What is a Digital Marketing Plan and Why do You Need it?
A successful digital marketing plan pulls together all the marketing strategies that you are using and makes sure that they are working together to give you the best possible return on your investment (ROI).
Most businesses both large and small have some form of digital marketing strategy. Their website, blog and social media sites are all part of marketing their business. Sending out email newsletters, special offers and other updates are as well. These are examples of inbound marketing. This type of marketing has been shown to be highly effective when done well.
Inbound vs. Outbound
Let’s take a closer look at inbound versus outbound marketing. Outbound marketing has been somewhat of a standard for some time now. Digital examples of outbound marketing include buying links, email lists and ads.
Non-digital examples would be telemarketing, direct mail from purchased lists, trade shows and advertising. These methods have become less and less successful with today’s consumers.
Inbound digital marketing is about building relationships and providing value. When you start with useful, relevant and engaging content on your websites and blogs, content that compels your reader to sign up for your company’s newsletter, for example, or share your latest blog post on their social profile, you are engaging in inbound marketing.
This kind of marketing generates leads and referrals in a more natural fashion. The key is to establish yourself as an authority and build trust with consumers.
Problems occur when digital marketing is left on the back burner, or is thrown out into the world without a plan. In addition to getting no results, there could be negative consequences. For example, if you have received repeated inquiries on your website or blog, but no one has checked or updated these sites in months, word could spread that you are an unreliable company with poor customer service.
What does a plan look like?
A digital marketing plan covers all of your inbound marketing bases. A well-rounded marketing strategy will include these basic elements:
- Your businesses website and blog.
- Quality content for newsletters,emails, white papers, etc.
- Social media engagement.
- A tailored email marketing campaign.
- Data analysis.
It does not stop there, though. Blogs need to be posted frequently. Questions and comments need to be answered. Website content needs to be up-to-date. Social media needs to be updated and monitored consistently. Questions need to be asked. For example:
- Is my content relevant, engaging and helpful?
- Do my pages have a call to action?
- Have I made it easy for my viewers to share my content with their networks?
- Is my social media campaign effective? Do I respond?
- Am I using analytic tools to determine whether my marketing plan is effective?
Without a plan, your digital marketing efforts may be a scattered, inconsistent mess. A plan will help you avoid this.
Outlining your plan of action
First, determine your focus areas. Inventory your current marketing tools. How does your website look? Do you have a blog, and if so, is someone posting on it regularly? You may need to revamp your social media campaign if it has been neglected. Create detailed buyer personas.
You can’t make a plan until you inventory your past and current efforts to determine what has been working and what needs to change.
Once you have done this, decide how you will be delegating your digital marketing tasks.
Do you have a dedicated team or individual who handles this? With the stakes higher than ever, many organisations choose to outsource their digital marketing to agencies that specialise in it. Your marketing plan needs to make your life easier, not harder. Think about how you can:
How much and how often?
Your new plan should have a schedule for monthly, weekly and daily tasks. For example, you need to plan how many blog posts you will create and post either on a weekly or monthly basis. Even if you only post a few times a month, your blog needs to be monitored for comments and those comments need to be responded to.
Your schedule can be as rudimentary as a whiteboard hanging in the office, or as advanced as an automated system handled by an outside marketing agency.
Social media should ideally be updated and monitored throughout the day. This is where you have an opportunity to build relationships with customers and potential customers.
And it is often where you will find out what is and is not working in your organisation. Again, improper handling of your social media can have horrible results.
Speaking of results…
This is where your plan should be coming together. A well thought out plan will produce results. A solid marketing plan implements all of your digital marketing tools to nurture leads, generate referrals and, over time, grow your business.
It helps to be clear in what you specifically hope to achieve with your digital marketing plan. If you do not have specific, measurable goals for your marketing, you won’t know if it is working or not.
Don’t just scatter seeds with your digital marketing efforts and hope a few sprout. Take the time to plan your strategy carefully, and be prepared to tweak it often. The best digital marketing plan comes together to steadily and organically build customer relationships and loyalty.
A plan makes life easier.
Decide what kind of digital marketing plan best suits your organisation. Who handles it? How do you ensure that it is effective? Do you make use of analytic tools?
There is no time like the present to evaluate your current system. Is your digital marketing producing the results you want? Are your sure? If you aren’t, you need to find out. If your plan isn’t working because you don’t have one, it is time for that to change.
Have you found a digital marketing plan that works for you? What strategies have you implemented to keep it up to date?