7 Ways to Create an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

Discover how a Fractional CMO can be instrumental in developing an effective digital marketing strategy. Insights from Ellen Steinlauf at VCMO.

Ellen M. Steinlauf
8 Apr
April 8, 2024
 min video
8 Apr


Businesses are continually challenged to keep up with evolving marketing trends and strategies. Entrepreneurs and CEOs have long recognised the need to establish and execute an effective digital marketing strategy to remain competitive. However, navigating the world of digital marketing can be overwhelming, especially for those without a dedicated marketing department. In this article, Paul Mills discusses when fractional marketing executives come into play, offering a unique solution to bridge the gap between expertise, budget constraints and human resource limitations.

The Importance of Crafting an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

A well-crafted digital marketing strategy is the cornerstone of any successful business. It serves as a roadmap, guiding your company towards its growth objectives and ensuring resources are allocated efficiently. However, many owner-managers and CEOs often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to developing and implementing such strategies, which is where fractional marketing executives can be a game-changer. Here are six steps where a Fractional CMO can assist with your digital marketing success.

1 Define Your Objectives and Goals

Before diving into digital marketing, it's crucial to define your business objectives and goals clearly. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, boost online sales, or expand your customer base? Fractional Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can help you align your marketing efforts with these objectives, ensuring that every campaign and initiative is working towards a common goal.

To define your digital objectives and goals, follow these simple steps:

  • Align Your Business Strategy with your Marketing Strategy: Whether you intend to enter a new market, or expand your offerings, increasing your revenue and profitability will allow you to raise capital, and/or build a full complement of marketing team staff to accelerate growth. Your business strategy drives the marketing strategy and will also help you establish budget guidelines. Consider what your company aims to achieve in the short-term and long-term, so the goals will be aligned with the marketing tactics needed immediately versus over time.
  • SMART Goals: Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals. For instance, instead of saying, "We want more qualified leads," set a SMART goal like, "We plan to increase inbound qualified leads by 20% within the next six months."
  • Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Common KPIs include website traffic, conversion rates, qualified leads generated, deals closed from these efforts, customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), and return on investment (ROI).
  • Segment Your Audience: Define your target markets, your competitive ecosystem and target audience. Create buyer personas to define your ideal customers, their pain points, interests, and behaviours. This information will guide your digital marketing strategies.
  • Competitor Analysis: Analyse your competitors' digital strategies to identify gaps and opportunities. For example, their keywords and traffic will tell you a lot about how your competition is doing with their marketing efforts. Understanding what your competitors are doing well and where they are falling short can help you set realistic goals and benchmarks.
  • Benchmark Current Performance: This gives you a baseline against which to measure progress. It includes evaluating your website traffic, social media engagement, email open rates, and leads being generated. Use this information as a starting point to set improvement goals.
  • Budget Allocation: Allocate a budget for your digital marketing initiatives. Ensure that your financial resources align with your goals. Some goals may require more investment in advertising, content creation, or tools and technology.
  • Document Your Plan: Create a digital marketing plan or strategy document that outlines your objectives, KPIs, target audience, tactics, and timelines. This document will serve as a roadmap for your digital marketing efforts.
A well thought out documented, digital marketing strategy, aligned with the firm’s business strategy and doable based upon budget considerations is invaluable to every company I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

2 Know Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience is fundamental to the success of any marketing strategy. If your business operates without a full-time CMO or senior marketing leader, Fractional Marketing Executives bring their wealth of experience to the table, helping you conduct thorough market research, analyse customer behaviour, and create buyer personas. This deep understanding of your audience allows for more effective messaging and tailored digital campaigns.

3 Choose the Right Digital Channels

The digital marketing landscape comprises numerous channels, platforms, and tools. For businesses that don’t have a full-time CMO, selecting the most appropriate channels could be performed by a Fractional CMO. By accessing their expertise on a part-time basis, a Fractional CMO can leverage their industry expertise to determine which digital channels align best with your target audience and objectives. Whether it's social media, content marketing, paid advertising, or email campaigns, they'll guide you in making informed choices. Here are the most commonly used digital marketing channels:

