When we put on our tourist attire and travel to a new city, whether inside or outside the country, most mortals need to be guided by a map. It can be in digital version or in the traditional version of paper map impossible to re-fold by the same site … Whatever our orientation preferences, a map helps us to guide us through unknown places and can even serve as a document to plan our daily routes to discover the new city.
A digital marketing plan fulfills the same guide function or roadmap, but within the company, to enable us to achieve business goals . It can be very useful for companies of any sector and size, regardless of the phase of growth and consolidation in the market in which they are located.
It is common to see companies or brands that launch “a las bravas” to invest in online advertising without having a clear digital marketing strategy; but it is not recommended if we want to achieve the goals we have in mind. With the digital marketing plan, we have to put on paper (or digital screen) our objectives, as well as the strategies and tactics to achieve them, without forgetting to analyze based on concrete performance indicators.
What is a digital marketing plan?
The digital marketing plan serves as a guide for companies in their Internet marketing campaigns . Thanks to the marketing plan we can perform an analysis of the current situation of the company, the market and our competition, mark the objectives we want to achieve, and outline the steps to be taken to achieve them based on strategies and actions.
A digital marketing plan is a document, it is usually in the form of a text document or presentation, in which we will analyze the market that affects us; we will look at ourselves; we will define our objectives, strategies and tactics to follow to reach the goals we have set; and we will include in it the chronogram of the actions to be developed, the definition of the available budget and we will perform analyzes in real time. Broadly speaking, this document will serve us to plan and justify the online marketing actions to be carried out, the process to be followed to develop them, the channels that we will use in each phase, as well as the investment we will allocate in each of them.
A digital marketing plan should always be aligned with the general marketing plan of the company, which, in turn, should be consistent with the general business objectives. Our online marketing plan, in addition, must be operational and functional , that is, not only should “look nice” on paper, but it should be useful in our day to day to allow us to be more effective and competitive.
Large corporations, in many cases, develop specific digital marketing plans for specific product lines or launches, in addition to having general marketing plans. But, in the case of this article, we will focus on talking about the digital marketing plans that SMEs can carry out .
There are two different trends when developing a digital marketing plan. On the one hand, we find the defenders of the digital marketing plan included in the general marketing plan, and on the other hand, those who bet to give the digital marketing plan its own space. Regardless of the line of work selected, carrying out a digital marketing plan will bring you the following advantages .
Advantages of creating a digital marketing plan
- Have a vision of the future . It is usually advisable that companies plan their future, as far as possible. Although the market can be unpredictable and highly changing, if we have carried out an exhaustive analysis of our company, of the environment that affects it, and we measure and draw conclusions constantly over time, we may be better prepared to avoid the possible potholes with which we find ourselves on our way.
- Clear and defined plan to achieve the objectives .Each entrepreneur has in mind the objectives he wants to achieve with his business project in the short, medium and long term. However, the maelstrom of day to day and the “extinguish the fires urgent” that are presented, takes a lot of time and can deviate from our road map. Having the objectives in writing together with the strategies and tactics to follow to reach each of them, allows us to follow the marked lines and leave the “bread crumbs” that allow us to go back over the steps taken to correct actions that are not being profitable for the company. The objectives can be qualitative or quantitative. Some examples can be: give greater visibility to the brand or a specific product, position the company in its sector, increase the volume of sales or build loyalty to our customers, among others.
- Mark us a budget . With the digital marketing plan in hand we will have assigned to each strategy and concrete action the budget that we will allocate for each of them. In this way, we will not deviate from the established budget and, in addition, we will have a history in which we can check what monetary amount we have destined to achieve each objective.
- “Make pineapple” with the team . Marketing plans in general, and digital marketing in particular, reinforce the commitment of team members from all departments and from management. The work teams can perceive that they row in unison for a common and achievable objective that motivates them in their day to day and encourages collaboration and teamwork.
- Improving the organization . Thanks to the digital marketing plan you can improve the organization and distribution of the tasks to be developed. Although at first it takes time to develop it, a marketing plan will foreseeably save us time in our day to day and will serve us to schedule each action and measure it in its specific time.
- Greater efficiency and prevention of errors . As we anticipated in the previous point, being able to schedule actions can help us to be more efficient, but it can also serve us to prevent and learn from our mistakes. In this direction, in the digital marketing plan, it may be advisable to include crisis plans that will help us to resolve, in the shortest time possible, the compromised situations that may occur.
How to create a digital marketing plan in 6 steps?
1. Analysis of the current situation of the market, our company and our target customer
In this initial step it is time to get a little transcendental and touch questions like: Who are we ?; where we come from? or where are we going? It is not that we want to discover the origin and the evolution of humanity , they are necessary questions and answers if we want our digital marketing plan to be effective.
