According to a ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ study by Smart Insights, 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital marketing strategy, while 16% do have a strategy but haven’t yet integrated it into their marketing activity. But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a plan in place how can you expect to grow and innovate, to measure meaningful results and to learn from past mistakes?
It’s time to stop panicking about next year or next month and start crafting a plan that can pack a powerful punch. We’ve selected the 5 most important steps that you, the decision maker should take to ensure that your digital marketing efforts create a real impact on your bottom line.
1. Know What You Want (& Set the Objective)
Nail Your Mission:
- Define your business’ overall mission/objective first – your digital marketing mission must fit into your grand plan.
- Answer this question: what is the overriding objective you want your digital marketing efforts to achieve (for example do you want to position your company as the go-to online provider for computer parts in Europe)? This is your mission.
Set & Measure Your KPIs:
- Get specific with your KPIs by identifying the figures you will be held accountable for achieving.
- Get realistic with your KPIs by analysing your previous digital marketing efforts first – this will ensure you aim for a positive increase on your current results, while helping you to avoid setting your expectations too high.
- Identify a method to help you measure each of your KPIs – for example, will you use Google Analytics to measure your conversions, your individual social media analytics to track engagement or a tool like BuzzSumo to assess the success of your content marketing?
- Here’s a handy KPI template for you to steal: (Insert goal, e.g. ‘Increase traffic’) by (insert figure)% in (insert number of months).
- Before you begin planning your KPIs find out which metrics matter most to your CEO.
2. Analyse Your Past (& Learn From Your Mistakes)
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go into the planning period in the dark. Analysing your digital marketing strategy’s past success and failures can help focus you on setting the best KPIs for your business. You, therefore, might want to complete step one and two together.
Choose a time period you’d like to analyse (it’s best to set this time period as the same length of time you plan for your new strategy) – for example decide on whether you’re going to analyse the previous year, quarter or month.
How to Analyse:
- Determine the time period you would like to analyse and set your Google Analytics calendar to match this timeframe.
- Try out Google’s Benchmarking Reports in your Analytics account to compare your progress to your competitors.
- Don’t forget to analyse your competitors’ strategy too – create an analysis spreadsheet of their online activities (you can use SEMrush to identify the SEO strategy of a competitor, i.e. what keywords are driving the largest volume of organic traffic to their website. It can also be used to compare the organic and paid traffic of different websites so again quite useful to see how aggressive they’re being with their paid spend.)
- Ask yourself this question at regular intervals: is there anything else I need to analyse that I haven’t thought of before – e.g. should I be testing the times I post my content or the types of images I use?
3. Remember Who You’re Talking to (& Speak Their Language)
Don’t let the planning take away from the people you’re trying to reach. You already know who your audience are (at least we hope you do) but sometimes they’re the first thing a digital marketer can forget amidst the KPI setting, budget fretting and channel selection.
You’re not going to make this mistake – not this time. Instead you’re going to put your audience at the heart of your strategy, cater to their emotional needs and satisfy their deepest desires. How? Through the creation of well fleshed out and well thought out personas, of course.
Develop Useful Personas:
- Start with the basics and note down all the demographic information you know about your target consumer – like age, gender and location.
- Then dig a little deeper and Identify the problems you can help your target persona solve.
- Delve into their emotional desires, goals, aspirations and fears and document all of the factors that could make them tick (think about their conscious and unconscious desires).
- You can dive deep into the ‘Audience Reports of your Google Analytics account to identify key characteristics of your target persona like age, sex, career, etc.
- When creating your personas this is the perfect time to identify the people who will be of influence to them – these will be the influencers your strategy should target.
4. Identify Your Means (& Stick to Your Budget)
Three things are important for identifying your means: these are your budget, your digital channels and your team (or people). It is important to take stock of all of your resources before deciding on what else you might need for the next period.
For example, now is the perfect time for creating an audit of your existing digital channels and to decide whether you’re going to outsource specific sections of your digital marketing and whether you need to set budget aside for a new hire or two.
How to Identify Your Means:
- Define your overall digital marketing budget.
- Look at the historical data of what has worked before (for example, have any specific channels brought you quality leads at a low cost?)
- Decide whether you will use paid promotion (for, example Adwords or paid ads on social media).
- Allocate a specific portion of the budget for each digital channel you want to use for paid promotion (delve into your Analytics to help you assess the most cost effective digital channels with the largest reach and conversions and the lowest Cost Per Click).
- If a certain element of your paid promotion strategy isn’t bringing you the results you desire, revisit it and invest the allocated budget figure into the channel that’s bringing you the best results.
- Look at your current team and assess what you are capable of achieving (be realistic here and ensure that no-one will be over stretched or over worked).
- Identify whether you need to hire more people and whether you have the means to do so.
- Decide whether all of your digital marketing activity will take place in house or if you’ll need to outsource some elements to a third party agency.
- Get each of your team members to review their digital marketing activity and brainstorm a few ideas for their future strategy (the more autonomy your employee has in their role the more they’ll be on board with your new plan).
- Review your current digital marketing channels and decide which channels to keep and whether you’d like to invest in any new ones (this depends on where your customers are and the time you have available).
- Clearly articulate what each digital channel is trying to achieve.
- Make sure you have at least one KPI attached to each of your digital channels.
5. Make the Plan (& Don’t Stick to It)
‘Create a plan and don’t stick to it? But, but, what do you mean?’ Before the panic sets into the most organised of digital marketers let me explain…your plan is never going to be perfect from the outset. Not every assumption you make is going to be correct.
And although you’ve taken every care to craft a carefully constructed plan based on a set of insightful assumptions and analysis you still can’t predict exactly how your customers will behave. It is, therefore, essential to continuously measure and monitor your strategy’s performance and to change elements where needed.
Create Your Digital Marketing Calendar:
- Try creating your timeline using Google Calendars – that way you can share it with your team members and allow them to edit it where necessary.
- Highlight the key campaigns you’ll create and promote throughout the year and allocate a timeframe for each.
- Document the digital channels needed to ensure the success for each campaign.
Review Your Strategy & Identify Changes Needed:
- Create a measurement and monitoring plan (this should fit in with your KPIs).
- Check the success of the individual elements of your strategy at continuous intervals.
- If something is not working (i.e. you’re not achieving the KPIs you’ve set out) isolate the different elements and try to identify what is not working (e.g. is it the time you’re posting content or the taglines you’re using for your ads?).
- Revisit your previous analysis, personas and budget allocation and try something new.
- Create a clearly defined KPI for your new venture.
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