With the modern digital landscape and consumers almost always online, its increasingly important for marketers to include digital channels in their marketing plans. Unfortunately for most, the digital marketing space remains overwhelming and too often efforts are sporadic or knee jerk instead of planned and deliberate. Understanding how to approach planning for digital marketing is a basic requirement for the modern-day marketer.
According to Philip Kotler, considered one of the fathers of modern marketing, a traditional marketing plan serves: “to document how the organisation’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 organisation.”
A digital marketing plan is no different. Simply put, it is a strategy document that first assesses where you are currently and then attempts to set appropriate goals that you aim to achieve through detailed actions. It will include short-term and long-term goals, the specific strategies required to achieve these goals, which channels you intend to use, the allocated budget and timing.
Without a digital marketing plan in place you will be unable to attract, convince, convert and engage the right customers.
The most popular model for setting out your Digital Marketing Plan (at least its our favourite) is the SOSTAC model, developed by PR Smith in the 1990s and later formalised in his 2004 book, Strategic Marketing Communications. It is an acronym for Smith’s six fundamental facets of marketing: situation, objectives, strategy, tactics, action and control.
Here is a summary of each step:
Step 1: Situational Analysis
First you need to carry out an internal and external analysis (SWOT analysis) of your company. A useful framework for this is the SWOT analysis that allows you to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and weaknesses for your company and the market at large.
Image source: wearemarketing.com
Next, you need to conduct internal research to determine the company’s current situation. What digital channels, technology, resources etc are already in place. Ask questions like; 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?
This infographic published by Hubspot summarises the elements you should review as part of your internal assessment:
Image source: HubSpot.com
Step 2: Set Digital Marketing Goals
Now that you know your place, you can start to establish some goals (objectives) for your digital marketing plan. That way when you are developing your strategy and action plan you can ensure that everything you plan contributes towards meeting these goals. Remember to use a SMART goal setting approach, as summarised by this Hubsot infographic:
Image source: HubSpot.com
Not a SMART objective: “I want to increase the number of leads from my App.”
SMART objective: “I want to grow mobile application leads by 20% per month on in the next 6 months. To do so, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z.”
Step 3: Define the marketing strategy
Once your objectives are pinned down, you can start moving into the strategy part of your plan. How are you going to get there? 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 communicate with. This is the time to create your buyer persona.
What is your value proposition? Why should the consumer choose you and not your competition? Unpack how you intend to communicate your unique value proposition and the channels to use (where your audience is present), including social media, blogs, email marketing, paid ads etc.
· Content strategy:
Only now do you create your content, making sure it attracts the users you want to target and positions your brand correctly. Ideally you should map out a specific communications plan for every channel you intend using.
|Some of the tools and tactics you would use at this point include keyword research and SEO, a content calendar, social scheduling and posting.
Step 4 and 5: Tactics and actions
Based on your strategy you will now start to implement each of your ideas. Remember they have to work hard to achieve your objectives in the budget and timeframe provided. Where possible you would want to use Marketing Automation tools to help you implement your campaigns.
Also try to personalise messages based on your buyer persona. This will increase your chances for success; the ultimate goal for any channel is to move your customer towards the moment of purchase.
Step 6: Measuring Results and KPIs
The work doesn’t stop after you’ve designed and implemented your digital marketing strategy. You now need to analyse the results. Analytics is one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing. Learn how to interpret the stats provided by social channels and Google Analytics so that you can successfully optimise the performance and spending of your digital marketing strategy.
In summary, every marketer in today’s world needs a game plan. Without a plan, you’re running blind or shooting in the dark. You need a well-thought-out blueprint to guide your course of action through the complexities of the cyber landscape. With this online short course, you’ll understand the different stages of the digital marketing planning process and learn how to summarise them into a concise, focused and measurable digital marketing plan.
The IMM Graduate School has developed an online short course that will teach you how to plan your digital marketing activities using tried and tested strategy and planning models. And you’ll discover how to define your online marketplace map, identify marketplace opportunities, and define your online business and revenue models. This course is designed for digital and traditional marketers alike. By the end of it, you’ll learn how to plan like a pro, develop a digital vision and make your every digital move a strategic one. If you are interested you can sign up here: https://www.immsc.co.za/online-course/digital-marketing-planning-short-course/