If you ever find a way to succeed in digital marketing without a digital marketing plan, give me a shout. Otherwise, read this article first and start planning immediately.
No one is too smart to go without a plan. All of the greats had their plans in the beginning – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos – you name them. In fact, that’s what has made them great – a plan and a vision.
Here in this article we will concentrate on:
- what a digital marketing plan is
- why you need it
- how to build a it that works
Before we do it, I would like to share some general advice for you to keep in mind when planning.
5 Basic Things to Keep in Mind When Creating a Digital Marketing Plan
These are obvious things but they are, nevertheless, extremely crucial and often easily forgettable by many. Not you, I hope. 😉
1. It’s Always About the Customer
Never try to center your marketing plan around your product or its features – products come and go all the time but our human instincts and cravings are always there.
At their core, all successful products and businesses do one simple thing – they satisfy some basic human needs.
People don’t buy Apple products because they’re Apple products or because they need a smartphone to make phone calls or browse the Internet. They buy Apple products because they make people great about themselves.
How did they achieve that? Flawless design? Seamless user experience? Innovations? All of the above?
No one knows for sure but what I do know is that Apple started from the customer and then created their legendary products with some great features, not the other way round.
Focus on how you want your potential customers to feel about your product and then ideas will start popping in immediately.
2. Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead
Life is ever-changing, especially nowadays when new technologies sometimes may become obsolete even before they enter the market.
In your digital marketing ideas, try not to look too far ahead. A rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t plan for longer than a year ahead – in general, and a month ahead – in details.
3. Be Realistic
In one of my previous articles I talked about creating a vision statement – this is when you should let your fantasy go. Unfortunately, it’s not the case with a marketing plan as it’s much more down-to-earth and actionable document.
Set realistic goals and timeline – remember: the real money is at stake.
Realistic goal example: increase my revenue by 7.5% by the end of the third quarter.
Unrealistic goal example: become a market leader.
4. Justify and Quantify
Any digital marketing plan is a very realistic and strict document – there’s little to no fantasy in it. Therefore, all your goals, timelines, and various objectives should be justified.
It’s not enough just to say – according to my plan, it will happen. You also must state, WHY it is going to happen.
Same with quantification – every goal you set has to be measurable. If you don’t know how much money you want to earn, how do you know you have earned enough? 🙂
To put it simply, be very meticulous and specific in your goal- and time-setting.
5. K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Silly!)
This isn’t your graduation thesis after all – you’re writing this digital plan for yourself, your business, and your (possible) employees/partners.
Try to keep your plan simple enough for any of the aforementioned people to understand it from the first reading without asking you a single question. Trust me – it’s the best test you can do.
6. Update Your Plan Regularly
Nothing is set in stone, really. The world changes, the market changes, people change – no one is smart enough to predict it all.
Therefore, once you have started implementing your plan, do go back to it once in a while to see how well it corresponds with the reality.
If there’s an adjustment needed, do it – there’s really nothing wrong with that.
Writing a Marketing Plan
There are thousands of articles on the web explaining the basics of writing a plan based on the books – and it’s quite alright. Despite the fact that books often have little to do with how things really are in life.
This guide, on the other hand, is more about reality and common sense – all the “necessary” theory was intentionally left out to give you the cream of the digital marketing knowledge.
General Outline of Your Marketing Plan
Any marketing plan (or any plan, for that matter) includes answers to three main questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How will we get there?
It turns out that, to answer the first two questions, you don’t really need that much thought and effort as with the third question. This is what we’re going to talk about here – how to get where you want to be with a your plan.
1. Build Your Content Strategy
No content = no website. No website = nothing to create a digital marketing tasks for.
I just happen to have a great article on the subject (“What Is Content Marketing: Guide to Successful Content Strategy”) but let’s list the main things here.
Define your target audience – check. Create a list of the content ideas your potential audience might dig – check. Test out these ideas one by one to see, which gets better response – check. Create an editorial calendar + social media presence plan – check.
And, finally, make sure you keep track of everything you do via such metrics as page views, bounce rate, comments, likes, shares, reach etc.
Ensure the best engagement for your audience, and they will love you.
2. Implement SEO Methods
Great content by itself is barely helpful and certainly, won’t drive tons of users to your website. This is when you need the three magic letters “S-E-O” (search engine optimization).
In short, SEO is a set of activities aimed at increasing the visibility of your website pages on the search engine results page (SERP) to drive more organic traffic to your website.
SEO, if conducted properly, can seriously increase your business’s chances of survival and even success due to the stable incoming traffic flow.
There is a great article on this blog, which covers the basics of SEO – “On-Page SEO Checklist: How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Website Page.” Here, I’ll just mention the main activities:
- keyword research (keywords help search engines list you and people find you)
- metadata optimization (making your website pages look nice and informative for your potential visitors on the SERP)
- marking up your content with tags (to increase its readability)
- scanning for errors
3. Forget About PPC Ads. Use Inbound Marketing Instead
PPC (pay per click) ads are:
- the little “sponsored results” links in Google, Bing, Yahoo etc
- the “targeted” banners you see on the right-hand on Facebook
The reason they’re called PPC is because the advertisers have to pay only if a user has clicked on the link/ad/banner.
A lot of upcoming (and already established) businesses employ PPC ads to get new visitors on their website. As much as this strategy is effective, it’s very limited. You get money as long as you pay money – and to get more, you need to pay more.
There is, however, another kind of strategy called “inbound marketing.” It has nothing to do with paid ads and “sponsored results.” Inbound marketing suggests natural (organic) incoming flow of visitors due to proper SEO, great quality content, active social media presence, and viral promotion.
In any case, inbound marketing is much more durable and long-lasting strategy than PPC ads.
4. Arrange for the Nicest User Flow Ever
Imagine you’re a visitor and you need to go through all the regular steps on your own website – landing page, registration, product page, checkout etc. Would you enjoy the experience enough to buy something and come back for more? If not, you’ve got some serious problems.
Whenever creating a website for business, make sure the user experience on your website is smooth as silk. Build a funnel with all the steps that lead to the conversion from a visitor to the customer and see what the problems places are.
Usual suspects are:
- poor landing page design
- unclear value proposition/message
- excessive registration forms fields
- unnecessary menus and sub-menus
5. Be Equally Present on Both the Web and Social Networks
Your social network page wasn’t created for posting your product sales and new offerings. It’s a way for people to engage with your company, your brand, and even yourself as a person.
That’s why you should build your online presence not around your product but around some common interests and ideas that people, who are likely to buy and use your product, share.
Creating a digital marketing plan is not an easy task. However, if you know who your customers are, what they want, and how to give it to them, it becomes much easier.
The right thing to do would be share this article with your friends on the social networks – just click on one of the icons of social media, it’s that easy.
If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.