How to Structure an Online Marketing Plan

Building an Online Marketing Plan

Whether you are starting an online business or an offline business, you must create a business plan. We have compiled these articles for that reason.

[1]How can you successfully create a digital marketing plan for your firm? Your digital marketing plan considers SEO, analytics, web positioning, strategies, social media, goals, and metrics.

Putting digital marketing actions into motion without a previously devised plan or strategy could lead to failure to consider all the aspects that could impact their development. Therefore, when developing a digital marketing plan, you must include components such as determining your target audience (buyer persona), business objectives, and a good value proposition.

What is a digital marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a document sharing all the planning for your digital marketing campaigns or actions. For example, it details the channels you will use, the development, investment, times, etc.

According to Philip Kotler, considered one of the fathers of modern marketing, a marketing plan serves: “to document how the organization’s strategic objectives will be achieved through specific marketing strategies and tactics, with the customer as the starting point. It is also linked to the plans of other departments within the organization.”

With this in mind, does your company need a digital marketing plan? According to Puromarketing and in our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes: 100% yes. It would be best if you had it too:

  • Attract, convince, convert, and make your customers fall in love with your product or service.
  • Plan all the strategies and actions to reach your target customer.
  • Segment your marketing campaigns to provide value in every stage.

Before developing the steps that define a digital marketing plan’s structure, you need to feel comfortable in your corporation’s online domain, your target, the channels you should be present, and who your competition is and what they do.

Next, we’ll give you a break-down of the step-by-step structure for your digital marketing plan:

Structure a digital marketing plan step-by-step

Step 1: Situational Analysis

The first thing you need to do when developing your digital marketing plan is to carry out an internal and external analysis (SWOT analysis). A valuable framework for this is the SWOT analysis that allows you to look at your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and weaknesses and the market at large.

We need to be familiar with the ecosystem we operate in, our customers’ needs, and where they get addressed. This analysis is equally qualitative as it is quantitative by looking at digital habits, intermediaries, influencers, and more.

Implementing benchmarking techniques to identify the best digital practices and success stories and apply them to the business is an increasingly prominent part of the overall corporate strategy.

We also need to conduct an internal study to know our company’s situation in the digital age: is our website customer-oriented? How is the usability and browsing experience? Do we update our blog periodically? What is our website’s current positioning? And what is our social media presence?

Step 2: Establish Digital Marketing Goals

Once you have your place in the market and your strong points in mind, work on establishing some goals to have a clear idea of where your actions should take you. Everything you plan has to work towards meeting those goals.

You can develop this part of your digital marketing plan with the SMART goals framework in mind: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.

Source: HubSpot

Here’s an example:

  • Not a SMART objective: “I want to increase the number of visits to my website.”
  • SMART goal: “I want to reach 20,000 visits a month on my website every month within three months. To do so, I’m going to do X, Y, and Z.”

Step 3: Define the marketing strategy.

Once you’ve defined your business objectives, what are you going to do to achieve them? Personalization is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. Therefore, when it comes to defining your strategy for carrying out your plan, keep these factors in mind:

Once you’ve defined your business objectives, what are you going to do to achieve them? Personalization is becoming increasingly important in digital marketing. Therefore, when it comes to defining your strategy for carrying out your plan, keep these factors in mind:

– Segmenting your target audience: Know who you want to address, what their tastes, needs, or preferences are, where you are looking to meet their expectations, etc. This is the time to create your buyer persona.

To achieve proper positioning, you must be very clear (and reach your audience in the same way) about what your value proposition is and what it entails. In short, it’s why the consumer should choose you and not the competition. You need to know how you’re going to communicate your unique value proposition and how to do so appropriately in the channels where your audience is present (social media, blogs, email marketing, and more).

– Content strategy: This is important for creating, distributing, and managing original content that attracts users and positions the brand as referential in users’ top of mind. Besides, you also have to map out a specific communications plan (content marketing) for every channel. Some of the tools we use to execute this strategy are:

1. Keyword research: This involves identifying appropriate keywords to use correctly in our content to improve our SEO positioning organically. This is imperative for every content strategy if you want users to find you on search engines.

2. Content calendar: A content calendar is critical for ensuring your strategy makes sense. It provides value; it lets you think long-term and optimize your resources, help create ideas, and more. In a content calendar, you should include the date of publication, author, post topic, keyword, the tags to use/take into consideration, and so on.

3. Social posting: Writing an article and not promoting it on social media is a mistake. It’s not spamming but instead planning out what you will publish and when on every social media platform with the copies best suited for each one, all while having the ideal number of characters, links, hashtags, and more.

  • You should also consider:
  • What your audience is like.
  • What topics you’re going to talk about.
  • What tone you’re going to use.
  • How frequently you’re going to publish.

Step 4: Digital Strategies and Tactics

Based on our objectives (attraction, conversion, and loyalty), we’ll start to carry out different strategies: email marketing campaigns, social media, CRM, web optimization, SEO strategies, Paid Media advertising, etc.

Today, considering that the number of channels to manage is multiplying and the amount of information we get about our customers is increasing, we must use Marketing Automation tools that let you automate your marketing campaigns.

Thanks to these tactics, you’ll be able to create workflows that will allow you to create hundreds of campaigns with mere clicks. In addition, you’ll be able to personalize messages based on your buyer persona, increasing your chances for success; not only that, you’ll be able to take them, depending on their interactions with the brand, towards the moment of purchase.

