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A Digital Marketing Guide for Beginners (How to Write a Digital Strategy) hero-image
Digital Marketing

A Digital Marketing Guide for Beginners (How to Write a Digital Strategy)

Go digital – or go bust. This is the reality we live in – and it’s not exactly a news flash. We only need to remember the demise of Blockbuster in 2010 to realise the importance of digitalisation in our fight for survival.

In the time of COVID, we’ve watched some businesses rise to the top while others have faltered. The latter of course being less digitally mature than their pandemic-ready and web-, app- and mobile-focused counterparts. If the global health crisis has taught us anything, it’s that those who resist transformation will fail.

But what if you’re digital marketing beginner with a business that has primarily flourished through word-of-mouth? Or what if you have a digital presence but you’re unsure of how to take your efforts to the next level?

If you’re looking for advice on online marketing for beginners, read on for our comprehensive digital marketing guide. We cover the different digital marketing disciplines you need to incorporate, plus a step-by-step guide on how to create a digital marketing strategy that garners results.

1. Digital = a shift from traditional marketing

Firstly, when taking operations online, it’s important to embrace change. That’s not to say that some of the older, more traditional methods of marketing aren’t going to work for you. The problem is that traditional marketing alone isn’t maintainable, and won’t help you tap into new audiences.

Here’s a quick look at traditional marketing…

  • Print marketing (brochures, flyers, magazines and newsletters)
  • Direct Mail marketing
  • Broadcast ads (TV or radio)
  • Outdoor marketing (billboards, posters and signage)
  • Outbound telesales
  • Networking events
  • Face-to-face sales meetings
  • Word-of-mouth marketing

Now here’s a look at some digital marketing channels…

  • Websites
  • Mobile sites
  • Social media sites
  • Apps
  • Email
  • Search engines

While marketing strategies may combine some forms of traditional marketing with digital, the shift to digital is inevitable. With 5 billion internet users worldwide (including 95% of the British population), and UK online sales having more than tripled in the last ten years, ignoring the need to digitise is no longer sustainable.

2. Understanding digital in a time of transformation

Millennials now make up the largest group in the world. They are the most educated generation yet and are considered to be the most influential – and they spend all of their time online. But in recent years, we’ve also had the pandemic accelerate this trend of online experiences.

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the pace of business, accelerating the speed of transformation by several years, according to a study.*

* McKinsey Global Survey of Executives

Ecommerce in the UK grew by almost 47% in 2020, followed by nearly 21% in 2021. And while growth rate has slowed down in 2022, there’s clearly a lasting impact after the pandemic, with 55% of UK shoppers continuing to buy primarily through online channels, and many accessing retails sites and apps on their mobiles.

Not only are three quarters of consumers shopping online at least once a month, but people are using digital channels for brand and product research too. This includes reading customer reviews, comparing product features or pricing, getting inspiration on what to buy, watching videos about product efficacy or quality, interacting with brands on social, consuming content, and much more.

This doesn’t just stop with retail customers either. Everyone is spending more time online post-pandemic – including B2B buyers who are time-poor yet information-hungry.

According to Gartner, today’s B2B buying journey involves the majority of their time (27%) conducting research online. Only 17% of their time is spent meeting with potential suppliers, which means that digital content has a lot of weight in the decision-making process. This is why any guide to digital marketing has to include a big focus on content generation and content marketing across multiple online channels – and this applies to both B2B and B2C markets.

This shift from traditional to online also means that the customer journey is no longer linear, and it is in fact much more chaotic. With customers dipping in and out of the funnel, consuming content and enjoying micro-interactions with your brand, it’s important to have a multi- or omni-channel approach, communicating with them across every touchpoint.

This leads us onto the different types of digital marketing that you need to cover…

3. Different types of digital marketing

If you’re a digital marketing beginner, here are the different types of digital marketing you need to consider. It may be the case that all of these will be used in your strategy, or there may be a few that won’t be relevant just yet.

However, all of these are useful for today’s evolving digital landscape, and if you’re planning on accelerating your transformation journey, be sure to consider each one carefully:


Any digital marketing guide should include SEO as one of the most important areas of digital marketing – so this is why it sits at the very top of our list. This can also be one of the first and easiest steps in online marketing for beginners. If you have a website, there are ways you can optimise what’s already there to make it a lot more attractive to Google.

Make nice with Google, and you can get your brand content seen by your target audience. Some easy ways to optimise your site include:

  • Adding relevant keywords to webpages
  • Increasing word count on pages
  • Improving copy and providing high-quality, relevant information
  • Creating an easy-to-navigate site structure
  • Using on-page optimisation techniques (such as H1/H2/H3 headers and editing URL slugs)

Through search engine optimisation and search engine marketing, you not only increase the quantity of traffic to your website, but you also increase the quality of traffic. Make your campaigns and keywords relevant, and you can attract high-converting traffic (eg: people who actually want to buy from you).

Content marketing

Having a content strategy is one of the most critical parts of digital marketing strategy. Not only will well-crafted content help you achieve better search engine results, but it will establish your company has a reliable source of information.

Through content marketing, you can engage with customers at every stage of the buying journey, positioning yourself as a product or solutions expert, or even a thought leader in your particular field.

