Unless you’re one of the very few businesses in the world today doing absolutely no marketing or advertising online (in which case, we need to talk!), every business should have a digital marketing plan, whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, a brick-and-mortar or online store, or offer a product or service.
Businesses worldwide are facing significant change:
Some have lost all their clients and customers, some have been forced to lay off employees, some have changed product and service offerings completely (ie: from making clothes to making medical masks, from “dine-in” to “take-out”), some have brand messaging that’s no longer relevant or appropriate, some have pushed pause on all business activity, some are facing an industry that’s likely been changed (ie: travel, tourism and hospitality), and more.
Whatever the case, the time for a digital marketing and advertising strategy is now, and that includes businesses who’ve never had one, and businesses who need to revise their current strategy in order to respond to what’s happening in the world.
What is a Strategic Digital Marketing Plan?
It’s a bit like the Marketing & Communications Plan your business created in the early days to show the business licensing or loan department that you had a good game plan for finding success with your new venture.
A Strategic Digital Marketing Plan is a thoroughly-researched, detailed written document outlining all of the online marketing and advertising your business plans to do in the coming year — the why, who, when and how of every activity.
It includes online analysis, strategy, and tactics for the best use of a business’ resources to help achieve business goals, and acts as a roadmap or blueprint through those chosen tactics to success. Businesses should produce a large-scale strategic plan every year, as well as simpler, shorter versions in advance of each new campaign.
And if and when goals change (as they have for most of the globe this Spring), the digital marketing strategy should change too, prioritizing tactics with the most potential. Similarly, if an industry changes (or the world changes!), smart businesses will pivot and a revised strategy will guide that process. (Think: a bigger brand entering the market and capturing your audience; a recession; a global health crisis, and natural disasters.)
Strategic Digital Marketing Planning: The “Why?”
The purpose of the Strategic Plan is to ensure, among other things, that all upcoming digital marketing and advertising activities are:
- Aligned with short- and long-term goals
- Consistent and complementary
- Consider quantifiable data
- On time and on budget
- Measured again KPIs, and
- Ready to pivot if things aren’t working
It’s like an insurance policy against spending time, resources and money on tactics that don’t work. And, today, having a good plan is critical.
Strategic Digital Marketing Planning: The Details
Good Strategic Digital Marketing Plans include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Executive Summary
- Overview / Goals
- Situational Analysis
– Business Review
– Key Messaging Review
– Brand Perception Analysis
– Team & Resources Review
– Current Offline and Online Marketing Activities, Results and Assets
– Online Presence Audit
> Social (and Social Persona)
– Industry Review
– Competitor Review
– Target Audience Analysis
> Personas + Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning
– Keyword Research
– Challenges and Solutions
- Digital Marketing Strategies & Tactics
– Digital Advertising
– Social Media Marketing
– SEO & SEM
– Content Marketing
– Email Marketing
– Online Reputation Management
- Policy Review
- Tools Review
- Reporting Review
– Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Detailed Roll-Out Plan
The industry, competitor, keyword, and audience review parts of the plan are essential. Performing that research will highlight what things are working in your industry and for competitors, and where there are opportunities to do better, carving out your own niche to reach your target market.
Each of the Digital Marketing Strategies sections should include the who, what, when, where and why of every tactic:
- Why was it chosen?
- What goal does it aim to achieve?
- How does it work?
- What are the current best practices for that tactic?
- How will you implement it?
- Will it be an “always-on” tactic, rolled-out over time, or just once monthly, quarterly or annually?
- How will success and ROI be measured?
Note: Your finished plan doesn’t have to include all possible digital marketing and advertising tactics under the sun. If you’ve decided not to pursue something, you can leave it out. However, in researching and writing your plan, you’ll have the opportunity to explore all those possible tactics and make an informed decision about each one.
For example, have you decided to focus solely on social in the coming year? Consider a social media marketing-specific strategic plan like this one via Sprout Social. Bonus: The Sprout Social team has also put together an even more specific guide on Strategic Social Media Planning during the Covid-19 Crisis.
Once you’ve completed your plan, and your team has reviewed and approved it, you can move towards implementation, using the Roll-Out Plan piece as a roadmap or blueprint for success.
Strategic Planning: Some Tips
There’s lots of information online about strategic digital marketing planning — most of it contradictory and confusing. To help, the Stir digital marketing team has put together a list of great strategic planning tips and resources:
- We Are Marketing: “A Step-By-Step Guide to Structuring a Digital Marketing Plan” > Putting digital marketing actions into motion without a previously-devised plan or strategy could lead to failure for not considering all the aspects that could impact their development.
- Hubspot: “7 Digital Marketing Strategies and How to Plan Your Own Campaign” > We’ve compiled a list of seven digital marketing strategies that marketers can adapt to help their teams and businesses grow, as well as a crash course on the meaning of digital strategy and marketing campaigns.
- Neil Patel: “How to Create an Online Marketing Plan that Will Grow (Nearly) Any Business” > In this post, we’re going to take a look at how you can create an online marketing plan and marketing strategy for nearly any type of small business and how you can use this plan to hit your marketing goals.
- Smart Insights: “Digital marketing strategy: How to structure a plan?” > An effective digital strategy will help you take the right decisions to make a company successful online…But which capabilities are important, which do you need to review?
- OptinMonster: “How to Create a Fail-Proof Digital Marketing Plan” > Would you run your business without a plan? Of course not! Which is why it wouldn’t make sense to market your products without one. In this post, we’ll show you how to create a digital marketing strategy with clear, actionable strategies.
- Digital Marketing Institute: “5 Steps to a Powerful Digital Marketing Strategy” > But here’s the thing: if you don’t have a plan in place how can you expect to grow and innovate, to measure meaningful results and to learn from past mistakes? It’s time to stop panicking about next year or next month and start crafting a plan..
- University Canada West: “How to create a digital marketing strategy?” > The modern landscape of business requires digital marketing strategies to reach a larger audience. The key is not just to create a strategy, but to see through its execution and assess the outcome…
Need help? Stir can help your business to create and implement a Strategic Digital Marketing Plan. Have your own in-house marketing team? We can create the strategy and they can follow the detailed roll-out plan for implementation. Either way, you shouldn’t wait to get started on this most important part of online marketing for your business.