Everybody understands the importance of digital marketing, especially if you have a product or service that is easily marketable or saleable online. However beyond understanding the importance and grasping the basic fundamentals of digital marketing, it’s also vital to plan your digital marketing carefully, as well as plan how this element will fit into your wider business in terms of time, resources, staffing and of course potential growth, leads and profits that may arise from your campaigns in the longer term.
The way to plan for digital marketing is through the creation of a thorough strategy which encompasses as much forward planning as is possible, whilst also retaining flexibility to adapt, should analysis and stats point in this direction further down the line. You don’t want to miss any marketing opportunities, but you have to plan your time, resources and content properly in order to maximise on the opportunities which are most important and beneficial to you.
If the thought of creating a whole digital marketing plan seems overwhelming, it can be helpful to break the process down into manageable chunks. For example, when you’re getting started the best thing to gauge the scope of your strategy and what to include in it, is to simply ask 3 main questions. The first is ‘where is the business now?’ which should be easy enough to note. Then from that, your next step is to ask yourself where you want the business to be, and then how you intend to get from answer A to answer B to achieve success.
Where are you now?
Whether you’re a new startup or are an established business wishing to expand and grow in the digital space, you need to assess your current situation, and where you are in terms of any existing marketing activities.
Assess what is currently working for you and what isn’t, in terms of both online and offline activities. Analyse how customers respond to your content, as well as general brand opinion. You should also collate the data you have available currently in order to help build the picture of your plan going forward.
Also within this question it’s vital to find out how and what your competitors are doing, and where you sit amongst them.
Where do you want to be?
From the findings in your business and marketing assessment, data analysis and competitor analysis, you should be able to fill out SMART objectives. These will help you figure out where you want to be, and to detail this in a clear and achievable way. This could start out as a general or broad objective, which could be to add a certain percentage of year on year growth through digital marketing efforts.
As well as getting specific in what you want to achieve from digital marketing and how you’ll measure the success, you’ll also need to take into account outside influences like marketplace trends and any new technology developments which could change the focus of your strategy. For example, things like mobile responsive websites are not only key in keeping and engaging customers on the back of the smartphone boom, they are also vital to achieve good SEO rankings as Google has taken this into account in its latest algorithm update.
SMART objectives are the easy way to identify your digital marketing objective and perceive just how attainable the objectives will be. Plus they offer the added benefit of helping define the successes or failures of your strategy.
How are you going to get there?
So now you have the objectives laid out, how are you going to achieve them? This is where the analysis of different digital marketing channels and overall tactics come into play. You will need to figure out the channels and platforms which work for your business, which could be anything from choosing one social media platform over another to choosing between Facebook and PPC ads or even something as simple as choosing a display ad over a text ad.
All the choices you make in terms of what channels to use and what tactics to employ boil down to your product or service and the objectives you have stated previously. You’ll also need to keep in mind any restrictions you might have on things like budget and resources in order to achieve your goals.
The great thing about building your plan in this way is that everything can be measured by data from the moment you send your campaign live, so it’s important to factor time in to analyse a campaign as its running. This way changes can be made and improvements put in place to ensure the overall success of the digital marketing campaign.