10 digital marketing strategy examples to inspire your next campaign
Is your team investing in digital marketing? Following best practices certainly helps, but even then it can be tough to achieve digital marketing success.
From social media and email to paid ads and SEO, there are dozens of digital marketing methods to choose from. This can make it difficult to know which channels will help you be successful. If you need creative inspiration, it’s best to learn from the brands that have come before you and done it well.
In this guide, we’ll explore 10 examples of successful digital marketing strategies. We’ll explain why they were so successful, as well as how you can emulate these strategies in your own campaigns. After reading, you’ll have a better understanding of what digital marketing is, the different types of digital marketing, and actionable strategies for improving your digital marketing performance.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- What is digital marketing?
- Types of digital marketing
- Digital marketing strategy best practices
- Digital marketing strategy examples
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the promotion of products and services through digital channels. If your business promotes itself through a screen, you’re engaging in digital marketing.
Since the practice encompasses nearly any digital channel, there are several types of digital marketing. For example, you can do digital content marketing that uses guest blogs to build trust and expertise. Or you can do social media marketing with branded hashtags to build brand awareness and create user-generated content (UGC).
Types of digital marketing
Now that we have a clear understanding of what digital marketing is, let’s take a closer look at the different types.
There are countless ways to do digital marketing, but these are some of the most common types:
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- SMS marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Over-the-top (OTT) streaming ads
Most businesses use a combination of these digital strategies to create a unique marketing mix that best appeals to their target audience. Organic approaches like social media and SEO are more popular with small businesses, while enterprises tend to invest more in paid strategies like PPC.
Digital marketing strategy best practices
Before we can look at examples of digital marketing in action, it’s important to understand what makes a digital marketing strategy successful. Regardless of the business model or audience, all great marketing strategies follow these four best practices.
1. Know your audience
Marketing doesn’t have a purpose without an audience. The goal of marketing is to engage with and convert leads into customers. If you fail to understand your audience’s wants and needs, your messaging and targeting will miss their mark.
Knowing your audience helps you meet your customers’ needs. Successful digital marketing teams collect data on their customers to inform their digital marketing strategies. You can learn more about your audience through analytics, customer surveys, and feedback.
From there, you can create buyer personas to model customer journeys based on what you know about your customers. Your marketing and sales teams rely on these profiles to create better, more focused content tailored specifically to your audience and their needs.
2. Set goals
Marketing campaigns lose focus without a goal. Since focus is the key to success, every successful marketing campaign starts with a goal.
But generic goals like “increase sales” aren’t helpful. A $1 increase in sales technically counts as success, but that’s surely not your actual goal. This is why goals should be specific and measurable.
The world’s best digital marketing campaigns set goals using the SMART goal-setting framework.
Your goals need to be:
- Specific. The goal clearly describes what you want to accomplish.
- Measurable. This establishes a quantifiable metric that identifies when you’ve achieved your goal.
- Attainable. The goal is realistic, given the resources and time you have.
- Relevant. The goal aligns with your company’s priorities and will have a meaningful impact on your business.
- Time-bound. You aim to achieve the goal by a specific date.
Under the SMART framework, generic goals like “increase sales” can become more actionable objectives like “increase gross profits by 15% by the end of Q2.” This makes it much easier to determine if a campaign was successful or not. It also gives you something tangible to aim for, which provides marketing teams more clarity.
3. Evaluate past efforts
Digital marketing is always changing, and that means digital campaigns are always a work in progress. However, brands can learn a lot about their marketing strategies when they analyze past performance.
Before you plan new campaigns for the year, audit past campaigns. What did you do well? Where did you fall short? Were there any opportunities you wish you capitalized on? By looking at previous campaigns, you’ll learn how to design more effective campaigns going forward.
Plus, evaluating your past efforts can also save you time and effort in the future. Sometimes you can repurpose assets, such as images and blog posts, from previous campaigns.
Finally, all successful digital marketing campaigns consider their resources and constraints. What are the logistics of executing a campaign? Many businesses over allocate or under allocate resources, and both are mistakes that can hurt your return on investment (ROI).
Always consider your:
- Budget. Marketing campaigns need to generate ROI. If you spend too much on a campaign that doesn’t generate enough revenue, it will put your marketing budget in the red.
