STRATEGY AND PLANNING - The Art of Digital Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Creating Strategic, Targeted, and Measurable Online Campaigns - Ian Dodson

The Art of Digital Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Creating Strategic, Targeted, and Measurable Online Campaigns - Ian Dodson (2016)


An Introduction

Let's make a digital marketing cake. You have all the ingredients lined up and ready to go, now let's put them all into the strategy bowl and mix it together with your planning spoon. After some time baking in the oven, you will have a successful campaign!

A successful digital marketing campaign is one that uses the most appropriate channels to achieve the maximum impact—this chapter will guide you through the process.

You will be able to recognize the most suitable channels for a particular campaign, how to cost and resource your plan appropriately, and how to set and align business objectives with tight implementation plans and well-considered tactical solutions.

Formal definition of strategy and planning: The process of integrating digital marketing activities with a plan, buying for it, and executing a successful digital marketing campaign.

Informal definition of strategy and planning: Composing your digital marketing masterpiece.


This chapter will give you full knowledge of the four stages of the strategy and planning process shown in Figure 10.1:

1. Approach. Before you begin to plan a digital marketing campaign, you have to step back and look at the big picture, spot gaps, and find ways to fill them. Your campaign should be an amazing couture gown—not a dress made from itchy material that the dressmaker forgot to take pins out of!

2. Audience. Your campaign will not be a success unless the right people see it. This section will teach you how to identify your target audience members and how to efficiently communicate your message to them.

3. Activities. Planning involves setting specific objectives—here's where you will learn to recognize different types of action plans and how to use them.

4. Analysis. Your digital marketing plan will not have a definitive beginning, middle, and end—it's an iterative process that you will need to keep a close eye on. This section will explain the tools used to analyze data so that you can monitor what is working, what is not, and how to make any necessary adjustments.

Figure illustrating four-stage strategy and planning process denoted by four circles connected by arrows and arranged in a circular manner. Starting clockwise from top left the circles represent approach, audience, activities, and analysis

Figure 10.1 Four-Step Strategy and Planning Process

Key Terms and Concepts

The focus of this chapter is to arm you with the complete set of skills you need to create an awesome digital marketing campaign. When you reach the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

· Understand and implement the 3i principles.

· Gather essential information on the most important elements of the campaign: the market, your competitors, and your audience.

· Define and segment your target audience.

· Recognize the exact objectives for your specific business plan.

· Know which digital tools to use for every type of business plan.

· Separate your budget and identify the most useful resources to spend money on.

· Manage and monitor your campaign with the suitable digital tools for the entire iterative process.

As a digital marketer, you need to be an expert on every element of a campaign from SEO to analytics—but only a digital marketing maestro can bring them all together. That is where strategy and planning come in; so when the curtain closes on this chapter, you will be a digital marketing Mozart!

Stage 1: Approach

It's all coming together; you've mastered every digital marketing tool you need to get started on your digital marketing journey. But—and this is a big but (and I cannot lie)—you cannot jump into the deep end and expect to float along nicely in calm waters. There are sharks in the ocean—and they bite!

The most important thing to remember about the strategy and planning process is that you must always be prepared, so when it comes to planning a digital marketing campaign you should never take the plunge unprepared. Test the waters first—strategic planning is everything. This is all down to stage 1 of the process, as highlighted in Figure 10.2.

Figure illustrating four-stage strategy and planning process focusing on the first stage (approach). The circle representing approach is shaded

Figure 10.2 Focus on the First Stage in the Strategy and Planning Process

Navigate this section wisely and you will be equipped to:

· Structure the campaign around a specially tailored framework

· Identify and implement the key 3i principles

· Have a complete understanding of your capabilities.

Structure the Plan—Before You Paint the Picture, Frame It

Imagine if Van Gogh's Starry Night was displayed with a frame made from dry pasta stuck onto cardboard. Yes, the painting would still be beautiful, but no one would take it seriously—and picture frames made out of cardboard tend to fall apart pretty quickly.

The first element making up stage 1 of the iterative process is figuring out a cohesive structure to your digital marketing plan so that you can quickly assess your activities and capabilities.

The biggest advantage to digital marketing over traditional marketing is that you do not have to commit to a set budget or stick to one particular channel. In traditional marketing, everything must be decided all at once, whereas your digital marketing strategy and plan is more fluid and can evolve over the course of the campaign.

