This article shows how to write an online internet digital marketing plan in 2016. It’s right up to date with new developments in Google search guidelines and  includes a digital marketing plan template & advice on how to develop an internet communications strategy.

Where to start? If you have ever tackled a business plan you know what i mean. But…hello, it’s your lucky day thanks to a clear framework called the SOSTAC® planning model.  In plain English this simply means breaking your plan down into six elements:

S stands for Situation Analysis – which means where are we now?
O stands for Objectives which means where do we want to go?
S stands for Strategy which summarises how we are going to get there.
T stands for Tactics which are the details of strategy.
A is for Action or implementation – putting the plan to work.
C is for Control which means measurement, monitoring, reviewing, updating and modifying.

Digital Marketing Plan Smart insights

If you want to find out more about digital marketing strategy or get hold of a FREE Digital Marketing Plan Template visit Smart Insights website and follow them on twitter @SmartInsights. More information about the SOSTAC® Planning System is at PR Smith’s SOSTAC® webpage or follow on twitter @PR_Smith.

As the buzz term content marketing has become ‘in vogue’ theres no shortage of guides like the latest Content Marketing Beginners Guide from Moz and QuickSprouts awesome Advanced guide to content marketing.

beginnersguideto contentmarketingmoz

SEO begins with reading the official Google Search Engine Starter Guide..Be sure to take a look at the impressive Noob guide to online marketing from Unbounce and the companion piece the Noob guide to Link Building.

No digital marketing plan in 2016 would complete without a content marketing strategy, content plan and editorial calendar so check out the Content Marketing Strategy checklist from Velocity. Finally check out Link Building: The Definitive Guide from Brian Dean at Backlinko.

Noob guide to online marketing

Noob guide to link building

content marketing strategy checklist

linkbuilding the definitiveguide






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6 Simple Steps For Creating a Digital Marketing Plan

The following steps show how you can create a simple, but effective digital internet marketing plan to build awareness & get going online.

Step 1:  Know thy Target Audience intimately

Who are they? Where do they hang out? What newspapers/trade journals do they read? One way to define your target audience is to create Personas. A Persona is a description of a specific person who might want your services. The persona usually includes a fictitious buyer’s demographic information, day in the life of,  needs, preferences, biographical information, and a photo/image  to make it real. Take Catarina for example….

persona example

Step 2: Spy on your Competitors (nicely)

Put together a spreadsheet of your top competitors and research them to see how they are using digital marketing channels to reach customers. Be a private detective , do a bit of mystery shopping,  impersonate your customer to find your (and your competitor’s) products or services online. Did you find theirs first, or yours? If you find theirs first, try to uncover what they are doing within the digital channel to make a connection online.  Write down each connection you make  in the spreadsheet.

This research  will be used to prioritise your tactics in the next step. You can use SEO tools like Raven Tools to get to the nitty-gritty with your competitors keywords & backlinks. I’d also check out SEMrush marvelous for Competitor Research and the amaze balls Rival IQ saves so much time and saves hours of research.



Step 3: Prioritize Your Digital Tactics & Channels

Look at each digital channel  and think about how valuable or important the channel is to your organisation. e.g Google plus, email marketing, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or a combination. Value can be defined as existing referrals, % of new visitors, No of new leads etc. Then, look at the effort required to implement your plan across each digital marketing channel. The value-effort score will show you which channels represent “quick wins”. Think about the following options to narrow down the list:

  • Company Goals – What are the top priorities for the business to achieve? Brand Awareness, Education, Raw Traffic or Sales?
  • Budget – How much do you have to spend on your marketing effort(s)?
  • Available resources – What personnel or outsourced people do you have available?
  • Available content – What content do you have already, carry out a content audit to remarket!

Step 4 : Quick wins

A variety of digital channels & tactics will be ‘right’ for your business depending on your business objectives & customers. For example if you want to raise brand awareness & improve customer services social media marketing tactics will fit the bill. If you want to generate sales & web traffic a combination of Search Engine Marketing, Google+ & email marketing may be your best fit. In reality most businesses have a variety of business objectives & audiences so take a ‘pick ‘n’ mix approach, test effectiveness & monitor results.

  • Display Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Online Public Relations
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Viral Content Campaigns
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
  • Blogging
  • Microblogging
  • Blogger outreach
  • Video marketing
  • Local search marketing
  • Mobile marketing
  • Groupon/offer sites
  • Corporate website
  • Free content (eBooks, white papers)
  • Online communities/forums
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts

Also see SEOmoz – which digital channels are right for my business? and Convince and Converts How to Choose the Right Social Channels to Reach Your Customers.

Step 4: Measuring results

Create SMART performance indicators that are quantifiable and measurable. Examples include:-

  • Increase online sales by 20% from x to y
  • Increase natural search traffic by 20%
  • Increase social media engagement on Facebook by 25% quarterly

Step 5 : Is it working?

You can test whether your marketing campaigns are working by tracking your traffic, goals and conversions in Google Analytics and other metrics like Facebook Insights. You can also use Clicktale or Crazyegg to see where potential customers are exiting your sites. Heatmaps are visual representations of where people are clicking on your site so its worth evaluating this to draw out insights. Monitoring & reporting enables you to see how well your digital marketing is performing and gives great insight into next actions.

Step 6 : Monthly review

Take time out to review where your marketing tactics are driving results regularly and adapt your campaigns to take advantage of new opportunities. You can use a variety of tools for this see this cool list of seo and social media tools and pick a free or paid one to get going! There are so many tools out there to use but don’t get bogged down by them. Choose one or two.

*New – Check out 44 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros from Social Media Examiner and the magnificent marketer toolbox updated for 2015.

44 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros

Also highly recommended by Webyogi is the ultimate seo tools checklist from Annie Cushings.

Simply measured have some groovy free social media report templates but these may blow your clients minds as they are very detailed.

I’d recommend creating a simple two page report that highlights key trends, wins and losses and next actions (tip : be honest if there are any issues, your client will respect your guidance if things are explained clearly and you have an effective solution)

Digital marketing plan template

Digital Marketing Plan Smart insightsSmartinsights have shared a free to use Digital marketing strategy and planning word template. You can check out the marketing planning template on the Smartinsights site. If you join Smart Insights as a Basic member (highly recommended) you can download the PDF!

I’d also highly recommend a copy of e-marketing excellence by PR Smith & Dave Chaffey – my digital marketing bible. I was lucky enough to attend a conference last year where Dave shared insights into using Google Analytics to improve business results –  very useful, so make sure you check this out as well. Finally, it’s worth noting that a digital marketing plan needs integrating into your existing business marketing plan and not be seen as a separate effort.

online marketing plan templatev1.1 Digital Marketing Plan Template