Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy

Pierre-Yann Dolbec


Digital Marketing Strategy

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Digital Marketing Strategy by Pierre-Yann Dolbec is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.



The internet has digitalized our lives: we now create and meet others in online communities on websites such as Reddit, Imgur, Facebook, or NikeTalk. Our relationships with our friends and families have expanded to digital channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. We forge new relationships through dating apps such as OkCupid and Tinder. We become microcelebrities on Twitch and YouTube. We consume other people’s lives, we talk to strangers, and we project public personas on social media platforms.

The internet has also transformed how businesses conduct their activities and how consumers go about buying products. Whole industries, such as music and travel, have been radically reshaped. In order to be successful digital marketers, we need to go beyond simply translating the methods and processes that used to be successful for traditional media. We need a drastically different way of thinking about approaching consumers and selling products.

The objective of this textbook is to provide a way of conceptualizing how to do marketing online and a strategic framework to do so. Throughout, real-life examples, learning exercises, videos, and additional resources are offered to cement and expand your learning experience.

The first section of this textbook explains how the internet has transformed the ways firms create value and how consumers experience brands and products. In this first section, we focus on understanding a shift in how firms communicate with consumers: they have moved away from talking about themselves, which was predominant in a pre-internet era, towards often offering free resources to create value for consumers. We then explore how the consumer experience has been radically altered and what the implications are for firms’ strategies.

More precisely, Chapter 1: Introduction to Digital Marketing discusses how digitalization is changing the ecosystem in which we conduct marketing activities. In this chapter, we explore what marketing is and how value is created online, and briefly touch on consumer journeys.

Chapter 2: Understanding the Digital Consumer explores how digitalization is transforming the journey of consumers. We learn about marketing tools (persona, consumer journey, and journey mapping) to help us understand consumer behavior and craft digital marketing campaigns.

In Chapter 3: Planning For a Digital Marketing Campaign, we cover basic notions of search engine optimization and then discuss how, when creating content, keywords can be used to respond to consumers’ needs and goals. We also discuss how keywords can help us understand how our competitors are positioned online.

Chapter 4: Introduction to Digital Strategy presents some key vocabulary associated with digital marketing and the framework we are going to cover for the rest of the semester, the RACE framework. We explain its relationship to persona, journey, and strategy and how it can be used to perform competitive analyses.

The second section of this textbook provides an in-depth presentation of a digital marketing framework centered on conversion-based marketing. This framework echoes the work of many digital marketing agencies. It is composed of four stages through which firms can attract visitors, create leads, transform leads into customers, and foster customer loyalty.

Chapter 5: Reach: Generating Awareness and Attracting Visitors discusses paid media activities. We first emphasize the necessity of building landing pages and describe what landing pages are. We then turn our attention to the online ecosystem, discussing elements such as types of paid media activities and expand on payment models and types of targeting that are available online.

Chapter 6: Act: Creating Content covers some central activities associated with content creation. We discuss how content creation can be informed by the RACE framework, the difference between gated and ungated content, how to build topical relevance, and how pillar pages can help us do so. The chapter ends with a short presentation of content calendars.

Chapter 7: Act: Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing looks at the basics of lead generation and lead nurturing activities. We define leads and lead stages, present a few ways to generate leads and different types of opt-ins, explain how to score leads, and discuss email marketing.

Chapter 8: Convert: Conversion Optimization examines what conversion is and how to optimize web pages to convert better. To do so, we discuss conversion rate optimization, how to identify what to optimize as people move from one web page to another, some conversion-centered principles, A/B testing, and retargeting.

Chapter 9: Engage: Building Loyalty and Co-Creating With Customers deals with how to evaluate and encourage customer engagement and loyalty and foster co-creation by engaged customers. More precisely, we delve into customer engagement, customer lifetime value, ways to measure engagement, consumption communities, and co-creation activities.




Pierre thanks Alexandre Bustamante for the book illustrations, Kelly-Anne Lemay for formatting and editing, and Chloe Lei for academic support, as well as the financial support of Concordia University and the Open Educational Resources initiative.

