Create an Online Marketing Plan

In today’s digital world, nearly every business can be considered a “digital business” whether they sell products online, over the phone, via social media, or even just accept payments online. As a result, the playing field is now open to anyone seeking to grow a business — even those without a technical or marketing background.

This level of accessibility makes the world a lot more welcoming to new entrepreneurs. However, while the playing field is flat, the competition is fierce. To stand out among your competitors, you need to take a serious approach to marketing, and the best way to do that is by creating an online marketing plan.

Why An Online Marketing Plan Is So Important

To understand why you should create an online marketing plan, it’s important to understand what makes up a successful marketing plan in general. According to HubSpot Blogs research,

  • 55% of business decision makers consider marketing costs, analyzing data and tracking performance indicators to be an essential part of the process.
  • While planning to market your product, you must consider what makes your product unique, and why it will be beneficial to those reading your plan.
  • 45% of companies that have a strategic marketing plan see a clear link between marketing and achieving financial success.
  • Marketing plans typically include goals and metrics to evaluate the success of a specific campaign.

These findings indicate that having a clear picture of how you intend to market your product, the resources you will devote to the task, and the goals you hope to achieve are essential to succeed as a business owner. For newly established businesses, these elements may seem daunting, but they’re nothing compared to the effort you’ll need to put in to succeed as a professional in your chosen field.

What To Include In Your Online Marketing Plan

When developing your online marketing plan, you need to consider what makes your product special and how you intend to communicate its benefits to potential customers. Additionally, you must weigh the various platforms available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Here are a few things you should include in your plan:

Product Overview

Unless you’re familiar with the industry, it can be difficult to envision your product from the perspective of a consumer. That’s why it’s important to include the following details about your product within your plan:

  • Product Overview: Briefly explain the purpose of your product, what sets it apart from other similar products, and the type of people it is designed for.
  • Product Characteristics: List the key features of your product.
  • Product Benefits: List the benefits your product provides, and support your claims with evidence.
  • Features Hierarchy: Outline the different levels of features within your product, and identify the most important feature
  • Rationale For Choosing This Product Vs. Other Available Options: Describe the compelling reasons you believe your product is the best choice for the targeted audience, and cite specific evidence to support your claims.
  • Short & Sweet

Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve determined the main benefits your product provides, you can map out the different approaches you will take to market it. Your marketing strategy should detail the following:

  • Overall Approach: Identify the general approach you will take to market your product.
  • Goals & Objectives: List the specific goals and objectives you will strive to achieve through marketing.
  • Ideas For The First Phase: List the initial ideas you have for marketing your product.
  • The Budget: Set a realistic budget for your first phase of marketing.
  • Proposed Resources: List the resources you will need to carry out your plan.

Your marketing plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should contain all the information you need to successfully market your product. Be sure to write your plan in the present tense, as the information you provide in subsequent phases will be used to refine and update your plan as you go along.

Marketing Execution

Your marketing plan must include the practical steps you will follow to achieve your goals. This aspect of your plan will detail the following:

  • Strategy: Identify the approaches you will take to market your product.
  • Media Lists: Make a list of the different types of media you will use to communicate your marketing strategy, including the platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), the types of content (i.e. blog post, event, etc.), the type of audience you will target (i.e. millennials, Generation Z, etc.), and the type of message you will disseminate (i.e. product benefits, brand awareness, etc.).
  • Targeted Audience: Identify the specific audiences you will target with your marketing strategy.
  • Channels: Make a list of the different platforms you will use to target your audiences.
  • Content Ideas: Outline the different pieces of content you will create to promote your product, including the goals you will strive to achieve with each piece of content (e.g. generate interest in the brand, increase web traffic, gain social media shares, etc.).
  • Competition Analysis: Perform a detailed analysis of your competition, including the following: An overview of the type of product your competition is offering, Marketing strategies, and Trends.
  • Product Launches: Identify the products your competition has launched recently, and any future products they plan to launch.
  • Seasonality: Identify times of the year when your product may perform better than others (i.e. winter, spring, summer, or fall).
  • Pricing Strategy: Outline the pricing strategy you will use to sell your product, including the following: An analysis of pricing trends, an explanation of why you chose this price, and A Plan For Changes In The Future.
  • Promotions: Identify promotions you will run to drive sales (i.e. discounts, coupons, etc.).
  • Sales Channels: List all the sales channels you will use to promote your product, including the following: The type of people you will engage with (i.e. customers, existing customers, etc.), and The Tools Used To Manage The Channels (i.e. CRM, E-commerce, Social Media, etc.).
  • Reviews: List all the reviews you will run for this product, including the following: The review’s author, The Rating (i.e. 5 stars, 4 stars, etc.), and The Key Differentiators From Similar Products.
  • Operations: Include everything from payroll to monitoring product costs, identifying potential markets, etc.
  • Financial Analysis: Include the following within your financial analysis:
    • Pricing Strategy
    • Seasonality
    • Category Analysis
    • Product Launches
    • Gross Revenue
    • Operations
    • Profitability
    • The Balance Sheet
    • Financial Analysis – Strategy
    • The Product Lifecycle
    • Market Research
    • Pricing Strategy
    • Seasonality
    • Category Analysis
    • Product Launches
    • Gross Revenue
    • Operations
    • Profitability
    • The Balance Sheet
    • Financial Analysis – Operations

    The Importance Of Revising Your Plan

    Your plan won’t be of any use if you don’t revise it on a regular basis. According to HubSpot Blogs research, companies that had a clear strategy and followed through on their plans were more likely to see growth in revenue (48% vs. 22%), saw an increase in the number of customers (40% vs. 19%), and saw an improvement in their stock price (22% vs. 10%).

    To that end, it’s important to regularly revise your plan based on new information, and that starts with the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Don’t be afraid to remove outdated information and replace it with current research. Additionally, keep an eye out for emerging trends and technologies that have the potential to transform how you market your product.