One of the areas that I consistently come across where marketers require training and mentoring is the process of developing a digital marketing plan.
The goal of this post is to give those of you who are tasked with producing a coherent plan a tried and tested working structure for doing so.
What you often find when dealing with companies, both large and small, is that do not actually have a written plan that they can put their hand to and say ‘this is our digital marketing plan’.
The purpose of a digital marketing plan for any organisation is to force you through the process of researching and clearly articulating the aims and goals of your digital initiatives, along with clearly targeting digital personas, and methodically choosing which channels to go after them and how.
The Most Important Aspects of a Digital Marketing Plan
So what are the most important aspects of a digital marketing plan? I have read 100s of these and to my mind the following structure works best.
Initial Market Place Analysis for your product or service (overview of your market, realistic assessment of your performance in this space and competitive analysis)
Articulation of clear Business Objectives of your digital marketing programme – such as Increase brand awareness, increase sales, increase customer retention, reduce cost per lead, reduce cost per acquisition of customers – these are all standard business objectives but on their own they do not give you a pathway to implement them digitally – that’s why you have to dig down and go beyond these in a digital sense.
Next step is to deconstruct these business objectives down into digital goals. So for example lets choose ‘increase sales’ – if you want to translate that into a coherent digital goal – it would look something like: increase the conversion rate on my website, reduce cart abandonments on my checkout process, increase average order size on etc. – digital goals give your plan a clear direction – you can then start to adopt tactics that will deliver these ‘Digital Goals’.
Once you know what your digital goals are, then you can define what your main Key Performance Indicators are which map on to these Digital Goals – e.g. for reducing cart abandonment rates – the Digital KPI should be the abandonment rate goal tracked in your analytics software that tracks how many users enter the funnel (proceed to checkout) and ultimately get to the end of it (complete checkout and payment).
At this stage, you can then start projecting some nominal KPI targets – for instance, increase conversion rate from 1 to 1.5% – increase average order size from €45 to €55 – the digital plan then becomes how you are ACTUALLY going to deliver these goals and projections through digital channels.
Once you have the objectives, digital goals, KPIs, and targets set – then you can start fleshing out your strategy and the main part of this will be clearly defined audience segmentation: i.e. you develop rich personas (target audience). By rich I mean that they are fully fleshed out – you should articulate the problems that you as a business solve for specific types of persona, their needs (emotional, lifestyle, informational) where they digitally coalesce, media preferences, perceptions they have of you as business/brand etc. When defining your target audience give them as much detail as possible – it will be worth its weight in gold when you start trying to communicate with them.
For each of these Personas then develop a clear Value Proposition for your business and how it relates to them – and by that I mean, clearly articulate and answer the question, “If I am your ideal customer, why should I purchase from you over one of your competitors?”
Once you’ve identified your personas, then you can research, based on their informational and geographical needs as well as their digital behaviours, the correct and most appropriate digital channels to target them on
This is where you then go into great detail on your digital channel strategy – be that SEO, PPC, Display, Email, Social, Affiliate, Mobile etc. I recommend strongly in this section that you break up your tactical solutions into: Customer Reach, Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention or some variation of this – essentially map the Digital channels on to the Sales/Buyer Cycle.
And finally, define how you will measure all of this – for each of the channels you should have a clear measurement framework in place where you can measure the effectiveness of each of the channels and produce a matrix of core metrics that indicate whether you are on track to meet targets or not (and have a plan to take remedial action when not meeting targets)
Structure Of Your Marketing Plan
There’s a lot more detail to cover on this topic, but this should be enough for anyone to get started on their digital marketing strategy and plan. The basic structure is:
- Market Research and Competitor Analysis
- Objectives and Goals
- Audience Setting and Value Propositions
- Channel Strategy
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.“Keith is a leading Digital Marketer with over 14 years experience creating digital marketing campaigns, developing enterprise software applications and building successful online retail businesses. Keith currently runs Digital Insights, a Digital Agency, which he founded in 2008, where he works with clients developing and executing digital marketing strategies.
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