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Digital marketing strategy

Develop the skills to create a first-class digital marketing strategy with The Open University (OU) and industry experts, Target Internet. Aimed at those who want to build on existing experience in digital marketing, this course uses the proven SOSTAC® planning framework to guide you in building a robust strategy that meets your business objectives. This framework covers the fundamental aspects of marketing: situation, objectives, strategy, tactics, action and control.

You’ll gain the skills to put users at the centre of your strategy, set clear objectives, monitor progress, and interpret analytics reports to improve, iterate, and optimise your strategy.

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Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

Throughout this intermediate level course, you’ll learn to assess your current position and market insights, set out what you aim to achieve, identify opportunities and challenges, and determine the best tactics for success. Practical exercises will help you to apply your new knowledge, and the social learning approach will empower you to further enhance and reflect on your understanding by sharing your thoughts and opinions with co-learners.

Delivered over four easy-to-digest sections, you will cover:

1: Situation analysis

  • SOSTAC® in perspective
  • Exploring the steps of SOSTAC®
  • Situation analysis in perspective
  • External insights
  • Internal insights
  • Organisational capability

2: Creating objectives and using measurement frameworks

  • Setting objectives
  • Organisation and primary objectives
  • Aligning web analytics goals
  • Setting up measurement frameworks
  • Channel metrics and attribution
  • Connecting objectives and control

3: Developing strategy and strategic positioning

  • Defining strategy
  • How strategy impacts all digital marketing plans
  • Example digital marketing strategies
  • Understanding strategic positioning
  • How strategic positioning impacts all digital marketing tactical activity
  • Delivering on strategic positioning

4: Tactics, action and control

  • Defining tactics and action
  • Getting the right digital marketing channel mix
  • Aligning tactics with situational insights
  • Using data for campaign improvement
  • Using data for tactical planning
  • Looking for opportunities for experimentation.

Please note: the content in this course also features in courses created by The Open University and Target Internet, which are available on FutureLearn.

You will learn

By the end of this course, you’ll have the skills to:

  • produce objectives and create strategy dashboards
  • design tactical marketing plans
  • design a digital marketing strategy that aligns your objectives with the needs of your audience
  • analyse and iterate for continuous improvement
  • produce user personas and user journey maps
  • perform a situational analysis.

Vocational relevance

In the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends without focusing on what you are trying to achieve for your business or organisation. If you work in marketing, having the skills to create a robust strategy that aligns with your overall business goals is critical.

The OU has developed this course with industry experts, Target Internet. Known for being leaders in digital marketing training, they also have vast experience in planning and implementing digital campaigns for high-profile brands, including the BBC, Sony, Tesco, Vodafone, Mercedes, L’Oreal and Warner Bros. It’s hosted by Target Internet’s CEO Daniel Rowles, the voice behind the Digital Marketing Podcast and renowned author in the field.

Learner support

There is no tuition on this course and all study is self-directed. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to enhance and reflect on your understanding by sharing your thoughts and opinions with co-learners.

Teaching and assessment


This online course is delivered via social learning and includes video, audio and written tutorials. You can learn at your own pace with complete flexibility. Throughout the course, you will be asked to respond to questions, reflect on your experiences and learning, and carry out short exercises to help you develop your understanding.

At the end of each section, you will be asked to answer a set of multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge. You can attempt these as often as you need to. It is important to complete them because they count towards your final score.

To receive a Certificate of Completion, you will need to complete every section and achieve at least 70% in all tests.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

This course is ideal for anyone who has some existing experience in digital marketing and would like to develop their ability and confidence to create digital marketing strategies. Any work experience will enhance and contextualise your learning.

It will be of particular interest to anyone wishing to further their studies and practical knowledge of marketing, communications and business.

If you are looking to gain introductory skills, see our short course Introduction to digital marketing.

The content in this course is suitable for a global audience and the skills you learn can be applied in a wide range of marketing roles, whether in the public or third sector, large corporates, or SMEs.

If you'd like to discuss the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

This course will take around 32 hours to complete and you can learn at your own pace. As a guide, if you set aside four hours per week, it would take 8 weeks to complete.

You can begin learning at any time. You will have a minimum of six months and up to 18 months to complete the course, depending on your registration date.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £200.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials, exercises and activities are delivered entirely online.

Computing requirements

You can learn from your desktop computer or laptop or take your learning with you on a phone or tablet. You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop/laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher. Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all currently supported Android and iOS versions.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet, you can contact us about the support which can be given to meet your needs.