As the end of 2018 draws near, it’s time to start thinking about your digital marketing planning and strategy for 2019. In this article, I provide an overview of the different steps you should follow to ensure online marketing success in 2019.
Digital marketing planning process
Step 1 – review the marketplace and set your objectives
To start with, analyse your current digital marketing activities and how well they’re performing against your 2018 Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). Tools you can use include Google Analytics, social media insights, SEO audit tools and your own sales data. It’s also a good idea to carry out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities) analysis of your business.
Importance of customer focus in digital marketing planning
Next, think about your target customers and how these can be segmented, so you can communicate with them in the most appropriate ways. It might help to give each group or segment a persona, including things such as likes, dislikes, job titles, hobbies and interests.
To help you identify these personas, you could analyse your sales data, carry out a survey of existing customers or use social intelligence tools to analyse your own and your competitors’ customer demographics.
This process will also help you benchmark your brand and its performance against the competition. Use the information you collect to help you set core values for your business, which will inform your approach to digital marketing.
The results of all these activities will help you create your objectives and KPI’s for 2019.
Step 2 – Create your digital marketing strategy
Select the market segments you most want to target and decide on your digital marketing approach to each one. Whilst you might use different tactics for each segment, the RACE digital marketing planning framework offers a useful rule of thumb for mapping out your activities.
- REACH. This is the exploration stage where the customer first gets to know your brand. This is likely to happen through search engines, social media and published content such as blogs. So help things along by publishing and sharing interesting and relevant content that will attract your target audience to your brand.
- ACT. This is the decision-making stage where your prospect decides whether your business is worth considering. Perhaps they’ll do this by reading your website or blog, interacting with you on social media or joining your online community in another way. So make sure your brand is worth finding with useful and inspirational content, timely engagements and by making it easy to communicate with you.
- CONVERT. You’ve got your prospect’s attention. Now’s the time to persuade them to buy from you! The four P’s are key to this: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Your can increase your chances of success and make the most of your investment in digital marketing through Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), marketing automation and re-marketing.
- ENGAGE. Congratulations, you’ve gained a new customer! They’re now a valuable advocate for your business, so keep the conversation going through social media and ongoing marketing. It’s all about getting those precious referrals and repeat sales.
Step 3 – Set SMART timelines for your strategy
When it comes to setting digital marketing timescales, they need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound. Start by breaking down campaigns into activities to be carried out each week, month, quarter, six months and 12 months.
Think about where you want to be, and what you want to have achieved, at the end of each time period. Considering your strategic priorities will help you do this. Ask yourself:
- What are the critical issues that came out of my brand and performance audit?
- What is the overall mission / goal for my business?
- Do I have capacity to deliver the planned activities?
- Do I have access to the budget or funding I need?
- What is my likely return on investment (ROI) for each time period or campaign?
Step 4 – Assign a budget to each activity (and stick to it)
This can be the difficult bit. It’s all very well putting an all-singing-all-dancing digital marketing plan in place, but only if you have the money to pay for it. If you’re short on funds, think about how much time and resource you have to manage some tasks in-house.
Of course, some activities are always going to cost, such as Pay Per Click advertising, web design and development and investing in marketing technology. So shop around for the best deals.
And don’t forget that outsourcing can sometimes save you money. After all, if you charge £100 per hour and your digital marketing consultant charges much less, it’s a no-brainer for you to get on with the day job and outsource marketing activities.
Step 5 – Monitor your performance with key metrics
It’s really important to keep an eye on how your various digital activities are performing. Some of the tools you can use are:
- Google Analytics – site visits, time spent on site, conversion rates etc
- Your own sales data – average order value, repeat sales, profit margins
- Social media metrics – likes, follows, shares, engagements, advocacy
- Customer survey or feedback results – satisfaction levels, likelihood to recommend or refer
- Results for individual marketing campaigns – how do these compare?
- Competitor analysis using tools such as SEMRush
Step 6 – Audit your digital marketing strategy
Your digital marketing plan isn’t just something that you write and file away in a drawer to be forgotten about! It’s a living document that will evolve during the year as you analyse what’s working well and not so well.
Changes in your business activities, size and budget will also influence your plan. Or maybe you’ve discovered your competitors are doing something you’re not (or vice versa) and it’s having great results.
So, take out your plan and dust it off at least once a quarter, using your metrics and general business performance data to bring it up to date.
Sound a little daunting? Let Imagine Digital Marketing help?
I have experience of creating realistic, workable and affordable digital marketing plans – I even have a user-friendly template to get you started! So why not ask me to help with your plan? I can even help you implement it with my outsourced digital marketing services or a bespoke management package.
Like to know more? Why not book a free one-hour consultation to discuss how working with Imagine Digital Marketing could benefit your business? Call me on 01636 922 747 or complete my online contact form and I’ll be in touch shortly.