Digital Marketing Strategy Frameworks (+ How to Use Them)

by Emily Bliss | September 19, 2022

If you want to streamline your marketing processes without compromising on impact, you need a digital marketing strategy framework that delivers leads and sales. 

Think of a framework as a roadmap that helps you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. Without it, you could end up on the wrong path with unpredictable results and destinations. 

Developing a digital marketing strategy takes work, but it also simplifies your approach in the long run. You end up with a strong foundation for how to approach each step to maximize your results. Just like a map or directions, you can look back at Step 4 to see how it will impact Step 9. You can also make adjustments as needed to improve your results and account for the unexpected. 

In an agency setting, leveraging marketing frameworks gives colleagues and cross-functional teams a shared set of vocabulary. The loosely shaped map is something each team member is familiar with and can use as a source of guidance along the way. 

Ready to figure out how to create a digital marketing strategy? Here’s everything you need to know to implement one for your business. 

What is a digital marketing strategy framework?

Let’s start with the basics. A digital marketing strategy framework outlines the flow of your marketing process. Essentially, you’re building out the steps for how you’ll design and execute your marketing plan and deliver it to your target audience, whether it includes social media or lead magnets for your website. 

Most companies create a digital marketing strategy framework with a template or visual elements that lays out everything you’re trying to accomplish. Frameworks live at the intersection of two essential components of your digital program: the audience you’re targeting and the medium through which you’re reaching them. 

Digital marketing strategy frameworks build a bridge between the buying signals and the ad creative—or, how someone is acting and what they need to know. A buyer’s signal may include engaging with your business by filling out a survey or watching a video. When they signal interest, you can send a specific ad designed to convert. Your framework outlines these interactions ahead of time, so you can make sure your marketing matches those behaviors. 

Tips for setting up a framework

Keep in mind, there’s no one way to use a digital marketing framework. That said, here are some common helpful tips for when you’re first setting up a framework:

  • Instead of just trying anything and everything in your marketing strategy, ask what your customers want from your business, how you solve their pain points, and what sparks a response.  
  • Frameworks can also be used in reverse to identify gaps or make sure everything is still on track. Starting from the technical execution side of things helps you focus on the goal and ensure everything else aligns with the outcome you’re looking for. 
  • On the logistical side of things, it’s important to understand who is responsible for what when it comes to execution to keep everything moving. Building a framework requires thoughtfulness and cohesiveness, which means setting up a timeline and org chart for who does what can go a long way. 

When should I make a digital marketing strategy framework?

Some businesses and marketers struggle with the question of when to create a framework. After all, marketing needs can quickly change. 

Typically, teams apply marketing frameworks during the initial creation or ideation of a digital campaign or during a strategic reset

  • Applying a framework in the beginning stage of a campaign identifies the goals and helps flesh out the remaining pieces of your strategy. 
  • Applying a framework during a strategic reset helps teams understand what’s worked (or didn’t) in the past and lets you refine your goals based on this knowledge.

What are some common digital marketing strategy frameworks?

Frameworks aren’t new and don’t require a reinventing of the marketing wheel. You can gather inspiration from a variety of sources and personalize your approach with some of the common digital marketing frameworks that are out there. But before all else, it’s critical to remember what a framework should and shouldn’t do: 

  • They shouldn’t be rigid.
  • They should absolutely stay as flexible as possible to meet your unique needs.

Marketing Funnel

digital marketing strategy framework: the marketing funnel

The marketing funnel is perhaps the most basic of marketing frameworks—but for good reason. The simple upper, middle, and lower funnel designations (labeled in the image above as awareness, consideration, and decision) allows marketers to bucket customer behaviors and interests into categories to make a complex process simpler to understand. 

Let’s dissect why this works. Different tactics (mediums and creative)  work best at each stage (audiences and their respective intent). For example, long-tail editorial content shines in awareness, while high intent search ads are vital in decision. 

Identifying the nuances of your particular funnel may take some digging and require analytics expertise, but it can help you refine how your customers come into your orbit, letting you then know how best to keep them there. 

Flywheel Model

digital marketing strategy framework: the flywheel

The flywheel model embraces the idea that your customers are your best salespeople, and when you keep them happy, they’re thrilled to tell their friends. Part of using the flywheel model is making your product or service as easy to learn about and therefore as simple to purchase as possible. 

Incorporating these elements into your digital marketing strategy framework means your marketing materials should be designed to push your customers through this wheel again and again. 

Because of the cyclical and relational nature of this framework, you can pinpoint breakdowns more precisely. Where are people falling off? At which point of this cycle are KPIs not meeting expectations?

Account-Based Marketing (flipped funnel)

digital marketing strategy framework: the flipped funnel

An account-based marketing (ABM) funnel, or the flipped funnel, starts with identifying valuable accounts and ends by converting them into customer advocates for your brand. That means it’s all-hands on deck when it comes to account-based marketing. Your sales, marketing, and customer success teams are all focused on identifying and winning the best accounts that fit with your business.

