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Free Assessment: How does your sales & marketing measure up?
By Liz Murphy
Oct 14, 2019
How to create a digital marketing strategy (+ examples)
How to create a digital marketing strategy
- Digital marketing strategy assessment.
- Align your company on a new way of doing business.
- Create content that drives revenue.
- Create the seven types of marketing and sales videos guaranteed to generate results.
- Integrate content into your sales process through 'assignment selling.'
- Evaluate your company website against the seven 'perfect inbound website' principles.
- Report regularly on content wins to your team.
- Understand what companies that see the most digital marketing success all have in common.
Who is this article for?
- You're a new digital marketer who has been tasked with creating a digital marketing strategy (usually content or inbound marketing-based) for the first time, and you don't know where to start, OR
- You're a seasoned marketing leader who knows something needs to change. Your current strategy isn't bringing in the results leadership and sales want to see, and you're looking for a proven approach that will increase traffic, leads, and sales.
Important note: Whether you call it digital marketing, content marketing, or inbound marketing, you're in the right place.
What will this article teach you?
You know what really grinds my gears? Articles that promise to teach you how to do something big, but then ends up being fluffy search engine-bait that isn't detailed enough for you to take action in any sort of meaningful way.
So, my promise to you is that I won't do that.
In fact, based on the principles of They Ask, You Answer , here is exactly what you'll know how to do by the end of this article:
- How to assess your current digital marketing strategy.
- How to gain buy-in from sales and leadership and get everyone excited about participating in your strategy, since a lack thereof is the #1 killer of digital marketing success.
- How to create a content strategy that targets the topics that are guaranteed to not only increase website traffic, but also generate more qualified leads that, ultimately, translate into more sales.
- Why video is critical to your digital marketing success, and how to create a video strategy around the top marketing and sales video types that get results.
- How to integrate your content into the sales process as part of your digital marketing strategy — we call this "assignment selling."
- The seven essential ways you need to update your company website so it becomes your top sales team member.
- How to showcase and highlight wins, as a part of your digital marketing strategy.
🔎 Related: What is They Ask, You Answer?
What this article is not
If you're looking for a simple, turnkey digital marketing strategy here, you're not going to find it. Don't worry, I'm going to give you everything you need to create an effective digital marketing strategy for your company, outlined in detail, step-by-step.
But you're going to have to do some heavy-lifting. Because, if you want to crush your most aggressive sales and marketing goals, you can't approach the creation of your digital marketing strategy with any degree with passivity.
So, this is your last warning that this article is not for the faint of heart.
It's dense. It's meaty. It's my attempt to give you everything you need to absolutely kill it in 2020, because I believe all marketers deserve a chance to be the hero at their company.
Ready? Let's do this. 🔥
1. Assess the effectiveness your current digital marketing strategy ( 100% optional step )
It's virtually impossible to determine what (if anything) should change with your digital marketing strategy if you don't know where you stand right now. That's what this step is all about.
As a digital sales and marketing company that's spent the past 10 years helping hundreds of companies from around the world (from all industries, B2B and B2C), we've seen what works and what doesn't, up close and personal.
So, earlier this year, we released our totally free Digital Sales and Marketing Scorecard :
This scorecard quite literally scores your current digital marketing strategy by evaluating the six components of your business that are proven to have the most impact on your success:
- How well your company is aligned around your approach to digital marketing.
- The scope of your content strategy , based on data we've collected over 10 years of what topics drive the most revenue.
- Your current marketing technology stack — because if you don't have the right tech to measure the ROI of your digital marketing, you'll never be able to prove the efficacy of your strategy.
- How much your sales team is (or isn't) involved in your efforts — time and again, we've seen digital marketing strategies soar (or crash and burn), based on sales engagement in the process.
- Your use of video as part of your digital marketing strategy. (Video is proven to shorten the sales cycle and build trust faster than any other type of content.)
- Finally, we help you assess your company website for the six core features of what we call the Perfect Inbound Website .
In addition to receiving a numerical score, we'll tell you how well you stack up against other world-class companies who have seen remarkable digital sales and marketing results, and provide you with the exact Inbound Success Playbooks you need to focus on first, based on where you are currently.
( Fun fact: All of our Inbound Success Playbooks are ungated and do not require an email address to access them.)
Because I hate fake-outs, here is an important note about our Digital Sales and Marketing Scorecard
Yes, you need to provide your email address in order to see your Digital Sales and Marketing Scorecard results.
However, while I am highlighting the scorecard as the first step to creating your strategy, it is 100% optional to complete it. Not filling out the scorecard will in no way prevent you from completing any of the steps that follow for creating your digital marketing strategy .
I actually considered writing this article without including this step. But, ultimately, I felt like I was going out of my way to exclude it, since it can be a powerful evaluation tool for companies, should they choose to take advantage of it.
So, just know that I am only including the scorecard for genuinely "pure of heart" reasons. (And everything else I will link to below as an additional resource is completely ungated and ready for your use.)
2. Get sales and leadership buy-in for your digital marketing strategy
I've been kicking around the digital marketing world for almost six years — in the good ol' days, I had to walk uphill (both ways) in the snow if I needed to smash the publish button on an article.
But while a lot has changed since I defected from publishing to join the marketing industry, there are two things that haven't:
- Marketing is often viewed by sales and leadership as an expense , rather than a profit center; and that's only become even more true, with the rise of content and inbound marketing — which feels like homework with very little payoff.
- Unfortunately, #1 is, more often than not, the kiss of death for marketers. Because if you don't have buy-in from sales and leadership, your digital marketing strategy will fail , plain and simple. Or, at the very least, you'll never be able to realize the full growth potential of your traffic, leads, and sales, were your whole team bought in on what you're doing.
That's why earning the buy-in of your sales and leadership teams is a critical initial step in achieving success with your digital marketing strategy.
In short, you need to initiate a cultural revolution within your own company.
Facilitate an inbound culture workshop to create alignment and build excitement
Creating a company culture wherein your sales, leadership, subject matter experts, and so forth are all on-board with your digital marketing strategy isn't something you can accomplish with an email or a short announcement at an all hands meeting.
Moreover, if you've already been dabbling with inbound or content marketing, you can't expect to get your sales reps, subject matter experts, or anyone else at your company excited about creating content without bringing everyone to discover the why behind becoming the most trusted voice in your space, and how you're going to do it.
So, in this step, you will bring everyone together for something we call an Inbound Culture Workshop .
Why do we recommend an Inbound Culture Workshop? And what should you cover in your own Inbound Culture Workshop?
In this video interview, I MPACT Director of Inbound Strategy and Video Training Zach Basner answers both of those questions in detail:
(If you're short on time, here's a handy-dandy "Cliff's Notes" version of this conversation .)
This is a workshop we facilitate for companies as an unbiased third party — which can sometimes be a smart move — but there are also distinct advantages to facilitating the workshop on your own, as the digital marketing owner or leader at your company.
🔎 Related: What should be covered in an Inbound Culture Workshop?
It doesn't matter how you choose to facilitate your workshop, so long as you have one. Trust me when I say making this a priority will determine how successful you are going forward through the rest of this process.
3. Create a content strategy laser-focused around topics guaranteed to drive revenue
OK, now it's time to get down to business. The goal of the content you create for your digital marketing strategy is simple — to establish your company as the most trusted voice in your space by answering all of the questions of your potential buyers as honestly and transparently as possible .
So, if you have a topic that doesn't do exactly that, you need to cut it from your editorial content calendar. It's useless fluff.
What should you be creating content about?
As IMPACT's content director, I know more than anyone how much of a struggle it can be to build editorial content calendars for a digital marketing strategy.
