When you create your digital marketing plan for the coming new year, make sure that you do not miss any important aspects of marketing or trends that you need to consider.
Here is a 15-point checklist to help you create a Digital Marketing plan. If you already have your plan / strategy ready, you can use this checklist to ensure that you have not missed any essential element. If you have not yet started working on it, I have given a ‘Starting point‘ tip under each section to help you get started.
How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan / Strategy for 2018: A 15-Point Checklist
1. Create a ‘Digital Roadmap’ document
Create a digital marketing reference document that will serve as a blue print or map for the entire year. I call this the digital ‘roadmap’. It could be a spreadsheet or a document that you can go back to at any time. You could use Google Docs – it is free, cloud-based, mobile-enabled and collaborative. You could also use a mind map if you are a visual person (like me). The type of document that you use does not matter as long as you have one that you are comfortable working with.
Starting Point: Here is a list of items that could be part of the digital roadmap. Please feel free to add more, depending on the industry or the business you are in.
- Business objectives
- Marketing goals
- Target Audience / Personas
- Competition information
- Channels – Social media, advertising, email etc.
- Team details with responsibilities
- Partnership/collaboration plan
- Online assets details – website, mobile apps, etc.
- UTM parameters for campaigns
- Editorial and Social Media Calendar
- Content Marketing Plan
- Research information
2. Get clarity on your audience
Define your target market and online audience in detail. Know who you ideal audience is so that you can create content, campaigns and promotions that will address their needs, resonate with them and add value to them. Get to the details, like – what do they do, how do they behave/react, what do they think, how do they spend, demographics, psychographics etc.
Starting Point: The best way to do this is by creating personas. Here is a useful post by Buffer with step-by-step instructions on how to create marketing personas.
3. Create a list of channels to focus on
There are 100s of social media channels today and there are multiple ways to optimise your content for each of them. If you are just starting your digital marketing and social media efforts, I highly recommend that you do not try to focus on multiple channels. Try focussing on one or two channels first and get some traction. You need not ignore the others, just give them a lower priority for now and repost your existing content without spending time customising or optimising your content for them. As your influence grows you can consider creating expanding and optimising your content and efforts for multiple channels.
Starting Point: There are a few factors to consider while choosing the right social media channels for your business, here is a blog post to help you get started – How to choose the right social media channel.
4. Audit your online presence
How strong and optimised is your existing online presence – web, mobile and social? Is it producing the results you are after? Is your website optimised for search, usability & lead generation? Do you have a CRM built into your website? Do you have landing pages for all your marketing campaigns? What about your mobile presence (mobile site, mobile experience of your website users, mobile apps, etc.)? How about your social media presence? Are you visible and present in all the social media channels where your prospects are spending time? Conduct an audit and take stock of your online presence before you get into 2018.
Starting point: To get started, review this list of all the marketing elements that your website should have in order to be effective in 2018.
5. Integrate your marketing campaigns
Plan to integrate your online and offline marketing campaigns. Without integration, there is a possibility of your marketing efforts/resources moving in various directions with unconnected goals, reducing overall impact. For example, it is not a good idea to have your PR team working on a campaign on recruitment, while your social media team tries to focus on amplifying your CSR activity.
Starting point: Organise a meeting of your entire marketing team (internal and external) and take stock of all the planned marketing campaigns for 2018. Track the alignment of your online & offline campaign goals and make sure that they complement each other.
6. Choose the right tools
Using the right tools can help you save time and maximise your productivity. There are tools for every need of a digital marketer including software, devices and mobile apps. And there are ebooks, online courses and podcasts that you can use to learn and equip yourself to accomplish your marketing objectives. It takes a bit of time to experiment and select the right ones that suit you, but the time spent on this selection can prove useful in the long run.
Starting point: To get started here is a blog post on various tools and resources that you could use.
7. Define your Digital Marketing budget
Allocating your marketing budget early gives you the ability to start planning your 2018 ad-campaigns with various search engines and social media channels. Online advertising is evolving and becoming a more important part of the marketing mix producing great results.
For example, if you consider social ads, the figure below shows how ad revenues from social media channels have grown to a massive $41 billion in 2017. This consistent growth since 2014 indicates that brands are seeing great results using social ads.
Starting point: But how much of you total budget do you set apart for digital marketing? To help you get started, here is a blog post (with research findings) on how to allocate a Digital Marketing budget.
8. Have a content marketing plan
What type of content are you planning to produce in 2018? Are you comfortable with written content or are you more comfortable with videos? Depending on the comfort level and capability of your team, you can choose the type of content that you will use to market and amplify your message. Usually a mix of various types of content works best with one or two formats dominating your campaigns.
