Why planning is more important than ever in a digital marketing world

Have you cracked your digital marketing plan for 2020 yet? If you’re putting it off until the Christmas rush is over, or if planning has never really been your forte, I’m going to try to inspire you to get started and make your 2020 digital efforts your best ones yet!

The plethora of digital channels we have at our fingertips means that making a proper marketing plan is more important than ever. The rise of digital media has given us so many brilliant tools to reach customers and prospects, but it does mean marketing can become a time sponge if we’re not careful. Digital media is designed to be very easy to deploy, with tempting offers to get you to ‘optimise’ and spend more money. It can also be easy to be reactive, posting on the hoof (pun intended) when you fancy it rather than thinking strategically.


See also: Digital marketing trend predictions for 2020


You need to be able to refer to a plan to know what tasks need doing each week, day or month and review as you go along so you optimise your efforts. So, here’s how to get started:

How to create a digital marketing plan
  • List all the digital channels you use and make sure you know how they really work. For example, if you use Instagram are you including around 30 hashtags with each post? Do you update your website regularly and have you ensured it is search engine optimised? Do you have a list of customers’ email addresses and use it to share helpful content and offers? Nailing the basics is a great place to start.
  • Decide which digital marketing tasks you can handle, and which ones might need outside expertise. No-one expects you to be brilliant at everything, and if your time is better spent focusing on the elements of your business only you can do, outsource other things. Digital marketing trends are always shifting, so it’s worth taking the advice of an expert every now and then. SEO is a really good example of this as Google tweaks the way organic and paid search works, but there are plenty of freelancers or agencies out there waiting to help you out.
  • Refer to your business plan to ensure your goals are reflected in your marketing efforts. If your aim for 2020 is to boost sales, launch a new product or raise brand awareness, you will use a slightly different combination of digital tools (and perhaps some traditional ones too!) to achieve your goals. Split any advertising budget accordingly as well, so you don’t accidentally pop all your promotional eggs in one basket.
  • Build in a calendar element to your plan and ensure that both your sector’s key dates (i.e. the Game Fair and the Glorious 12th for a shooting school) and seasonal events (i.e. Mothering Sunday, Easter, Halloween and so on) are in there. Flag up when these events are 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks or a fortnight away so you can weave advance offers and promotions into your marketing.
  • Divide your plan up into the attention needed for each channel, but make sure the messages are consistent across your whole digital presence. If you’ve posted on Facebook or paid for Instagram advertising about a new service but it’s nowhere to be seen on your website, your potential customers might head elsewhere.


See also: Why digital marketing tools are essential for even the smallest rural businesses


How to make the most of your digital marketing plan

Once you’ve got your 6 months or a years’ worth of digital activity planned out, how can you ensure you’re making the most of all the effort spent putting it together? Well, I talk a lot about one of the key benefits of digital marketing being the data it creates. The information about engagement, clicks, likes, open rates dwell times, bounce rates and so much more all enable us to assess what has worked well and what hasn’t.

Make sure you review your campaigns and if you see a pattern emerging, even if it’s not quite what you planned, tweak your future efforts accordingly. Be open to new ideas and partnerships as the months fly by but do refer back to your original business goals to stay on track for the year. And most important of all? Get started and enjoy it!

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