Your Free Digital Marketing Plan incorporating Social Media Plan
April 2016: This document needs a bit of a refresh and we’re currently working on it to do just that. So this should change in the next few weeks, so do call back.
Developing an Online Marketing/Digital Marketing Plan
There are lots of ways of marketing online but even when using “free” services like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn you are still spending time and resources. With the different methods of marketing, diverse audiences and ways to market to them, an online campaign in a way needs more planning and better oversight than more traditional marketing campaigns. From experience, I have broken a Marketing Campaign into 6 parts with an additional section on the tools to use.
- Define your customer
- Define your objectives
- Design/Create Content
- Create a Messaging Calendar
- Define your Measurements
- Execute your Plan
Supplementary: Your Tools of choice
1. Defining Your Customer
The more you understand about your customer/potential customer the more you can use language they appreciate, market where they spend their time offline and online and design a product that they’ll want. Digital Marketing allows you to use the same basic message in different online “channels” and with slightly different messaging so it fits the context. There are lots of ways to research customers or potential customers.
Survey existing customers
A simple method is to use the Forms option in Google Docs to do an online survey and ask your customers for some information on their motivations, who they are, what websites they look at. You could also use Surveys.ie, PollDaddy.com and SurveyMonkey
With permission use audio or video to record your customers describing your products and services or your competitors. Notice the language they use, the metaphors and how they use your product which could be quite different to how you use it. There are plenty of value for money portable mp3 recorders and video recorders available these days
Read your existing comms
Look at sales and tech support emails, blog/website queries and phone queries to see what questions are being asked by people. If you are a new company, see what people are asking of your competitors publicly on forums, Twitter, Facebook etc
These are questions that you should be able to answer yourself so that you can then understand your relationship with customers/potential customers.
Describe your company: (In the space of a Tweet 140 chars)
What story about your company can be spread by others?
What are the touch points between you and your customers?
What is the emotional reward if a customer uses your product?
What other product or services do your customers use that are complimentary to yours?
What websites do your customers/potential spend time on?
What words/phrases do they use on these websites to describe their needs that you can fulfill?
Where does your website rank for those words/phrases?
Who are the most important people online that influence your customers/potential customers?
What do you need to do to get mentioned by these people?
Who links to you and your competition?
What traditional media outlets can help with online coverage/reputation for you?
What do they need from you to spread your story?
Google Adplanner will tell you where people go online, traffic to websites these people go to and other websites that your potential audience go to. “People who visit IrishTimes.com also go to RTE.ie” is what you can get back.
Google Alerts allows you to run searches and get results back by email when you, your industry and your competitors are mentioned online.
2. Defining your Objectives
What are your objectives for your digital campaign?
Increase traffic to your website
Increase your ranking on Google for certain phrases
Sell more products
More time on your website spent by customers
Sell more of a particular product over others
Get more links to your website
More items/articles shared via FB or Twitter
Get ads to be cheaper and get more clicks
Get more blog comments
More links to blog posts
More shared blog posts
Get more fans on your Facebook Page
Increase conversion rate
Increase more interactions per post on your Facebook Page (Likes, Comments)
Get more people to look at specialist tabs
Sell directly from Facebook
Send more traffic to your website
Get more followers
Get more mentions/replies
Get more RTs
Send more traffic to your website
New leads and companies met
Change perception of your company from negative to neutral, neutral to positive
Get more mentions of you on Twitter, Facebook, Web – discussion forums, blogs
These are general objectives. If you have not done any marketing online before then it is hard to say “We want 100 new fans per day” or “1000 new sales in a month” so ideally, create proper objectives a month or two months in to measuring.
3. Content Creation
In this new phase of communications where earned media is the game then you need to not throw about “We’re great, buy our stuff now please?” messages but instead become a publisher and advertiser. Creating something of use that can perhaps be reused or resent to people. We live in an age where content creation is a democratic idea but so is distribution of it. If you create good content then maybe the community you’re in online will spread it much further and it has more power as it comes from a person they know.
What do you want to get out of this?
If you’re going to invest time and resources creating content you need to be very certain what your endgame is. You need to figure out that if you are going to change the copy of your website, write some blog posts, work on status updates on Facebook or Twitter, that you are doing it for a purpose. For your business. What is that purpose? With your content, is it a way of showing off your authority, is it a case study of how you helped someone out, is it a direct way of making sales, is it a discount on goods, is it information that shows you care about the wider community?
Who are those you want to energise?
Forget demographics, ask yourself who are the people you want to create good content for and as a result of good content, they interact with you and even help spread the word? Who exactly is the market for your products and services and what do they like online, on blogs, on Facebook, Twitter, discussion forums etc.? Use the likes of the Facebook Ad system to figure out the volume of the people you are interested in interacting with and increase that by perhaps 30% for overall Internet numbers.
After figuring out what you want from working in an online media and who the people you want to work with are then you need a properly considered plan on when and what to send out. You can’t be doing anything adhoc or randomly. Unstructured might be more fun but a plan keeps you on message, allows you to measure how well you’re doing and makes people more comfortable and familiar by the fact you are interacting them on a regular basis. Themes could be a week long education initiative, a week of special offers/discounts, a week of tips on how to use your products more efficiently etc. Themes allow you to be repetitive with your overall message without using the same enforcing updates again and again.