- People. Do you have the staff to pull this off? Does your team have the expertise to execute your marketing strategy? Do you need to hire third-party vendors or contractors? These are all important questions to ask.
- Time. Time constraints will limit the scope of your digital marketing campaigns. Don’t overschedule your marketing team — find a balance that allows you to generate ROI without perennially tight deadlines.
- Channels. Which channels are you using to promote your business? Whether it’s social media, video, blogs, or a podcast, the channels you choose will naturally come with limitations and rules.
Marketers should shoot for the moon, but it’s still important to consider logistics that could limit your campaign. These important limitations will tell you what’s reasonable for your business to achieve, so you might need to adjust your SMART goals to accommodate them.
Digital marketing strategy examples
Now that we understand the basics of digital marketing strategy success, it’s helpful to see best practices in action. Learn from these 10 prominent examples of digital marketing strategy to design better campaigns going forward.
1. Apple #ShotoniPhone
Apple used content marketing to convince more people to give its smartphone macro camera a try. The now-viral campaign showcased the power of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max cameras.
Instead of generating branded content about its new, higher quality cameras, Apple let its users showcase this feature. The brand encouraged Apple customers to submit user-generated photos with the hashtags #ShotoniPhone and #iPhonemacrochallenge.
Better yet, Apple turned this content marketing strategy into a contest. It selected 10 winning photos to feature on its social media, website, billboards, and other marketing channels.
Not only did this generate buzz for Apple’s macro camera, but it also helped the brand source user-generated content of its product in action. This gave the brand thousands of high-quality UGC images to pull from.
2. Nike Air VaporMax
In another smart example of a content marketing strategy, Nike partnered with the YouTube channel “What’s Inside?” to promote its Nike Air VaporMax shoes.
The YouTube channel, which dissects items to see what’s inside them, garnered more than 7 million views on this 10-minute video dedicated to Nike.
“What’s Inside?” has 7.11 million subscribers on YouTube, which ensured millions of people would see the brand collaboration. By partnering with an established YouTube channel, Nike also leveraged popular influencers to promote its new line of shoes.
3. BuzzFeed email marketing
BuzzFeed is known for viral listicles and clickable quizzes, but its email marketing strategies are also effective.
Email is an often-overlooked strategy, but in an age when tracking cookies are going away, brands should use email to collect first-party data while engaging with their subscribers.
BuzzFeed is unique because it offers a variety of different newsletters. Depending on their interests, subscribers can sign up for newsletters featuring recipes, travel tips, news, pop culture, and even courses.
BuzzFeed succeeds at email marketing not only because of its attention-grabbing content, but also because of its clarity. The brand is clear about email content and frequency, which gives subscribers more agency to control their inboxes.
4. Airbnb host guidebooks
If you’ve ever booked an Airbnb, you might have noticed a guidebook attached to the booking confirmation page. These guidebooks are a form of content marketing and user-generated content created by Airbnb hosts. The guidebooks inform guests about restaurants, landmarks, and things to do during their stay.
While this is helpful to Airbnb renters, it also serves as a clever form of content marketing. Airbnb is improving the quality of renters’ stays with suggested activities and advice from locals. The better the quality of a renter’s stay, the more likely they are to share their experience with other travelers and re-book for another stay.
5. Myprotein brand ambassadors
Health and fitness is a growing category. Myprotein is a nutrition and apparel company that was looking to increase its market share in this competitive industry. But the brand found that athletes were hesitant to try new, unproven protein brands.
Myprotein used social media and affiliate marketing to persuade more athletes to try its products. It partnered with a handful of fitness influencers, including Bella Rahbek and Armando Nava, to promote exclusive bundles and savings to the influencers’ social media followings. Through coupon codes, hashtags, and custom content, Myprotein boosted brand awareness and incentivized more social media shoppers to give their products a try.
6. Priceline pay-per-click ads
Pay-per-click marketing costs can add up quickly, but this digital marketing strategy can net fast results for businesses. That’s something Priceline discovered when it ran a large PPC campaign in 2016.
