4 Key Steps to Building a Sharp Digital Marketing Plan

There is no doubt that digital marketing is becoming an important part of running a successful business. Without a digital marketing plan added to your overall marketing mix, you’re missing out an opportunity to grow your customer base. Because it’s a fact that the number of Internet users is growing each year.

However, in order to make digital marketing work and give you the kind of results you want, it is very important that you have the required clarity. In other words, you need to be sure of what kind of digital marketing tactics you should apply (or avoiding) and why. Gaining this clarity can be difficult if you do not have a proper digital marketing plan in place. Or else you’re only aiming in the dark.

The fact of the matter is, today’s world is hyper connected and highly competitive. So if your business really wants to make the most of digital marketing then you need to have a plan of attack. You need to be well prepared in every way. And you should know exactly what to do when it comes to applying a digital marketing plan to your business.

If your digital marketing plan is weak, it can be easy for your competition to catch up and beat you at your own game. Because every successful digital marketing campaign is backed by a solid plan.

If you look around, you will see that people are using the Internet to connect to various types of businesses on a regular basis. Many of them are conducting online research before buying a product or service. So if your business is not taking advantage of digital marketing the way it should, then you are leaving money on the table. In fact, you are losing customers that you could have easily gained.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how people find you online. What really matters is that you attract your target audience on a consistent basis and make sure your products and services are found by the right people. Having a dedicated digital marketing plan is the first and the most important step towards getting targeted exposure, building your online reputation, increasing sales, and taking your business to the next level. It gives you the needed edge over your competition.

In the following article we will be looking into how you can use your current business knowledge to craft a digital marketing plan that helps you reach out to your ideal customers. The idea is to create an impact and at the same time be prepared well in advance so that your business is not invisible to your target audience.

Step #1: Define Your Brand

The first and the most important step to building a solid digital marketing plan is to define your own brand. The reason why this step is necessary is because until and unless you know what your brand stands for and how it is different from other businesses, you will not be able to apply the correct digital marketing tactics. Having an insight into what makes your brand different than others can make a world of a difference.To start with, you need to focus on bringing out the unique selling point or proposition of your business. Every single business, regardless of the size and industry it is operating in, has something unique to offer — yours is no different. It’s just a matter of identifying this differentiating factor so that it reflects in your digital marketing plan.

Your USP not only matters to your company, but also to your prospects and customers. Why? Because people are always looking for solutions that are unique to their own needs. So if you are able to define your brand and how it is different from the others, it will be easier for your prospective customers to choose you your competitors.

Every prospective customers thinks, “what’s in it for me?” before making a buying a decision. By letting your customers know what makes your business better than others, you make it easy for them to take this decision.

If you haven’t already figure out your USP, then you need to start doing some research on how your business is different than others in your industry. You have to spend time looking at the products and services offered by your competitors. And also see how they are applying their digital marketing plan. This is one step that you need to be patient with, because it’ll be extremely helpful in the long run.
In order to define your brand and make sure you do it effectively, do the following:

  1. Describe your company and its goals in a few words so that you have the needed clarity. This also helps you understand the motto of your own brand. Which in turn makes it easy for you to connect your digital marketing efforts with your business goals.
  2. Write down what exactly makes your brand different and unique from others. See to it that this differentiating factor is a strong and a valid one.
  3. Note down how and why your differentiation can make your customers life easier and why it is important to them. How do you think will your customers benefit from learning more about your USP?
  4. Understand what your company values are and why they are necessary or important for the growth of your brand. Even if you are a small business, you should have some values that you already stand for.
  5. Know how you can describe your business in clear terms and if you would be able to explain it to your customers in simple terminology. Because if you are not able to explain the purpose of your business and how it is offering a unique solution, then you will have a hard time defining your brand.
  6. Create a mission statement or a brand positioning statement if you already do not have one. The importance of having a brand positioning statement cannot be underestimated because it gives you the required clarity two position your products and services correctly.

The idea is to create a balance between focus and differentiation when defining your brand. Also, your definition of your own business should have room for growth in the future. Differentiating from others doesn’t mean you limit yourself. Remember, every single step that you take to understand your own brand better, will help you create a unique and a more customized digital marketing plan.

