6 Steps to Creating an Effective Digital Marketing Plan
Business success, regardless of the industry, doesn’t depend on the level of effort you put into it only. Promotion plays an important role in the whole process. Your marketing plan can make or break the effort to achieve business goals. Back in time marketing options were limited, but the story is different today. Digital marketing offers a wide range of opportunities to achieve and exceed your goals. In this post, we’re going to focus on six steps to take for a well-crafted digital marketing plan.
Importance of digital marketing
Although digital marketing is pivotal for business success it’s still largely misunderstood. Most people believe they can do it on their own, without professional help. The internet connection is all that it takes to get the job done, right? Not exactly! To get the most out of your digital marketing plan it’s useful to address the importance of this approach.
What makes digital marketing so significant for your business, regardless of the size or type? Here are some of the most significant advantages:
- Businesses without digital marketing plan generally lack a strategic goal for what they want to achieve
- Digital marketing reaches people where they spend their time and money
- More cost-effective compared to traditional marketing methods
- Results are trackable and measurable
- Improved conversion rates
- Most powerful form of marketing
- Allows for targeting ideal buyers
- Modifying the marketing strategy for the best results is easier
- Makes your business more competitive
As you can see, the benefits of a well-crafted digital marketing plan are truly numerous.
But what does the plan entail?
Let’s take it step by step, scroll down to read them all.
Step 1: Identify the target audience
A target audience is a specific group of people defined by certain demographics and behavior. In other words, your target audience is people who can benefit from your products and services the most or people who are most likely to engage with your posts on social media.
The first and most important step of every digital marketing plan is to identify the target audience. The reason is simple; if you don’t find the target audience properly, then all other steps are bound to fail.
Every person is different, but despite that, there are many traits and characteristics that multiple people have in common. Your target audience is bound to have a lot in common and that’s exactly what you need to use to your advantage for the purpose of creating a digital marketing plan.
For example, people who look for tips to pass a drug test and want to learn about niacin flush benefits are the target audience of businesses that focus on the cannabis market and making products to expel THC out of the system rapidly.
So, how to define target audience?
Start by asking yourself some questions, such as:
- What problems does my product or service solve? What is the main intention?
- Who are our current customers?
- Who is my main competition in this business?
- What will customers gain by choosing our company?
- Are there any other products and services like ours?
Once you answer these questions you’ll get closer to the target audience.
These tips can help you outline the target audience accurately:
- Create customer personas – audience personas cover details such as who, what, when, where, and why. It also includes specific details of an ideal customer such as gender, personality, family life, job title, employer, location, education, income, needs, challenges, and pain points. Basically, you need to envision a picture of a perfect social media follower, customer, or client and fill that picture with as many details as you can. That’s your target audience
- Carry out surveys regularly – they’re easy to create, but tell you a lot about current and potential customers and social media followers. But surveys are just as good as the questions you create. That means your questions should be precise, concise, and easy to answer
- Check insights regularly – most people underestimate the importance of Google analytics and insights sections on social media and websites. The statistics can tell you exactly everything you want to know about people who engage with your content the most
- Monitor best and worst content – a common mistake that we tend to repeat is that we use content with the best performance as a basis for comparison. Content with poor statistics is equally important as it allows you to determine what went wrong. The most common mistake is that it’s for the wrong audience (your followers have no interest in it) or wrong timing. Wrong social media audience can affect the promotion of products and services
You can also take the competition’s failures or successes in determining the target audience as an opportunity to learn the mistakes to avoid. Keep a detailed rundown of the target audience in a certain easy-to-reach file so that you can easily modify it if necessary and tailor your marketing campaigns accordingly.
Step 2: Do competitor analysis
Competitor analysis is the process of researching and analyzing the business characteristics and marketing strategies of the companies within the same market i.e. competition. The main goal of competitor analysis is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other companies and determine how you relate to them. Competitor analysis helps identify mistakes to avoid and allows a company to fill in gaps on the market that other businesses weren’t able to fix.
One can learn a lot from the competitor analysis, but the main point is to learn as much as you can about other companies so that you can create an effective digital marketing plan and business approaches. After all, competitor analysis isn’t about copying the competition but learning from both positive and negative things about their business and marketing plans.
The market is huge and the idea of competitor analysis may seem overwhelming. This process normally includes both direct and indirect competitors i.e. people/companies who are providing the same or similar products and services. Or people and companies whose social media channels have the same or similar goal as yours.
While competitor analysis may seem like an endless task to marketers, but you can follow these tips to stay focused:
- Get updates on competitors’ performance with the help from analytics tools
- Analyze competitors’ SEO efforts
- Analyze their online ads and followers’ engagement
- Check up on competitors’ posts on social media and how people react to them
In a nutshell, thanks to a wide range of analytics tools at your disposal it’s easier to analyze competition and track their performance on social media and the website. Keep in mind that competitor analysis is far from spying and copying, it’s all about identifying strengths and weaknesses to modify your digital marketing plan properly.
