Digital marketing planning is no different than any other marketing planning. In fact, companies shouldn’t separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business.
But we’re often required to have plans for “digital” based on the way teams and reporting is structured within companies. A way of aligning the two needs to happen at the start. It’s likely to facilitate buy-in for both that way.
To get you going in the right direction, here are 7 core criteria when creating a digital marketing plan.
- FOCUS THE PLAN AROUND CUSTOMERS, NOT PRODUCTS AND TACTICS: Always start with the customer, their characteristics, behaviors, needs and wants, often expressed through keywords. Create Buyer Personas to establish a segmentation of the people who buy your products. Buyer Personas are examples of real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the Status Quo. By focusing the plan around consumers, you bring out the best in your products.
- LEARN FROM COMPETITORS: Online is a prolific place to do research on competitors. For one thing, the information is at your fingertips. For another, there are so resources to help. For information on competitor’s website usage, there is Alexa and Compete. You can compare the social media presence of your brand versus competitors in terms of Likes and Followers or engagement terms like Comments and Shares. You’re likely to gain more than a few good idea for your brand in the process.
- IDENTIFY CONTENT RESOURCES: After the product or service you offer, content is a brand’s most relevant asset. In a digital marketing plan, you’re going to need a lot of content. You should not only consider the communications but the form it takes such as an email, blog, infographic, video or podcast. Know who will publish it and and how often it will go out. Make a Content Calendar a backbone of your plan.
- HAVE A CLEAR VISION FOR THE YEAR; PLAN FOR 90 DAYS: Articulate the desired results, expressed by the metric that matters most to your organization – sales, revenue, profits, leads, conversions – and the reason why it will be achieved based on what your brand can stand for to its customers. Have the plan that is going to make it happen for the first 90 days but be flexible to change. Situations and plans change, especially online, so ensure plans are usable by having a clear vision for the year and keeping real detail to a shorter term.
- MAKE PLANS FACT-BASED SO IT’S EASIER FOR OTHERS TO BUY INTO: 90% of consumer buying decisions begin on the internet according to Forrester Research. 87% of consumers research products online, then buy offline according to Internet Retailer. 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations according to Search Engine Land. These are just a few ways to gain the attention of people in your organization to support your plan. So, consider using facts throughout your digital marketing plan to win the approval of the people who may not totally understand digital but are smart business people who sign off on it.
- KEEP IT JARGON LIGHT: Digital has a tendency to go into a whole new type of nomenclature. Don’t go there. Instead, use the same language as you would for traditional media channels but support it with the facts, resources and metrics that give digital an even greater credibility.
- CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: End your digital marketing plan with a scorecard of the measurements that matter most, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Show how you will source them and review them regularly to look for insights. When you review, take actions to keep your business strategy on track.
To put these guidelines into steps every company should take to achieve success in digital marketing, we follow a process of Crawl, Walk, Run and Thrive. You can learn more about it on the sidebar of this website.
Did these criteria help you in creating a digital marketing plan?