A Step-By-Step Guide to Structuring a Digital Marketing Plan
Putting a digital marketing plan into motion without a previously-devised plan or strategy could lead to failure if you don’t consider all the aspects that could impact its development. And when talking about digital marketing, it’s important to do it right, given that it can make a difference in a business: companies with a blog generate 67% more leads than those without a blog, to give just one example. Between the 5,000 ads that the average person sees every day, it’s imperative to work every part of your strategy so that your plan stands out and reaches your target audience.
Digital communication channels have gained a certain importance in the success of a project. According to Forbes’ 2020 data, 55% of the world’s population has Internet access: it’s a market with more than 4.2 billion users. And the trend is favoring shopping from a cell phone: 51% of digital commerce is through mobile devices. We can’t stay out of this market and we have to ensure that our content is mobile-friendly.
Deciding on a specific target audience (buyer persona), some business goals, and an adequate value proposition are some of the aspects that have to be developed when it comes to structuring a marketing plan.
What is a digital marketing plan?
In the document where we outline our marketing plan, these items can’t be forgotten. They help us articulate our campaigns and plan them:
Short, medium, and long term business goals.
The strategies to achieve the goals at the digital level.
The channels to use.
Action and development plans.
Investment and budget.
The timing and roadmap.
According to Philip Kotler, considered one of the fathers of modern marketing, a traditional marketing plan serves: “to document how the organization’s strategic objectives will be achieved through specific marketing strategies and tactics, with the customer as the starting point. It is also linked to the plans of other departments within the organization.” We should keep this statement on hand so we don’t lose focus.
With this in mind, does your company need a digital marketing strategy? In the majority of cases, the answer is a resounding yes: 100% yes. You need it to:
Attract, convince, convert, and make your customers fall in love with your product or service.
Plan all the strategies and actions to reach your target customer.
Segment your marketing campaigns to provide value in every stage.
Before developing the steps that define a digital marketing plan’s structure, you need to feel comfortable with your company’s online domain, your target audience, the channels where you should be present, and who your competition is and what they do.
Next, we’ll give you a breakdown of the step-by-step structure for your digital marketing plan:
Structure of a 2021 Digital Marketing Plan
Step 1: Situational analysis
The first thing you need to do when developing your digital marketing plan is to carry out an internal and external analysis (SWOT analysis) of the company. A useful framework for this is the SWOT analysis that allows you to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your company and the market at large.
We need to be familiar with the ecosystem in which we operate, what our customers' needs are, and where they are addressed. This analysis is equally qualitative as it is quantitative as it looks at factors such as digital habits, intermediaries, influencers, and more.
Implementing benchmarking techniques is a very common practice in companies to identify the best practices and success stories and extract an example for your digital marketing plan.
We also need to conduct an internal study to know what our company’s situation is like in the digital age: is our website customer-oriented? How is the usability and browsing experience? Do we update our blog periodically? What is our website’s current positioning? And what is our social media presence?
Step 2: Establish Digital Marketing Goals
Once you have your place in the market and your strong points in mind, work on establishing some goals to create a clear idea of where your actions should take you. Everything you plan has to work towards meeting those goals.
You can work on developing this part of your digital marketing plan with the SMART goals framework in mind: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
Here’s an example:
Not a SMART objective: “I want to increase the number of visits to my website.”
SMART objective: “I want to reach 20,000 visits a month on my website every month within three months. To do so, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z.”
Step 3: Define the Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve defined your business objectives, what are you going to do to achieve them? Personalization is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. Therefore, when it comes to defining your strategy for carrying out your plan, keep these factors in mind:
Segmenting your target audience: Know who you want to address, what their tastes, needs, or preferences are, where are you looking to meet their expectations, etc. This is the time to create your buyer persona.
Positioning: To achieve proper positioning, it's crucial that you are very clear (and reach your audience in the same way) about what your value proposition is and what it entails. It’s also necessary to know how to transmit this proposition perfectly through digital channels. Why should the consumer choose you and not the competition? Figure out the channels where your audience is present (social media, blogs, email, etc.). In addition to social media, use the “About Us” page to communicate your proposition.
