The process of creating a digital marketing strategy is an important step in business. A solid digital marketing strategy will lead to much-wanted success while a sub-par strategy will be ineffective.

It doesn't matter if you are managing a business in Asia, America or Europe, you need to start creating a digital marketing strategy for your business.

You may even hear the importance of creating a digital marketing strategy but do you know that 75% of the companies who reach out to us for digital marketing consultancy services do not have a solid strategy?

In this post, you will learn to discover the complete, step by step guide in creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017.

As this article is going to be rather lengthy, I'll start by sharing an infographic, and you can scroll down to read the full description below.

create a digital marketing strategy 2017


Digital marketing prediction 2017

Year in and year out, everyone is predicting the digital marketing trends (some call it digital marketing predictions) for the coming year.

We are just weeks away from 2017 and have you ever wondered what the digital marketing predictions for the new year are?

Don't worry if you are still trying to discover the upcoming digital marketing trends because I have just compiled our predictions for Marketing Lancers (which you can read more below).

Note: Make no mistake as these predictions may play important roles in creating a digital marketing strategy in 2017. So, it is recommended for you to bookmark this page for reference later. I'll be updating this page from time to time too!


Prediction 1: Number of mobile users will continue to increase

At this point of writing, mobile users are already dominating a large portion of the pie. Gone were the days where users will use the desktop for their everyday tasks.

According to Marketing Land, the number of mobile users are increasing on a very stable pace. Take a look at the image below:

mobile users vs desktop users

When creating a digital marketing strategy, your plans must cover both mobile and desktop users while having more focus on mobile.

Mobile browsing will continue to surge in 2017, and mobile marketing will be more important than ever.

Therefore, it makes all the sense to integrate mobile marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy.


Prediction 2: Video advertising will raise the bar even higher

Did you notice those Facebook advertisements that involve video?

Yes! Businesses around the world are already struggling with video advertising. And you shouldn't wait until 2017 to start video advertising.

Marketing with videos has long been a tool for digital marketers and takes a look at the stats on YouTube. On average, a typical person would view around 5 hours on YouTube on a daily basis, and the number is increasing by the day.

Even Google Trends is showing a healthy growth for searches related to live steaming based on the past 5 years record.

live streaming for digital marketing


Prediction 3: Marketing based on location will become more important

Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.

According to, it has an average of:

  • 25 million monthly mobile app users
  • 72 million monthly mobile web users
  • 77 million monthly desktop users

location based marketing yelp stats

When it comes to marketing, it is vital to leverage marketing based location as it could be a great source of traffic.

location based marketing

Creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017 is not complete without focusing on marketing based location.

In other words, local searches will play an important role for both online and offline businesses. Marketing based on location goes beyond the typical '˜business address' on search engines.

As a matter of fact, businesses should streamline their target audience to specific regions, countries or states to ensure that their digital marketing strategies resonate with the locals.

Gone were the days where you start marketing to everyone. Your digital marketing strategy will only work when you are using the right marketing efforts to the right type of audience and at the right time.


Prediction 4: Relationship marketing will play a bigger role

Ask any business influencers and 9 out of 10 of them will tell you that relationship marketing is the key to everything.

But what is the true meaning of relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is a facet of customer relationship management (CRM) that focuses on customer loyalty and long-term customer engagement rather than shorter-term goals like customer acquisition and individual sales.

This form of relationship goes a long way for both startups and running businesses because your ultimate target is to have better customer engagement.

Furthermore, relationship marketing isn't entirely about getting new customers. It also plays an important role in taking care of your most loyal customers as well!

how to acquire new customers

In today's digital marketing industry, relationship marketing will go hand in hand with your digital marketing strategy to acquire and keep your loyal customers within reach. It will also ensure that you can keep up with their expectations and transform them into a die-hard supporter of your brand.


Prediction 5: Mobile messaging apps become more popular

If you are still in Skype era, it is time to move on guys!

Mobile messaging applications are taking the digital world by storm. Therefore, your digital marketing strategy needs to include marketing on mobile messaging.

If you are still unconvinced, here are some statistics taken from Statista (based on active users per month):

  • WhatsApp (1 billion)
  • Facebook Messenger (900 million)
  • QQ Mobile (853 million)
  • WeChat (697 million)
  • Skype (300 million)
  • Viber (249 million)
  • LINE (215 million)

Marketing on mobile messaging apps not be taken lightly if you want to win digital marketing in the coming years. Mobile messaging has shown its effectiveness in many forms and one of the examples we can use is WeChat.

WeChat has integrated eCommerce feature in its platform for over two years and it has proven to be a huge winner especially in China and parts of Asia.