The travel brand reportedly spent more than $3 billion on PPC in 2016. Although most brands don’t have a $3 billion PPC budget, Priceline backed up its campaigns with a sound strategy. It used the power of paid ads to appear on relevant search engine results pages for competitive queries. It targeted keywords like “compare flight prices” and “cheap flights” to stand out. Priceline also highlighted costs and discount bundles to encourage cost-conscious travelers to convert.
Since search engines display paid results before organic results — and even above some Featured Snippets in Google — this campaign put the Priceline listings first in Google Search. Despite its competitor Expedia spending $4.3 billion on PPC during the same time frame, Priceline reported positive results from this PPC campaign.
7. Hinge TikTok advertising
The dating app Hinge created a social media campaign that endorsed deleting the app. While most apps want users to stay for as long as possible, Hinge promoted itself as “The dating app that’s meant to be deleted” — presumably when its users find love.
This digital marketing strategy example is genius because of Hinge’s clever targeting. The app primarily targets Gen Z young adults looking for relationships. After some research, Hinge went to the place where its audience spends the most time — TikTok.
Businesses are just starting to maximize TikTok ad performance and watch time, but this tongue-in-cheek content turned heads. The ad garnered millions of views on TikTok and more than 13 million views on YouTube.
8. Glossier social media strategy
Makeup brand Glossier has a great example of a digital marketing strategy for social media. The brand knows how to leverage its large Instagram following of well over 2.7 million people.
Glossier isn’t afraid to add personality to its social media content. In a clear break from most beauty brands, its photos aren’t typical, stylized marketing. Instead, the photos show makeup and beauty products as they would look in a shopper’s home.
Glossier’s social feed features everyday people in normal settings. Instead of relying on big-name influencers, it employs user-generated content to give its campaigns a sense of authenticity. The brand understands that its followers prefer to see realistic, everyday makeup, and that’s exactly what Glossier offers with its social media marketing strategy.
9. Urban Outfitters SMS marketing and chatbot
Few brands invest in SMS marketing, but it can be a crafty digital marketing strategy because users are surprisingly receptive to it. More than half of consumers reply to texts within two minutes, and 70% have opted in to receive texts from businesses.
Facing increased competition, fashion lifestyle brand Urban Outfitters created an SMS marketing campaign to deepen shopper relationships. Urban Outfitters already had an active email list, but it wasn’t sure whether contacting these same shoppers via SMS would hurt engagement levels. The brand conducted a split test and found that active email subscribers were equally active on SMS. This showed that the brand could do both SMS and email marketing to boost engagement even more.
But Urban Outfitters doesn’t just market its brand via SMS — it also delivers customer service via text message. The UO Chatbot provides immediate customer support within a shopper’s SMS app. Customers can check their order status, view return policies, and talk to a human customer service agent if the chatbot can’t help. At a time when companies are competing on customer service, investing in this digital marketing strategy helped Urban Outfitters stand out from other fashion brands.
10. Cosmic Crisp’s Hulu streaming ads
Over-the-top ads are a new type of digital marketing strategy that’s gaining traction. As more consumers cancel cable and opt for streaming services like Hulu and Sling, brands are flocking to these spaces to continue engaging with viewers.
That’s what the apple brand Cosmic Crisp did. In a bid to increase sales, the company paid for OTT ads on Hulu to feature its “Slice Any Way” video ad. The brand used Hulu Ad Manager to bid on ad spots, similar to how brands bid for PPC placements. Cosmic Crisp targeted foodies and parents with Hulu’s targeting options to reach thousands of streamers.
Creating your digital marketing strategy
Digital marketing is the future, but with so many strategies to choose from, it can feel overwhelming. Pull from these 10 high-profile examples of digital marketing strategies to build or improve your own tactics going forward.
When you’re ready to get started, first decide which digital marketing channels work best for your business. Create a branded hashtag if you have a social media presence, revamp your newsletters if you have a large email list, or choose another one of the strategies we’ve shared.
The right marketing tools can make a world of difference. Adobe Marketo Engage helps you create and manage your marketing strategy across channels and platforms. Manage your social media, email, and advertising strategies from a single platform.
Take a tour of Marketo Engage to find out how it can help you create and manage successful digital marketing strategies.