By David Tomas, on 19 January 2016
Digital marketing tools are easily accessible and, in many cases, even free of charge. However, before launching your online brand, you will need a “map” which will help you know which direction to go to and how to get there, correcting your path along the way if needed. In that sense, I would like to tell you today how to create your online marketing plan in just 10 steps.
An online marketing plan is essential to gather your bearings in terms of your promotional efforts, and to make sure that they correspond to your business’ goals. It's not about being on the internet “just for the sake of it”, but about using all the tools online marketing puts at your disposal to strengthen your brand and make the most of the benefits. Ready to create your plan? Let’s go!
10 steps to creating your online marketing plan
Step 1. Your environment: the market and competition
The first step to a good digital marketing strategy is understanding the surroundings of the environment you are working in. In order to do this, you need to studyin depth the market and the competition: the sector’s characteristics and trends, your competitor’s benchmarks and an analysis of the weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities. Finally, we should find our USP (“unique selling proposition”): what makes our product stand out and what places it in a unique position in relation to the competition.
Step 2. The audience
Marketing tools come bearing endless possibilities of audience segmentation, but to make the most of them it is vital to know who we are targeting. As such, the next step is to clarify who our target is.
Demographics is a first essential step to define our audience, but it is not enough. We need to understand what their needs are and their motivation, and how to communicate and interact online, in order to choose the best channels and communication strategies to reach out to them. In order to do this, we can use the multiple tools for more or less sophisticated digital market studies, in function of what we are trying to achieve.
Step 3. Goals
Once we have the previous steps down pat, we reach the key question to the success of our online marketing plan: What are we trying to achieve? Our online goals should be coherent with our global business strategy. A few examples could be generating clients for our new product, increasing the repetition rate and recommendations of our already existent customers, increasing the number of times our product is positively mentioned, or the growth of traffic to our online store.
When it’s time to determine your plan’s goals, I find it quite useful to keep the SMART acronym in mind, as our goals should be:
Step 4. Strategies and creativity
We are ready to address the core of our plan: the strategy and creativity.
The strategy gives us a global vision of the different actions we should take to establish a link to our client, which directs us towards the goals we have defined, based on the conclusions from the previous steps. To organize this, it is very useful to divide our actions according to the conversion funnel: logically, it’s not the same talking to someone who has never heard of our brand, as talking to a regular customer.
Once we define our strategy, it's time to make it creative, to make our message go further and leave a lasting impression.
Step 5. Sales process
Basing ourselves on the strategy we have defined, we will now determine our digital sales process. If we can seal the deal with an online sale, it is quite sensible to define a series of steps through which a user has to go on our website before becoming a client. If, on the other hand, the nature of our business does not allow for e-commerce, we need to have other ways of linking our sales to our online communication, through lead generation, for example.
Step 6. Loyalty
Once we have managed to convert a user into our client, we are faced with one of the most interesting parts of our online marketing plan: loyalty. If we think about how its significantly more challenging to get a new client as opposed to keeping an already existing one, it becomes evident that paying attention to this part of the plan is very beneficial.
Don’t forget to make the most of the potential of cookies to get to know the habits and interests of your clients, and offer them what they need most, at precisely the right moment.
Step 7. The Budget
It’s time to talk about money. How do you define the budget of your online communication efforts? The most common is to divide your investment between the different channels you are using (web, search engines, social media…). To get it right however, we need to be able to predict quite adequately which ones will have most impact on our audience over the next steps, so it is vital to be up to date the your sector’s trends.
Step 8. Technology and means
When it comes to technology, the online world offers an endless amount of possibilities that are undergoing constant growth. So, how do we choose the best tools to implement our digital marketing plan? There is no “correct answer”, but if we have a clear idea of our budget, the expected return on our investment and the places where our audience interacts, we will have a good head-start when it comes to decision time. Don’t hesitate in asking for guidance from an expert who can explain in depth the pros and cons of each option.
Step 9. The KPI
Our plan is almost ready to go, but we cannot forget an essential part: analysing our results.
To define the success of our online efforts, we should have several KPI or “Key Performance Indicators” under control. These are metrics that are directly related to the results of our business, which can be easily obtained through the numerous tools offered by digital statistics. An example of a KPI could be the acquisition cost of a new client of our e-commerce.
You now have your online marketing ready to go, but the job is not yet done. It is vital to establish periodical control tests of your KPI and to analyse the results according to them, in order to be sure that your marketing efforts are successful, and to continuously improve your plan day by day. Good luck!
It has been our pleasure to provide you with useful information, for you to be able to improve your company's online marketing every day. We are very passionate about the sector we work in, and truly want to “spread the word” to the people who share this passion. Please know that if you need any help or advice, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be more than happy and honoured to help you out.
How do I create an agile online marketing plan?
For marketers, marketing plans have always been the map that allows us to guide through all the possible actions of communication and maintain our brand's course. In a land so full of distractions and false leads, online marketing is more important than ever to know where we are going ... but the three year online marketing plan is dead (it changes daily).
In the early days of digital marketing, it was not uncommon to find plans for one, two or even three years from now. This type of planning came from the much more static traditional marketing channels ... but the reality of online marketing today is very different:
1. We have more data than ever
Even more than we need! Thanks to tools like Google Analytics or social networks statistics measuring, we can know what is happening at all times and in real time.
2. Online marketing is a constantly changing environment
The standards by which we were guided three years ago have little to do with the reality now. Consider for instance the Google algorithm changes or updates to social networks, such as the inclusion of sponsored Instagram videos. If you are working with a closed online marketing plan, you will be wasting many opportunities.
3. The preferences and abilities of users vary continuously
For example, in just 2 trimesters 3# of the preferences are from American teenagers. If you want to communicate effectively with your potential customers you need to take this factor into account.
However, we still need strategies and planning to maintain the direction we want and let us not be carried away by improvisation. How can we continue to do effective online marketing plans? The answer is to stop thinking about online marketing plans as a detailed "map" and move to consider them as a "compass" that will help us move forward. So, we will use the marketing plan to define the overall objectives of our brand, but will review the results and trends monthly or even weekly to correct the actions that are taking place and decide the next steps. Only then can we ensure that our brand will succeed in the changing but exciting world of online marketing.