7 Digital Marketing Strategies That Really Work (with Examples)

Rosie Allabarton, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

If you’re considering launching a career in digital marketing, getting to grips with the most effective digital marketing strategies is a surefire way to gain an edge in the field and learn some actionable techniques that will bring about visible results for your company or client. 

In this article, we want to show you some great examples of game-changing digital marketing strategies adopted by a wide range of well-known companies and brands. We’ll be covering:

  1. What is a digital marketing strategy? 
  2. Content marketing: Spotify Wrapped
  3. Social media marketing: Apple’s Shot on iPhone
  4. Email marketing: Who Gives A Crap
  5. Affiliate marketing: Money Saving Expert
  6. SEM: Converse
  7. SEO: Venngage
  8. Wrapping up 

Are you ready to up your marketing game? Then let’s take a look at some businesses who have really nailed it, and learn exactly how they did it. 

1. What is a digital marketing strategy?

A digital marketing strategy is a plan which utilizes one or more online marketing channels–for example, paid search, social media, longform content, or email–to enable a brand or business to meet specific goals. The strategy typically involves a selection of planned actions to be executed on by a digital marketing team made up of specialists in each field, with roles including content strategist, videographer, SEO specialist, copywriter, email marketer, and social media manager, to name just a few.

When performed in a timely manner on the appropriate platforms, a digital marketing strategy enables a brand to:

  • Reach new audiences
  • Build on current user relationships
  • Generate leads
  • Increase traffic to a page
  • Increase brand authority in a specific field
  • Generate sales
  • Encourage repeat custom and brand advocacy
  • Provide valuable data on user behavior

There are a number of benefits to adopting a digital marketing strategy to reach these goals. Unlike other methods—such as print advertising or direct sales—a digital marketing strategy is:

Budget-friendly

Many of the steps taken during a digital marketing campaign or strategy can be performed at a low cost (and, sometimes, even for free), for example on social media sites, or using free content hosting sites, like Medium.

Able to facilitate a wide reach (and quickly)

Thanks to the range of channels and platforms available for digital marketing–email, social media, blogs–digital marketers are able to reach a broad spectrum of users, from younger generations on TikTok, to more mature audiences on Pinterest. 

Trackable

A huge advantage of a digital marketing campaign in comparison to its print or offline counterparts is that digital tracking tools enable a digital marketing team to observe how users and where users are active. This enables them to learn from and iterate on results, improving their strategies over time. 

Time-effective

How long does it take to get an advert in your local newspaper, or produce a billboard campaign? It certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Thanks to technology, digital campaigns, on the other hand, can be launched within mere minutes online. 

Highly flexible

Missed something important from your Facebook ad? Forgotten your CTA on your sponsored Instagram post? Digital marketing strategies are flexible and dynamic, enabling a team to tweak a campaign even after it’s been launched. 

Ideal for targeting specific groups 

Not only do digital marketing strategies enable a wide reach, they’re perfectly suited to targeting very niche groups. You’ll be able to find an influencer or Reddit group that cater to almost every interest, providing an ideal opportunity to study specific user groups closely, and market to them on the platforms they visit regularly. 

An opportunity to create spaces for customer engagement and feedback 

Social media accounts, blogs, content publishers—these are all platforms that encourage user interaction and feedback. For marketers, this is a dream come true; they can find out exactly what their users think of their product or brand, ask questions, and start discussions directly with their target users. These interactions provide valuable data that can be used to inform and improve future strategies. 

Next, we’ll look at some real-world examples of successful digital marketing strategies, utilizing different forms of digital marketing.

2. Content marketing: Spotify Wrapped

Content marketing is the production and sharing of online materials that seeks to build interest in a company’s products or services without direct selling or explicit promotion. This digital marketing methodology provides users with insights and information on an industry or topic, and builds trust and brand authority through the publication of high-quality materials. Some companies also use content marketing as an opportunity to share a company’s unique values or vision. 

It’s crucial that the content used as part of a content marketing strategy is engaging, eye-catching, and captures the imagination of users. This is necessary for a brand to stand out from its competitors and remain in the minds of its users.

But, above all, the content produced and shared by a brand must provide inherent value to its users. If users do not get value from a brand’s content, they will quickly look elsewhere for answers to their questions and, more often than not, take their custom with them.  