Another important consideration is integrating your paid advertising on mobile messaging apps which will broaden your reach and overall results.

We are expecting that the digital marketing trend for mobile marketing will not slow down anytime soon. Therefore, putting your bet on mobile marketing is definitely a worthwhile investment.


10 steps in creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017



Step 1: Setting up goals and objectives

Before you can create a digital marketing strategy, you need to focus on setting up the right goals and objectives.

These goals and objectives are vital as they are going to guide you (and your team) to success especially in achieving the business's target for the year. Also, it is important to understand that there are several criteria which you must follow when setting up goals and objectives.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

In other words, they are also called as S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Here are some additional guidelines for you when setting up goals and objectives for your digital marketing strategy:


  • Well defined
  • Clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the project


  • Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is
  • Find out when you have achieved your goals


  • Goals set must be achievable with the given tools and training


  • This involves the availability of resources, knowledge and time


  • Giving enough time to achieve the goal
  • Not too much time given which can affect the performance


Step 2: Identify your customers

Your customers should not be everyone. Instead, they should the minority (say 1% of the targeted market).

The biggest mistakes most businesses do is not identifying their customers properly.

Most customers will only look up at you because you are directly/indirectly solving a problem of theirs. When you can identify your customers, you are going to be able to provide actionable solutions to their problems and more importantly, you'll be able to resonate with them.

Creating a digital marketing strategy is not complete without properly identifying your potential customers. Here are four powerful ways to define your target audience.


a. Understand the problems that you solve

Once you have a good idea of what you can offer, you can start working out on who is most likely to suffer from these problems.

Let's take Marketing Lancers for example. My team and I are a small team of digital marketers who are good in content management and social media marketing. Since we have a low operating cost, we can create multiple marketing services at a fraction of the cost (compared to other digital agency).

So, it only makes all the sense for us to target a smaller market; startups and small businesses in Asia.



b. Paint a picture of the customer

Do you know who your ideal customer is?

Ask any digital marketing specialist and the person is going to ask you about your customer's persona.

A persona is your ideal customer and persona creation requires very detailed information. There are different segmentations you can do which are:

  • Type of business
  • Industries they are in
  • Gender
  • Pay range
  • Interest
  • Marriage status

Another part in creating a good picture of your ideal customer is to understand who will gain from the value in your offer.

In this case, we believe that our solutions will work best for startups and small business owners due to flexibility (and in accordance to our workforce as well). Here's a list of digital marketing services we offer.


c. Think about your market

Nowadays, we are living in a world of niche. Humans are no longer tied down to a specific matter. In nearly every situation, we have choices where we can decide, and it can range from watching televisions to reading magazines.

There are just too many options which we can choose from!

Therefore, thinking about your market is an essential move during the process of creating a digital marketing strategy.


d. Consider your business, internally

Most digital marketing agencies in Asia comes with web designing as one of their core features. We decided to leave it out because we just do not have a particular expertise.

When you understand your team's expertise, you will be able to create or establish an attractive offering.

Your ultimate goal: You do not want to undersell and oversell your services in any possible ways.


Step 3: Identify your competitors

How much do you understand your competitors? You should not be taking this lightly because identifying your competitors is an important step when defining your overall digital strategies for the year.

There are three types of competitors you need to know, which are:

  • Direct competitors
  • Indirect competitors
  • Substitutes or new entrants

Identifying your competitors will help you in planning a digital marketing strategy. If you have a hard time finding your competitors, figure out who would supply your customers to fill their needs if you weren't around in the market.


Step 4: Assign roles to the team

Digital marketing involves many forms of online marketing such as:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Content automation
  • Campaign marketing
  • eCommerce marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Social media optimization
  • Email marketing

As you can see above, digital marketing is huge, and there is no one size that fits all.

If you are running a marketing team, you should only assign roles to those who have relevant experience to ensure that works can be done effectively and efficiently.

In the long run, every business should have a digital marketing team which involves two important core factors:

  • Focusing on data and analytics
  • Identifying, planning and structuring

Analytics are important because these reports are going to tell you what works and what doesn't. In digital marketing planning, having such data is important to ensure that you can create effective digital marketing strategies.

What happens if you are working for a bigger brand? Here are some key roles you should create:

executive sponsor program manager data storyteller support team

Image credits to Smart Insights.


Step 5: Search engine marketing (SEM)

There are many forms of digital marketing strategies that you can work on, but if you have limited resources, I would highly recommend you to focus on search engine marketing.

