When Should I Start Planning for My Digital Marketing plan?
With 2021 coming to an end, it is time to start preparing for 2022. You should always annually plan your marketing as you are setting goals to achieve throughout the course of the year. However, it is a daily activity that you should be constantly doing. This is a time to be reflective and honest with yourself in order to determine the performance of your digital marketing strategy.
The Basics of Planning Your Digital Marketing
Business Digital Marketing Goals
When you start planning, beginning with identifying digital marketing tactics is not the ideal way to initiate this process. A major objective and the first thing you need to do is to define your digital marketing business goals. Goals could include launching a new product or service, hitting a certain revenue objective, etc. Identifying these goals below will help you progress forward in 2022.
Let’s identify your marketing funnel, customer buying cycle, or buyer’s journey, (they all mean the same thing). You and your business need to clearly define how customers move from one stage of awareness to another. Here you want to get consumers to just get aware of you, which is the TOF (top-of-the-funnel). This section of the funnel is about education, persuading consumers with meaningful information on why your products or services are best for them.
The end goal is to move consumers to the BOF (bottom-of-the-funnel). At this stage, this is when the consumer is ready to complete a purchase/conversion. Also, there is a better chance that those in this stage already like your business, and hopefully are recommending your products and services to others.
Also, it is vital that you understand your audience. It is important to get specific information here rather than broad because then you can segment different groups of people and create different target audiences. Here are some questions that you should be able to answer:
Do you know your audience?
What specific demographics are attributed to them? Factors such as age, gender, etc.
Do they have certain interests?
Do they have certain behaviors?
Another basic component that you need to consider is your marketing budget. Do you have a marketing budget that allows you to use additional resources outside of your own team? Hiring a digital marketing agency might be a valuable option to consider if you think that digital marketing is something you are not strongly knowledgeable in. That could possibly be hiring an additional freelancer to help you out, but it all comes down to if you have the budget sorted out with what you can spend and not.
Analyze Your Digital Marketing Data and Competitors
As we are ending the year, the most appropriate way to analyze your data would be to look at the entire year’s worth. We like to look at Google Analytics. However, if you utilize other platforms like Hubspot or SharpSpring, it is important to look at those as well as they have their own stories to tell. Just because we are looking into data, does not mean that you should start your planning yet! You need to be honest while analyzing this data, and determine what worked and what did not.
Let’s dive into some questions that we should be analyzing.
What Channel for Digital Marketing Drove the Most Traffic?
Ensuring that you used all parts of the funnel to drive traffic. The major types of channels are organic traffic, email marketing, ads and sometimes there might be offline traffic or referral traffic. Before moving on, be sure that there is enough traffic in order to make decisions that are statistically significant.
How Did Your Digital Marketing Traffic Behave?
Here you can start looking at the traffic and certain metrics. Once traffic came to your website, you should look at the bounce rate, time spent, page views, etc. If you are using multiple platforms as we mentioned earlier, it is important to evaluate the strategies that were implemented and see what brought in traffic and what did not. Heading into your behavior report on Google Analytics is a great resource to use.
What Pages of your Website Performed the Best/Worst?
Usually, your homepage will be your best page. However, that may not always be the case. While you are wanting to find the pages that performed the best for you, it is also as important to look into those that were on the other side of the spectrum. You need to see if that page needs to be located elsewhere on your website, if the content is good enough, or if the page is even needed at all. Having dead pages is not necessary for your website.
This information is in your behavior report in Google Analytics as well. Another factor to look for is to see what pages people are exiting on. Are they supposed to exit there? Or does there need to be an audit done for that page to either add content or lead them to another page that is the designated exit page? All of this optimizing is beneficial for your marketing funnel. One other reason that people may be leaving those pages could be because of web developmental issues. The page could be taking too long to load and the consumer gets frustrated and leaves.
Did I Choose the Right Audience to Target?
Remember, we are just taking notes still, we are not planning just yet. Analyze the distribution or the platform you used to drive your traffic. With each campaign created, it is essential if you are allowed to target an audience that you do so and correspond that audience with the campaign goal.
What Digital Marketing Strategies/Tactics Could I Have Utilized?
