How to Develop a Digital Strategy: 6 Questions Brands Should Answer

The right marketing strategy is exactly what defines your place on the battlefield for clients’ attention. With more than 1,400 tools that work in digital marketing, each of these can be used in a number of ways. If you want to understand which one can help to solve your business tasks, do start with a digital strategy. A developed action plan will give reasonable answers to the questions: why, to whom, when, what, where and how to advertise, relying on the objective data about the business as a whole, the market, competitors and the target audience.

A Digital Strategy is:

  • market & demand research, competitor analysis;
  • market positioning that correlates with selected segments;
  • segmentation of target audience;
  • communication plan with selected segments, based on the developed USP.

But where to start developing a digital strategy? Make sure to answer six major questions first. 


1.WHY: who are you and how are you different from the competitors?


A question we always ask a company we are supporting is the value it provides and the ways the company is different from its competitors. The answer to this question will be:

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  • Formulated value. What is the problem your customers want to solve with your help? To clearly define the value, you need to study your key competencies, your clients’ tasks, and the “pains” they face solving these problems. The Value Proposition Canvas developed by Alexander Osterwalder can be your magic wand here.


The image is taken from Osterwalder, A., Pigne, I.: Building Business Models: Handbook of Strategist and Innovator.

An example of a Uber value proposition: Tap the app, get a ride. Uber is the smartest way to get around most cities. One tap and a car comes. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless. 

  • The selected market segment. Once the value is defined, we need to evaluate the segment of consumers who shares it. If the market volume is sufficient for us, whether we can clearly describe the segment and study its representatives, if it’s possible to build digital communication with the segment – these are the questions brands should be asking themselves.

Let’s take a taxi service. They can focus on the segment of wealthy business people, providing premium cars with the appropriate service.

  • Who are the competitors? We need to understand who we are competing with at all three levels – product, category and motive. An analysis of these competitors will bring some important data to your digital strategy – we will be able to adopt successful decisions, build up a communication plan, and find out which advertising is most common on the market. We previously explained how to conduct a competitive step by step analysis in eCommerce in one of the materials

Say a coffee shop competes with packaged home-brewed coffee beans at the product level. At the category level, their competitors are other coffee houses. At the level of motive – these are multiple places where you can spend time in a cosy atmosphere.

  • Positioning. Business needs to take a market position that will distinguish it among its competitors. Positioning is usually based on the advantages a brand offers. They are functional and emotional.

Volvo’s positioning is the safest car, Duracell’s is the longest-running battery, Uber’s is a personal driver for everyone.


2. WHO: defining the target audience


The key to effective communication in digital is knowing your target audience. The latter is the foundation of any advertising campaign. This also makes sense when building your own marketing strategy.

  • Tasks and pains. You need to clearly understand what problems consumers want to solve with the help of your product and what difficulties they encounter on the way.

An example of a taxi consumer’s task is to conveniently get to the right place, while their pain is a long wait until a cab arrives and possibly old or dirty cars are present in the vehicle fleet.

  • Values ​​and social status. What is important for your target audience on a global scale: family, achievements, entertainment, living conditions? What place do they occupy in the society: whom they work and communicate with, whose opinions they consider? Such a deep understanding of consumers will allow to build truly individual communication.

See how a car rental company considered social status in their digital strategy.  

  • Communication channels. What are the tools one can use to interact with the target audience? These are search engine results, online media, social networks, conferences, opinion leaders.

Let’s say we sell sports nutrition. Then YouTube is a good communication channel, as offers advertising in home workout and bodybuilding videos. Advertising on opinion leaders’ blogs is also a go-to strategy.


3. WHEN: understanding customer journey


One of the main marketing goals is to communicate with the buyer right at the moment when they make a purchasing decision. That is why it is important to understand what steps the consumer takes and what decisions they take on each of them.

  • Consumer decision journey. Previously, a classic sales funnel was used to describe the customer’s path, but in the digital era, the user’s path has changed and become more complicated.

McKinsey conducted extensive research and developed a new model of consumer behaviour – the consumer decision journey. According to this, the buying process is cyclical and consists of four stages:

The buying process starts with a trigger – a situation that makes the consumer think of making a purchase. The next step happens when the consumer considers the initial pool of brands that first come to their mind when they are thinking of a certain product. Then the consumer makes a step to active study – they add or remove brands from the options considered. Finally, a purchase occurs – the consumer finally gives preference to the brand that offers what fits them most. The next step the experience the consumer had with the product – here customer satisfaction with the product and the decision to make their next purchase with the brand are vital.

Let’s assume your daughter or son has turned 20 and you plan to give him a car as a present. Brands like Mercedes, BMW and Mitsubishi are most likely to fall into the initial pool. Once you begin to actively study offers in the market, you will drop Mercedes and BMW because of the high price tag and add Hyundai or Skoda to your list. Having studied all the details, you will apparently choose Skoda and purchase from this brand. When you think about buying a car again, you will already take into account your previous experience, evaluating all the pros and cons.


4. WHAT is the message to tell in communication


Advertising message is one key idea a consumer needs to come up with as a result of communication with the brand. The task of the advertising message is to transfer the consumer to the next step on their path to purchase.

What we will talk about depends on our value and positioning, the stage of the customer journey and the marketing channel we use. It is also important to consider what advertising messages our direct competitors are delivering – it will help to make a difference.

E.g. Smart cars’ message communicates their suitability for a city ride.


5. WHERE: choosing the right promotion channels


At this stage, we have already studied the target audience and now understand which channels are the best to communicate with the consumer. We are also familiar with the steps our consumer take on their path to purchase, how they behave on each of them, what information they look for, and how they do. This helps to decide on the advertising messages we want to convey. Moreover, we already know the digital tools our competitors use and the ways they do. Taking into account the data in question, we are ready to make the decision about the digital tools we are going to use. Such an approach makes a pleasant difference from the “let’s try”, “because everybody does” and “I heard it works”, doesn’t it?

We can shoot emotional YouTube videos if we realise that our audience spends a lot of time on YouTube and will enjoy this type of content.

We at Promodo are adepts at the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE approach.


6. HOW to implement your digital marketing strategy


So, what do you need to successfully implement your digital strategy?

  • Define the goals and KPI. Goals exist at four levels: business, marketing, digital marketing and digital tools. Goals at lower levels are generated from the higher ones. After the goals are approved at each level, we define performance indicators to further monitor their achievement.

Let’s assume you own a yoga studio. Your business goal is to increase the company’s turnover by 20%, marketing goal is to attract 50 new customers, the goal of digital marketing is to get 300 request forms submitted from the website, and the digital communication goal on Facebook is to gain 1,000 clicks to the website at no more than $ 0.25.

  • Compose a To-Do List. After we have decided on the tools and defined KPI, it’s high time to create a work plan for each of the digital channels we plan to use, with the deadlines and people assigned.
  • Develop the media plan. Now we have a detailed digital marketing work plan, and what remains is calculating the resources we need to implement it — money, time & people.

Why to develop a digital strategy

A strategic approach to digital marketing allows to avoid a lot of meaningless and costly actions. You can develop a detailed work plan that will help in solving specific business problems. A well-developed plan that helps to answer what you are doing and why, one way or another, will serve a specific purpose instead of just demonstrating your brand’s online activity.

If you have any questions remaining, feel free to contact us. Our team are here to support your online project, provide digital marketing audit and help to develop a digital strategy. 


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How to Develop a Digital Strategy: 6 Questions Brands Should Answer

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