Content strategy: This is important for creating, distributing, and managing original content that attracts users and positions the brand as referential in the user’s mind. Besides, you also have to map out a specific communication plan (content marketing) for every channel. The content strategy cannot be separate from the Buyer Persona; they are intimately connected. Closely analyze your BP: what kinds of content they consume, in what format, what are their reference measures or the people and groups that they follow. The more information you extract from their profile, the closer you will be to producing the right kind of content.
With respect to content strategies, some tools used to execute this strategy are:
Keyword research: This involves identifying appropriate keywords for us to use correctly in our content to organically improve our SEO positioning. This is imperative for every content strategy if you want users to find you on search engines.
Content calendar: A content calendar is key for ensuring your strategy makes sense. It provides value and it lets you think long-term and optimize your resources, help create ideas, and more. In a content calendar, you should include the date of publication, author, post topic, keyword, the tags to use/take into consideration, and so on.
Social posting: Writing an article and not promoting it on social media is a mistake. Posting on social media isn’t spamming, but instead planning out what you are going to publish and when on every social media platform with the copies best suited for each one, all while having the ideal number of characters, links, hashtags, and more. It’s important to include the team itself in the diffusion of content, and we can suggest to employees that they share articles, interesting links, etc. on their professional sites (LinkedIn). The company page can even send a notification to employees when new content is published.
Step 4: Digital Strategies and Tactics
Based on our objectives (attraction, conversion, and loyalty), we’ll start to carry out different strategies: email marketing campaigns, social media, CRM, web optimization, SEO strategies, paid media advertising, etc. The value formats for acquisition are very varied; you can do webinars, encourage ebook downloads, create infographics or any kind of dossier, and also offer discounts, promotions, and offers.
Today, considering that the number of channels to manage is multiplying and the amount of information we get about our customers is increasing, it’s critical we use Marketing Automation tools that let us automate our marketing campaigns.
Thanks to these tactics, you'll be able to create workflows that allow you to create hundreds of campaigns with mere clicks. You’ll be able to personalize messages based on your buyer persona, increasing your chances for success. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to convert them into clients, depending on their interactions with the brand.
Technology has turned into a fundamental tool for implementing digital strategies, making it critical for you to learn how to get the most out of it.
Step 5: Measuring Results & KPIs
The work doesn’t stop after you’ve designed and implemented your digital marketing strategy. The next step is one of the most important: analyzing the results. Analytics has turned into a critical pillar for successfully optimizing digital marketing performance and spending.
We have to measure every action using KPIs to figure out if we earned the expected ROI. Measuring the effectiveness of the strategies and activities we have implemented in our digital marketing strategy will help us correct what doesn’t work to achieve the goals we set.
Having tools that allow us to carry out this analysis is crucial. Salesforce, for example, allows us to completely measure all the actions that are carried out and see how the user reacts and behaves on each step of the journey. Therefore, in addition to extracting valuable information, we also use the Al that Salesforce provides to improve the user experience and offer each lead the content they are looking for at the right time.
Make sure you have an effective, real-time data visualization system. The digital world evolves rapidly, so you need to be on the lookout at all times to identify opportunities and room for improvement in an instant. Data value is very important, because without it we are blind and it’s impossible to make logical decisions. We insist on the need to use tools that compile, process, and extract value from the data: Mulesoft is an integration software used to connect systems with each other and ensure the exchange and use of as much data as possible. Together with the Salesforce ecosystem, it can be very helpful for you.
Keep these steps in mind when creating your digital marketing plan and don’t leave anything to chance; it’s your greatest enemy if you’re looking to position yourself and boost your presence in the digital space.
Likewise, keep in mind that technology can turn into your greatest ally when creating personalized, automated, and ultimately successful marketing campaigns. As the task gets complicated, the new tools out there let you simplify your work and boost your performance.
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