There are four main factors to keep in mind at the start of your planning process:

1. Structure. Digital marketing gives you the power to test the waters, so start small. Use available funds wisely and carry out a small test campaign with an equally small budget: You don't have to commit to anything unless you can be sure that it works.

2. Budget. Again, it's best to start small and perform small tests. When you see that a particular method is working, increase the budget. Only then will you have a good idea of how much a bigger campaign will cost you over time.

3. Calendar. Your calendar should be totally organic, with no specific end point. This rolling calendar approach can help you track the success of each test.

4. Personnel. Unless you are Oz the Great and Powerful (or your budget and time constraints limit your plan to a one-person team), you cannot do everything, so this is the time to choose your team members. For those who must go it alone, select channels that can be managed based on your specific skill set and the amount of time you can dedicate to the campaign.

Whether a campaign is run entirely by one person or a team, it should be tailored to the skills of those involved, to the budget, and to what you see is actually working from the tests you run in this early stage.

The Customer Is Always…First

So you have a solid framework but you don't have your work of art. Don't worry—that comes in good time.

A brilliant plan is wasted if the right people don't engage with it. Despite being regarded as one of the world's best artists, Van Gogh only sold one painting. Could that be because he didn't quite know whom he was selling to?

To really make the most of what you have got, you must start with the customer and work out towards your digital strategy. Here is where the 3i principles come into play.

1. Initiate. Think about your customers: Figure out what they are looking for by looking at their online behavior.

2. Iterate. Continuously carry out small tests and try new approaches to determine what method works best for your audience.

3. Integrate. Use lots of different channels coherently. This may include traditional (offline) marketing methods, as mixing both online and offline methods will get you the best impact. But of course, you have to know your audience to know if using both will be necessary.

Getting to Know You

Gathering information on customers does not require anyone to lurk around corners with a notepad and pen while wearing a trench coat, trilby hat, and shades. With that said, there are ways to research customers without them knowing what's going on (as seen in Figure 10.3).

Figure depicting market research versus market reality where the upper half of a circle denotes market research (polls, questionnaires, history, focus groups, research) and the lower half denotes market reality (search: keyword research tools, social: listening tools, and digital: analytical tools). On the left of a circle is mentioned product or service and on the right is mentioned customer. Arrows point from customer to product and from product to customer

Figure 10.3 Combining Traditional and Digital Research Strategies

Sound ominous? It's not! Social listening is simply the act of tuning into a conversation to get a better grip on what people are most interested or uninterested in. For example, you could follow a specific page on Facebook or a particular Twitter hashtag.

For a more transparent way of gathering audience information, polls, questionnaires, and surveys are good ways of getting to know customers' likes or dislikes about a particular topic or their feelings about a product.

On a bigger scale, focus groups can be set up to gather information in a more detailed way than polls or surveys, which provide broader results.

Perhaps the easiest ways to get basic information on audiences is through the analytic features found on websites and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Most email marketing tools also have analytics packages.

Are We There Yet?

You have thought about the framework and gathered information on your audience, now it's time to clearly plan out your marketing strategy. Your plan should include all the sections listed below. Take a moment to soak in the headlines: all will be covered in greater detail in the coming sections.

Digital Marketing Plan: Structure

A digital marketing plan should include the following elements:

· Situation analysis

· Information gathering

· Audience definition

· Business objectives

· Digital tools

· Action plan

· Budget

· Measurement

· Iteration and management

Situation Analysis: Time to Embrace Your Inner Socrates

You don't exactly have to be a deep thinker to be a digital marketer, but you should ask these questions—and know the answers!

Take a deep breath:

· Where am I now?

· How do I measure up to competitors?

· How effective have I been so far?

· What are my main strengths and weaknesses?

· How successful have previous activities been?

Situation analysis is all about assessing the campaign in its naked form, and you have got to poke and prod it until its truth is revealed. Like the most challenging of jigsaw puzzles, your campaign will be missing some pieces, so this is the time to spot the gaps and fill them in.

Whether this means cutting the campaign into a new shape that fits or changing the look of the game completely, it's important that these gaps are filled now.

A number of factors should be considered when in this deep thinking mode:

· Your customer.

· Your specific sector in the industry.

· How your company measures up to your competitors.

· Industry trends.

Taking information from past experiences, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, seeing what worked and what did not, and deciding what channels you are going to use are all essential.

Think of situation analysis as the foundation of your entire campaign—you do not want to start an unstable game of digital marketing Jenga!

