When running a business, there’s a good chance that you’re already wearing multiple hats and juggling a few moving parts to make sure everything runs smooth. This is especially true if you’re a small business—meaning time is your greatest currency. The purpose of this article is to address one very big elephant in the room that you’ve probably been putting off for a while, maybe even due to time constraints. Don’t worry, plenty of other brands are doing it too. The elephant we’re talking about is that of digital marketing.
In today’s day and age, whether you like it or not, digital marketing is instrumental to the success and growth of almost every business around the world. If you’ve taken a few swings and never really committed or you’re just now realizing how important it is, we’re here to assist you in putting together an actional digital marketing plan that will help your business reach new goals month after month, year after year.
Road Map For Building a Successful Digital Marketing Plan
1. Know Your Goals
The first step when building a digital marketing plan is knowing your goals. Even though that may sound simple enough, well-rounded plans will focus on the areas that your brand needs to work on the most. This is because digital marketing can be used in a number of different ways to help your business grow exponentially.
The first and most obvious goal is that of growing sales—ie. making more money! Here, you want to focus your marketing on the types of customers and channels that will grow your sales the most. Another goal may be to increase brand awareness and influence your target audience through digital marketing. Even though it’s nice to focus on fast profits, this kind of goal will ensure sales keep coming in over time.
On the other hand, depending on the kind of business, your digital marketing plan may be designed to help you save costs on traditional print marketing and start making the shift over to digital. The bottom line is, to establish goals, you really need to look at your business with a critical eye and see where digital marketing can help you improve the most.
Related: Marketing Goals Pocket Guide (free download)
2. Know Your Audience
Once you have your goals set, the next step is knowing your audience. Again, this sounds a lot simpler than it really is. The reason many brands fail at digital marketing is because they don’t truly know who their target audience really is and end up casting a net that’s too wide or focusing on the wrong group. The best way to do this is by creating ideal consumer profiles for each product or service you offer. You want to consider factors like how old they are, where they live, what they like, what kind of problems they’re facing, and the benefits they’ll have if they solve that problem. The more detailed you get, the better your digital marketing plan will perform.
Even though you’ll be narrowing down the number of consumers your marketing strategies will reach, you’ll be increasing metrics across the board since you’re targeting customers with the highest probability of converting. This is best done by segmenting your audience so that you can craft customized marketing campaigns for each group.
3. Know the Marketing Channels Available to You
With your goals and target audience all squared away, your digital marketing plan will really start to take shape. The next factor you need to focus on is figuring out which digital marketing channels are going to work best for your brand. More often than not, businesses get stuck on just one or two and pour all of their time and resources into them because they seem to be the “most popular”.
Sure, social media channels are all the craze, but is that where your digital marketing dollars are truly best spent? Before you begin planning out your marketing strategies, you need to first make sure you know all the different channels that are available so you can target the ones your audience uses the most. Simply put, there is no “one size fits all’ when it comes to digital marketing, which is why a quality plan utilizes multiple channels to ensure the best reach and best conversions.
The most popular marketing channels that nearly every business uses would be social media, SEO, PPC, and email marketing. That being said, many tend to overlook how effective affiliate marketing can be, or using retargeting ads instead of the widely popular search ads. Once you have all of your options laid out, you can then do research to see which ones your audience uses most.
4. Never Stop Tracking Results
Even if you do all of the above steps and build this wonderfully elaborate digital marketing plan, without performance tracking, you might as well be burning dollar bills. One of the biggest perks of digital marketing is the general ease of tracking, at least much more so than traditional print marketing. No matter what channels or platforms you choose to advertise through, there is no shortage of invaluable metrics that can help you track how well your plan is performing.
Just because you’ve identified your ideal customer and the marketing channels they use the most doesn’t mean every campaign and strategy you employ is going to be a winner. Result tracking is meant to help you weed out what’s not working and capitalize on what is so you can maximize results. While it may not be necessary to watch your numbers every day, weekly or even monthly meetings to review progress will help you stay on top of things.
Circling back to setting goals, you should have multiple milestones with realistic and specific numbers and deadlines so there’s no room for interpretation. Doing this will greatly help you and your team identify the most important metrics so you can make adjustments as needed.