Digital Strategy 101: Digital Channels Overview with Statistics

by | Apr 24, 2015 | Digital Strategy

If you’re not using a defined strategy for your digital marketing, a lot of your efforts are likely going to waste.

A digital strategy is the equivalent of traditional marketing’s Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC). It makes sure that all your channels align with the same objectives and messages.

Digital has a number of advantages over traditional marketing. One of the big ones is data.

But if you don’t know how to interpret, analyse and pull insights from your data, you’re not tapping into its full potential.

So, here we are. In this blog series, we’re going to save the day discuss digital strategy across the following areas:

  • What is a digital strategy and the digital channel mix
  • Defining your goals, strategy and tactics
  • Developing channel-level strategies
  • Cross-channel strategies
  • Collecting and analysing channel data
  • Analysis and measurement
  • Handy tools.

Let’s jump straight into part 1 of Digital Strategy 101: an overview of digital strategy, the key digital channels, and some interesting statistics.


What is a digital strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is a plan that encompasses a range of channels to increase sales, awareness, growth and engagement for a product, service or brand. It should be timely, reasonable and measurable.

The best digital strategies have:

  • Micro-strategies for all digital channels, which all communicate the same message and align with the marketing strategy (e.g. brand awareness for travel insurance)
  • Cross-channel strategies, where channels integrate for better results (e.g. social content and web content all relating to travel insurance) or share data to benefit each other (e.g. using Adwords data on best converting keywords and creating new pages that are optimised to rank for these keywords)
  • A macro-strategy that provides direction for all micro-strategies, facilitates cross-channel integration, measures the performance of each strategy, and ensures that all initiatives are in line with objectives and brand messaging.

Important distinction: If you already have a content strategy, that’s fantastic. But this is not the same thing as a digital strategy. You’re not getting out of this that easily, buddy.

“Wait, do I really need a digital strategy?”

Um, yes. You do.

Without a digital strategy in place, you may find your channels don’t mesh together – or they may even work against each other. Not ideal.

It’s also likely to be much more difficult to set KPIs and measure results for each digital marketing channel.

Not quite convinced? Here are a few benefits of creating and following a digital strategy:

  • You can make sure all your channels are cohesive and aligned to the same goals.
  • You can ensure your digital activities are driven by your overarching business objectives.
  • You can set reasonable expectations for your channels, accurately keep track of results, and optimise accordingly.
  • You can develop a greater understanding of your customers and online marketplace.


Digital Channels Overview

Forming your digital strategy is a lot like building a teddy at a Build-a-Bear Workshop. But instead of stuffed limbs and adorable accessories, you’re picking and choosing from a range of digital marketing channels.

These are the channels you’re most likely tossing up between:

Once you know which channels fit best in your strategy (hopefully by the end of this article), you’ll be ready to work out the right budget split for your chosen channels.

Now, let’s dive into an explanation of each channel listed in the diagram above.



What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is all about how your website ranks organically (i.e. not paid listings) in search engine results. It involves keyword research and the analysis of technical onsite and offsite optimisation issues. Because it usually takes time to build organic authority and move up the ranks, SEO is a long-term approach.

While the clicks come free of charge (as opposed to AdWords’ cost-per-click model), this channel does require ongoing investment and consistent work to maintain and improve organic rankings, traffic and conversions.

These stats from HubSpot illustrate how important SEO (particularly local SEO) remains today:

  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search via smartphone will visit a store within 24 hours.
  • 87% of people with smartphones use a search engine once a day or more often.
  • 46% of Google search queries are local.

Benefits of SEO

  • Cost-effective (fewer ongoing costs than other channels)
  • Provides valuable data (e.g. keyword trends)
  • Boosts credibility (searchers trust higher-ranking websites)


What is SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM), commonly referred to as pay per click (PPC) advertising, is best for targeting highly competitive keywords and driving conversions. It differs from SEO in that it provides instantaneous exposure and focuses on keywords that represent purchase intent (e.g. ‘buy vacuum cleaner’, ‘furniture store Brisbane‘, ‘cute puppies for sale‘).

Remarketing is one of the most effective strategies in the SEM toolbox, allowing advertisers to segment their users and serve them ads based on their level of engagement on the advertiser’s website. This can be used to drive conversions for low-involvement purchases like clothing, or provide further information for high-involvement purchases like professional services.

As you can see from the below stats, remarketing can be incredibly effective in attracting clicks and conversions from returning users.

Image Credit: Search Engine People

Benefits of SEM

  • Results are easily measured and reported
  • Great for fast results and instant exposure
  • Can be tweaked and improved while individual campaigns are running


Content Marketing

What is content marketing?

‘Content’ comes in many forms, including:

  • Blog articles
  • Infographics
  • Quizzes
  • Videos
  • PDFs, ebooks and whitepapers.

The issue with a lot of content is that it hasn’t been crafted with an audience in mind or it lacks a distribution strategy.

True content marketing goes beyond (both before and after) the actual creation stage. It encompasses audience profiling and topic ideation through to paid distribution strategy and engagement insights, which are then filtered through to optimise the next cycle.

Benefits of Content Marketing

  • Creates valuable conversations with your customers
  • Builds trust in your brand
  • Can turn your customers into advocates for your brand


Owned Social

What is owned social?

‘Owned’ social is exactly what is sounds like: social media profiles that you have control over.