The different types of written content you could do include:

  • Short and long-form blogs
  • Listicles
  • How to guides
  • News-based articles
  • Research reports or whitepapers
  • Gated content (such as downloadable PDFs)
  • eBooks
  • Customer success stories
  • Case studies
  • Expert interviews

Paid ads

While SEO builds your traffic, brand awareness and credibility over time (hang in there for the long-term benefits), paid ads can give you the instant sales boost you need. Digital advertising can be bought on the following platforms:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and display ads can be a quick win if you need to promote products, and while many people continue to use PPC throughout their strategy, it’s important to remember that it’s not as sustainable as SEO.

Organic traffic from SEO is the most superior form of traffic, so there needs to be a balance of both paid and organic marketing methods.

Social media marketing

Having a presence on social media is a must these days – and it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Connecting with prospects on social sites is just as important in B2B, with many professional buyers now including social media content in their product research.

One thing to bear in mind with social is that having a presence is only step one. The second – and most important step – is to keep your pages up-to-date. Dormant social media feeds signal lack of care from your brand, and can suggest to users that you’re not on top of customer communications.

The most popular social platforms are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but more and more brands are also using Instagram and TikTok to target millennials and Gen Z.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most effective types of digital marketing you can do, with a very high return on investment. According to Campaign Monitor, every $1 invested into email marketing activity generates $38, making it a priority in retail and B2B.

Another report from Campaign Monitor also shows that in terms of efficacy, emails are 40x more likely to help with customer acquisition than social media campaigns like Twitter or Facebook.

Mobile marketing

The latest data tells us that over 90% of the global population now access the internet via mobile device – not desktop. This means that businesses can no longer focus on mobile responsive strategies. Instead, it’s time to take a mobile-first approach.

In addition to mobile-ready websites, other mobile marketing examples include SMS, MMS or the use of mobile apps. The growth of mobile apps is definitely worth noting too. The average person is known to have at least 40 apps installed on their phone, and apps are projected to generate more than $613 Billion (USD) in revenue by 2025.

Video marketing

This type of visual marketing provides customers with an emotionally engaging way to connect with brands. In a saturated digital landscape where people suffer from content fatigue and a constant overload of information, audio-visual content can capture their attention, delivering key information in an enjoyable, entertaining and effective format.

Videos can be displayed on your homepage or embedded onto your web pages and blogs – or they can be uploaded onto video platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Additionally, social media sites now allow for live videos, which allow for audience interaction in real-time.

4. How to create a digital marketing strategy in 5 steps

Without a clear strategy in place, you could be missing out on opportunities to grow your business. A well-defined strategy helps you understand customer behaviours, competitors and customer profiles, while also providing you with direction.

If you’re a digital marketing beginner with no clue where to start, or you simply don’t have the time or expertise in-house, working with a digital agency could be the answer.

Here’s a step-by-step look at how to write a digital strategy in 2022 and beyond:

  1. Establish your goals
    The first thing you need to do is decide on your goals. What are you trying to achieve? What do you want to do in the long/short term? The process for this will involve several stakeholders as there could be multiple goals within your organisation.

    At this stage, it can also be beneficial to conduct an internal and external analysis to clearly asses the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. Implementing benchmarking techniques is common practice when it comes to looking at competitors and setting goals for your company.

  2. Identify your audience
    It’s important to know who your audience is when creating a strategy, so spend some time forming buyer personas. For some businesses, there may only be one or two. But for others (such as larger or more complex businesses), there could be as many as 10 or even 20.

    As a general guide, the average number of personas usually sits between three and eight for most organisations. The key is to have personas that can cover core target demographics, giving you clear guidance on how to approach product and brand messaging – and on what channels.

  3. Strategize across digital disciplines
    After reviewing your online presence and establishing your target audience, it’s time to make plans for all the different digital marketing activities you intend to do. Disciplines will include things such as content marketing and search engine optimisation, paid marketing techniques, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, email newsletters, mobile marketing and apps.
    Each of these will require its own strategy, and each should align to your digital transformation and digital marketing goals, as well as your customer personas. This may mean that your content strategy has a three-pronged approach to reach three different segments (or however many personas you decide to have).
  4. Plan tools, time and resource
    Once you have plans in place for each discipline, you can begin to plan tools, time and resource. While some businesses can cover some elements of marketing in-house, many will find it to be more cost-effective to work with a digital agency.

    Partnering with an experienced agency frees up your time to focus on other areas of your business and provides you with solutions as and when you need them. Compared to recruiting new members of staff, a creative partner can be more affordable and flexible.

  5. Create ways to measure success
    Last but not least, your digital marketing strategy needs to include methods for measuring progress, whether it be successes or failures. Having set KPIs and planning regular progress meetings with stakeholders is the best way of reviewing what’s working and what’s not.

5. The five main KPI categories to bear in mind

  • Lead generation
  • Website metrics (such as traffic)
  • SEO optimisation
  • Paid advertising
  • Social media tracking

We hope our comprehensive digital marketing guide has been helpful. If you’re unsure of how to create a digital marketing strategy or you need support in building your online presence, get in touch with Identify Digital.

We are a leading digital agency in the Yorkshire area, and can provide a range of digital marketing services to underpin your journey to transformation.

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