For starters, search engine marketing is one of the core parts when you are creating a digital marketing strategy. It involves:

  • Keyword research
  • Search engine optimization (on-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and link building)
  • Paid search ads
  • Paid search advertising
  • Pay per Click (PPC)

Why is search engine marketing important for digital marketing?

Search engine marketing allows you to target potential customers based on their search intent. What people search for can often give you a precise indication of how close they are to completing your goal. Understanding how people search is important so you can adjust your ad copy messaging, calls to action and landing pages accordingly.

Apart from that, digital marketing involves online visibility. The Internet is a much-clustered place and anyone doing business online knows how important it is for people to be able to find your website.

With search engine marketing strategies, you will be able to rank well on search engines and possibly, becoming a household name within your industry.

Here's an awesome video (slightly over 9 minutes) by Brian Dean from Backlinko, explaining about the SEO ranking factors.

There are over 30 billion searches performed on Google globally, every month. Therefore, it makes all the sense to focus on search engine marketing.

Lastly, while search engine marketing may be costly, it is highly effective especially when you are looking for a long-term advantage.


Step 6: Content marketing

Do you know that content marketing is an important component when creating a digital marketing strategy?

According to Advertising Age, content marketing is different from advertising in two ways:

  • Content resides on owned or earned media
  • Content marketing is a pull and not push, as opposed to pulling strategy

Content marketing, in general, is huge. It covers a wide range of topics such as:

  • Blogging
  • Guest blogging
  • LinkedIn blogging
  • Press release
  • Documents sharing
  • Presentations
  • Podcasting
  • Webinars
  • eBooks
  • Forums and Q&A sites
  • Video
  • Infographics

Content marketing has long been a key component for the success of bigger brands, and in America and Europe, content marketing is often considered a vital strategy in digital marketing.

However, content marketing is still not that popular in Asian countries such as Malaysia.


content marketing interest in Malaysia

As you can see, the number of searches related to 'content marketing' or 'content writing' are still relatively low in Malaysia. However, the trend seems to be slowly picking up, and we are forecasting further increases anywhere between now and 2018. During these times, businesses will start to focus on content marketing as their '˜secret sauce' in digital marketing.

While integrating content marketing into your digital strategy model is a good move; you need to understand that there are so many contents on the Internet today where Mark W Schaefer calls it as 'Content Shock.' You can also grab a copy of his best-selling book on the topic, "The Content Code".

Therefore, the only way of being success in content marketing is to provide only the best content will enjoy traffic and visibility, which usually makes up for the 1%.

Content that is below par will not make the cut in today's competitive, digital marketing world.


Step 7: Social media marketing

Over 1.2 billion users use Facebook on a daily basis, and Twitter has over 400,000 active users.

As a matter of fact, social media marketing (or SMM in short) is an excellent way to build branding, increase visibility and improve your brand recognition. Of course, proper social media strategies are going to boost your sales and customer loyalty.

A decade ago, social media marketing was meant for the rich and famous. But it is not the case in today's world. Technology has once again bedazzled us, and we use it (so much) on a daily basis.

importance of social media marketing 2017

Compared to years ago, social media marketing is much easier to implement but regarding complexity; it is still '˜that' complex as what it is before. In fact, it is safe to say that it is harder to analyse and forecast the growth in social media because there are so many moving parts, especially competitions.

A good digital enterprise strategy for businesses involves the following:

  • Determine the goals of social media marketing
  • Choosing the right social media channels
  • Content planning
  • Using advertising
  • Measuring the success

One of the most common questions we often encounter is 'Should I use social media marketing for my business?'

And the answer is simple, 'Yes!'

In Malaysia itself, most businesses are still struggling to get a grasp on how social media marketing works. You will be surprised that there are brands/companies who believe that buying fans from Fiverr are a good social media marketing strategy.

As opposed to reality, social media marketing is often much bigger than fans and followers.

With proper social media strategy, businesses can grow the audience and increase sales revenue.

Therefore, social media marketing must be a part of any digital marketing strategy and it is a digital marketing trend to watch in 2017.


Step 8: Email marketing

Regardless the size of your business, you need to start using email marketing to truly leverage digital eCommerce.

Email marketing is divided into several parts which are:

  • Setting goals
  • Growing your email list
  • Write great email (subject lines and content)
  • Creating a schedule for sending
  • Measuring the success

You need email marketing because it allows penetration. In today's world, there are over 3.5 billion emails accounts and 95% of online consumers use emails. And out of those, 91% check their emails at least once a day. (Source: Exact Target)

Sounds like an easy task, right? Not really.

In today's world, we are just receiving too many emails, and it is common that we often overlooked those important emails. Delivering your email directly to your customer's inbox is one thing, getting them to open the email is another.