Step #2: Create Buyer Personas

A buyer persona or a customer persona is made up of detailed information pertaining to your target customer. You can call it an avatar that gives you a clear understanding of who you are targeting with your marketing. Without a buyer persona, your digital marketing plan will not have a clear direction.

Let’s face it, not everybody is going to be interested in buying your product or service, which is why creating a buyer persona lets you perceive people who are most likely to become your customer.

The best thing about a buyer persona is that it has all the necessary, actionable information needed to create high-converting marketing material. So once you have created a proper buyer persona, all your messaging and imagery along with your offers can be directed towards this group of audience. With a buyer persona in your kitty, you can say goodbye to any guesswork or assumptions that you may have.

For instance, when you create content for your blog, it becomes easier to connect with the reader when he or she fits in your buyer persona. By creating your content keeping the buyer persona in mind, you create a quicker connection with your prospect, who upon reading it feels like it has been written exclusively for him/her.

Here’s how you can create an actionable buyer persona that helps you get real-world results:

1) State Your Business Goals

Creating a buyer persona is one thing, but creating a buyer persona that actually resonates with your business goals is something else. Your buyer persona will only fetch you results when it helps you and your team move forward. Or else it is just a random piece of information.

When you align your buyer persona with your company goals, you get a better insight into your prospective customers. You learn about how their likes and dislikes go with the product/service you are offering. In short, this step is crucial because you will be using the insights you gain from your buyer persona for improving your brand identity, creating sales copies, etc.

2) Research Your Target Audience

If you don’t research your audience before creating your buyer persona, you may end up creating something vague. It’s important to know about your ideal customer in the best possible way before taking any step.

You need to go beyond the basic information you may have on hand such as their demographics. Everything that you know and understand about your target audience will ultimately help you make your digital marketing plan successful.

When researching your audience, you’re basically looking for three key data points:

  1. Why they purchase certain products and services.
  2. How they reach to a proper buying decision.
  1. What or who has the biggest influence on their purchases.

There are many ways to collect targeted customer information to create your persona, such as…

  • Web analytics data
  • Email and web based surveys
  • Various types of focus groups
  • Blog post comments

When you know your audience like the back of your hand, it gets drastically easy to create solid buyer personas.

Remember, without doing your homework, your buyer personas will lack the needed depth. They’ll end up as vague, unclear descriptions that are of no use. So try and go deeper when doing research.

3) Design the Persona

When you have the necessary customer data in hand you go ahead and create the buyer persona. See to it that you layout the information in a concise, organized fashion. You should be able to easily refer back to your persona whenever needed without any difficulty.

  1. First and foremost, give your buyer persona a name that you and your team can identify with. Also think about adding a picture of your prospective customer. If you have one your real customer, use that.
  2. Next, add the needed facts about your buyer, which include their gender, age, geographical location, profession, etc. Use a lot of white space and bullet points instead of adding paragraphs.
  1. Last but not the least, write down more details to make the persona more real. Anything from your buyers’ interests to motivations will do.

Take your time to craft a buyer persona that helps you execute your digital marketing plan. Because when you have a solid buyer persona in place, the chances of targeting the wrong audience considerably come down.

Step #3: Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels

Whether you are new to digital marketing or experienced, you will from time to time face the challenge of taking the right digital marketing approach. However, keep in mind that the success of your digital marketing plan depends on the type of channels you choose to carry it out.

First things first, you cannot tap into every single marketing channel and have a strong presence on all of them. In fact, no business can. Because there are many different digital marketing approaches, and each requires a dedicated amount of time, effort and resources to make it work. Which means it is important that you choose to work with the most responsive marketing channels that are most likely to give you results. In order to see the best results, you should work with a digital marketing company who can help take a lot of the workload off of you so you can give each channel 110%.

Importance of Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Channels

There is a sea of content out there. And every single content piece published is vying for attention from its target audience. In other words, your content can only stand out from the rest when you choose the right digital marketing channels to distribute it.

With over 2.7 million blog posts published everyday and 500 million tweets sent out per day, you have no choice but to specialize in a certain marketing channel. The idea is to get specific so that your business gets noticed.