How do you know what content you should be creating?
And which content topics should be prioritized over others?
We've found that there are five very specific topic categories of buyer questions that are proven across all industries (B2B and B2C) to move the revenue needle for companies.
We call these topics The Big 5 , and they are:
- Pricing and cost ( How to create a perfect cost article )
- Comparisons ( Comparison article best practices )
- Problems ( How to create a perfect problems article )
- Reviews ( How to write about your competitors on your website )
- "Best of" ( "Best of" article example )
Why these topics? We, as consumers, are obsessed with finding answers to the questions that fall into those five categories, more than any other.
Think about the last few purchases you've made as a consumer, large and small.
You likely researched your potential purchase online first because you want to know how much something will cost before you buy it. You want to compare your options before making a decision. You don't want to be surprised with problems down the road, so you research them in advance. You want to know what other people think about an item or service you're considering, so you know you're making a good choice. And, finally, you want to know what's really the "best" product, service, strategy, and so forth.
I'll be honest with you — some of these topics are going to make you feel downright uncomfortable. You don't want to talk about pricing. You don't want to breathe a word about your competitors. And you certainly don't want to talk about potential problems with your products.
But if you don't, you won't be controlling the conversation — someone else will be, and that "someone" will likely be your competitor.
More than that, you will see the results you want with this content strategy. So, trust me when I say your discomfort is a good thing. Or, if you don't trust me, trust these companies who embraced The Big 5 and saw huge returns from it.
And yes, The Big 5 can fit into your pillar content strategy easily.
🔎 Related: The ultimate blogging tips guide for digital marketing teams
Priority and pacing for your content
If you're just starting out with a content-based digital marketing strategy, we recommend that you do the following:
- Make a list of the products and/or services that have the most influence over your bottom line. Focus your content efforts on these first.
- For those products and/or services, brainstorm topics with your team that fall under The Big 5. (Sales should be involved.)
- Next, focus your content creation efforts on topics that are toward the bottom of the funnel, such as cost topics.
- Plan to produce between two and three pieces of content at minimum per week.
Honestly, even if you've been doing content or inbound marketing for awhile, I'd recommend you follow some version of that process I just outlined. You'll likely have some content gaps you'll need to fill in, and those should be prioritized by your most important products and services.
🔎 Related: Free content calendar template (+ getting started tips)
4. Create marketing and sales videos that are proven to get results
Research shows that video is the most trusted resource for consumers at each stage in the buying process. Not only that, our buyers are spending a vast majority of their time online watching videos. Bottom line, video is powerful .
Video will build trust and captivate your audience more than any other type of content. Not only that, the strategic use of video during your sales process will compel people to take action and shorten your sales cycle:
How much of your website is currently video-based?
We’d wager the answer is probably somewhere between 0 and 10%.
The good news is that your competitors are likely in the same boat. That means there is no better time than right now to fully embrace video as a sales initiative through visual selling. In fact, the mindset we teach all our clients at IMPACT — which consistently yields the greatest results (traffic, leads, and sales) — is:
We are all media companies, whether we like it or not.
When done correctly, video will be a powerful addition to your toolbox, proven to not only establish trust more quickly with your buyers but also shorten your sales cycle.
Here are the 7 types of videos you need to be creating
The Selling 7 are seven types of sales and marketing videos that — like The Big 5 — have proven time and again to move the revenue needle for B2B and B2C companies.
80% videos are those that answer the most common questions all your prospects ask about your products and services — and probably proactively answer a few they haven’t thought of.
🔎 Related: How to make amazing 80% videos (+ examples)
Employee bio videos
These are short videos where your team speaks directly to the camera and introduces themselves, which allows your prospects to see, hear, and know your team before they even meet.
🔎 Related: How to make amazing employee bio videos (+ examples)
Product and service page videos
These videos significantly reduce the burden placed on your buyers to take the time to understand how your product/service will help them, while also breaking through the “noise” of all the words on your site.
🔎 Related: Example of a service page video
Landing page videos
Every landing page with a form on it needs a video that builds trust by addressing any questions or doubts someone might have — “Should I complete this form? Are they going to be spamming me after I fill it out?”
🔎 Related: 3 examples of great landing page videos that convert
“Bad fit” videos
When you’re honest about who you shouldn’t work with (and explain why), you not only become dramatically more attractive to your good-fit prospects, you show you’re transparent and trustworthy.
🔎 Related: Why you need to talk about who you're not right for (+ examples)
Customer journey videos
In this video, your customer will share the problem they were looking to address, the journey they took to fix that problem (with your company), and where they are today because of that journey.
🔎 Related: Examples of customer journey videos
“Claims we make” Videos
How many claims do you make that your competitors also make? For example, “Our people are the best.” Back up those claims by showing them with video, because words are not enough.
🔎 Related: 6 examples of "claims we make" videos we love
5. Integrate your content into the sales process with 'assignment selling'
Assignment selling is the act of purposefully sharing written, video, and audio content that is educational about your products and/or service with the express goal of addressing any pressing concerns and questions your prospects may have.
That way your prospects are much, much, much more prepared for any sales appointments they have with your team. And the conversations become much more focused around their specific challenges and goals, and how you can hep them, rather than wasting time answering the questions every single prospect has, regardless of their situation.
🔎 Related: How to implement assignment selling (+ examples)
6. Evaluate your website for the 7 key elements of the 'Perfect Inbound Website'
What works and what doesn't on company websites is always changing as trends, aesthetic preferences, and technology are constantly evolving.
We've found, however, there are seven fundamental elements that, when executed correctly, transform a company's website from a static digital billboard to its #1 sales rep . And they are:
- Homepage design and messaging
- Self-selection and configuration tools
- Obsess over honest education
- Premium education
- Textual and visual content mix
- Social proof
To be honest, evaluating and updating your website so it is the Perfect Inbound Website is a complex and comprehensive process unto itself.
So, to help you, we've created this comprehensive (ungated) playbook about building the Perfect Inbound Website .
It reviews each of the above items in detail, including what you should be looking for, how to evaluate your current site for those items, and the strategic steps you need to take to get your website where it needs to be.
7. Recognize content wins in visible ways to the rest of the company on a regular basis
One of the best ways to keep your team motivated and excited about participating in creating written and visual content for your digital marketing strategy is to spotlight what we call "content wins" with your company on a regular basis.
For example, at IMPACT, we have a weekly, company-wide "all hands" meeting. During that meeting, IMPACT Head of Editorial Content Ramona Sukhraj and I have a dedicated time in the agenda to share:
- The top five new articles (by views) from the previous week. We include their photo and the title of the article on their slide.
- A closed deal highlight, where we walk through all of the content a contact (or contacts) consumed before their deal closed. (A recent deal from a few weeks back featured a contact who consumed 250+ pieces of content!)
- How much influenced revenue can be attributed to our pillar content strategy . (We're at $850,000+ and climbing.)
That way we're making team members feel valued and proud of the work they're creating, and we're constantly reinforcing the value of our strategy by tying those efforts directly to bottom-line gains.
How you implement this at your company will likely look different, based on what opportunities you have at your disposal. That said, you should consider this step and indispensable part of your digital marketing strategy, as recognition of your colleagues will keep the spark of excitement for your digital marketing strategy alive .
Finally, here is what companies that see the most digital marketing success all have in common
Whew — that was a lot, wasn't it?
Still, you can't expect big results from your digital marketing strategy if you aren't willing to put in the effort. But before I send you on your way to digital sales and marketing glory, I want to leave you with some insight that will inspire you going into 2020.
Over the past 10 years, in working with hundreds of companies around the world, we’ve discovered there are seven characteristics companies that see the most success with their digital marketing strategies all share.
