If you fail to plan, you plan to fail -Digital Marketing Plan-
DIGITAL MARKETING PLAN
Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I’m sure many of
the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be
getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. But I’m equally sure
that many are missing opportunities or are suffering from the other challenges I’ve listed
below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organisations who most urgently
need governance. There’s arguably less need for a strategy in a smaller company.
Many, a majority of companies in this research do take a strategic approach to digital. From
talking to companies, I find the creation of digital plans often occurs in two stages.First a
separate digital marketing plan is created. This is useful to get agreement and buy-in by
showing the opportunities and problems and map out a path through setting goals and
specific strategies for digital including how you integrated digital marketing into other
Second, digital becomes integrated into marketing strategy, it’s a core activity, “business-as-
usual”, but doesn’t warrant separate planning, except for the tactics.
Reasons you need a digital strategy
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”
I find that companies without a digital strategy don’t have clear strategic goals for what they
want to achieve. And if you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach
the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.
You don't know your online market share
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven't researched this.
Perhaps more importantly you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will
be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour,
competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications.
You don't know your customers well enough
It’s often said that digital is the “most measureable medium ever”. But Google Analytics and
similar will only tell you volumes not sentiment. You need to use other forms of website user
feedback tools to identify your weakpoints and then address them.
You're not integrated (disintegrated)
It’s all too common for digital to be completed in silos whether that’s a specialist digital
marketer, sitting in IT or a separate digital agency. It’s easier that way to package digital
marketing into a convenient chunk. But of course it’s less effective. Everyone agrees that
digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.
Wasting time and money through duplication
Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger
companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different
tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.
You're not agile enough to catchup or stay ahead
If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all
dynamic - trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.
You're not optimising
Every company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t ensure
that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy enables
you to get the basics right, then you can progress to continuous improvement of the key
aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing.
Creating a Digital Strategy (RACE model)
We created the RACE Planning system to help give a simple framework to help small and
large businesses alike take best advantage of the opportunities available from digital
RACE consists of four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage
their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Reach Reach means building awareness of a brand, its products and services on other
websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web
presences like your main site, microsites or social media sites.
- Act Act is short for Interact. It’s about persuading site visitors or prospects take the
next step, the next Action on their journey when they initially reach your site or social
network presence. It may mean finding out more about a company or it’s products, searching
to find a product or reading a blog post. You should define these actions as top-level goals of
the funnel in analytics. Goals can include “Viewed product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as
member” or “Signed up for an enewsletter.
Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be sharing of content via social media or
customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage). It’s about engaging the audience through
relevant, compelling content and clear navigation pathways so that they don’t hit the back
button. The bounce rates on many sites is greater than 50%, so getting the audience to act or
participate is a major challenge which is why we have identified it separately.
- Convert Again the conversion point needs to be defined for each business, but
typically its conversion to sale. For a multichannel retailer it will be an online or offline sales
outcome. For other businesses, it could be where the visitor commits to form a relationship
which will generate commercial value for the business such as a lead.
- Engage This is long-term engagement, building customer relationships over time
through multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints such
as your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value. It
can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sale and sharing content through social
media.We also need to measure percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and
customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems.
Create a digital-marketing-strategy in 3 steps:
◦ where are we now?
◦ Where do we want to be?
◦ how do we get there?
◦ how exactly do we get there?
◦ What is our plan?
◦ Did we get there?
You plan to succeed with digital channels if you have:
- Smart RACEobjectives based on marketplace analysis
- Strategies aligned with objectives
- Integration between online and offline activities
– Sufficient allocated resource
Opportunity -where are we now? Where do we get there?-
It defines the digital marketing capabilities. It can be splitted in: healthcheck, market analysis,
SWOT analysis, define a vision, smart RACE objectives, actionable dashboards.
Ask your self questions about your approach to digital-marketing-strategy. You can answer
from 1 to 5.
- Do we have a defined digital strategy to create growth?
By "defined" we mean a separate digital strategy document or integrated into other
- We have clear online goals aligned with business goals?
- Do we use an online marketing dashboard to track goals and KPIs?
The dashboard could be custom reports in Google Analytics or spreadsheets to report
on performance monthly, weekly or, for an active Ecommerce site, daily. It should
cover key areas of effectiveness across the customer touchpoints of RACE.
- Do we know who we're speaking to, our target audience and market?
That is, do you have a defined grouping of target prospects and customers i.e.
