Sunday, January 10, 2010

5 Steps For Creating An Effective Digital Marketing Plan

Ross Freedman, Co-founder and Board Member

I believe every organization today needs a digital marketing plan to be successful.  And while they may be able to maintain or even grow their revenue without one, their customers are gradually moving to the Internet to make buying decisions.  Companies without a strong digital marketing plan aren’t only leaving money on the table, they are loosing customers to those companies that do have a digital marketing strategy and plan.

The following 5 steps outline how you can guide you and your organization through creating a simple, but effective digital marketing plan to compete in today’s digital marketplace.

Step 1: Define your Target Audience

One effective method to define your target audience is to create Personas.  A Persona is a description of a specific person who is a target buyer of a particular set of services.  The persona typically includes a fictitious buyer’s demographic information, needs, preferences, biographical information, and a photo or illustration. Typically, multiple Personas are developed in the early stages of a Digital Marketing Plan that represent the spectrum of the target audience.

Step 2: Conduct Competitive Analysis

I typically recommend putting together a spreadsheet of your top competitors and conducting some research to see how they are using digital marketing channels to reach your current and prospective customers.  Once you have your spreadsheet created, try impersonating your prospective customer and try to find your (and your competitor’s) products or services online.  Did you find theirs first, or yours?  If you find theirs first, try to uncover what they are doing within the digital channel to make a connection with you online.  Document each connection you make with your competitor in the spreadsheet.  This competitive analysis will be used as input as you prioritize your digital channels in Step 3 (below).

Step 3: Prioritize Your Digital Channels

Below is a list of the most popular digital channels that exist today.  I always recommend force-ranking these according to value and effort.  In other words, look at each channel individually and try to determine the value that channel could bring to your organization.  Value can be defined in many ways, including: # of new visitors, # of new leads, increase (%) in average deal size, lower cost ($) of sale, etc.  Then, independent of the value, look at the effort required to implement your plan across each digital marketing channel.  The value-effort score will show you which channels represent “quick wins”. I always recommend starting with quick wins.

·    Blogging

·    Microblogging

·    Search engine optimization  

·    Social network participation (Facebook, LinkedIn)

·    Email marketing

·    Social media monitoring & outreach

·    Pay per click  

·    Blogger relations

·    Video marketing  

·    Social media advertising  

·    Online/digital public relations

·    Affiliate marketing  

·    Corporate web site  

·    Viral marketing  

·    Free content (eBooks, white papers)

·    Online communities/forums  

·    Branded microsites  

·    Webinars

·    Podcasts  


Step 4:  Define Success Criteria

Make sure that success criteria is quantifiable and measurable.  Examples of measurable and quantifiable objectives are increase online sales by 20% from x to y. Reduce cost per acquisition by 5%, increase revenue by 10% and organic search traffic by 20%.

Step 5: Test Your Plan

Today it is very easy to determine whether or not marketing campaigns are successful by tracking your previously defined success criteria.   For example, you can use A/B tests and see where potential customers are exiting your sites. This is how you will judge how well your digital marketing is performing.