Content marketing can involve a variety of platforms and types of content, such as:

  • Videos
  • Blog articles
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • White papers 
  • How-to guides 

Let’s take a look at a great content marketing example from Spotify

Spotify Wrapped, a great example of a successful digital marketing strategy
Spotify Wrapped. (Source)

You’re probably already familiar with Spotify Wrapped, which gives you an indication of the reach of this content marketing success story. Launched at the end of 2017, the data-driven campaign famously collates data from each user’s listening habits and preferences throughout the year to create an eye-catching end-of-year summary, consisting of swipeable cards with lists, illustrations, videos, graphs and other stats, dotted with images of album covers and artists. Each individual’s Spotify Wrapped end-of-year summary is also set to the backdrop of that person’s most-played tunes. 

Why is Spotify Wrapped such a great example of content marketing? 

  • It provides huge value to users, who are able to learn about themselves and their listening habits over the past 12 monthsIt’s extremely shareable, as any of the Spotify Wrapped slides can be posted on all the major social networks and shared to your contacts through messaging apps
  • It’s highly personalized: Spotify Wrapped provides a unique and individualized experience for each user
  • It uses machine learning and user data to enhance the user experience dramatically

3. Social media marketing: Apple’s Shot on iPhone

Social media marketing is the practice of using social media channels (such as Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, or Facebook) to promote a product, service, or brand; find and connect with audiences; and drive revenue. Thanks to the high levels of engagement on social media by users of almost every demographic, social media marketers have found they can not only directly interact with users on their favorite platforms, but also grab their attention by posting content that is highly relevant to them—and even personalized.

When this is done effectively, a marketer can: 

  • Build long-lasting relationships with customers and fans
  • Study the behavior and preferences of their target users at close range
  • Target specific audiences 
  • Build communities around their brand 
  • Provide a more personalized customer service, and increase levels of customer satisfaction
  • Increase revenue with social shopping 

Let’s take a look at a great social media marketing example from tech giant Apple!

The Shot on iPhone campaign from Apple was launched in 2014. A simple idea, it asks users to post the best photographs they have taken with their iPhones on Instagram or Twitter, and tag them with the hashtag #ShotOniPhone. The images posted are then reviewed by a panel of judges and featured on billboards, online, in retail stores, and in other forms of physical advertising media. What started as a simple challenge to users has become one of Apple’s most recognizable and important campaigns. 

With over 24 million posts on Instagram to date, #ShotOniPhone is a prime example of a company capturing users’ imaginations and harnessing user-generated content (UGC) to promote its product online. But that’s not where this campaign ends.

Apple combines their social media efforts with musician collaborations, and photographer and filmmaker commissions to create professional images, videos, and artworks shot on iPhones too. By working with respected artists and musicians on their content creation, Apple demonstrates the versatility and caliber of the iPhone camera.

Why is #ShotOniPhone such a great example of social media marketing? 

  • It’s evergreen. Although it was launched in 2014, the campaign lives on: each year the company announces a different theme, which keeps the idea fresh without losing the simplicity and brilliance of the original campaign
  • It works for every version of the iPhone that is released
  • User-generated content oozes authenticity and encourages sharing
  • Users see genuine examples of what the camera can do by people just like them
  • The multi-faceted approach of social media and offline advertising keeps it fresh in people’s minds, and demonstrates the high quality and scalability of iPhone photos
  • The challenge captures users’ imaginations and encourages them to see what they can do with their iPhone
  • The brand creates urgency with limited time campaigns

4. Email marketing: Who Gives A Crap

What’s not to like about email? Despite email’s relatively long history, the communication format is as popular as ever, with over 300 billion emails sent every day (according to 2021 records). With no sign of this slowing down, companies are turning to email to boost their marketing strategies and grab users’ attention in their inboxes. 

An essential part of inbound marketing, an email marketing campaign is a series of emails sent directly to users of a brand to communicate a message, encourage an action, or promote a new product, event, feature, or special offer. Often an email sequence is used to guide and nurture users at different stages of their customer journey to bolster faith in the brand and encourage a user to further commit or engage.

The end goal of this kind of direct engagement is to meet a specific company goal such as nurturing leads, closing a sale, stimulating engagement or interaction, or enabling a marketing team to gather more data on a user’s preferences or behavior. 

Here are some of the benefits email marketing affords marketers: 

  • The audience is already aware of or engaged with the brand
  • It’s low cost and can be easily automated
  • Messages can be targeted to meet specific user needs and behaviors
  • It’s easy to measure the success of a campaign thanks to software that provides open, click-through, and conversion rates of emails
  • You can reach a global audience directly 

Let’s take a look at a great email marketing example from Who Gives A Crap

Put simply, Who Gives A Crap sells toilet paper! But their mission doesn’t end there. The company donates over 50% of their profits to charities around the world that build toilets for people who don’t have access to them.