Starting point: Editorial calendar – Once you choose the type of content, based on your campaigns, prepare an editorial calendar. This will help you firm up your content marketing plan. You could start with laying out broad goals and objectives for each month. Then, come up with a more detailed plan for the first quarter (Jan, Feb and March 2018). As you go along, depending on the progress and data from your analytical tools, you can make changes to the plans.
9. Have a mobile marketing plan (optimised for voice-enabled search, AI and VR)
Mobile usage by consumers dominated 2017 and is expected to dominate 2018 too. Trends and studies show that consumers will use mobile and voice driven search on their mobile as the primary means of consuming content in 2018. With new apps powered by AI, AR and VR technologies being launched each day, depending on the type of business, every time you create content you need to consider whether it is optimised for the ever-growing tech-savvy smart phone audience who wants to experience such immersive, intelligent technologies. It is not just about creating mobile responsive websites any more, focus on creating a mobile-optimised experience in every part of your online business – online assets, content and campaigns.
Starting point: To help you get started with your plans for Mobile Marketing, here is a blog post on Top 5 Mobile Marketing trends.
10. Have a video marketing plan
Research shows that video converts better than any other medium, video makes people stay longer on your website and video will continue to dominate as the preferred form of content in 2018. So plan to include video (live and recorded) in your 2018 marketing campaigns.
Starting point: To help you get started, here is a beginners guide on creating Marketing videos.
11. Have a local marketing plan
Local marketing is an activity that helps you be more visible to your customer when they look for your products or services in a specific location. Growth and innovation in wearable technology, GPS-enabled smart phones and IOT (Internet of Things) have made local marketing important for any business. if you are in a business that has store fronts or location-based services, working on local marketing in 2018 can help you grow.
Starting point: Do a google search of your business on mobile. What do you see? Do you see your business details? Openings hours etc? If you don’t, start your Local Marketing effort by registering your business in Google My Business. It is free. In addition to that, you can also register your business details in relevant online directories that are available for your industry. Ask your digital agency or your marketing manager about Local Marketing optimisation.
12. Have a measurement plan
Create a measurement plan based on the channels you have selected in point 3. Almost all social media channels have their own dedicated analytics software and they give an in-depth analysis of what works and what does not. But I recommend that you have a aggregation tool like Google Analytics, which can collect all required information in one place if configured properly. This not only saves time when you are trying to analyse the impact of your campaigns, but also helps you compare channels and have a integrated overview. For example, Facebook might give you details of how each post performed on their channel, but in Google analytics you can see how these posts impacted your call-to-action initiatives, lead magnets and landing pages.
Starting point: To help you get started here is a list of helpful posts on measuring your social media metrics.
13. Audit your search rankings and SEO strategy
Optimising your online presence for search engines makes you visible to your customers when they look for your products or services online. SEO has evolved. Going into 2018, content-driven SEO is what any business should be focussing on.
Starting point: To help you get started in SEO, here is a beginner’s guide for SEO.
14. Establish your partnerships
What is your plan for collaboration and partnership in 2018? You can partner with influencers in your industry, thought leaders, companies offering complimentary services to your audience, vendors and even clients. Some of the collaborative activities that you could plan for 2018 are:
- FB LIVE Sessions
- Podcast interviews
- Co-branded shared advertising campaigns
- Cross promotions in social media channels
- Guest posts in blogs
- Banners in websites
- Offline events
Starting Point: If you do not have a partnership plan in place, you could start by creating a list of possible partners and send them an email asking them if they are open for collaborations in 2018. Based on their response, you could schedule the above mentioned activities in your calendar.
15. Deploy the right team
To accomplish great things, you need the right team. Your 2018 Digital Marketing plan or strategy’s impact will depend on how strong your team is. Digital marketing is a function that warrants a coordinated work between multiple teams with various skills. For example, a social media campaign for a product launch might require the following teams to work together:
- The business team (for strategy)
- Advertising team
- Content creation team
- Content editing team
- Media management team
- Research team
- Design team
- Video team
- IT programming team
- SEO team
…and the list goes on.
Starting point: There are couple of ways in which you can get access to a team with varied skill sets.
- Recruit and create your own in-house digital team with expertise in each of the above functions.
- Hire a digital agency that has a proven track record of working on marketing campaigns. This option will give you access to all the skill sets from a single partner. If you are considering this option, do get in touch with us. We will be glad to explore options of being your Digital Marketing partner in 2018.
All the very best for the coming new year. Leave your thoughts, questions and feedback in the comments section.