List of Figures


Chapter 1

Figure 1.1 The Evolution of WOM Theory

Chapter 2

Figure 2.1 Persona

Figure 2.2 Types of Segmentation / From University of Minnesota’s Principles of Marketing / Text Description

Figure 2.3 RV Betty / Credit: BBH Singapore (@bbh_singapore) / Text Description

Figure 2.4 Consumer Journey: The Funnel Model

Figure 2.5 Consumer Journey: The Circular Model

Figure 2.6 ZMOT

Figure 2.7 Four Types of ZMOT

Figure 2.8 Journey Mapping / Adapted from

Chapter 3

Figure 3.1 Paid vs Organic Search

Figure 3.2 Top Ranking Factors

Figure 3.3 How Meta Tags Are Displayed on Google SERPs

Figure 3.4 Cross-Linking Example

Figure 3.5 Top On-Page Factors

Figure 3.6 Types of Search

Figure 3.7 Journey and Searches

Chapter 4

Figure 4.1 Objective / Goal / KPI

Figure 4.2 KPIs Example / Text Description

Figure 4.3 AARRR / Text Description

Figure 4.4 RACE Ojbectives / Text Description

Figure 4.5 Journey and Searches

Figure 4.6 Conversion Path

Figure 4.7 Conversion Path – 1st Example

Figure 4.8 Conversion Path – 2nd Example / Text Description

Figure 4.9 RACE / Text Description

Chapter 5

Figure 5.1 Examples of a Clickthrough Landing Page – Fit for Life

Figure 5.2 Examples of a Clickthrough Landing Page – Spotify

Figure 5.3 Examples of a Lead Generation Landing Page – Fit for Life

Figure 5.4 Examples of a Lead Generation Landing Page – Uber

Figure 5.5 Shopify Ad

Figure 5.6 Shopify Homepage

Figure 5.7 AR Conversion

Figure 5.8 Shopify Landing Page

Figure 5.9 Landing Page – Attention Ratio

Figure 5.10 Basic Elements of a Landing Page – Shopify Example

Figure 5.11 Banner Ad

Figure 5.12 Interstitial

Figure 5.13 Pop-Up Ad

Figure 5.14 Floating Ad

Figure 5.15 Wallpaper

Figure 5.16 Map

Figure 5.17 Native

Figure 5.18 Longtail Keywords and Conversion Rate / Text Description

Figure 5.19 Facebook Ad Objectives / Text Description

Figure 5.20 Affiliate Marketing Example

Chapter 6

Figure 6.1 Content Marketing

Figure 6.2 Exemplar and Prototype

Figure 6.3 Gated Content Example

Figure 6.4 Ungated Content to Gated Content

Figure 6.5 Topics

Figure 6.6 Funnel

Figure 6.7 Pillar Page Example

Figure 6.8 Traditional Approach

Figure 6.9 Pillar Approach

Figure 6.10 Pillar Page and Gated Content

Figure 6.11 Pillar Page and Gated Content

Figure 6.12 Pillar Strategy

Figure 6.13 Content Calendar / Text Description

Chapter 7

Figure 7.1 Lead Generation Facebook

Figure 7.2 Marketo Form Fields

Figure 7.3Scroll-Down Pop-Up Opt-In on

Figure 7.4 Bottom of Content Opt-In on

Figure 7.5 Double Opt-In on Instagram – Part 1

Figure 7.6 Double Opt-In on Instagram – Part 2

Figure 7.7 Double Opt-In on Instagram – Part 3

Figure 7.8 Drip Email Sequence Example

Figure 7.9 Drip Sequence

Figure 7.10 Email Automation / Text Description

Chapter 8

Figure 8.1 Conversion Rate

Figure 8.2 Funnel / Text Description

Figure 8.3 Google’s Conversion Funnel Example

Figure 8.4 A/B Test

Figure 8.5 A/B Differences

Figure 8.6 Attention Ratio Works

Figure 8.7 Encapsulation Example

Figure 8.8 Encapsulation

Figure 8.9 Color Contrast

Figure 8.10 Directional Cues

Figure 8.11 Reading Flow

Figure 8.12 White Space

Figure 8.13 Information Hierarchy

Figure 8.14 Continuity

Figure 8.15 Message Match Failure

Figure 8.16 Message Match Success
Figure 8.17 Design Match Failure

Figure 8.18 Design Match Success

Figure 8.19 Congruence Example

Figure 8.20 Landing Page Evaluation / Text Version

Figure 8.21 Retargeting

Figure 8.22 Retargeting Example

Chapter 9

Figure 9.1 Net Promoter Score

Figure 9.2 Value Chain / Text Description

About the Author


Pierre-Yann Dolbec

