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4 Steps To Designing A Digital Marketing Plan

Nelson Tan

Increasingly, more companies are recognizing the benefits a corporate digital marketing plan can bring in, but a few obstacles stand in the way:

1) There is no proper plan or the know-how to design one
2) Not knowing where to look for resources or advice
3) Having a negative assumption of uncontrollable word-of-mouth over the Net
4) Over-expectation of concrete results in the short term

And of course, having a digital marketing plan does not mean businesses must ditch traditional marketing channels altogether. Every marketing channel can be coordinated together in an effective mix. The trend towards going digital is undeniable though; as more consumers do their research online before arriving at a purchasing decision, it becomes more cost-effective to meet them where they are online and drive the marketing in their direction.

Advancement made in analytics is also making ad campaigns that much more easier to test and track, thus providing the necessary performance metrics that marketers can appreciate and know where they can improve for better results.

The first step in planning out a DMP is to define the vision. What does such a plan aim to achieve? Perhaps it is to drive online sales of your products. If your products are not appropriate to be sold online, the final goal may be to encourage a target number of fans and followers to set foot into your shop. It is important to define the goals as clearly as possible because they determine how subsequent marketing actions will be carried out accurately.

The second step is to define the various strategies and objectives that bring followers closer to your goals. The questions below can act as a guide:

- How many articles are you going to write in a month?
- How many clicks to drive to each article?
- How many social shares should each article reach for?
- What is the call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each web page?
- How many CTAs are needed before a visitor reach a goal?
- How is the visitor's experience navigating around your website?
- What is the conversion rate for each call-to-action?
- What is target size of the follower base on each social network?
- What is the target size of the e-mail subscriber base?
- What offers do you propose to differentiate the privileges of different subscriber/follower bases?
- What is the best buyer demographic for your products or services?
- Which social networks are these potential buyers predominantly found in?
- What are the signals that indicate a prospect is ready to buy?
- How to provide post sales support or customer service?
- What are the segments that separate different types of customers?
- What motivates each set of customers differently?
- How long and what are the stages of a buyer's lifecycle?
- What are your best keywords for website optimization?
- How many free offers do you need to come up with each month?
- How do the free offers determine the landing page design?
- How do you position yourself differently from your competitors?
- How do you project yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your niche?
- Where are the best forums for online conversations?
- Who can you collaborate with as joint venture partners?

These are but only a sample of questions out of many more that need to be asked, like:

- What would be a good frequency for social postings? Is it too much or too little now?
- What type of social media posting are your followers most likely to share?
- Which social networks tend to contribute better towards your DMP goals and how much more time should be spent in them?
- When is an appropriate time to directly promote a product?
- What new marketing channels can be further explored? Mobile messaging? Instant messaging?
- How to nurture regular customers into long-term evangelists?

I should stop for now. As you can tell, the devil is in the details and answers are never-ending, more so when nothing is set in stone and new digital trends can take over without warning. Your DMP must be dynamic and adaptable, subject to review for minor details over 3 months and for major ones over 6 months.

The most common mistake of a DMP is for digital marketers to confuse between the larger goals and objectives and mix up their priorities. Success is in the sales, not the clicks nor the number of subscribers or followers. Therefore it is imperative to use analytics software like Google Analytics or Piwik to break down the measurements into hard numbers because they tell the hard truth.

The third step is to define a role for each of the staff in the business. This is especially true for small businesses without a marketing team. When there are so many 'devils' in a DMP, you can be sure there is plenty of work to do every day.

Digital marketing has to be a collective effort for productivity to increase and it does not necessarily require in-depth expertise. A business can start small, posting one piece of valuable content at a time, then figure out how to ramp up the volume, frequency and quality of the content over time.

It is also helpful for all staff to get involved so they can learn to market online during the process and stay relevant within various digital trends.

If this step is not applicable within your business environment, you can consider outsourcing to a digital marketing agency. It is exactly what we do at iSmart Communications. Take a look at the home page and "Inbound Marketing" section of our website to better understand how we can add more value to the digital aspect of your marketing work.

The fourth step is to set aside time for training. Now this does not seem to relate directly to the work, but you would do well to remember a Chinese saying, "Rest is to prepare for the long journey ahead." Training is not exactly rest, but still it is to prepare for the long marketing journey ahead. It is also a time to take stock of the work done, of results measured, to discuss what is done well and what can be done better.

For training and research resources, you can visit these recommended websites:

  1. Click on the 'list' icon beside the logo for the topics
  2. Access All Topics" section and look for "Internet Marketing" and "Social Networking and Social Media"
  4. Linkedin groups pertaining to relevant keywords and topics
  5. and similar Q&A websites
  6. Article directories like Ezine Articles
  7. Pinterest: Search for infographics by keywords

These are exciting times we live in and consumers and merchants are converging online like never before. Establishing additional marketing channels via social media and e-mail automation can only help you open up a plethora of new business opportunities. Your marketing efforts are further leveraged as your online business presence remains active 24/7. The 4 major steps of crafting a digital marketing plan would be a great starting point. Act on them today and usher a better tomorrow.

The 4 Steps Of A Digital Marketing Plan

First step: Define the vision or goals.
Second step: Define strategies and objectives that score goals.
Third step: Define digital marketing roles for staff.
Fourth step: Prepare for continuous training.

Nelson Tan is an Inbound Marketing consultant at iSmart Communications, an integrated marketing agency for the Asia-Pacific region.

Article by:Nelson Tan
Article posted: 2014-09-05 04:45:45