How to Create a Great Online Marketing Plan

In the digital marketing world, plans are nothing to be scared of…

In fact, creating a digital marketing plan that sticks to a tight schedule while still feeling inspired is a lot easier said than done. Not to mention the fact that once you’ve got the plan in place, it’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects of the day-to-day grind.

To get back on track and avoid wasting precious campaign resources, you need to have a clear vision of where you’re heading and what you’re trying to achieve. That’s why we’ve put together this top-notch resource guide, chock-full of helpful tips on how to create a great online marketing plan.

Set A Deadline

Now, this might not be the most obvious suggestion for an online marketer to make but, trust us, it’s an important one. Far too often, we see marketers placing their faith in vague, optimistic goals or even just saying, “I’ll get back to you with an update by next week.” Set a due date – and stick to it.

Why? Because if you don’t, you’ve effectively opened the door to flexibility in your schedule and you could end up with some pretty awful marketing. Instead of saying “I’ll have a plan by next Tuesday”, say “I’ll have a plan by next Tuesday or Thursday at the latest.” That way, you’ll have at least a few days to spare if things go awry.

Determine The Goals And Objectives First

When you’re developing your online marketing plan, it’s important to set out your goals and objectives clearly. In addition to setting a deadline for yourself, you should also determine what you’re trying to achieve by creating this plan. Are you looking to increase web traffic? To boost conversion? To create awareness of your product?

Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, you need to set out clear milestones along the way to measure your progress. For example, if you’re looking to increase web traffic, you might want to set a goal of getting 200 new blog articles per month by the end of the year. Or, if you’re looking to increase conversion, you might want to set a goal of getting 20 new customers by the end of the year.

These goals and objectives should be measurable, otherwise you’ll struggle to tell whether or not you’ve truly achieved them. For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic, you might want to set up a Google Analytics account and track the numbers of visitors coming to your site.

Make A List Of The Resources You Need

Now, this might not seem obvious, but having a digital marketing plan without having the required tools to make it happen is kind of like trying to write an essay with no access to the library. Without this plan, you’re effectively flying blind – and that, as we all know, is never a good idea.

To avoid this, make a list of the resources you need to create and run your digital marketing campaign. This should include everything from web hosting to Facebook and Google credentials. In addition, you’ll need some software to help you plan your strategies and make sure you follow all the right steps. We’ll discuss a handful of tools that every marketer should have around the office throughout this guide.

The Basics Of Planning Ahead

To follow on from the previous point, you need to think of your digital marketing plan as a living document. This means that, whatever happens, you should always be able to go back and refer to it. Having a living document means that even though it might be a week since you last worked on it, you can still go back and ensure that all the relevant information is there.

This doesn’t mean that you need to keep adding to it willy-nilly. Simply update with your latest research findings or if there’s any other relevant information that you think might be useful to other team members or yourself at a later date.

Create A Scenario

Scenarios are great way of visualising how things might go wrong as well as how they might go right. For example, you might want to create a scenario where a hacker breaks into your WordPress site and posts fake reviews about your competitor’s products. Or, you could create a scenario where a product you’re promoting goes viral and gains millions of views on social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

By creating these scenarios, you’re essentially visualising possible worst-case situations. Then, you can work out how you’ll respond and take action, if necessary. Doing this beforehand means you’ll have a much clearer picture of what needs to be done (and, more importantly, what doesn’t need to be done)

These responses and actions should form the basis of your plan. Ideally, they need to be measurable so that you can track your progress. For example, if you’re responding to a scenario where a hacker has broken into your site by changing the content of your blog so that it promotes your product, you’ll need to measure the effectiveness of this content change.

How To Create A Great Online Marketing Plan

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of how to create a great online marketing plan.

Get Inspired

To start with the most basic rule of thumb, you need to get inspired. We’re constantly bombarded with shiny objects that call out to us from social media and the rest of the web. If you’ve ever worked for a marketing agency, you’ll know that this is actually part of your job description – identifying the latest trends and being able to translate them into marketing opportunities.

This is where creativity comes in. As an online marketer, you need to be able to think outside of the box and come up with unique ideas to promote your product or service. If you’re following a traditional marketing route and sticking to the same old tactics, you’re probably going to find it hard to get inspired.

Start Small

While it’s great to aim high and set a bold goal of getting 100,000 views on your YouTube video or landing a huge account on social media platforms, these are probably unobtainable goals for your first few campaigns. Instead, start small. If you’ve got a certain amount of money to spend on marketing, consider using it to fund a small Facebook ad campaign or banner ad on a website. These are cost-effective solutions and you can track the results of your efforts easily.

Plan Your Budget

Now, we know that every industry and business is different and, as a general rule, one size does not fit all when it comes to budgeting. However, we also live in a world where budgets can vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Naturally, you’re going to find the cheaper solution (or, at least, the one that fits within your budget) and, in some cases, this might be the better option.

Regardless of your budget, you always need to plan your budget. This means that you should have a clear idea of how much you’re going to spend on the project – whether that’s in terms of cash, time, or both. When it comes to digital marketing, you usually have a clear idea of how much you’re spending on paid advertising (such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads). In terms of how much time you’re spending on the project, this is usually a one-time event, rather than a continual spending obligation. Just remember to factor in how much you’ve already spent before creating your plan.

Use Realistic Goals

One of the most important things to do when developing a strategy for marketing is to set realistic goals. Now, when we say “realistic”, we don’t necessarily mean “easy” – as those can be elusive goals when you’re starting out. Instead, consider what you’ve got access to and what you can actually achieve. If you’re starting from scratch, your best bet might be to target small and medium-sized businesses, as you might find it easier to get access to these kinds of customers.

It’s also important to set achievable, measurable goals. For example, if your goal is to get 100,000 views on your YouTube video, consider breaking this down into smaller milestones such as getting 10,000 views or having 50,000 views. These are much more concrete and definable goals. Measuring your progress along the way is also much easier to do when your goal is specific and, most importantly, measurable. For example, instead of saying “I want to get 100,000 views on my YouTube video,” you should instead say “I’ll get 100,000 views on my YouTube video by the end of this year.”