15 Principles of an Effective Digital Marketing Plan

Want to improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing plan? It’s time to go back to the drawing board. Here are 15 principles of a strong campaign.

If your company isn’t in the digital age, then you’re missing out on prime business opportunities: with 1.94 billion monthly active users just on Facebook, digital media’s potential for marketing your business is nothing to laugh about.

And even if you do have a digital presence, it can always use an upgrade. If your likes have plateaued in the past year, then you may want to take some time to revisit your digital marketing plan.

But how do you get started? Your company’s marketing effort is a big one, with lots of moving parts and difficult questions to answer.

Luckily, there are steps that you can follow to give your plan an upgrade. Read on for 15 principles that will help you take your digital marketing plan to the next level.

1. Decide Your Mission

First, you need to talk about your company’s overall mission and how your digital marketing plan should fit into that mission. How will your digital marketing plan help your company meet its goals for the year?

Sit down with your company’s leadership first to talk about the direction that your marketing effort should take. If the company’s focus for the year will be to expand clientele, then you may want to make increasing your social media following a priority for the year.

If the company wants to focus on retaining clients and increasing customer loyalty, then building relationships online might be a different focus. Before moving on to hard numbers that indicate success, decide what the soft goals for your marketing effort should be.

2. KPIs are King

Next, you need to set hard and fast goals.

Make sure these goals follow SMART guidelines: they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Be sure to focus on KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators–analytics are the best means of tracking progress since they are measurable, specific, and time-bound.

Next, you need to decide what your KPIs will be. How will you track your progress? Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and other programs that track digital presence can be helpful.

Based on the platforms you will decide to use, your KPIs could be page visits, page likes, clicks, followers, or something else entirely. Use a combination of metrics to see what works and what doesn’t in your digital marketing plan.

If you’re struggling to set up SMART goals, look at your analytics from last year. A good way to set up good, smart goals is to look at previous efforts and go from there. 

3. Look at What Works for You

While you’re looking at your metrics from last year, it’s a good time to ask the question: What digital marketing strategies have worked for you in the past?

You want to be creative and think outside the box this year, but you also should look at what your target customers have responded to to make informed decisions about your digital marketing plan.

You may find that your posts where you used first person or included a call-to-action got the most traction, or it may be the ones where you wished your clients a Happy New Year. You have this information; use it.

4. Look at What Works for Them

Also, look at what works for your competitors. They do similar business and have similar clients, so any information you can gather from them will be helpful.

Analyzing their current digital marketing plan by looking at their website and social media accounts can give you an idea of what your target audience is looking for and what current digital trends are.

You can even look at your competitors’ analytics. Do they have Facebook likes or more Twitter followers than you? What do they do differently?

5. Do Your Research

Now it’s time to look outside of your business comfort zone: What are the trends in overall digital media strategies, SEO, and advertising?

If you’re not up-to-date on the latest social media platforms and you don’t know what SEO stands for, then you’re missing out on key ways to optimize your digital footprint.

Read up on what you don’t know. If your company doesn’t have an Instagram, do you need it? Look at different social technologies and decide if you have the means and the necessity to use them.

Optimizing your SEO strategy also takes some work and some knowledge. Your website is the primary resource for marketing your product and for new clients to find you, so you should make sure this is optimized for Google to rank it at the top of searches.

Also, since marketing is a constantly evolving field, you should know about the latest trends and decide what should be incorporated into your digital marketing plan.

6. Know Your Audience

Of course, you should only use digital marketing strategies that will appeal to your target client.

Making an informed digital marketing plan involves knowing your audience inside and out. What’s the age, gender, and economic status of your average client? Where do they live?

Do customers in those demographics use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or none of the above? 

You should have a good idea already of what your audience looks like, but if you’re interested in seeing who looks at your website and who reads your social media posts, you should look at analytics programs.

Create a persona based on your target customer and decide how best to tweak your digital marketing plan to appeal to them.

Also, think about whether your digital marketing plan should include language that appeals to older or younger audiences. If you know more about your audience, you’ll be able to personalize your marketing to them.

7. Look at Your Resources

Once you know your audience, you need to take stock of what resources you have to effectively market to them. What is your digital marketing budget, and who is on your digital marketing team?

Look at how much you have to spend and allocate amounts to different areas of your digital marketing plan. For example, you may want to allocate a large amount on Facebook if that is where most of your clients go online.

Also, think about how many people you have at work. Is your digital marketing plan too ambitious for the number of people on your team? Can you afford to hire another employee?

Purchasing stock images or editing your own photos, including a blog on your website, and a campaign management system that will send emails to thousands of followers should also be considered when making your budget.

