Two businesses can sell the same product or service to the same people, but one will fail, and the other will see massive year-over-year growth. Why? It’s all in how they market what they are offering.
Your business plan should include a section with a digital marketing strategy for your company and how it will help you attract the right customers, in the right places, at the right time. Here is how to create a digital marketing for your business plan:
Goals, KPIs, and Analytics
To know how far you’ve come, you need a way to quantifiably measure it. Create marketing goals and objectives and include them in your marketing plan. Ideally, these need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) goals.
Good goals include:
- Increase our social followers by 200% this quarter
- Get an average open rate of 30% this year
- Get an ROI of 250% on [a specific campaign]
Not-so-good goals include:
- To increase my brand exposure (yes, this is a good thing to want, but it’s not easily measurable)
- I want more followers on my social media (of course you do, but how many do you want?)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators are like mini-goals you can use to measure your progress towards your bigger goals. Here are some examples of KPIs you can use to measure success:
- # of overall leads
- Marketing qualified leads (MQL)
- Sales qualified leads (SQL)
- Customer lifetime value (LTV)
- Cost per lead
- Cost per acquisition
- Website traffic
- Online reach and engagement on social media
- Email open/click-through rates
- Blog post visits
Once you determine which KPIs you want to measure, make sure you have analytics or tracking software in place to capture these numbers.
There is a certain amount of hand-holding required to turn a cold lead or prospect into a sale. Marketing’s job (with the help of your sales team) is to lead your customer through a journey (often referred to as your marketing funnel) to eventually become a customer.
The idea behind a marketing funnel is that your “leads” come in through the top of the funnel. As they work their way through the funnel (aka engaging with your brand) some will drop out. Eventually, a few will make it to the bottom tip of the funnel when they become a customer.
In the marketing section of your business plan, briefly explain how you will nurture leads in each of these stages of the buying process:
- Discovery: These are the first times people are exposed to your brand. Your “hand-holding” here will be focused on building your brand and showing off your expertise in your niche.
- Research: This is when they actively engage with more of your content. This may include reading reviews, downloading case studies or whitepapers, reading your blog posts, interacting with you on social media, or reading your website. Your marketing will go a bit deeper and get more specific as the leads get more knowledgeable about your brand and industry.
- Purchase: This is when they trust you enough to make a purchase or become a customer. At this stage, your content will be centered around the buying process (online store, shipping confirmation, feedback surveys, or the in-store purchasing experience)
- Loyalty: This is where you earn their repeat business or referrals.
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Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
Before you can plan your messaging, create ads, or write any content, you need to know what makes you unique in the marketplace. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP)? There are likely many other businesses that offer the same services, but there is always something you do differently.
Your USP is what helps to differentiate your product or your business from your competitors. To find your USPs ask yourself these questions:
- What unique benefit do we offer?
- What are the most meaningful specs or benefits to our customers?
- Is this something that our competitors don’t do or don’t do well?
- Is there something about our sales process, customer service, or the experience of buying from us that our competitors don’t have?
- What value-add do our products include?
Your USP might even be something about your brand or voice. Perhaps you are a law firm but dress in “beach casual” every day. That could be your key differentiator.
Before you can start selling or marketing your products, you need to know who you are selling to. In your business plan, write down a summary of all your target personas (you should have at least 1-2).
To do this, describe every detail about them including demographics, hobbies, pain points (which we’re going to talk about next), family structure, financial situation, likes/dislikes, and anything else you can think of.
Once you have a detailed description of your target customer, give them a real name like “Joanna” or “Jonathan.” This will help them feel real to you. Then, when developing products, new services, or any marketing content, imagine you are speaking directly to Joanna or Jonathan.
In marketing, your job is to be the solution to someone’s problem. Before you can do that effectively, you need to know their problems so you can better target your marketing to speak to their pain points or reasons for buying your project or services.
Make a list of reasons people buy from you:
- Are they struggling to do something?
- What are they missing that could make their life easier or better?
- Have they had a bad experience with a similar business or product in the past?
- Do they even know the problem exists?
- Do they know a solution exists to their problem?
In your marketing plan, include a list of your customers pain points and reasons to buy from you. Then, when you plan your marketing, speak directly to these pain points and speak to how your company or product solves them.
Get a website
If your business doesn’t have a website, is it really a business? Many businesses survive without a website or online presence but it’s going to be harder to scale and grow your business without one.
At the very least, we believe all businesses should have a website, even if it’s a 1-page site. Here’s how important your website is:
- 75% of people make judgements on your business credibility based on your website design.
- 38% of people will leave a website if it’s unattractive
- 47% of visitors are looking for your products and services information first on your website.
- 88% of people won’t return to your website if they had a bad experience the first time
Your website needs to look good (because in the online world, first impressions are everything), be functional, and be easy-to-use. The second someone encounters a barrier to buy from you, they’re likely to leave and go to your competitors. Make sure that your website works as expected and without creating any problems for your website visitors.
Create a content strategy
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. This is a great online marketing strategy to help bring in new business and nurture leads through your marketing funnel. Your business plan needs to include your strategy for creating and disseminating content to your target customers.
The best content marketing strategies include a variety of channels and formats to suit the different learning styles of your audience (visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic). This means planning to create written content, audio content, graphics and visuals, and content that encourages people to interact and learn by doing.
While you’re not expected to create content in every format for every possible content delivery platform, consider the following content types:
- Social media platforms
- Slide decks
- Online/in-person courses and events
- Free downloads (called Lead Magnets)
Only include content types that make sense for your business and post them on channels where your target customers will see them. In your business plan, add an overview of the channels and formats you plan to create.
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Create a social media presence
Every business needs a social media presence. You don’t have to be on all the platforms all the time, but pick a couple that your target customers frequent. In your business plan, include the basics about your plan to create a social media presence including:
- Your goals, metrics, and KPIs for social media
- What channels you plan to use
- How often you plan to post content
- How you will generate content (or who will be creating it)
Create a social media calendar and include it in your business plan too.
Organic and Paid SEO
There are two ways to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO): organic and paid. If you plan to implement a strategy in your business to harness one or both of these (which we highly recommend), include an outline of what you plan to do.
Because the SEO landscape changes quickly, you may want to hire a professional digital marketing agency to create your SEO strategy for you. This will help ensure you’re implementing the latest best practices and strategies for success.
In your business plan, include whatever detail you can on how you will get traffic from search engines or indicate whether you plan to work with a digital marketing agency on this.
How to include your digital marketing strategy in your business plan
You may want to consider including only high-level information from your digital marketing strategy in your business plan. This is because the details and the tactics may evolve over time as digital marketing is a fast-moving landscape. You want to be strategic about how often you update your formal business plan.
We recommend having a separate, more detailed digital marketing strategy document, where you will go into more detail about everything you plan to do to promote your business online.
If you’d like help to write your business plan, or your digital marketing strategy, get in touch and we can help.