Pierre-Yann Dolbec is an assistant professor of marketing and Concordia University Research Chair in Complexity and Markets at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University. His research tackles big questions to understand the complexity of markets and how people and organizations manage complexity. It has been published in the Journal of Retailing, the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, and Marketing Theory, where it has received distinctions such as most cited and most downloaded articles.  Recent media coverage includes the National Post, Channel News Asia, CTV News, Global News, CBC, Journal de Montreal, Les Affaires, and Le Devoir.

He has received more than $700,000 in funding from varied funding sources, such as the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Fonds Société et Culture, is an editorial review board member of the Journal of Consumer Research and an instructor at the John Molson School of Business, where he is responsible for the digital marketing undergraduate course.

Versioning History


Pierre-Yann Dolbec

This page provides a record of changes made to this open textbook since its initial publication. If the change is minor, the version number increases by 0.1. If the change involves substantial updates, the version number increases to the next full number.

Version Date Detail
1.0 Fall 2020 Pilot version released
2.0 Sep 2021
  • Overall book structure is reorganized (e.g. Parts, Chapters, Headings)
  • List of Figures is added
  • Additional resources and exercises are added

Appendix: Text Descriptions of Figures


Figure 2.2 Types of Segmentation

By Behavior

By Demographics

By Geography

By Psychographics

Figure 2.3 RV Betty

Betty lives in the suburb of a large Canadian city. She and her husband have both recently retired. One of their life dreams is to travel across North America during their retirement. While she doesn’t consider herself wealthy, she and her husband have saved enough during their lifetime to make their dream a reality and enjoy their retirement.

Betty is worried about how to travel in an RV: how to find utility hookups, where to stay when you have an RV, what happens if you blow a tire, how to plan her routes… She wants an RV with certain characteristics. Since she is retiring (and older), it has to be comfortable. She plans to spend most of her time in it! She also has a great network of friends, and she would like her friends to spend time with her in the RV, so she is looking at additional sleeping space and plenty of room. Maybe she’d like to host dinner time! All in all, she’d like an RV that makes her experience easy when traveling.

Figure 4.2 KPIs Example

The objective is product awareness, which leads to the goals: to have users subscribe to updates and to have users engage with product types and features. Each of these goals is associated with two KPIs. For the goal of having users subscribe to updates, the KPIs are having contact forms be submitted and having email subscribe forms be submitted. For the user engagement goal, the KPIs are virtual mirror use and product content popularity.

Figure 4.3 AARRR

Acquisition: How do your customers find you?

Activation: How quickly can you get to your customer’s “Aha moment”?

Retention: How many of your customers are you retaining, and why are you losing the others?

Referral: How can you turn your customers into advocates?

Revenue: How can you increase revenue?

Figure 4.4 RACE Goals

  1. Reach: Create awareness; drive visits; create positive interactions.
  2. Act: Generate leads.
  3. Convert: Convert lead to paying customer; create loyalty.
  4. Engage: Create advocates.