They understand that buyer expectations have changed
They know the “old school ways” of advertising no longer work. Now, potential buyers turn to the internet for every single question they want answered.
They are the absolute best teachers in their space
All employees embrace a mindset of: “I want to be viewed as the best teacher and most trusted resource in our industry. I want people, when they have a problem, to think of our company.”
They create the content that drives traffic, leads, and sales
They understand buyers are obsessed with finding answers online to questions about pricing, problems, comparisons, reviews, and “best of” lists, when making a purchasing decision. (These are The Big 5 we talked about earlier.)
They have a dedicated content manager
They get that unless someone is the designated “owner” of their inbound and content efforts, those efforts will be deprioritized and nothing will get done.
They understand the power of video
They understand video is a win for both sales and marketing — it builds trust with your audience faster and more effectively than any other type of content, and it shortens the sales cycle.
They've invested in the right technology
They know if they can’t generate revenue with inbound, it’s not worth the investment. But they also know they need to right technology in order to prove the financial ROI of their efforts. (We're a big fan of HubSpot for driving digital success in this arena.)
They've built the 'Perfect Inbound Website'
They have a fast, data-driven website with a clear homepage design, compelling messaging, self-selection tools, premium education content, textual and visual content, and social proof.
Now, it's your turn to write your own digital marketing success story .
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Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning Specialization
Drive Digital Marketing Strategy. Place digital strategy at the heart of your business and learn all the core skills required to think, lead, and execute in a digital world.
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Welcome to the Digital Marketing Institute, the global standard in Digital Marketing certification Opens in a new tab .
This Specialization explores the foundational areas of Digital Marketing Strategy required to become a skilled digital strategist in any industry and sector. By taking this Specialization with the Digital Marketing Institute, you will understand the forces driving and transforming businesses today and how an effective digital strategy can help a business grow and thrive in this dynamic environment.
After completing all courses in this Specialization, you will receive a DMI x Coursera certificate, DMI’s Certified Digital Marketing Associate certification, and three months of free Power Membership to unlock your next opportunity in a community of over 130k members. The Power Membership will give you access to an extensive content library full of practical resources to help at every stage of your career and stay up to date with the latest developments and insights in digital marketing.
Applied Learning Project
In this Specialization, learners will solve a broad range of authentic business problems as they apply the skills and techniques they learn along the way. Learners will create buyer personas, as well as a digital marketing channel plan to identify the inbound and outbound channels used by these personas. Based on their digital marketing channel plan, learners will also create an ideal team plan to outline the skillsets required to meet their business objectives, engage their personas with the correct digital channels, and improve the overall digital customer experience (CX) of their business.
Digital Strategy and Business Opportunity
What you'll learn.
How digital, social, and mobile technology are changing consumer behavior and expectations to present new challenges and opportunities for businesses
How digital research and social listening tools and tactics can provide insights into a business's audience and competitors
How to use the principles of content marketing with a creative strategy to find, reach, and engage target audiences
Digital Channel Planning and E-Commerce Strategy
How to incorporate inbound channels, tactics, and tools into an effective omnichannel digital marketing strategy
How to incorporate outbound channels, video advertising on YouTube, and web analytics into an effective omnichannel marketing strategy
How to incorporate an e-commerce and social customer service into an effective omnichannel marketing strategy
Digital Leadership and Digital Strategy Execution
How to use strategic thinking skills and the concepts of Customer Experience (CX) to improve business performance
How to execute and communicate an effective digital marketing strategy
How to lead and develop high-performing digital teams
The Digital Marketing Institute is the world’s leading digital marketing and selling professional certification body with a growing network of over 80 education partners in 100 countries. Our syllabus is validated by the world’s leading digital brands and agencies, ensuring that our content offers a dynamic blend of digital marketing theory and practice.
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Frequently asked questions
Who are the digital marketing institute.
The DMI is the world leader in Digital Marketing Certification, home to over 130k members, and 40k certified members, our courses are globally recognized and endorsed by some of the top industry bodies including the American Marketing Association. Visit: www.digitalmarketinginstitute.com Opens in a new tab for more information.
On completion of a Specialization, how can I avail of the DMI Certified Digital Marketing Associate certification?
Once you have completed all courses in your Specialization, you can click here Opens in a new tab to get access to your DMI Certified Digital Marketing Associate certificate and three months of free Power Membership. Your certificate will be issued in the month following your registration and after validation.
Please note that your Specialization Certificate Credential ID will be required, which you can find on the Accomplishments page in your Coursera account.
How long does it take to complete the Specialization?
Time to completion can vary based on your schedule, but most learners are able to complete the Specialization in about 2-3 months.
What background knowledge is necessary?
No previous knowledge or experience in digital marketing is required. This Specialization is designed for anyone interested in understanding how cutting-edge digital and social strategies can help businesses.
Do I need to take the courses in a specific order?
We recommend taking the courses in the order presented, as each subsequent course will build on material from previous courses.
Will I earn university credit for completing the Specialization?
Coursera courses and certificates don't carry university credit, though some universities may choose to accept Specialization Certificates for credit. Check with your institution to learn more.
What will I be able to do upon completing the Specialization?
You will gain a deeper understanding of the core principles of digital marketing, and will know how to lead, develop, and nurture high-performing digital teams. You can use this knowledge to create effective digital marketing strategies, transition to a new career, or improve your own business. You will also have a strong foundation for further study related to digital marketing.
Is this course really 100% online? Do I need to attend any classes in person?
This course is completely online, so there’s no need to show up to a classroom in person. You can access your lectures, readings and assignments anytime and anywhere via the web or your mobile device.
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Digital marketing is becoming more and more important for businesses, especially entrepreneurs. This book will assist entrepreneurs in setting up and executing a digital marketing strategy to reach the goals they have set for their startups. Search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and online reputation management are all discussed. Guiding the establishment of a digital presence, the text offers real-life examples, insights gained from executing digital marketing strategies for startups and small businesses, and assignments at the end of every chapter to personally apply what has been taught. Written for startup entrepreneurs, founders, marketers, and small business owners, this book provides practical tips on applying digital marketing to increase brand awareness and sales. It acts as a reference guide for startup entrepreneurs that they can come back to while setting up and executing their digital marketing strategy. Chapter 1 offers an introduction to digital marketing, an inexpensive way to reach a broad target audience in order to achieve specific business goals. The basics of several ways to digitally market are described. Websites need to offer a great visitor experience; search engine optimization makes a website findable on search engines by more people; social media can target audiences with high levels of accuracy. Digital marketing analytics helps marketers understand the effectiveness of their marketing strategy. Digital marketing strategies include everything that needs to be done to reach business goals with the help of online marketing channels. Entrepreneurs should think of a few goals they want to accomplish through their digital marketing strategy, plan their digital sales funnel with the AIDA model, and identify the channels they will use to target the audience. Monitoring digital marketing efforts will help to improve strategy and execution.
Understand the benefits of digital marketing for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Learn about various ways to successfully plan and execute a digital marketing strategy.
May 6, 2020
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Your Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Strategy
Enhance your digital marketing strategy in a world that demands meaningful brand engagement.
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Use best-in-class digital marketing strategy insights to achieve growth
Digital marketing strategy is what sets best-in-class performers apart. “Genius” brands — about 3% of all brands we tracked in a given year — outrank others on digital performance, maturity and digital investments. Download this report to discover:
- The 45 brands awarded Genius status in 2023 by Gartner research
- Attributes, such as digital competence, that make these brands Genius
- The range of industries in which Genius brands operate
- Specifics of what sets individual Genius brands apart
Key components of a digital marketing strategy
A top-notch digital marketing strategy enables brands to scale reach and engagement across websites, social media and digital advertising to target, acquire and retain customers.