A great way to keep track of all of these factors is to create a framework similar to the one outlined in Figure 10.4, which will lay out your strengths and potential weaknesses.

Figure depicting situation analysis chart presented in a tabular form consisting of five columns and eight rows. Starting from left to right the columns indicate basic knowledge, limited experience, practical skills, advanced application, and expert practitioner. From top to bottom the row heads indicate website, SEO, SEM, Email, display, social media, mobile, and analytics

Figure 10.4 Situation Analysis Chart

Complete a chart like this one by ticking the boxes you think will provide the best rating of your digital marketing capabilities. The aim is to have a quick and handy snapshot of where you are, the gaps that may need to be filled, and where your strengths lie.

Assessing your activities is another critical element in analyzing your situation. Again, it is helpful to create a framework like Figure 10.5 to outline how effective your active digital marketing channels have worked previously.

Figure depicting previous activity analysis chart presented in a tabular form consisting of three columns and eight rows. Starting from left to right the columns indicate describe your current activities, pre-course rating, and post-course rating. From top to bottom the row heads indicate website, SEO, SEM, Email, display, social media, mobile, and analytics

Figure 10.5 Previous Activity Analysis Chart

By analyzing your situation from the start, you can discover the best route to take towards your digital marketing campaign goals.

Now that you have mastered the basic elements needed to secure the foundation of your campaign, you can move onto the next step of the iterative process: audience.

Stage 2: Audience

Wouldn't it be the craziest thing if you saw glasses or contact lenses being advertised in the waiting room of a laser eye-surgery clinic? It just wouldn't make any sense.

The point is, being prepared is the foundation for developing a digital marketing campaign that will not only do well, but will thrive.

Now it's time to get your feet wet and move on to stage 2 of the iterative process, as highlighted in Figure 10.6. The goal is to learn what lies behind the scenes and how to pull the strings; pay close attention as you weave through this section so you can:

· Learn the best tools to use to gather as much background information as you can.

· Master the art of creating a customer profile.

· Understand that not all audiences are equal, and know how to hit the sweet spot.

Figure illustrating four-stage strategy and planning process focusing on the second stage (audience). The circle representing audience is shaded

Figure 10.6 Focus on the Second Stage in the Strategy and Planning Process

Information Gathering—What's Everybody Up To?

So, you know where you stand in terms of your capabilities and activity track record, but what about everyone else? Yes, the Internet is a universe of information. Deciding where to begin may seem daunting, but the start point is obvious.


Millions of people use Google every day for all sorts of reasons, be it for general information or for research, so it actually makes a lot of sense that when planning campaigns, digital marketers should start here too.

A quick Google search gives you essential information instantly.

Let's imagine a Vitamin Water business in the Canadian market. The first thing a digital marketer will do is Google the words vitamin water, and voila—behold the top-ranking sites. This informs you about your competitors, which is a key step in the information-gathering process.

Once competitors have been identified, every aspect of their campaigns must be noted.

· How good they are at what they are doing?

· What are their prices?

· What are their delivery options?

· What is their range of products?

· How well do they articulate the value of their goods?

With this information gathered, you will have excellent insight into how your business compares.

Google Tools

While you should keep information on your competitors close, keep information on the marketplace closer. Google comes up with the goods in this respect too.

· Google Analytics. Keep tabs on who is visiting your website, where they are coming from, how they found it, and what they are specifically searching for.

· Google alerts. Set up alerts about specific subjects to keep a close eye on your marketplace—for example, every time a competitor is mentioned—that will come straight to your email inbox.

· Google AdWords Keyword Planner. See exactly how consumers search, what words they use to search, and what terms they use, as well as getting ideas for keywords that may prove useful to your campaign.

· Google Trends. Allowing you to search for a certain subject over time, this tool gives insight into whether a search topic is gaining in popularity or if the topic is in decline.

Building a Customer Profile

When people go online, they expect to find exactly the information they need.

If they can't find it on the first go, they will find it elsewhere.

That is the nature of the Internet, and as such, being vague is never an option. You have to engage your audience from the moment they enter that search term.

Knowing what your audience needs is vital, and once you know what they need, you can provide it! Even better—by discovering essential information and building audience profiles you can go one step further and know what your audience wants before they even know it

In order to craft an effective digital marketing plan, you have to get to know every aspect of your audience members, including but not restricted to:

· Age

· Gender

· Where they work

· Where they live

· If they have children

· Their marital status

· What their hobbies are

· What their particular preferences and needs are

Once you have reached their core, you can start to think about what your target audience's online behaviors entail.