The major digital marketing channels include:

  • Pay-per-click or PPC [Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc]
  • Social media [Facebook, Twitter, etc]
  • Blogging [WordPress, Medium, etc]
  • Search Engine Optimization [Google, Bing, etc]
  • Display Networks [Google Display Network, Facebook Audience Network, etc]

Here is how you can go about choosing the right digital marketing channels that go with your business objectives:

  1. Know Where Your Ideal Buyers Are 

The number one criteria for selecting a certain digital marketing channel is whether your can find your prospective buyers on it. Focusing on channels that are not relevant to your business is a waste of time and money.

Take some time out to choose your marketing channels. Do some research and understand your buyer’s preferences and where they like spending time. The more clarity you have on where your ideal customers hang out, the easier it will be for you to choose a channel.

  1. Know Your Long-Term & Short-Term Business Goals 

Every business has different needs, based on which goals should be created, both long-term and short-term. What type of digital marketing channel you choose depends on the type of business goals you have. For example, if you have a long-term goal of doubling your revenue in the next one year, then your short-term goals should correspond to it.

Each short-term becomes a milestone that lets you reach your long term objective. So let’s say you choose content marketing & SEO for long-term brand building and revenue increase. In the short-term, you can use pay-per-click adsto send traffic to your content pieces and convert them.

So knowing your goals and listing them out can definitely help you choose marketing channels that go with your business objectives.

  1. Know Your Marketing Budget

What’s the use of choosing a marketing channel that will burn a hole in your wallet. Knowing your budget goes a long way in helping you work with marketing channels that are worth it. Both paid and organic marketing activities require an investment, so you need to be careful in your approach.

When you identify the state of your budget and how much you have, you can focus on working with marketing channels that let you operate on it. Rather than going overboard, try to stay within your budget and maximize it.

Step #4: Know Your ROI

In the early days of digital marketing, measuring the ROI of a digital marketing campaign was not possible, which lead to a lot of untrue assumptions. Many businesses spent money on digital marketing but were unable to tell which half of their budget was going to waste. Things aren’t the same anymore.

Today, digital marketing has evolved and you have many sophisticated tools that give you a clear idea of what metrics to track so that you can use them to improve your results.

In a study conducted by Microsoft, they used big data to measure the return on investment of digital marketing against traditional marketing. It was found that digital marketing worked way better than traditional advertising mediums such as TV, radio and print — it helped get a much higher ROI.

It doesn’t matter what business you are running or what kind of products you sell, in order to successfully measure your return on investment, you need to define which key performance metrics you will be focusing on.

Your definition of success will make or break your digital marketing campaign. Which depends on what you want to achieve. For instance, a B2B company may be interested in the number of leads generated, whereas as B2C company may be more interested in generating direct sales without taking prospects through a buying cycle. The more clear you are about what ROI means to you, the better will be your results.In order to ensure that you are on the right track when it comes to measuring ROI, make sure to…

Monitor Your Goals

When it comes to properly keeping track of your ROI, it’s important that you regularly measure your goals. For instance, when you’re looking at your website traffic, you need to see how the fluctuation in your traffic numbers is affecting your conversion rate.

You may also want to analyze what days you’re receiving traffic the most and when are you getting higher conversions. The idea is to keep an eye on your goals so that you get a better picture of the ROI. Because it will eventually influence the overall implementation of your digital marketing plan.

Regularly Analyze Performance

The performance reporting aspect should not be taken lightly. Because if you are unsure about your campaign’s performance, it gets difficult to know what the true ROI is. In order to get the most out of your digital marketing campaign, reporting on targets, goals and KPIs should be done on a consistent basis.

At the minimum you should seek a report every month so that you’re able to make any necessary changes on a monthly basis. You can then tweak goals that are not working for you and focus on those that are getting results.

Take a Calculated Approach

When it comes to actually knowing your campaign’s ROI, you need to take a calculated approach. Try and understand how and if your digital marketing spending is helping you increase the bottomline. In other words, if you are able to generate a significant amount of sales from your investment, and you’re not losing money, then you can continue to grow your campaign without making changes.

If for some reason you see that the sales are the same or are going down, then you may need to pause the campaign for a while so that you don’t lose more money. Try to analyze where things went wrong. Ultimately, taking a slow, steady and a calculated approach can help you increase your ROI in the long run.