  1. Website: A company's website is often the central hub for its online presence. It serves as a platform to provide information, showcase products or services, and facilitate online transactions.
  2. Social Media: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok are powerful channels for building brand awareness, engaging with customers, and sharing content.
  3. Email Marketing: Email marketing involves sending targeted messages, newsletters, and promotional offers to a list of subscribers. It's a valuable channel for building customer relationships and driving conversions.
  4. Search Engines: Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) allow businesses to appear in search engine results pages (e.g., Google) when users search for relevant keywords.
  5. Content Marketing: Content marketing channels include blogs, articles, eBooks, videos, podcasts, and infographics. Content helps educate, inform, and engage the audience while establishing authority in a niche.
  6. Online Advertising: This includes various forms of paid advertising like display ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media advertising, and sponsored content. These ads can appear on websites, social media platforms, or search engine results pages.
  7. Video Marketing: Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo are popular for hosting video content. Video marketing can include product demonstrations, tutorials, vlogs, and promotional videos.
  8. Social Messaging Apps: Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct Messaging allow businesses to communicate with customers, offer support, and send personalized messages.
  9. Affiliate Marketing: Businesses can partner with affiliates or influencers who promote their products or services to their own audiences in exchange for a commission on sales generated.
  10. Mobile Marketing: Leveraging mobile devices for marketing includes SMS marketing, in-app advertising, and optimising websites for mobile responsiveness.
  11. E-commerce Platforms: For businesses selling products online, e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and WooCommerce are essential channels for reaching a broader audience.
  12. Review and Rating Sites: Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business are important for managing online reviews and maintaining a positive online reputation.
  13. Podcasts: Hosting or appearing as a guest on relevant podcasts can help businesses reach a dedicated and engaged audience.
  14. Webinars and Virtual Events: Hosting webinars, virtual conferences, and live streaming events can be effective for engaging with an audience and showcasing expertise.
  15. Forums and Online Communities: Engaging in industry-specific forums, Reddit communities, or niche social networks can help establish thought leadership and build connections.
  16. Chatbots and AI Assistants: Implementing chatbots on websites or messaging apps can provide automated customer support and assistance, improving user experience. Click here to see our custom Marketing GPT Chatbots.
  17. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): These immersive technologies can be used for interactive marketing experiences, especially in industries like gaming, real estate, and retail.
  18. Online Marketplaces: Selling products through online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy can expand a business's reach to a broader customer base.

Ellen M. Steinlauf - Fractional CMO, VCMO
The channels chosen to increase awareness, traffic and leads is both an art and a science. I always lean in the direction of a more enduring inbound strategy based upon content that demonstrates thought leadership and speaks directly to your target market’s priorities and goals. Over time this approach continues to bear fruit. Spending on advertising and other more expensive techniques and channels can be added as rocket fuel.

4 Content Creation and Distribution

High-quality content is the currency of digital marketing. Fractional marketing executives are well-versed in developing compelling content strategies that resonate with your audience. They ensure that your brand's message is consistent across all channels, helping you create a strong online presence and build trust with your customers.

5 Implement Data-Driven Decision-Making

One of the most significant advantages of engaging with fractional marketing executives is their commitment to data-driven decision-making. They use tools such as Google Analytics to track campaign performance, measure key performance indicators (KPIs), and make adjustments in real-time. This data-driven approach ensures that your marketing efforts are continually optimised for maximum ROI.

6 Monitor, Measure, and Optimise

The digital landscape is dynamic, and what works today may not be effective tomorrow. Fractional marketing executives continuously monitor the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and adapt your strategy accordingly. This adaptability ensures that your marketing efforts remain relevant and effective, keeping your business ahead of the competition.

Conclusion - Achieving Success Through an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

Engaging with Fractional Marketing Executives, whether as Fractional CMOs, Virtual CMOs, or Interim CMOs, can provide owner-managers and CEOs with a wealth of experience and knowledge, helping you craft and execute effective digital marketing strategies tailored to your goals and audience.

In a world where digital marketing is constantly evolving, the guidance and expertise of fractional marketing executives can be the key to unlocking your business's full potential. Embracing this innovative approach will help you navigate the complexities of the digital landscape, ensuring your brand's success in the digital age.

About the Author

Ellen M. Steinlauf is a Fractional CMO at VCMO and specialises in working with CEOs and Boards of B2B startups and SMBs in the SaaS, Technology, and Professional Services sectors. Read her bio.

‍About VCMO

VCMO helps SMEs and investor-backed portfolio companies with a £2 million or higher turnover that operate without a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. Our Fractional CMOs and tailored services transform marketing potential into a competitive advantage that delivers scalable and predictable growth, increased profits, and enhanced enterprise value.

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Ellen M. Steinlauf
Fractional CMO

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