Tweak their bits, get reactions
Interactions here are key. They might be weak emotional engagements but you every comment on a blog, every reply or ReTweet on Twitter, every comment or the weak but effective “Like” on Facebook is someone taking time out to react to your content. Not job done but certainly a recognition of sorts to what you’ve done. So figure out what people like by past experience or see how they presently interact with their friends on Twitter and Facebook, what content gets them going and see can you provide content like that. Getting interactions too might be as simple as asking for them. Solicit opinions with your content, go away from the broadcast type telling of news and lecturing. Ask on Facebook, blogs, Twitter: “What do you think?” “What do you think should be done?”
Update daily, measure weekly
On a weekly basis, evaluate how your content plan is going. Comments on the blog posts, links to the post. Interactions on Facebook using the Insights option. Views on your YouTube video, links to the video on YouTube. To start with you’ll be in prospecting mode, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. From that you’ll become more experienced with this, making it easier to gear up and plan well in advance and having much better knowledge what will work based on what worked before. The Insights tool especially will tell you what age groups and genders are being responsive and which are not which should give you crucial data on what to change and what to keep.
Knowing what people like, you can be the one that acts like a mini-newsfeed for them. Summarising industry news, interesting blog posts, showing videos they might like etc. Think of the daily papers they have on Newstalk or Morning Ireland, can you do the same with websites that apply to your area? The Fluffy Links blog posts I write – http://www.mulley.net/category/fluffy/ are one such example of content curation.
Budgets, breaking news, elections, Apple products, volcanoes – They all impact people and all give us the opportunity to share our take and our authority on issues. Also, when you think about it, the marketing for these events has been done by the media already so it’s a nice opportunity to tie in to something relevant if you also have something relevant to add to the mix.
Google External Keyword Tool will allow you to predict potential traffic for keywords in your content as well as suggest other words and phrases to use with your content.
4. Messaging Calendar
Communications and Marketing Calendar
In Media, PR and marketing, knowing what events are coming up can be quite important, as is coordinating within your organisation when to send out your different communications. When does your marketing start for a product and when does it end, when do you do press for an event, what day will that press release go out, does it clash with anything internally and any event externally? We all know the Government trick of burying bad news with their news dumps on a Friday evening but the date and time of all communications is important for an organisation. Being able to get a quick overview of what is coming up is vital for a busy organisation big or small. This is where the communications calendar comes in.
Advantages of a comms calendar
The first advantage of a communications calendar is that in a glimpse you can see what’s happening internally and externally over the next few days, weeks and months. Another advantage is that when external events pop up you might be able to modify your communications instead of ploughing headlong into the event. Knowing you have buffers around a planned event brings in a level of comfort and makes you adapt to a situation while looking professional. You can easily scroll back and look at past events that worked and didn’t work and gain insight for the next event too.
What type of calendar?
I find Google Calendar or one of the other web based calendars to be excellent as you can share them with a group. Having them on a wall works well and maybe even creating an analog version of the web-based calendar can work but a digital shared version means no matter where your team is, they can access the data and update it if needs be. If you do go digital though, make sure to make backups just in case there are connection issues or data loss.
What should go into it?
Newspapers will have upcoming events in their business sections such as company AGMs, results announcements and key Government events like budgets. They ought to go into your calendar, especially if you think they will dominate the news the day they’re announced. Over time experience will tell you which of these is important.
With the calendar in place you can measure the effects of campaigns days, weeks and months after they have started and ended. If you add in resources put into the campaign and the impact of it you can visually see the value of the campaign for you and clients. Visual clues can often allow you to make better and faster decisions too compared to looking at data in just a spreadsheet.
Setting up a communications/marketing calendar seems easy and it mostly is, it’s keeping up the habit of updating it and making sure everyone else does too that is important. A calendar is one of the oldest and most basic time keeping devices around yet all organisations could use a variation of one to become more efficient.
An example of one type of Marketing Calendar:
Our objectives have already been decided and based on that, you should choose your measurements. You should be measuring before and after to make sure any growth is due to your campaign and hasn’t just been growing anyway without the campaign. Pre-measurement and post-measurement for specific objectives but as your campaign progresses you should always be logging in and checking your stats.
Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools will tell you about traffic to your website, keywords used, search engines, what webpages are doing well or doing badly. A wordpress blog will tell you traffic to your blog and number of comments
Yahoo Site Explorer will tell you the number of links to your website and what pages are getting the most links. It will also rank these in order of authority
Your Facebook Page has “Insights” a stats package that runs in Flash but can be exported to excel. You can measure total Page likes, interactions, growth rates, loss of fans etc.
Additionally you will see in almost real time the number of times your content has been displayed in the news feed of people which Facebook calls “Impressions”. Facebook gives you a breakdown of your Fans too so you will know percentages of male, female, age, country, language spoken etc. Facebook will also tell you where you got your external traffic from, the numbers of views on your main Facebook Page and all their children Tabs on the Page too.
Twitter does not have a built in stats package so you will need to use a few tools external to Twitter like Seesmic, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or use Twitter search. You can run a search on http://search.twitter.com for your Twitter name, website address, product names etc and bookmark the search. It’s messy but you can record daily mentions and so on. Your profile will tell you your follower numbers and Twitter Lists will allow you to segment your followers if you use them.
Using your Messaging Calendar and Content plan, you and those in your organisation should execute your overall plan as dictated. However leeway is important so you can adapt as the campaign goes on. There will be lots of mini-lessons learned as you progress and you should go with this flow.
Measurement comes back again as you should measure how long and therefore how much executing your plan will cost staff wise and this can then be factored into whether your campaign is of value or not.
Tools we used
Surveys.ie, PollDaddy.com and SurveyMonkey, Google Docs Forms
Google Ad Planner, Google Alerts
Google External Keyword Tool
Google Analytics, Google Webmasters Tools, Yahoo! Site Explorer
Seesmic, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck
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