In today’s world, people are constantly connected to computers, phones, and tablets. This has created a digital age where businesses can operate anywhere in the world and make use of the internet to engage with customers and potential customers. Many traditional brick and mortar stores have adapted to the changing times and moved to the online space, creating an entirely new marketplace.
However, operating a business online isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need to take into consideration a variety of factors, including digital marketing and online marketing strategies, if you want your business to succeed online.
Here, we’ll discuss the importance of developing an online marketing plan and the steps you can take to successfully implement one.
The Rise In Online Shopping
In 2014, around 40% of retail sales took place online. This was up from 19% in 2013 and 17% in 2012. However, it’s still not representative of all retail sales. For instance, purchasing furniture and house items took place mainly online in 2014. Nevertheless, all indications point to online shopping becoming a significant portion of all retail sales in the near future. Why? One word: convenience.
It’s always nice when you can do something simply and quickly without having to go from one online store to another or go through a series of email exchanges with a supplier. Building a digital relationship and interacting with customers online simply makes business sense. Plus, with the world’s population getting ever-increasing amounts of content and online distractions, people are searching for ways to save time and money. In light of this, creating an online store and marketing plan where customers can easily find what they need is a guaranteed way to gain long-term loyalty and brand recognition.
Further evidence of the trend towards online shopping can be found in the fact that more and more people are now shopping online during the holiday seasons. In fact, a 2014 survey by the American Express OPEN found that 65% of consumers plan to shop online during the holidays this year compared to 55% who plan to shop at a physical store. Further highlighting the convenience of online shopping, the study also found that 44% of respondents would choose to shop online rather than wait in line at a physical store.
What is Digital Marketing And Online Marketing?
Before we begin, it’s important to understand the differences between these two terms. When referring to digital marketing and online marketing, it’s essential to remember that these are two distinct yet related roles. A single person can play multiple roles, so it’s important not to get confused.
Simply put, digital marketing is the promotion of products or services using digital technologies (e.g., websites, social media, email marketing, and mobile marketing).
In contrast, online marketing is the process of gaining meaningful engagement with online audiences using digital technologies.
In practice, the line between digital marketing and online marketing becomes blurred. For example, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are often used to promote products as well as engage with customers and potential customers. Further, email marketing and mobile marketing are often considered part of the online marketing spectrum.
Why Should You Create An Online Marketing Plan?
As we’ve established, the world of retail is changing and adapting to the digital era. Inevitably, this means that your marketing plan needs to change too. To ensure your business survives and thrives in this new world, you need to take a keen interest in establishing and following an online marketing strategy.
The most important reason for creating an online marketing plan is to ensure you have a clear direction for your marketing activities. Just because your business is operating in the digital world does not mean that your marketing plan should be, too. You need to set the stage for your digital marketing activities by creating a detailed plan that encompasses all your marketing efforts, whether online or offline. Essentially, an online marketing plan serves as a road map for your marketing activities and identifies key performance indicators to monitor and measure your progress. It also supplies you with a benchmark by which you can evaluate your marketing efforts. Finally, an online marketing plan allows you to clearly define what you’re trying to achieve and the metrics you’ll use to determine whether you’ve reached your goal. This last point is particularly crucial because, as we’ve discussed, the world of retail is changing and adapting to the digital era. Marketing metrics that were adequate a few years ago may no longer be relevant.
What Should You Include In Your Online Marketing Plan?
As a business owner or manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure your marketing plan contains everything necessary to establish and grow your business. Ideally, your plan should include the following: