Are you new to online marketing? When your business is making the leap into the world of digital marketing, it’s crucial that you have a detailed strategy and digital marketing plan ready to guide your decisions and shape your strategy.
Whether you operate a small business with just a few products or a large operation with hundreds of different products and services, read on to discover how you can create a detailed, actionable digital marketing plan for your business.
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The importance of actionable planning
A lot of marketers make a crucial mistake when developing their digital marketing plans: instead of focusing on actionable metrics and goals, they focus on goals that can’t easily be measured.
Famous management consultant Peter Drucker had a saying that should guide each goal of your digital marketing plan: “What gets measured, gets managed.” All of your key performance indicators and goals need to be quantifiable and easy to measure.
In each of the stages below, you’ll need to think about key goals and performance indicators for your business. These can be sales, leads, conversion rates and even revenue. What’s important is that they’re quantifiable and easy to track over time.
Where is your business now?
Before you start making goals for your digital marketing efforts, perform an analysis of your business. Where are you now? How many products are you selling per week, month or quarter? How much revenue are you earning from your monthly sales?
What is your profit margin? Do certain products have a higher profit margin than others? How much is your business growing every month from offline marketing efforts? When you start digital marketing, how much can you afford to grow?
Unless you understand the current state of your business, you’ll never be able to put together an accurate, achievable digital marketing plan. Use the SWOT self-analysis process – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – to learn about where your business is currently and how quickly it can grow.
Many of the questions you’ll be asking during the analysis process are financial. How much can your business earn? What is its growth ceiling? Enroll in our course, Learn the Basics of Business Finance, to become an expert at analyzing your business (or a third-party business) to determine its growth rate, risk factors and more.
Where do you want to be?
Once you’ve determined the current state of your business, it’s time to work out the state you would like it to be in. Using the same metrics you tracked while analyzing your business, create actionable, measurable goals for your marketing strategy.
Let’s say you found five key metrics that determine the state of your business when you analyzed your balance sheets and accounts: gross sales, revenue, profit, average conversion rate, and return on investment.
Each of these can become a goal for your business. You may, for example, want to set the primary goal of your digital marketing plan as doubling your gross sales. If profit is more important, you may simply wish to double your net profit every month.
Your digital marketing plan should have several goals, each related to a different key performance indicator (KPI). This is because tracking one KPI – for example, sales – can lead to tunnel vision and often prevent you from seeing holes in your business.
Big sales doesn’t always mean big profits, and small sales don’t always mean a small return on investment. By tracking several KPIs in order to achieve your goals, you’ll keep your mind on the metrics that matter the most to your business.
Confused by KPIs? Join more than 2,000 other students and learn how to use your sales and income data to improve your business in our course, Using Your Data to Grow Your Business.
How can you achieve your goals?
There are hundreds of ways to market your business online, from social media and organic public relations to paid advertising platforms like Adwords. A good digital marketing plan doesn’t just achieve your goals – it achieves them at the lowest cost to your business.
In order to minimize your expenses and maximize your returns, you’ll need to think carefully about which form of digital marketing is most useful for your business. In many cases, it’s best to stick with a single marketing method such as Facebook; for other businesses, it’s often better to combine several methods for optimum ROI.
You’ve analyzed your business before to work out your goals, and now it’s time to analyze your product or service to work out the best method for finding customers, prospects and clients.
Search marketing and SEO
Is your product a physical good? Intent-driven advertising platforms like the Google Adwords Search Network will probably produce the best return on investment. SEO – organic search engine marketing – is also an excellent choice.
This is because the traffic quality on platforms like Adwords is very high. Since the people you’re targeting are already searching for your product (or for information about similar products) you can be assured that they’re in a buying mood.
Join over 1,400 students in our Google Adwords for Beginners course to learn the basics of creating keyword-based search marketing campaigns and reaching new customers using the Internet’s biggest advertising platform.
Think of Adwords as a short-term marketing solution – something that you can start right away to produce revenue in hours. If your Adwords campaigns achieve most of their goals, you might want to transition over to organic search engine optimization.
SEO gives you access to the same traffic as an Adwords search campaign without the expensive cost-per-click of a paid marketing platform. It’s the ultimate source of free traffic – as long as your website stays optimized, the sales will keep on coming.
Learn how to optimize your website for your target keywords and generate organic search traffic in our ClickMinded SEO Training course. Hosted by expert SEO Tommy Griffith, you’ll learn the fundamentals of great long-term search engine optimization.
Social media marketing
Does your product immediately catch people’s attention? Do your customers love to talk about your product or service or recommend it to their friends? If your product is something people love to talk about, social media might be your best platform for growing your sales and expanding your audience.
Social media marketing is something that almost every business knows about, but very few understand. Only a select few businesses can benefit hugely from a social media presence – typically businesses that attract a niche audience that wants to talk about their products and services.
Local restaurant that diners love? Perfect fit for social media. Adventure products company with a small but passionate audience? Ideal. Business-to-business agency or services firm? Not ideal. Manufacturer or wholesaler? Unlikely to gain traction.
Social media marketing can be immensely powerful for your business, and building a presence on Facebook and Twitter is often a great choice. However, a huge part of your success depends on whether your product is worth talking about – if it isn’t, a social media campaign can often cost you more than it produces in sales. Do you think your business is a good fit for social media? Learn how to develop your own presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks in our course, Social Media Marketing for Business.
Display and contextual advertising
Are you focused on generating leads instead of sales? If you have an in-house sales department or excellent sales funnel, display advertising – advertising with banner and sidebar ads – could help you produce cheap, high converting sales leads.
There are hundreds of display advertising networks on the Internet, in addition to thousands of webmasters open to direct media buys. As a beginner, you’ll want to start with the Adwords Display Network – Google’s display advertising platform.
The Display Network runs in the same interface as the Adwords Search Network, making it incredibly easy for new advertisers to use. The difference is that rather than bidding on search keywords, you can bid on keywords and placements.
This lets you closely control the websites your advertisements appear on to hone in on your target market, wherever it may be. Do you sell skin lotions? Target websites about rashes and allergies. Do you operate a travel agency? Target travel magazines and destination guides to reach an audience that’s searching for vacation ideas.
Learn more about creating a display advertising that converts visitors into leads and customers in our Display Advertising: Key Components for Success course. From the design of your ads to important metrics, you’ll learn how to create profitable display campaigns that produce users, leads and sales for years to come.
Need more help creating a digital marketing plan?
From SEO to PPC, the seemingly endless acronyms used in digital marketing aren’t exactly beginner friendly. If you need more help learning digital marketing, read our blog post on digital marketing training for business owners and entrepreneurs.