The importance of proper “planning’ in Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing has become a catchphrase that all too often gets misused for the same reason. Catchphrases tend to lose their meaning, which can be gravely problematic in business; the same applies to other terms such as customer satisfaction and risk analysis. However, we are just going to cover Digital Marketing in this article.
Many think that creating and posting a webpage is all that is needed to market online. They expect and/or hope that potential clients will find them by typing keywords that coincide with the goods or services they are selling, which would be a great feat. However, digital marketing takes a lot more than that to be successful, such as proper planning and management. In other words, digital marketing requires sound and effective project management to see it through from start to finish with positive results at the end.
For the sake of space and time, we will assume that a project charter has been developed for this example, and the Digital Marketing Project for your firm has been vetted and approved. Therefore, we can start with the project in earnest, which entails, first of all, establishing Key Performance Indices (KPIs,) such as:
- Site visits: the number of times a user views your site to determine what you offer, whether it adheres to what they are looking for, and decide to either stop or continue.
- Clicks on the link will take the prospective client to checkout and finalize the purchase, or proceed to the next step, such as making a call or requesting a quotation for services.
- Conversions from prospect to sales: the final step where steps 1 and 2 above lead to an actual sale.
To accomplish the pre-determined KPIs noted above, you need to create a project that will not generate a roadmap (plan) to reach your goals, but one that will establish the milestones, stage gates (decision points on whether or not to proceed), and requirements tracking to ensure that the expected specifications by the stakeholders are being met. Therefore, you can start with the various components that make up a project, such as:
- Scope: This is by far the most important part of a project since it is where we will define the work to be completed; the deliverables, such as website, internet ads, and other key marketing tools; features; functions; and the acceptance criteria. The latter will specify the conditions and/or factors agreed upon to declare the project a success.
- Schedule: the schedule will not only define the milestones along the way, as well as the final project deadline, but also the commitment required, in both staff hours and funds, to complete the work.
- Budget: the project cost is critical to any organization, as well as to any investors and key stakeholders, for obvious reasons, but also because it will help gauge the rate on investment (ROI) regarding the marketing efforts. In other words, the profits and or sales achieved through digital marketing must exceed by a considerable margin the funds spent on such marketing. It serves as a success criterion, as well as a marker for future marketing.
- Quality: in digital marketing, quality applies to both the “look” of a website, for example, and the features (links, content, etc.) of the site. These factors are as important as ease-of-use, the number of clicks to simplify the purchasing process, and other relevant items that will enhance the buying experience.
- Resources: one success factor that is common to all endeavors has the right people. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you have the appropriate staff and/or consultants or vendors who can get the work done. Additionally, “resources” also includes having the needed equipment and programs to prepare and execute digital marketing tools.
- Risks: although it is often overlooked, the tasks of identifying, qualifying, quantifying, and, ultimately, addressing and monitoring risks are essential in achieving the pre-defined goals of any project undertaken. Therefore, you should list out any concerns (threats) to your project, as well as some potential benefits (opportunities,) which may arise from the digital media efforts, such as:
- Threat: digital marketing efforts may take a backseat to other organizational tasks and, therefore, not be completed on time or be abandoned. Risk Response: ensure from the start that staff are committed to the work and/or have consultants available to step in and continue the work as needed.
- Opportunity: digital marketing effort success exceeds expectations, and, depending on your industry, you decide to add this work to your current portfolio of services. Risk Response: once the project is completed, utilize the staff and tools developed to market this new service. Ensure staff is on-board to continue this kind of work and are available to do so.
- Procurement: as noted earlier, having the appropriate staff with the capabilities and time needed to undertake this project is vital to creating effective digital marketing. Therefore, if your current staff’s current workload and/or knowledge of marketing is not adequate, it is best to contract a consultant to efficiently perform the work.
- Stakeholders: whether you are the one initiating the project of Digital Marketing or have been assigned to do so by your supervisor, it is essential to identify as many stakeholders as possible, especially the key ones (clients, supervisors, end-users, project team, etc.,) determine their expectations and ensure that you carry out appropriate and effective communication throughout the process to ensure that the expectations are being met or can explain why they are not currently achievable and make corrections and adjustment to the project as needed.
As we all know, there is no way to guarantee that any project will run smoothly and achieve all its goals before you have even started. However, proper planning and addressing the key parts of any project, as described above, can mitigate negative risks before they surface by having a detailed roadmap to follow. In other words, the more you plan, the less you will have to repair or correct later on.