Let's return to our example of the Vitamin Water company and think about its target audience. To profile that imaginary person—the customer persona—let's imagine Debbie Digital is a health conscious, 30-year-old, single female, living in Canada. Ta-da! You have the basic information about her.

Next step—let's contemplate her online activities.

· She logs into Facebook multiple times a day.

· She uses Google to do her Internet searches.

· She receives emails into her inbox at work that she checks often.

· She looks at websites online to try to find out more information about healthy living.

So what channels are the most appropriate to utilize? Yes, Debbie Digital uses Facebook, but she may not use this social media platform to research Vitamin Water. In this context, the product would be better placed in a Google search ranking—given that it is more likely she would first Google Vitamin Water to see where she could buy it.

This is very useful information. But we need more, more! Such as, where does she hang out, where does she go to look to for information, and what are her ambitions and motivations beyond the obvious information—some of the gold nuggets of intelligence seen in Figure 10.7.

Figure depicting Debbie digital customer persona where a lady is standing and looking at her smart phone. On the left- and right-hand side of the lady are mentioned the various traits of her persona

Figure 10.7 Debbie Digital Customer Persona

Let's dig even deeper. Let's find the real Debbie—or at least someone who represents someone like her. Remember back in the section called Getting to Know You in this chapter, when we mentioned polls, surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups? A focus group in this case would be an excellent way to profile Debbie properly.

Audience Ranking

Just when you thought the core had been reached, there's more. Believe it or not, we can delve even deeper into our audience—for not all audiences are equally important.

It's not as harsh as it sounds—it's just a matter of getting to the nucleus of your specified audience so that you are hitting the digital marketing bull's-eye from the very beginning of your campaign.

Now that you've defined your audience, the next step is to rank them. Ranking your audience allows you to:

· Prioritize your target audience.

· Focus your activities.

· Align your budget.

· Allocate resources.

Two important factors should be considered when ranking members of your audience, as seen in Figure 10.8. They are; value to the business, and how easy or hard they are to reach:

1. Value to the business. How much can they buy, how often can they buy, what is the likely expenditure you can get from them in a total year, and so on.

2. Accessibility. Even if a person seems like a valuable member of your audience, might he be hard to get to? The bottom line is, if he is not active online, you can't reach him.

Figure depicting examples of audience ranking where the vertical axis ranges from high value to low value and the horizontal axis ranges from easy to reach to hard to reach. A male human stick figure present in the top left quadrant represents Doug Digital, who might be a high value prospect and readily accessible through digital channels. A female human stick figure in the bottom left quadrant represents Diana Digital, who has a tight budget and readily accessible through digital channels

Figure 10.8 Examples of Audience Ranking

Additional considerations include:

· What they are interested in, what they are trying to do online, and how do you respond?

· Why are they online? What are they looking for; how do they get there, what devices do they use; and when, where, and why do they use those devices?

· How can their problems be solved?

You can't send the same message to every single audience member—it just won't work. The content you create must be carefully considered and based on the interests of each audience group.

Hitting the Sweet Spot

If Willy Wonka were a digital marketer, he would have been super successful. His business was candy and chocolate and all the treats kids can't resist. Willy's primary target audience would most definitely have been children. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the priority audience is known as the sweet-spot customer.

Sweet-spot customers are the easiest people to sell to. Not only do they really want what you have, but they also respond very well to what you have on offer, so they should make up the audience that you spend most time trying to engage, sell to, and influence online.

Unless you are lucky enough to be as rich as Willy Wonka, you must concentrate on the most important audience in the first instance. Prioritizing means that you can:

· Focus on the activities that make most sense to that particular audience.

· Align your budget up with the specific tactics that will work effectively with the audience.

· Allocate your effort with your resources.

From here, you are on the road to successfully engaging with your target audience.


Have you ever looked around on a family-film night to see your sister watching a video on her mobile phone and your mother searching for holiday destinations on her tablet, all while your brother uses the TV screen to play video games? Can't we just sit down, relax, and read a good book? No! User device habits have now shifted from a single focus to a relatively new, all-consuming habit known as multiscreening.

This is the act of viewing content on numerous devices, such as your cell phone and TV, with one device triggering specific behavior on the other (for example, searching for a new pair of shoes on your cell phone but then moving to your laptop to pay for it).