- Channel Management
- Performance Benchmarks
Articulate your goals and execution tactics for digital experiences, channels, campaigns and media
For most organizations, digital marketing plays an increasingly strategic role in driving business growth. Best-in-class brands focus relentlessly on optimizing digital marketing channels, blending digital and physical experiences, and embracing emerging technologies that can provide a competitive edge. More recently, the pandemic radically shifted customer engagement preferences and elevated digital experience to a pivotal role in social and business relationships.
Digital is no longer just a means of enhancing customer relationships; it’s a primary medium for building new connections with target audiences, whether that’s employees, business partners or social influencers.
Digital marketing strategy framework
There is no single digital marketing strategy framework, but key components of any digital marketing strategy include:
A vision for the role that digital marketing strategy and execution play in driving enterprise growth. For example, an impetus to increase profit could translate into a business objective of increasing customer lifetime value. A resulting marketing objective might be to drive customer engagement or cross-sell/upsell customers.
A clearly scoped and defined set of responsibilities for the digital marketing team and leadership. Digital marketing leaders, for example, set and oversee budgeting, hiring, technology selection and campaign planning in support of strategy execution.
A detailed roadmap that lays out near-term digital marketing program objectives, as well as longer-range performance achievements. Improving lead quality, driving increased sales among identified leads and increasing brand awareness are all key digital marketing objectives tied to the goal of new customer acquisition .
An assessment of team skills, tools and processes needed to support digital marketing objectives — and a plan for closing gaps in performance.
Align the best channel with your target audiences and specific goals
A digital marketing strategy requires meaningful, personalized engagement with customers down the funnel and across multiple channels. To maximize the value of digital channels and engagement, and their impact on customers’ shifting digital behaviors, marketers need to plan, execute and evaluate the impact of digital marketing efforts holistically.
Multichannel is the marketing practice of using more than one channel to communicate with customers and prospects. Best‑in‑class digital marketers drive business growth by leveraging multichannel to span a multitude of touchpoints with target audiences.
These include websites, paid and organic social media, search and display advertising, TV, over‑the‑top (OTT) streaming media, digital video, email and mobile marketing (e.g., SMS, push notification, in‑app messaging and consumer messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), and voice‑enabled endpoints (e.g., smart speakers and smartphone‑based virtual personal assistants).
Scaling the delivery of personalized content and experiences is one of marketing’s most important roles in driving effective digital experiences, and it’s imperative to align personalization approaches to overall multichannel marketing objectives. Yet according to Gartner research, 63% of marketers face a moderate or significant challenge in delivering personalized experiences to customers.
The challenge is how to connect a customer’s experience of “rightness” with a digital marketer’s ability to measure, and hopefully optimize, “rightness.” Although 86% of individuals responding to a recent Gartner personalization survey said they are open to some personalized communication from brands, 55% say they’ll stop doing business when a brand communicates in a way they find invasive. A further 40% said they would stop doing business when they perceive a brand’s communication as irrelevant.
With such a fine line and big consequences separating good from bad personalization, it’s no wonder the topic continues to drive digital marketing leaders’ objectives as a critical element of their digital marketing strategy.
Although personalization has a long history within marketing, external challenges in recent years — from fragmenting privacy regulations to channel proliferation — have exacerbated the pain of fulfilling personalization’s promise. Specific challenges digital marketing leaders face when it comes to personalization are:
Scaling personalization efforts in a cost-effective way that also doesn’t overburden complementary workstreams
Falling short of the expected ROI
Driving conversion rate and revenue through better segmentation
Increased pressure to deliver incremental financial results
Managing inertia and misalignment
To combat these challenges, marketing leaders would do well to focus on the following areas:
Alignment between business objectives and personalization strategy
Prioritization of tactics across business outcome impact, feasibility and customer perceptions
Assessment of the personalization technology landscape through clear business outcomes
Overcome challenges, assess new channels and achieve demonstrable digital marketing results
The success of a brand’s digital advertising strategy — i.e., display, video, mobile and social ads — relies on appropriate timing, context, content and tone across relevant channels. Paid search, which specifically refers to advertising on search engines and other websites, presents ads based on the content and context of a specific search query.
During times of disruption, digital advertising is often one of the first budgets to come under scrutiny because of its generally higher share of the marketing budget and the intensifying pressure among CMOs to prove marketing ROI and demonstrate performance.
With macroeconomic disruptions, shifts in consumer behavior and a continuously evolving landscape of ad tech, service providers and agencies; content formats and platforms; and data and measurement partners, digital marketing leaders accountable for advertising find themselves on the front lines of change.
In this volatile climate, digital marketing leaders must rethink their media and channel strategy, adapt ad messaging to appeal to ad-avoidant and price-sensitive consumers, and position themselves ahead of the competition. To succeed with this opportunity:
Take calculated risks. Despite the temptation to slash spend across ad campaigns — or worse, continue with “business as usual” — the most successful organizations take calculated risks in times of economic uncertainty to find new growth opportunities and outsmart competitors. Start by building scenario plans, looking at potential downstream implications of fiscal and geopolitical upheaval.
Rethink your publisher mix. Concentrate ad efforts on fewer, bigger growth bets. For many brands, that may mean cutting down on the always-on, indirect ad buys and focusing more spend on core ad campaigns through direct purchases.
Extend the usability of your video ads. Work smarter with the creative assets you have at your disposal. One way to do this is to extend the return on video advertising investments by reusing parts of a single video ad to fit multiple platforms, devices and viewing habits.
Future-proof your digital marketing strategy and target more effectively in turbulent times
Key to any successful digital marketing strategy is the ability to create more relevant experiences. Data about prospects’ and customers’ online behavior and preferences is crucial to this process. However, changing consumer privacy laws and usage regulations are forcing digital marketing leaders to change how they collect, store and use data, while the deprecation of the cookie and restrictions on third-party data are changing how ads are bought, targeted and measured.
To successfully collect and use first-party customer data, digital marketing leaders must establish a strong data and analytics foundation within their organizations, invest in the appropriate technology and create compelling touchpoints for collecting customer data via owned channels.
Our discussions with digital marketing leaders reveal common struggles they face with customer data collection and use, including:
Limited access to first-party data
Poor-quality third-party data
Collecting an appropriate amount — rather than all — of customer data
Misalignment on how to best use first-party data
Uncertainty navigating cookie deprecation and data privacy initiatives
To limit the impact of privacy regulations and other changes, digital marketing leaders need to assess their current state, develop a plan and become the change agent to execute the plan and implement changes. The most successful brands:
Stay ahead of privacy changes, cookies and third-party data regulation by assigning someone on the team or finding a trusted partner to track the latest developments.
Collaborate across functions. High-maturity customer data organizations work cross-functionally, and indicate confidence in their returns from data collection efforts.
Build first-party data assets by homing in on core customers and building direct-buying relationships with strategically important media partners.
Ensure compliance across user data collection and digital media activation by working across the organization — e.g., with the partnerships and legal team.
Test fresh targeting strategies such as contextual targeting and data clean rooms to reduce the eventual impact of the loss of cookies on existing media strategies, by partnering with media companies and established and emerging technology firms.
Take an active role in driving change. Adopt a customer-centric approach to sourcing, collecting and using customer data. Provide users with clarity and control over their personal information, and align AI and machine learning efforts with consumer expectations and regulatory requirements to avoid legal and ethical pitfalls.