Also, analyzing direct competition and their market can help you identify your target audience whether it’s for a social media platform or product/service.
Step 3: Create a content strategy
Now that you identified the target audience and completed the analysis of competition you’re ready to move on to the next step – content strategy.
Content is king! That’s not a cliché, but reality.
Your digital marketing plan and its success depend on the ability to create a powerful content strategy. Content is the one that reaches the audience, attracts them, navigates them to your website where they will learn more about the products and services you provide.
Why does content strategy matter, in the first place?
Here are some of the most important advantages:
- Content strategy ensures the content supports business and marketing goals
- Content is crucial for SEO
- Increased ROI
- Content strategy allows you to identify what’s working and modify as you go
- Increased visibility, awareness, and recognition of the brand
- Develops lasting relationship with the audience
- Creates loyalty and trust
- Helps build authority and credibility
- Increased engagement through comments and shares
- Helps convert leads to customers faster
- Provides value
Regardless of the industry and business size, content in the form of a dedicated blog section is an important part of the digital marketing plan. That blog you can share across social media channels and turn into little campaigns that attract more followers and thereby more traffic on your website.
Keep in mind that content shouldn’t be a mere collection of promotions and sales. It needs to provide value. In other words, the content you create should be informational, helpful, and specific to your business. For example, the marketing strategy for HVAC companies is very different than the strategy for a supplier of office supplies. The former would want to try content about home improvement and energy efficiency, whilst the latter focus on something like office productivity tips. That way, you build credibility and position yourself as an expert in a certain niche. All this benefits your digital marketing plan.
These tips can help you take content strategy to a whole new level:
- Be consistent
- Evaluate the success of your content regularly and modify as needed
- Go after specific keywords, but don’t overuse them
- Back up your claims with evidence
- Ensure the content reflects the brand’s voice
- Don’t copy someone else’s content strategy
- Look for interests of the target audience and ensure your content is versatile to address them
- Answer complicated questions with your content
- Be patient, it takes some time to build credibility and get a lot of traffic (which is why being consistent in publishing is important)
- Make sure blogs also feature visual content such as photos and videos that you can also share on social media
Step 4: Choose your marketing channels
As mentioned above in this post, digital marketing is incredibly versatile and allows you to promote your company, products, services, or get more followers easier than ever. Nowadays you can reach the target audience in countless ways, but the goal is to choose specific marketing channels on which you’ll focus.
A common mistake is to strive and reach the audience on multiple social media channels simultaneously despite the fact there’s no engagement on some platforms. As a result, you don’t focus on the channels where you can achieve outstanding success.
Your marketing channels can include video marketing, blogs, podcasts, social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, just to name a few.
How to choose your marketing channel?
Well, the easiest way is to opt for the channel through which you can reach the target audience easily. That’s why the target audience is so important; it can help you identify the best routes to reach them.
Another option is to track the performance of your online marketing campaigns. See where people engage with your posts the most. While other marketing channels can also be helpful, your primary focus should be on the one that generates the most engagement.
Step 5: Create a marketing funnel
Every digital marketing plan needs a well-defined marketing funnel. Basically, the marketing funnel is a visualization for understanding the process of turning leads into customers. The main idea is that similarly to a funnel, marketers cast a wide net in order to catch an abundance of leads and nurture them so they can convert into customers.
After all, rare are the occasions when a person sees the blog post, social media post, or online ad and decides to buy something immediately. Leads don’t automatically convert to loyal customers, they need to be nurtured.
Your marketing funnel should have the following stages:
- Lead generation – the process where you cast a net to catch those leads (your target demographics)
- Awareness – as people come across your brand, ads, and posts, awareness increases
- Lead nurture – once you get leads, you need to nurture them so they can convert to customers
- Interest – your marketing campaign needs to spark the interest of potential buyers to think about your products and services as viable options for their needs
- Consideration – the process where a potential buyer can consider whether your brand can add any value to their life, comes after you spark interest
- Intent – the potential buyer intends to follow, buy a product, or use a specific service
- Sales – the final stage of a well-crafted marketing funnel
- Evaluation – once a buyer intends to buy/use something, they tend to evaluate the pros and cons first. Your goal is to ensure digital marketing strategy highlights all the positives and fixes all the drawbacks that would deter someone from choosing your brand
- Purchase – after evaluation a person decides to buy a product or use a specific service
Step 6: Consider your budget
Digital marketing is more cost-effective than other forms of marketing and that’s exactly why it’s ideal for big and small businesses alike. Although social media and websites don’t require you to spend a fortune, you should still consider the budget you’re willing to invest in digital marketing.
The budge should cover promotions, or maybe a collaboration with influencers, analytics tools, or hiring experts who can create a marketing strategy.
A digital marketing plan is a foolproof way to promote your business and social media presence. Remember, digital marketing is not just about promoting, but providing value. The target audience doesn’t want to feel like they’re used to make money, they also need some appreciation as they play an important part in your business success.