One thing all marketers can agree on is that every business should invest in digital marketing. Whether you own a small business or a large company, planning your marketing strategy around digital is critical to your success nowadays.

Digital Marketing is defined as: ‘Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media’. Possibly the best thing about digital marketing is the ability to integrate different channels to organise customer flow.

Creating a digital marketing plan is not as difficult as you might think. Most businesses choose to hire a professional digital marketing consultant for the job. Even if that is the case, you should know your goals and objectives in advance and have a clear purpose for investing in digital marketing.

Knowing how to write a digital marketing plan is a valuable skill to have, but because every business is so unique, getting started can be the biggest challenge. In this article, we will explore a formula for writing a digital marketing plan and by the end of this read, you will know all the steps you need to follow.

But, planning. Is it even necessary? Some might not think so, but first let’s discuss why such a plan is still critical for your business.

What is a Digital Marketing Plan?

In essence, a digital marketing plan is a working document that details the strategy and the steps to implementation, including resources, timelines and budgets. Beginning with the goals and objectives, the marketing plan is like a roadmap on how to get to the result within a specific timeframe.

Of course, a top-notch digital marketing plan is aimed at a defined target audience. It may even describe buyer personas and their behaviour, including where they’re directing their attention in terms of media and interests. This research on your potential customers can mean the difference between success and failure. 

But why is such a plan necessary for your business? Is it not enough to just jump in and advertise? Test the waters on social media, perhaps? Well, not quite. Let us find out why.

Why is a Digital Marketing Plan Important for your Business?

To understand how important digital marketing is for businesses, we need to look at consumer behaviour. A recent study by Oberlo reveals that more than 2.1 billion people around the world made purchases online in 2020. 

Shoppers flocking online is a prime reason why businesses need to be investing in digital marketing to stay competitive. However, you don’t have to have an eCommerce business to need digital marketing strategies in 2021. 

Everyone from small businesses to global companies need to be visible online. Being where and when your customers are searching for you can mean the difference between winning or losing the sale. Whether it’s a brand or product, customers are using the internet and smart devices all day, everyday to help them make purchasing decisions.

Without a plan, it’s unlikely you’ll accomplish your goals, reach the right audience through your advertising, or stand out as a brand. This is because the main benefit of marketing planning is time to think. Planning captures more ideas and provides the opportunity to analyse those ideas objectively. Planners make better decisions simply because of the space to make better decisions. It’s a process that also forces you to take things step by step.

How to Write a Digital Marketing Plan

The secret to writing a great digital marketing plan is to be methodical. That’s why we have created this guide with the six steps you need to follow. Let us go through them one by one:

Step 1: Start with a SWOT Analysis

By SWOT analysis or SWOT matrix, we mean the process of identifying your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is the first step in developing an effective digital marketing strategy.

Think of this step as the cornerstone for the entire plan. The SWOT is an important situational analysis that considers any internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats). These are insights that can guide strategic decision making in marketing. In this step, try to capture all the things that could impact a successful digital marketing plan, encompassing both advantages and disadvantages.

From social and technological changes to marketing budgets and customer service, this process should uncover and analyse every relevant detail, then help direct decision making.

If your SWOT analysis revealed that your website is very good at attracting new customers, for example, then leverage that strength. Likewise, if converting those customers is a weakness, you should focus your digital marketing plan towards improving conversion rates. 

And of course, there is some benchmarking to do in your analysis. Understanding your competitors and their online strategies goes a long way towards implementing a successful online campaign. Without competitor research,  how will you know which media, what messaging and how to differentiate online?

Step 2: Set your Goals & Objectives

If you haven’t already worked out what you’re aiming to achieve, it’s time to set your goals and objectives. 

While your goal may be to make more sales, to get there you may need to increase product or brand awareness amongst your target market, or increase purchasing intent. These objectives will guide the types of digital marketing you do. Think carefully about where you want to get to (goals) and what it is that you need to achieve or change to get there (objectives). 

Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T. That means that the marketing objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This approach eliminates guesswork, helps keep the project on track, sets an achievable timeline and makes it easier to measure marketing outcomes. 

In addition to setting objectives, you should also create a specific timeframe to achieve them. Like all goal setting, having a timeline ultimately helps deliver a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 3: Create your Buyer Persona

There’s no success in marketing without customers, so if you want your digital marketing plan to work, you should have a clear picture of who your customer is, what they like and how they behave. That’s why marketers recommend creating what’s called buyer personas.

To do this, you can look at the characteristics (demographics, geographics and psychographics) of your target audience. By gathering information such as hobbies, motivations, gender, age and locations, you can begin to create an accurate persona.

The more data you collect, the easier it will be to figure out how to turn a random visitor into a loyal customer. You may even present your personas as avatars with fictional names and personalities that can bring them to life.

Step 4: Map the Customer Journey 

Once you have identified your buyer persona, you can turn to user experience. Because of the technical complexities, this is one of the steps where hiring a professional marketer is an excellent decision. 

Research shows that customer’s expectations have changed recently due to the pandemic. Most people shop online and expect businesses to be highly engaging. This is why you should focus on designing an engaging User Journey

Once you have mapped the customer journey scenario, you should have a good understanding of all the media and channels to link together to create a marketing funnel. You can now start working out the implementation section of your digital marketing plan.

Step 5: Optimise Digital Marketing Tactics

It is finally time for you to pull together your digital marketing strategy. At this point, you already know what your goals are, you have created a buyer persona, and you have mapped out the user journey.

Having laid down the framework, you can start developing specific marketing tactics for each channel. For example, if you want to increase traffic to your website, you can invest in improving your SEO.

Accordingly, at this stage you can create a content calendar. This calendar will help you organise your content, from blogs to social media posts to EDMs.

Step 6: Analyse the Results and Adjust

Digital marketing is a constant cycle of improvement. Even if you implemented all your digital strategies perfectly, some revision is necessary. This is why analysing the data to check the results of your digital marketing plan is so important.

You should regularly look at how your content is performing. Is your target audience interacting? Are you converting visitors? Remember those objectives and check how you are tracking against those goals. 

There are many tools on the market that can provide such analysis for your business. Google Analytics and SEMrush, for example, are popular among website owners and marketers for good reason.

Some things take time and results are not always immediate. Therefore, analytics tools are the best for measuring progress. Don’t be scared to adjust your digital marketing plan accordingly. 

Wrap Up

Creating a digital marketing plan may feel like it delays progress, but it is actually the opposite as a great plan can put you well ahead of the game. This is why you should invest some time to create and optimise your digital marketing. 

We all know that integrating different inbound marketing strategies to attract new customers is the true benefit of digital. It pays to get it right. 

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