Figure 4.8 Conversion Path – 2nd Example

Path 1

  1. Reach
    • sponsored Instagram ad
    • outbound 1
  2. Act
    • giveaway on Instagram
    • inbound 1
  3. Convert
    • retargeting email campaign
    • outbound 2
  4. Engage
    • create entertaining content
    • inbound 2

Path 2

  1. Reach
    • SEO keywords
    • inbound 3
  2. Act
    • blog post with opt-in
    • inbound 4
  3. Convert
    • retargeted Facebook ad
    • outbound 3
  4. Engage
    • create informative content
    • inbound 5

Figure 4.9 RACE

  1. Plan: Define your goals and strategy.
  2. Reach: Grow your audience using paid, owned and earned media.
  3. Act: Prompt interactions, subscribers, and leads.
  4. Convert: Achieve sales online or offline.
  5. Engage: Encourage repeat business.

Re-automate: Continue to cycle through the stages.

Figure 5.18 Longtail Keywords and Conversion Rate

A graph showing search volume vs. conversion rate. In the upper left, the search “tomato plant,” with an average of 22,000 monthly searches, has a very high search volume and a very low conversion rate. “When to plant tomatoes,” with 3,600 monthly searches on average, falls more toward the middle of the graph. The long tail, where conversion rate is high and search volume is low, is formed by the search “why are my tomato plants turning yellow,” which has only 390 average monthly searches.

Figure 5.19 Facebook Ad Objectives

Awareness Consideration Conversion
Brand awareness Traffic Conversions
Reach Engagement Catalog sales
App installs
Video views
Lead generation

Figure 6.13 Content Calendar

week network time content type topic copy link
week 1 week 1: Monday, date xx/xx/xx
Facebook 07:00 New blog post silent video Are you optimizing your video for viewing without sound? You should be.
10:00 Curated content new features Infinite snaps, loops, and a magic eraser? Woah
12:00 Video music resources Don’t risk your video being removed or your account killed. Here’s the full list of free resources: (insert video file)
15:00 Promotion product launch Liftmetrix – Hotsuite impact – New name and offerings to help you measure and maximize ROI:
17:00 Live news news update A lot of social media updates happened this month. Let us know your reaction to these ones. (include CTA link)

Figure 7.10 Email Automation

Week 1: Send email. Possible actions and their consequences:

Week 2: Email 2 (extra incentive)

Week 3: Email 3 (extra incentive offer ending)


Figure 8.2 Funnel


Inquiries and Web Visits Leads MQLs SQLs Opportunities Closed Won
Target 9550 9550 1910 382 191 67
Conversion Rate 10% 20% 20% 50% 35%

Figure 8.20 Landing Page Evaluation

Page Element Element Content Score
Headline “Ocean of data instantly becomes security intelligence” 0
Subhead Whitepaper download (“The next generation firewall is here”) 2
Hero shoot Photo of a man holding some paper which is partially obscured 1
Intro “WatchGuard XTM is the Next Generation Firewall of choice for businesses and enterprises alike, providing best-in-class network security at affordable prices” 0
Bullets “Blazing fast throughput”

“Best-in-class security solutions”

“Advanced networking features”

Form header “Download your whitepaper! Complete the required fields” 1
Form fields Country, province/state, phone number 0
Testimonial “I began using WatchGuard products more than eight years ago…” 0
Learn more “Learn more about WatchGuard Dimension” 0
Why “Best-in-class security”

“Easy-to-manage solutions”

“Take advantage of data for security”

Privacy statement “We will never sell your email to any 3rd party or send you nasty spam.” 0
Call to action Get my offer 0
Total 4

Figure 9.2 Value Chain

Activity Co-created value
Market search Online communities
Design and innovation Lead user innovation
Production User-generated content and funding
Marketing Seeding on blogs
Sales eWOM
Customer support User tech support

Table for Exercises in Chapters 4, 5, and 6

Stage of Journey
Awareness Active Evaluation Purchase Loyalty
Concrete actions
  • check local influencers
  • search on Google for information about working out
  • compare atmosphere and interiors of different gyms based on pictures
  • check online reviews
  • get more information about programs
  • check for promotions
  • go online and complete transaction
  • share referral code with friends
  • post pictures from workouts online
  • Instagram
  • Google search
  • Instagram
  • Google
  • Yelp
  • direct visits
  • coupon websites
  • direct visits
  • Facebook
  • Instagram