When I start working with a small business, there’s often a frenzy to fix or clean up. Usually, the time a small business is seeking help is when they’ve been doing a ton on their own for a long time and finally realize they can’t do it all. (It’s ok, we’re human. Sometimes I think I can do it all, too.) The business has probably grown gradually and thankfully but then all of a sudden you stand back and say, oh my god, this is a huge mess. You want to patch and repair—it’s only natural. But, this is exactly the time to step back and really look at your goals along with what resources, budget and time you have. I find myself gently pushing my clients to work on a digital marketing strategy.

Why Would You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy?

It sounds like an industry buzz term but a digital marketing strategy actually has validity. Sure, I can come in and start setting up and scheduling e-blasts for you. I can do some social media posts and fill in some content on your website. But, if all of these parts aren’t working together, it just becomes a lot of noise. You might be sending out a newsletter to your growing mailing list, but if you’re sending them to confusing, indirect language on your website, those people might unsubscribe or stop opening your emails. If you just want to “get more business,” how can you ever really tell if anything you’re posting or emailing is working?

You can hire people to do your social media, write your website content and prepare your email marketing but if they don’t have a prime directive, they’re lost. They’ll be peppering you with questions every step of the way. Or, you might be disappointed in what they’re posting/writing/sending because it doesn’t follow along with what you really want.

What Do You Really Want?

A digital marketing strategy asks the core question: What do you really want? It assesses your goals, dreams, wants and want-nots. It breaks down the whole purpose of your business into digestible parts. Those parts can then inform where and how you want to nurture your supporters or grow more customers or clients.

What is a Digital Marketing Strategy?


Research is an important part of what is a digital marketing strategy
Never underestimate the power of good research BEFORE you get started

For me and my clients, a strategy always starts out with a lot of research. Be prepared to lay yourself a little bare. This is why it’s important to make sure you work with someone you trust who shares your value system. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before you sign someone on. The team that’s right for you should appreciate knowing more specifics about you before they get started. Research could involve:

  1. Looking at your existing web analytics (if you have it set up)
  2. Assessing your email list, tags, segments, open and click rate
  3. Reviewing your social media activity
  4. Reviewing how your business appears on Google
  5. Checking your website content include page structure, design, links and SEO
  6. Keyword research
  7. Looking at industry or market trends, competitors’ sites or social media presence, etc.


I want to get in my clients’ heads a little. I know they want more email subscribers but, more importantly, I want to know what drove them to create their business and where they want it to go. A survey stage might be me creating a survey for my actual client. It could also be creating surveys for your customers. You wouldn’t believe how tactics can change based on real input from real people. Sometimes it only takes a few simple questions.

Assessment & Organization

Get organized! When figuring out what is a digital marketing strategy, you need organization
Getting all your ducks (or wrenches or digital marketing components) in a row

This is the part I love! With all that big beautiful data and information mentioned above, I can begin to break down the parts that need a little work or a complete overhaul. There might be a little back and forth to hammer out some questions and clarify ideas. There might be a lot of scribbling. There will be at least 20 browser tabs and 5-10 documents open simultaneously. If I were a stickie person, I’d say this is where stickies might be used. This is where it’s time to think about what things need to happen first. Should the website content be re-written? Do you need to upgrade your server or switch to a better cart platform? Install some plug-ins or apps? Or maybe you just need to complete the info on your Facebook Page?


Let’s figure out when we’re going to do all this, right? With such a daunting task as a digital marketing strategy, it’s important to put it all in digestible parts. Tasks like “Edit content on page X” is a lot easier to take than “rewrite entire website.” A timeline could be for one month or an entire year, depending on your goals and the realistic nature of completing some work.


This is when everybody gets to work with your digital marketing strategist holding the reigns. It’s a combination of project management, tech whispering and motivational speaking. Ultimately, I want my clients to succeed! All great digital strategists out there are using the tools they have, their experience helping others and a desire to help your business grow.

Are You Ready?

I’m going to be honest with you: sometimes it can look and feel a little messy. It’s kind of like when you organize a closet or a room. You take everything out and it’s a big mess for a while. But you sort things out, donate what you don’t need, maybe buy some cool bins and shelves at The Container Store, rearrange, refine, and eventually end up with a better version of that room where you can FINALLY find your nail clippers when you need them.