By Jessica Bubenheim, on 13 July 2020
A digital marketing plan is an essential map to achieve the objectives of your brand. It is, therefore, a tool with which all marketing teams have to work day by day. But just making a plan does not guarantee the results we seek.
To be truly effective, a digital marketing plan must include all the necessary information and be practical in guiding our actions. If we dedicate time, care and resources, the results will be worth it. So, let's see how to make an effective digital marketing plan step by step. No need to take notes, we’ve created a downloadable template just for you!
Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Plan?
The digital marketing plan is a document that includes, at least, the following information:
- The environment of the brand, both internally and externally.
- The objectives that are intended to be achieved. These will always have to be coordinated with the general business goals of the company. Some companies choose to include the online marketing plan as a section of the general plan and others work with separate departments, but it is important that they are always coordinated.
- The strategies and actions that we are going to carry out to achieve those objectives (temporary planning, description of the campaigns, tasks, etc.).
- How are we going to measure the results of the actions?
Having a well developed digital marketing plan brings multiple advantages to the company:
- Gain in depth knowledge of the market and your target audience. A good marketing plan always begins with a research phase that will allow us to know what the situation is and how we can respond to it.
- Align digital marketing actions with the overall objectives of the brand, so that all departments of the company are rowing in the same direction.
- Use the resources that are available in an effective and organized manner, without unnecessary budget or staff time.
- Improve internal communication, since all team members can use the marketing plan as a guide to coordinate with each other.
- Improve communication with the client. In the case of marketing agencies, it is essential to develop the online marketing plan jointly with the client, to ensure that it meets their expectations and needs. Throughout the project, client and agency can refer to the plan to follow the evolution of the actions.
How to make an effective digital marketing plan step by step
1. Analysis and starting point
To know where we want to go, the first step is to see in detail in what scenario we are in. Therefore, an effective online marketing plan always starts with a research phase.
In this section, we need to answer the following questions:
- What are the products and services we offer? What is the unique selling proposition of the company?
- What have we done so far in our online marketing and what results have we obtained with it? Is there talk of us in the networks?
- How is our website? Are there aspects that we need to improve?
- What is the competition doing? How does our brand compare and what can we learn from them?
The objectives are the scale by which we will measure the success or failure of our digital marketing. To not give us a bump, I always recommend that we focus on the acronym SMART:
- Specific (specific): the objectives must be detailed and concrete. Try to answer the basic questions of what, who, where, when, how and why.
- Measurable (measurable): if we can not concretely measure an objective, it will be impossible to know if we have reached it. Therefore, you should think about what KPI you will use and how you will define success.
- Achievable (achievable): goals that are too easy or too ambitious do not work for us.
- Realistic (realistic): that is, that it takes into account our previous resources and achievements.
- Time-bound (in time): finally, we will have to specify a deadline for our goal, in which we will establish a control to see if it has been fulfilled or not and why. It may be useful to divide a global goal into smaller objectives, in order to correct the course as we move forward.
Based on this basis, the specific objectives will depend on each brand and its situation. As is logical, we can include several objectives in our plan, but always seeking to complement and not be incompatible with each other. Here are some examples of common goals of a digital marketing plan:
Increase brand awareness among the target audience.
- Reach new markets, either by location or by type of audience.
- Launch a new product or service.
- Improve the return on investment (ROI).
- Expand the market share with respect to the competition.
- Increase the profits of the company.
- Optimize the conversion funnel
- Attract new customers.
- Loyalty to existing customers.
- Increase sales.
3. Buyer persona
The buyer person is a portrait of our ideal client, which helps us to focus our product and service offer and guide all the segmentation of the brand. Sometimes it may be necessary to define more than one profile, if we have product lines for different types of users.
A buyer person must include:
- Demographic information: age, gender, occupation, income level, place of residence ...
- The user's online and work behavior.
- Customers current relationship with your brand
- What their aspirations and needs in relation to the brand.
4. Content Plan
What kind of content we are going to create and how we are going to distribute it among our target. Here we can define different formats and create a content calendar that helps us in planning.
When it comes to raising the content, my recommendation is that you think both of the buyer persona you have defined before and in the different phases of consideration. The more the user has advanced in the conversion funnel, the more specific and focused the content that we offer can be.
The keywords are the backbone of our SEO and SEM efforts and all the content that we are going to create. For its key role in structuring the web and direct traffic to it, we need to dedicate a special section within the content plan.
When it comes to researching the keywords on which we are going to focus, we have to take into account these parameters:
- The relevance of the keyword for our brand.
- The intention of the user searching for this keyword (at what stage of the funnel is it found?).
- The volume of searches.
- The level of competence.
The world of social media offers many options to promote our brand, but it is always better to focus on those that are more adapted to the objectives and define well for what we are going to use each of them.
Therefore, in this section of the digital marketing plan I propose that you include the different social networks and other media that you are going to use and the objectives that you hope to achieve with each one of them.
7. KPIs and measurement strategy
Using as reference the objectives that we have defined in section 2, now we are going to "translate" them into key metrics or KPIs.