On certain platforms, there are tools that can be used to better optimize your digital marketing strategy. For example, we use the keyword planner on Google Ads as we can discover new keywords and get search volume and forecasts from the keywords that we have selected. 15% of traffic is new on any given day of a search, so we want to ensure that we are aware of how people are researching. If you do use the tools that are offered, it is always a good idea to return to what you have done and revamp anything in case certain desires are not being met.
What Marketing Platforms Am I Not Trying Right Now?
It is safe to say that if you have a digital marketing strategy, then you are probably using platforms such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook. However, there are plenty of other strategies that could be created if you researched other platforms. The platforms that are more unknown will be beneficial for you since they are not as expensive. There is also a higher chance that other companies are not using these platforms, so that could give you an advantage over your competitors.
What Are My Competitors Doing?
Lastly, you need to analyze what your competitors are doing. Doing this can help you notice what your competitors are not doing, and then you can act on it. Making you the first person/company to do it. Do not just inspect your competitor’s website, ads, etc., and copy what they are doing, it is about creating a competitive advantage and trying to stand out from them.
Why did we add this last? If you had started this process by analyzing competitors, then you might have based your digital marketing plan around them. Instead, it is better to contemplate thoughts on your own and see what you can come up with. It is important to look at what they are doing but start with your own ideas first.
A SWOT Analysis is where you want to be looking for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Utilize this analysis to enhance your 2022 digital marketing plan.
Strengths are where you see where and what you excelled in your digital marketing plan. Here is when you should be prideful of what you have accomplished, and continue to build on that to make a strength even stronger.
On the other hand, you have to look into your weaknesses. You need to identify your weaknesses within your strategies. From there, you need to decide whether to eliminate them or try to fix those certain areas. If they are negatively impacting your business or you do not see any potential in them helping you, it is safe to say to just go ahead and get rid of that weakness.
O is for opportunities, and an example of this can fall back to employing new platforms. What are the platforms you looked into but have not tried before? Also, think of traffic here as well. Where is there an opportunity to bring in traffic to the website that is quality traffic? This concept refers to how you can create that competitive advantage over your competitors.
At the end of this analysis, we have threats. There are a lot of threats that need to be considered whether that is internal or external. Internally, we have mentioned web development issues and how those can aggravate people as they are trying to access your website. Pages could have 404 errors, page speed could be slow, etc. That is why it is so important to always audit your own content. Externally, we saw a lot of changes that can impact measuring your digital marketing key performance indicators. In a recent blog, we have mentioned that Apple is no longer sharing data from apps to the app makers of major platforms. Also, Google has changed the date a couple of times but as of right now they plan to remove the cookie at the end of 2023. So there are always going to be threats, if you were unaware of this news, you should sign up for a newsletter to better prepare yourselves.
Time to Develop the Plan
Now that we have started with the basics, studied our data, researched other platforms, and looked at our competitors, it is time to create your 2022 digital marketing strategy. Go back into your business goals, marketing funnels and use the things that worked for you in the previous year. You should add all those factors and further develop those strategies. Push yourself, and see what is something new that you and your business can try. Utilize the SWOT analysis to see those opportunities.
The last thing to do is set those KPI’s. You know what you are trying to accomplish, so look at each individual channel and determine those respective KPIs for each particular one. Each platform and channel of marketing is different and coordinates to different parts of your marketing funnel. Those at the TOF (top-of-the-funnel) should have different KPIs versus the BOF (bottom-of-the-funnel).Just make them realistic though, you can always move the goal post!
Now you know the basics of your marketing, you have examined your data and you have set realistic KPIs (key performance indicators). Constantly be evaluating your plan quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. Digital marketing changes extremely quickly, that is why we have placed such an emphasis on checking your plan. You got this! And if you don’t we do. :)
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Jennifer Denney has been in digital marketing since 2006 and has seen a wealth of changing landscape in digital marketing. She has seen the rise and fall of many marketing tactics. She is deeply rooted in understanding the metrics that showcase the value of certain types of digital marketing. She produces weekly live shows with Lorraine Ball, solocast with Elevated Marketing Chats, and conducts a weekly podcast called Elevated Marketing Dot Podcast.