop customized digital marketing plans designed to meet the unique needs of an organization and its stakeholders. Digital marketing strategy that aligns business objectives with audience needs is essential for any digital marketing initiative to be effective. 

A digital marketing strategy includes several major components—

  • Content plan: A content plan defines the topics (keywords) that you want to cover—usually because they map well to the buyer journey.
  • Marketing mix: “Marketing mix” is industry lingo for the content formats that you plan to use—like blogs, video, email, and social media. 
  • Channel strategy: Your channel strategy is essentially your digital content distribution plan. A channel strategy identifies the digital channels—such your organization’s website, LinkedIn, and YouTube—where you’re planning to distribute content.
  • Digital content calendar: The content calendar creates a publication schedule that specifies when and where each digital asset will be distributed. 
  • Measurement and analysis plan: A plan for measurement and analysis creates the foundation for you to quantify and understand the effectiveness of your digital marketing.

A digital marketing strategy is not a static document, but rather the product of ongoing effort. An impactful digital marketing strategy is constantly being iterated to ensure that its output remains closely aligned with your organization’s evolving objectives. 


How to create a digital marketing strategy 

Are you wondering about what’s required to create your first digital marketing strategy? Let’s explore the steps.

1. Define your goals

Your first step is to identify what you want to achieve with digital marketing. What can exceptional content, in all the right formats and channels, do for your organization? Who is your target audience and what are their needs? Establishing clear goals is essential to setting the direction for your digital marketing strategy. 

2. Identify your resources for strategy execution

Your next step is to identify the resources available to support the implementation of a digital marketing strategy. What is your budget? Do you have a team? How much time do you have? Consider your resources and limitations at the start to avoid formulating a digital marketing strategy that you’re unable to execute successfully. 

3. Conduct a digital content audit

If your organization has any type of content already, then your next step may be to conduct a digital content audit. Even with only a social media presence and a website, you can benefit from understanding what’s working well and poorly. Completing a digital content audit requires inventorying your content, gathering and analyzing performance data, and identifying potential improvements. 

4. Develop a content plan

With a clear understanding of your digital marketing goals, resources, and existing content, you’re ready to develop a content plan. Creating a relevant and effective content plan is a research-intensive activity that focuses around identifying target keywords and mapping keywords to the buyer journey. A content plan supports the development of keyword clusters that are typically grouped around thematic pillars.

5. Design a marketing mix

After defining the topics that you want to cover, your next step is to establish your marketing mix. Planning a marketing mix that is targeted and comprehensive is another research-intensive activity that requires learning your audience’s content consumption habits and preferences. This step is complete once you’ve identified the all of the media formats that you’ll use for your digital marketing. 

6. Develop your channel strategy

Your next move is to develop a digital content distribution plan, otherwise known as a channel strategy. Publishing content on your organization’s website may seem like an obvious choice, but which other channels should you consider? Research to understand where your target customers like to digitally hang out, and prioritize those channels for distributing your digital media.

7. Create a digital content calendar

A content calendar puts all the key elements of your digital content strategy into a timeline format. Develop a content calendar that specifies, for each digital asset, exactly when and in which channel the digital content will be published.

If you’re not sure about the ideal schedule for your content calendar, then you’ll need to conduct additional research. (Yay!) When is your target audience usually online? At what times do your targeted distribution channels receive the most engagement? How many emails is too many for your customers? Obtaining this information can help you to make informed choices about your digital content distribution schedule. 

8. Establish a measurement and analysis plan

The time when you create your digital marketing strategy is also the ideal time to establish a measurement and analysis plan. What quantitative and qualitative data will you collect? How will you collect it? Who will analyze the data that you receive? The prospect of gathering and interpreting data may feel overwhelming, but using data is crucial to ensure that your digital marketing is impactful and resource efficient.

9. Include provisions to iterate and optimize your strategy

The development of your digital marketing strategy is complete! Kind of. Your job as a digital marketer is to ensure that your digital content priorities continually map to the priorities of your organization and target audience—which may mean adjusting your digital marketing strategy over time. The digital marketing analytics data that you gather may reveal, too, that other specific changes are warranted.