Context is vital for establishing a digital marketing strategy that maximizes ROI. In a world where consumers are challenging marketers to meet their needs in the moment, brands need to thoroughly benchmark audience behaviors, peers’ strategies, channel best practices and performance trends to remain competitive. Emerging channels and evolving customer behaviors add to the persistent challenge of questions such as:
How do we select the most relevant metric types?
How many metrics should we use?
How do we connect the dots between digital marketing activities and business performance?
If your organization is wrestling with these questions, you’re not alone. The 2023 Gartner Multichannel Marketing Survey reveals that performance measurement is a difficult exercise for most digital marketing leaders. Eighty percent of all surveyed participants say they struggle to identify a common set of metrics and methods to measure and attribute multichannel marketing’s effectiveness. Difficulty managing internal consensus and aligning KPIs with business outcomes were two reasons cited for this struggle.
Our research suggests that a less siloed, more holistic approach, supported by three or four metric types, can help you better assess marketing’s impact. Eighty-six percent of organizations using a more siloed approach to performance measurement (i.e., that measure individual channel effectiveness) say they struggle to identify a common set of metrics to successfully measure multichannel marketing effectiveness, compared to 67% of organizations using a more holistic approach (i.e., organizations that measure channel effectiveness holistically across all channels). The survey also reveals a sharp contrast in performance between the two.
The two most widely used types of metrics are transactional (including individual KPIs such as sales, revenue and conversion rates) and competitive ones (including market share, voice share and wallet share). The other types of metrics frequently used are (in order of most to least used):
Engagement/return on engagement metrics (e.g., social interactions, email open rates and click-throughs)
Perceptual metrics (e.g., customer satisfaction score, customer effort score and Net Promoter Score)
Pipeline metrics (e.g., lead quality, time to close, cost per lead and win rate)
Relationship metrics (e.g., customer lifetime value and LTV:CAC ratio)
Awareness metrics (e.g., aided awareness, unaided awareness and earned reach)
Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo™
Connect with CMOs and marketing leaders to get the latest insights on marketing technology, trends, innovation and more.
Frequently asked questions
Why have a digital marketing strategy.
Digital is no longer just a means of enhancing customer relationships; it’s a primary medium for building new connections with target audiences, whether that’s employees, business partners or social influencers. A digital marketing strategy enables brands to scale reach and engagement across websites, social media and digital advertising to target, acquire and retain customers.
What are digital marketing tactics?
Scaling the delivery of personalized content and experiences across touchpoints is one of marketing’s most important roles in driving effective digital experiences. It’s imperative to align personalization approaches to overall multichannel marketing objectives.
What is a digital marketing strategy framework?
There is no single digital marketing strategy framework, but key components of any digital marketing strategy include: a vision; a clearly scoped and defined set of responsibilities for the digital marketing team and leadership; a detailed roadmap that lays out near-term digital marketing program objectives; and an assessment of team skills, tools and processes needed to support digital marketing objectives.
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Exam Preparation Resources / Practice Exam Questions
Practical Exercises Introduction to Digital Marketing
Introduction to digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, paid search (ppc) with google ads, display and video advertising, email marketing, website optimization, analytics with google analytics, digital marketing strategy, practical exercises.
5 Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan [Free Templates]
Published: March 16, 2023
Free Marketing Plan Template
Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.
- Pre-Sectioned Template
- Completely Customizable
- Example Prompts
- Professionally Designed
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Do you take a good, hard look at your team's marketing strategy every year?
You should. Without an annual marketing plan, things can get messy — and it's nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you'll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you'll encounter over the course of a year if you don't have a plan.
To make your plan's creation easier, we've put together a list of what to include in your plan and a few different planning templates where you can easily fill in the blanks.
To start, let's dive into how to create a marketing plan and then take a look at what a high-level marketing plan has inside.
In this article, we're going to discuss:
- What a High-Level Marketing Plan Includes
How to Create a Marketing Plan
- Marketing Plan Templates You Can Use
- Simplified Marketing Plan Template
- Plus — Social Media Plan Templates
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Fill out this form to access a free marketing plan template.
Marketing plan outline.
Download This Marketing Plan Outline for Free
The below marketing plan outline will help you create an effective plan that easily generates buy-in from stakeholders and effectively guides your marketing efforts.
Marketing plans can get quite granular to reflect the industry you're in, whether you're selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), and how big your digital presence is. Nonetheless, here are the elements every effective marketing plan includes:
1. Business Summary
In a marketing plan, your business summary is exactly what it sounds like: a summary of the organization. It’s essential to include this information so that all stakeholders, including your direct reports, learn about your company in detail before delving into the more strategic components of your plan. Even if you’re presenting this plan to people who’ve been in the company for a while, it doesn’t hurt to get everyone on the same page.
Most business summaries include:
The company name
Where it's headquartered
Its mission statement
Our marketing plan outline also includes information on marketing leadership, which is especially helpful for companies with large marketing teams.
2. SWOT Analysis
Your marketing plan's business summary also includes a SWOT analysis , which stands for the business's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s essential to include this information so you can create targeted strategies that help you capitalize on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses.
However, be patient with your business' SWOT analysis; you'll write most of it as you conduct your market research and create your strategy. Feel free to come back to this section periodically, adjusting it as you discover more information about your own business and your competition.
3. Business Initiatives
The business initiatives element of a marketing plan helps you segment the various goals of your department. Be careful not to include big-picture company initiatives, which you'd normally find in a business plan. This section of your marketing plan should outline the projects that are specific to marketing. You'll also describe the goals of those projects and how those goals will be measured.
Every initiative should follow the SMART method for goal-making . They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
4. Customer Analysis
In this part of the marketing plan outline, you get plenty of space to share all the data you collected during your market research . If your company has already done a thorough market research study, this section of your marketing plan might be easier to put together. Either way, try to do your research before synthesizing it in a shareable document like this one.
Ultimately, this element of your marketing plan will help you describe the industry you're selling to and your buyer persona . A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal customer, focusing on traits like:
5. Competitor Analysis
Our marketing plan template includes space to list out the specific products you compete with, as well as other facets of the other company’s strategy, such as their blogging efforts or customer service reputation. Keep this part of your plan simple — your full competitive analysis should be done separately. Here are a few competitive analysis templates to get started.
6. Market Strategy
Your market strategy uses the information included in the above sections to describe how your company should approach the market. What will your business offer your buyer
personas that your competitors aren't already offering them?
As you fill out the section, use the insights from your SWOT analysis, your competitive analysis, and your market research to create targeted, effective descriptions that will help you secure buy-in for your later tactics and strategies. For instance, if you found that one of your competitors employs stronger social media marketing strategies , you might add “We’ll post 3 times per week on our social media profiles” under “Promotion.”
In our full-length marketing plan outline, the market strategy section contains the "seven Ps of marketing" (or the “ extended marketing mix ”):
(You'll learn more about these seven sub-components inside our free marketing plan template, which you can download below.)
Don't mistake the marketing budget element of your plan with your product's price or other company financials. Your budget describes how much money the business has allotted the marketing team to pursue the initiatives and goals outlined in the elements above.
Depending on how many individual expenses you have, you should consider itemizing this budget by what specifically you'll spend your budget on. Example marketing expenses include:
Outsourcing costs to a marketing agency and/or other providers
Events (those you'll host and/or attend)
Knowing the budget and doing analysis on the marketing channels you want to invest in, you should be able to come up with a plan for how much budget to invest in which tactics based on expected ROI. From there, you'll be able to come up with financial projections for the year. These won't be 100% accurate but can help with executive planning.
Remember: Your marketing plan only includes a summary of the costs. We recommend keeping a separate document or Excel sheet to help you calculate your budget much more effectively. Here’s a marketing budget template to get started .
8. Marketing Channels
Your marketing plan should also include a list of your marketing channels. While your company might promote the product itself using certain ad space, your marketing channels are where you'll publish the content that educates your buyers, generates leads, and spreads awareness of your brand.
If you publish (or intend to publish) on social media, this is the place to talk about it. Use the Marketing Channels section of your marketing plan to map out which social networks you want to launch a business page on, what you'll use this social network for, and how you'll measure your success on this network. Part of this section's purpose is to prove to your superiors, both inside and outside the marketing department, that these channels will serve to grow the business.
Businesses with extensive social media presences might even consider elaborating on their social strategy in a separate social media plan template.
9. Marketing Technology
Last, but certainly not least, your marketing plan should include an overview of the tools you’ll include in your marketing technology (MarTech) stack . These are the tools that will help you achieve the goals you outlined in the previous sections. Since all types of marketing software usually need a generous investment from your company’s leadership, it’s essential to connect them to a potential ROI for your business.
For each tool, describe what exactly you’ll use it for, and be sure that it’s a strategy that you’ve mentioned elsewhere. For instance, we wouldn't recommend listing an advertising management tool if you didn’t list “ PPC Advertising ” under “Marketing Channels.”
- Conduct a situation analysis.
- Define your target audience.
- Write SMART goals.
- Analyze your tactics.
- Set your budget.
1. Conduct a situation analysis.
Before you can get started with your marketing plan, you have to know your current situation.
What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Conducting a basic SWOT analysis is the first step to creating a marketing plan.
Additionally, you should also have an understanding of the current market. How do you compare to your competitors? Doing a competitor analysis should help you with this step.
Think about how other products are better than yours. Plus, consider the gaps in a competitor's approach. What are they missing? What can you offer that'll give you a competitive advantage? Think about what sets you apart.
Answering questions like this should help you figure out what your customer wants, which brings us to step number two.
2. Define your target audience.
Once you better understand the market and your company's situation, make sure you know who your target audience is.
If your company already has buyer personas , this step might just mean you have to refine your current personas.
If you don't have a buyer persona, you should create one. To do this, you might have to conduct market research.
Your buyer persona should include demographic information such as age, gender, and income. However, it will also include psychographic information such as pain points and goals. What drives your audience? What problems do they have that your product or service can fix?
Once you have this information written out, it'll help you define your goals, which brings us to step number three.
3. Write SMART goals.
My mother always used to tell me, "You can't go somewhere unless you have a road map." Now, for me, someone who's geographically challenged, that was literal advice.
However, it can also be applied metaphorically to marketing. You can't improve your ROI unless you know what your goals are.
After you've figured out your current situation and know your audience, you can begin to define your SMART goals .
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that all your goals should be specific and include a time frame for which you want to complete them.
For example, your goal could be to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months. Depending on your overall marketing goals, this should be relevant and attainable. Additionally, this goal is specific, measurable, and time-bound.
Before you start any tactic, you should write out your goals. Then, you can begin to analyze which tactics will help you achieve that goal. That brings us to step number four.
4. Analyze your tactics.
At this point, you've written down your goals based on your target audience and current situation.
Now, you have to figure out what tactics will help you achieve your goals. Plus, what are the right channels and action items to focus on?
For example, if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 15% in three months, your tactics might include hosting a giveaway, responding to every comment, and posting three times on Instagram per week.
Once you know your goals, brainstorming several tactics to achieve those goals should be easy.
However, while writing your tactics, you have to keep your budget in mind, which brings us to step number five.
5. Set your budget.
Before you can begin implementing any of the ideas that you've come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget.
For example, your tactics might include social media advertising. However, if you don't have the budget for that, then you might not be able to achieve your goals.
While you're writing out your tactics, be sure to note an estimated budget. You can include the time it'll take to complete each tactic in addition to the assets you might need to purchase, such as ad space.
Now that you know how to create your marketing plan, let's dive into creating a marketing campaign outline that will help you reach the goals outlined plan.
Marketing Plan Timeline
Rolling out a new marketing plan is a big lift. To make sure things are running smoothly with all of your projects, you’ll want to create a timeline that maps out when each project is happening.
A marketing plan timeline allows your team to view all projects, campaigns, events, and other related tasks in one place — along with their deadlines. This ensures everyone on your team knows what’s due, when it’s due, and what’s up next in the pipeline. Typically these plans cover marketing efforts for the entire year, but some companies may operate on a bi-annual or quarterly basis.
Once you’ve completed your analysis, research, and set goals, it’s time to set deadlines for your assignments. From new blog posts and content initiatives to product launches, everything will need a deadline. Take into account any holidays or events taking place over the course of the year.
While setting deadlines for the entire year may seem daunting, start by estimating how long you think each task will take and set a deadline accordingly. Track the time it actually takes for you to complete similar types of projects. Once you’ve completed a few of them, you’ll have a better idea of how long each takes and will be able to set more accurate deadlines.
For each project, you’ll want to build in time for:
- Brainstorming : This is the first phase where your idea comes to life in a project outline. Decide what you want to achieve and which stakeholders need to be involved to meet your goal. Set a due date and set up any necessary meetings.
- Planning : This can include determining the project’s scope, figuring out how much budget will be allocated for it, finalizing deadlines and who is working on each task. Map out any campaigns needed for each project (social media, PR, sales promotions, landing pages, events, etc.).
- Execution : This third phase is all about your project launch. Decide on a date to launch and monitor the progress of the project. Set up a system for tracking metrics and KPIs.
- Analysis : In this final phase you will analyze all of your performance data to see whether or not your marketing efforts paid off. Did you meet your goals? Did you complete your projects on time and within budget?
All projects and their deadlines should be in a central location where your team can access them whether that’s a calendar like HubSpot's tool , shared document, or project management tool.
One-Page Marketing Plan Template
As demonstrated above, a marketing plan can be a long document. When you want to share information with stakeholders or simply want an overview of your plan for quick reference, having a shorter version on hand can be helpful. A one-page marketing plan can be the solution, and we’ll discuss its elements below.
Include your company name, list the names of individuals responsible for enacting the different stages of your plan, and a brief mission statement.
2. Business Initiatives
3. Target Market
Outline your target audience(s) that your efforts will reach. You can include a brief overview of your industry and buyer personas.
This is an overview of the money you’ll spend to help you meet your marketing goals. Create a good estimate of how much you'll spend on each facet of your marketing program.
5. Marketing Channels
List the channels you’ll use to achieve your marketing goals. Describe why you're using each channel and what you want to accomplish so everyone is on the same page.
Free Marketing Plan Template [Word]
Now that you know what to include in your marketing plan, it's time to grab your marketing plan template and see how best to organize the six elements explained above. The following marketing plan template opens directly in Microsoft Word, so you can edit each section as you see fit:
Download your marketing plan template here .
Marketing campaign template.
Your marketing plan is a high-level view of the different marketing strategies you’ll use to meet your business objectives. A marketing campaign template is a focused plan that will help achieve those marketing goals.
A marketing campaign template should include the following key components:
- Goals and KPIs: Identify the end goal for each of the individual campaigns you’ll run and the metrics you will use to measure the results of your campaign when it ends. For example, conversion rates, sales, sign-ups, etc.
- Channels: Identify the different channels you’ll use to enact your marketing campaign to reach your audience. Maybe you run a social media campaign on Twitter to raise brand awareness or a direct mail campaign to notify your audience of upcoming sales.
- Budget : Identify the budget you’ll need to run your campaign and how it will be distributed, like the amount you’ll spend on creating content or ad placements in different areas. Having these numbers also helps you later on when you quantify the success of your campaign, like ROI.