Your budget should keep these resources in mind, as well as whether paid ads, an external marketing agency or new campaign programs will come into play in your digital marketing plan.

Again, the best way to do this would be to look at what you’ve done and go from there. Look at cost per clicks, how much you’ve spent on campaign programs, and whether paid ads have worked in the past.

8. Divide and Conquer

Who on your team will be responsible for executing each part of your digital marketing plan? This information will be helpful for deciding if hiring a new employee is necessary for your budget.

Social media, blog writing, image creation, web design, web updates, and project management all need to be delegated to different team members.

Each team member should have metrics to meet built into their goals. KPIs for the team can be split up for each team member.

If you decide that one team member has too much or too little on their plate, then this can be redelegated in the future.

9. Choose Your Platforms

Once you know your audience and have an idea of what your budget and resources will allow, you can decide whether to expand or contract the number of social media platforms your company uses. 

Look at the persona that you’ve created for your ideal customer, and match that up with the platforms that are common online. However, if you’re trying to attract a new type of customer, note that you may want to branch out.

For example, Instagram is mostly used by young people, so if your company appeals to an older demographic, you can either avoid using Instagram or start using it to expand your client base.

10. Create a Content Strategy

Next, it’s time to think about what your posts will look like. How is your writing different depending on the platform you’re using? How does your content differ depending on whether it’s in a blog post, on your website, on Facebook, or on Twitter?

If it isn’t different, then it should be. Web users should be getting different content depending on the social media platform; otherwise, why should they follow both? 

Make sure you have a simple, and bold digital media approach that is skim-proof. Remember, web users tend to skim through information, so you want to make your content catchy.

And don’t forget the power of images. Images are most effective in drawing in users than text, and they should be used to complement your content.

11. Have a Holistic Approach Across Channels

While each platform should have different content, you should make sure your content strategy consistently sticks to your mission and language that reflects your company. Your overall content should be a holistic reflection of your business and your company’s voice.

This also extends to branding. Your logo, mission, company name, and contact information should appear and be consistent and clear across all your digital media channels.

You can also use one channel to affect another. Emails should include your social media links, and your website should as well. Facebook posts can encourage users to follow other channels, and emails can confirm when a user has become a client on the website.

12. Stay Trendy

Now that you’ve done your research, know what works for your competitors, and know what the trends are in digital marketing. It’s time to set your own trends.

Taking calculated risks and trying new, unique digital marketing campaigns should be incorporated into your plan. Try expanding video content like webinars, or a new social media platform. Interactive content like quizzes can keep clients interested on social media.

This means that you need to stay on top of the game. Engage with your customers consistently to see what’s working and what isn’t. Respond to comments, follow influencers, and repost items that will interest your clients. 

You should also be aware of the news items that affect your business and your clients and respond accordingly. Knowing your clients will also mean knowing what their priorities are and what they’re reading now.

And when you engage with them and you know what they care about, you’ll find that the digital marketing can happen by itself when your posts are shared.

13. Plan for the Long Term

Look at the goals that you set in the beginning and make a calendar showing how you will meet those goals in the long term.

Editorial calendars can help you plan and execute campaigns, and they can help you manage them in the short term. You can also use programs that help you plan automated social media posts like Hootsuite

Plan for big events and seasons in your business. Are there slow periods? Are there times when your business will be thriving and your social media presence is sure to grow? Are you releasing a report that is going to gain traction?

When you look at what worked for you and your competitors last year, times of year should be taken into account.

These, along with large campaigns that will take their own set of planning, should all be built into your long-term digital marketing plan. 

14. Check In and Reassess

Of course, no amount of planning can prepare you for minor setbacks and unpredictable events. That’s where regular meetings come in.

Your team should meet regularly to talk about whether your goals have been met. In addition, your metrics should be split so that they aren’t only for the year. Have goals for the quarter, the month, even the week, and make sure you’ve met those benchmarks.

If you find that your goals were not achievable, or that the atmosphere has changed and they are no longer reasonable, you will be able to tweak them when you check in periodically. 

15. Re-Write Your Digital Marketing Plan

You’ve set long-term goals, but what if you don’t meet them? Or what if you hit the ball out of the park? The times when you check in to look at your metrics should be followed by periods where you analyze what’s working and what isn’t.

If Twitter is taking off, but Facebook is stalling, decide whether more or less time should be allocated to each. Your goals can then be re-written taking this new information into account.

And don’t forget: if you’ve met your goals, celebrate a job well done!

What has worked and what hasn’t in your digital marketing plan? Let us know in the comments.