6 Digital Marketing Planning Process Stages
The digital marketing planning process is an important process that guides your online activities as you promote your business and manage its strategy. So if you are an online start-up with an app or website to promote or are an established business with an online presence that you need to take to the next level, then a plan is what you need.
There are 6 main digital marketing planning process stages and depending on the nature of your business and sector, your planning will be tailored to that specific sector.
As a process, you will continuously review your plan and doing market scanning, you will update it accordingly.
1. Marketing Audit and Analysis
Marketing audit and analysis is about researching customers and their needs and finding out about how they use the web and for what purchases. It helps you discover the devices that they use and the online channels and what the potential of that market is.
It also includes researching your competitors to find out how well resourced they are, which channels they use and how they perform on key metrics such as traffic volumes, keywords targeted, traffic sources, average time on site and so on.
You will also identify industry trends and the forces that your business is subject to, like technology, cookie policies, advertising legislation and others that are outside of your control.
With this information, you can now create your SWOT analysis (Fig. 1.1) – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – and this will feed into the other stages of the digital marketing planning process.
From your SWOT analysis, you will be able to create objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related (SMART). These objectives will determine the online strategy that you implement and how you will meet target market needs and achieve your business goals and mission.
The marketing objectives will also help you to set a budget that is realistic and is sufficient to implement your strategy.
Competitors will offer similar products or services to your business and if you run pay per click campaigns or price comparison listings for example, they will be listed next to your ads.
It’s important that you create unique features and benefits that are desired by your target markets and will encourage them to purchase from you. Competition is high on the web and many business are not profitable for this reason, so you should create a unique offering that creates greater value for your prospects.
Also, use tools like Alexa (Fig 1.2) to study your competitors and to benchmark your progress towards achieving your objectives.
4. Target Markets
Identifying the market segments to target is an important stage of the digital marketing planning process because it may not be possible to target all segments. So you should identify markets that will be receptive to your offers and purchase your products or services and bring you the best returns.
The web provides many resources to help you carry out secondary research into your markets and some are free and some charge like Hitwise, ACORN and Google Adwords.
In Google Adwords you can research into your markets using the display planner tools and identify the demographics that you want to reach.
Having carried out your marketing audit and analysis this stage of the marketing planning process is about promoting your business using the tools and channels available like Google Adwords, Social Media, email marketing, remarketing and so on.
It’s also about describing your product or service offer and how it will differentiate from competitor offers and meet the needs of your customers. And you will describe how your products or services will be delivered to customers and who will be responsible for what activities.
The idea is to position your products in the market and highlighting the online value proposition of your solutions.
6. Budgets and Control
The final part of the digital marketing planning process is about budgets and control. Setting budgets is tricky and is both a science and an art. One effective method is to list of the tactics of your marketing strategy and assign costs to each of them and then add this together to arrive at your budget.
Control is about measuring and tracking and using a timeline that lists what is done by whom and by when. It also involves describing the actions to be taken when things go wrong.
Download the free digital marketing plan template to plan your online campaigns and achieve your business goals and mission. I’m also available if you need to discuss your strategy and you can contact me to discuss.