In their email correspondence, the brand’s messaging is 100% feel-good, genuine, and inclusive. The emails themselves are written using a lighthearted tone, are filled with quirky illustrations and tons of color, and the content of the text has useful information about important topics such as sustainability, with a few toilet jokes and puns thrown in for good measure.  

Who Gives A Crap uses email in a few different ways:

  • Newsletters
  • Subscription reminders 
  • Product announcements 

Why are Who Gives A Crap’s emails great examples of email marketing? 

  • They have established a very strong brand identity that is easy for consumers to recognise and identify with. This persona is consistent across all of their public-facing channels, from Instagram through to their official website. It’ll feel like you’re getting emails from a close friend, rather than a toilet paper company 
  • Through personable language the brand helps consumers feel included in the company’s mission, which increases each user’s personal investment in the brand’s journey and goals
  • Using some clever wordplay combined with inspirational and enlightening facts about the environment and sustainability, Who Gives A Crap has mastered the email CTA (call to action). They are encouraging without being preachy or patronizing; gently prompting the user to find out more about the product and company.
  • The brand oozes transparency. They own their mistakes and share their secrets, which again is completely consistent with their brand identity
  • The copy is often hilarious, attracting and retaining users irrespective of their interest in toilet paper or the planet: “Saving the world, one wipe at a time.” 
  • The brand’s design is consistent, eye-catching, and vibrant, totally in keeping with the positive tone of the text.  

5. Affiliate marketing: Money Saving Expert

Affiliate marketing is when a company or individual pays others (such as social media influencers, celebrities, bloggers, or related companies) to promote their products or services with the goal of generating traffic, leads, or sales. Often, the person promoting the product only receives payment when a sale is made. With 8 out of 10 brands using affiliate programs as part of their marketing strategy, this is a technique that brings results. 

The following process is a typical example of how affiliate marketing works:

  • The business approaches a relevant candidate in their industry or niche to become an affiliate or ‘spokesperson’ of the brand. 
  • The affiliate then shares the business’s product or service with their audience or network, usually via social media sites, email, or their own website. To incentivize sales, they might also provide a coupon or discount to those who take up the offer. The affiliate will be given a personalized link, known as an affiliate link. This link personalization, when clicked, will inform the business that a customer has arrived to their site directly through their affiliate.
  • A user will click on the affiliate link to take them to the company website.There, the user makes a purchase, or partakes in the desired action. 
  • The business makes a sale and the affiliate receives a percentage of the sale as commission. 

Let’s take a look at a great affiliate marketing example from Money Saving Expert

Founded by financial journalist Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert is the UK’s biggest consumer website. With a mission to save the average consumer money in every area of life—from car insurance and housing through to flights and grocery shopping—the site contains informative research-focused articles as well as money-saving tips, tricks, and techniques. The site also offers users the chance to have their own voices heard in the popular community forum.

Money Saving Expert makes its money through affiliate marketing, while remaining editorially independent. This means that a company or website that is featured in an article is included based on its merit alone, and not because the company has paid to be featured. These companies are then approached once the article has been written to see if they would like an affiliate link back to their website. Even if an affiliate link cannot be found, the mention of the product or service will stay in the article because the site prioritizes the best interests of the customer, and genuinely believes the product deserves to be mentioned. 

Why is Money Saving Expert a great example of affiliate marketing? 

  • By putting consumers’ best interests first, the site has built a relationship of trust with its users
  • The site generally avoids building partnerships with financial product providers. In doing so, it avoids pressure from companies who would like to see their products featured
  • It is completely transparent about how the site is funded, even dedicating a page of the website to explaining it. This, again, creates genuine relationships built on trust 
  • From its conception, the team at MSE has focused its efforts on giving value to its audience, even at the expense of revenue. When a site is created in this way, users know they can fully trust the reviews and the products featured 
  • The site caters its content to a very niche audience who are keen to save money or bag a great deal
  • The site clearly communicates the problem it can help its audience solve
  • Journalistic integrity is at the heart of the site and its values

The content of the site is very actionable, easy to follow, of high value, detailed, and clearly solves a problem for readers

6. SEM: Converse

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a technique which brings users to a company website through paid search advertising campaigns, organic search ranking (in collaboration with SEO contributions), and other pay-per-click (PPC) marketing activities. 