We are no longer mono-channel beings: Instead we jump from channel to channel, receiving messages and soaking in information. As a digital marketer, you have got to get a good feeling of how people are moving among devices and why they are using those devices.

We know that Debbie Digital uses Twitter but how does she use it? Is she on her desktop? Her smartphone? Her tablet? If she is using her smartphone, is she using it while she watches TV?

Using Social Media in the Business Environment

In terms of B2B, Eurostat has some great insights into people's use of social media in the business environment, as can be seen in Figure 10.9. The top reason for using social media is to develop a brand image and market their product, but it is also a very useful tool for obtaining customer feedback and opinions. Trying out different ideas and observing how people respond is a good way to get to know the target audience.

Figure depicting a bar graph plotted to represent percentage of enterprises using social media by purpose of use. 22% develop the enterprise's image or market products, 15% obtain or respond to customer's opinions, and 9% involve customer in development or innovation, collaborate with business partners, recruit employees, and exchange views with the enterprise

Figure 10.9 Percentage of Enterprises Using Social Media by Purpose of Use

Source: Eurostat. EU-28, 2013.

The size of a business also determines what social media platform it uses—differently sized businesses use various social media channels for different reasons. If you are planning on engaging with an audience in a B2B environment, it's important to understand your audience deeply in this respect.

Here Comes Google!

We know that website analytics provides extensive information on customers and that information can be broadened to get a deep understanding of your target audience. When you can see exactly what people type into Google Search and how they got to you, you can begin to develop a plan to satisfy your audiences' need. For instance, if someone searches for Vitamin Water flavors, you can attract her and increase her interest in your site by offering a range of different flavors.

Digging deeper into search terms gives lots of food for thought. Check out Figure 10.10 to see all that can be discovered.

Figure depicting the 5P framework comprising person, place, product, priority, and purchase. A horizontal arrow spans across the 5P framework and points downward at customer. Corresponding to each component of 5P framework is a dot on the arrow. Dot corresponding to person is age, gender, and social; to place is NYC Urban; to product is whitewater rafting; to priority is May; and to purchase is direct

Figure 10.10 5P Framework

The 5P framework, which is shown in Figure 10.11, is a great base to work from: it lets you break down useful information to better understand your target audiences' motivations and needs in order to eventually market back to them.

Figure depicting further insights into the 5P framework where five circles are arranged alternatively. Starting from the first, the circles denote person (age, sex, social group), place (country, urban, rural), product (topic, subject), priority (when, may, summer, next week), and purchase (online, shop, and community)

Figure 10.11 Further Insights into the 5P Framework

Understanding and defining your audience is always critical in digital marketing. Put yourself in Debbie Digital's shoes: If you can't find exactly the right information as a consumer, you will simply go elsewhere. The digital world is the consumers' oyster—make your product your target audience's pearl.

Now that you have learned the most effective way to gather information to create a profile based on your target audience, you can begin to form an efficient, compelling, and successful plan.

Stage 3: Activities

By now you know your sweet-spot customers so well that you could talk to them for an entire long-haul flight on a budget airline. You could challenge your competitor to a game of golf and not break a sweat. You can recite your strengths and weaknesses like a bright kindergarten student recites her ABCs.

The moment has come—you are ready to plan and implement stage 3, which is highlighted in Figure 10.12.

Figure illustrating four-stage strategy and planning process focusing on the third stage (activities). The circle representing activities is shaded

Figure 10.12 Focus on the Third Stage in the Strategy and Planning Process

This section encompasses stage 3 of the iterative process—planning—and by the end of it you will be confident enough to:

· Determine your competitive advantage and utilize your value proposition.

· Take a SMART approach to your entire plan.

· Segment your budget and successfully decide where best to spend resources.

· Recognize and run different types of action plans.

Gaining the Competitive Edge

Rocky didn't get to be the number-one champion fighter by chance. The only way to outdo your competitors is to be better than them. At the planning stage you must observe competitors' tactics—this is essential because you need to see if, and more importantly, how, you can outdo them.

· If they rank highly in search engine results, how can you get around them?

· Is there something your product can do and theirs can't?

· Can you use that difference to your advantage?

You need to consider what will give you a competitive advantage. The best grade school teachers always say this, and it's true: It's good to be different!

