All the best things start with a solid plan: a mouthwatering meal starts with a recipe; a beautiful building starts with a blueprint, and a great trip starts with an itinerary. The same goes for digital marketing.
The Importance of Strategic Digital Marketing Planning
A digital marketing strategic plan is like your business’s roadmap to success online, mapping out carefully-chosen activities over time — the “who, what, when, where, why and how” — to help ensure that what you’re doing is functioning to support your business’s digital growth goals.
Every business should have a digital marketing strategy — brand-new or well-established; product or service, B2B or B2C (and, to be sure, digital marketing strategic planning is more important now than ever before). A proper strategic digital marketing plan looks something like this:
A big, long document based on tons of research (ie: business, audience, industry, competitor and keyword research and more), an audit of all past and existing digital marketing efforts, and then digital marketing tactics chosen in response to that research and those audits presented in a detailed phase-based roll-out plan, matched with perfectly-defined measures of success.
Creating that document requires significant expertise, a lot of time and a substantial investment. (The return-on-investment makes it worth it in the end.) Most businesses hire an external agency to produce their strategic plan if they don’t have an in-house marketing team to devote some serious man-hours to pulling it all together.
And that’s a problem for entrepreneurs, brand new business owners, small business owners, and members of small marketing teams:
You know you need a solid plan for digital marketing success but simply don’t have the digital marketing know-how, the time or money, resources and people to create it.
So are you destined to fail online?
If you can access just bit of guidance from a digital marketing expert, and then commit a little time to reflecting, thinking, planning and putting pen to paper (or keyboard to screen), you can develop a simple digital marketing strategy for your business that will help guide you to success — growing your brand online in a meaningful and measurable way. And it’s easy.
What’s in a plan?
As a first step, you’ll need to know what a good digital marketing strategy includes – the things you’ll need to consider, define and decide in order to paint a clear and complete picture of where you are, where you want to go, and how you’ll get there.
The FREE Digital Marketing Strategic Plan Checklist linked below provides an outline of a solid strategy’s key components. Start there and your plan will include all of the most important elements (like goals, audience, branding and more).
Simply download the checklist and begin to fill in the sections as best you can. (You won’t have all the answers right out of the gate, but it’s a great place to start.) And it’s important! If your goal is to grow online, and “a goal without a plan is just a wish”, it’ll be hard to get there without something to reference as you work.
Putting a plan into action:
Digital marketing is about building a brand online to connect with and convert a target market, so understanding a digital marketing conversion funnel is critical. What steps do you take to convert people from prospects to paying customers? National Digital Academy’s FREE Digital Marketing Strategic Plan Checklist includes that funnel, as well as some of the recommended digital marketing tactics in each category:
- PLAN: Create your strategy for success
- REACH: Build brand awareness
- EDUCATE & MOTIVATE: Connect with target audiences; generate leads
- PERSUADE & CONVERT: Convert leads into customers
- RETAIN & ENGAGE: Make happy customers for repeat business
- MEASURE: Analyze KPIs and revise tactics as necessary. Repeat often!
Rolling it out…
If you review the funnel’s recommended tactics, choose the ones that best match your business, goals, audience and resources, and then add them to a timeline, you’ll have created a Roll-Out Plan, one of a digital marketing strategy’s most important parts. It’s how you’ll get from theory to action!
Your digital marketing strategy will likely be a “thinner” document than the comprehensive strategic digital marketing plan described above. But that’s okay! It’ll be the beginning of a good plan that you can continue to come back to, adding to it as your business evolves and grows.
As you move from theory to action and begin digital marketing in earnest, you’ll want to make sure that you understand the intricacies of each tactic you’ve added to your strategy so that you’re spending your valuable time and resources on things that will really work to grow your brand online. (Even an awesome strategy won’t work if each tactic isn’t pitch-perfect.) Consider investing in easy online digital marketing training, like the on-demand courses offered by National Digital Academy.