Creating a digital marketing blueprint for the year can seem like a daunting task. However, a year-long plan will help you to keep each campaign in line, and assess performance throughout the year. When you approach the process with care, take time to gather data, and aim carefully, your marketing strategy will hit the right customers and drive results. We’ve made this step-by-step plan to a 12-month digital marketing blueprint to help you do exactly that.
7 Steps to Design a 12-Month Digital Marketing Blueprint
Step 1: Market Assessment
“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”
Most marketers would agree with Benjamin Franklin on that point, especially when it comes to a 12-month marketing strategy. For your overall direction as well as the week-to-week, day-to-day details, you need a plan. For your plan to actually send you in the right direction, you need data. This first step is indispensable to your 12-month digital marketing blueprint, and should not be skipped, no matter how tempting it might be to get to the action. Remember, the more accurate your plan and your data, the more accurate your blueprint will be.
The first step in your blueprint addresses big-picture items; your products and services, your industry and market as a whole, and your goals and objectives for the year. These preliminary planning items will give you an overall direction, so you can break down your individual objectives later.
- Products and Services: Assess your business, and what you provide, honestly and completely. What is unique about your business? What is your unique selling position (USP)?
- Your Industry / Market: Assess your competitors as well. What do your competitors do well? Which of your competitors dominates on brand strength, price, features or functionality, customer experience, and quality? Where do you fit in?
- Goals and Objectives: What are your sales and marketing goals for the year? How do they fit together? How does your inbound marketing strategy fit into your overall marketing strategy? As well as you can, base your goals on previous data, and make your goals challenging, but attainable. For example, if you want to increase sales by 10%, how many sales qualified leads (SQL) would this require? How many marketing qualified leads (MQL)? How many total leads? What percent would you get from inbound (digital) marketing? Consider these numbers carefully as you move to the next steps.
Step 2: Outlining Your Campaign
With a good understanding of your current business environment and goals, the next step makes your digital marketing blueprint a bit more specific. At this stage, you’ll plan your overall campaign, who your campaign will reach, who will be involved in executing your campaign, and, lastly (but perhaps most importantly), approximately how much it will cost. These specifics will also help you to determine your ROI, and if this makes sense.
- Personas: Your buyer personas are your ideal customers, your audience, your biggest fans. These should be specific, including gender, age, interests, needs, and objectives. Use your previous market industry research to inform your personas. You’ll need your buyer personas at later stages to answer questions like; what content do I need? Where will my buyers find it? How can I tell if they are a SQL or MQL?
- Campaign Timeline: with an understanding of your business, goals, and personas, you can outline your campaign. Using a calendar year, determine how many full campaigns you wish to complete, which persona each campaign will reach, and when key deliverables for each campaign should be finished. Each campaign should allow time to plan, create content, distribute it, advertise it, and measure the campaign (more on this later). You can return to this timeline and edit it as your plan becomes more specific.
- Responsibilities: Who will be working with you on each campaign? Will your team be roughly the same, or will it change? Consider all the skills you will need, including marketing strategy, copywriting, creative assets, advertising strategy, and more. Ask yourself if your team has these skills, or where you may need the help of an agency. Remember that your marketing blueprint, like any plan, can only work as long as your team has the skills to use it effectively.
- Budget: Knowing, approximately, how long each campaign will take, what you will need, and who you will be working with, you will know, roughly, how much your budget you will need. From this, you can find your ROI; does your budget make sense with your goals and ROI?
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Step 3: Content Audit
With your overall goals, market, and overarching campaign in mind, it’s time to get into more specifics, including what you need and what you already have. At this stage, you’ll take stock of your current digital assets, and what changes you’ll need to make your campaign effective.
- Website and Blog: These two assets are the most important parts of your inbound marketing strategy and your 12-month digital marketing blueprint, so take a close look with a website and content audit. Are your website and blog conversion-friendly? Are call to actions (CTAs) clear? Does each page have a purpose? Using Google Analytics or other tracking software, track a user’s path through your site. Where are they starting and going? Is this where you would like them to go?
- Landing Pages and Thank You Pages: As you explore your site, you should see some traffic coming to your existing landing pages and thank you pages, if you have them. How are your users finding these pages? Can you measure referral traffic to them, such as from your social media or outbound marketing strategies? Do CTAs lead to these pages? Do they lead from pages that would make sense to the targeted persona? Are your landing pages effective, or could they use a new template? Will your current template work with your new campaigns? Remember that different landing pages, such as a Request a Quote page versus a Download a Whitepaper page, are targeting consumers at different buyer stages.
- Make Changes: It might not be realistic to make all of these changes at once. Prioritize a checklist based on your campaigns. Most likely, your landing page and thank you page templates, as well as clear CTAs, will be first on your list.
Step 4: New or Repurposed Content
After taking a tour of your website and gauging what changes you may need to make, you’ll have a good idea of what content you already have, how this fits into your 12-month digital marketing blueprint, and what content you’ll need.