By returning to our Vitamin Water example, you now know that customers are looking for different flavors. If your competitors fail to deliver on that front, this would be a good way for you to outdo them and gain a competitive advantage. By concentrating on a particular area in which your competitors fall down, you have the opportunity to rank higher in search.

Engagement with your audience before any of your competitors can do it is the goal, so you must:

· Define your audience.

· Thoroughly research your competitors.

· Discover what you can offer that your competitors can't—and be the best at it.

Defining Your Value Proposition

Being the go-to business for a product or service because you fill a niche is a highly valuable asset to have. That is what a value proposition is, and it can be defined in many ways.

One way is to be the business with the lowest costs. Let's take a real-life example: Southwest Airlines is America's low-cost darling. Its value proposition is that it offers the cheapest flights to pretty much any destination across the United States. Its hook is that it has lower fares than every one of its competitors.

Southwest Airlines clearly has an impeccable value proposition. It is outdoing its competitors, and because it's resolving customer pain (expensive airfare), they are doing something different—and doing it well.

Another example of a value proposition is an innovative product—having something that will solve a real problem that everybody needs a solution to.

And yet another way to offer a value proposition is through your distribution network. Let's observe another real-life example. Coca-Cola is without a doubt hugely successful. It can't be denied that the brand has been marketed extremely well, but in reality what really differentiates Coke from its competitors is its colossal distribution network.

Go anywhere in the world—New York City, a small town in Ireland, or the South American metropolis of São Paulo—and what will you find? A Coke machine.

Coca-Cola's distribution network is so vast and complete that it gives the company an extremely large advantage.

When you have something that customers want and need, something that your competitors can't deliver as well as you can, the next important thing to do is to communicate that fact effectively. Not just on your website, but in every single aspect of your marketing plan. Our online attention spans are very short, and as such, your message has to be sharp and immediate—while being clear about what you offer and what makes you better.

Setting Objectives

At the end of it all, a digital marketing plan is designed to expand your business, so you have got to have business objectives. Setting objectives as part of your digital marketing plan provides:

· Structure

· Defined targets

· Accountability for ROI

· A basis for measurement and analysis

You can employ many specific tactics to help your business grow. Search position is important for building brand awareness, as is digital advertising. These channels allow you to be seen by a new audience, and they can help extend your reach.

Let's assume the Vitamin Water business is on page two of SERPs. Obviously, to build brand awareness the business has got to appear on page one, preferably in the top three search results. If, for example, your business objective is to increase sales, setting targets is a great idea. Assuming you already possess a solid database, your target could be to email priority customers a newsletter once a month. And to be even more effective, send out a different version of that email to different segments of your target audience.

Don't be vague about any aspect of your business objectives: Put numbers against them. Define the percentage increase in sales you want, for example, and the period of time in which you want to achieve that goal.

Being Smart

There's nothing more demotivating than setting targets that are unattainable. It's worse than training for a marathon and discovering that you have miscalculated the distance and there's a long way to go.

Let's use the mnemonic introduced in Chapter 6 to remind you how to set objectives—be SMART, as shown in Figure 10.13.

Figure depicting SMART criteria represented in the form of ascending steps. Starting from bottom to top the steps denote time-bound, relevant, achievable, measurable, and specific

Figure 10.13 SMART criteria (Doran and Drucker)

The key to setting targets that work is to be realistic. By doing some research and looking at any historic information you have, you can set a target to aim towards. Pick a specific, measurable target—such as sales growth in the previous year—and then set a target to improve upon that.

If this is your first campaign, look to something like Google Keyword Planner and decide what share of the market you can reasonably hope for. Whether you are improving on past activities or planning a brand new campaign, be specific and base your targets on something that can realistically be achieved.

Knowing Your Focus

There are different types of objectives, and when you plan your campaign you have to decide which one you need to home in on. What exactly do you want to achieve with your digital marketing campaign? Key objectives include:

· Business objectives focus on generating a certain number of sales or level of revenue over a year.

· Audience objectives focus on adding new audiences or making an existing one more aware of your product.

· Product objectives focus on launching test products or new products.

· Brand objectives focus on building brand awareness, so people know who you are.

· Marketing objectives focus on building awareness of your brand in different markets.

Channel Suitability

Your choice of channels will be based on understanding a particular audience. You should select the channels using the DMI 3i framework, which will help you determine how effective each is likely to be in engaging your target audience.

