There are 5 things you must have in order to easily plan and implement your annual marketing plan.
- Scalable Plan
- Ability to set reachable objectives
- A Strategy that you can quickly implement
- Tactics / Actions you can track to get you where you need to be
- A Control schedule to evaluate the progress
This article is going to reveal a process that will allow you to do more than merely survive your business. You will be able to build your digital marketing plan and easily implement it this year and well into the future – adding a strong foundation to help you grow and thrive in your industry.
So, let's get started by taking a look at where we and our customers are. Every industry has cold, warm and hot customers at the center of business. Wrapped around the customers is a ring of how we interact with those customers. Interacting with customers may be in the form of automation with cold leads, websites for warm leads, and our CRM (customer relationship management) system for established customers.
The trick is to provide the specific type of customer interaction at the appropriate time to convince them to proceed to the next phase of your system. More about the system in a moment. First, you really have to know your customers because when you learn to ask better questions you will be able to make better decisions.
Let's begin by taking in-depth and closer look at this perpetual outer ring.
Situation Analysis takes a systematic approach to looking at six key areas of your business – Customers, Competitors, Partners, Competencies, Performance/Results, and Market Trends.
Let's go through each of these areas and break each area down into detail so that we can clearly understand and implement any necessary changes.
Situation Analysis – Customer
When evaluating customers, we want to be able to specifically identify the who, why, and how of our customers.
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Who are your visitors and what stage of the buying cycle are they in?
- Who are your followers?
- Who in your market are influencers?
- Who is attending conferences or webinars in your market?
When we dig deeply into WHO, we have to address PERSONAS. In the digital marketing industry, there are a few other terms that are often used synonymously with the term personas, like customer avatars, target market, or ideal clients. The persona is the image, face, public face, character, personality, identity, self; front, facade, guise, exterior, role, of the person who is your target customer. If your customer persona isn’t fine-tuned you don’t know who you should be talking to.
If there is one thing that you take away from this article, let it be this information and your action be to take the time and identify your ideal client. This will, by far, have the most profitable effect on you growing your business moving forward.
Let's map out exactly how to build an accurate picture for you. You can use this process and answer these question from a personal perspective, as well as from your client's perspective.
- What is your job or role in life? Your Title?
- How is your job or role measured?
- What is a typical day?
- What skills are required?
- What Knowledge and tools do you use?
- Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
Company or Organization
- What industry(s) does your company work or is your role in?
- What is the size of your company or organization (revenue, employees)?
- What are you responsible for?
- What does it mean to be successful in your role?
- How do you learn about new information?
- What publications or blogs do you read?
- What associations and social networks do you belong to?
- Age, family (married, children), education, philosophy, religion
- How do you prefer to interact (email, phone, in person)?
Find the Why
Finding the answer to WHY can be tricky and is not easy. We strangely tend to IGNORE this more times than not. In an attempt to simplify the process of finding the "why", it is sometimes easier to ask "what" questions that will lead to the "why".
- What are your customers’ needs?
- What do they really want?
- What do your customers like (or dislike) about your product or service?
- What are your customers’ future needs?
- What are your visitors’ needs and what are they interested in?
- Why do your visitors return to some sites and not to others?
- Why do your visitors not convert?
- What marketing content do your visitors specifically like?
- What marketing content do your influencers like?
- What part of your content (e.g. a webinar) does your audience like?
- What is being said about you (or your product type) locally?
- What about you (or your product or service type) is trending?
The last customer Analysis question to answer is the "how". For example, how do they buy and how do they get there?
- How does your customer buy (what is their online journey)?
- How long and how many channels does your visitor use?
- At what stage are your visitors at in the buying process?
- How many pages are ideal when they visit your website?
- When is the best time for you to post content and engage?
- How does your customer process information?
- How does your customer prefer to view initial information?
- How does your customer perceive your website?
- How do the videos that work better than others work?
- How do some of the words you use work better than others?
- What percentage of your visitors view your site on a mobile?
- How does your customer see things differently on their mobile?
Now, take a look at the "how" from the perspective of offering what you do to your customers.
- What are the 5 most important actions (conversions) that you want a visitor to take when on your site?
- Define “light” vs “heavy” engagement, and track HEAVY.
- How many clicks and pages does it take to achieve a sale?
- What traffic source drives the majority of your ENGAGEMENT?
- What traffic source provided the highest CONVERSIONS?
- How do you increase engagement on Key pages?
- Is key content being read or watched?
- What helps the nurturing process?
Situation Analysis - Competition
To be able to get a clear picture of who your competition is, you use SWOT> SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weakness', Opportunities, and Threats. Here are some tools you can use to take a look at the SWOT elements to size up your competition.
And here are the best questions to ask while looking through the information you have collected about your competition using the SWOT resource tools.
- How good are your competitors’ websites?
- How good are your competitor’s social media platforms?
- What social content works for your competitors?
- What Facebook content works for your competitors?
- What customers say about your competitors?
- What keywords work best in your competitors’ PPCc ads?
- What inbound links are your competitors using?
- Do you have enough share of voice?
- How big is your competitor’s marketing team and budget?