For each key metric, we can set a monthly goal (or with the periodicity that makes the most sense for our plan) and establish what controls we will perform to make sure we are on the right track.
8. Contingency plan
Finally, to come to a close on our marketing plan, we must answer the following question: what will happen if the objectives are not met?
For each one of the KPIs that we have defined in the previous section, we need to think about a response plan before different scenarios, for example, what we will do if we do not reach the objectives by 75%, 50% or 25%. We can define different actions such as diversifying the platforms, opening new investment channels or even rethinking aspects of the plan that are not working as we expected.
And ready! You already have everything you need to start working with your team and achieve all the objectives that you propose in your digital marketing.
I hope that now you have more clear how to develop a digital marketing plan that responds to the needs of your brand. To make it even easier, we have developed a downloadable template with all the slides you need to create a complete online marketing plan. You can download your template here.
Effective digital marketing planning
Effective digital marketing planning is the application of available resources, to target market segments, to achieve marketing objectives. A successful marketing strategy out maneuvers competition via exploiting competitive advantage that provides greater value to the target.
A successful marketing strategy is typically achieved via:
- Managing the segmentation process. Understand the market place and customer needs and wants.
- Marketing planning. Design a customer-driven marketing strategy and construct an integrated marketing program that delivers superior value.
- Developing an appropriate marketing mix. Build profitable customer relationships and create customer delight. Capturing customer value, loyalty, market share and brand equity
Successful marketing strategies find the effective digital fit between customer needs and wants with our marketing mix variables. This allows us to add value to our target market segment using our competitive advantage. To find this effective digital fit, between target market segment and competitive advantage, let’s apply the basic planks of planning.
Understanding your target market segment
This has to do with understanding your customer needs and wants. Use situational analysis to identify key and relevant customer characteristics. Define your mission by identifying key and relevant customer characteristics you aim to serve.
Define your business environment and context by looking at current market, products, and sales. Here the process of segmenting is important to identifying key and relevant customer characteristics. Subdivide your customers based on similarity of characteristics, requirement and/or behavior and on the likelihood of similarity in their response to marketing stimuli.
- If you’re planning a B2C strategy look at consumer’s geographic variables, demographic variables, psychographic variables, and behavioral variables.
- If you’re planning a B2B strategy look at the businesses demographic variables, operating variables, purchasing variables, situational variables, and ‘personal’ variables.
To understand where your firm is in relation to your market, ask yourself:
- Where are we now?
- How did we get here?
- Where are we going?
Mission statement and objectives
Once you understand your situation start with a clear understanding of your target, clearly identify which segments you wish to serve. Knowing your target is your basis for formulating a mission statement and objectives.
It’s impossible for any organization to serve every possible segment, and to serve each better than the competition within the segment. Targeting is the process of evaluating each segment within a market to determine its actual or potential attractiveness to the business and then selecting which segments (if any) to serve.
possible targeting strategies:
- target none- don’t compete in this market: consider downside risk of withdrawal
- mass targeting: ignoring segment differences and offering to entire market
- differentiated: target multiple segments each with a separate marketing program
- concentrated or niche: dominate one or very few carefully selected targets
- micro-marketing: localized or individual targets
Understanding your competitive advantage
This has to do with developing value using your marketing mix variables. Here, focus on strategy and implementation to modify the offer and create superior customer value. Then with implementation control you can manage the offering in the minds of the target.
Strategy and Implementation
Have you thought about how yours going to use your marketing mix variables to develop value? That’s what strategy and implication is all about. Start by considering the core competencies, the differentiating factors of your firm, and modifying the offer to create superior customer value.
Areas to consider in your strategy for differentiation:
- product differentiation: features, performance, style, design
- service differentiation: speed, convenience, delivery, backup, installation
- channel differentiation: coverage, expertise, performance
- people differentiation: training, competence, character
- image differentiation: symbols, signs, myths, design, atmosphere, layout
When selecting differentiators, make sure they are:
- important; to the customer
- distinctive ; clear between you and competition
- superior; better than alternatives
- communicable; customers can understand it
- pre-emptive; hard to emulate
- affordable; within customers ability and willingness to pay
- profitable; delivery costs less than perceived value added
When you move into your strategy and implementation phase, make sure to ask yourself:
- How might we get there?
- Are we able to get there from here?
Here’s where we look at our journey and our positioning and manage our offering in the minds of our target. To stay on track businesses must understand key customer values. Assess where your firm is relative to the competition within your selected target segment in the minds of the customers.
Make sure to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) which you can actively measure and track, so when you take some time to reflect, you’ll have a data-backed answer to the question:
Are we on course?
Effective digital fit and planning
Your effective digital fit lies where your competitive advantage meets your target market segment needs and wants. In short there are 7 questions to ask yourself for effective digital marketing planning:
- Where are we now?
How did we get here?
Where are we going?
- Where would we like to be going?
- How might we get there?
Are we able to get there from here?
- Are we on course?