A traditional funnel is the opposite, where most of the marketing work is spread out in awareness efforts that then trickle down to your core market. While a full-funnel marketing strategy for lead generation is still valuable, it’s not the only way to find valuable customers and raise revenue potential, as ABM shows. 

The Messy Middle

digital marketing strategy framework: the messy middle

Google published a manifesto, titled Decoding Decisions: Making Sense of the Messy Middle, in which they describe the customer journey as having a “messy middle.” However, this digital marketing strategy framework is very similar to a top-down view of the traditional marketing funnel. 

The concepts are the same. Triggers set a user on a buying journey where they explore and evaluate solutions to address their needs. Exploring and evaluating happens on various mediums, leveraging various creative assets. 

Things to remember when using a digital marketing framework

Digital marketing frameworks should stay flexible enough to move through both linearly and nonlinearly. A breakthrough during a team brainstorming session could result in a new idea at Step 12 that shifts previous steps. A good framework combined with powerful team communication and collaboration allows for ultimate flexibility, whether you want to start building your framework at Step 1 or 11. 

At Silverback, we keep our marketing frameworks flexible because of the value we get from constant feedback loops. From performance data, audience observations, and constant alignment with our client’s business objectives, we stay flexible to make fixes when it makes sense to do so.

This coloring outside the lines approach is what keeps the art and creativity of digital marketing intact. A good framework has the right combination of objective and subjective elements. 

Be careful, though. Frameworks sometimes result in a series of strict dependencies that remove the possibility of parallel progress. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but one worth doing your best to be mindful of. If every task strictly depends on the one before it, try mapping out what it could do to your launch timeframe and plan what else could be happening at the same time. 

Implementing a digital marketing strategy framework

We believe there is no one-size-fits-all framework. Different models work for different kinds of buyers and businesses. It’s our job to align with our clients on the right framework and execute a strategy aligned to their business goals. The way we do this is a simple four-step process:

  • Align
  • Build
  • Launch
  • Evolve

This process takes into account where each business’ marketing program is in its maturity. It helps prioritize what parts need to be built first. This way, your digital marketing strategy framework can generate the leads and sales needed to evolve to the next level. For example, you cannot leverage first party data for lookalike audiences without first having collected and stored the data properly.

Here’s what this process looks like on the step-by-step level. 

Align 

First, you must have a clear understanding of the goals of the business, all the way down to the conversion rates in every step from lead to sale. This will help identify strengths to build upon and areas to improve. It will also help set lead targets and revenue goals, and the budget needed to make it happen.

With this level of alignment, marketing leaders can then identify the right mix of channels and tactics to implement, whether it’s an email marketing strategy with cross-sells or editorial SEO and everything in between. Once channels and tactics are strategized, you have the pieces needed to map out a digital marketing strategy framework. Starting at this high of a level helps ensure each step you take or idea you brainstorm is anchored in that bigger goal. 

Build 

The next step is to build strong individual campaigns on a foundation of audience research and data. This way, content and creative strategies are rooted in customer insights, making them more likely to resonate with buyers and evoke specific emotional responses. 

Another critical part of building strong campaigns is having a measurement plan. The key performance indicators (KPIs) you select should roll up to your overarching business goal.

A digital marketing strategy framework can help keep these campaigns aligned across channels and platforms as you build, working together to reach your objectives.

Launch

When campaigns go live, it’s especially important to monitor performance to make sure platforms are configured correctly, lead quality is good, and analytics are set up properly to track. Many things can go wrong when you launch a marketing campaign. It’s critical to have the right people in place to make sure everything goes according to plan.

The launch phase is always an exciting moment, but it isn’t the end of the journey. After all, digital marketing frameworks and funnels should stay flexible to make changes based on the gathered data and inputs. Make sure you keep that in mind as you get your assets together—if they don’t perform, be ready to switch. 

Evolve

A flexible campaign is built to evolve and scale. That’s why it’s critical to have a feedback loop between teams to test, learn and refine. These efforts pay off and help continuously improve your campaigns and help your organization reach new levels of marketing maturity.

It’s best to take your feedback from a variety of sources to paint as full of a picture as possible. This could include website data from Analytics, CRM data, or ad platforms. Our clients are also an integral part of our feedback loops. We always strive to keep a pulse on what our clients see on their end so we can adjust as needed. 

As the world around us changes, so do industries and businesses. Keeping a pulse on the ever-changing “what good looks like” is essential. Beyond more profit, knowing what good looks like creates better products and services and builds a better reputation in your industry. 

Finding the right framework fuel

A framework is only as good as the data used to fuel it. Get started on your journey to build a better marketing strategy by learning how to leverage your data. Grab your copy of How to Build and Scale a First-Party Data Strategy today. Learn how Silverback’s strategy and analytics services can help your business.

Emily Bliss

Emily is an insatiably curious, experienced marketing leader helping organizations build trust with buyers. She helps clients thrive at the intersection of a powerful brand story and business growth.

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