- Do we have a content strategy including a defined network of online partners and
- Do we learn from competitors in a structured way?
You should regularly benchmark to compare performance and marketing techniques.
This is a situation analysis reviewing how your customers use digital channels integrated with
Output a: A marketplace map summarises customer types, customer search behaviour, key
influencer types and intermediaries.
Output b: Create a digital channel SWOT in TOWS format to summarise the key issues you
need to manage for digital channels.
Define a vision:
Every company is on a journey to improve their digital competence – it will take more than a
year and will be ongoing. Your vision should highlight the benefits digital transformation will
deliver to the customer and the company summarised using top-level goals with the 5Ss.
Smart RACE objectives:
Specific commercial objectives from digital channels should be set based on quantitative
modelling of direct online sales (online revenue or profit contribution) and indirect (offline
Output: A key part of summarising strategy – a table aligning SMART RACE objectives with
strategies and KPIs to be tracked.
A conversion-based channel model is recommended to make them quantitative.
Your analytics system should be customised so that you can track KPIs through goals with
values attached to them.
Output: A summary table of RACE KPIs to include on dashboard, covered in the strategy
qualification and Delivering Results guides. Will form custom reports in Google Analytics as
described in our GA guide.
Strategy -how do we get there?-
Define Segmentation and Targeting
Digital channels give new opportunities to target niche audiences with existing or new
Priorities for targeting markets and audiences should be defined.
Output: Table summarising targeting options with different online media channels – Paid-
Set Positioning – Online Value Proposition
The Online Value Proposition reinforces key brand messages from 7Ps and highlights the
reasons why audiences should engage with a brand and be influenced to buy and share.
OVP=Online Value Proposition=Brand Adding Value to Audience
• help me to do my job / to live my life
• help me develop / learn
• entertain / inspire me
• help me select and use products
Action – how exactly do we get there? What is our plan? Did we get
Reach, Act, conver, engage
Ensure you have appropriate controlled spend of online media through budgeting for Paid-
Owned-Earned media investment with a conversion-based budget model.
Each media needs to be tracked according to the objectives and KPIs defined in the
Opportunity section. It’s essential to compare channels by conversion and effectiveness
with proper metrics. Dashboard to calculate KPIs per each media investment category.
Breakdown of KPIs of each activity.
• Search Marketing
◦ Paid Search, PPC
◦ Paid for inclusion feeds
• Online PR -Take advantage of online network connections by identifying key influencers
and complimentary partners and then developing proactive management of these-
◦ Publisher outreach
◦ Media alerting
◦ Brand protection
• Online partnership
◦ affiliate marketing
◦ widget marketing
• Social media marketing
◦ audience participation
◦ managing social presence
◦ viral campaigns
◦ customer feedback
◦ house list e-mails
◦ co-branded email
◦ ads in third party newsletter
• Interactive ads
◦ site specific media buys
◦ ad networks
◦ behavioural targeting
• offline communication
◦ personal selling
◦ sales promotion
◦ direct mail
Prioritise and define customer journeys (CXM): Define conversion funnels and pathways
within site design based on Top Customer Tasks and the value of content.
Digital marketing often encourages the creation of silos, especially in large organisations.
Integration planning will help develop:
• Seamless customer journeys from online to offline
• Co-ordination and collaboration between internal and external teams
Content is the a online asset which plays a role across RACE, so it needs to be proactively
managed through a content marketing strategy or plan which sets out:
• Priories for content investment, for example using the Content Marketing Matrix.
• Scheduling content through editorial calendar
• Search Engine Optimisation of content
• Analysing and optimising content effectiveness
Conversion Rate Optimisation:
CRO is Conversion Rate Optimisation. Your CRO plan sets out a schedule for tests to improve
to increase conversion rate and value generated via your digital marketing during customer
acquisition. Output: CRO plan and schedule of Experiments.
Merchandising is traditionally an Ecommerce activity, although best practices aren’t described
much. Output: Merchandising plan defining updates to Products, Promotions and Content to
Understanding loyalty drivers through determining Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score is
crucial to encouraging repeat sales and recommendations. It often has insufficient attention
with the focus on Acquisition and Conversion.
Output: Customer Loyalty plan
Social media strategy:
Social media underpins many of these other activities, so it needs an overall plan and
integration with most digital marketing activities. Output: Social Media Plan
Customer email contact strategy:
• Review email engagement
• Implement customer contact strategy