Keep in mind that all companies are affected by internal and external factors . A company is not an isolated entity that operates independently; it is affected by changing factors in the environment and its own activity also affects the place where it is established, or it can even have a global reach if we think of forced digitalisation of all sectors of activity.
To analyze our company we can make use of a traditional SWOT matrix in which we will investigate weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities . The SWOT is a good starting point, since it offers us a starting point vision internally (strengths and weaknesses) and externally (threats and opportunities), but keep in mind that we will also have to define our target client, the target to which we will direct our marketing strategies and actions.
For this reason, it is also advisable to carry out an analysis of the buyer-person through which we will identify your profile based on sociodemographic information (age, sex, place of residence, level of studies, etc.) but not only that, our buyer analysis -person is also interesting to include psychological aspects such as expectations, behaviors, tastes, fears, digital presence that our potential customers have, etc.
To analyze the environment in which we find ourselves, it may be important to analyze the social, economic and political situation to the extent that it may affect the company in the short, medium and long term.
In this initial point of our digital marketing plan we must take into account especially the process of digital transformation in which the company is located . It is important to know at what point of the digitalization process the company is: presence on the internet, social network profiles, web page, previous online advertising actions, blog, etc.
2. Detailed analysis of our competence
Technology is enabling small and medium enterprises to be so innovative that they can even talk to large organizations one on one. With this, we would like to highlight the importance of not underestimating any competitor . Today a disruptive solution can shake the foundations of an entire sector. Think only of Uber in urban transport or on TripAdvisor within the tourism and catering sector. Is it true that these sectors have changed forever?
Therefore, it can be important to analyze all those competitors that pose a threat at present, but that can also face us in the near future.
This point of competition analysis can be included within the SWOT matrix, but it becomes so important in the future of your company’s digital marketing plan that it may be advisable to work it through a benchmarking independently.
Therefore, we must analyze the main characteristics of the competition, both positive and negative, analyzing data such as the price they have established for their products and / or services, which will help you to decide how to position yourself in the range of prices that you interest It is also important that we look at how our competition relates to their clients , the additional services they have established, and take note of the marketing and promotion strategies that follow. The Google Alerts tool can help you in this process.
Determine at what point your company is in relation to your competition and think about the strategies and actions that will allow you to get away from it .
3. Mark the available budget
With the economic investment we have come across. As you can deduce, this point is of vital importance within your digital marketing plan. Before defining the objectives, strategies and tactics that we will follow, it may be advisable that we have in mind the budget we have to carry out these actions. It is important to design a digital marketing plan according to the investment we can make .
We can advance the need for investment for each action beforehand so that later we will not “catch” unprepared. It is important to know where we want to go, but also where we can get to in the first phase. You can divide the budget between the different channels in which you intend to take actions (blog, social networks, etc.), including a greater volume of budget / budget in those channels where your target audience is to a greater extent.
4. Define the objectives, strategies and tactics
After dreaming about big marketing campaigns that require a lot of investment (for the moment, dreaming is free) let’s put our feet on the ground and go down to reality. The digital marketing objectives that we define must be realistic and SMART . Why SMART ? Because they must be “Specific” (specific) , for example: “increase the number of registrations by 30% during the next three months”; ” Measurable” , define how we will measure the objective (tool to be used) and the periodicity in which we will do it. Third, digital marketing goals must also be “Archievable” (achievable)set realistic goals; “Relevant” (relevant) must be a real advantage for the company and be aligned with the general business objectives; it is useless to increase the records if they are not going to convert into sales … Finally, we reach the T (time-bound) with which we will limit in time our marketing objectives to achieve.
After defining the objectives, we must go on to design the action plan that will include strategies and concrete actions to be carried out . At this point, the limit is in the imagination! The strategies can be product, communication, pricing or sales and distribution. Based on the strategies you define, for example, “increase sales channels”, you can define four or five actions.
5. Make a schedule of actions to be performed
To guide the strategies and actions over time is important so as not to deviate from our calendar and to be able to meet the goals set in the foreseen time. If we do not schedule the actions, we may risk delaying the actions of the account due to the urgencies of the day to day.
Anyway, keep in mind that a marketing plan (especially digital marketing) is alive and can constantly evolve . It is not static, so it can undergo modifications. You can measure and evaluate the results of the actions to incorporate changes and improvements.
6. Evaluation and revision of the work
Finally, it is time to evaluate the results obtained with the actions defined in our digital marketing plan. For this, the KPIs, Key Performance Indexes or performance indicators , can help us measure the success of our digital marketing actions always related, as we mentioned before, with the global business objectives. It may be useful to establish periodic KPIs controls . We must be able to visualize if thanks to these actions we have reached our objectives or, if we have not reached them, to what extent we have advanced. This analysis will allow us to evolve in future actions.