Whilst established and experienced marketers will have some form of digital or internet marketing plan in place, it is a reality that many small businesses who are new to internet marketing view it as “just another channel to market”. This approach will invariably result in the failure of any online marketing strategy. The best plans I have seen have a planned approach to their internet marketing which makes sure that no stone is left unturned. An Internet Marketing plan will typically incorporate the following steps which I hope will serve as a useful framework for those who do not have one and a reminder for those who do. Having worked in market development for quite some time now, I can testify that this approach works very well:
1. UNDERTAKE A 'SITUATION ANALYSIS'
In this step it is important to understand your digital marketplace. For example the following answers to these questions would need to be sought:
- Who is your audience? What are their characteristics? What are their preferences?
- How do they use digital media?
- Who are your competitors?
- What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats exist currently for your brand/market?
- How well have your previous marketing campaigns worked?
- What do your web analytics tell you about your success so far?
2. SET YOUR OBJECTIVES
You’ve heard of SMART objectives, right? Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time bound are the keywords you need when setting your objectives. SMART objectives help you to specify the precise goals against which the success of your campaign can be judged.
Typical objectives include:
- A targeted reach for your campaign
- The number of visitors to a site
- Acquiring a specific number of new customers
- The conversion rate from prospects to leads
- Selling ad space to generate specified target revenue, for example to cover costs
- Increase the contribution of online revenue by a specific percentage of revenue by offering new online services for example
- Increase customer retention by reducing churn by x percent within a specified period
- Increase overall revenue by x percent by targeting sales in new customer segments
- Reduce costs of after sales service by x percent through the use of specific customer service tools
3. DEFINE YOUR STRATEGIES
Once you have defined your objectives, you will need to describe the strategies or approaches you will use to achieve those objectives. Typically you will look at your:
- Targeting strategy: – which audiences will you target and how will you segment them?
- Creative Strategy – how will you communicate your proposition? This calls for a consideration of product, pricing and services too
- Media Strategy – which media will be used, why and how?
4. IMPLEMENT THE PLAN
This of course is the part where your strategy gets implemented using a range of different tactics.
- Inducements – what incentives will you use to encourage your targeted segments to opt in?
- Data capture – what information will you collect about your customers? How will you make sure that this database is relevant? What will you do when you cannot contact a customer?
- Outbound comms – how often will you send messages? How will messages change over time?
- Creative development – who needs to be involved with this? Creative execution must be brilliant!
Whilst what you have just read will provide you with a framework for your marketing plan, this is just the beginning. Campaigns will need to be fine- tuned in response to feedback, both qualitative and quantitative. Poor visitor experience will make it difficult to achieve your objectives and so must be a key focus. Tracking your metrics is fundamental as you will find it hard to generate sustainable improvements without measurements. Important metrics to track include:
- Unique visitors
- Conversion rate
- Cost per click
- Cost per acquisition
- Branding Metrics
To do digital well requires a coordinated planning of the four key elements shown above. This in itself will not be enough though, as feedback will need to be gathered to inform changes. What I hope this post also shows is that Internet Marketing is not just another channel to market – it is much more than this and needs to be approached confidently but cautiously. Good luck and if you have anything further to add to the above, ping me an email!
www.smartinsights.com – Thought leader and Digital Marketer Dr Dave Chaffey's site is an inspiration and is packed with useful resources, tools and outstanding content.
Photo credit: Ivan Walsh
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