“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, said the legendary Benjamin Franklin. Just like any other function in the company’s vertical, even marketing must have a concrete plan. A concrete plan helps the department to take actionable steps towards a well-defined goal. If the goal is determined, it is easier to decide the steps that must be taken in order to achieve this. So what is that goes into creating a successful online marketing plan? Of course, it has to have SEO, analytics, social media, goals, strategies, targeting, etc., but before that, we must understand what the recipe for an ideal online marketing plan is?

An ideal online marketing plan must have the following ingredients. 

  • Well-defined business goals:  Short term, Long term, and Medium-term
  • The digital roadmap to achieve these goals
  • Understand which online channels to use
  • Set a budget for the marketing plan
  • Create a timeline and identify the dates by which each goal must be achieved

What are the steps to a successful marketing plan?

1. Conducting Situational Analysis: 

Before embarking on an online plan, you must conduct a SWOT analysis of the firm. This analysis can be both, internal as well as external. The purpose of SWOT analysis is to make you more aware of the business landscape and associating factors. This includes your customers, competitors, the intermediaries, the digital modes, influencers in the field, etc. 

Apart from this, you should also ask relevant questions such as-“Is my website consumer-friendly?”, “How is the navigation experience?”, “Do we resonate with our consumers as a brand?”, “Do we have a competitive positioning.” “What is our social media position?” 

2. Establishing measurable goals

What’s a plan without goals? Isn’t it? But here the point to ponder is, “Whether the goal is measurable or not?”  Let us take a look at the below examples

I want to increase the subscribers to my You Tube channelNot measurable
I want to cross 1 million subscribers by the first week of December 2019Measurable

Only when you have quantified your goals can you strive to take actionable steps to achieve it. This brings us to the next step that is taking actionable steps. Consider this:

I need to create better content for the social media campaignNot actionable
I need to create more visual content for Instagram or Pinterest

I need to create rich and informative content with facts & figures for the Linkedin audience 

I need to create interactive and participative content for Facebook and Twitter



Actionable

Similarly, Attainability (understanding benchmarking), Timeliness (including time-frame), Relevance (Relation to the larger goal) are some of the other elements to be considered during the goal-setting process. 

3. Defining your marketing strategy

Once you are clear about the goals, it is time to define marketing strategies. For defining a marketing strategy it is important to first understand your audience and do buyer persona defining. Who is your target audience, what is his/her demographics such as gender, age-group, ethnicity, occupation, etc This helps you to understand their requirements, pain points, and expectations. The most effective content is the one that is tailor-made for the buyer. 

A classic example of buyer persona defining is:

GenderFemale
EthnicityMumbai, India
Age Group25-35 years
OccupationCorporate sector employee in a 9-5 job
Areas of concern/ expectationsQuick fitness regime that can be followed in 20 minutes
Mode of commutePublic transport in Mumbai (train/bus/auto)
FamilyMarried/ Unmarried, Kids/without kids, etc.

When a buyer persona is clearly defined you can now target your marketing strategy towards a young working woman in Mumbai who has no time for an elaborate fitness regime and wants some quick hacks. So if you are providing Nutrition products, workout equipment, Diet consulting or Yoga services, you know very well how to place your offerings.

Next, you must find out your unique proposition. Is it the pricing, the convenience, the brand name, ease of utility or all? Focus on the most important aspect and build your strategy around it. 

The marketing campaign will definitely involve content for marketing. So, the content has to be designed according to the buyer persona, the selection of social media and the platforms where it will be shared, what will be the proposition, etc. There has to be a well thought of strategy that goes behind content planning.

4. Support it with the necessary technology

Online marketing strategies are incomplete without certain strategies like Paid Media Advertisement, SEO Strategies, Web optimization, Email marketing campaigns, etc. The number of channels is increasing and the amount of information is also multiplying at an unprecedented rate. Hence, it is imperative to use Marketing Automation tools. 

Technology has changed in the way Digital Marketing works. Today, you can make workflows that will allow you to create numerous campaigns in just one go. To increase the reach of the campaign, you can use these tools and personalize your message and place the content according to the buyer’s position in the sales funnel. Hubspot, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, Prospect.io are some of the leading marketing automation tools. 

Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report says that 67% of marketing leaders already use at least one marketing automation platform, while 21% have planned to begin using one of these in 2019.

5. Measuring the KPIs

Designing and implementing the Digital Marketing strategy is not an end in itself. It is equally important to analyze the results and optimize the performance so that it achieves maximum results and ROI. KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are nothing but the quantifiable indicators of results. Analyzing the KPIs helps in measuring the effectiveness of the strategies we have implemented. If you have failed to achieve the desired goals, you need to change your strategies and rework on your Digital Marketing plans. The KPIs for Digital Marketing strategies can be grouped into channel-specific or overall business goals related. The KPIs can also be further grouped into Leading, Primary, Tertiary and Secondary KPIs. 

You must keep these points in mind before designing your Digital Marketing strategies. Plan well and do not leave anything to fate. A solid plan is your sure shot ticket to increase ROIs on your marketing investment.

Read more: 10 DIGITAL MARKETING TOOLS FOR SUCCESSFUL ONLINE MARKETING OF YOUR BUSINESS