B2C Customer Profile

B2B Customer Profile

Debbie Digital

Doug Digital

33 years old

27 years old

Stay-at-home mom

Marketing Manager

Married, one child, one on the way

Single, no children

Smartphone, Facebook use

Smartphone, LinkedIn, Twitter user

Time poor

Time poor

Tight budget due to large household expenditure

May be a high-value prospect

Readily accessible through digital channels

Readily accessible through digital channels

Look at the table above. What we understand about Debbie Digital's online habits determines the channels you will use and the kind of information she will be provided with once you engage with her.

Doug Digital will be completely different from Debbie—different age group, different online habits, a bigger budget—so you will engage with him in a different way.


As with digital marketing objectives, there are many different types of costs—and you need to be able to distinguish among all of these different varieties so that you can allocate your budget and decide what kind of resources you need to spend money on. Take a look at the variety of cost types listed below:

1. Media spend. Third-party costs, such as AdWords or display advertising.

2. Digital media. The text, visuals, and graphics that will make up the content for your website and social media channels. You will have to decide whether your budget allows you to use your own time and skill or whether you'll have to outsource the content creation. If you plan on creating the content yourself, you will have to count your time as a cost.

3. People costs. The amount you will have to spend on internal and/or external staff.

4. Systems. For example, the cost of upgrading to a professional version of a hosting service such as LinkedIn's SlideShare, or the cost of hosting a site in a foreign market.

As mentioned at the very beginning of this chapter, the beautiful thing about digital marketing is that in the online world, testing is an option.

Before investing a huge chunk of your budget towards something like PPC advertising, run a little test to learn how much the channel may cost for the duration of a complete campaign. Use this test as the barometer, and then set your budget based on the test; if you continue with that channel, you can calculate how much of your budget you will need to set aside for it.

Ad Budget Estimation

Each advertising channel has budget-estimation tools. These tools will allow you to estimate budget based on the mechanism for payment:

1. PPC. Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, some banner advertising.

2. CPM. Digital display, LinkedIn.

3. Cost per engagement. Twitter advertising.


Content is the pretty bow on your digital marketing campaign gift box. Not only does it tie everything together, it should look good too. That's why you have to be strategic when building it into your action plan. The content you publish on your website or through social media must engage your audience immediately and over time.

It's easier to explain when put into context, so let's look at an example. Say your product is a vineyard hotel in California that you wish to rent out for weddings. Wine + wedding = a winning formula, right?

The first thing to do, of course, is to research keywords to see what people look for. The types of results that are likely to be found will be what the searcher wants in terms of location, hotel type, and number of rooms. So at the very beginning of your campaign, you must decide what content will work best for the target audience.

Plan it so that the content will run over a specified time period, and ensure you decide upon the type of content that will be created, who will write it, and when. Detailed planning is essential for ensuring a coherent, constant stream of content on your website to satisfy the needs of your customer and increase your search ranking.


It is possible to produce KPIs to illustrate and visualize lots of different information from different sources by using Google's Social Referrals tool, which covers everything in one place, as seen in Figure 10.14. This not only saves time but it gives you a clear idea of what platform may be working better and what you may need to work on.

Figure depicting Google social referrals tool representing a bar graph for LinkedIn and Twitter pageview referrals and a table for social media referrals for last 30 days

Figure 10.14 Google Social Referrals Tool

Source: Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.; used with permission.

There is also a feature that can build dashboards with key information about your website based on your activity in GA.


It is highly useful to create a calendar that enables you to map out your campaign on a week-to-week or monthly basis.

Look at how the test period for a product launch is mapped out in Figure 10.15.Obviously, you will be monitoring progress throughout the month, but decisions on how to proceed should only be made after the campaign has been given time to gain some traction.

Figure depicting a campaign calendar for digital marketing media plan for the month of May

Figure 10.15 Campaign Calendar

The end date for this particular plan is the end of May, but some plans never stop: If your plan is optimizing your website for search, for instance, then the work would be ongoing.

Subsequent actions or follow-ups will depend on whether or not you have a strict timeline or budget that needs to be reviewed, and how well a channel worked for the campaign. It could be expanded or improved on—or it could be dropped.

Many channels can be seen on the calendar in Figure 10.15 including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The audience to target via LinkedIn in this particular campaign will be marketing and digital professionals.

The message that will come from LinkedIn is that you are offering free resources such as brochures and content that from your point of view will amplify your message. Obviously your objective is product purchase, but your KPI could be that you want a certain number of resources to be downloaded directly as a result of the campaign.