If you are not using email marketing, you should start implementing right now. According to Exact Target, $44.25 is the average return for every $1 spend on email marketing investment.


email marketing ROI

Last but not least, email marketing allows you boost your engagement rate. You are always advised to use email marketing services such as AWeber or GetResponse for your marketing needs (they are pretty awesome at email automation services). And these services allow you to create personalized emails such as adding the person's name and any other details within the email.

This would allow the customer (or email subscriber) feeling appreciated, and they will even reply back at you, especially when you encourage such.

Do you know that most email marketing services offer real-time marketing automation? Read more about real-time marketing automation here.

In a nutshell, email marketing is crucial to business success, and it should always be included when you are creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017.


Step 9: Integrating mobile marketing into digital media strategy

According to statistics, the number of mobile users is increasing by the day. Some may dispute the fact but take a look at your analytics; the number of mobile users is drastically increased compared to a desktop (even though desktop users may still be the dominant player at this moment).

Any mobile marketing strategy in digital marketing solution must involve:

  • Goals of mobile marketing
  • Choose the right platform
  • Measure the outcome

So, what is mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing is promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smartphones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign.

Make no mistake as mobile marketing is huge and this industry will continue to be the driving force when it comes to creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017.

Want to plan mobile marketing strategy? Here are some quick tips:

Optimize micro-moments (actions such as how to what to when to and why). The attention span of mobile users are extremely short%3B usually just mere seconds. If you want mobile marketing to work make sure you give a clear guideline on what they are supposed to do. Having a clear call-to-action is an important step.

Use QR codes to streamline user experience (UX). QR codes are not old school and they are very much 'alive.' Sadly not many businesses see this and therefore there is a huge advantage for you. Start implementing QR codes and you are going to skyrocket the user experience within a short period.

Use hyperlocal marketing to connect the city and neighbourhood-level. Marketing the way the locals speak and things that interest them are pretty much marketing 101. Your marketing efforts must relate closely and resonate with your target audience.

Use SMS marketing to connect users on the fly. Short Messaging System or SMS in short is very useful. Take a look at LeadPages Lead digit feature. It involves messaging and top influencers are saying that this feature helps to improve conversion triple fold!


Step 10: Affiliate Marketing

Do you know that affiliate marketing is one of the important components when creating a digital marketing strategy?

Introducing affiliate marketing for business owners. Before you jump the gun, take a look at your local brands. Do you notice that they are using affiliates as a powerful way to growth hack their business?

Here are several important steps that you need to take if you want to include affiliate marketing when developing a digital strategy:

  • Setting up specific goals
  • Building an affiliate program
  • Distribute to the market
  • Measuring the outcome

Affiliate marketing creates several advantages for business owners such as mouth to mouth marketing, and it could also reduce your overall marketing (advertising) cost.

Setting up an affiliate marketing strategy is rather simple only if you have specific goals. So, start your affiliate marketing strategy by defining the goals. In this case, the goals must be in line with your overall digital marketing strategy.

affiliate marketing

Also, businesses are bound to make mistakes in affiliate marketing and the below are some of the big mistakes you should avoid at all cost:

  • Selling rather than helping
  • Promoting through too many affiliate partners
  • Not performing any test
  • Not tracking the conversions

Note: It is important to understand that your affiliate's success is highly dependable on you (not vice versa).


BONUS: Measuring results

The last step in creating a digital marketing strategy is to measure the results.

Why is measuring the results important?

For starters, the data will tell you exactly on what works and what doesn't. When tabulated, you can easily determine the different segments of digital marketing strategy that are performing.

There are several tools you can use to measure results from your digital marketing efforts and the popular ones are:

  • Conversion rates
  • Response rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Campaign ROI
  • Website performance such as the amount of traffic and traffic source

Here are the top 10 metrics you can use to determine the performance of your digital marketing strategy especially for APAC regions.

digital marketing performance metrics

Also, it is important to ensure that you perform detailed analysis (or measure the success) for each digital marketing strategy you created to ensure that you can gauge the success.

There will be times for you to either continue, halt or maintain the strategy. Therefore, the decision-making process is a crucial one who needs to be supported by data.

Data allows you to make the right decision which can elevate your digital marketing success and save you a lot of marketing budget.


Have you started creating a digital marketing strategy for 2017?

Creating a digital marketing strategy is an important step if you want to '˜win it all' especially in 2017.

Don't worry if you have yet to create a digital marketing strategy template as it is always better to start than never!

Always remember that creating a digital marketing strategy will help you and your team especially to achieve the business goal for the year.

Leave a comment below if you have any digital marketing tactics that you would want to share.