For today’s marketers, creating an integrated marketing plan that includes social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing and SEO — all tenets of a strong digital marketing or inbound marketing strategy is necessary in order to attract and convert buyers in a digital age.
A good marketing plan spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals. It’s your plan of action; what you’ll sell, who'll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to generate leads that result in sales.
Whether you’ll create a detailed marketing plan internally or with the help of a marketing agency, before you begin there are 5 things you should consider:
If you want to increase conversions, you have to figure out who exactly is your primary target audience, what they want, what matters to them and what are the sources of friction for them.
If you say your target audience is “pretty much everybody” or “anyone interested in my services”, you don’t have much of a chance to boost conversions.
If you know who your customer is, you know how to get to them (the blogs they read, the sites they visit, the stuff they search in Google etc).
If you know how they choose and compare products in your category, you know how to structure and prioritise your marketing content.
If you know what they want, your value proposition can state exactly that.
If you know how your services can make their life better or solve a problem for them, you’ll know which end-benefits to communicate.
It’s all about relevancy – if what you offer and how you present it matches their state of mind, you gain a customer.
Some would choose to build a persona of the potential audience, to better understand who the potential client is and which pain they have that your product can solve.
If your customer is “everybody”, you’re making it extremely difficult for yourself – nobody will identify with “everybody”.
Once you defined who your target audience is, set your goals for the period of the marketing plan.
Set SMART Goals - The objectives you decide on for your digital marketing need to be SMART
An example of a SMART digital marketing objective could be to generate 10 new sales leads per month.
Set KPIs - When defining your digital marketing objectives, you should think about how they will align with your overall business' goals and your key performance indicators.
- Get specific with your KPIs by identifying the figures you will be held accountable for achieving.
- Be realistic with your KPIs by analysing your previous digital marketing efforts first – this will ensure you aim for a positive increase on your current results, while helping you to avoid setting your expectations too high.
- Identify a method to help you measure each of your KPIs – for example, will you use Google Analytics to measure your conversions, your individual social media analytics to track engagement or other performance trackers
Define ROI - You should also consider what the return on your investment will be. This is likely to be financial, but could also include:
- an improved conversion rate
- greater brand awareness
- an increase in visits to your website
- a greater market share
3. Marketing Channels
After you set your audience and goals, the next question is where can you find the audience. Review and analyse your current digital marketing channels and decide which channels to keep and whether you’d like to invest in any new ones – learn from past mistakes.
Businesses need to get very good at attracting clients using just a few channels. The most important thing you can do to drive results is to focus your effort on becoming an expert in one marketing channel at a time. Take the time to learn the in’s and out’s of the strategy you have chosen to engage with to maximize its potential to drive sales and grow your business. There are just too many different strategies available to try to dabble in each and every one. You need to discover the channels that are relevant to your audience and focus solely on those. A business may need to go through a trial and error phase to figure out which channels can produce sustainable growth.
Here are some channels to choose from:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This includes on-page SEO and off-page SEO tactics aimed to help you bring in organic traffic from search engines.
- Content Marketing– This includes publishing, optimizing and sharing educational content that draws search traffic, links and followers.
- Referral Marketing – This includes intentional word of mouth activities, viral tactics, and intentional referral generation.
- Online Advertising – This includes the use of pay-per-click platforms, social networks, display ads and re-targeting.
- Email Marketing – Using targeted and automated email campaigns based on conversion actions is a great way
- to get your message to the right people.
- Social Media Marketing – This includes the act of building engagement on established platforms and networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as targeted industry platforms.
- Partnership Marketing – This includes co-marketing activities that run in collaboration with strategic marketing partners.
- Offline Advertising – This can still be a powerful marketing tactic. This includes advertising in offline print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV, and radio.
- Influencer Marketing – This includes the practice of building relationships with individuals and outlets that can influence pre-established communities.
- Online Events – This includes events such as webinars, demos, and workshops conducted using online tools.
- Offline Events – This includes events such as workshops, demonstrations, seminars, trade shows, showcases and customer appreciation events.
- Public Relations – This includes activities aimed at receiving coverage in traditional media outlets.
- Utility Marketing – This includes the creation of useful tools that stimulate traffic, sharing and brand awareness.
- Sales Playbooks – This includes the creation of specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing and converting leads.
- Community Building – This includes the intentional act of building and facilitating a community around a shared interest or topic related to the organization’s industry.
While building the marketing plan, ask yourself if there is currently someone on the team that will be able to carry the plan out.
If not, is there a requirement to enlist the help of a marketing agency. You should consider this option if:
- You’re not happy with your existing marketing efforts and the pace of growth
- You don’t have time to think. A marketing agency will give you the vital breathing space to think, plan and generally, get back in control.
- You’re marketing is just boring. Your marketing partner will introduce new ideas, new channels, new ways of doing things that may just bring in a whole new wave of leads and potentially, at a much lower cost.
- You’re always up against a deadline. If marketing projects tend to drop off the list, with constant pressure on deadlines, then you probably need to look for outside help sooner rather than later.
Look at your current team and assess what you are capable of achieving (be realistic here and ensure that no-one will be over stretched or over-worked). Get each of your team members to review their digital marketing activity and brainstorm a few ideas for their future marketing strategy (the more autonomy your employee has in their role the more they’ll be on board with your new plan).
This element is derived from the four points above. Only when you set your target audience, objectives, optimal marketing channels and structure of the team will you be able to better understand what budget is needed.
The marketing budget should be consistent with the growth to which you aspire. If you decide on a fixed monthly marketing budget throughout the year, it will be difficult to expect that it will support a growth.
Start with a realistic budget – both in terms of available resources and also in terms of your goals.
Allocate a specific portion of the budget for each channel you want to use for paid promotion (delve into your Analytics to help you assess the most cost effective digital channels with the largest reach and conversions and the lowest Cost Per Click).
If a certain element of your plan isn’t bringing you the results you desire, revisit it and invest the allocated budget figure into the channel that’s bringing you the best results.
Ultimately, the advice is to create a plan, but don’t stick to it! Remember, your plan is never going to be perfect from the outset. Not every assumption you make is going to be correct.
Although you’ve taken every step to craft a carefully constructed plan based on a set of insightful assumptions and analysis, you still can’t predict exactly how your customers will behave. It is therefore that you or your marketing agency continuously measure and monitor the performance of your digital marketing strategy and to change elements where needed.