Firstly, Happy New Year!

2016 is going to be a great year for small businesses and I can’t wait to see what it holds, but before we can celebrate you need to understand how to design a digital marketing plan for 2016.

Regardless of your answers to this, you need to be starting the new year the right way with a digital marketing plan that helps you target new clients, retain current ones, and connect with former customers.

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous saying; “A failure to plan, is a plan to fail”. So… let’s get planning!

Your Digital Marketing Plan

The first thing you need to do is set your goals and objectives for the upcoming year. These objectives/goals could include launching a new product/service, building a new website or understanding your competitors.

Defining your objectives is the first part, but you then need to add weight behind your goals and set ach

Step 1; Goals & Objectives

ievable numbers. Maybe you want to grow your venue by 25% or increase your online following by 10%. Whatever it is, make sure it is achievable.

You need to ask yourself some of the following questions;

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What is the pain you are trying to solve?
  • What is your USP?
  • What products/services do you offer?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What are you good at?
  • What makes you different from your competitors?

Step 2; Target Customers

Part of setting your goals and objectives, is understanding your target audience. Do you know the following about your target customer?

  • Their age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Relationship status
  • Do they have children?
  • What car do they drive?
  • Their hobbies
  • Lifestyle

You need to be able to answer these questions, as they will have a huge impact on how you market your business online.

Step 3; Situational Analysis

After you have understood your target market and their buying habits, you then need to do situational analysis. This is where you analyse where your business currently stands, as you are creating your digital marketing plan.

Take a look at your current products and their main features, pricing, where you are selling your products and how you have been promoting them. This gives you a good understanding of where you can improve, and setting a timeline for implementing new tactics.

Part of understanding where your business is at, is looking at your competitors. You will want to look at their target market in more detail, as it is similar to yours, their USP, pricing and promotions along with looking at their financial standing and how they are marketing their business. Make sure you do your due diligence around this.

Step 4; Pricing & Positioning Strategy

Section 4 is about understanding your industry and the pricings around your product/service. Use the information you have collected from all of your research to determine whether you need to change your pricing strategy. You need to be competitive with your pricing, but understanding that any changes you make will impact the bottom line of your business.

Before changing your pricing, take a look at your customer sales statistics year on year, and your multi-channel sales.

Step 5; Promotional Plan

How are you going to promote your business online, and what channels are you going to use? Consider the use of channel partners, SEO, social media, referral and affiliate traffic, PPC, offline marketing, email marketing and content marketing.

To really utilise any of the above channels, you need to understand that you have to spend money to make money. Yes, if you have a solid knowledge in how to use each social network you wouldn’t need to spend too much, but online marketing is a huge area to cover and don’t be afraid to spend money, and ask for help.

Step 6; Marketing Assets

Your marketing assets are the promotional material you use to share your business. This may be your website, business cards, photography and design work. These are all extra costs that need to be factored into your digital marketing plan.

Section 7; Converting Community into Customers

You might be driving a good amount of traffic to your website, but how are you converting this traffic into sales? If this is something that you are really struggling to do, consider;

  •       Improving your website copy
  •       Use testimonials & reviews of your products/services
  •       High quality images/videos

Experiment with different techniques to improve your conversion rate. It will take time to get it right, but stay consistent and you will get there in the end.

Step 8; Channel Partners

A channel partner is someone who has your target audience, but does not compete with you in terms of the product/service you are offering. Think about companies in your industry. I work with a number of channel partners, for example BIRA. We have the same target audience, but they don’t directly compete, meaning I can market my social media bootcamp to their audience, and give them a percentage of every sell from their database.

Step 9; Financial Forecasting

The final part of your digital marketing plan is summarising all of the expenses from each part of your strategy, along with projected growth rates and timelines. This will not be 100% accurate but as you work through your finances, you will be able to analyse the success/failure of each digital marketing campaign.

Doing all of the above now, will make your online business ready for the year of online shopping; 2016.

What part of your digital marketing strategy do you struggle with the most?

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