- Content: Identify the type of content you’ll create and distribute during your campaigns—for example, blog posts, video ads, email newsletters, etc.
- Teams and DRIs: Identify the teams and people that will be part of enacting your marketing plan from start to finish, like those responsible for creating your marketing assets, budgets, or analyzing metrics once campaigns are complete.
- Design: Identify what your marketing campaigns will look like and how you’ll use design elements to attract your audience. It’s important to note that your design should directly relate to the purpose of your campaign.
Digital Marketing Plan Template
A digital marketing plan is similar to a marketing campaign plan, but, as the name suggests, it’s tailored to the campaigns that you run online. Let’s go over the key components of a digital marketing plan template to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
- Objectives: The goals for your digital marketing and what you’re hoping to accomplish, like driving more traffic to your website. Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website, or
- Budget : Identify how much it will cost to run your digital marketing campaign and how the money will be distributed. For example, ad placement on different social media sites costs money, and so does creating your assets.
- Target audience: Which segments of your audience are you hoping to reach with this campaign? It’s essential to identify the audiences you want to reach with your digital marketing, as different channels house different audience segments.
- Channels: Identifies the channels that are central to your digital marketing campaign.
- Timeline: Explains the length of time your digital campaigns will run, from how long it should take to create your assets to the final day of the campaign.
Many people use social media in their digital campaigns, and below we’ll discuss some ideas you can use for inspiration.
Social Media Marketing Plan Templates
As marketing departments grow, so will their presence on social media. And as their social media presence grows, so will their need to measure, plan, and re-plan what types of content they want to publish across each network.
If you're looking for a way to deepen your social media marketing strategy — even further than the marketing plan template above — the following collection of social media marketing plan templates is perfect for you:
Download 10 social media reporting templates here .
In the above collection of marketing plan templates, you'll get to fill in the following contents (and more) to suit your company:
- Annual social media budget tracking
- Weekly social media themes
- Required social media image dimension key
- Pie chart on social media traffic sorted by platform
- Social media post calendar and publish time
Below, let's review the social media reporting templates, and what you'll find in each one.
1. Social Media Questions
This template lists out questions to help you decide which social media management platform you should use.
Once you know what social media tactics you're going to implement in your marketing plan, it's time to figure out what channels are right for you. This template will help you do that.
2. Facebook Live Schedule
If Facebook Live is one of the marketing tactics in your plan, this template will help you design an editorial calendar. With this template, you can organize what Facebook live's you want to do and when.
Once you've decided on dates, you can color code your FB calendar and coordinate with your editorial calendar so everyone can see what lives are running in relation to other campaigns.
3. Instagram Post Log
Are you going to begin using Instagram regularly? Do you want to increase your following? With this template, you can organize your Instagram posts, so everyone on your team knows what posts are going live and when.
Additionally, you can organize your assets and campaigns on this doc. Use this doc to collaborate with your team on messaging, landing pages linked in your bio, and campaign rollout.
4. Paid Social Media Template
With this template, you can organize your annual and monthly budget for your paid social media calendar.
You'll want to use this in conjunction with your marketing plan budget to make sure you are not overspending and funds are allocated appropriately.
5. Social Media Audit
Conducting a social media audit? You can use this template to help you gather the right analytics. Tracking the results of your marketing efforts is key to determining ROI.
Use this template to track each of your campaigns to determine what worked and what didn't. From there, you can allocate funds for the strategies that deliver the results you want.
6. Social Media Editorial Calendar
With this template, you can organize your social media editorial calendar. For example, you can include social media posts for each platform, so your team knows what's going live on any given day.
7. Social Media Image Sizes
With this template, your team can have the latest social media image sizes handy. This template includes image sizes for all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Having a resource like this readily available for your team ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding image sizes and prevents delays.
8. Social Media Marketing Proposal
With this template, you can create an entire social media marketing proposal. This will outline the social media goals, the scope of the work, and the tactics that you plan to implement.
Think of this proposal as more of a deep dive into the marketing channel section of your marketing plan.
9. Social Media Reporting Template
With this template, you'll gain access to a slide deck that includes templates for social media reporting. If you plan to implement social media in your marketing plan, these reporting templates can help you track your progress.
If using the social media audit above, you can add all of your data here once it's been collected.
10. Hashtag Holidays
If you're going to lean into social media in your marketing plan, you can use hashtag holidays to generate ideas.
These holidays are a great way to fill out your social media publishing schedule. With this template, you'll get a list of all the hashtag holidays for the year.
Once you've come up with content ideas, you can add them to your social media calendar.
Simple Marketing Plan Template
Of course, this type of planning takes a lot of time and effort. So if you're strapped for time before the holidays, give our new Marketing Plan Generator a try.
This tool simplifies yearly planning by asking prompted questions to help guide your process. You’ll be asked to input information about:
Try our free Marketing Plan Generator here .
- Your annual marketing mission statement, which is what your marketing is focused on for the year.
- The strategy that you’ll take with your marketing throughout the year to accomplish your marketing goals.
- Three main marketing initiatives that you’ll focus on during the year (i.e., brand awareness or building a high-quality pipeline) metrics you’ll use to measure your success.
- Your target goals for those marketing initiatives like generating 100 leads per week.
- Marketing initiatives that are not aligned with your current strategy to stay focused on your goals and activities that will help you be successful.
Once you input all information, the tool will spit out a table (as shown in the image below) that you can use to guide your processes.
Pro Tip: If the tool doesn't work, clear your browser's cache or access it in incognito mode.
Start the Marketing Planning Process Today
The best way to set up your marketing plan for the year is to start with quick wins first, that way you can ramp up fast and set yourself (and your team) up to hit more challenging goals and take on more sophisticated projects by Q4. So, what do you say? Are you ready to give it a spin?
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Digital marketing now dominates the marketing landscape with a predicted spend of nearly $680 billion US dollars in 2023 1 . As a result, ‘ digital marketing strategy ’ has become a well-used phrase in the business arena. But what exactly does it mean, why is it important, and how do you make a start on a digital marketing strategy for your business?
What is a digital marketing strategy ?
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that directs various types of digital marketing in any digital media, including websites, social media, email and search engines. It includes objectives, approaches, goals and metrics, and uses these to decide which digital channels to use, how much to spend in each, and what results to expect for your investment.
So a digital marketing strategy is neither a digital marketing campaign nor digital marketing tactics, which are both ways of implementing the strategy. And at the other end of the scale, it isn’t an overall marketing strategy – as this would be at a higher level and also include offline media.
Why is a digital marketing strategy important?
While you may already be doing some digital marketing activity, such as digital advertising or social media posts, without a digital marketing strategy you’re not making the most of your investment.
A digital marketing strategy gives your activity a clear direction by having strategic goals for success and a way of measuring them. For example, is your digital marketing activity aimed at gaining new customers or do you want to deepen relationships with existing ones? Are you trying to understand your customers better, in order to target more compelling messages? Or do you need to discover the best way to reach new prospects with a distinctive and compelling proposition?
Once you’ve defined your goals, you can choose the right channels and decide how to measure success.
Of course, the endgame will always be to sell more of your products. So it’s important to have reliable logistics to back up your marketing activity. There’s nothing worse than running successful digital marketing campaigns to deliver your strategy and then letting down customers with poor fulfilment. Plus, it can severely damage your online reputation.
Getting started on your digital marketing strategy
Here are some of the first things to consider when you’re formulating a digital marketing strategy.
Set SMART goals – for your business and your strategy
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. In fact, your first consideration is the ‘relevant’ part. You need to align your digital marketing goals with your business goals – because if your marketing goals don’t help you achieve your business goals, then they’re largely irrelevant.
