In today’s business world, it can be stated that the increased digitization of business operations has become an instrument of survival and not an optional strategy. From managing relations with your suppliers in the wider supply chain process to communicating with employees via digital platforms and paying your clients through digital gateways – digitization has become a tool for efficiency, saving time, and costs.
As the most important function of any business, marketing has also experienced vast amounts of changes with the advent of digital technologies within the processes of marketing. With nearly all typical business activities now digitized, traditional methods to operate marketing are, quite frankly, not possible anymore. Due to the importance of developing a marketing plan and its effects on other functions of a business, there are specific things you must consider to formulate a digital marketing plan that is not only well planned but also effective in the long term. As a way to gain insight into digital marketing, here are the things to consider when developing a digital marketing plan:
1. Alignment of Marketing Plan with Mission/Vision Statement
First of all, the digital marketing plan must be in line with what you or your business aim to achieve. This accounts for your or your business’s core values, objectives, competencies, corporate culture, and ethics. For instance, strictly emphasizing ethics as part of your business’ mission/vision statement and then proceeding to exercise unethical practices in marketing, such as false advertising, is not in alignment with what you or your business states as wanting to achieve.
2. SMART Objectives
No matter how well researched, calculated, and comprehensive your marketing plan is, the absence of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic or Relevant, and Time-bound) goals will create a direct line to a failing marketing plan. SMART objectives are crucial because they need to be applied to what your marketing plan needs to achieve, both in the short and long term.
3. Knowledge of Target Market
Prior knowledge of the target market is essential to develop a cohesive and coherent digital marketing plan. Market trends, consumer analytics, buyer spending patterns, supply-demand mechanisms, existing competitors, purchasing power parity, and possible effects of COVID-19 restrictions are all considerations you should account for in-depth. As these market factors and conditions are subject to rapid changes, you should consider conducting primary research to explore them, providing realistic and reliable results.
4. Analysis of Target Market
Once you have gained concrete facts and data about your target market, a top-to-bottom evaluation is required for a strong digital marketing plan. This evaluation must consist of both internal and external analyses of the target market. This will assist you in understanding your business’ capacity to sustain the marketing plan and combat existing competitors at play. For this, you can apply the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental/Ecological) analyses. As the target market is unfamiliar to you, the application of the Porter’s Five Forces framework is also beneficial in critically analyzing competitors, suppliers, consumers, and new entrants of the target market of your marketing plan.
5. Market Segmentation of the Marketing Plan
Before employing leads for your marketing campaign, consider conducting a market segmentation of your target market. The main areas you can cover by segregating your target audience is through demographics, consumer behavior, geographic factors, and psychographics. This market segregation will allow you to understand the consumer you will be advertising to in a better way, and create clear differences in the various types of consumers of your wider marketing plan.
6. Use of Latest Marketing Techniques
The success of a digital marketing plan depends on the type and variety of digital marketing techniques used. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one the best and most effective marketing techniques as it works to display your website and relevant webpages at high rankings in search engines through keywords, search engine placement, and running algorithms.
Another modern marketing technique is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, which allows you to connect with your consumers consistently via emails, chatbots, mobile applications, and web portals. Combining these marketing techniques ensures your advertising is made effective alongside keeping all customers in check and acting as per their feedback, increasing the chances of your marketing plan’s success.
7. Calculated and Sufficient Budget
Allocating the ‘right’ amount of budget for your marketing plan is essential. An overview of your business’s financial condition, external market conditions, and the performance of the finance department are the most significant factors to consider when drawing a marketing budget.
Special care must be placed to avoid reallocations in a situation where all marketing funds have been exhausted, as this causes a greater burden on other departments. It can also further lead to disturbance in financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statements), and a drop in your business’s long-term financial reserves. Therefore, all associated costs must be identified, analyzed, and allocated in real-time to ensure operating on a single designated marketing budget.
8. Controlling the Marketing Plan
Setting boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is not is a clear sign of a competent and successful digital marketing plan. As a measure of control, you should always consider initiating an annual plan control (after every 6 months, twice a year), profitability control (the application of various accounting-based profitability ratios), efficiency control (measuring Key Performance Indicators, IT-based issues, and downtime, productivity levels, and absenteeism rate), and strategic control (key decisions on the marketing plan, such as growth opportunities and revision of set objectives).
Although the development of a digital marketing plan is important albeit challenging and time-consuming activity, the art of consistently maintaining a low-waste and value-added marketing campaign is all the more crucial. It can be said that a strong foundation of accurate planning, enlisting the appropriate marketing personnel, providing adequate financing, and inspiring leadership will always compete as a digital marketing plan against those of competitor businesses.