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Marketing 101: To Be Effective, You Need A Plan

The world of business is changing daily, so its important to stay ahead of the competition. Small businesses can benefit from having an online marketing plan in a world where the internet and technology are expanding at a rapid rate.

Here are some tips on how to create an effective online marketing plan:

1. Know Your Business (And Your Competitors)

At the centre of any online marketing plan is our own businesses. Before putting a plan together, we need to understand the inner-workings behind our own brands. The best way to start is by creating a definition of our businesses, which should include:

  • What our companies are about (where they started and where they’re going);
  • A description of our products and services;
  • Our current and possible target audiences;
  • Benefits our customers’ get from our businesses;
  • Our competitors and what sets us apart from them.

Another powerful way to define our businesses is through a SWOT analysis. Understanding the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of our businesses allows us to know what we can use to our advantage in our strategies, and what we can improve on to get closer to our marketing goals.

2. Learning About Our Target Audience

To have an online marketing plan that is effective and engages people, we need to create a profile of the audience we are targeting with the campaign. We can define a target audience by key factors such as their age group, gender, marital status, income, location and lifestyle. Knowing these characteristics allows us to prioritise which of them is the most relevant to what our brands and businesses offer.

Knowing our current and potential target audiences well, gives us the opportunity to create an online marketing plan that will make it easier for them to make the connections between the benefits that our businesses offer, and how their needs will be met by doing business with us.

3. Setting Goals For Our Campaigns

The most important part of creating an online marketing plan is setting goals for what we want to achieve with our campaigns. Defining the goals that we have allows us to create a strategy that is geared towards achieving something specific, but also gives us something to measure the success of our campaigns by.

A great way to streamline our goals is to make sure that we have an in-depth knowledge of what we want to achieve, by asking:

  • What? The outcomes we want to achieve.
  • Why? The reasons that we are setting these goals.
  • Who? The people who will be involved in the process.
  • Where? The online platforms that will be used during the campaign.
  • Which? The things we will need and the obstacles in achieving those goals.
4. Putting A Strategy Together

Now that we have all of the information about our businesses and competitors, our target audiences and our goals, we can use it to start planning a strategy for the online marketing campaign.

When putting the strategy together, it’s important to consider:

  • Who will be responsible for the work that needs to be done for the campaign?
  • Who will be accountable for monitoring the progress and quality of the work?
  • What resources will be used to support the people doing the work for the campaign?
  • Who will be consulted to make sure that the campaign stays on track, and whether anything needs to be updated when it’s running?
  • Who needs to be informed about the progress of the campaign?

The resources and budget that we have available for the online marketing campaign will determine the scope of what can be done. Resources include time, staff, skills, knowledge, money, equipment and online platforms that we have available to our businesses and for the campaign.

While setting up a strategy, having a back-up plan is also a good idea to ensure that if the original campaign does not work as expected, we can immediately implement another plan-of-action without wasting time.

5. Creating A Plan-Of-Action

Once there is a strategy in place, developing a plan-of-action allows us to schedule what needs to be done before and during the campaign; and the people responsible for the tasks that need to be carried out. A great way to do this is to write up a list of what needs to be done and who will be responsible for the tasks, according to a time frame that has deadlines for specific tasks as well.

An action plan is a useful tool to keep track of progress, manage resources, and oversee the implementation of strategies and the work that needs to be done. In this way, we can co-ordinate and organise how the online marketing is carried out, which ensures a better rate of success as well.

6. Running The Online Marketing & Monitoring It’s Success

All of the research and strategy up until this point has prepared us for online marketing success, but monitoring the campaign while it’s happening is what will ensure that to really is successful. The best way to monitor an online campaign while it’s happening is to make use of web analytics tools that we can use to check how our audience is being impacted by our campaign, and whether we need to adjust it to align better with the goals we have set.

The best analytics tool to use is Google Analytics, which can measure where traffic comes from, target audience demographics, conversions, bounce rates (the amount of time people spend browsing) and a variety of other data. Monitoring our online campaigns allows us to update or change things in real-time, so that we achieve maximum success by the end of it.

Creating an online marketing plan is time-consuming, and you may need additional resources for optimal success. Whether you need assistance with your Social Media, Email Marketing and Branding Campaigns, SEO or Web Analytics – we are here to help!