  • Your brand’s Facebook page
  • Your brand’s LinkedIn Profile
  • Your brand’s Instagram account
  • And so on.

An owned social strategy is all about engagement. But it’s not as simple as adding a post every few weeks or consistently pushing your latest sales promotions. A focused social media strategy segments users and creates personas. Based on these, timing and content can be tested to find the best mix for engagement with your target audience.

For example, a website that sells wellness products might mix it up by placing motivational quotes on their page throughout the day and running limited-time promotions at night or during lunch periods to entice users to purchase.

Here are some stats from Brandwatch to remind you of the reach and power of social:

  • There are more than 2.3 billion active social media users.
  • 9 out of 10 retail brands are active across multiple social channels.
  • The average internet user has 5-6 social media profiles/accounts.

Benefits of Owned Social

  • Provides valuable insight into your audience
  • Makes your brand more relatable
  • Gives you greater control over your interactions and perception


Paid (Performance) Social

What is paid social?

Paid social means putting some budget behind your posts or ads on social media. It’s like strapping a jetpack on the back of your social media content.

Benefits of Paid Social

  • Allows you to target specific demographics and people with particular interests
  • Provides access to an almost unlimited pool of potential customers
  • Offers detailed analytics and and performance insights


eDM (Electronic Direct Marketing) & Database Marketing

What are eDM and database marketing?

eDM (Electronic Direct Marketing) and database marketing are extremely targeted, in-depth approaches to online marketing.

The two work in unison, with a company either building or purchasing a database that aligns with their target audience and delivering email marketing campaigns to those users.

The best kind of eDM strategy uses advanced user profiling and intelligence from e-commerce purchases to produce custom offers. For example, instead of your regular email sign-up, a website could allow users to create an account via Facebook, granting the site access to their Facebook details. Using the Facebook API, the site could gather information on the user and group them into a database if, for example, they have high interaction with friends overseas. From here, a custom eDM could be sent to all users in this database list that offers free shipping to up to 3 friends in different countries when spending $150 or more.

API integration + database intelligence = highly targeted, custom offers!

The rapid adoption of smartphone technology has influenced eDM dramatically. Research from Litmus (summarised in the charts below) shows how important it is for your eDM to be mobile-friendly.

Email stats

Image source: Email Monday

More email stats

Image source: litmus

Benefits of eDM and Database Marketing

  • Gives you direct access to motivated, profiled customers via their most intimate digital platform
  • Helps you understand your audience and their behaviour
  • Lets you track customers and their interactions over time


Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

What is CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is a critical component for turning potential customers into actual customers. Most websites don’t have a traffic issue, but many websites do have conversion issues.

CRO takes the guesswork out of your website by giving you insights from valuable tools like heatmaps, click tracking, user testings, and A/B (split) and multi-variate testing tools.

The difference between a conversion rate of 1% and 7% can be the most basic thing, like using bullet points instead of paragraph text, re-colouring your buttons, or removing all links so the only clear path is to hit the BUY NOW button!

Here are some stats from SessionCam to give you an idea of what other marketers are doing about CRO:

  • Only 1 in 5 businesses are happy with their conversion rates.
  • More than half of B2B marketers consider conversion rate to be the most useful indicator of a landing page’s performance.
  • About 62% of marketers use CRO to increase the leads on their landing pages.

Benefits of CRO

  • Helps you understand what is and isn’t working on your site
  • Lets you visualise the online consumer journey
  • Improves the ROI of your other digital marketing activities


Programmatic & Display

What are programmatic and display?

Display advertising involves placing creative banners for your business on various sites around the web. These can be static, animated, or even video. Programmatic supercharges this by allowing you to place and display your ads in real time (based on predetermined parameters). Display and programmatic are excellent for brand awareness, particularly if you run a remarketing campaign to target people who have previously visited your site or interacted with your brand on social media.

Benefits of Programmatic and Display

  • Gives you more targeting capability and control over your ad placements
  • Allows you to stay nimble with your display ads, so you don’t miss any golden opportunities
  • Provides you with detailed info on your audience


Analytics, User Behaviour & Competitive Intelligence

The greatest advantage digital has over traditional marketing is data!

The use of analytics software, user behaviour tools, and competitive intelligence tools gives power back to digital strategists by arming them with real, actionable data that allows them to make informed decisions. This lets them improve and optimise their marketing strategies.

Here are some stats that highlight the importance and benefits of user behaviour and competitive intelligence.

Online user behaviour stats sourced from Hubspot and ROI Research:

  • 78% of internet users conduct product research online.
  • 40% of US Smartphone owners compare prices on their mobile device while in a store shopping for an item.
  • 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email they previously opted in to.
  • 89% of users will modify their search and try again if at first they don’t succeed; 79% will try a different search engine.

Competitive intelligence stats put together by TrackMaven:

  • As many as 89% of customers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
  • Large corporations spend >$2 million a year hiring firms or staffing internal departments to track and analyse their competitors.
  • Nearly 70% of North American companies plan to increase their budgets for competitive intelligence.
  • Of these 70%, 94% agree they have benefited from competitive intelligence.


I hope you enjoyed Digital Strategy 101. Keep your eyes peeled (or follow us on Facebook) for Digital Strategy 102, where we’ll cover defining your goals, strategy and tactics. Or, if you’re ready to start splitting your digital marketing budget across channels, you should read this first.

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