At this stage, you’ll be planning more specific aspects of each campaign. You may want to move between this step and the next one. You may also want to make edits to the campaign timeline you made in Step 2, and add or remove any team members you may need for specific items. Remember, as your strategy becomes more refined, it’s okay, even ideal, to make changes.
- Repurposed Content: What content do you already have, and how could you use it again? Consider any downloadable content you have, as well as data, templates or tools that your audience could find useful. Remember that you are an expert in your industry, and your expertise is a fair trade for a lead.
- New Content: Consider your buyer personas’ problems, objectives, or objections, and how you can solve them. Also, consider different content types for stages of the buyer’s journey, and where your new and repurposed content fits in. You might use podcasts, webinars, whitepapers, instructional videos, infographics, ebooks, guides, and more.
- Refine: Go back to the campaign outlines you made in Step 2, and make sure your timeline, staff, and budget are still correct. Are your campaigns too ambitious, given your budget? You may need to scale back. Will this still allow you to achieve your goals? Don’t be afraid to reassess.
Step 5: Promotion
The content that you make or repurpose, as well as the personas you’re targeting, will heavily impact what type of promotion you use. You might use some or all of the following content promotion methods, but make sure that each of these suits your personas, their buyer’s journey, and your market position in general.
- Email: Do you have an existing database to send emails? Does your list read and click on your emails? When and how often will you send emails? What content will you include? How will you segment this list, and does that make sense for the buyer’s journey? Remember that you can only send emails to leads that have already volunteered their emails, so you will want additional lead generation methods to build up your email list in the first place.
- Social Media: Use KPIs to assess your social media strategy. Don’t be too quick to dismiss your industry’s presence on social media, or you may miss cost-effective marketing opportunities. At the same time, don’t waste time with a social strategy that doesn’t deliver. Remember that a key part of social media is highly-targeted, paid advertising and remarketing, as well as who you’re connecting with, how responsive you are, and the content you post or repost.
- SEO: Search engine optimization can be a powerful, organic lead generation tool. You’ll need to target useful, competitive keywords, use SEO best practices on your pages, and network with others in your industry for this to work. SEO strategies are useful for landing pages, blogs, press releases, and key pages within your website.
- Paid Media: Google search ads, social media ads, remarketing ads, affiliate links, and display ads are just a few of the paid media types you can integrate into your 12 month digital marketing blueprint. You’ll want to carefully consider who you’re targeting and how, the buyer’s journey stage you’re reaching, and the costs per click, per impression, and per lead.
Step 6: Responding
You now have the specifics of your 12 month marketing blueprint for getting more leads and sales. Before you put it into action, you’ll need to know who is tackling these leads, how this fits into your marketing efforts as a whole, and what you can do, if anything, for the existing leads in your database. This will help to ensure that your campaign addresses all your marketing efforts and your customers, with no holes.
- New Leads: Are all of your new leads receiving attention, either from a lead nurturing campaign, or from your sales or marketing staff? The new leads that you’ve gathered won’t do you much good if you don’t also have a plan to turn them into customers. Also, utilize lead scoring to know when a lead becomes a MQL and SQL.
- Dead Leads: Does your campaign address all the leads on your list? Do you have a way to contact shoppers with abandoned carts, or those who visited your Request a Quote page? Remarketing ads, discounts, in-app messaging, re-engagement emails and progressive profiling can all be helpful here.
- Inbound and Outbound Integration: Odds are, you’re not doing all your marketing online. Inbound and outbound work best when they work together. If you’re using outbound marketing, such as billboards, flyers, trade shows, or TV ads, combine them with a lead page and integrate with the most applicable inbound campaign. This way none of your ad dollars will go to waste.
Step 7: Reporting
You’ve assessed your industry, made your 12 month marketing blueprint, specified your campaigns, and filled in any holes in your strategy. There’s only one step left to plan for: reporting. For each campaign, you’ll want to see how well it performed, including what worked, what didn’t, and how this fits into your year-long goals. This will help you make changes throughout the year and improve each of your campaigns.
- Data: What data do you need to assess your campaigns, and how will you gather it? Consider reports available through your CRM system, web traffic reports through Google Analytics, tracking code snippets, and data compilation tools like RavenTools or Data Studio.
- Assessment: According to your data, which parts of your campaign worked? Which didn’t? Consider email open rates, ad click rates, landing page conversion rates, and so on.
- Changes: What changes could you make to bring underperforming parts of your campaign up to par?
- Overall Strategy: Considering the goals you have for your 12 month digital marketing blueprint, are your campaigns in line?
These seven steps will help you make a 12-month digital marketing blueprint as a starting point, but remember that your campaigns will evolve as you learn what works best, as teams and responsibilities change, or as the market changes. The blueprint allows you to change specifics, while keeping your larger goals and plan in mind.