Danielle St. Cyr
5 Steps to an Actionable Digital Marketing Plan
So you want to create a digital marketing plan? Wonderful… now how to get started?? Here’s a 5-step plan to creating a digital marketing strategy that will capture your strengths, leverage your assets, quantify your goals, and enable you to measure your success to fine tune your plan.
The first step to creating a usable digital marketing plan is a SWOT Analysis. If you’ve never done a SWOT analysis, it is an exercise where you examine your company’s Strengths and Weaknesses as well as the Opportunities and Threats of the market. This works best when you are very specific about both your assets and your liabilities, as it will enable you to plan accordingly around them. When looking at your company, be sure to examine both the human and material aspects of your business. A good exercise is to think about what your competitors might say when describing your company. When looking at the market, don’t just look at the landscape right now, but think about what technology is coming to market soon. Again, take a look at your competitors, this time to see what they are doing in the market and how that might affect your company in the future, both positively and negatively. This will enable you to have a good benchmark for your marketing efforts – you do want to make sure you can measure how well you’re doing!
Define Your Audience
The second step is to define your audience. The easiest way to do this is by creating buyer personas – imaginary consumers that represent the type of people you want to target with your digital marketing efforts. The buyer persona represents your “perfect” customer – the person who is most likely to purchase your product or service. And make no mistake, you can definitely have more than one buyer persona; in fact, you must if you want to scale your business. You need to know a number of different things when creating your buyer personas, including age, geographical location, income, hobbies, job, and even what their specific pain points are. Having these personas will help you tailor your marketing plan around your target audience, down to the words and specific images you use.
Set Digital Marketing Goals
After you have your benchmark and you know your audience, the third step is to set your digital marketing goals. Once again, we’re going to bring up creating SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), because there is no use making lofty, vague goals that don’t advance your company forward immediately. You should set both small, immediate goals and larger, long-term goals, where the small goals advance you toward the large goals over time. The wins you get from the small goals will help keep your team motivated on the road to the large goals. Make sure you actually document these goals, and put them in a place where anyone can access them to review them. It’s helpful for everyone to occasionally take a look at the goals to see if they need to adjust course to reach them.
Choose Your Digital Marketing Methods
Next, you will be faced with some big decisions – the fourth step is choosing what digital marketing methods make sense for your company and your goals. From search engine optimization (SEO) to pay-per-click (PPC) to email marketing to social media (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!), there are a number of different ways to reach your target audience. Each method has its own strengths and liabilities, and you often will need to use different methods to reach your different buyer personas. Beware of spreading yourself too thinly, however. It’s better to use fewer methods and do them masterfully then to try to hop on every single marketing opportunity or tool that comes along (you won’t have the cycles to do any of them really well in a small business). The best way to organize your content is to have a content calendar that you set up a specific time each month, and modify if needed as the month progresses (you still have to be responsive, even if you are great at planning). You will probably find that a Marketing Automation tool helps you to get your message out quite effectively, and makes your team’s life much easier on a day-to-day basis.
The fifth and final step is measuring results – looking at the hard numbers and analytics. Take a look at your goals and your KPIs to see where you were successful, and where you need improvement. This is why it’s so important to be clear with your initial goals, so that you can measure the ROI of your efforts, and make calculated corrections to your course. You may even find that you have achieved some of your initial goals, and need to think bigger and better now!
Developing a digital marketing plan is key to knowing what direction your marketing needs to build. If you follow these 5 steps, you will be well on your way to a complete digital marketing strategy! If you’d like some more tips or some guidance, contact us and we’d love to help you make your digital marketing a success!