- What are people saying about your competitors?
- Who are your new content marketing competitors?
Setting clear objectives in the marketing cycle provides you with stepping stones along the way. Use the stepping stones as your target to aim for and to adjust to reach your final goals. Your objectives should be focused enough to clearly see your mission and the vision of what you are trying to achieve. Create your mission statement and your vision statement using the following criteria.
Mission Statement - Your mission should include how you make the world a better place. While giving a direction to the company it should also announce the social responsibility you take on.
Vision Statement - The vision is company-centric (while the mission is market centric). The vision states where a company sees itself in 3, 5, or even 10 years down the road. The vision sets the major goals and direction.
Key performance indicators (KPI's) can be used to ensure that you can visually recognize where your plan is progressing ideally and which methods are not your best options and should be abandoned.
KPIs- A Key Performance Indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets.
The 5 S's
- Sell means ‘sales’ targets, both online (if relevant) and offline sales influenced by online.
- Serve sets customer service targets but also inspires better service (see Sizzle).
- Save means to save both money and time (for both the customer and the organization) by delivering an efficient service.
- Speak means conversations, listening carefully and participating. Engagement is another measure of ‘speak’.
- Sizzle is the digital sizzle or magic that delivers added value or digital sizzle to a brand which you simply cannot get offline.
The 5 S's are easy and can be used in MANY situations. You can even map these out on a spreadsheet for documentation purposes and to be able to easily visualize your data.
Your strategy will answer your “How do I get there?” question. A good strategy will harness your capabilities and provide you with your Big Picture.
OVP - Online Value Proposition
- Who are we?
- What do we offer?
- Which markets do we serve?
- What Makes us different?
- How do we answer the customer question: What’s in it for me?
- Landing Pages
- Which ones do you Have?
- Which ones do you need to build?
- Silo Structure - Splitting up your website into thematic relevance.
- List SILO CTA
- Segment content between list building and sales
- Social Posting Calendar
- Social Syndication System
- Map Listing
When looking at strategy, you can think about this analogy. We've all heard about there being many fish in the ocean. The fish represent people - in our case the potential customers. Fish swim in oceans and there are more than a few oceans. For the purpose of our story, there are blue oceans and red oceans. Blue oceans provide clean, clear and cooler water. Whereas the red oceans are bloodied, overcrowded and the water is too warm.
Our strategy is to fish in the blue oceans. The blue ocean is the market that allows us to see what we are catching, does not have fierce competition, and is not an over-saturated market.
Try and find “Blue Ocean” targets. And while you are fishing, continue to ask yourself better questions and evaluating your responses to your strategy checklist.
- Does the strategy seize opportunities to help customers? (OVP)
- Do you clearly address “What Problem Am I Trying to Solve?”
- Does your strategy improve the customer experience?
- Does your strategy build relationships with customers and build fans?
- Does your strategy strengthen your brand(s)?
- Does it create competitive advantage?
- Does it move with market trends?
- Is social media part of the overall strategy?
- Do you have, or can you get, the resources required?
- Have you considered several strategic options before choosing this strategy?
Tactics & Advantage
Tactics are the methods you will use and apply your strategy. What are you going to use to achieve your goals and implement the strategy? Here are some examples of tools you could use while applying a "blue ocean" strategy.
- Facebook Ads
- Bing Ads
- Video Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Press Releases
- Viral Campaigns
- Direct Mail
- Call Drops
- Trade Shows
Take a look at the image below and you can get an idea of how some of the tools from above can be applied as a tactic and what that tactic's objective is when applied as your strategy.
There are three basic levels of media in digital marketing - Owned, Paid, and Earned media. Here is a great image to illustrate how and where they overlap and how you can use that to your advantage to enhance your digital marketing plan.
Start with your objective, list the KPIs, list the Strategies to achieve those KPIs, and then map out each tactic.
Build a list of what you need to do to implement each tactic, segment them and prioritize them.
Sometimes the easiest way to reach a goal that seems far into the future is to do one thing that will move you closer to that goal every day. This is often referred to as an AGILE approach. The concept is simple and the implementation can easily become a habit. It is a simple as asking yourself, "what are the 5 things I need to do today?" and then making those things a priority for that day. Taking this a step farther, add the questions, "what are 5 things I need to do this week, and this month?" The more items you check off those lists, the closer you come to realizing your dreams.
Start to track your business and see what is happening and you will most certainly find your true return on investment (ROI). Look closely at your analytics over time to really see the progress you are making and be able to identify your shortfalls.
Spreadsheets with usable data can be used for KPI, marketing, and result tracking.
Performing annual or quarterly website audits will improve your website usability and will reveal the details of your progress. You are going to be amazed at just how far you have come.
The most important thing to understand when looking at our digital marketing plan is to realize that it is a circle. It never ends and is intended to be an infinite process that teaches you how to continue to ask better questions in order to make better decisions.
Planning an entire year of digital marketing may seem like a huge endeavor, however breaking it down, taking little, planned actions - using a proven, systematic approach makes reaching long-term goals possible by taking single, simple steps one at a time.