Digital Marketing

How to Make an Effective Digital Marketing Plan

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By Laia Cardona, on 4 May 2023

Having a good digital marketing plan is essential to achieving your brand's objectives. It's a tool that will guide all of your marketing activities and day-to-day work. However, just making a plan does not guarantee results.

To be truly effective, a digital marketing plan must include all the necessary information and be practical. If you dedicate time and resources, the results will be worth it. So, let's review how to make an effective one!* Are you ready to create a Buyer Persona for your next inbound marketing  campaign? Download our free Buyer Persona Template Pack, which includes a free  template, over 30 interview questions, and our helpful ebook.

What You Need in a Digital Marketing Plan

A digital marketing plan is a document that includes (at the minimum) the following information:

  • The current environment of the brand: In this context, the environment refers to the current market situation, including consumer and competitor analysis.
  • The marketing objectives you want to achieve: These always have to be aligned with the business goals of the company. Some companies choose to include their online marketing plan as a part of their general plan while others opt to separate it. Either way, it's important that the two are always aligned.
  • Your strategies and actions: You need to know how you are going to reach your objectives (what channels and campaigns you are going to use, etc.)
  • How you will measure the results of your actions.

Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Plan for Your Company?

With a well-developed digital marketing plan, you and your company will be able to:

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of the market and your target audience. A good marketing plan always begins with a research phase that allows you to understand the situation your brand is in and how to respond to it.
  • Align digital marketing actions with the overall brand objectives so that all departments within the company are working toward the same goals.
  • Use your resources in an effective and organized manner, without unnecessary budget or staff time.
  • Improve internal communications. All team members can use the marketing plan as a guide to coordinate with each other.
  • Improve communication with clients. It is essential for marketing agencies to develop a marketing plan with the client in order to ensure that it meets the client's needs and expectations. Throughout the project, the client and agency can refer to the plan to track the progress.

How to Make an Effective Digital Marketing Plan in 10 Steps

1. Analysis and Starting Point

The first step to creating your plan is to analyze the current situation your company is in. An effective online marketing plan always starts with research.

During this phase, you should aim to answer the following questions:

  • What are the products and services you offer and what is the unique selling proposition (USP) of the company?
  • What have you done so far in your online marketing and what results have you obtained? What are people saying about your brand online?
  • How is your website? Are there aspects that need to be improved for SEO?
  • What is the competition doing? How does our brand compare and what can be learned from them?

2. Objectives

The objectives are what you will use to measure the success of your digital marketing strategy. When setting your objectives, use the SMART acronym, which stands for the following:

  • Specific: The objectives must be detailed, concrete, and answer the basic questions of what, who, where, when, how, and why.
  • Measurable: If you cannot definitively measure an objective, it will be impossible to know if you have achieved it. Therefore, you should think about what KPIs you will use and how you will define success.
  • Achievable: Goals that are too easy or too ambitious do not help move you forward.
  • Realistic: It takes into account your resources and achievements and, again, is feasible.
  • Timely: Specify a deadline for your goal to see if it has been fulfilled or not and why. It may be useful to divide a larger goal into smaller objectives in order to be able to course-correct when necessary.

Your specific objectives will depend on your brand and its situation. Include as many objectives in your plan as necessary, but always ensure they complement each other and do not compete with one another. Here are some examples of common goals in a digital marketing plan:

  • Reach new markets, either in terms of geography or audience type
  • Increase brand awareness among the target audience
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Improve the Return on Investment by X amount
  • Expand market share in comparison to your competition
  • Increase profits by X percent
  • Optimize your conversion funnel
  • Attract X number of new customers.
  • Develop loyalty programs for existing customers.
  • Increase sales by X percent

3. Budget

Budget is another key part of your digital marketing plan that you'll need to determine. Knowing your budget allows you to plan where you will allocate your money so that you can get good results while also being realistic about what's possible.

You may want to come up with a budget range so that, as you begin implementing marketing actions, you can adjust your budget depending on what's bringing in the best results. For example, if you notice that your Google ads have the highest ROI, you might want to put more of your budget into those or reallocate money from a less successful marketing action and put it towards your Google ads.

4. Buyer Persona

The buyer persona is a portrait of your ideal client, which helps focus your product/service and guide your segmentation strategy. It may be necessary to define more than one persona if you have product lines for different types of people.

A buyer persona must include:

  • Demographic information like age, gender, occupation, income level, place of residence, etc.
  • The user's online and work behavior
  • The customer's current relationship with your brand
  • Their aspirations and needs in relation to your brand

5. Competitor Analysis

Doing a competitor analysis will not only help you identify your biggest competition, but also get a better idea of their market share and the strategies that they use in their own digital marketing plans.

There are various ways to analyze the competition but one simple way is by doing a SWOT analysis. You can do this both for your own brand and for the brands of your competitors. SWOT looks at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will give you a better idea of how you stack up against the competition and what your next steps should be.

6. Content Plan

A good plan outlines what kind of content you are going to create and how you are going to distribute it to your target audience. You can define different formats and create a content calendar that helps with planning.

When it comes to creating the content, align it with the buyer persona you just defined and the different consideration phases. The farther the user has advanced in the conversion funnel, the more specific and focused the content should be.

7. Keywords

Keywords are the backbone of SEO, SEM, and all of the content that you are going to create. When it comes to keyword research, you have to take into account the following parameters:

  • The relevance of the keywords for your brand
  • The search intent of the person using this keyword (at what stage of the funnel is it found?)
  • The volume of searches
  • How difficult it is to rank for that keyword

8. Platforms

Social media offers many platforms where you can promote your brand, but it is always better to focus on those that are most suited to your objectives and your audience. Where does your audience like to spend time online? Which networks do they use? Once you know this, you can plan how you will connect with them on these platforms.

Include the different social networks and media that you will use and the objectives that you hope to achieve with each one of them.

9. KPIs and Measurement Strategy

When you have your objectives, turn them into key performance metrics or KPIs.

For each key metric, set a monthly, weekly, or even daily goal and establish what controls you will use to make sure you are on the right track.

10. Contingency Plan

Finally, you must answer the following question: what will happen if the goals are not reached?

For each one of the KPIs defined in the previous section, you need to think about a response plan for different scenarios. You can do things like diversify the platforms, open new investment channels, or even rethink or eliminate aspects of your plan that are not working as you expected.

Now you have everything you need to start working with your team to achieve all the objectives you laid out in your digital marketing plan! You should now be more clear on how to develop a digital marketing plan that responds to the needs of your brand.

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Laia Cardona