by: Thomas Young
A successful strategic digital marketing plan starts with the Four-Step Process, understanding your target market, knowing your goals and what you hope to accomplish through digital marketing. This plan defines your strategic digital marketing strategy and is the blueprint for all strategic digital marketing projects including website design and development efforts, traffic generation and conversions. All the elements of your digital marketing strategy are included in this plan.
The digital marketing plan will answer the following questions:
- How do our online marketing efforts result in sales growth?
- What percent of total revenue can be generated from the website and Internet marketing?
- What is our targeted ROI from marketing on the web?
- How does our website brand the business?
- What opportunities are we missing with our current digital and strategic digital marketing?
- What are our specific action items for web strategy, design and development, traffic generation, performance monitoring and ROI?
Web Marketing Plan Outline
Here are the major sections and outline for your strategic digital marketing plan by each step in the Four-Step Process.
Step One: Strategy
Strategy – This includes a detailed description of the strategy behind the website and all online marketing efforts. The strategy portion of the plan should answer the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the site?
- What is the branding strategy for the website?
- How will users convert on the website?
- How can the site use simple and clear content with a call to action and a sales funnel to drive conversions?
Website Goals and Objectives – This includes the monthly and annual goals and expected marketing results from the website, such as total visits, leads per month or sales. At a minimum, the following areas should be included in website goals and projections:
- Total website visitors
- Bounce rate
- Search engine traffic
- Referral traffic
- Conversion rate
- Total conversions
Target Market – This section describes the key market segments targeted by the website and their conversion points. This includes the secondary markets in each market segment and their location. Web marketing is very effective at targeting site visitors by location. It should also include a description of the target market’s demographics and psychographics. Psychographics is a description of your target market’s key characteristics, personality values and related lifestyle variables. This provides direction for the website’s taglines, navigation, content, design, usability and more. The objective is to describe the ideal market segment and then develop a website that meets their needs. Include in this section any user behaviors that are unique to your target market. Include market research approaches in this section to help verify your strategy and the needs of your target market.
Competitive Analysis – This section is a thorough analysis of competing websites targeting similar market segments. Include several industry leading websites for best practices. This will also provide many examples of what not to do on your site. This is an essential part of your strategic digital marketing plan and most business leaders do not spend enough time reviewing and monitoring competitor websites and strategies. This can help you avoid loss of market share.
Taglines and Content Strategy – The strategy section should include a tagline that is a summary of your company’s key value and ties into the strategy for the website. This may include several taglines and strategy for content in general on the website.
Products and Services – Much of the most valuable content on the site will be descriptions of your products and services. Your strategic digital marketing plan describes the approaches and organization for this content on your website and throughout the web. Remember to include a strategy for how visitors can buy or inquire about your services or products directly from the website.
Step Two: Website Design and Development
Just as commercial or residential building is designed by an architect, so should you develop a blueprint for your website. These are the specific set of instructions turned over to your design and development team as they build the website.
Site Map – This is a critical part of the website design and should be created in your strategic digital marketing plan before the site goes to the design phase. The site map is an outline of the navigation structure for the website including the main navigation. The site map can be used to create a wireframe design for the website.
Website Design – Detailed design instructions are included here for the website graphic designer. Design elements are driven by the needs of the target market, not the needs of the designer. This section should include specific instructions and perhaps even a wireframe of the website navigation so your graphic design team can develop an initial home page layout. The following elements should be reviewed in this section.
- Logo design
- Colors and graphic elements
- Photos and images
- Navigation menus
- Secondary navigation and footers
- Fonts and content layout
- Layout recommendations and usability
Website Development – This section is an overview of the various technology platforms for the site selected in part by how many visitors you expect and the site’s overall strategy. Ongoing website updates should be considered when selecting a platform along with the amount of outside help versus internal resources needed for site updates. CMS (Content Management System) websites such as WordPress are recommended for the majority of content based websites. This allows anyone on your team to update the website from a browser. This section should define the use of website plugins, forms, e-commerce solutions, integration with current software and other technologies as needed.
Step Three: Traffic Generation
Traffic Generation – Many types of traffic generation action items are included in this section. It includes search engine optimization details, social media, content strategies, search engine advertising and more. Here is a list of the most important traffic generation channels to review in your strategic digital marketing plan:
- Offline Traffic Generation – This includes all the offline methods used to send visitors to your website. Traffic from this source is usually measured as direct traffic and can be the highest converting traffic of any traffic source.
- Search Engines – This includes search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, keyword analysis and research and all other efforts to get found in the search engines. Google, Yahoo and MSN comprise almost all the search engines on the web. This part of your strategic digital marketing plan outlines how to get found in those search engines for important keyword search terms.
- E-mail Marketing – A plan for e-mail marketing is included in this section.
- Website Referrals – Building links from websites that are frequented by your target market and that can link to your website.
- Social Media – This includes your content strategy for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and other social media websites.
- Content Marketing – Your plan for content distribution throughout the web and your use of content on your website and in social media to pull traffic into your website.
- Other Traffic Generation – Other suggestions that can result in traffic generation opportunities are included here.
All these traffic generation channels should be measured closely in your web stats and monitored for ROI. Traffic generation is the most expensive of the strategic digital marketing steps and you must have a plan in place for measuring return in the form of website conversions.
Step Four: Monitoring ROI and Tracking Results
Website Data and ROI Objectives – This section defines how web data is used and the process for regular website updates and ongoing content generation for the website and other strategic digital marketing projects. Monthly strategic digital marketing meetings should be included with sample agendas and team member responsibilities. Websites are never finished. They are ongoing sales and marketing channels for your business that never stop working. This is a good section for ROI and conversion worksheets to help track and measure results.
Keep in mind the strategic digital marketing plan should identify your target market’s needs and hot buttons. The plan identifies how to help the target market do their job better or improve the quality of their lives. The good news is your business already does this! A strong digital marketing plan is a written document that translates to the web what your business already does well and sets strategic direction. A plan that follows the Four-Step Process is complete and thorough. This plan will result in action items and monitoring techniques that just about guarantee online success and help you beat online competitors.
- The Four-Step Process can be used as an outline for a solid strategic digital marketing plan. Review the four steps in detail.
- Write a digital marketing plan, even if it is only one page in length, following these guidelines and recommendations.
- Assign responsibilities to team members to execute the plan’s action items.
- Make sure to set up a process for tracking progress toward your strategic digital marketing goals.
- Review and modify the plan as needed on a regular basis.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.