Technology has turned into a fundamental tool for implementing digital strategies, making it critical for you to learn to get the most out of it.

[2]Why You Need a Marketing Plan

For today’s marketers, creating an integrated marketing plan that includes social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing and SEO — all tenets of a robust inbound marketing strategy — is necessary to attract and convert buyers in a digital age.

Maybe you work for a large corporation and have been tasked with developing next year’s marketing plan, or perhaps you are launching a new start-up and need to craft a program from scratch. Maybe it’s been 20 years since you graduated from business school or wrote your last marketing plan, and you realize that times have changed a bit.

Whatever the case, the steps you take today to create a functional and straightforward marketing plan will lay the foundation for your year ahead, helping you get measurable and quantifiable results.

But before we dive in, make sure to download our Marketing Plan Templates so that you can follow along with your document.

Before You Plan: 5 Research Steps

A common mistake that many people make is starting on the tactical plan before ironing out the strategic plan. But to formulate a strategic plan, you need to do your research.

If you don’t know who you are, what you’re selling or who you’re selling to, you’re going to have a hard time convincing people to buy your product or service, never mind figuring out what tactical initiatives you should be working on.

So, if you haven’t already, do your homework. Start with researching your competitors and audience; examine your customers’ buying habits; and perform a SWOT analysis.

Below are steps that will help you lay a sturdy foundation for your tactical plans and allow you to develop reasonable expectations and goals.

Check Out the Competition

To determine the likelihood of success and define your marketing strategy, you need to understand the competition. Researching your competition first will also help you through the next step of performing a SWOT analysis.

In the world of inbound marketing, a handful of strategies can be helpful when researching competitors. Using email and social media while surveying the content landscape will give you an immense amount of knowledge about your industry.

Here are some quick tips to help you understand who you’re up against:

  • Subscribe to receive your competitors’ (or those you perceive to be your competitors) emails.
  • Follow your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, and any other social media site where you can find them.
  • Examine what content your competitors are creating — who it is aimed at, how often it is produced, who is writing it, what the content topics are, etc. MOZ recommends using EdWordle to get a pulse on the competition and keep your data organized.

Execute a SWOT Analysis

The Standard to any business or marketing plan is the SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis should help you clearly define your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so that you can develop goals and objectives that are on point and tied to your overall mission.

The SWOT analysis will help you understand what differentiates you from your competition and how you should position yourself in the market. It will also help you develop your messaging and your unique selling proposition. Brutal honesty is imperative for a truly insightful SWOT. Use bullets and aim for 4–5 in each section. Limiting your lists will help you to focus on the most critical points and help retain focus.

In addition to completing a SWOT for your overall marketing plan, it’s helpful to do a SWOT analysis for the different segments within your marketing plan.

For example, as we will discuss further down in this piece, content marketing, social media, and SEO will all be essential parts of your overall inbound marketing plan and would benefit from SWOTs of their own.

Create Your Buyer Personas

The days of outbound marketing have come and gone. No longer are we looking at audiences en masse. Instead, inbound marketers are honing in on the segments of those audiences that they want to target. This is a crucial step in developing an inbound marketing plan.

Creating buyer personas will help you understand:

  • Who you are marketing to
  • What their pain points are
  • Where they spend time online
  • And several other demographic traits

This information will help you personalize your marketing materials to be targeted and highly relevant to your audience segments.

Remember: You aren’t trying to catch every fish in the sea. You’re only trying to catch the ones you want, the ones you are targeting because they have the most substantial potential to turn into leads. So your net doesn’t need to be comprehensive — it needs to be precise.

For more information about buyer personas, read How to Avoid 4 Buyer Persona Mistakes for advice and a free template on developing your personas. You may need to research to build your personas ultimately, but before you dive into that endeavour, check out 9 Questions You Need to Ask When Developing Buyer Personas. You may find you already have all the data you need!

Learn Your Buyers’ Buying Cycle

After you have identified your buyer personas, the next step is figuring out how these personas think and ultimately make the decision to buy.

According to HubSpot and adopted by all those who believe in the inbound marketing methodology, there are three steps in the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision

Each of these stages is a significant opportunity for you as a marketer to nurture your potential customer by providing valuable content about the product and or problem they are trying to solve.

Here are three stats from Forbes that prove just how important content is in nurturing a prospect throughout the buyer’s journey:

  • 70-90% of the buyer’s journey is complete before engaging a vendor (Forrester)
  • A consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase (Forrester)
  • Consumers are 5x more dependent on content than they were five years ago (Nielsen)

To learn more about the buyer’s journey and how you can align your marketing plan with your customers buying habits, check out Pardot’s Understanding the Buyer’s Journey. And if you are a B2B company, read our article B2B Lead Generation Starts with Mapping the Buyers journey.

Nail Down Your Budget

Of course, executing all of your marketing hopes and dreams isn’t feasible if you don’t know how much money your company can invest. Identifying your budget will dictate which goals you can tackle first, the workforce you can recruit to help, and the extent to which your marketing plan can go for the month, quarter, or year.

Check out our marketing budget post for more information about planning your budget, and make sure to download our free marketing budget template while you’re there.


Should you need any assistance in creating a business plan for your online business, call RapidPage today.

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