How should my online marketing plan be different to my general marketing plan? Or should there be no difference?
First we need to take a big step back and recognise that any marketing plan should focus on one thing first – your customer.
How is your product or service going to help them, save them time or make them more money?
(Before we go any further, just a note to say I have taken ‘online marketing’ to mean ‘digital marketing’. Online marketing generally refers to marketing techniques that people engage with only when connected to the internet, not other digital outputs like touchscreens, digital signage or kiosks.)
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Once you have established a clear idea of who that is, you can use different channels (which just mean ways or devices) to reach them.
Digital marketing channels include your website, blogs or content marketing, email marketing and social media.
Offline marketing channels include customised direct mail, networking and any printed promotional material.
Segment your customers so their message is incredibly tight and delivered only through the channels that reach them the best.
I would call the planning and implementation of this a campaign or strategy. These campaigns would be a component of your general marketing plan.
You may end up with a series of mini-campaigns and each one should have a clearly defined plan of attack.
There is often a crossover of online and offline channels, as you will probably find that customers will prefer to respond to your marketing efforts offline. So make sure you have allowed for this in your plan.
Each campaign should contain these basics:
- Clearly describe your customer in detail.
- State what you want to achieve by engaging with them.
- Define the measurement for success, how you will track it or what it adds to your bottom line.
- Have a weekly ‘To Do’ list with completion dates and put it on a calendar. If it is an online calendar set an alarm or reminder to keep you on track.
One difference to consider is the online world moves a lot faster than offline. You need to be reviewing your data/results from the digital portion of a campaign around every four weeks.
Compare this to the time frame of a traditional marketing piece like a brochure, which needs designing, printing and then posting out to your customer. That process may take months to see the results for one item.
However, if you have a customer segment that places a higher value on a physical item you will get better quality engagement as you have spent time tailoring that message to them.
If you want faster data from your print material add a QR code or buy a memorable URL address: These direct people to specific pages on a website to continue the conversation about your product or service which you can then track via analytics tools.
Of course the key to any successful marketing plan is doing it.
If your amazing marketing plan sits in a folder on a shelf, it is unlikely to happen.
Print out your mission statement or ‘To Do’ list/calendar as big as possible and put it up somewhere highly visible to keep you inspired!