Planning takes time and effort, but all that work is worth it when you achieve your goals. However, your digital marketing campaign does not end when those goals are met; it is an iterative process that needs constant monitoring. Now that you have learned the steps to take in planning your campaign, you can move on to the last stage of the iterative process: analysis.

Stage 4: Analysis

Your digital marketing campaign is like a committed relationship—you have to keep on working on it.

You should always be keeping an eye on what is working for you and capitalizing on what's successful.

So just like the time your partner's ugly, misshapen shirt mysteriously went missing, you should get rid of the ideas that you tested but just didn't work. And nobody needs to know about it.

Analysis is an ongoing element of your digital marketing campaign that allows you to keep track of and maximize your online activities, while learning what your audience wants from what it does.

We have reached the final hurdle of the strategy and planning process—stage 4—which you can see highlighted in Figure 10.16! So sit up straight, pay close attention, and get ready to be able to:

· Recognize the benefits of monitoring and analysis.

· Know the importance of calculating ROI.

· Understand the importance of keeping the iterative process in motion.

Figure illustrating four-stage strategy and planning process focusing on the fourth stage (analysis). The circle representing analysis is shaded

Figure 10.16 Focus on the Fourth Stage in the Strategy and Planning Process

Keep the Wheel Spinning

Strategy and planning is, of course, an iterative process, but the tools you use for each channel drive the wheel.

As a recap, check out the different tools that can be adopted to track specific objectives:

· Search optimization. GA and AdWords Keyword Planner.

· Search marketing. AdWords and GA.

· Social media marketing. Listening tools, insights, and analytics.

· Mobile marketing. Mobile analytics.

· Email marketing. ESP reporting and analytics.

· Digital display. Publisher reporting and analytics.

Focus on Google Analytics

GA is like a guardian angel when it comes to analyzing your campaign. Used frequently, it is the most useful tool for:

· Keeping track of where your audience members come from.

· How often they come.

· How they move through the site.

· How engaged they are.

· How long they spend on any particular page.

· What the most popular topics are.

When you check in on analytics regularly, a constant influx of beneficial information will flow your way.

Return on Investment

There are many ways to calculate ROI. Let's return to the trusty example of Vitamin Water.

The objective of the Vitamin Water company is to increase the percentage of search results pointing to their website.

The company estimates that 25,000 unique searches are made per month through Google for a particular, relevant search term: lemon flavor Vitamin Water. So its aim now is to attract 10 percent of those searches to its website—2,500 visitors.

Out of those, the aim is to convert 2 percent of those visitors—50 inquiries—so that they become leads.

If 50 percent of those inquiries qualify as good-quality leads, 25 inquiries become sales—a conversion rate of one in four. So in this case, four new customers come at a cost of $8,000. Got all that? Good!

The Wheel That Never Stops Turning

Strategy and planning is a never-ending circle—see Figure 10.17! You plan things, you publish, you track, you tweak, and you start all over again.

Figure depicting the iterative process where four circles connected by arrows in a clockwise direction appear in a cyclic manner. Starting from top left and moving clockwise the circles represent plan, publish, track, and tweak, respectively

Figure 10.17 The Iterative Process

Maximize what works and ditch what does not. Most importantly, learn from what your analytics reveal and your mastery of understanding audiences will be unyielding!

Before concluding, let's take an example: Facebook.

Examine your most popular posts and take close note of who is engaging with those posts—remember that they may not “like” the post or share it. Track what kinds of posts get the most comments, as opposed to the posts that people like but do not interact with. Then, you can tweak the way you post. Publish, learn, track, tweak…and ultimately maximize what works.

So, What Have You Learned in This Chapter?

From figuring out his place in the market and understanding her audience to implementing the best tools for carrying out a specific plan—a digital marketing maestro has got every facet of the strategy and planning process covered. But just in case, here are a few notes to keep you in tune:

· Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer—research your competitors thoroughly.

· Understand that not all customers are created equal and concentrate on your sweet-spot customers.

· Calculate ROI regularly to highlight the areas that are working and the areas that need improvement.

· Evaluate your own capabilities and plan accordingly.

Think of this process as a majestic Ferris wheel—it pauses from time to time, but only so more customers can get on. It continues to turn round and round, delighting those who have boarded. Now that you have learned all there is to know about strategy and planning, you can devise your own entertaining and compelling digital marketing ride, improving on it after each iteration!

Go to to access the case study on strategy and planning as additional support material for this chapter.