Your digital marketing strategy should be specific, but also flexible and adaptable. Develop your digital marketing strategy expecting to iterate and optimize it as you develop a greater understanding of how the strategy is performing.


Pros and cons of digital marketing strategy

Digital marketers love to pontificate about the many benefits of developing a digital marketing strategy—but you should also understand the opportunity costs. Keep reading to explore the pros and cons of developing and using a digital marketing strategy.

Pros of digital marketing strategy

  • May enhance your digital marketing performance across qualitative and quantitative metrics
  • Supports consistency in tone, style, and message across all mediums
  • Ensures that digital marketing resources are used transparently and efficiently
  • Encourages data-driven decision making
  • May improve your long-term return on digital marketing investment

Cons of digital marketing strategy

  • Complex with many interconnected elements
  • Resource intensive, requiring money, time, software, and human support
  • Typically requires specialized knowledge and expertise to implement
  • Impact can be difficult to measure 
  • Constantly evolving as organizational needs, customer preferences, and the digital marketing landscape continually shift 

Beginner mistakes when creating & using digital marketing strategies

Nobody wants to create a digital marketing strategy that’s ineffective or guides their organization in the wrong direction. If you’re just getting started with developing and using a digital marketing strategy, then check out this list of what definitely not to do—

  • Lack clear goals for your digital marketing strategy. You need specific, measurable goals for your digital marketing strategy. How else will you know that you’re succeeding?
  • Not fully understand your target audience. Know thy target audience and everything that makes them tick.
  • Develop a digital marketing strategy that you cannot reliably execute. A digital marketing strategy is only as effective as its execution over time.
  • Undervalue the importance of content quality. If your digital content isn’t outstanding, then you’re probably wasting time.
  • Neglect digital content distribution and promotion. What’s the point of producing great content if nobody sees it? Expert digital content distribution and promotion are critical but often overlooked.
  • Ignore digital marketing data and analytics. Whether you love numbers or not, you need data to clearly understand and efficiently improve your digital marketing strategy.
  • Produce an unoriginal digital marketing strategy. You can probably obtain a boilerplate digital marketing strategy using Chat GPT or the internet, but would it serve your organization? You need a digital marketing strategy that is thoroughly custom.

How to learn more about digital marketing strategy

Want to continue learning about digital marketing strategy? Here’s what else you can do—

  • Enroll in digital marketing courses online 
  • Subscribe to digital marketing newsletters
  • Participate in webinars hosted by digital strategy experts
  • Engage with online forums and communities devoted to digital marketing
  • Dive directly in—by drafting your first digital marketing strategy

Is a digital marketing strategy right for your organization?

Developing a digital strategy is a lot of work—which begs the critical question: Does your organization really need a digital marketing strategy? 

If you’re paying for digital marketing, then the answer is probably yes. Digital marketing is expensive and time consuming, using more resources than you can afford to waste. Planned correctly, a comprehensive digital marketing effort can be immensely impactful to your business. 

You wouldn’t climb a mountain without knowledge or a trail map to get to the peak. Don’t create a digital content ecosystem without a robust digital marketing strategy to guide you.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is the roadmap that guides a digital marketing effort. Creating a digital marketing strategy occurs usually after a digital content audit, but before any new content is created. Successful digital marketing strategies align closely with key business objectives. 

What does a digital marketing strategy include?

A digital marketing strategy is composed of several crucial, interconnected components. Digital marketing strategies that are comprehensive include a content plan that maps your target keywords, a media mix, a channel strategy, a digital content calendar, and a strategy for performance measurement and analysis. Your digital marketing strategy should also identify your resources available for executing the strategy over time. 

Who benefits from a successful digital marketing strategy?

Impactful digital marketing strategy benefits both organizations and their stakeholders. Customers and potential customers benefit from receiving valuable, relevant, and consistent digital content that meets their most important needs. Memorable and well-placed content is a win for marketing teams, while sales teams can leverage focused and informative media to accelerate the buyer journey. All stakeholders of an organization can profit from a digital marketing strategy that significantly fattens the bottom line.