There are numerous advantages to a brand engaging in SEM activities, including: 

  • Target customers can be reached instantly
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Users can be targeted based on their location, thanks to geo-targeted search ads
  • Ads can be made to appear for those with specific search intentions
  • A company only pays for the ad when a user takes an action 
  • Ads appear free of charge (until a user takes an action on them), which creates an opportunity for free brand exposure 
  • Brands can appear in the search results for their competitors’ keywords

Let’s take a look at a great example of search engine marketing from Converse

Back in 2010, popular global sneaker brand, Converse, found a creative and original way to connect with their audience using PPC marketing with its Domaination campaign. The footwear brand converted the Google paid search channel into a dialogue and gaming experience for users, in doing so creating an entirely new use for Google Search. 

The company bid against low competition and low cost phrases that their (typically male) teenage users might be inputting into search, such as “how to kiss a girl” or “how to chat up women”, instead of taking the more traditional PPC route of competing with their competitors on popular search terms related to their products.

By targeting these (and other phrases) every week, the brand was demonstrating that it related to its audience. In order to have relevant landing pages for the ads, Converse built microsites that provided content related to the users’ search query, that also featured adverts for Converse products and linked back to the brand’s homepage. The campaign was hugely successful at both engaging the audience, and driving large volumes of traffic to the company website. 

Why was Converse’s SEM Domaination such a great example of SEM marketing? 

  • The campaign engaged the audience on topics and themes that interested them
  • It provided a deep, content-rich experience once a user did click on an ad 
  • It was unexpected and innovative, sparking curiosity with users 
  • It did not directly push products onto users, instead connecting with users on their own terms
  • It didn’t try to compete on popular search terms related to its product or industry

7. SEO: Venngage 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is when a website’s content is adjusted, optimized, and improved in order for it to be easily found via search engines. The more relevant a search engine algorithm deems a website to be on a specific search term or topic, the higher that page ranks on its results pages. When this is the case, users searching that search term see that website, and are therefore more likely to visit it. 

There are many benefits to marketers in adopting an SEO marketing strategy, including:

  • Increased organic discovery by targeted users
  • Increased quality of website traffic
  • High ranking on search engine results pages bolsters a brands credibility and trust
  • 24/7 promotion of a brand, its products and services
  • Different types of SEO-optimized content targets users at different stages in the customer journey
  • Multiple targeted audiences
  • Boosted search visibility
  • Targeted, high-quality content improves the user’s experience on a site or blog
  • It works very well when used together with SEM marketing as when the advert and the site both appear at the top of search engine results pages the brand’s credibility is bolstered 

Let’s take a look at a great example of SEO strategy from Venngage! 

Infographic design company, Venngage, has mastered the SEO marketing game with its high-quality content. The site’s editors target specific, frequently-asked longtail keywords with blog content topics such as: 

  • How To Make An Infographic In 5 Steps (2022 Guide)
  • How To Design A Venn Diagram In Google Docs 
  • What Is An Infographic? Examples, Templates & Design Tips 

By focusing on creating such high-quality, targeted, optimized content that answers user’s queries and solves their problems, the site provides search engines with context about what they do, gives its target audience numerous opportunities to find it, and enables the company to demonstrate its authority and expertise in the field, which Google also rewards in its search engine results pages. 

The site’s high quality content is part of a long-term strategy from Venngage. They know that not everyone who reads their articles will need their services immediately (or even understand them) so they educate their readers about the importance of what they do and how it works. By building trust and brand authority in this way, the site can be certain that when those same users do need these services, they will come to Venngage for them. 

Why is Venngage a great example of SEO marketing? 

  • Educating and informing users is the site’s first priority
  • SEO keywords are used naturally but also strategically (in headers, URLs, and metatags) 
  • The readability of posts is excellent: articles are broken up with bullet points, eye-catching images, infographics, and clear headers
  • Sentences are kept short and easy to understand
  • The tone is friendly, yet authoritative 
  • Relevant internal links are included and appropriately labeled 
  • Each post contains a lot of value for the user: free resources, templates, examples, and shareable infographics or images
  • Blog posts are of substantial length and filled with useful information
  • The tone is informative without being sales-y 

8. Wrapping up

We hope you’ve enjoyed our rundown of the different digital marketing strategies available to marketers and taken some inspiration from the creative, clever, and innovative examples we’ve outlined here. Using a combination of all of these techniques, marketers can boost site traffic, engage with multiple audiences, target niche groups of users, bolster their brand’s credibility and authority in the field, and ultimately convert more users into customers.

Interested in getting into digital marketing? Why not try out our free, 5-day course, or take a look at some of our other articles on digital marketing and digital marketing careers to find out more about this exciting field! 

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