So what are your business goals? You need a mix of short-term goals and longer-term goals. To increase sales by x% over x months, might be a short-term goal. Or to successfully launch x new products in the next x years might be a longer-term one.
Your business goals depend on what’s happening in your industry, your particular brand situation and the overall economic climate. And they may change as these other factors change too. But you need to set business goals with specific data points and deadlines, before you set your digital marketing goals.
Once you’ve set your business goals, then you can set your digital marketing goals. So, for example, if your business goal is to increase revenue, then two digital marketing goals that support this would be to drive more traffic to your website and to increase conversions from your product selling pages. Make sure your digital marketing goals are SMART too. Once you’ve decided upon them, you can allocate your marketing budget and staffing accordingly.
As you implement your digital marketing strategy, you need to track your progress. To do this, you should establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), so you can identify what is working and what isn’t.
Eight examples of general digital marketing goals
These are examples of general marketing goals. But remember, you need to make a goal SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – before including it in your digital marketing strategy.
- Increase website traffic
- Improve conversion rates
- Grow your email list
- Boost lead generation
- Improve brand awareness
- Improve customer loyalty
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Increase social media presence
Understand your target audience
An important aspect of a successful digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive understanding of your target audience. Only then can you make informed decisions about the types of digital marketing you employ, the media you use, and the messaging and timing of your communications.
Your target audience depends on your product. Some products have very broad target audiences, others are much more niche. You can define your target audience using factors including age, gender, interests, location, income, education level, profession, and marital status.
You should also look into who is currently buying your products. You can do this by engaging with them on social media, especially through surveys, and by using Google Analytics to get data on who visits your website.
At the same time, take a look at trends for similar products and investigate who your competitors are targeting. The more you find out about your target audience, the more closely you’ll be able to define them, until you can define your ideal buyer or buyers. Then you can create a persona – or several – to have in mind, when you are marketing.
Optimize your online presence
According to a Salesforce survey, 85% of consumers conduct research before they make a purchase online, and among the most used channels for research are websites (74%) and social media (38%) 2 .
These statistics alone show why you need a strong online presence. Your brand needs to be sufficiently visible online to be seen by your target audience. That visibility builds brand recognition and awareness. This leads to increased trust which, in turn, helps drive sales and gain new customers. Conversely, a lack of online visibility can lead to potential customers questioning whether your business is even legitimate!
A strong online presence also gives you a good platform from which to engage with your customers. For example, on social media channels you can quickly respond to inquiries and, on the other hand, ask for feedback which you can use to improve your service. This will help increase trust even further.
4 Tips on how to optimize your online presence
Some explanation on Tip 4. ‘Paid media’ covers communications you pay for – so, for example, paid search ads, paid ads on social platforms, and display advertising on relevant sites. But make sure it’s all trackable, so you can assess what is performing or not. ‘Owned media’ includes assets under your control, such as your website, your mobile apps, and your email database, and any communications to your customers via these assets. While ‘earned media’ is actions you take (that you haven’t paid for) that result in your business being promoted on other websites – for example, press releases that get picked up by other publishers or content on your blog that is sufficiently engaging to get shared virally on social networks.
Select a reliable logistics partner
Increasingly, delivery is being included in digital marketing strategy as a key part of a positive customer experience. And e-commerce customers are valuing reliable, efficient delivery more than ever before.
For example, 91% of consumers look for a webstore’s delivery options before reaching checkout. And 63% of basket abandonment is caused by limited shipping options.
So clearly, meeting customers’ delivery needs is important. On the other hand, if you don’t meet their needs, you not only risk losing the trust of customers you’ve worked so hard to build up, but the growing power of reviews and social media means you could also damage your online reputation.
Apart from affecting customer satisfaction and your online reputation, reliable logistics is vital for any successful business, ensuring the efficient and cost-effective flow of goods through the supply chain 4 . Logistics also allows for greater flexibility in the supply chain, enabling your business to quickly and easily adjust to changes in customer demand or market conditions. In addition, you can track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, ensuring they arrive at the right time and place.
However, if you’re trying to grow your business, logistics can take up a disproportionate amount of your time and attention. That’s why it’s a good idea to enlist a third-party logistics provider. While this is true for small to medium sized businesses, it’s also true for larger ones. In fact, according to Armstrong and Associates, 90% of the Fortune 500 rely on a third-party logistics provider 5 !
Manage your inventory to support your digital marketing strategy
Inventory management, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, involves ordering, stocking and effectively utilizing a business’s materials or products. It can include your sales forecasting, product ordering, supply chain management, warehouse management, and customer fulfilment solutions.
Good inventory management involves a tricky balance that many businesses struggle to achieve. If you stock too little inventory, you run the risk of disappointing customers and driving them away. If you overstock, it can cause you cashflow issues. In either case, poor inventory management can severely compromise the positive effects of your digital marketing campaigns – so it’s important to do everything you can to get the balance right.
Top 10 tips for better inventory management
1. categorize your inventory into priority groups.
This can help you understand your ideal ordering quantities and frequencies. Group A can be higher-price items you need fewer of. Group B are moderately priced items that move faster than Group A. While Group C are lower-cost, fast turnover items you need plenty of.
2. Track all product information
Keep product information for all items in your inventory, including: SKUs, barcode data, suppliers, countries of origin, lot numbers. You could also track each item’s cost over time, so you’re aware of factors that affect pricing, such as scarcity and seasonality.
3. Audit your inventory
This involves counting your inventory regularly, to ensure it matches what you think you have. You could do this annually, monthly, weekly, and even do daily checks of the most popular items.
4. Analyze supplier performance
An unreliable supplier can cause inventory problems and disappointment for your customers. If a supplier often delivers late, shorts orders, or causes supply chain delays, be prepared to switch. It’s a good idea to diversify your suppliers anyway, adding some in different locations to give you options when needed.
5. Practice the 80/20 inventory rule
Generally, 80 percent of a business’s profits come from 20 percent of its stock. Prioritize managing this 20 percent of your inventory, understanding how many of these popular products you sell per week or per month and monitor them closely.
6. Use a consistent process when receiving stock
If team members processing incoming stock all use slightly different methods, you can end up with discrepancies between your stock numbers and your purchase orders. Train your employees so they all receive stock in exactly the same way.
7. Track sales
Understand, on a daily basis, what items you’ve sold, and how many, and update your inventory totals. You can analyze this data and discover, for example, if there is a particular day of the week or a season when certain items sell well, or when sales of certain items drop, or which items sell best together. This will also help you with your inventory.
8. Order restocks yourself
Some vendors offer to reorder inventory for you. However, they will have different priorities, wanting to move their items, whereas you want to stock the most profitable items for your business. Time spent checking inventory and restocking it yourself is time well spent.
9. Invest in inventory management technology
Good inventory management software makes inventory tasks easier and gives you more time to spend running your business. Before choosing a solution, ensure you understand your needs and that the product is easy to use with essential analytics features.
10. Integrate your inventory management tools
Choose systems that work together, such as mobile scanners and POS systems that communicate with your inventory management software. Then you won’t have to transfer data from one system to another and risk inaccurate inventory counts.
Benefits of a well-executed digital marketing strategy
There are many benefits to a well-executed digital marketing strategy, which vary depending on what that strategy sets out to achieve. Among them are improved brand awareness, increased customer engagement, a higher level of customer trust and satisfaction and, of course, growth in sales.
But crucially, don’t forget that your strategy needs to be supported by logistics that makes good on the promises of your digital marketing campaigns. If your logistics partner delivers, then so can you – and your customers will have a seamless, positive experience, will leave good online reviews and, most importantly of all, come back for more.
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