Everything You Need to Know About Building A 12-Month Digital Marketing Blueprint – Straight from A Digital Marketing Agency
It’s nearing the end of the year and, if you’re part of a digital marketing team, that means it’s time to start thinking about your digital marketing blueprint for the next year.
Or, if you haven’t made a digital marketing blueprint before, now is the time to start! Any digital marketing agency will tell you that companies that genuinely plan out their content marketing ahead of time are much more likely to succeed with their marketing, compared to those who only play it by ear. Even if you’re part of a small company or startup, you can give yourself a big head start by putting together a content plan ahead of time.
Trying to create an overall plan for an entire year might seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds. The key is to break the job down into a series of easily-performed steps.
8 Key Steps in Creating A Year-Long Digital Marketing Blueprint
- Assess your current market position
As Sun Tzu famously said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Self-assessment is a critical part of creating any sort of successful long-term business plan, but this is an area that is often overlooked.
You should take a step back and look at the big picture:
- Where do you truly fit into your market?
- What are the biggest strengths of your product, and the unique value propositions you use to convey those strengths?
- What are your weakest points, or those areas where your competition has a clear advantage over you?
- Focus on aspects such as your product’s utility value, price, customer experience, post-sale support, and customer loyalty.
Honesty is critical here. No one has a perfect product which is better than everyone else’s in all respects. Understand both the strengths and weaknesses of your operation, so that you can play to the former and avoid being hindered by the latter.
- Form realistic plans for the coming year
Knowing your current position, you can then start thinking about where you want to be at the end of the next year. Form goals and objectives, and be sure that those objectives are clear, well-defined, and achievable. Whenever possible, use numerical specifics.
In other words, don’t merely say “We want to improve customer experience.” Have a metric, based on hard data. If necessary, invent a metric for the purpose. Start mailing out surveys, look at the results, and then say, “Our customer experience ratings should be X% higher a year from now.” Same with sales numbers, or any other key performance indicator. Don’t be vague; give yourself concrete numerical goals – and make them reasonably achievable.
Sure, plans may change as the year goes on, but start with concrete goals. If possible, also sub-divide them into quarterly or monthly milestones which you can check off throughout the year.
- Start planning your marketing campaigns
Once you know where you’re at, and where you want to be in a year, you can begin drawing up plans for how to get from point A to point B.
This will, of course, be extremely individualized for each business and market, so an article like this can only provide rough guidance. Hiring a digital marketing agency can make the planning phase go much more easily! However, here are some broad factors to keep in mind:
- Make or update your buyer personas. Your buyer personas are a lifeline when trying to decide what sorts of marketing campaigns will appeal to your buyers. Your personas should be as up to date as possible. Remember, buyer trends can shift rapidly, so don’t assume personas from years ago are still accurate.
- Create a timeline of campaigns. Hopefully, you have a good idea of what major initiatives your business will be launching across the course of the year. Start planning a timeline of campaigns to coincide with those initiatives.
- Assign people and budgets. Now is also the time to lock down your budget for your upcoming marketing initiatives and make assignments of who will be responsible for what aspects.
- Audit your existing content
This is also the time to look at what’s currently on your website and decide what works vs. what needs to be thrown out or revamped.
- Is the overall tone and style on-brand for your current corporate persona?
- Do all your blogs and landing pages have clear calls-to-action?
- Do you have any leftover landing pages referencing expired promotions?
- Do the various CTAs and other audience-grabbing techniques still fit your revised buyer personas?
- Is your content still supporting the buyer’s journey, with clear top/middle/bottom of the funnel materials?
- Don’t forget to audit external media sources such as YouTube, if you maintain a channel!
Depending on the amount of content on your site, revising it may be a year-long process. If so, start prioritizing the changes and then make that part of your overall digital marketing blueprint.
- Plan for new content
By knowing what’s on your website, and other digital platforms, you can start thinking about what new content will be needed to support your marketing strategies. If you did your homework in Steps 2 & 3, you should be able to easily see what’s needed and layout a provisional content calendar that dovetails with your timeline.
However, don’t forget that repurposing content is also an option! Updating old pages allows those pages to keep their existing SEO juice while making them more attractive to new visitors.
(This is a trick digital marketing agencies love to use because it keeps costs down.)
- Consider your self-promotion
Content marketing isn’t a purely passive activity! You will want to have more specific outreach intended on guiding people towards your website and other content outlets. In particular, plan for the following:
- Email outreach. Email is still among the most cost-effective promotional options available. Plan on having a newsletter, or email promotions mailed out to your list regularly. A marketing automation system can make this so much easier, so consider trying to fit one into your budget.
- Social media. Do your choices in social media outlets still match your buyer personas? Have new social media sites opened recently that could be useful? Survey the landscape and see if anything needs to change.
- Keywords and SEO: Have you updated your keyword target list recently? Have you checked to see how you’re faring vs. the competition? Now is the time to make those changes, if necessary. Remember that voice search is growing in popularity! Focus on natural-language keywords, phrases, and questions.
- Paid ads: Do you want to pay extra for PPC, banner ads, and similar paid promotions? This can be tricky to calculate, particularly if you’re relatively new to online marketing. A digital marketing agency can help you weigh your options!
- Prepare for lead management
Now that you have most of your content plans in place, it’s time to think about what will happen when your audience responds. In particular, you want a clear set of guidelines for handling new leads, and how to encourage them to move through the conversion funnel.
Also, now is an excellent time to go through your CRM or lead database, clearing out any dead leads. You don’t want them wasting your sales staff’s time.
Finally, investigate technological/automation options for increasing lead conversions. For example, cart-abandonment emails and remarketing PPC ads are excellent at bringing people back to your site, if they left without completing a sale.
- Get your reporting in order
The last thing on the list is planning for oversight and reporting. Based on everything else you’ve planned out, you should have a very good idea of what data you will want to gather, and which key performance indicators you’ll be focusing on. Be certain you have a solution in place to collect and analyze this data!
So, set up your database and reporting tools so they’ll be ready for the new influx of data in the coming year. If possible, have them ready to immediately start spitting out month-to-month and year-to-year reports so you can start comparing results as soon as your new campaigns begin.
Marketing Metrics Corp. Is Your Industrial Digital Marketing Agency
We have years of experience focusing on the industrial sector, helping organizations of all sizes add successful digital marketing campaigns to their overall outreach portfolio. To learn more about how a digital marketing agency can help your operation succeed, contact us directly.